My Utmost for His Highest

May 7th

Building for eternity

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14:28.

Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted. The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal and hatred; the deep unfathomable agony in Gethsemane, and the onslaught at Calvary—the pivot upon which the whole of Time and Eternity turns. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. Men are not going to laugh at Him at last and say—“This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”
The conditions of discipleship laid down by Our Lord in vv. 26, 27 and 33 mean that the men and women He is going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. “If any man come to Me, and hate not …, he cannot be My disciple.” Our Lord implies that the only men and women He will use in His building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately and devotedly beyond any of the closest ties on earth. The conditions are stern, but they are glorious.
All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

Streams in the Desert

May 7

“He spake a parable unto them … that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

NO temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere. We begin to Pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.
This is a deadly fault. It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions. It is ruinous in all spheres of life.
The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure. The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer.
To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer, which is fatal to all success.
But someone says, “How long shall we pray? Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God’s hands?”
There is but one answer. Pray until the thing you pray for has actually been granted, or until you have the assurance in your heart that it will be.
Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan. And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning. So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.
In the first case we stop because we see. In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our heart is just as sure as the sight of our eyes; for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.
More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it.—The Practice of Prayer.
Tarry at the promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.—Selected.

365 days with Newton

7 MAY (PREACHED 7 MAY 1775)

Ordered and sure

‘Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.’ 2 Samuel 23:5
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 111:1–10

Ordered in all things. The word signifies disposed, suited, provided, in such a manner as to answer every case and necessity that should arise. O this is a comfortable thought when the soul is enabled to look round. See how everything in this covenant is exactly fitted to its state (1 Corinthians 1:30). The Lord knew what would be wanted and has provided accordingly (1 Timothy 4:8). The poor awakened soul is distressed and terrified by the guilt of sin, but here is pardon—free pardon—a pardon bought with blood. It is distressed by fears and unbelief which make it shrink back and say, ‘For others it may be, but not for me.’ But here are many, great, exceeding, precious promises. It sees itself all over wants, but the ordered covenant contains an infinite fullness. It is alarmed with numerous enemies, but when we look to the covenant, we see there are more with us than against us. There is a dreadful heart of unbelief tempting to depart from God, and when it is felt, the believer thinks, ‘This enemy will be too hard for me at last.’ ‘Nay,’ says the covenant, ‘that cannot be. I will put my fear into thy heart.’ Thus every objection and complaint being provided for and answered, the covenant is sure, or as the word is, secured—freed from any possibility of miscarrying. It is sure by the word of God (Psalm 111:5, 9; Isaiah 54:10), by the oath of God (Psalm 110 [verse 4]; Hebrews 6:17), by the power of God (Deuteronomy 33:27), by the blood of Christ (Zechariah 9:11), by the intercession of Christ (Hebrews 12:24) and by the government of Christ (Matthew 28:18).

FOR MEDITATION: O what comfort does the consideration of this covenant afford! Hence you that desire to be established in faith and peace, meditate much on this subject. You will never get strength by poring only upon your own hearts. Let all examine (concerning your faith in Christ, if you are united to him) this covenant which is made in and with him. You may say of it, as David, ‘He has made it with me.’

SERMON SERIES: 2 SAMUEL 23:5, NO. 3 [2/3]

My Utmost for His Highest

May 6th

Liberty on the abyss of the gospel

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. Gal. 5:1.

A spiritually minded man will never come to you with the demand—‘Believe this and that’; but with the demand that you square your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One Whom the Bible reveals (cf. John 5:39–40 ). We are called to present liberty of conscience, not liberty of view. If we are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty—the liberty of realizing the dominance of Jesus Christ.
Always keep your life measured by the standards of Jesus. Bow your neck to His yoke alone, and to no other yoke whatever; and be careful to see that you never bind a yoke on others that is not placed by Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us out of the way of thinking that unless everyone sees as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view. There is only one liberty, the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.
Don’t get impatient, remember how God dealt with you—with patience and with gentleness; but never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples,’ not—make converts to your opinions.

Streams in the Desert

May 6

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” (Psa. 25:14)

THERE are secrets of Providence which God’s dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”
Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.
God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence.—A. B. Simpson.

“Not until each loom is silent,
  And the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the pattern
  And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
  In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
  For the pattern which He planned.”

He that is mastered by Christ is the master of every circumstance. Does the circumstance press hard against you? Do not push it away. It is the Potter’s hand. Your mastery will come, not by arresting its progress, but by enduring its discipline, for it is not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor, but it is making your resources available.

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