Archive for July, 2007

A True Champion

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

There are many who would like to believe they are doing great things for God, and I don’t want to minimize anyone’s efforts—who am I to evaluate or judge, since we are called to be faithful to the limit of light and talents given us, and resources made available. But some have shone brightly even among God’s most luminous jewels.

One of them is George Muller that great Christian who found the Lord after a rocky beginning as he attended the university in Halle (and saw a Christian kneel for the first time), later established the Scriptural Knowledge Institute that supported so many missionaries and schools around the world, and eventually founded the orphange that eventually cared for over 2,000 orphans.

In 1874, Muller states he fed 2,100 people, sent 10,000 pounds to missionaries in other lands, supported 189 missionaries, supported 100 day schools, fees for 9,000 day school students, published some 4 million tracts and thousands of Bibles. Those are amazing statistics, especially back in 1874.

Muller’s guiding promise is found in Ps. 81:10 where it says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” He believed, he claimed the many promises of the Bible, he worked to carefully follow all the principles of the Bible, prayed as if it all depended on prayer, and worked as if it all depended on work.

Needless to say, his accomplishments are amazing and very inspiring. But I am even MORE inspired by the principles that guided him in doing so much-praying and reading the Bible, discerning God’s will, finding helpers, dealing with finances, avoiding ALL debt, seeking to be faithful to Scripture, etc., which are still relevant in our day.

Perhaps you would like to learn more about those principles? There is no better book to the best of my knowledge than A. T. Pierson’s Muller of Bristol. His book doesn’t include as many anecdotes as one might find, for example, in Roger Steer’s book on Muller (George Muller: Delighted in God), but Pierson shares the life-changing, community-impacting, results-gaining principles that brought success back then, and will still bring success in our day.

You can download the book as a pdf at this link: Pierson: Muller of Bristol

You can find more writings from Muller at path2prayer.com. Just do a search for George Muller in the search box.

Read, learn, then go and make a difference!

God’s Spiritual Forge

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Here is another one of Tersteegen’s poem. I believe we all experience this. The result in his life was a bearing of fruit that was remarkable and deeply affected thousands of people. Perhaps we would all do well to be more accepting of “God’s forge.” He knows what He is doing and has promised that in all things He is working for good, and I believe, doing it as quickly as He can. Unfortunately, sometimes we are wanting to do things our way, or in our own timing, and in the end His work is marred.

THE SPIRITUAL FORGE (DIE GEISTLICHE SCHMIEDEKUNST)
By Gerhard Tersteegen

A ROUGH and shapeless block of iron is my heart;
So hard, so cold-The Master cannot use it so.
Love must my Furnace be:-I enter in through prayer:
I keep quite still, and leave the smoking fire to glow.

Then doth the gentle wind of Love begin to breathe:-
I hold me still-and let the hotter flame burn on.
The iron’s blackness must be melted quite away:
When softened and made fair, the Fire’s fierce work is done.

The way of self-denial, and of daily death-
This is the Anvil upon which my soul I lay.
Blow after blow, The Master’s strokes begin to fall,
Till, turned and bent, the softened ore at last gives way.

Yet still, it will not wholly yield in every part;
Therefore, The Master Workman for His aid doth Borrow,
One, who with rougher, stronger hammer strikes the blows:
Strike on, O Mighty One! Thus soon will end my sorrow.

The Master’s Hand directeth all the work full well:
According as the fashioning doth most require,
The strokes must fall. And now once more the ore He lays
Within the Flame;-and strokes again succeed the Fire.

Whilst in that glowing heat, “The Iron shines;” methought, “
All clear and bright:-now, surely, soon the work is done!”
But when the burning was withdrawn, all cold, and black,
And shapeless grew the metal:-thus my hope was gone.

On the Refining-Board of inner woe and pain,
Next must the ore, in all its coldness, firm be pressed.
The keen-edged File must work-a thousand splinters fly:-
Now follow finer, closer strokes, upon the rest.

O Master, Who this art dost understand aright,
Make Thou my soul well fitted for Thy use at last!
Not o’er my heart may polished brightness seem to shine
But, inly chastened, let me in Thy Fire stand fast.

Learn more about this experience at path2prayer.com

Prayer and Obedience and Fruit-bearing

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

“‘Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He may give it you.”—John xv. 16.

Some people approach prayer in the same way gamblers approach slot machines in the casinos: If you just pull the lever enough times, eventually you will get something. And, apparently, it must work some of the time or the patrons wouldn’t return. Does God work the same way? If we ask God for something enough times, is He bound to respond? I don’t think so and I suspect you know that too. Sometimes it wouldn’t be for our good and in mercy God doesn’t respond! Notice the following from the book Steps to Christ

“We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good-that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise: for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’” Steps to Christ 96

In fact, I have often read that in heaven we will discover some of our GREATEST blessings were the UNANSWERED prayers.

But perhaps you have noticed that some people seem to get more prayers than others. Why is that? Notice this excerpt from Andrew Murray and then read the rest of the chapter from With Christ in the School of Prayer at path2prayer.com:

“How often we have sought to be able to pray the effectual prayer for much grace to bear fruit, and have wondered that the answer came not. It was because we were reversing the Master’s order. We wanted to have the comfort and the joy and the strength first, that we might do the work easily and without any feeling of difficulty or self-sacrifice. And He wanted us in faith, without asking whether we felt weak or strong, whether the work was hard or easy, in the obedience of faith to do what He said: the path of fruit-bearing would have led us to the place and the power of prevailing prayer. Obedience is the only path that leads to the glory of God. Not obedience instead of faith, nor obedience to supply the shortcomings of faith; no, but faith’s obedience gives access to all the blessings our God has for us.”

Murray has much more to say on the subject. find the rest of the article at path2prayer.com.

Is God In Everything?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

“The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man will do to me.” Hebrews 3:6

The “Is God in everything?” question is one of continuing interest and debate, and one which definitely needs answering!

Hannah Whitall Smith put it this way in her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life:

“One of the greatest obstacles to living unwaveringly this life of entire surrender is the difficulty of seeing God in everything. People say, ‘I can easily submit to things which come from God; but I cannot submit to man, and most of my trials and crosses come through human instrumentality.’ Or they say, ‘It is all well enough to talk of trusting; but when I commit a matter to God, man is sure to come in and disarrange it all; and while I have no difficulty in trusting God, I do see serious difficulties in the way of trusting men.’”

What do you think? Jesus said He came to bring more abundant life (John 10:10) but from the looks of things, His idea of abundant life seems to be different from ours, and men and women-human beings-certainly bring things on us that are anything but what we prefer or think we need. Was Jesus misleading us when He promised a more abundant life? Is He unable to thwart the malevolent actions of the people and forces around us?

F. B. Meyer, a great British preacher, used to say that God’s blessings are often delivered in rough packing cases, meaning that many blessings arrive concealed in what would seem like less than ideal ways, and yet they are blessings just the same.

I have certainly found what he said to be true in my life. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the words “yes” and “thank you” are some of the most powerful words I know: “Yes, Lord, for some reason you have allowed such and such to come into my life; thank you that somehow it will be for my good!”

When I first took up the “yes” and “thank you” attitude towards life, it wasn’t that easy, but over time it has become easier and has helped me look positively on many “rough packing cases.” And truth be told, in ALL cases I have come to see great blessings.

That’s why Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

I hope that you will join me in saying “yes” and “thank you” more often today, and EVERY day!

Read all of Hannah’s “Is God in Everything” chapter at path2prayer.com.

Piety is NEVER Old Fashion!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

There are many ideas out there as to what works, and what doesn’t work, when it comes to serving the Lord and making a difference for His kingdom. For some it is all about a particular understanding of truth; others might speak about a particular experience lived out.

I believe Henry’s Law’s words are worth considering:

“The true believer labours in the open day. In busy haunts of busy men he strains the toiling nerve. The world is the wide field. There are the precious souls, which need the wholesome warning and the faithful word. There sin abounds; and misery dwells; and ignorance spreads it blinding veil. There Satan rules with deathful sway. In this wild waste the good seed must be cast. In graceless crowds grace must be manfully displayed. But private hours gain strength for public zeal. When all is still the opening heavens pour down their dew.

“In quietude the soul draws nearer to Christ’s arms. Then tender whispers testify of love. Then truth unfolds the wondrous page; and promises assume substantial form; and distant prospects brighten to the view. It is apart from men that grace takes deeper root; temptations wither; the world’s false glitter fades; the inner man is strengthened to resist; and loins are girded for the battle field. The soldier of the cross goes forth from solitude to fight his fight. He, who seeks God alone, has gone in public by his side.

“Moses and Aaron soon return. But they come not with empty hands-they are enriched with the best gifts. Here is sweet evidence of gainful commerce with the Lord. Laden with good, they haste to scatter good around. Their souls are redolent of heaven. ‘They blessed the people.’ Lev. 9:23

“The blessed of the Lord bless earth. And they are the most blessed, who most throng the mercy seat. The wise, the rich, the learned, and the strong, are tools employed by God to move the world’s machine. But it is PIETY, which strews real weal (blessings) on men. they, who descend from Zion’s heights, are, as the clouds, which drop refreshing rain.” Henry Law Christ is All: Leviticus

Do we want to bless and be blessed, perhaps we should also “throng the mercy seat.” Learn more about having a “community-changing” relationship with the Lord at path2prayer.com.

Redeeming the Time

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

I read the following quote from author, pastor, and Methodist leader, Adam Clarke. I think it will be of interest to many of you:

“The grand secret is to save time. Spend none needlessly. Keep from all unnecessary company. Never be without a praying heart, and have as often as possible a book in your hand.”

I understand Clarke the writer of Clarke’s commentary was unusually productive, in fact rendering the work of two or three men. Once queried on the secret of his productivity, he responded with the above quote. By the way, after John Wesley died, Clarke was made President of the Methodist Church three times.

I like the “always have a book in your hand” part; perhaps I should also like the “spend none (time) needlessly” and “keep from all unnecessary company.” Not sure about the latter one, but there is much food for thought.

Perhaps a “Go and do likewise” is good advice.

Here is the complete story from a pastor’s magazine of 1927:

“Adam Clarke was one of the prominent preachers of pioneer Methodism, as contemporary of John Wesley. Today, he is known throughout the Christian world as the author of Clarke’s Commentaries on the Bible. These Commentaries, by the way, represent twenty-seven years of arduous toil. He mastered twenty languages and was a thorough scholar, venturing into practically every branch of learning. Under Wesley’s direction he was led to devote his life to preaching the gospel and was sent to what was called the Bradford circuit embracing twenty-three appointments. Clarke was unusually active and accomplished as much as several ordinary men. The secret of his useful life is found in a letter to a young acquaintance: “The grand secret is to save time. Spend none needlessly. Keep from all unnecessary company. Never be without a praying heart, and have as often as possible a book in your hand.”

Find more resources for your journey at path2prayer.com.

But by MY Spirit…

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6

How often have you silently repeated the words of Zechariah 4:6 as you have busily worked to bring some blessing to your part of God’s vineyard? Ever wonder if maybe Zechariah heard the message wrong? Of course not on the latter, but there is an awful lot of work going on in human strength that seems awfully taxing if it really is supposed to be God’s power working!

Perhaps Austin Sparks was on to something when he said the following:

“The real spiritual growth of the Church, and the development and expansion of what is of God, will depend entirely upon the measure of Divine Life present. This is God’s method; for all purposes, that is His method. There is a very great deal produced in the work of God that is no life. It is nothing of the sort. It is enthusiasm; it is zest; it is interest; it is strong emotion and feeling and overflow of natural spirits worked up, drawn out, fed and ministered to. It goes by its own momentum, and it has to be kept going from the outside — you have to give it more and more and more. God’s method is inward — His own life — and when He gets a way for His own life, there is no need for any of these externals at all; the thing just goes on.” Austin Sparks (I’ve added the italics)

Perhaps it might do us good to ask from time to time, is what I’m doing being blessed through the direct presence of Christ—is this allowing the manifestation of His life—or is it just something that I’m doing in my own strength?

Find more quotes like this one at path2prayer.com

Speaking of Revival…

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Another name worth knowing when it comes to revival is Duncan Campbell. A Scottish preacher who became converted through the Faith Mission in 1913, he later participated in the revivals that swept through the Scottish Hebrides. He speaks without ambiguity about what it takes to experience revival. I think you will agree that his words are as needed in our day as they were in his. I have just added two of his sermons as MP3s to my site.

Here are the links to the MP3 sermons by Campbell:

Duncan Campbell: Repairing the Wall MP3 Revival Sermon

Duncan Campbell: God’s Answer to the Cry of Unbelief MP3 Revival Sermon

Be sure to read the book and sermon on revival as well, at path2prayer.com.

On Becoming Altogether Holy!

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

“O Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” Psalms 34:8

Under what circumstances would you believe this to be true? More positive ones? Perhaps, but notice the following:

“The histories (of Teresa, Fenelon, Madame Guyon…mystics of France in the 1600s) show us that God’s inner working is independent of outward circumstances—we find saints in palaces and deserts, in married life and in cloisters, in the church, in the chamber, in the kitchen, in the streets, in all employments and all places. Let none then, however difficult his position, regard himself as debarred from the way of holiness. Have we but God and the cross of Christ, we have means for becoming altogether holy in our walk and conversation. What dungeon is there that can shut us out from this? Only let us use the present occasions and means faithfully and truly, taking them from the hand of God, and we shall find Him able to free us from all that is really a hindrance. Let us each one desire to be a saint in his own place and calling, instead of building castles in the air of future holiness.”

The man who penned these words knew something about finding joy in God regardless of his outer circumstances-actually experienced joy BECAUSE of his circumstances. Gerhard Tersteegen, a German pietist who earnestly desired to know the liberty of God’s inward dwelling, came to understand and experience the transformation that comes as one accepts all things, with joy, from God’s hands.

Accepting all things with joy isn’t the easiest thing and I was reminded of it the other day in the history of spirituality class I am co-teaching. There are many circumstances that seem to negate God’s ability to bring blessings, and some of them are downright painful-to be honest, I almost felt guilty saying such a thing as I was reminded of atrocities like Rwanda, nor did I have answers.
Still, on a personal level, I think Tersteegen knew what he was talking about, and the witness of his life certainly affirmed the edifying power of “self”-deflating experiences. Reading his writings he continually assserts that only God is up to the task of removing all the vistages of self in our lives.

So, we come back to our original question: Is “tasting and seeing the Lord is good” true under all circumstances? Like I said, I can’t explain how it works-as was pointed out there is a controversy going that impacts many things on our planet, but I think so. What do you think?

Find more of Tersteegen at path2prayer.com.

More Audio Sermons

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

I’m currently co-teaching a course on the history of spirituality which is keeping me very busy. I’m learning a lot and am grateful, but a three hour intensive four days a week takes preparation. However, I have been able to upload more sermons from series given in the past. These are MP3s.

Dan Augsburger: Jacob’s Transformation MP3
Dan Augsburger: Leah-Hope For Needy Hearts MP3

Dan Augsburger: Lot-Understanding the Wandering Heart MP3

I pray this finds you well.