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Morning, September 28        

 

"The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men."

-Psalm 33:13

 

Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when he is spoken of as stooping from his throne, and coming down from heaven to attend to the wants and to behold the woes of mankind. We love him, who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until he had made a personal visitation of them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who inclines his ear from the highest glory, and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs after reconciliation. How can we but love him when we know that he numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways? Specially is this great truth brought near to our heart, when we recollect how attentive he is, not merely to the temporal interests of his creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though leagues of distance lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline his ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay his hand; thy faith can move his arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.

 

Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;

No God is like the God my soul desires;

He at whose voice heaven trembles, even he,

Great as he is, knows how to stoop to me.[1]

 

Evening, September 28

 

"Go again seven times."

-1 Kings 18:43

 

Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when his people are earnest in a matter which concerns his glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah's courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but "Go again." We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel's brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.[2]

 

September 28th

The "go" of unconditional identification

One thing thou lackest.... come, take up the cross, and follow Me. Mark 10:21.

The rich young ruler had the master passion to be perfect. When he saw Jesus Christ, he wanted to be like Him. Our Lord never puts personal holiness to the fore when He calls a disciple; He puts absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself-a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship. Luke 14:26 has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. Very few of us know the absolute "go" of abandonment to Jesus.

"Then Jesus beholding him loved him." The look of Jesus will mean a heart broken for ever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked at you? The look of Jesus transforms and transfixes. Where you are ‘soft' with God is where the Lord has looked at you. If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on your own way, certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, it is an indication that there are whole tracts of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.

"One thing thou lackest ..." The only ‘good thing' from Jesus Christ's point of view is union with Himself and nothing in between.

"Sell whatsoever thou hast ..." I must reduce myself until I am a mere conscious man, I must fundamentally renounce possessions of all kinds, not to save my soul, (only one thing saves a man-absolute reliance upon Jesus Christ) but in order to follow Jesus. "Come, and follow Me." And the road is the way He went.[3]

 

September 28

Wait for the promise of the Father

      Acts 1:4

Tarry at a promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.

Selected[4]

 

September 28

" Desire for Attention and Recognition "

Two pictures are placed before our eyes. The first is Jesus wearing the crown of disgrace. Voluntarily He chose to be the most despised and unworthy One among men. People hid their faces from Him, and "we esteemed Him not". Jesus! He is the One who deserves all honour in heaven and on earth, but He sacrificed Himself out of love for us and let Himself be disgraced.

In the other picture are we men, more or less wearing sparkling crowns of our own desire for attention and respect. We are much addicted to this desire. No matter what the price is we want to be the centre of attention. We make every effort to attain this goal and all other goals become secondary. The flagrant contrast between these two pictures shows us clearly how serious this sin is. It shows that our desire for attention flatly contradicts our divine calling to be remade in the image of Jesus.

The roots of this sin lie in Adam's fall. Through the fall everything lost its proper relationship. No longer are we primarily interested in being respected by God, being at one with Him in love. Instead we have a strong drive, often a passionate yearning, to be respected and esteemed by people. If we sense that people whom we respect and whose opinion is important to us, do not respect us, we become sad, depressed, unhappy and touchy.

But that is not all. In our desire for recognition we often seek to get into the limelight and pretend to be something we are not, or to have abilities we do not possess. So we become untruthful and, without realizing it, hypocritical. We think we are serving God, but in reality we are doing everything for our own honour, so that others will respect us, and thus we sin against the most sacred things. Then the "Woe" that Jesus said to the Pharisees also applies to us. "They do all their deeds to be seen by men . . . they love the place of honour at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places" Mat_23:5-7

These hypocrites, to whom Jesus said "Woe", are threatened by Jesus' greatest judgement in eternity. That is why we cannot tolerate the desire for recognition and attention any longer. And this desire gives rise to so many other sins.

We hurt others, we are unloving and place them in the shadow, so that we can appear in a favourable light. Especially in our times, when it will cost us increasingly more and more dishonour, ridicule and disgrace to belong to Jesus and follow Him, our desire for recognition can be our downfall and can even cause us to deny Jesus. Yes, if this addiction to receiving honour from people is so strong in us, Jesus must lament over us-as He did over the Pharisees who did not accept Him, "How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" Joh_5:44. So this sin of desire for recognition which is usually anchored in our personalities, separates us from Jesus and the divine life. That is why we have to get rid of it no matter what the price may be. What can help us?

First of all, we have to let the Spirit of God show us again and again how despicable our desire for recognition is, and then make a definite renunciation: "Lord, I do not want to be anything; I do not want to be respected." And then we will find that there is power in this resolute renunciation. Jesus accepts it. He, the Son of God, surrendered Himself to being despised and rejected by all. Now He can help us. What is His is ours. He has gained this humility, this desire to be nothing. Then we will receive the greatest gift. We will be respected by God. The Father said that He was well-pleased with His Son when He went down into the River Jordan and let others think that He was a sinner, not worthy of respect. This "going down" brought Jesus special love from the Father and gave Him the greatest joy.

Jesus forsook his glory and chose disgrace so that we could be redeemed from our desire for recognition and be changed into His image for humility.  His lowliness, even to the point of dying like a "criminal" on the cross, is a sure guarantee of His aid for all of us who want to be free from our desire for attention.



[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

[3] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

[4] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.