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Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. –Titus 3:5-7

To teach that the filling with the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian to provide “power for service” is to teach truth, but not the whole truth. Power for service is but one effect of the experience, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the least of several effects. It is least for the very reason that it  touches service, presumably service to mankind; and contrary to the popular belief, “to serve this present age” is not the Christian’s first duty nor the chief end of man….

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration….

God wants worshipers before workers; indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the lost art of worship. It is inconceivable that a sovereign and holy God should be so hard up for workers that He would press into service anyone who had been empowered regardless of his moral qualifications. The very stones would praise Him if the need arose and a thousand legions of angels would leap to do His will.

Gifts and power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart; but holiness and spiritual worship come first. That Incredible Christian, 36-37.

“Oh, Lord, where has the hunger for holiness gone? We’re such active doers; we’re so enamored of activity; we’re so focused on growth. We desperately need this reminder of the priority of holiness and spiritual worship. Amen.”

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Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.–1 Corinthians 3:12-13

The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity,with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, thesize of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.

This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers isworshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these sheappeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growthand the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.

A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for theheresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judgeby another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error. The Set of the Sail, 153.

“Oh Lord, convict us! Forgive us! Deliver us! Amen.”

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So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. -Luke 11:9-10

Among revival-minded Christians I have heard the saying, “Revivals are born after midnight.” This is one of those proverbs which, while not quite literally true, yet points to something very true. If we understand the saying to mean that God does not hear our prayer for revival made in the daytime, it is of course not true. If we take it to mean that prayer offered when we are tired and worn-out has greater power than prayer made when we are rested and fresh, again it is not true….

Yet there is considerable truth in the idea that revivals are born after midnight, for revivals (or any other spiritual gifts and graces) come only to those who want them badly enough….

No, there is no merit in late hour prayers, but it requires a serious mind and a determined heart to pray past the ordinary into the unusual. Most Christians never do. And it is more than possible that the rare soul who presses on into the unusual experience reaches there after midnight. Born After Midnight, 7-8,10.

“Lord, give me this kind of longing after revival. Give me ‘a serious mind and a determined heart’ to pray into the unusual. Help me to give myself this month to this serious prayer for revival.  Amen.”

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And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. –2 Corinthians 12:7

The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him…. 

“Lord, indeed invade and conquer my heart today. Bring me to my knees in complete surrender; break me; shatter my strength and wipe out my resistance. Invade my nature today and conquer me for Your glory. Amen.”

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For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.  –Galatians 1:10

The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.

Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear. Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.  The Pursuit of God, 112.

“Lord, give me this peace, this rest, this meek and humble spirit this morning. Deliver me from concern for the esteem of this world. Give me victory today over every trace of self-love. Amen.”

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Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  –Hebrews 10:22

What a relief to find the writer to the Hebrews encouraging us to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (Hebrews 10:22).

A sprinkled conscience-surely this is a gracious thing for men and women in the world to know!

One of the most relieving, enriching, wholesome, wondrous things we can know is that sudden sense of the lifting of the burden as the conscience goes free-God giving freedom to that conscience which has been evil, diseased and protesting.

Peter wrote about this and called it “the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

This is the kind of conversion I believe in-when your sins are cleansed and forgiven through the blood of the Lamb, you will know it!…

A transaction has taken place within the human spirit. The heart suddenly knows itself clean and the burden lifts from the mind and there is a true sense that heaven is pleased and God is smiling and the sins are gone.

A transaction within the human spirit-that is the kind of forgiveness I believe in!  Echoes from Eden, 65-66.

“Lord, I’m overwhelmed this morning with this ‘sense that heaven is pleased and God is smiling and the sins are gone.’ I fall on my face before You in heartfelt worship. Amen.”

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Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.  –1 Corinthians 3:12-13

The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity, with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, the size of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.

This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.

A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error.  The Set of the Sail, 153.

“Oh Lord, convict us! Forgive us! Deliver us! Amen.”

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Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ –Genesis 16:13

Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves– blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do. . . .

When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is “Thou God seest me.” When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.  The Pursuit of God, 84-86.

“Keep my eyes fixed on You, Lord. Help me to stop tinkering and realize my total inability to change. I look to You to change me and give me victory as I focus on Your friendly eyes looking lovingly at me. Amen.”

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But why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things which I say?  –Luke 6:46

It is my conviction that much, very much, prayer for and talk about revival these days is wasted energy. Ignoring the confusion of figures, I might say that it is hunger that appears to have no object; it is dreamy wishing that is too weak to produce moral action. It is fanaticism on a high level for, according to John Wesley, “a fanatic is one who seeks desired ends while ignoring the constituted means to reach those ends.”…

The correction of this error is extemely difficult for it entails more than a mere adjustment of our doctrinal beliefs; it strikes at the whole Adam-life and requires self-abnegation, humility and cross carrying. In short it requires obedience. And that we will do anything to escape.

It is almost unbelievable how far we will go to avoid obeying God. We call Jesus “Lord” and beg Him to rejuvenate our souls, but we are careful to do not the things He says. When faced with a sin, a confession or a moral alteration in our life, we find it much easier to pray half a night than to obey God.  The Size of the Soul, 18-19.

“May this never be true of my life, Lord! I see the futility; I’m convinced of the need. Now enable me by Your Spirit to live this obedience. Amen.”

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Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. –2 Timothy 1:13,14 

There is a great decision that every denomination has to make sometime in the development of its history. Every church also has to make it either at its beginning or a little later–usually a little later.

Eventually every board is faced with the decision and has to keep making it, not by one great decision made once for all, but by a series of little decisions adding up to one great big one. Every pastor has to face it and keep renewing his decision on his knees before God. Finally, every church member, every evangelist, every Christian has to make this decision. It is a matter of judgment upon that denomination, that church, that board, that pastor, that leader and upon their descendants and spiritual children.

The question is this: Shall we modify the truth in doctrine or practice to gain more adherents? Or shall we preserve the truth in doctrine and practice and take the consequences?…

A commitment to preserving the truth and practice of the church is what separates me from a great many people who are perhaps far greater than I am in ability. This is my conviction, long held and deeply confirmed by a knowledge of the fact that modern gospel churches, almost without exception, have decided to modify the truth and practice a little in order to have more adherents and get along better. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 165-167.

“We’re under constant pressure to have more adherents, more members, more numbers, Lord. The emphasis today is on growth, bigness, size, and success. God help me never to modify or compromise to achieve that, but to tenaciously hold fast to my core beliefs and priorities. Amen.”

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