July 3, 2011

"To Live is Christ"

Dear Reader,
I came across some beautiful passages in Scripture this morning, and read over familiar quotes from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening that I couldn't bear not to share with you! But before I do, I would like to explain my feelings concerning the condition of my present spiritual life, and thereby extend to you a further explanation for why these quotes and verses mean so much to me.

I confess, my spiritual life is once again the distracted, self-pleasing thing I have despised since the Holy Spirit entered into me. Oh, yes, I have met some spiritual goals, but reading a few chapters of God's Holy Word daily and praying every so often is hardly enough for any Christian's spiritual health. I cannot keep friends if I do not go out of my way to spend time with them, and nor can I grow any closer to Christ if my life does not become wholly reserved for loving and obeying Him. 

Halfhearted worship grieves the soul; halfhearted serving does not honor God. And yet, looking at myself, I can find no strength nor any virtue sufficient enough to further sanctify myself. My own attempts to be pure are weak indeed, and when I rely only on myself to attain the perfection I am called to as a Christian, I shall have nothing to look forward to but kneeling before God with tears of failure and regret.

But God has supplied for my great need.

Though I have no sufficient virtues, He has given me His Holy Spirit as a Helper and Guide for my wandering soul. He listens to my prayers and gives me strength --- and He gives me every spiritual fruit at the right time. Certainly, He will not instantly give me patience. I believe that when I ask for it, He shall give me the opportunity to be patient, and if I but listen to the Holy Spirit above my deceitful flesh, I shall find that I can achieve that foreign patience. You see, there is no patience in and of myself, but God alone gives it to me. 

I respect and love the martyrs for their bravery, for I myself am a coward. All my life I have been introverted. And even before my dearest friends, I feel that I behave as a stranger for fear that I shall hurt others or myself, lose their friendship by saying something wholly stupid, or that they shall see how great a sinner I am and grow to hate me as much as I hate my own sinful flesh. I've been battling with this kind of selfish thinking much of late, desiring and trying to let only Christ shine out through me to others. And I desire to grow ever closer to and more like Him, who is my Savior.

With all of that in mind, here also read this quote from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional:

"Pharaoh's dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of sloth have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous industry; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace. If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine which rages in my soul. When ... indifference, ... worldliness, ... and ... self-indulgence, lay my heart completely desolate, and make my soul to languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever. How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favoured hours! ... The only way in which all my days can be as the "fat kine," is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love, and usefulness, and joy? --- I am nearer the celestial hills, I have had more experience of my Lord, and should be more like Him. O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to cry, "My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!" but may I be well-fed and nourished in Thy house, that I may praise Thy name." -Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning, July 3 [emphasis added]

Pharaoh's dream was of seven sickly, thin cows eating up seven healthy, fat cows. In the same way, the sinfulness of the flesh eats up all of our spiritual progress. So we must be wary of falling away from God for even a moment and strive with everything we have to live in righteousness, holiness, Godliness, for God's glory.

And now, the encouragement of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, verses I plan on memorizing and carrying with me always:

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

It's easy to be halfhearted in our pursuits of holiness and Godliness with the flesh ever encompassing and the world always surrounding us, but Paul encourages us to give all the effort we can to win a prize that is lasting and better than anything we can have in this life or even begin to imagine!

Father Almighty,
May I not be a hypocrite by teaching things I do not myself strive to do, but make each one of Your children to be faithful to You, and to put on Your armor and fight against the flesh and the devil. Please do not let us fall away from You, O Lord, but grant us every virtue necessary to have victory over our foes for Your glory. May we all stand before You having done well in this life; having preached the Gospel to others, faithfully, humbly, without expecting anything in return, but living all-out for You alone, and not even in the smallest measurement for ourselves. May there never be given unto You, from any of Your children, the slightest halfhearted devotion or praise, but may we all remember what Christ sacrificed for our sakes, though we were worth nothing --- and after remembering this in our hearts, may we strive to return the favor with utmost love and joy.

All glory be to You, our Father, forever, and may Your will alone be done. Amen.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
 -Philippians 1:21

God bless, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

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