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Watchman Nee: Giving Living Water

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38

“We need to drink deeply of the Lord and out of our innermost being, not merely a canal or channel. We need drink deeply of the Lord, and out of our innermost depths shall flow rivers of living waters… Unfortunately, many living waters become dead waters after they have passed through a man’s innermost depths. A minister of God’s Word is to be the channel for giving living waters to people. The ministry of the Word is not merely objective, for the Word is the living water that has come forth after having been thoroughly digested within the minister himself. God does not want mere objective ministry. His Word must have the human element.”

Watchman Nee in Spiritual Discernment (New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.) 38-39.

Yesterday Sammy, my son, and I served as fly fishing guides for the GTP team. Ruthie, Ereny, and Shawn did great landing 15 trout. It was a gorgeous morning of wading in the Colorado River. Just like the water teemed with life, so must we. The living water must stir in us and flow through us so that we are giving living water wherever we go. Does His water flow through you or are you dead water?

We are only alive if we are letting the Word flow in and out. This requires discipline in a busy world, tuning out the noise in a world filled with chaos, and identifying places to dispense God’s blessings lest they stagnate with us. To give living water you must tap into it and dispense it. It’s one of few things more fun than a day of fly fishing (and I love fly fishing). It’s more like serving as a fly fishing guide: sharing the blessing with others.

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Oswald Chambers: Absolute Certainty

Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Revelation 3:10

“Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered.

The greatest fear a man has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for – love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men – will not win out in the end; the things He stands for look like will-o’-the-wisps. Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.

If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience.” Remain spiritually tenacious.”

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2017) devotional for 22 February.

The only thing I have absolute certainty about is Jesus Christ. I’m thankful my GTP team members concur. The Holy Spirit has reinforced this idea on our retreat in the mountains, and for that I rejoice. As we have reflected on all God has done to get us this far, we find ourselves encouraged and strengthened to abide in Him, and let him continue to guide our work.

We resolve to remain spiritually tenacious. We have discussed that our spiritual lives and physical fitness, our being, must precede our doing. Spiritual tenacity is fueled by our knowing and living according to what is true. So, from the place of abiding, we can tenaciously go forth in His service

What’s this got to do with Christian generosity? If you don’t have an absolute certainty that God will supply your needs, and that you have been blessed to be a blessing, you will not live generously. We can only live a life of love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness, if we have absolutely certain in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, help me remain spiritually tenacious. Teach me to abide in You, to learn from You, and live in the absolute certainty of what is true, so that it shapes my doing, that is, my living, giving, serving, and loving. Hear my prayer in your mercy and make it so by your grace, I ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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C.S. Lewis: Fairy tales and turning 50

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

“When I was ten I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

C.S. Lewis in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1966) 38.

Happy 50th Birthday to my wife, Jenni. I am thankful that she has childlike faith and loves fairy tales.

More times than I can count people have asked me what my wife is like. Jenni has a radiant beauty and unmatched humility to obey even the most difficult aspects of the Christian faith. She’s godly, loving, thoughtful, caring, and shines for Jesus like no one else I know. She likes time alone when I travel and welcoming me warmly when I get home.

When I saw the bridge (pictured above) while riding a boat between Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake two days ago with the GTP team, I thought of her as she lives her life as a bridge between people and God connecting them together. If you have not already subscribed to her Soulcare Anchoress Spigot, click to do so. It’s the best fortnightly post on the planet.

Why share this mediation today? The only way to exhibit Christian generosity is to have childlike faith. Don’t listen to me in this regard. Listen to Jesus. Put your life completely in His care if you want to show the world that He can be trusted to care for them. Childlike faith is not a weakness as the world might say, it’s a learned strength. Do you have it?

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Hannah Hurnard: Glorious opportunity

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-4

“We feel we would give anything if only we could, in actual experience, live on the High Places of love and victory here on this earth and during this life — able always to react to evil, tribulation, sorrow, pain, and every wrong thing in such a way that they would be overcome and transformed into something to the praise and glory of God forever. As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, His own lovely character.”

Hannah Hurnard in Hinds’ Feet on High Places (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 1975) viii.

The GTP team is standing on the high places of love and victory by His grace alone this week. God is generously knitting our hearts together as we spend time in His Word, in strategic discussions, in doing outdoor activities in the mountains of Colorado, and in taking time for solitude.

He’s forming into His image and likeness, preparing us for the road ahead. It will be filled with both good times and tribulation, which we realize are part of His generous plan. He’s reminding us that the pain will not be pointless. It has purpose. Navigating these times transforms us and glorifies God.

What about you?

You too can live on the high places of love and victory not by avoiding challenges but by embracing whatever God has for you — whether it be pleasure or pain — by grace as part of a glorious opportunity to let His love shine through you today and every day by the Holy Spirit.

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon: His own dish

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

“When we give our hearts with our alms, we give well, but we must often plead to a failure in this respect. Not so our Master and our Lord. His favours are always performed with the love of His heart. He does not send to us the cold meat and the broken pieces from the table of His luxury, but he dips our morsel in His own dish, and seasons our provisions with the spices of His fragrant affections. When He puts the golden tokens of His grace into our palms, He accompanies the gift with such a warm pressure of our hand, that the manner of His giving is as precious as the boon itself. He will come into our houses upon His errands of kindness, and He will not act as some austere visitors do in the poor man’s cottage, but He sits by our side, not despising our poverty, nor blaming our weakness.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) in Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (Grand Rapids, MI: CCEL) morning reading for 20 May. I hope you like the new header photo shot from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s hard to describe the blessing God has supplied to the GTP team by His grace. We are staying in a Colorado cabin that has private sleeping quarters for each of us, a perfect room in which to have our meetings, and unfathomable mountain beauty surrounding us. The best part, a generous couple is letting us eat at their table, from their own dishes, with them in their mountain getaway.

Perhaps you can think of a time when you have felt similarly and graciously blessed? God, in His providence, supplied something for you with love. He included “errands of kindness” that ministered especially to you and your needs. Remember how that made you feel loved. Rather than “plead to a failure” now go and do likewise. Bless someone generously.

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Thomas à Kempis: Superabundance

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning, that never fails!

Therefore, while I may not exhaust the fullness of the fountain or drink to satiety, yet will I put my lips to the mouth of this heavenly stream that from it I may receive at least some small drop to refresh my thirst and not wither away…

Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You Who have been pleased to call all unto You, saying: “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you.”

I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations, enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none to help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and Savior, to Whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may protect me and lead me to eternal life.”

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) in The Imitation of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1998) 105.

I’ve used part of this as a daily meditation in the past. I have expanded the excerpt today as I appreciate the fact that superabundance awaits those who sip from and retreat with Jesus.

Father, as my GTP team retreats to the mountains today, refresh us from Your superabundance. By your Holy Spirit, cleanse and set us apart for your service, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Jeremiah Burroughs: Discontented spirits

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

“Oh, the temptations that men of discontented spirits are subject to! The Devil loves to fish in troubled waters. That is our proverb about men and women, their disposition is to fish in troubled waters, they say it is good fishing in troubled waters. This is the maxim of the Devil, he loves to fish in troubled waters; where he sees the spirits of men and women troubled and vexed, there the Devil comes. He says, ‘There is good fishing for me’, when he sees men and women go up and down discontented, and he can get them alone, then he comes with his temptations: ‘Will you suffer such a thing?’ he says, ‘take this shift, this indirect way, do you not see how poor you are, others are well off, you do not know what to do for the winter, to provide fuel and get bread for you and your children’, and so he tempts them to unlawful courses. This is the special disorder that the Devil fastens upon, when he gets men and women to give their souls to him…”

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) in The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust) 76.

I liked this post because the illustration related to fishing. The devil aims to make us discontented people. Is that you? Be not troubled or vexed. You have everything you need in God.

This post also reveals a profound truth linked to contentment and generosity. We will never reflect Christian generosity if we do not resolve in our minds that we have everything we need in God.

The GTP team finished good meetings with ECFA and walked the mall in in Washington D.C. together yesterday evening. Today we will enjoy the Museum of the Bible before heading to Denver tomorrow.

We rejoice that God is with us and that He has given us this margin for team-building and to make memories together. Each day we will give thanks for His blessings lest we be tempted to be discontented.

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Dallas Willard: Admire and emulate

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:2-3

“Obedience, with the life of discipline it requires, both leads to and, then, issues from the pervasive inner transformation of the heart and soul. The abiding condition of the disciple becomes one of “love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faith to the brim, meekness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22; compare 2 Peter 1:2–11). And the love is genuine to our deepest core. These are called the “fruit of the Spirit” because they are not direct effects of our efforts but are brought about in us as we admire and emulate Jesus and do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.”

Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (New York: HarperCollins, 1998) 368.

As the GTP begins to bond with each other on the DC leg of our trip, my focus is keeping Christ at the center and challenging everyone “to do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.”

How do we get there? In short, we admire and emulate Jesus.

Why? As the Apostle Peter put it, in Jesus we have everything we need for a godly life that reflects His glory and goodness (or generosity). But His teachings are counterintuitive: we don’t figure them out until we live them out.

That’s where Willard’s ‘pervasive inner transformation’ comes into play. The teachings of Jesus take us on a formational journey, which transforms us into people of love who exhibit generosity, among other great traits.

Where’s a good starting point? Read a Gospel. Pick one: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Admire and emulate Jesus. Watch His movements and interaction with people. Wonder at His parables.

Most importantly, listen closely to His pointed teaching. “Do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.” He came to give us life and help others grasp it. See what happens in and through you as you do.

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Jeanne Guyon: Filled to Overflowing

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

“When you have entered into this deeper realm of experience with Jesus Christ, what should be your response to circumstance, to outward events? Simply remain faithful in this state. Rest quietly before the Lord. Let this simple, quiet rest in Him always be your preparation for everything. You must keep this in mind: Your only purpose is to be filled to overflowing with the divine presence of Jesus Christ and, deep within you, to be prepared to receive from Him anything that He chooses to bestow upon you.”

Jeanne Guyon in “Abundance” chapter 13 of Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (Sargent: Seedsowers, 1975) 68.

As the GTP team starts our journey together at the ECFA offices today in Winchester, VA, we must see ourselves as empty cups whose purpose is to be “filled to overflowing” with Jesus. Only then will we be able to minister from a place of abundance.

The same is true for anyone who desires to live generously. Because our ‘being’ precedes our ‘doing’ we must abide in Christ so that we produce much fruit. We see this later in John’s Gospel in this pointed teaching from Jesus on abiding and abundance.

Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. John 15:4-8

Let us show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus by resting and abiding in Him. Only then will our generous giving and service flow from His abundant power at work through us. Whether He supplies much or little, we resolve to remain faithful.

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Richard Sibbes: Spiritual sins

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:12-14

“We should judge ourselves before God, for those things that the world cannot know, for spiritual sins: as the motions of pride, of worldliness, of revenge, of security, unthankfulness, and such like unkindness towards God, and in general, our barrenness in all good duties, that we owe to God and men. Such sins the world cannot see; yet these should humble our hearts; for when we do not make conscience of spiritual sins, God may soon give us up to some open abominations, that stain and publicly disgrace our holy profession.”

Richard Sibbes in Divine Meditations and Holy Contemplations, #191 (London: J. Buckland, 1875) 69.

When we hear of “great transgressions” as the psalmist put it, they result from not dealing with spiritual sins in our lives. And nothing can hinder our generosity like spiritual sins.

How do pride, worldliness, revenge, security, unthankfulness, and unkindness toward God surface in your life? On this Lord’s day, ask God to help you examine your life and discern your errors.

Why mention this? As my team comes together, we will be talking a lot about prayer, fasting, and confession. I believe these are keys for helping unlock challenges greater than ourselves.

The work of Global Trust Partners seeks to train God’s workers in faithful administration which aims to counteract corruption to increasing generous participation in God’s work globally.

In many parts of the world, it’s as if the church is in captivity and not positioned to flourish. We can’t help those people if we ourselves are not right with God. We must first examine ourselves.

Again, what about you? What do you find as you examine your heart? Ask God to help you remove any spiritual sins that could bring dishonor to His name or hinder your generous service.

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