Prayer for the New Year

I cannot say a better prayer for 2014 than this poetic prayer of more than a century ago by A.B. Simpson.

A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR

A.B. Simpson

 What shall I ask for the coming year?

What shall my watchword be?

What would’st Thou do for me, dear Lord?

What can I do for Thee?

 

Lord, I would ask for a holy year,

Spent in Thy perfect will;

Help me to walk in Thy very steps—

Help me to please Thee still.

 

Lord, I would ask for a trustful year;

Humble, and yet so high;

Help to sink at Thy blessed feet,

And on Thy bosom lie.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of faith;

Give me thy faith divine,

Taking my full inheritance,

Making Thy fullness mine,

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of love,

That I may love Thee best;

Give me the love that faileth not,

Under the hardest test.

 

Lord, I would ask for a busy year,

Filled up with service true;

Doing with all Thy Spirit’s might

All that I find to do.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of prayer—

Teach me to walk with Thee;

Breathe in my heart Thy Spirit’s breath;

Pray Thou Thy prayer in me.

 

Lord, I would ask for a dying world;

Stretch forth Thy mighty hand;

Scatter forth Thy Word—Thy power display

This year in every land.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of joy,

Thy peace, Thy joy divine,

Springing undimmed through all the day,

Whether of shade or shine.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of hope,

Looking for Thee to come,

And hastening on that year of years,

That brings us Christ and Home.

This is my prayer for 2014.  May it be yours as well.  Have a blessed New Year!

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Dust and Deity Made One

“Emmanuel”—God with us, is the miracle of God in the Incarnation. God is with us through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in many ways. Let us consider five ways in which God is with us.

God Is with Us—Walking in Our Shoes

 Oswald Chambers ponders this: “The wonder of the Incarnation slips into the life of ordinary childhood; the marvel of the Transfiguration descends to the valley and the demon-possessed boy, and the glory of the Resurrection merges into our Lord providing breakfast for His disciples on the sea shore in the early dawn. The tendency in early Christian experience is to look for the marvelous. . . . It takes Almighty God Incarnate in you to peel potatoes properly, and to wash heathen children for the glory of God.”

 God Is with Us—Dwelling in Our Hearts

 Early Church Father Athanasius wrote, “The Word of God came in His own person, that, as He was the Image of the Father, He might be able to create afresh the man after the image. . . . A portrait once effaced must be restored from the original. Thus the Son of the Father came to seek, save, and regenerate. No other way was possible. Blinded himself, man could not see to heal. . . . The Word alone could do so. But how? Only by revealing Himself as man. . . . The most holy Son of the Father, being the Image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in His likeness.”

God Is with Us in Constant Communion

 Jesus is the Paraclete, the Advocate or Helper who has come alongside us. Jonathan Edwards declared, “For Christ having, by his incarnation, come down from his infinite exaltation above us, has become one of our kinsmen and brothers. Jesus promises “I am with you always.” The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus abides in us as our Paraclete, our perpetual partner in constant communion. The old hymn sings of that intimate fellowship: “He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

 God Is with Us—Dust and Deity Made One

 As we become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we become one with Him. Oswald Chambers explains, “God in Essence cannot come anywhere near us. To be of any use to me, He must come down to the domain in which I live; and I do not live in the clouds but on the earth. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God did come down into our domain. . . . Dust and Deity made one. The pure gold of Deity is of no use to us unless it is amalgamated in the right alloy, viz., the pure Divine working on the basis of the pure human. Jesus Christ has the power of reproducing Himself by regeneration, the power of introducing into us His own heredity, so that dust and Deity again become one.”

 God Is with Us in the Heavenlies Places

 Since we are in Christ and He is in us, we are seated together with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). A.W. Tozer comments, “Instead of God degrading Himself when He became man, by the act of Incarnation He elevated mankind to Himself. God, in the Incarnation, did not became flesh by a coming down of the Deity into flesh; but rather by the taking up of mankind into God. Thus, we do not degrade God but we elevate man—and that is the wonder of redemption!” Through the Incarnation, He raises us to more than we can be.

No wonder John Wesley declared with his dying words: 

“The best of all is, God is with us!”

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Scarecrows and Strange Fire

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your heavenly Father know how to give good gifts to those who ask Him.”—Matthew 7:11

 Recently, a book was published by pastor John MacArthur, calling the contemporary movement of the Spirit “Strange Fire.” While he points out some very real excesses and problems, he is carried away by his prejudices, presuppositions, and fears, and he thus unjustly caricatures the entire movement.  Rather than trying to find a middle way of balance, he writes off the entire movement as counterfeit.

On the other hand, many theologically and biblically sound evangelical leaders of the past and present, have not been scared away by the excesses. For example, respected 20th century Reformed expositor David Martyn Lloyd-Jones has written, “In our fear of the excesses that some who claim this experience may be guilty of, we often become guilty of ‘quenching the Spirit’ and robbing ourselves of the richest blessings.”

A.W. Tozer, who had once shared a pulpit at a conference with Lloyd-Jones, responded similarly, “Well, my brother, I will not be frightened out of my rightful heritage. I will not be scared out of my birthright because some others didn’t know what to do with the birthright or have found something else that has nothing to do with the birthright. I want all that God has for me!”

A century ago, A.B. Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, wrote about Satan’s scarecrows:

“Many of God’s dear children have been hindered by fear of certain manifestations and spiritual movements which may not always be wholly scriptural in their methods and results. The enemy loves to use these things as scarecrows to keep away God’s children from genuine blessing. Let us simply wait upon God without fear. Can we not trust our heavenly Father to keep His promise to us, ‘if a son shall ask bread of any of you which is a father, will He give him a stone him, a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he ask an egg will He offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall the heavenly Father give the Spirit to them that ask Him.’”

 Paris Reidhead, a former missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission and friend of Tozer, similarly declared, “For years the adversary of our Lord Jesus Christ and the enemy of our souls has been putting every possible means to keep the Church, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, from its resources, tools, and weapons which would make her invincible in her warfare and task. How much longer can earnest, sincere, honest-minded evangelicals let scarecrows keep them from that which is rightfully their inheritance in our Lord Jesus Christ?”

Tozer and Simpson both advised that the answer to abuse is not disuse, but proper use. Instead of broadly condemning a movement of the Spirit that admittedly has flaws, it is much wiser to discern how to keep the movements within banks of blessing rather than dismissing the whole movement as false.  The Spirit is quenched both by excesses and by critics. Let us not be scared off by the scarecrows, but welcome the movement of the Spirit with balance, discernment, and maturity.

For a scholarly response to MacArthur’s Strange Fire, see biblical scholar Craig Keener’s critique at: http://pneumareview.com/john-macarthurs-strange-fire-reviewed-by-craig-s-keener/

 

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