17-7-16 PM, The Art of Prayer, Sufficiency in God
E.M. Bounds, Chapter 2
But above all he excelled in prayer. The inwardness and weight of his spirit, the reverence and solemnity of his address and behavior, and the fewness and fullness of his words have often struck even strangers with admiration as they used to reach others with consolation. The most awful, living, reverence frame I ever felt or beheld, I must say, was his prayer. And truly it was a testimony. He knew and lived nearer to the Lord than other men, for they that know him most will see most reason to approach him with reverence and fear.
-William Penn of George Fox
Doug- Things which are true for the lay servant in addition to the preacher.
Things which are true for serving as well as the preaching ministry.
We do more harm than good when we try to do kingdom work in our own flesh.
Take teaching and preaching...
The sweetest graces by a slight perversion may bear the bitterest fruit. The sun gives life, but sunstrokes are death. Preaching is to give life; it may kill. The preacher holds the keys; he may lock as well as unlock. Preaching is God’s great institution for the planting an maturing of spiritual life. When properly executed, its benefits are untold; when wrongly executed, no evil can exceed its damaging results. 14
Doug- I think of the Pharisees who knew the scriptures, but they did not know the one who wrote them.
Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Doug- I think of Israel who went through the motions of worship.
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
They complied in the worship of the Lord according to the letter of the law, but not according to personal knowledge of the Lord.
He is our sufficiency. He makes our activities helpful to the kingdom.
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
God is the source of life
He makes our service count.
The true ministry is God-touched, God-enabled, and God made. The Spirit of God is on the preacher in anointing power, the fruit of the Spirit is in his heart, the Spirit of God has vitalized the man and the word; his preaching gives life...15
When orthodoxy is dangerous
It gives the illusion that we have the strength to reach God.
Truth unquickened by God’s Spirit deadens as much as, or more than, error. It may be truth without admixture; but without the Spirit its shade and touch are deadly, its truth error, its light darkness. 17
We can put out impressive program and cutting edge methods, but if they are done in our strength, then they are temporary.
The preacher may feel from the kindling of his own sparks, be eloquent over his own exegesis, earnest in delivering the product of his own brain; brains and nerves may serve the place and feign the work of God’s Spirit, and by these forces the letter may glow and sparkle like an illumined text, but the glow and sparkle will be barren of life as the field sown with pearls. 17-18
The great hindrance is in the preacher himself. There may be no discount on his orthodoxy, honesty, cleanness, or earnestness; but somehow the man, the inner man, in its secret places has never broken down and surrendered to God, his inner life is not a great highway for the transmission of God’s message, God’s power. Somehow self and not God rules in the holy of holies…His inner being has never felt its thorough spiritual bankruptcy, its utter powerlessness… 18-19
Self-esteem, self-ability in some pernicious shape has defamed and violated the temple which should be held sacred for God. Life giving preaching costs the preacher much- death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.19
Instead we must rejoice in our suffering.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.