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Oswald Chambers: Is your will in the ascendancy?

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

Christ’s true victories are not made in moments of revival, but when my will is in the ascendancy.

It is an easy business to make decisions for Christ in a camp meeting. Everything is in my favor. The revival tide is high; it is easy to float over on the Lord’s side. But His mighty, tremendous triumphs are made after the revival–when I am in the ascendancy, when Christ stands on one side of an issue and my will on the other. Then I have to choose whom I have to serve. Then is the time when the true decision is made.

During a revival, the Holy Spirit can sway the whole church with its presence. The atmosphere is marvelous. People are rejoicing. But only one-tenth of them ever victoriously serve Christ.

Prayer Thought: I resolve to follow Christ, regardless of the price of sacrifice.

Oswald Chambers in Devotions for a Deeper Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986) 214-215.

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An Advertisement Extraordinary from Robert Raikes: the Founder of Sunday School

WANTED, From January, 1825, to the end of the world.
A vast number of active young men and women, of “a right spirit” who are not afraid to work; sober, watchful, diligent, and preserving, not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit. In character, meek, patient, and humble, studying to show themselves approved unto God, such as need not be ashamed of their work, “apt to teach,” in meekness instructing the blind, and ignorant, till they through repentance, shall acknowledge the truth. No idlers, no sluggards, none that “putting their hand to the plough will look back,” but such as will find it “meat and drink to do their Master’s will.” Plenty of work!

Powerful enemies to subdue; great opposition and difficulties to encounter—sin and its attendant wretchedness gaining ground daily with alarming strides. Thousands of Children In The Sunday Schools perishing for lack of wisdom, many eager to hear and learn the words of eternal life! In some places fifty or sixty collected together, and none to teach them!

Hark! The groans of deep distress from the wretched abodes of poverty and want! See pale sickness stretched languishing on the humble couch of miserable straw. See the death-struck sinner—alarmed at the approach of the king of terrors—with pallid countenance he stretches his nerveless arm, and calls for the soft hand of humanity and Christian love to wipe off the tear of anguish, and point to realms of endless life and bliss. From your lethargy, ye lazy Christians, arouse, and come to work.

Let none say, “I pray thee have me excused; I cannot come.” Such as thus plead, let them call to mind their divine instructions. “To do good and to communicate forget not,” “for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Such as cannot give, may lend, their time, their money, or their talents of wisdom; and they shall be repaid, receiving fourfold, “good measure meted unto them, pressed down, and running over.”

If not a talent of gold, give a talent of silver; or, as the poor widow, bestow thy two mites, into the treasury of the Lord. Something must be done; the foundation is laid on “the precious corner-stone,” and the building must be raised for the master calls, crying, ” Do thy work quickly, for the night cometh!” Come ye who would make an offering to the Lord and sacrifice present comforts for future blessings and eternal good” enduring the Cross and despising the shame, for the joy set before you.” Leave all and follow us—now is the accepted time.

Our Prince goeth to a far country, and says, “Occupy till I come.” Hark! He speaks to thee from heaven “has no man hired thee?” Enter into my vineyard, ye that “are ready to halt” “of little faith” ” doubting” it is the Eleventh Hour. “Forget the things which are behind” and press forward; for it is “a high calling,” and the reward is sure; for it is of grace and mercy bestowed “He will give thee thy wages”—“An inheritance”—”a kingdom”—”a crown!” Peace and joy “in this present evil life,”—” and in the world to come Life everlasting.”

And this commendation before his Father’s face and the angels, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Such are the terms: for further particulars inquire within your own hearts, and knock at the door of conscience, and for engagement, apply at “the House of Bread in Jerusalem” or in the highways and hedges to the shed of the widow and fatherless, to the house of poverty and ignorance. No time to be lost. We work for ETERNITY!

John Carroll Power The Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools: A Biography of Robert Raikes and William Fox (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1863), p. 280-2.

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D.L. Moody in his sermon: Heavenly Treasures

“A great many people are wondering why they don’t grow in grace; why they don’t have more spiritual power. The question is very easily answered. You have got your treasure down here. It is not necessary for a man to have money to have his treasure down here. He may have his heart on pleasure; he may make an idol of his children; and that is the reason that they don’t grow in grace. If we would only just be wise and do as God tells us, we would mount up, as it were, on wings, and would get nearer to heaven every day. We would get heavenly-minded in our conversation, and have less trouble than now. And so, my friends, let us just ask ourselves today, Where is our treasure? Is it on earth, or in heaven? What are we doing? What is the aim of our lives? Are we just living to accumulate money, or to get a position in the world for our children? Or, are we trying to secure those treasures, which we can safely lay up in heaven, becoming rich toward God?”

Dwight Lyman Moody in The Gospel Awakening (Chicago: F.H. Revell, 1883) 276.

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George Whitefield: The love of money is one reason why many are only “almost Christians”

“A third reason why so many are no more than almost Christians, is a reigning love of money. This was the pitiable case of that forward young man in the Gospel who came running to our blessed Lord and, kneeling before Him, inquired what he must do to ‘ inherit eternal life’; to whom our blessed Master replied, ‘Thou knowest the Commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal’; to which the young man replied, ‘All these have I kept from my youth.’ But when our Lord proceeded to tell him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing; go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor’; he was grieved at that saying, and went away sorrowful, ‘for he had great possessions!’

Poor youth! He had a good mind to be a Christian, and to inherit eternal life, but thought it too dear, if it could be purchased at no less an expense than of his estate! And thus many, both young and old, nowadays, come running to worship our blessed Lord in public, and kneel before Him in private, and inquire at His Gospel, what they must do to inherit eternal life: but when they find they must renounce the self-enjoyment of riches, and forsake all in affection to follow Him, they cry, ‘The Lord pardon us in this thing! We pray Thee have us excused.’

But is heaven so small a trifle in men’s esteem, as not to be worth a little gilded earth? Is eternal life so mean a purchase, as not to deserve a temporary renunciation of a few transitory riches? Surely it is. But however inconsistent such a behaviour may be, this inordinate love of money is too evidently the common and fatal cause why so many are no more than almost Christians.”

George Whitefield in Selected Sermons of George Whitefield (Philadelphia: Union Press, 1904) 106-108.

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon honors George Fox

This excerpt is taken from the conclusion of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s speech delivered to the Society of Friends in London in 1866 in honor of George Fox (1624-1691).

“I came here to ask you to help those of us who are trying to fight against ritualism and idolatry with your prayers and your sympathies. I do not ask you to agree with us in a great many things, which we as conscientiously believe to be right as you do conscientiously believe them to be wrong. But do recollect us in your prayers, for we are fighting a common battle for spiritual religion. If there be young men here with talents which should be consecrated to God; if there should be Christian brethren here who have been getting money and using it well, but who have not wholly and thoroughly devoted it to the bearing of a testimony for Christ, I do pray in the name of Him who died upon the cross, by whose blessed Spirit we have been brought to trust in Him, you consecrate yourselves to His service wholly and unreservedly.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon in George Fox: An Address Delivered to the Society of Friends (Philadelphia: Henry Longstreth, 1867) 29.

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Blaise Pascal and the wager which everyone must make to find infinite gain

“Either God exists or he does not exist. Reason is powerless to decide the question. All I can do is to weigh the chances for and against. It is, as it were, a game of pitch and toss. On which side shall I wager?
But why wager at all? What necessity is there to run this strange chance? Can I not put away from me this problem whose solution either way is sure to leave me disturbed and ill content? I cannot. My every action, every movement of my will, implies a certain solution of this unique problem. It is not with the existence of God as with questions of science, which do not affect me personally. It is quite evident that I must act differently according as God exists or not. So I am bound to wager. There is no choice in the matter. We have committed ourselves. Now to examine the conditions of the wager.

In this hazard, as in every other, there are two things to be considered: the degree of probability and the amount of risk. The question of the existence of God being infinitely beyond the scope of reason, the probability is the same for the affirmative as for the negative. This term then is cancelled. There remains the risk. On the one hand there is the finite to be ventured, on the other hand the infinite to be gained. Now, however great may be the finite, it becomes as nothing before the infinite. Strictly speaking then, it becomes a question of venturing the infinitely little in order to gain the infinitely great. Hence we are clearly bound to wager in favour of the existence of God. The reasoning is conclusive. If I am capable of discerning any truth, this is one.”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Emile Boutroux Pascal (Manchester: Sherrat and Hughes, 1902) 69-70.

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Jonathan Edwards: The only source of all help, hope and happiness

“Happiness is nowhere else to be had, but in their [Israel’s] God, and with their people. There are that are called gods many, and lords many. Some make gods of their pleasures; some choose Mammon for their god; some make gods of their own supposed excellencies, or the outward advantages they have above their neighbors; some choose one thing for their god, and others another. But men can be happy in no other God but the God of Israel: he is the only fountain of happiness. Other gods can’t help in calamity; nor can any of them afford what the poor empty soul stands in need of. Let men adore those other gods never so much, and call upon them never so earnestly, and serve them never so diligently, they will nevertheless remain poor, wretched, unsatisfied, undone creatures. All other people are miserable, but that people whose God is the Lord.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) cited by H. Norman Gardiner in Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards (New York: MacMillan, 1904) 51.

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John Huss recites Matthew 10:8 in refuting the greed of the teachers of the gospel

“He [John Huss] especially scourged the whole system of selling indulgences, as utterly at variance with the spirit of Christ and the teaching of the Gospel. The power of the priest to forgive sins rested only on repentance and contrition on the part of the guilty one; based on the payment of money or property, it was simony pure and simple, for had not the Savior said, “Freely ye have received, freely give?” The same thing applied to the pope, and the declaration made by some that the pope was infallible he declared to be not only false, but sacrilegious, for this would make the pope equal to Christ Himself. It goes without saying that these bold statements were not received without strenuous opposition on the part of the adherents of the hierarchy.” John Huss (c. 1372-1415) was a priest, professor, and eventually became a martyr. He died by being burned at the stake.”

Oscar Kuhns in John Huss: The Witness (Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham, 1907) 72-73.

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Columba helps a soul be healed of the sin of avarice

“At the same time, Conall, bishop of Coleraine, collected almost innumerable offerings from the people of Mag nEilni and prepared a lodging for St Columba on his way home from the meeting of the kings with a great crowd of people around him. When the saint arrived, the many offerings of the people were set out in the open area of the monastery for him to bless them. Looking at them as he blessed them, he pointed to a particular gift of a rich man:

‘The man,’ he said, ‘who gave this enjoys the mercy of God on account of his generosity and his mercies to the poor.’

Picking out another item among the many offerings he said:

‘Of this offering the gift of a man both wise and greedy, I cannot so much as taste, unless he first truly does penance for his sin of avarice.’

This word was at once circulated among the crowd, and Colum man Aedo, hearing it, recognized his guilt and came forward, to kneel before the saint and do penance. He promised too that henceforth he would renounce avarice, mend his way of life and practice generosity. The saint told him to stand and from that hour his sin was healed and he was no longer grasping.”

St. Adamnan of Iona and Richard Sharpe in the Life of St. Columba (London: Penguin Books, 1991) 152.

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William Tyndale’s statement in defense of his translation of the New Testament

“As touching his translation of the New Testament because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith, as followeth, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day if all that is in the earth, whether it be honour, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”

John Foxe in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: An Edition for the People (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1911) 152.

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