Vital Intercession

Praying Together
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… —Ephesians 6:18

As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone. We have then put our sympathy and concern for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.

It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. It is sympathy with ourselves or with others that makes us say, “I will not allow that thing to happen.” And instantly we are out of that vital connection with God.

Vital intercession leaves you with neither the time nor the inclination to pray for your own “sad and pitiful self.” You do not have to struggle to keep thoughts of yourself out, because they are not even there to be kept out of your thinking. You are completely and entirely identified with God’s interests and concerns in other lives. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.

by Oswald Chambers

Revolution: The Birth of Change!

As Christians, we are rightfully nervous about the notion of revolution.

A revolution is a revolt, something that is revolting—and that sounds like rebellion! And we are not often proponents of rebellion, certainly not toward God and hopefully not toward civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7).

So why is this month’s issue of Turning Points Magazine focused on revolution? Because we’re looking at the pure sense of the word—it comes from the Latin revolutio, meaning “a turn around.” Admittedly, “turning around” sounds safe. But history has added muscle and energy to this idea and branded it revolution—which describes most of history’s great changes, especially the military and political ones. But that’s okay. There are plenty of times when we need to add a degree of energy to our life and “turn some things around.” We need to become spiritual revolutionaries when we discover areas of our life that are dominating us, oppressing us, enslaving us, and holding us back from our potential in Christ.

Didn’t bold energy drive the great revolutions in human history? I am most familiar with the American Revolution (1765-1783), in which the newfound Americans wanted independence. The Declaration of Independence (1776) laid out the reasons for the revolution and a conflict ensued. The same can be said for the French Revolution (1789-1799), in which the people revolted against their monarchs. In 1917 the people of Russia overthrew the czarist government in the Bolshevik Revolution. But not all revolutions are violent—the Industrial Revolution (1760-1830) happened gradually over nearly a century.

Revolutions begin and end differently. The American Revolution ended in democracy while the Bolshevik Revolution launched seventy years of Communism in Russia. But all revolutions, regardless of their intent or outcome, share this trait: Revolution means change that is met with resistance. And that goes for the revolutions—the changes—you and I need to commit to in our personal and family lives. Anyone who has committed to getting up 30 minutes earlier each day for a devotional time with God knows that revolution is met with resistance.

That was certainly true in the first century of the church’s young life. We can capture the nature of that revolution in these words of Jesus: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22, italics added). There were lots of “old wineskins” that were not fit to hold the “new wine” of the kingdom of God. Even as a nonviolent revolutionary (change agent), Jesus was definitely met with resistance—spiritual, political, ideological, and cultural.

Consider what the Gospel and the early church were up against—why a revolution was imperative:

– There was political resistance. Rome allowed the Jews to worship, but when Christ acknowledged Himself to be a king, Rome clamped down (Luke 23:3).

– There was religious resistance. The Jewish leadership was not welcoming to a carpenter from Galilee who was hailed as God’s anointed one—Christ or Messiah— (Matthew 21:9).

– There was ethnic resistance. The idea that God’s covenant blessings were available to Gentiles as well as Jews was revolutionary (Acts 9:15).

– There was cultural resistance. The Gospel welcomed women as well as men, slaves as well as free, poor as well as rich, and irreligious as well as religious. The Gospel broke down the man-made cultural divisions between people (Galatians 3:28).

– There was spiritual resistance. The Gospel called people to repentance. It was no longer acceptable to live with one foot in church and one foot in the world (Romans 12:2).

We see the resistance to revolution throughout the book of Acts—the book ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome. Church history is a revolution in progress.

But what about us? Are our lives revolutions in progress as well? Are there political, religious, ethnic, cultural, or spiritual yokes we need to cast off? Have we become settled in a safe, silent, and sheltered version of Christianity? Are we part of the Kingdom Revolution in conflict with this world’s entrenched patterns of resistance to God?

By David Jeremiah

Preciousness

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The verses leading up to our text explain why we are so special in God’s eyes. We find the key in verse 7, which literally reads, “For you, therefore that believe is the preciousness,” since the Greek word is a noun and not an adjective. But what is this preciousness? The word means honor or honorableness, and in slightly different forms is so translated in 1 Peter 1:7 and 3:7. But whose honor or worthiness is being discussed in this passage?

Peter answers both of these questions in the immediate context. Speaking of the Lord, he calls Him “precious . . . a chief corner stone, elect, precious” (1 Peter 2:4, 6). Christ, in God’s eyes, is precious. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Why is He precious? For His purity, love, desire for God’s will, etc.—all the ways (and more) in which we are not precious.

If we choose to remain in disobedient unbelief (1 Peter 2:7), the stone is made “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word” (v. 8). Christ, God’s beloved Son, and His atoning blood are so precious to God that there is a limit to His patience toward those who reject them. God will not allow His Son to be “disallowed” or disobeyed without penalty. Worthlessness is the state of those who reject, and judgment awaits them.

If we disbelieve, we have no hope, but “he that believeth on him shall not be confounded [literally, ‘shall positively not be disappointed’]” (v. 6). Our faith is well-founded. If we place our trust in Him, His preciousness is transferred to us. When God the Father looks at one who truly believes, He sees not only Christ’s sinlessness, He sees His preciousness. JDM

Starving at the Father’s Table

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. —John 21:15

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.

Lord, send the refreshing of Your Spirit into our midst, that none of those who listen to our teaching may starve at the Father’s table. Amen.

Christ Does in Us What We Cannot Do

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4

Writing to the Corinthian believers, Paul promised full spiritual deliverance and stability in the knowledge that Jesus Christ “is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” He also assured the Colossian believers: “You are complete in Him!”

Our great need, then, is simply Jesus Christ. He is what we need. He has what we need. He knows what we need to know. He has the ability to do in us what we cannot do—working in us that which is wellpleasing in God’s sight.

This is a difficult point in spiritual doctrine and life for many people who may have been prominent and ambitious, and used to doing their own thing in their own way!

But no matter who we are, we must acknowledge that it is a gracious plan and provision for men and women in the kindness and wisdom of God. Brothers and sisters, we get Christ and glory and fruitfulness, a future and the world to come and the spirits of just men made perfect; we get Jesus, mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of the everlasting covenant; an innumerable company of angels and the church of the firstborn and the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God!

And before we get all that, we have the privilege and the prospect of loving and joyful service for Christ and for mankind on this earth!

An Exclusive Attachment

But now, after that ye… are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements? GALATIANS 4:9

I am not in the business of trying to downgrade any other believer’s efforts to win souls. I am just of the opinion that we are often too casual and there are too many tricks that can be used to make soul-winning encounters completely “painless” and at “no cost” and without any “inconvenience.”

Some of the unsaved with whom we deal on the “quick and easy” basis have such little preparation and are so ignorant of the plan of salvation that they would be willing to bow their heads and “accept” Buddha or Zoroaster if they thought they could get rid of us in that way.

To “accept Christ” in anything like a saving relationship is to have an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, complete and exclusive!

It is more than joining some group that you like. It is more than having enjoyable social fellowship with other nice people. You give your heart and life and soul to Jesus Christ—and He becomes the center of your transformed life!

Lord, as Your followers share the gospel around the world today, I pray that each hearer will have a clear understanding of the consequences of the decision they will make to either accept or reject Jesus.