The Opened Sight

I now send you, to open their eyes…that they may receive forgiveness of sins… —Acts 26:17-18

This verse is the greatest example of the true essence of the message of a disciple of Jesus Christ in all of the New Testament.

God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, “…that they may receive forgiveness of sins….” When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion— only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.

This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: “…an inheritance among those who are sanctified….” In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.

by Oswald Chambers

The Way to Acquire Wisdom

Proverbs 2:1-7

Knowledge is a prized commodity in the world, but more important than knowledge is wisdom (Prov. 8:11). God wants us to view life from His viewpoint and evaluate everything according to biblical principles.

How are believers to acquire this God-given insight? The obvious answer is that we must seek it. Too often, however, people who say they want to be wise do little to actually make that happen. Like any worthwhile treasure, wisdom must be actively pursued and carefully gleaned from its sources.

The first source is the Bible. Proverbs teaches that we should pay attention to God’s life-giving words and hold His commands in our hearts (4:20-22). These days information is broadcast with the slant of the people who packaged it. The only way to know the right perspective—namely, God’s—is to read His ancient “broadcast” and apply its principles (8:33).

Another source of wisdom is the counsel of godly men and women (12:15). The Lord at times brings fellow believers into our life to offer biblical advice, encouragement, or reproof. In Proverbs, those who ignore the words of a righteous person are labeled “fool.” Don’t be foolish. Surround yourself with other followers of Christ who are also seeking wisdom as their treasure.

Our heavenly Father ensures that those who seek wisdom will find it (8:12, 17). Diligent believers will discover they possess abundant treasure: In addition to godly insight, they’ll have knowledge, discernment, and prudence—rare riches in the modern world. Use them well.

Suffer Little Children

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)

A widely-read book several decades ago based its title, Suffer Little Children, on this plea of Christ but used the words instead to refer to the terrible harm being suffered by America’s little children in its public schools and humanistic social institutions. Not only were they being indoctrinated with evolutionary just-so stories but also with socialistic understanding of the world and its nations and people.

And if things were bad forty and fifty years ago, they are much worse today with the modern promotion of deviant lifestyles and wide use of behavior-modifying “medicines” to control behavior. There are certainly many good Christian teachers and schools, but the overall trend is so bad that many Bible-believing churches and organizations are diligently promoting Christian schools and home schools as a needed means of escape from the deadly influence of public schools on the children.

Worst of all is the deliberate banning of prayer, God, the Bible, and Christ from the schools in a misused devotion to the myth of church/state separation. Instead of “suffering the little children” to come to Christ like He said, most of them do all they can to prevent it.

Those who promote this situation are in grave danger themselves. Jesus warned: “But 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” (Matthew 18:6).

There is a better way, of course. A good school, acting en loco parentis, should seek heartily to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). HMM

Longing After God

Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight. —Exodus 33:13

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight” (Exodus 33:13); and from there he rose to make the daring request, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory” (33:18). God was frankly pleased by this display of ardor, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him.

Restore to us today this deep longing I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Every One Must Pray As if He Alone Could Pray

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1

Thomas á Kempis wrote that the man of God ought to be more at home in his prayer chamber than before the public. It is not too much to say that the preacher who loves to be before the public is hardly prepared spiritually to be before them. Right praying may easily make a man hesitant to appear before an audience.

The man who is really at home in the presence of God will find himself caught in a kind of inward contradiction. He is likely to feel his responsibility so keenly that he would rather do almost anything than face an audience; and yet the pressure upon his spirit may be so great that wild horses could not drag him away from his pulpit.

No man should stand before an audience who has not first stood before God. Many hours of communion should precede one hour in the pulpit. The prayer chamber should be more familiar than the public platform.

Schools teach everything about preaching except the important part, praying. The best any school can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual. That it is the one religious work which gets done with the least enthusiasm cannot but be one of the tragedies of our times!

In true prayer, every man must be an original, for true prayer cannot be imitated nor can it be learned from someone else. Everyone must pray as if he alone could pray!

Grace Can Be Costly

For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace… grace be with you all. Amen.
HEBREWS 13:9, 25

Christians all around us are trying every shortcut they can think of to get “something for nothing” in the kingdom of God. Talk to them and they will predictably flare up: “Isn’t grace something for nothing?” That depends upon what kind of grace we are talking about.

Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave his life as a martyr in Hitler’s Germany, but he left a book now known around the world: The Cost of Discipleship. He pointed out a sharp distinction between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” Although God’s grace has been given freely to humans who do not deserve it, Bonhoeffer believed it rightly could be called “costly grace” because it cost our Lord Jesus Christ even the suffering of death.

Some men and women have actually turned God’s grace into lasciviousness. They do not know what the word grace means—that God gives us out of His rich and full goodness although we are unworthy of it. When I preach about the grace
of God and point out that Jesus commanded us to take up our cross and follow Him, those who do not know the meaning of grace respond: “Oh, Tozer is now preaching legalism.”

Father, as I go about the activities of my day today—and for each month of this year—I want to be mindful of Your “costly grace” and desire to grow more deeply in my understanding of it.