GOD’S CATFISH…And Yours……Miles J. Stanford

We continue to concentrate upon the basic growth truths, since a well established foundation is the only hope for healthy spiritual development. We trust you will find the following selected article of value to yourself and others.

Our Father would have us “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2Peter 3:18). He lovingly carries this out by having us die in death, and in the knowledge of the work of the Cross. The natural tendency of many Christians who are seeking to grow is to avoid the Cross in every way possible, but that is simply to avoid all possibility of true spiritual growth and maturity.

In order to grow we cannot by-pass that phase which is most unattractive, yet altogether essential to our coming into close fellowship with the Lord Jesus. It is a daily crucifixion of the old life, the Adam life. Our crucifixion death must always precede the glorious resurrection life even as the surgeon’s knife must precede physical well-being, as darkness must come before dawn. “For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2Cor. 4:11).

Great is the reward to those who will trust the Holy Spirit to take them into that process of spiritual growth. It will increasingly result in a very intimate life and walk with the Lord Jesus, a glorious life of freedom from the power of sin and a life of abounding fruitfulness to the glory of God. Still, many are satisfied to exist as mediocre and carnal Christians.

Most believers see clearly that the Lord Jesus died on the Cross for us, that He actually bore the penalty for our sins; but few realize that He did not die alone, that each who would believe died unto sin with Him. God sees every believer as having died with Christ. Judicially, we were crucified with Him at Calvary. Actually, that fact must be worked in us through daily experience until it becomes a literal reality in our lives. ‘”That I may know him….being made conformable unto his death.”  (Phil.3:10)

The Holy Spirit knows the most effective way of disciplining each life. Some believers suffer severe financial loss and the constant stringency that follows is used by Him to crucify that natural love of self-dependence. Some experience prolonged physical infirmity, and this the Holy Spirit uses to cause them to die to their self-will, self-dependence and self-pity. Others have social problems with friends and relatives that He uses in order to bring them to the place of crucifixion. Whether at home, at school, at work, or at church, He puts you in situations that sorely try you, or with persons–that are a thorn in the flesh. He places the refined with the coarse, the methodical with the slipshod, the fast with the slow, the bright with the dull, the spiritual with the carnal.

Inevitable they grate upon each other. However, the Lord will use such situations for great spiritual profit to both. If He does not deliberately bring us into such naturally undesirable situations for our training, then He will use just such trying places into which we have gotten ourselves through our self-will, self-preservation, self-confidence, self-pleasing and failure to follow Him.

Possibly some husbands and wives are now in such circumstances in your relationship to each other, or toward your children or your relatives or at work. Don’t seek to change your circumstances! Seek the Lord to change your source of life and in due time He will properly adjust your situation. Your present difficulties are the very means He would use to bring you down into death so that He can form the Lord Jesus’ own life in you. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rom.8:28, 29)

An abundant supply of herring may be found near one of England’s coasts. When brought to shore to be sold, the fishermen found that they became flabby and flavorless. By installing tanks on their fishing vessels and thus keeping the herring alive until sold, their problem was largely solved. But one ingenious fisherman devised a means of keeping them in perfect condition. Everyone rushed to buy his herring first. Finally, he let it out. In each of his numerous large tanks filled with herring, he put a catfish or two. Now, catfish chase the herring and eat them. They were welcome to a few for their service, for the herring kept fleeing for their lives and retained their vitality and flavor.

Has God put a spiritual catfish in your circumstances to keep you moving toward Him; a catfish that is wearing the life out of you, your natural life, so that you will know what it is to live His life, Christ’s own life lived in you? Oh, thank God for the catfish in your life! If you do, that will be the occasion for your becoming strong and usable and a glory to His name.  “In everything give thanks; for this – is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

Paul recognized his catfish (a thorn in the flesh, let it serve its purpose) and profited greatly by it. Job had his in his wife and his comforters; Moses had his in his sister. Joseph had his in his brothers and at work in Potiphar’s home. David had his in Saul, the head of the government. But the Lord Jesus is our best example. He had no money, not even a penny to look at. He had no home, nowhere to lay His head. His relatives criticized Him. One of the Twelve denied Him. Another betrayed Him. Satan dogged His every step. His own people received Him not. At their demand, the authorities crucified Him. So, “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb.12:3).

You, too will grow and be used of God as you willingly humble yourself under the mighty hand of God by submitting to the Spirit’s probing into the deep recesses of your inner life, and thereby bringing the sinful old nature out into the open and keeping it on the Cross where it belongs. Your are called to “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus,” “so that death works in us, but life in others.”(Rom. 6:11; 2 Cor. 4:12).

Actually, the real catfish lives within each of us — there is “something fishy” all right – none other than the “old man.” As he is dealt with by the Cross, there will be freedom to grow in the midst of any and all circumstances.

“A weakness be it bodily or otherwise is sometimes allowed to continue in order that there maybe dependence, and when there is dependence, the weakness becomes a gain; the grit – the trying thing – is superseded by a pearl.” — J.B. Stoney

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“FIERY DARTS”


I know the “fiery darts” from the “enemy” well…..ultimately the answer is Romans 6
truths….crucified with Christ.  We experience freedom from all our enemies
when we accept that place of “death” to the osn, the world, and the devil.
The temptations come back to try us, but the answer is the same…our refusal to leave
that crucified position.  As
George Mueller said once:  he died to all his
dreams, hopes, desires….and lived for the Lord and His will alone.  The Lord
works in us deeply as we accept this crucified position….and the results in
us is that peace and rest He promises.  It takes concentrating on  the
specific scriptures that apply and related scripture based writings help
to keep focused on these truths, too.  I think the seminary’s teaching on
Eph.6:13….”that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day…” is true.
The professors taught that the “evil day” is not every day, every minute,
but limited to certain times.  The Lord limits Satan and his attacks on
our minds.  When the attacks come we are to stand in that place…that
position where the Lord has already put us…crucified with Christ.   All
believers have the same battle (Eph.6:12)….the enemy uses different
“fiery darts” on each of us.  It helps immensely to be reminded that
even in this spiritual battle, God uses it all for our spiritual good. (2Cor.4:17).
I am seeing the results of the truth in John 12:25:  “he that loveth his
[natural] life shall lose it; and he that hateth his [natural] life in
this world shall keep it unto life eternal. ”  We learn that we don’t
live for the life in this world, but for the eternal values.  (2 Cor.4:18).
We know these truths….but need to live in them daily.  I love verse 16
in 2Cor.4: “For which cause we faint not but though our outward man
perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”  This life on earth
is nothing but corruption….the real life…eternal life in knowing Christ
more day by day….that is the real life.  And our minds are renewed
daily as we feed on these truths.  The familiar passage of scripture
that deals with the “conflict” we experience from Satan is Eph.6:10-18.
Another passage is Eph.4:22-24,27.   “
Walking in the light” will give
us all the peace and joy promised in the scriptures.  see Phil. 2:16.
Dwelling on these scriptures take time….but we find we need them
and cannot find that help we need anywhere else.  lkp


 

GOD’S POWER, NOT OURS

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Excerpts from Chapter IV:  Reckoning that Counts…Miles J. Stanford

“He shall teach you all things.”  It is often the case that hungry believers, needy as they know themselves to be, are more eager for experience than they are for revelation.  They want a minimum of truth and study, with a maximum of results.  But the more experience-centered they become, the less truth-established they will be.  The penalty of this wrong emphasisis self-centeredness instead of Christ centeredness.
This sad and selfish condition develops when we endeavor to handle and control the truth that we see.  But the truth of the Word does not respond to self.  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God…neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).  As we study, we are to rest in the Spirit of life in Christ.  The Lord Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth ….will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). There are those who even go so far as to attempt to use the Spirit.  They want Him to give them “power,” and many other self-centered “experiences” and “blessings.”  The Holy Spirit does not respond to such unholy aspirations.
In the midst of finding out about ourselves, we are to be especially aware of what we are in our Lord Jesus.  While the Spirit must cause us suffering in the crucifixion of the self-life, He comforts us in our growth in the new life.  “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure.  Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”  (James 5:10, 11).
As we turn from the old man by reckoning upon the work of the Cross, we turn to the new man in Christ by reckoning upon the work of the Spirit.  Gradually, as we grow, there are less and less “works of the flesh” evident, and more and more of the “fruit of the Spirit” manifested in our daily walk. (Gal. 5: 19, 22).
What comfort there is in the faithful work of the Comforter!  In the natural realm, a worm is changed into a butterfly– a different creature, but of the same order of life.  In the spiritual realm, a believer is reborn—a totally “new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:17, margin).  Therefore we “yield ourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,” and in dependence upon the Comforter we “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:13: 6:4).

PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY

“We are to reckon (count) ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ
while trusting the Holy Spirit to keep the old nature in its place of death and
form Christ in us and in time the old nature loses it’s reigning power.  Progressive spirituality.”
(Reckoning that Counts, Miles J. Stanford)
“Chafer (and those following his view) tend to stress a clear-cut distinction between
‘carnal’ and ‘spiritual believers’.  This is a weakness leading to many errors and problems.
Believers are compositions of both ‘carnal’ and ‘spiritual’ characteristics.  Through identification based spiritual growth, there is ‘progressively less carnality and more spirituality over time — progressive spirituality.”
Susan S.

QUOTES FROM “IN MANY PULPITS”…… a paper by C.I. Scofield

“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as

he walked.” 1 John 2:6

“What is it “to abide” in Him. Many earnest souls have known much distress
just here. They have been told that “to abide” in Him means to be always
occupied with Him. Now I make bold to say, this is an unattainable
counsel of perfection.

We are in the world, and however [ diligent & dedicated]
we may be to keep the world out of us, we are charged with engrossing
duties calling for the utmost concentration of mind, heart and hand.
We cannot be in conscious constant occupation with Him. I do not so
understand that great word [“abiding”]..

For a moment think of that other phrase—“in Him.” What does that mean?
Ephesians explains it. “In Christ Jesus” is the sphere of the Christian life.
That is where grace has put him. We have not to concern ourselves about
getting that place: we are there. Now, what is “abiding in Him?” Why,
simply having nothing apart from Him, living in the sphere of the things which
interest Christ; bringing Him into the sphere of all our necessary occupations,
joys and innocent pleasures down here; having no business in which He is
not senior Partner; no wedding feast or other feast at which He is not chief
Guest, no failures which are not brought to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

What is John’s test of such a life? In degree, though not as perfectly, it
will be a walk even as He walked. It will lead along the same road; it will
encounter the same trials, enlist the same sympathies. “

“Knowing about God is one thing: knowing God is quite another. Job’s
confession illustrates this:
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:” Job 42:5

and upon the hearing there had come to Job a true faith, a faith which
had withstood tremendous shocks. Well, we all begin there. Our saving
faith is based on testimony. But Job goes on:

“but now mine eye seeth thee.” Job 42:5

A very different matter. Are we then content to remain with a hearsay
knowledge of God? By no means. In the 17th chapter of John, our Lord
tells us that the ultimate end of the gift of eternal life is that we may know
Him. He is our Father, and can our hearts rest with anything short of that
personal knowledge of Him of which John speaks? At this point, John’s
test of spirituality is not to discourage a true knowledge of God, but to
expose a false assumption of such knowledge. What is the test?

“He that saith, I know him, and kept not his commandments, is a liar,”
1 John 2:4

It is not sinless obedience, but it is a heart set to live in the known will
of God. Such a one will have many a failure, but, though often stumbling,
he will keep on. The needle in the compass is often deflected by influences
about it— it trembles and is unquiet, but it resumes its steady alignment with
the object of its devotion. Now a life aligned to the will of God, is in the way
to know God. It is not an arbitrary requirement. In no other way, to
no other man, can God reveal Himself. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians
runs along that road:

“That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; ….increasing in the knowledge of God; “ Col. 1:9-10

GOD HAS SPOKEN…C.H. Mackintosh

God has spoken and His voice reaches the heart. It makes itself heard above the din and confusion of this world, and the strife and controversy of professing Christians. It gives rest and peace, strength and fixedness to the believing heart and mind. The opinions of men may perplex and confound — we may not be able to thread our way through the labyrinths of human systems of theology: but God’s voice speaks in Holy Scripture — speaks to the heart — speaks to me. This is life and peace. It is all I want. Human writings may go now for what they are worth, seeing I have all I want in the ever-flowing fountain of inspiration — the peerless, precious volume of my God.