Items For Prayer And Praise
By Lois J. Stucky
What victory, what fruitfulness, what joy God offers to His people. We can exclaim with the disciples, "Even the devils are subject unto us!" But there is a price to pay for this victory. And though it is a price within reach of all Christians, not all are willing to pay it.
The union with Christ which brings us into these glorious possessions begins at the Cross, where sin and self are renounced, where by faith one enters into crucifixion with Christ. Thereafter it requires walking the "Calvary Road" of which Roy Hession writes. It may be many times a day we meet the opportunity to apply the Cross or to give way to the flesh.
This is why not all are willing to pay the price. Crucifixion is humbling. It is giving up one's self-will, one's self-centered mind, one's selfish heart desires in order to take instead God's way of self-sacrifice and self-denial. But that humble way of the Cross is the way of victory!
How many times we are our own worst enemy, as someone has said. We hang back from that which God requires and so we miss His best. A Herald saint who was earnestly on the trail of God's best and who was having many a struggle along the way, said to me years ago, about some holy men who made strides for God: "They did a good job of dying out." They persevered until the flesh was dealt a decisive death blow. Then onward for God!
How much better than to parley with self, to pamper and pity it, and to yield to it in the end. Or maybe we reluctantly and halfheartedly submit, and then wounded and tearfully we carry on with heavy, mournful tread. What good are we then to God? We also have the choice of contending earnestly for the flesh and stubbornly refusing to yield at all.
Satan would keep us in this sort of predicament, of course, because he knows that once the flesh is submitted to the Cross, then, united with Jesus, there is also for us resurrection from death and there is blessed life from above. That life is our victory. That is our fruitfulness. That is our joy. That is Satan's defeat!
In this hour when victorious saints are so needed, God is searching hearts. We are seeing things in our lives as sin and self which we hitherto did not recognize as such. One aspect of the battle that is especially challenging to me right now is "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Is this actually possible? One or two statements from a recent Herald article have been most helpful. The writer tells how we may say to thoughts which are not right: "I refuse that thought."
I am becoming more aware of times when I am practicing unbelief. To take things as they seem to be, or as I feel they are or as Satan whispers they are – instead of believing what God's Word says they are – is to make God a liar. A terrible sin to be repented of quickly!
How challenging the words, "Count it all joy…." That does not mean when we are in trial we need to have an emotional high of joy. Joy can also mean the cheerfulness and brightness of faith in spite of dire circumstances. It is to have a ready and willing attitude to go through, believing that what God allows He is able to give grace to endure and to bring eventual good from it.
Many times I heard Florence Meek, a former Herald saint, say, "I claim a Romans 8:28 for this!" She believed God to make difficulties work together with other things for good in the end. This is facing the matter in faith. Derek Prince speaks along this line in his article. He had to re-educate his mind with hope – a bright attitude of good expectations instead of pessimism.
To "count it all joy" is to bring our thoughts and attitudes into captivity. We must refuse pessimism and self-pity. Receive instead God's Word with cheerful expectation that He will fulfill it. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to mortify the old thoughts and to embrace the Word of God, which is ever and always the truth and infinitely more to be trusted than our thoughts or Satan's injected thoughts.
Christina Rossetti is a Christian poetess who saw the way of victory. She wrote:
God harden me against myself,
The coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest and joys:
Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.
Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.
I wonder if some of us Americans, some of us Westerners, are not going to make a poor showing when we line up with some other of today's saints, let alone with yesteryear's saints, from around the world and across the centuries, on that day when crowns are dispensed. No cross – no crown! There are saints who are following more closely the way of the Cross than many American Christians even know about. We may not face the same outward trials many do, when their decisions spell life or death literally – but we have many opportunities which God alone knows about to die to selfishness and to go God's way fully. God help us!
We need to be more captivated by Jesus! He is our inspiration and our companion along the blood-sprinkled way of the Cross. And He is our great eternal reward. Another Christian poet has written:
Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him,
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Joyful choose the better part.
What has stript the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth.
Not the crushing of the idols,
With its bitter void and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.
'Tis that look that melted Peter,
'Tis that face that Stephen saw,
'Tis that heart that wept with Mary,
Can alone from idols draw –
Draw, and win, and fill completely,
Till the cup o’erflows the brim;
What have we to do with idols,
Who have companied with him?
Might we see our precious Jesus crowned! And might we honor Him by accepting His call to have a throne and a crown with Him, even though it be by way of the Cross! And let us see how useful we can be to our Lord and God in today's battle of right against wrong. There are war veterans who can tell much of risks that must be taken, of sleepless nights, of intense watchings, of persevering when the enemy would wear us out, of pressing on when weary and fearful and in danger. God help us to be good Christian soldiers! The eternal destiny of many souls hangs on the victory and the valor of God's people.