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Morning, September 23        

 

"Accepted in the beloved."

-Ephesians 1:6

 

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term "acceptance" in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only "in the beloved." Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father's sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted "in the beloved." Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, "There is nothing acceptable here!" But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in him who has broken Satan's head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven "in the beloved," and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.[1]

 

Evening, September 23

 

"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe."

-Mark 9:23

 

A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to him, he said to Jesus, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Now there was an "if" in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the "if" in the wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the "if," kindly puts it in its legitimate position. "Nay, verily," he seemed to say, "there should be no ‘if' about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the ‘if' lies somewhere else." "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an "if" somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place. "If" Jesus can help me-"if" he can give me grace to overcome temptation-"if" he can give me pardon-"if" he can make me successful? Nay, "if" you can believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your "if." If you can confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is robed in God's majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King's horse, for it is the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe thy Lord to-night?[2]

 

September 23rd

The missionary's goal

Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. Luke 18:31.

In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., Our Lord Himself. We start with Christ and we end with Him-"until we all attain to the stature of the manhood of Christ Jesus," not to our idea of what the Christian life should be. The aim of the missionary is to do God's will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen; he is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim. His aim is to do the will of his Lord.

In Our Lord's life Jerusalem was the place where He reached the climax of His Father's will upon the Cross, and unless we go with Jesus there, we shall have no companionship with Him. Nothing ever discouraged Our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned Our Lord one hair's breadth away from His purpose to go up to Jerusalem.

"The disciple is not above his Master." The same things will happen to us on our way to our Jerusalem. There will be the works of God manifested through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude and the rest will show gross ingratitude, but nothing must deflect us from going up to our Jerusalem.

"There they crucified Him." That is what happened when Our Lord reached Jerusalem, and that happening is the gateway to our salvation. The saints do not end in crucifixion: by the Lord's grace they end in glory. In the meantime our watchword is-I, too, go up to Jerusalem.[3]

 

September 23

Be ye holy; for I am holy

      1 Peter 1:16

The highway of holiness is along the commonest road of life-along your very way. In wind and rain, no matter how it beats-it is only going hand in hand with Him.

Mark Guy Pearse[4]

 

September 23

" Cowardice "

Coward! That seems to be a despicable word. A coward is someone who is afraid to show his allegiance when it costs something, who fears to confess allegiance to his social class, nation or to a certain group and its principles when they are despised, disdained or attacked. But cowardice--despicable as we think it is-exists in all of us, even if more or less hidden. A coward runs away when the enemy comes near. The disciples were cowards when they ran away, when Jesus was in danger and taken prisoner. Cowards lack courage. What kind of courage is meant here? It is the courage to suffer, to be despised and disdained, the courage to lose one's life. Cowards want to keep their lives and what makes life worth living for them, what they think is important and worthwhile. Cowards want to save their happiness, their reputation, their income, and everything they enjoy. That is why they evade the issue when their happiness, reputation or their life is threatened.

Cowardice is nothing more than a consequence of being afraid of bearing the cross. Cowardice usually goes hard in hand with fear, especially with the fear of suffering. This fear, this cowardice, often leads to short-circuit reactions which could cause us to become very guilty, or could make us deny people, even Jesus and His church. Cowardice often makes us untruthful, inconsiderate and irresponsible. It can even allow others to suffer in order to save our own skin. Out of cowardice Peter denied his Lord; the disciples left Jesus in the lurch. Cowardice has caused, or at least not done anything to prevent, countless disasters.

 What catastrophic consequences cowardice had for the German people during the Third Reich! And when the time of the Antichrist arrives and everyone worships his image and has to bear his mark Rev_13:15-16, the main reason for betraying Jesus at this time will be cowardice. It will have terrible consequences. These people are threatened with the punishment of God: "he shall drink the wine of God's wrath . . . and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night" Rev_14:10-11. Our cowardly behaviour can bring us such judgment in eternity if we do not repent and turn over a new leaf.

 That is why we have to hate this sin and begin an all-out fight against it today. Yes, if confessing the name of Jesus and upholding the commandments demands courage in our times, we absolutely must overcome our cowardice; in the future much more courage will be demanded, when people will not only ridicule the believers, but will also lay their hands upon them. If we tolerate our cowardice and make it seem harmless, we will deny and betray our Lord Jesus Christ and lose the heavenly glory for all eternity.

The important question is: How can we overcome our cowardice? One way is to dedicate ourselves to suffering. We should surrender ourselves by writing down our dedication. Furthermore we must be willing to take upon ourselves all the difficult things that we are afraid of and that may be in store for us. And we must say; "My Father, I do not know how I will be able to bear the difficult things if they should come, but I am counting on Your help. You will make me strong and pull me through. FATHER, I believe in Your love, which has already taken into account what I can bear and will not let me be tempted beyond my strength. If the difficult things should really come, I know that You, My FATHER, will comfort and refresh me in my suffering, even in martyrdom."

Yes, we must believe that we will taste heaven in the midst of suffering. And then, when we are deprived of people, things, love and honour, we will be happy, because Jesus will come to us as the Prince of joy. In experiencing His love, our sorrow will be changed into joy, as many people who were in prison and concentration camps can testify.

Because suffering is never the end in God's plan.  He will afterwards prove His goodness to us all the more. Jesus Himself trusted His Father and experienced that the Father sustained Him throughout the fear and horror of Gethsemane.

Thus we can surrender ourselves into the kind hands of God, to the loving will of the Father and take the sting out of the difficult things by saying to the Lord; "In faith, I want to go the way that You have planned for me, even if it is difficult for me. You will shed light on my dark path and make it straight for me." Then our hearts will be in peace. Fear and cowardice will be broken, because we have yielded to the difficult things which the coward always wants to escape.



[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.