Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” —Matthew 16:24

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.

The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “…let him deny himself…”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

By Oswald Chambers

A Constant Friend

Proverbs 6:6

Isn’t it funny what God can use to teach us the most fundamental things? The book of Proverbs tells us that if we want to be wise, we should look at a tiny ant! If we can learn wisdom from the way ants operate, where else might we find some key lessons?

Let me share an example from my own life. For years and years, I had a dog—a German schnauzer whose name was Rommel. Every afternoon as I pulled my car into the driveway, there came Rommel to greet me. Many times, he would seem to stand at attention at the top of the drive, as if he were saying, “Welcome home, sir. Everything is under control here!”

Now, sometimes I had to correct Rommel for something he had done or for the occasional accident around the house. However, no matter what I did—whether it was disciplining my dog or not giving him enough attention from time to time—he never seemed to love me any less. Rommel was always happy to see me, and he always wanted to be with me.

One day while I was playing with my pet, the Lord impressed a truth upon my heart. I looked at that dog and said, “Rommel, no matter what I do, you always love me. I’d like to be that kind of friend.”

This realization taught me something about Jesus. He never changes and His love never waivers, no matter what I do or how I treat Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And His love is always constant. If a dog can exemplify this simple truth, we should aim for nothing less.

Ministry of the Holy Spirit

“God . . . hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:8)

Every believer has some awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if there is no such awareness, then there is absolutely no relationship with God (Romans 8:9). Just what, then, is the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives?

All who have come to God by faith have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit prior to salvation. From the world’s perspective, that constitutes His ministry. The Holy Spirit is commissioned by Jesus Christ to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Acting as God the Father’s operative Agent, the Holy Spirit draws us into a personal consciousness of our sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the absolute certainty of judgment to come.

This reproof has but one goal: to bring about regeneration (Titus 3:5) and give us witness that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). What is born from above (John 3:3) is nothing less than a “new creature” by the triune Godhead (2 Corinthians 5:17), created like God in “righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). The Holy Spirit energizes our “dead” spirit and causes us to “live” (1 Peter 4:6).

And that is just the beginning! Once regenerated, the Holy Spirit sees to it, as the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), that we are led (Romans 8:14) into truth—because the Holy Spirit will not invent information, but will take truth directly from the mind and heart of God.

With that leading, we are sanctified (both positionally and progressively), having been chosen to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). With the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 1:8), we can exhibit His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) and come under His filling (Ephesians 5:18). May the glorious ministry of the Holy Spirit be yours both as promised and in practice. HMM III

Light is sown for the righteous, gladness for the upright in heart

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.—Psalm 97:11.

SUN of the soul,Thou light divine,
Around and in us brightly shine,
To strength and gladness wake us.
Where Thou shinest, life from heaven
There is given; we before
Thee For that precious gift implore Thee.

THAT is what our sacrifice of ourselves should be—”full of life.” Not desponding, morbid, morose; not gloomy, chilly, forbidding; not languid, indolent, inactive; but full of life, and warmth, and energy; cheerful, and making others cheerful; gay, and making others gay; happy, and making others happy; contented, and making others contented; doing good, and making others do good, by our lively vivid vitality,—filling every corner of our own souls and bodies, filling every corner of the circle in which we move, with the fresh lifeblood of a warm, genial, kindly Christian heart. Doubtless this requires a sacrifice; it requires us to give up our own comfort, our own ease, our own firesides, our dear solitude, our own favorite absorbing pursuits, our shyness, our reserve, our pride, our selfishness. ARTHUR P. STANLEY.

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:14

It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. — Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. — Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord.

Let not your good be evil spoken of

Let not your good be evil spoken of. Romans 14:16

Abstain from all appearance of evil. — Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. — For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. — Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. — Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. — Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

1 Thessalonians 5:22. 2 Corinthians 8:21. 1 Peter 2:15. 1 Peter 4:15,16. Galatians 5:13. 1 Corinthians 8:9. Matthew 18:6. Matthew 25:40.