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Thoughts From A.B. Simpson

Dear Friends,

This past week as I was preparing my sermon I was reminded of a book I read way back in 1982, called, "The Love Life of the Lord" by A. B. Simpson (1843-1919). Through that book Simpson (who started the "Christian and Missionary Alliance" denomination) helped me learn how to grow in my love for Jesus. Or as John Bunyan (of 'Pilgrim's Progress' fame) would put it, "improve my love to Jesus." Yet, as I went to find that book on my bookshelf, I discovered it was nowhere to be found (like about 100 other books I have loaned to people over the last 35 years and never gotten back).

At any rate, I went online, ordered another copy, and with it I also bought a copy of Simpson's 365 Day Devotional entitled, "Days of Heaven on Earth." It's from that devotional that I share today's two short thoughts. The FIRST thought has to do with prayer, why we need prayer, how God blesses prayer, and will let things done apart from prayer fall flat. The SECOND thought has to do with the equipping of God and how one goes about receiving it. Both struck home with me, because I have learned the exact same lessons myself! With minor changes in detail I could have written both entries from my own experience -- though I did not! These are his! Enjoy.
"Pray Without Ceasing."
I Thessalonians 5:17
"An important help in the life of prayer is the habit of bringing everything to God, moment by moment, as it comes to us in life. This may be established as a habit on the principle on which all habits are formed -- by repeated and constant attention, moment by moment, until that which is at first an act of the will becomes spontaneous and second nature.

If we will watch our lives, we shall find that God meets the things that we commit to Him in prayer with special blessing, and often allows the best things that we have not committed to Him to be ineffectual. He does this simply to remind us of our dependence upon Him for everything. It is very gracious and mindful of Him gently to compel us in this way to remember Him and to hold us so close to Him that we cannot get away even for the length of a single minute from His all-sustaining arm. 'In everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.'

'Let us bring our least petitions,
Like the incense beaten small,
All our cares, complaints, conditions,
Jesus loves to bear them all.'"

"His Bride has made herself ready"
Revelation 19:7
...We remember a time in our lives (as Christians) when we had devoted ourselves to spend a month in, 'waiting upon the Lord' for a baptism of the Holy Ghost. But before the end of the month, the Lord shook us out of our seclusion and compelled us to go out and carry His message to others. And as we went, He met us in the service.

There is a musty, monkish way of seeking a blessing, and there is a wholesome, practical holiness which finds us in the company of the Lord Himself, not only in the closet and on the mountaintop of prayer, but among publicans and sinners, and in the practical duties of everyday life.

It seems to us that the practical preparation for the Lord's coming consists, first, of a very full entering into fellowship with Him in our own spiritual life, and letting Him not only cleanse us, but perfect us in all the finer touches of the Spirit's deep inner work. And then, secondly, there is the need to get out of ourselves and live to help others, preparing the world for His appearing."

I have to say amen to both entries! In regard to the first, I have seen the Lord very powerfully bless my imperfect preparations and times when I felt very weak spiritually, because I could do little else than cast myself upon Him for His grace and assistance, knowing that if He did not empower and enable me it would be a disaster. And likewise, there have been other times when I prepared so fully, and felt so confident in myself and what I had to share, that I felt little need to pray or plead for His grace and assistance. And on those occasions (and I learned this very quickly!) it ended up dry and flat and of little benefit to anyone.

A sense of my own weakness accompanied by earnest pleading prayer was met with more blessing by God than much earnest preparation and confidence in myself apart from any pleading prayer. I understand exactly what Paul meant when he said, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses that Christ's power may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Cor. 12:9-10). Simpson, I believe, is right -- "He does this simply to remind us of our dependence upon Him for everything."

I have also struggled with going out and doing ministry because I wanted first to be filled with the passion and power of God before I ever stepped out to engage in it. Yet, what I learned time after time (and it's the lesson of faith) is that as I prayed and stepped out in obedience to do what God was calling me to do, He came upon me as I engaged in that act of ministry. God does not fill us as we sit in our prayer closet doing nothing, in "a musty, monkish way of seeking a blessing" as Simpson puts it. He equips us as we step out in faith and trust that His power and presence will fill us as we do what He calls us to do! I must again agree with Simpson when he testifies from personal experience, "And AS WE WENT, He met us in the service."

May God Continue to Teach Us His Ways, Pastor Jeff


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