Sanctification (1)

This is the will of God, your sanctification. . . —1 Thessalonians 4:3

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Sanctification requires our coming to the place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid. There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized— something within us pushing with resentment against the demands of Christ. When the Holy Spirit begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle starts immediately. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate . . . his own life . . . he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

In the process of sanctification, the Spirit of God will strip me down until there is nothing left but myself, and that is the place of death. Am I willing to be myself and nothing more? Am I willing to have no friends, no father, no brother, and no self-interest— simply to be ready for death? That is the condition required for sanctification. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us falter. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ on this point. We say, “But this is so strict. Surely He does not require that of me.” Our Lord is strict, and He does require that of us.

Am I willing to reduce myself down to simply “me”? Am I determined enough to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, and all that I think of myself? Am I willing and determined to hand over my simple naked self to God? Once I am, He will immediately sanctify me completely, and my life will be free from being determined and persistent toward anything except God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

When I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me— it is Himself in me (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).

by Oswald Chambers

Prayer Makes a Difference

1 Timothy 2:1-8

After observing the godless trends in our nation, we readily recognize the need for change. But God’s solution for our predicament is surprising. Paul instructs Timothy to establish some priorities in the church, and first on the list is prayer “for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:2). The reason for our petitions is so that we can live tranquil and godly lives and thereby have unhindered opportunities to tell others about the Savior (vv. 2-4).

Paul wouldn’t have given Timothy this instruction unless he believed the prayers of the church would make a difference in achieving God’s purposes for their nation. Our problem is not with the Lord’s promise or capability, but with our lack of faith. By focusing on the enormity of the problems or the power of those in office, we lose sight of our sovereign God who waits for us to request His intervention.

Political policies and legislation are not ultimately determined in conference rooms and governmental chambers, but in prayer closets. The voices that shape the direction of a nation are not necessarily those that ring out in legislative halls, but those that approach the throne room of God with bold faith (Heb. 4:16). As the church believes and prays, the Lord will respond.

Knowing that God can change a country, you may be wondering why He has waited so long. Maybe He is asking you a similar question: “Why have you waited so long to pray?” Every authority on earth can be touched by the power of prayer if we are willing to ask and believe God.

Greater Damnation

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” (Matthew 23:14)

Among the eight “woes” in Matthew 23 is this awful condemnation on religious leaders for misusing their office and misleading their followers. What they did was pretty serious, but the emphasis in the passage is on the “greater” result of their impact on many lives. James certainly had this incident in mind when he said, “My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).

Paul’s second letter to Timothy listed a series of wicked attitudes that would characterize religious leaders in the last days, warning us about the prevalent conditions. They would have a “form of godliness” but would deny “the power thereof.” Those of us who love the Lord are told to “turn away” from them, “for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5-7).

The overriding principle is this: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day knew the Scriptures. Therefore, their hypocritical and destructive behavior received His harsh judgment.

Just so, all those who use their platform of leadership to distort truth and seek the praise of men (John 12:43)—whether in religious environs, in positions of political authority (as were the Pharisees and Sadducees), or merely the “masters” of academia—will reap “the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

May the Lord give us the discernment to avoid “them which cause divisions and offences” (Romans 16:17). HMM III

I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not

I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.—Isaiah 42:16.

WHEN over dizzy heights we go,
One soft hand blinds our eyes,
The other leads us, safe and slow,
O Love of God most wise!
ELIZA SCUDDER.

THE simple thought of a life which is to be the unfolding of a Divine plan is too beautiful, too captivating, to suffer one indifferent or heedless moment. Living in this manner, every turn of your experience will be a discovery to you of God,
every change a token of His fatherly counsel. Whatever obscurity, darkness, trial, suffering, falls upon you; your defeats, losses, injuries; your outward state, employment, relations; what seems hard, unaccountable, severe, or, as nature might say, vexatious—all these you will see are parts or constitutive elements in God’s beautiful and good plan for you, and, as such, are to be accepted with a
smile. Take your burdens, and troubles, and losses, and wrongs, if come they must and will, as your opportunities, knowing that God has girded you for greater things than these. HORACE BUSHNELL.

Brethren, pray for us all

Brethren, pray for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:25

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. — Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

James 5:14-18. Ephesians 6:18. Romans 1:9. Colossians 4:12.

Then cometh the end

Then cometh the end. 1 Corinthians 15:24

Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. — The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. — The coming of the Lord draweth nigh. The judge standeth before the door. — Surely I come quickly.

Seeing … that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?

The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. — Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Matthew 13:32,33,37. 2 Peter 3:9. James 5:8,9. Revelation 22:20. 2 Peter 3:11. 1 Peter 4:7. Luke 12:35,36.