Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Branch Life: A Vital Message of Rest and Faith Found in the Teachings of Andrew Murray
The first Andrew Murray book I ever read was Reaching Your World for Christ. I stumbled across the book one day in a very unlikely place, while browsing through a downtown clothing boutique in Boone, North Carolina. The book was sitting in a small spindle rack with many other books that were all marked down to one dollar. Out of all the books on the rack, the title of this one caught my attention because of its theme on evangelism. I have always had a strong desire to reach others with the message of Salvation: God's love, grace and forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. I believe this passion to spread the "good news" was born from my past experience in the occult world and my brief glimpse into the true nature of Satan and the demonic realm. These deceiving spirits are evil beyond the comprehension of the natural man and for many years I was blinded to their deceptive tactics and the lengths to which the enemy will go to in order to keep an individutal from seeing his or her need for salvation.

After purchasing Reaching Your World for Christ I laid it aside for a time with all my other books because I expected it to be like any other book on evangelism, focusing on the need of the individual to be saved while giving touching antidotes, formulas and programs for getting Christians "pumped up" and organized to hit the streets. When I finally got around to reading Murray's book, I found that it was different than any other book I'd read on reaching the lost. The book (like every other book by Andrew Murray) had a continuous theme running through it that put the focus on the supernatural ability and willingness of God to "will and to do" all that His Word promises for the believer - and the Church - who will take God at His Word, lose his own life, and pray in faith according to the promises that are given. Murray calls it "the life that can pray*." It is the life of one who is totally given over to the will of God and the mind of Christ, just as the branch exists for no other reason than to bring forth the fruit of the vine through the care and work of the vinedresser, who does it all.

With a passion and faith that is tangible, Murray brings to light the truth that "it is God who works in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)." Sadly, the power of these words remains hidden from most believers, as they strive in the natural, by their own strength, to bring about the vision God has placed in their hearts. Our God is a supernatural God. John 4:24 says, "God is a Spirit." As believers we live in two worlds, the natural and the supernatural, or spiritual. All that we do in the kingdom of God must be by the Spirit, as demonstrated by Jesus. As soon as we are born again by the Spirit, we enter into a battle that is spiritual, according to Ephesians 6:12. It is a battle which can never be won in the natural through new methods or modern techniques.

Today we are told we must "engage" the culture where they are and "re-think" what the Gospel of the Kingdom really means. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to a compromise in our walk, not to mention a compromise of the Word of God. It is true that times change, that outward trends change with each generation. It is also true that technology and science are changing the way we think about the world we live in. But two things that will never change are the Word of God and the fallen condition of every soul born into this world of sin. Malachi 3:6 says, "I am the Lord, I change not." The Gospel is still the Gospel and it must be presented in the power and demonstration of the Spirit of the living God, "not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6, John 6:63)."

It was in reading the anointed writings of Andrew Murray that I received from the Spirit of the Lord the truth and understanding that the same God who worked the miraculous in Moses and the prophets, in Christ Jesus and in the apostles, is the same God who is willing and able to do the miraculous through His children today. Moses was a man who saw his own weaknesses and inability to deliver his people from the slavery of a wicked ruler. He knew the call and vision God had put in his heart, but tried to accomplish it in his own strength. He was only able to do what the Lord had created him to do after he received this liberating revelation: that it was God - not man - who would deliver the Children of Israel from Pharaoh's clenching grip. Only then could he say, "And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness (awesomeness), and with signs, and with wonders (Deuteronomy 26:8).

The lack of spiritual power in the Church today does not fall on God's unwillingness to give us what is needed. Nor does it fall on the shoulders of those who are lost in an everchanging world system, blinded by an unseen force that all the technology in the universe will never detect: the god of this age, Lucifer, the fallen angel of light. The responsibility falls directly on believers, who themselves fail to see the truth that it is God, the Almighty, the same yesterday, today and forever, Who does it all, if we will only align our hearts and minds with His will; and even this is a gift of grace that must be sought after through intimate worship and the prayer of faith. In Psalm 40:7 it is written of Jesus Christ, "Behold, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do your will, O my God." This was the purpose of our Lord and it is also our purpose. This was the secret to Jesus' authority and it is the secret to ours.

"Open my eyes..." Psalm119:18

"Teach me..." Psalm 119:26

"Make me understand..." Psalm 119:27

"Strengthen me..." Psalm 119:28

"Enlarge my heart..." Psalm 119:32

"Give me understanding..." Psalm 119:34

"Make me walk in the path..." Psalm 119:35

"Incline my heart..." Psalm 119:36

"Revive me in Your way..." Psalm 119:37

"Establish Your word to Your servant..." Psalm 119:38

"Revive me in Your righteousness..." Psalm 119:40

Truly, as Andrew Murray said, "it is the life that can pray*." To the one who is completely dependent on the promised power of the Holy Spirit, God will hold nothing back (Luke 11:9-13). Jesus said in John 16:8 of the promised Helper, "and when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." This is the true meaning of the words in Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." This is the promise to the man or woman of faith who will put their trust in God, knowing that their only purpose in this life is to know Him and to do His will. As the branch is to the vine, receiving the life-giving sap that brings forth the fruit, so are we to be towards Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father in this life.

It is said that we are now living in a post-modern generation and that what worked for the Church in the past will no longer work today. If we are depending on programs, formulas, and man's agenda for church growth to reach the lost, then this statement is true. But if we are depending on nothing but the supernatural delivering power of the Holy Spirit, the only One Who can destroy every yoke of bondage, then the above statement is the most subtle of lies from the enemy of our souls and an attempt to lead us from our true source of life and power, Jesus Christ. In timeless words of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus still says to us, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Luke 11:9)." As our example and as our Lord, He assures us that when we enter into our closet and shut the door, praying to the Father in secret, then the Father Who sees in secret will surely reward us openly (Matthew 6:6). May our prayer be one of total surrender, complete consecration and faith that says:

Heavenly Father, Your Word is Truth. Just as You were the Deliverer in days of old, so are You still the Deliverer today and always. It is You who will break the chains of darkness off the lost. It is You Who will convict and convince the lost of their need for salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. It is You Who will pour out and give the power of Your Holy Spirit to Your people to be a witness of Jesus Christ, whose Life is the Light of all who come into the world, and Who died as a sacrifice for all humanity. Thank you, that it is not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit that we shall claim all the promises of Your Word, because it is You Who works in us, both to will and to do of Your good pleasure. For Your glory we pray, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

*Andrew Murray, Prayer and the Coming Revival (Ambassador Publications, First published as The Ministry of Intercession, This edition 1999), p. 47

To read more about the inspiring life of Andrew Murray and the call of God on his life go to