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August 27

27 AUG – The Altogether Other-ness of Christ

There is an otherness between us and the Lord. Yes, but it is this utterness of the difference between the Lord and ourselves that we have to learn, and that is going to set us over against the colossus of false doctrine, of the iniquitous lie which is being built upon this earth up to heaven, the lie of humanism.

That is the greatest lie that has been brought into this universe, that it is in man to be his own savior – that it is in man to rise to perfection, it is in man to be God; it is all in man, the roots are in himself. I say that is Satan’s colossus of iniquitous untruth, and God is working out the contradiction of that in a company, in His Church. It is being wrought, worked out, in the unseen; and while it is so difficult to accept it in the day of suffering, weakness, and darkness and inability to understand, if we knew the truth, the probability is that it is just this: God is doing with Satan in and through the Church what He did with Satan in and through Job, answering his challenge and his lie. Here is a broken, shattered, helpless little vessel of saints, bewildered, stripped, thrown back upon their God, unable to do or to understand, clinging to Him and seeking to prove Him, and through that the greatest iniquity in this universe is being assailed by God and answered.

The lie! There never was a time when that lie has reached greater proportion than it has today. But in you and in me, poor broken ones, God has His answer, and it does mean something to the Lord that we have been emptied out to the last drop, thrown back upon Him where He is our wisdom, He is our strength, He is our life, He is our very breath. That means something to Him.

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August 9

9 AUG – The Example of Mordecai

“Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went forth throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.” Esther 9:4

“The man… waxed greater and greater.” You see how this little phrase “the man” in every connection is related to stature, to growth, to greatness. “The man Mordecai waxed and greater.” Why? What was the secret of his greatness? Why did God sovereignly act to bring that man right up, in that startling way, from sitting at the door as a kind of eavesdropper and beggar, bring him up and up and up, until at last this could be said of him: “the man Mordecai waxed greater and greater”?

Why? There is only one reason. Here was a man who at any cost was devoted to the interests of the Lord’s people and to the Lord’s testimony as vested in the Lord’s people. That is the answer. You know the story of Mordecai and of Esther. Here is a man whose whole story is summed up in this deep, overwhelming concern for the Lord’s people, because they embodied the Lord’s testimony. We need, of course, to go over that whole ground of how Israel, chosen of God, was chosen as a people in the earth to be the vessel of His testimony, and here these people are at the point of being wiped out to the last child by this cunning, evil work, the devil-inspired device of Haman, “this wicked Haman”, the Agagite. This man Mordecai set himself right in the full tide and flood of that iniquity, which was nothing less than the destruction of the life of the people of God in order to carry away the Lord’s testimony from the earth. He set himself, and the tide broke on him, and God honored him and raised him up and saw to it that he became great. His greatness was not the mere turn of fortune in his favor. It was because of what God was in him; and it is ever like that. Whatever other people try to do, however much they try to keep us down and under and out, spiritual greatness will be brought about by the Lord in us, if only we have this overwhelming concern for His interests in His people.

These are the features of greatness, because they are the features of Christ, and it is by these things that we come to the full stature of “a man in Christ”. How important it is for us to recognize that all this is to be true in us as men and women, not as glorified saints hereafter, and certainly not as angels, but as men and women on this earth now, as human beings down here. How wonderful to know that it can commence and develop right away, even here and now, through the grace of God.

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August 8

8 AUG – Do You Think You Are Meek and Humble?

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3

What a verdict! “ABOVE all men”; head and shoulders above all other men! And how was he head and shoulders above all other men? It says it was in meekness, a tremendous summing up of a man’s life! You could say about Moses that he was great in many respects, very great, but the Bible does not make a lot of his greatness in other respects. The Bible passes its verdict upon him that he was the meekest man upon the earth. See God’s estimate of greatness, what God calls greatness: meekness. We need not stay with it.

What is it? Well, meekness is what he thought of himself; it is what a man is in himself and toward himself. When Moses was alone and when Moses had any thought about himself at all, those thoughts about himself were very poor. He never, when thinking about himself, recognized that there was any reason why he should assert himself, that there was any ground on which he could stand up for his rights or could be something; any reason why they ought to take account of what he was in his own inner life. There was none of that – it was the other way. His thoughts about himself were very small thoughts, and he was only in his position because he had great thoughts of God and little thoughts about himself. That is all we need say. That is Meekness. It works, of course, in many ways, it comes out in many ways; but that is the heart of the matter, what we are in our own eyes about ourselves, and therefore how we behave.

Moses was not always meek, as we know from his early life in Egypt; but, under the hand of God, his weakest point became his strongest.

Now look at the Lord Jesus. There did come a Man on the earth greater than Moses, and His greatness was superior greatness even to that of Moses. He was on the same ground. “I am meek and lowly in heart”, He said; “learn of Me” (Matt. 11:29). That is the way to grow. Pride is one of the most ruinous things in the realm of spiritual growth.

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August 7

7 AUG – Do You Yearn for Spiritual Growth?

Do you have a tremendous concern for reproduction and increase? That is the secret of spiritual full-growth, a real and mighty and triumphant concern for increase and reproduction. Whether it be the Church as a whole or a local company or an individual believer, spiritual growth, enlargement, ‘greatness’ will depend upon a deep concern for reproduction. It used to be said, and it is still said in some circles, that a non-missionary church is a dead church, it never grows; and there is much truth in that. Where there is no concern for reproduction, for the salvation of souls, for the expansion of the church, there is no growth. The kind of spirit that does the plowing, the sowing, the hard work, the grind; that endures, that exercises patience and courage against adversity and disappointment, and persists because it believes that this thing can be and should be, because the Lord of resurrection dictates it; that kind of spirit is going to lead to much enlargement, spiritually, of the individual, the local church, and the whole Church. So Isaac is not only the embodiment, but the expression of the power of resurrection, and that is shown by this great concern for increase.

Are you concerned for spiritual increase, or are you just sitting passively, indifferently, a passenger, a parasite, drawing everything to yourself and giving nothing? This thing must be a hundredfold; nothing less than that can really mark the full blessing of God – a hundredfold in me and in others. Oh, how that would correct a great deal of our attitude toward others. Our attitude is far too often one that would limit other people’s spiritual life. We criticize, we talk about them, we point out their faults; what is going on? How do we use our tongues about the Lord’s people and His servants? What is going on in our homes in that matter? If it really did touch those people of God directly, would it be to their enlargement, or be to their undoing or their limitation? What is our attitude? Are we true Isaacs in this, that we are concerned for their growth, for their increase, and are not going to do anything, by lip or hand or any other way, that would hinder the spiritual growth of other people, whether individuals or the Church?

It is a very pertinent thing, this. You may take it as a settled thing that if you are using your tongue detrimentally toward the people of God, you are cutting across your own spiritual growth; you are dwarfing your own spiritual stature. These people are little people, contemptible people; they are of small spiritual stature. Oh, may we grow up! And we shall grow up as we have a heart enlarged for spiritual increase.

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August 6

6 AUG – Marks of Spiritual Maturity

“And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? Know ye not that such a man as I can indeed divine?” Gen 44:15

Here is “the man”. What are the features of this man? This is a man of stature. He is a big man, he is a great man. This man is marked by great dignity. That is patent; it lies on the surface of the story. These brothers of his are all aware of the dignity of this man. This man is marked by discernment “Know ye not that such a man as I can indeed divine?” You remember that that was how Joseph got to his position. Pharaoh had his dream, and Joseph was the only one who could interpret, and the verdict was that the Spirit of God was in him. He could discern, he had power of discernment and interpretation. And he had authority. Everything is in this man’s hands. He has them completely in his hands. Those three things are the characteristics of Joseph – dignity, discernment, authority.

That is stature. Those are the things that mark spiritual full-growth. We could spend a lot of time on that. In one who has spiritual dignity there is nothing mean, nothing contemptible, nothing small, nothing petty; he is one who has to be recognized as a man of stature, as one who counts for something. The man who has discernment is one who can see through beyond his own nose, who is far-seeing, ‘in-seeing’, who has what we call vision; he is a man who has a secret knowledge of the meaning of things. And the possession of spiritual authority means that there is something about that man or woman which is more than themselves. They themselves, perhaps, would not command much respect and certainly would not command obedience, but there is something about them that you have to take account of. They have history with God. That gives them something that makes itself known and felt in the presence of other people. They have to say, ‘They know what they are talking about, you cannot just twist them round your finger; they know where they stand; there is something about them that you are compelled to recognize, acknowledge and bow to’. That is spiritual authority. Let us not interpret these things physically – I was going to say literally. These are spiritual factors, spiritual features, these are the marks of spiritual growth; and here is a big man, a great man, who has reached full stature.

Are not these the features of Christ? Look at Him again. Is there not dignity about Him? There is nothing small, nothing petty, nothing mean or contemptible about Christ. There is dignity right the way through. There is insight, discernment, perception, vision, knowledge beyond the ordinary. As for authority, He was someone to be reckoned with, even in the day of His humiliation.

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August 5

5 AUG – The Supreme Issue

The Philippian letter begins with Paul’s statement, “For to me to live is Christ”, and then goes on to express his ambition to know the Lord more and more, with his determination to pursue that knowledge as a coveted prize. If we desire to know what is meant by gaining Christ, we have to turn to Romans 8:29 where we find that God’s intention is that we should be conformed to the image of His Son. This being conformed is gaining Christ, this is the prize; it involves an attaining unto the fullness of Christ in moral perfection, which is to be the glory in which God’s sons will be manifested. It is simply this, that to come to be morally and spiritually one with Christ in His place of exaltation is the goal and prize of the Christian life. We do well to keep in view this glorious end, “the manifestation of the sons of God”.

When Paul spoke of gaining Christ and of reaching out for the prize, he was expressing his earnest longing to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. This is something which is the issue of salvation, it is God’s end in salvation, but it is clearly something which needs to be pursued. It is plain that we do not have to win salvation, and we certainly do not have to suffer the loss of all things to be saved. We are saved by faith, not by works; salvation is not a prize to be won, not something for which we must reach forward, but a present, a free gift. Beyond this, however, Paul wrote that he counted all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. If the power of the same Spirit is working in us, this will surely produce the same effect of making us realize how little is the worth of everything else compared with the great prize of Christ.

It is interesting to compare Mark 10 with Philippians 3, as each passage tells of a young man and his momentous decision. The two men were very similar in many respects; they were both rich rulers, men of high standing socially, intellectually, morally and religiously among their own people. Of the one it had to be said “One thing thou lackest”, while the other could affirm “One thing I do”. The nameless young man turned away from Christ; he did so sorrowfully but nevertheless he did it, and the reason was that he was not prepared to part with his great possessions. Paul had great possessions also, but they lost all their attractiveness in the light of the vision which he had of Christ; to him it was the alternative of earthly prizes or the one great heavenly prize, and he gladly made his choice of the latter.

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August 4

4 AUG – Christian Maturity Comes With His Lordship

What is spiritual maturity? What is it to go on in the Lord? I fear we have got mixed ideas about this. Many think that spiritual maturity is a more comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine, a larger grasp of scriptural truth, a wider expanse of the knowledge of the things of God; and many such features are recorded as marks of growth, development, spiritual maturity. Beloved, it is nothing of the kind. The hallmark of true spiritual development and maturity is this: that we have grown so much less and the Lord Jesus has grown so much more. The mature soul is one who is small in his or her own eyes, but in whose eyes the Lord Jesus is great. That is growth. We may know a very great deal, have a wonderful grasp of doctrine, of teaching, of truth, even of the Scriptures, and yet be spiritually very small, very immature, very childish. (There is all the difference between being childish and childlike.) Real spiritual growth is just this: I decrease, He increases. It is the Lord Jesus becoming more. You can test spiritual growth by that.

In the book of the Acts, they did not first of all preach Jesus as Savior. They preached Him as Lord. You see, that carried with it of necessity the Savior-hood. He must be the Christ, He must be the Savior, He must be the Son of God. All THAT is involved if He is Lord now; and if they accepted and acknowledged Him as Lord, well, that included His Savior-hood, but the Savior-hood was something subsidiary to the Lordship.

After all, the Savior-hood of Christ is but a recovering thing in relation to His Lordship. The Lordship was the eternal intention of God concerning Him. The Savior-hood is in order to get back to the Lordship, to lead on to the recovery of the Lordship. He can never be actually Lord until He has saved the inheritance of which He is the eternally designated Lord; but when He is Lord, it means that He is Savior; He HAS redeemed. The Lordship is more than the Savior-hood. And so, when you come on to God’s SUPREME ground “hath made him a Prince and a Savior” then the way is open for God to take you right on, beyond conversion, beyond the infant stage of just being born again; on to ‘growing up into Him in all things’, on to the fullness of Christ. So they put the full testimony there, where all the rest was included, and thus there was a wide open way for all God’s intention. Wherever you look in the Scriptures, you find that it is Lordship which is the secret of fullness.

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August 3

3 AUG – Gaining Ascendancy over the Stone

“They were saying: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? …for it was exceeding great.” Mark 16:3-6

It is the principle of the Cross again. He died for us – that is the objective. We died in Him – that is the subjective. Here are two sides in spiritual experience. He keeps the balance of things. We have to have this balance wrought in us, and to be delivered from this tendency of allowing our problems to obscure the Lord, this inveterate habit of ours of viewing the position merely objectively instead of saying, ‘What does the Lord want to teach us about this? What does He want to do in us in this matter? There is something He is after in us.’ He has something to do in us before He can do it for us.

How often we have found that when we have come to a new position with the Lord, when the thing has been done in us, then there has been outward movement. So the mention of the subjective exercise suggests that we have to take this matter to our own hearts as something which requires a change in us. I am quite sure that is how they must have felt when they were able to sit down and go over it all again. ‘We were terribly obsessed with our problem and were asking who could solve it for us. The Lord has made us to see that we must be inwardly different about these things, we must have a position of faith, of rest, over them; we must believe God.’ We must gain inward ascendency over the stone before there is any ascendency to be known over it outwardly. The stone is really not outside of us in the first place. It is inside; it is in our faith, it is in our spirit, it is in our minds.

When the Lord’s interests have brought us into such a relationship with Him that we can say there is no stone so big to be removed, no problem so great for solving, no difficulty so intense, but the Lord will do what is necessary for His Son’s sake when we have come to a position like that, the Lord is free to do a lot of things very quietly. As we say, they just ‘happen’. Sometimes He may bring us into the presence of the working of His power that is manifestly terrific, but not often and certainly not always. For faith, it is more like this: there is such power at work as to make possible the setting aside of the obstacle very quietly, so that we afterward wonder “And they were amazed”. And the angel said, “Be not amazed”. It is good to have amazement, but let us recognize that a certain amount of our amazement is because we have not sufficient faith.

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August 2

2 AUG – The Stone at the Door

“They were saying: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? …for it was exceeding great.” Mark 16:3-6

In the first place, the stone symbolized the imminence of another world than this one. That young man in his white robe speaks of the intervention of another world. There is another world entirely, in close touch with this one, and mightier than it, acting in relation to the purposes of God centered in His Son, and which can never, on any account, be swallowed up in a tomb.

Further, that stone became the symbol of the mighty, triumphant power of life over death. We look for things to happen, and yet all the time the power of His risen life is silently working and solving so many problems. The fact is that we are going on today after many an experience of trial and helplessness; we have quietly been kept going on, and we are going on; we are not yet submerged and overwhelmed and put out. That is the miracle of His Divine life silently solving the problem, dealing with so many things that seem to say, Death; an end!

The power of His resurrection is the answer to many of our problems. We look for acts; He proceeds along the silent course of life, the mighty power of life overcoming death. “It was not possible” says the Word, “that he should be holden of it (death)” (Acts 2:24). They were saying, ‘It is impossible for us to deal with this stone, this situation!’ He was saying, ‘It is not possible for death to hold Me’. There are two ways of viewing the impossible. Everything depends upon where you put the impossibility – on the thing or on God. The things which are not possible with men are possible with God (Matt. 19:26). And He answers these impossible things in the normal way for it is the normal way. The abnormal would be by signs and wonders and extraordinary happenings – demonstrations to our senses – but the normal way in the Christian life is the way of the continuous transcendence of His life over the working of death. That is the miracle of Divine life working silently. Yours, then, is a life as is the life of everyone set in the presence of the great stone of death, spiritual death. We know it, and yet we are preserved alive spiritually and we go on. That is the great miracle. It is the miracle of every day. That is the testimony that God raised Him from the dead.

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