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May 11

11 MAY – A Right Apprehension of the Blood

Oh! If the Lord’s people could get this in their hearts. There are so many of the Lord’s people today over whom Satan is lording it; lording it along the line of accusation, bringing them under a sense of condemnation and judgment, robbing them of their peace, of their assurance, rest, hope; and you will find these people are everlastingly talking about their own short-comings, their sinfulness; they are forever circling round themselves, all that they are that they would not be, all that they are not that they would be. Their deliverance from Satan is that they should have a fresh apprehension of the absolute satisfaction of the Father in His Son on their behalf, and that they find their standing before the Father in acceptance. That is the way of deliverance, the way of the Adversary’s casting out. This is the way of overcoming him as the Accuser. Yes, the ground of the Blood is sufficient for this full-orbed, many-sided, all-round victory. “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb,” and the first and supreme factor in the virtue of that Blood in all these directions, is its untainted sinlessness, the nature of the Lord Jesus. There has never been another who was such.

Oh, I am so glad that it was God that came in Christ. We receive by faith the virtue of that precious Blood; that is, the perfection of the Lord Jesus can be put to our account. That is grace – the wonder of the Gospel. If we were to begin to analyze ourselves and take stock of ourselves, that would be a terrible business, a wretched business, and it would be endless. Think of it, beloved, with all that we know of ourselves, all that God knows about us “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart. I try the reins…”

I am not saying that any of us ever becomes sinlessly perfect in ourselves here, but those perfections of the Lord Jesus are put to our account before God to satisfy His requirements, to provide the ground where Satan no longer has authority. The defeat of Satan and the victory of the saints is not by their effort, their straining, their groaning, nor by anything they can do; it is the measure of their faith’s appropriation of the absolute perfection of Christ for them as a living, working thing of God on their behalf. It is a great thing to be in Christ Jesus.

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May 10

10 MAY – “One Thing I Do” – Not “One Thing I Hope To Do”!

The Lord is eventually triumphant in His Church. Paul’s journey to Rome represents that truth. He writes, “And so we came to Rome” (Acts 28:14). How much is packed into that little word “so”! It was something given into his heart by the Lord, something around which all kinds of expectations and imaginations were woven, all of which were entirely disappointed, undone, brought to disintegration and changed; but the purpose of God stood. That which God had put into the heart went through and was found at last to be not of man but of God.

I wonder what Paul felt like as he entered Rome; remembering when long ago the thing came into his heart, and all his visions and expectations and hope, and all his thoughts of going beyond Rome to Spain and now this is how things have worked out! And so it is with us: not as we thought, not as we expected and planned, but we are here! That is the thing that matters; we are here!

We can transfer that to the large issue of the course of the child of God as well as of the Church. How many times have we looked at the storm, looked at situations, looked at our own faults and mistakes, at what the enemy has called our blunders, and have said, ‘Oh, it is hopeless, we shall never get there!’ And yet despite all that has happened, we are still going on, even though we cannot yet say that we have arrived. It will be like that if our hearts are as knit to the Lord and His eternal purpose as was that of this dear man Paul. When we get to heaven, we shall say, ‘And so we came to heaven! Here we are!’ We shall look at one another and say, ‘Well, brother, you did not think you were going to be here, but here you are!’ Believe me, that is God’s sovereign part; and if any responsibility on our part comes in at all, it is that we should be of the spirit of this man who said, “One thing I do” (Phil. 3:13) not, ‘I hope to do’, or, ‘I am going to do when my present phase of life is passed, when my college years are finished’; not ‘tomorrow’, not ‘presently’, not ‘when I am trained’. No, “One thing I do”; I am doing it now. If we are like that, we can count on this sovereignty of God, which may upset our plans and change our expectations; but we shall be there, and heaven will triumph in getting us there.

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May 9

9 MAY – God Rules the Unseen and Overrules the Seen

The Church does not proceed, even toward Divinely-fixed and appointed ends, by a protected course. Even with the Lord’s end in view, we do not go by a way that is completely immune either from our weaknesses or from difficulties and adversities, and things which seem to upset completely all our plans. Our whole course will always be that of Divine overruling, not only ruling as in the unseen, but overruling in the seen. You must ever remember that those two things go hand in hand. God is ruling in the unseen; He is overruling in the seen. In the course there will always be plenty of room for an argument as to misadventure, calamity, defeat, tragedy, giving rise to regret, doubt and even condemnation. If we are so disposed, we can say, ‘Oh, this is a calamity, this is defeat! This is due to my mistake, and everything is wrecked!’

Had Paul been of another kind, like some of us, he would have said, ‘I wish I had not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:32)! See what trouble I have got myself into (shipwreck)! I am going to the bottom of the sea, and all my work is finished!’ There is always room for that if we are so disposed, and thus to get under condemnation because we have made mistakes. The Lord has never so acted with His people that there was no room for anything like that. If we want to doubt, we shall have plenty of occasion for doubting. If we want to speak of tragedy, we shall have plenty of tragic experience. If we are disposed to get under condemnation, there will be plenty to take on.

The way to God’s end is not a way free from these elements or from the possibility of so interpreting things. It will be that, in all and through all, God overrules, and at last we shall be able to exclaim, as Paul did, “and so we came to Rome” (Acts 28:14); the end reached through so much. What is the end in view? It is not just to journey to see this temporal Rome. The end which looms up out of that visit is the great calling and destiny of the Church in union with Christ who in all things has the pre-eminence. That is the sum of the letters to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians – the preeminence of Christ, and the Church united with Him therein. That is the end of the journey; that is what is in view beyond.

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May 8

8 MAY – The Break Up of All That Is In Man

The apostle Paul and his companions who can be said to represent the church went by ship, and that to my mind represents all such manmade means employed by God for the reaching of His ends, to Rome.

On the way while on the one side there seemed to be so much that was working in opposition and reverse and contradiction; on the other side it was a case of the stripping off of all the works of men. The ship did go to pieces, the man-made thing employed by the sovereignty of God to reach His ends. It was thrown away when His ends were in the way of realization.

There are a lot of things made by men, and godly men at that, which the Lord makes use of, but they will go, e.g. places of meeting, institutions, societies, organizations: they are made by men, they are useful, they help toward God’s end, but like the ship, they are but means to the end. You must not put all your faith in the ship; you must not ascribe final values to the place, the means, the instrument. We shall find that the Lord has not committed Himself to keep the means intact, to hold the instrument for eternity.

It is His Church that He is after, which He is preserving, which is to come out alive; and on the way, the ‘things’ will have to go, they will have to be broken up, they cannot meet the full impact of the forces of evil in this terrific storm. The forces of evil are too much for anything made by man, but they are not the equal of what God has made: His Church will come out all right.

Be careful that you do not put too much upon God’s means, God’s instrument, the ship. Keep your eye on God’s real object. The framework of things may break up, but God’s spiritual values will be eternally preserved. And let us not worry too much if God sees the time has come for the stripping off of things. They may have served a very good purpose and our hearts may be very much linked with them, with that place or that instrumentality; but if the Lord begins to break it up and take it from us, do not think everything of value is going. No, it is the spiritual values upon which our hearts must be set.

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May 7

7 MAY – Are You a Sign Spoken Against?

The presence of the Lord Jesus brings in the heavenly standard, the heavenly laws, the heavenly system, and it is not easy for anyone unless you are on the side of heaven. Jesus was the sign which was spoken against. They could not get Him to conform to the customary thing, because He was not going to be a party to their falsehood, their hypocrisy, their formality, to their unspiritual condition which lay back of their outward ritual; and therefore He was a provocation; and He is always like that. He will find out whether we are governed more by policy than by principle, whether temporal interests concern us more than eternal considerations.

When He said to His brethren after being urged by them to go up to the feast, “Go ye up unto the feast: I go not up unto this feast.” “But when his brethren were gone up unto the feast, then went he also up, not publicly, but as it were in secret” (John 7:8-10). It looks a little difficult, does it not? – as though He is involved in some duplicity. But what does it mean? It was the feast of tabernacles and it celebrated the consummation of the emancipation from Egypt and the entrance into the kingdom of God, the deliverance from this present evil world and translation into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love. That kingdom was embodied in Christ Himself, not in Jerusalem, nor now in any earthly celebrations of historic feasts. He is the kingdom of God; therefore He does not make it a matter of mere occasional celebration in an external way like that. The celebration was empty, false. Thus in no way would He allow it to be thought that He was in that. He was apart from it, and if He did go up “not publicly but as it were in secret” it was because He went to try to get people out of the false representation of heavenly things, to bring them to Himself as the embodiment of the heavenly thought of God about the feast of tabernacles.

He was a provocation because in His own behavior He signified something of another, a heavenly, order. It is ever so. Where the Lord’s children are living by heavenly principles, what provocation it arouses, what speaking against! You cannot be a heavenly child of God and not be spoken against. Do not try to escape being spoken against. You signify something, and everything of this world is against that something.

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May 6

6 MAY – The Challenge of His Presence

We should realize that many times when we are being provoked, upset, annoyed, and do not know why, the reason is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is at work upon us because we are out of harmony with our Lord. In such a case we can take one of two attitudes: either get right, or go from bad to worse and become more and more bitter, even against the Lord.

Jesus is a sign spoken against; it implies something, and the effect of this implication is to provoke. Should you begin to see what Jesus means, there will be some reaction; and if you are not prepared to accept the implication of Jesus Christ you will be strongly provoked. You will not remain neutral, you will begin to fight. That is where Saul of Tarsus was. Deeper down than all else, he was fighting against the Lord, kicking against the goad. That was the innermost meaning of it. He was provoked by the significance of Jesus, the significance of Christ Himself. In the person of Christ you have a different kind of man, no mere earthly man, but a heavenly Man. Here is a Man embodying in His own person a holy, heavenly standard, the standard of heaven, and men are being measured and weighed by heavenly standards in the presence of the Lord Jesus, not only by what He says, and the judgments that He verbally passes, but by His presence. They are discovering that here is a standard that finds out their smallness, their lack, and their difference. You know that is very true.

When a true child of God, indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, goes into a business house to work or into some ungodly home, it often happens that, without their saying anything about their being a Christian, a strain begins to be felt, and people begin to be nasty or pass remarks. Something in the very atmosphere is stirred up and provoked by the presence of Christ in the believer. Even a true, humble, loving child of God finds that something is provoked, and he or she becomes a marked person and known to be different. People begin to feel uncomfortable. If that is true of some simple child of God, how much more true it must have been of the very Son of God Himself. His presence was the standard measure of heaven. Men could not measure up to it, and they felt all wrong and uncomfortable in His presence. He was a sign. There was a significance about Him, about His very presence, which was spoken against: it provoked.

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May 5

5 MAY – God’s End-Time Work – Everything Essentially Spiritual

What is the service of God at an end-time? The particular work of God at an end-time is, to begin with, the constituting of a new and spiritually inclusive dispensation, a new age of an essentially and wholly spiritual kind. In Heb. 12:27 we have, “And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.” That word ‘removing’ really means the transferring or the transposing on to another and different basis. The fact that that comes at the end of the letter to the Hebrews is significant, for that letter is just full of that earthly system of Judaism with all its forms, its ritual, its make-up and constitution. All that is earthly, even in relation to God, is going to be removed, and everything is going to be transferred to another basis – a spiritual, a heavenly basis; and when things begin to happen on the ground of an end-time, that is the character of what is taking place.

The earthly is now going to be forced to give way to the heavenly, the temporal to the spiritual, the outward to the inward. Then it will be proved just how much we have that can be transferred, for there are many things that are not going to be transferred. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). That signifies and implies that there is a whole order of creation which is not going to constitute that eternal order; it is to pass away. Everything is going to be transferred to another basis, and this kind of thing intensifies at an end-time.

What God will see to, by sheer force of conditions, is that anything that is only temporal will go and that which is spiritual alone will remain. There must therefore be intensifying processes to bring out the spiritual. Is not that where we are? The Lord seems to be concentrating upon bringing out spiritual values, making spiritual men and women, and if I am not mistaken, we are going to see, and are already seeing, the removal of so much, the external things, upon which Christians have been relying as though these things constituted their Christian life. We are going to be forced back to the place where the one question that faces us is, After all, what have I got of the Lord Himself? Not, What can I do; where can I go? but, What have I got? Now is the test. What have I got in my hands?

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May 4

4 MAY – Christ Our Life

When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested…” (Colossians 3:4)

One of the main objects of the Holy Spirit is to get believers really identified with Christ as the risen and exalted Lord, and to make His risen life real in their experience. As the age moves toward its consummation – the manifestation of Christ – two features will become increasingly evident. On the one hand things, men, movements, institutions, organizations, etc., will predominate and draw multitudes after them, and will attach the crowds to themselves. On the other hand, with a growing disappointment and disillusionment over these, a minority will turn to the Lord Himself to find Him alone as their life.

Three elements will inhere in all this. One is the unmistakable development of the principle of Anti-christ; that which will definitely supplant Christ, or intend to do so. The second is the alternative to the whole Christ in man-made Christianity, an imitation life born and carried on by its own momentum. The third, a deep and genuine quest for reality, truth, and inward knowledge of the Lord Himself. In the first case it will be naked worship of man in human power: a tremendous overflow of humanism, the wonder and glory of man. The third will be Christ altogether as the life.

If the Christian is attached to some thing, such as a teaching, a tradition, an institution, a movement, or person, the end will certainly be a limitation of life and eventually confusion and disappointment, perhaps worse. The New Testament makes it unmistakably clear and emphatic that the destiny of all is to be “Christ all and in all.” We must learn that a true work of the Spirit of God is to attach everything to Christ Himself. He, Christ, must be the life of our spirit, the “inner man,” so that we are strong in the Lord: not in ourselves, nor in others, nor in things. We shall have to survive adversity by His strength within alone.

Christ will need to be life for our bodies. There is such a thing as Divine life for the physical body. Not always does the Lord choose to heal the body, but He does always want to be its life, even in suffering, to fulfill His purpose.

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May 3

3 MAY – The Challenge of Christ In Us

“I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Are our hearts set upon God having that which is wholly of Himself? That means ‘I’ crucified! No longer I, but Christ! And that means that Christ in us is the basis of our conformity to His image, until we partake with Him of His own nature pure gold. It is something to face seriously before Him. It brings to us a challenge, but surely it also brings to us a glorious possibility! What Christ is can be made good in us!

This is what God is doing in the groaning creation. It does not appear to be so, for, to all appearances the ‘fullness’ seems to be evil. Do you remember a very illuminating phrase in Genesis 15:16: “The iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full”? The context shows that Israel’s exodus and occupation of the Promised Land waited upon the Amorite’s full cup of iniquity. “Amorite” is a representative name for all the nations then occupying the land. When that cup of iniquity was full, God emancipated Israel. The exodus synchronized with a condition in the world. The filling of the land with what was of God required the enemy’s extension of his evil nature to its limit; then God acted.

The end time will be marked by ‘iniquity abounding’. The rapture of the Church will take place as its exodus when “the man of sin is revealed”, when the cup of iniquity is full. We are living at a time when there is a positive landslide of moral iniquity. It is called ‘the new morality’, but it is not morality at all, it is ‘non morality’.

If this is true of such a fragment of the world, what of the whole world situation? God is taking account of this. He is causing the simple facts of His salvation to be made known on a scale unprecedented in the world’s history, and when the whole world has had its opportunity, “then shall the end come”.

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May 2

2 MAY – Only What is of Christ is of Value

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves as we see personal desires being followed out, likes being served, preferences being manipulated, and it becomes so patent that there is something which is quite natural ruling decisions and making the plans: Where is the Cross, and where is the Holy Spirit working by the Cross? Therefore, you and I need to ask the Lord more every day to make these crises acute, that we shall have no blind spots on this matter, thinking that it is for the Lord when it is really for ourselves. Any measure of that ‘I’ is countering God’s end, and anything that is done, even though it be by a most devoted soul, for the Lord on that basis is bound to have in it that element which will limit its ETERNAL value.

The thing which is going to be wholly, utterly abiding, eternal, must be utterly Christ. It may, therefore, be necessary for a course of reduction to be followed by the Lord. The thing may seem small and it may seem to be very limited according to the world’s standards. What is going on can hardly be seen on the surface, but God is working right down at the bottom to build from the foundation, slowly, steadily, surely; and every fresh fragment that God adds to that work is sifted, purged, tested. It is as though God puts in something and then, before He adds to it, He tests it, proves it, tries it, sifts it, until the thing is, in its absolute purity, all of Christ and is established.

That seems to be God’s way with something that is going to be wholly of Christ. You can have, if you MUST, to gratify the old human desires to SEE, to POSSESS, to KNOW, to DO, to be active, something bigger. But when you look on toward the end, it will just be tested as to what is of Christ. All the other is waste. You have plenty of Scripture to bear that out. I am only putting my finger upon a central law. Is it not true that God has determined to have nothing in this universe eventually but what is Christ, and all else will be removed forever?

It is a glorious prospect to know that the universe will be filled with Christ, and God is going to have His end. When the Lord gets hold of a life utterly, and when the Cross has really entered into that life, so that that life can say: “I have been crucified with Christ”, nothing passes, nothing gets through that is not Christ.

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