The Giver and the Taker #AWTOZER

May 17, 2016

The Giver and the Taker
“GOD’S GIFTS,” SAID MEISTER ECKHART, “are meted out according to the taker, not according to the giver.” Did we enjoy God’s gifts according to the giver there would be no spiritual poverty among us, for surely there is no lack in God. Were I offered my choice to receive spiritual benefits that accord with my ability to ask or with God’s willingness to give, I would not hesitate a moment. By all means let me fall into the hands of God rather than into the hands of men, or even into my own hands. I cannot want a benefit as eagerly as God wants to give it to me. My asking is likely to be limited by many human factors, and my boldest request is sure to be small. God’s willingness to give is unlimited and His ability to perform what He wills is boundless. When the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon she received two kinds of treasures. The first was according to her asking: “King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked.” It is not possible to tell how seriously she may have deprived herself by her limited asking. Modesty, pride, doubt, timidity—all these or any of them might have lurked in her heart and restrained her asking. We have but to look in our own hearts to discover how she acted. She too was human. But King Solomon would display his magnanimity, so he gave her all she asked “beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty.” So she departed, rich both from her own asking and from Solomon’s unsolicited giving. From what we know of King Solomon is it not reasonable to suppose that his voluntary bounty went far beyond her highest expectation? She had brought him gifts of gold and precious stones and spices. Surely he more than matched her generosity. Since God is infinite, whatever He is must be infinite also; that is, it must be without any actual or conceivable limits. The moment we allow ourselves to think of God as having limits, the one of whom we are thinking is not God but someone or something less than and different from Him. To think rightly of God we must conceive of Him as being altogether boundless in His goodness, mercy, love, grace, and in whatever else we may properly attribute to the Deity. It is not enough that we acknowledge God’s infinite resources; we must believe also that He is infinitely generous to bestow them. The first is not too great a strain on our faith. Even the deist will admit that the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, must be rich beyond the power of man to conceive. But to believe that God is a giver as well as a possessor takes an advanced faith and presupposes that there has been a divine revelation to that effect which gives validity to our expectations. Which indeed there has been. We call this revelation the Bible. Believing all this, why are we Christians so poverty stricken? I think it is because we have not learned that God’s gifts are meted out according to the taker, not according to the giver. Though almighty and all-wise, God yet cannot pour a great gift into a small receptacle. To receive in a measure more in keeping with God’s liberality five things are necessary. The first is faith. We must be convinced that God is kind, generous, goodhearted and ready to bestow His blessings upon His people with the bounty of a king. To have faith we must immerse ourselves in the Scriptures. And faith must be exercised if it is to be effective. Faith, like a muscle, grows by stretching. The second is capacity. That we differ from each other in spiritual capacity is too evident to need proof; but the reason is a great mystery and lies too deep for our understanding, certainly too deep for discussion here. It is enough to say that whatever his capacity each man can increase it if he will. The human soul is not a hard-baked vessel with a fixed size; it is a living thing capable of growth and expansion as it interacts with the gracious actions of the Holy Spirit. The third is receptivity, and one factor always present in receptivity is interest. It is virtually impossible to receive into our minds anything in which we have no interest. A man of ordinary mind may go on to do marvels in a given field if he has keen enough interest in it, and leave behind many men of finer minds who lack the necessary interest. Sometimes one interest may crowd out another. I wonder how many potential Rubensteins or Heifetzes may have gotten lost in obscurity simply because they could not as boys bring themselves to practice when a ball game was in progress on a corner lot nearby. So worldly interests often crowd out heavenly ones and spiritual receptivity is destroyed as a result. The fourth is responsibility. The gifts of God are given to us to use. When they are not used they atrophy. The story of the ten talents should be a warning to all of us. When writing about the gifts of the Spirit the apostle Paul explained that these manifestations of the Spirit were given to everyone for the profit of all. Selfish attitudes toward the blessings of God can destroy their usefulness. We have a serious responsibility in this matter. The fifth is gratitude. It is impossible to be too thankful to God, but it might be good to try it. Our wise Father does not usually give a second gift until we properly praise Him for the first.

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The Christian Life Is Not Easy #AWTOZER

May 12, 2016
The Christian Life Is Not Easy #AWTOZER
AS WE MOVE FARTHER ON and mount higher up in the Christian life we may expect to encounter greater difficulties in the way and meet increased hostility from the enemy of our souls. Though this is seldom presented to Christians as a fact of life it is a very solid fact indeed as every experienced Christian knows, and one we shall learn how to handle or stumble over to our own undoing. Satan hates the true Christian for several reasons. One is that God loves him, and whatever is loved by God is sure to be hated by the devil. Another is that the Christian, being a child of God, bears a family resemblance to the Father and to the household of faith. Satan’s ancient jealousy has not abated nor his hatred for God diminished in the slightest. Whatever reminds him of God is without other reason the object of his malignant hate. A third reason is that a true Christian is a former slave who has escaped from the galley, and Satan cannot forgive him for this affront. A fourth reason is that a praying Christian is a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government. The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come. Who knows when another Elijah will arise, or another Daniel? or a Luther or a Booth? Who knows when an Edwards or a Finney may go in and liberate a whole town or countryside by the preaching of the Word and prayer? Such a danger is too great to tolerate, so Satan gets to the new convert as early as possible to prevent his becoming too formidable a foe. The new believer thus becomes at once a principal target for the fiery darts of the devil. Satan knows that the best way to be rid of a soldier is to destroy him before he becomes a man. The young Moses must not be allowed to grow into a liberator to set a nation free. The Baby Jesus dare not be permitted to become a man to die for the sins of the world. The new Christian must be destroyed early, or at least he must have his growth stunted so that he will be no real problem later. Now I do not think that Satan much cares to destroy us Christians physically. The soldier dead in battle who died performing some deed of heroism is not a great loss to the army but may rather be an object of pride to his country. On the other hand the soldier who cannot or will not fight but runs away at the sound of the first enemy gun is a shame to his family and a disgrace to his nation. So a Christian who dies in the faith represents no irreparable loss to the forces of righteousness on earth and certainly no victory for the devil. But when whole regiments of professed believers are too timid to fight and too smug to be ashamed, surely it must bring an astringent smile to the face of the enemy; and it should bring a blush to the cheeks of the whole Church of Christ. The devil’s master strategy for us Christians then is not to kill us physically (though there may be some special situations where physical death fits into his plan better), but to destroy our power to wage spiritual warfare. And how well he has succeeded. The average Christian these days is a harmless enough thing. God knows. He is a child wearing with considerable self-consciousness the harness of the warrior; he is a sick eaglet that can never mount up with wings; he is a spent pilgrim who has given up the journey and sits with a waxy smile trying to get what pleasure he can from sniffing the wilted flowers he has plucked by the way. Such as these have been reached. Satan has gotten to them early. By means of false teaching or inadequate teaching, or the huge discouragement that comes from the example of a decadent church, he has succeeded in weakening their resolution, neutralizing their convictions and taming their original urge to do exploits; now they are little more than statistics that contribute financially to the upkeep of the religious institution. And how many a pastor is content to act as a patient, smiling curator of a church full (or a quarter full) of such blessed spiritual museum pieces. If Satan opposes the new convert he opposes still more bitterly the Christian who is pressing on toward a higher life in Christ. The Spirit-filled life is not, as many suppose, a life of peace and quiet pleasure. It is likely to be something quite the opposite. Viewed one way it is a pilgrimage through a robber-infested forest; viewed another, it is a grim warfare with the devil. Always there is struggle, and sometimes there is a pitched battle with our own nature where the lines are so confused that it is all but impossible to locate the enemy or to tell which impulse is of the Spirit and which of the flesh. There is complete victory for us if we will but take the way of the triumphant Christ, but that is not what we are considering now. My point here is that if we want to escape the struggle we have but to draw back and accept the currently accepted low-keyed Christian life as the normal one. That is all Satan wants. That will ground our power, stunt our growth and render us harmless to the kingdom of darkness. Compromise will take the pressure off. Satan will not bother a man who has quit fighting. But the cost of quitting will be a life of peaceful stagnation. We sons of eternity just cannot afford such a thing. #PERSEVERANCE #ACTS2024 #FAITHFULTILLTHEEND #FINISHTHERACE #SHIELDOFFAITHFULNESS

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