I've been reading Andrew Murray's "The Secret To Spiritual Strength" and wanted to share some of it. The whole book is about how to live for Christ in HIS strength instead of through our own efforts.
[b]"The Four Stages of the Christian Life:[/b]
In the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, I recognize four stages of the Christian life. First there is the stage of the sad and troubled heart. Then there is the time where the heart is slow to believe. This is followed by the period of the burning heart. But the highest level we are to reach is the stage of the satisfied heart. (note: on my part, I was leery of this. I don't want to be satisfied, I want a holy "dissatisfaction- but we must read on :)
[b]The Sad and Troubled Heart[/b]
Imagine how the disciples were feeling that morning as they started their journey. Their hearts were sad and troubled because they thought that Jesus was dead. They did not know He was alive, and this is the way it is with alot of Christians. They look to the cross and they struggle to trust Christ, but they have never learned the blessedness of believing that there is a living Christ who will do everything in them...
[b]Slow to Believe[/b]
The second stage is taken from the words that Christ spoke to the disciples when He told them that they were "slow of heart to believe". Yes, there are many Christians today who have heard the gospel and who know that they must not only believe in a crucified Christ but in a living Christ, and they try to grasp it and take it in, but it does not bring them a blessing. Why? They do not receive the blessing because they want to FEEL it and not to BELIEVE it.
The first stage is one of ignorance, and the second stage is one of unbelief. The doubting heart cannot take in the truth that Jesus lives.
[b]The Burning Heart[/b]
The third stage of the Christian life is the burning heart stage. Jesus came to the two disciples, and after He had reproved them, He began to interpret the Scriptures for them and to tell them of all the wonderful things the prophets had taught. Then their eyes were opened, and they saw that it was true that it had been prophesied that Christ must rise. It rested upon them, and they began to feel their hearts BURN with joy and gladness.
You may be saying, "This is the final stage at which you need to arrive." Yet, God forbid that you should stop there. The disciples had had a blessed experience of His divine power, but He had not revealed Himself. Our hearts often burn within us at Bible conferences, in churches, in meetings, and in blessed fellowship with God's people. - yet there is something lacking. WHAT IS IT?
[b][color=CC3333]There is a great difference between a burning heart, which becomes cold after awhile, and which comes and goes, and the blessed revelation of Jesus Himself as my Savior who takes charge of me and blesses me and KEEPS me every day![/b][/color]
[b]The Satisfied Heart[/b]
The final stage, which I have just described, is the stage of the satisfied heart. I pray that you will arrive at this stage. I am sure that you are praying for this as well. I am praying that I will arrive at this stage in my own life.
If you are sad and unable to comprehend or accept this and if you are saying, "I have never yet known the joy of faith," read the following words carefully, because I am going to tell you how you can know it.
Everything centers around ONE THING. Just as a little child lives day by day in the arms of his mother and grows up year after year under his mother's loving eye, it is possible for you to live every day and hour of your life in fellowship with the Holy Jesus.
Perhaps you have arrived at the stage of the burning heart and can relate many blessed experiences that you have had, but somehow there is a worm at the root. [b]The experiences do not last and your heart is very changeable[/b]. Come, beloved believer, and follow Christ. Say, "Jesus, reveal Yourself so that I may know You personally. I am not only asking [b]to drink the living water, I want the Fountain[/b]. I am not only asking [b]to bathe myself in the light, I want the "Sun of righteousness"[/b] within my heart.
[b]To Whom Does Jesus Reveal Himself?[/b]
[b]Those who give up everything for Him[/b]. Christ revealed Himself to those disciples who had given up everything for Him. He had said to them, "Deny yourself, and take up your cross and follow Me", and they had done it. With all their unfaithfulness and with all their weaknesses, they had followed Christ to the end. They were [b]not perfect men[/b], but they would have died for Him. They had loved Him, obeyed Him, followed Him. They had left everything.
[b][color=CC3333]You say, "Tell me what Christ wants from me so that I may have His wonderful presence. Tell me the kind of person to whom Christ will reveal Himself in the highest and fullest way." My answer is, "He will reveal Himself to the one who is ready to give up everything and to follow Him."[/b][/color] If Christ is to give Himself wholly to me, He must know that I am wholly committed to Him.
I trust that God will give us grace, so that these words I have written about consecration and surrender- [b]not only of all evil, but of many lawful things, and even, if necessary, of life itself[/b]- may lead us to understand the demand that Jesus makes upon us. The first step is to turn away from everything else and to follow Him, to give up everything in submission to Him and just live a life of [b]simple love and obedience[/b]."
-Andrew Murray (The Secret To Spiritual Strength)