Christianity 201

January 29, 2021

Situated in the Place of Blessing

Many if not most Christians know the name A. W. Tozer, but A. B. Simpson (1843-1919) is not always a household name. The two were instrumental in the founding of The Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. (Two years ago we ran an article here which alternated between the two of them presenting a total of four devotions.)

Remember the AT&T commercial about “the power of ‘and'” which ran a few years ago? The “and” in the C&MA’s name refers to the history of the denomination as a merger of two groups, a mission agency and a group of like-minded people who desired to worship in local “branches” with mission work at the forefront of what they do. You can read more about Simpson as this Wikipedia entry.

Chosen and Ordained

Adapted from a sermon by A. B. Simpson on October 5, 1900

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (Jn. 15:16, NIV).

I find from this beautiful text that the element and the process by which our life is to be brought out and tell of God is chiefly through the ministry of prayer. That is the principal service, the principal fruit, and the main thing for which He has chosen and ordained us. There is an emphasis in this text that I did not always see. Leave out the middle of the verse and just join the first and last clause: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you [or ordained you] that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

It is one of the things for which He has chosen you and ordained you. He does not say He has chosen you to pray or to be on your knees all the time, but He has chosen you to get your prayers answered; He has chosen you always to be efficient in this ministry of prayer. As I read it that way it becomes not only a pledge of answered prayer, but a tremendous responsibility to have my prayers answered.

A Place of Blessing and Power

God has placed each one of us in some vital place of service and power. He has left us with people and surroundings that we touch and nobody else can accomplish what we may do, and God expects us to be effective where He has placed us.

In the Book of Zechariah, the prophet gives you the beautiful vision of the golden candlesticks with the seven branches and the great central bowl, and there, without any effort of man, automatically, the oil just pours from the trees down to the bowl and down to the lamps, and they are filled without the touch of human hand. And that, we are told, is the process in the spiritual world.

You and I and our brethren are thus linked together. Each of us is a golden pipe put there to bring power, first to our own souls and then to the souls around us. But if we are not free, if we do not bring the power, then our work is a failure. God has put us there for that purpose; He has ordained us. He says that we are to get things from Him by prayer.

Therefore, God has ordained us; He has put us in the place of blessing and power that He might use us, and that down through us from the Heavenly Head might flow His life and fullness to the Church and the world.

I believe the Holy Spirit will always pray in us if recognized in this way. I have an idea that every bit of our life—from morning to night, from Sabbath to Sabbath, from June to December, from year to year, from cradle to glory—ought to be the working out of the Holy Spirit’s prayer. I believe somehow that God wants to put into me everything that comes out of Him, that the Holy Ghost wants somehow to breathe in my heart the whole story of my life and then let me pray it out.

The Flood of Prayer

I have an idea that the Holy Ghost puts in our heart a divine prayer, and as we meet it, understand it, and turn it back to Him, it unfolds into a thousand things as the day goes by. That holy desire becomes first a blessing to our soul—it brings rest, comfort, joy, healing, and as the hours go by it works out into life. It was just a little seed, but lo, it unfolds into a tree of life. And I think that is the way God wants us to live our lives—to be so in touch with Him, so instant in prayer, that He will just put His thought into us and we will pray it back until all His will is wrought out in our life.

I go to my room at night. The burdens of the day are gathered up by the Spirit into a ministry of prayer that I do not understand. It may be just a cry, just a longing to pour it out to Him, but I find that there comes to me as I thus wait upon Him, a sweet tranquility of mind, a rest of nerve and brain and body, hope and confidence for the trials of the coming day. And I lie down and rest, bathed in His presence and blessing.

And then there is your morning prayer, and then you go out in the business of the day. Perhaps there is a temptation which strikes you, but it turns Heavenward and is quenched in the flood of prayer. Perhaps you have some service to do, some word to speak, some sufferer to relieve, some message for Christ. Another prayer. As the day goes on, from morning to night, each moment just links you with God, and you say, “Lord, I have met you a thousand times today, and truly there has not been a moment that has not been Divine”; for the commonest things become sacred when they lead us up to Him.

I believe that is the way the Holy Spirit wants us to live out our lives. Sometimes you will find, as you have begun the day in close communion with Him, that you will marvel greatly as things meet you in life, so Divine, so simple, so beautiful, that you will wonder and say, “O, Lord, this is what You were praying out in me last night! This is something You were thinking of for me, and when this burden was on my heart, Lord, I believe you were preparing this blessing for me.”

Beloved, the Holy Ghost has ordained us to a priesthood that is greater than any other service. Let us keep in such perfect touch with Him that at any moment of our lives His prayer may be wrought in us and then wrought out according to His purpose which works in us mightily. Remember that you have not chosen Him, but He has ordained you for this blessing, that it is for His glory to do it for you, and it is not asking a special favor, but rising up to your Heavenly right in the Name of Jesus.


The center of the mission of the Christian and Missionary Alliance is to know Jesus as our:

January 14, 2019

Classic Writing

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
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On the weekend I discovered a devotional website which had been bookmarked in my computer for several years, but in the wrong file. It appears to take short excerpts from both classic and contemporary writers and then repeat the same writers on the same day of the week. At least I think so. The site is called Standing for God, and here are a total of four short thoughts by two men instrumental in the founding of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. [To go deeper, see if you can sense what these devotionals have in common.]

The Danger of Moral Trifling

by A.W. Tozer

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. Second John 1:6

Moral decisions should be made in view of moral consequences, never in fear of the effect such decisions may have upon our economic or social future. The wisest of the Greeks said, “A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong.” It is more than a little embarrassing that an uninspired Stoic should see what so few of us Christians, with all our claims to superior religious experience, seem unable to understand.

It is doubtful whether we can be Christian in anything unless we are Christian in everything. To obey Christ in one or two or ten instances and then in fear of consequences to back away and refuse to obey in another is to cloud our life with the suspicion that we are only fair-weather followers and not true believers at all. To obey when it costs us nothing and refuse when the results are costly is to convict ourselves of moral trifling and gross insincerity.


Look unto Him

by A.B. Simpson

We would see JesusJohn 12:21

Glory to Jesus for all the things laid up for us in the days to come. Glory to Him for all the visions of service in the future, the opportunities of doing good that are far away as well as close at hand.

Our Savior was able to despise the cross for the joy that was before Him. Let us look up to Him, and rise up to Him until we reach the peak and are able to look out from the mount of vision over all the distant land. Not a single thing will come to us in all the future in which we may not be able to see the King in His beauty. Let us be very sure that we look at nothing else. Our pupils will then become so impressed as they look at this vision that they will not be able to reflect anything else.

My small son came to ‘ me once and said, “Papa, look for a long time at that golden sign across the street. Now look at that brick wall and tell me what you see.”

Why, I see the yellow sign on the brick wall,” I replied.

So, if we look a long time upon Jesus we cannot look at anything else without seeing a reflection of Him. Everything which we behold will become a part of Him.


The Truth Guide

by A.W. Tozer

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. John 16:13-14

While it is true that theological truth is modified by its passage through the individual mind, it is also true that there is an anointing which teaches us about all things (1 John 2:27). It is the Holy Spirit, poured out into our hearts (Romans 5:5). There is no danger that we go seriously astray from the truth if we walk humbly, trust completely, search the Scriptures daily, expect divine illumination and lean not on our own understanding. Most assuredly the Holy Spirit will take control of our minds and help us to think like God. Then will be fulfilled the Scripture which says, But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).


What a difference It Would Make

by A.B. Simpson

Thou hast the dew of thy youth —Psalm 110:3

Oh, that we might get such a view of Him as would make it impossible for little things ever to fret us again! The petty cares that have troubled us so much ought rather to cause us to wonder that we can think so much about them.

if we had the dew of His youth we would go forth as the morning and fulfill the promise of a glorious day! What a difference it would make in life were we to realize this is possible! How easy it would be, when the little troubles come, to draw a little closer to Christ, to drink in a little more of that fountain of life, to get a little nearer to that loving heart and to draw in great draughts of refreshing and strength from it. How clear it would make the head for work!

Coming to Him thus, heavy and dull and tired, we can become rested and able to spring forth ready for work. How inspiring to think that our living Head never grows weary! He is as fresh as He ever was. He is a glorious conqueror. He is ever the victorious Christ. Let Him take you today, and He will cause you to see in Him the invincible Leader!

November 11, 2014

Not the Benefits, But Christ Himself

Several years ago I remember hearing someone say, “The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself.” Yes, it would be nice to be able to share some of the flashy, supernatural spiritual gifts with people and be able to speak words into their lives with insight you could never come by naturally, or be able to lay hands on people and see dramatic physical healing; but in the end, the gift of the Holy Spirit available to everyone is the Spirit’s presence and direction in our lives.

The Message translation of I Corinthians 13:1-4 reads like this:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

In other words,

  • I can be the best speaker
  • I can be the deepest theologian
  • I can be the most powerful intercessor
  • I can be the most generous philanthropist
  • I can be the most noble martyr

but my attitude is terrible it doesn’t matter; and if gifts as powerful as the ones above can be trumped simply by being love-less, then by comparison those gifts aren’t worth a whole lot.

Sunday night I read the very short booklet containing the text of a message given by A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination, simply titled Himself. This was also the title of a hymn that Simpson wrote that is somewhat unknown outside C&MA circles:

HIMSELF
  by A. B. Simpson
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once ’twas painful trying, Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting, Now my anchor’s cast.

Once ’twas busy planning, Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking, Now ’tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the veil.

 

The language is now outdated, but you can read the whole text of the message here. (It’s not very long.)

In the hymn above, Simpson summarizes all the things he was seeking after:

  • blessing
  • feeling
  • gifts
  • healing
  • power

and the means he sought to get those things:

  • striving
  • planning
  • working
  • pleading

and what all this left him with:

  • a half salvation
  • anxiety
  • self-centeredness
  • a dying faith

until he saw that the greatest benefit was having Christ Himself:

  • the Lord
  • His word
  • His care
  • perfect trust
  • security
  • peace

Categorically, there is nothing to add to that!

Amplifed Bible – Philippians 3:10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]