4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
Throughout ancient, modern and postmodern times, there have been countless competing ideas about who is truly learned. They remarked of Christ, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” And they marveled when they perceived that both Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant men. Paul also declared that the wisdom that he speaks was not of this world. Though Christ, Peter, John and Paul amazed their hearers, it came from nothing that we regard in the present as learning. Their learning was administered by God. When it speaks it edifies its hearers and when it hears, it hears directly from God.
Things of God
1 Cor 2:11
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Try as we might, there’s very little room to misinterpret what the apostle suggests here: One cannot know and understand the things of God without possessing and having intimate access to His very Spirit. And the apostle bids us to consider ourselves. How many injurious, admirable, awe-inspiring and even curious thoughts run through our minds on a daily basis, which no other man (and rightly so) will ever know save for us through our very own spirit? Unless one (and of course there is none) has access to a person’s most intimate recesses, their very heart and spirit, then there is virtually no way to truly discover what are the thoughts, deliberations and considerations of their minds. In much the same way, one need not frustrate himself trying to understand God without possessing His Spirit. For to possess His Spirit is to be governed by His interests, compassions, motivations, concerns and most importantly, His love. (And without His Spirit, the things of God appear most foolish.) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
Answer of Peace
And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh
an answer of peace.
Whether received through God’s written word, in the inward parts of one’s inner man through God’s Spirit, or through one of God’s messengers, believers (and occasionally unbelievers) can expect to receive answers from God for perplexing and difficult circumstances in life. When one find such answers from God, they will always be answers of peace, and Joseph’s communication to Pharaoh demonstrates much for discerning God’s answers of peace. First, Pharoah was troubled and confused about a circumstance that was presented to him. (To be sure, not every dream conforms to this, for Pharoah was leader of a great people and his decisions had impact among his people and throughout many surrounding nations, including God’s people. This dream was no vain or carnal imagination, it affected people.) Secondly, Pharoah searched for answers (and could not find it) among the wise men and magicians of Egypt, those widely acknowledged to have preeminent, world-reknown expertise in such matters. Thirdly, Joseph’s communication was one that was “in season,” for a problem presently confronting Pharaoh in the very near future. (It will be no hindsight commentary that anyone can provide, for answers are always seemingly perfect concerning past events where all circumstances are known.) Fourthly, God’s answer of peace provided a solution. (To be sure, it would not be Pharaoh who would be “so discreet and wise” to manage the store houses of Egypt–but someone who could–in this case, Joseph.) In the end, God’s answer of peace not only resolved the difficulty and provided a solution, but resulted in blessing; the blessing was not only intended for a single individual, but Egypt, surrounding nations and particularly God’s own people: [For] the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Wisdom That Is From Above
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Wisdom (true wisdom that is from above) is like dew. It is uncontaminated, it falls silently (often unnoticed), it is easily absorbed by the earth and its vegetation, it usually appears in the absence of rain and its mercies are demonstrated upon parched lands to assist in the production of fruit, it is no respecter of persons or things (for it blankets and falls upon everything and everyone underneath it) and similar to snowflakes, every drop of dew has its own distinctive character that is unchangeable in nature, reeking of sincerity, authenticity and simplicity. Oh, how this is true of the wisdom that comes from God. Let us be O so careful to only ascribe the term wisdom to those words that possess these characteristics. O Lord, may your wisdom descend upon us as the rain and your speech towards us distil as the dew, for you have begotten all drops of dew and your favor is as dew upon the grass.
Why Sit We Here
2 Kings 7:3
3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
There must necessarily come a time when we must take decided action in the midst of desperate circumstances, or else we’ll die. (To be clear, such death is not often literal, but figurative.) For whether such death occurs in our spiritual, vocational, educational, familial, and financial circumstances, they all amount to needless suffering since everyone has it well within one’s self to at least act. Consider the four lepers who when the Syrian army invaded Israel caused a most incredible turn of events due to their plain willingness to act. It would not be the large host of Israel that would cause the Syrians to run in fear, (slaying one another) and leaving riches and food for the people of Israel who were in the midst of famine. Instead, four weak, oppressed, ostracized and sickly men decided not to sit and fear, but take certain steps to gain provision for themselves (and ultimately the whole nation). For these men (based upon their single decision to act) encountered exceeding blessings that they might have never realized if they continued sitting until they died: And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
Horse Is Prepared
31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.
In all our exhortations to believe in, trust in and rely entirely upon God, let us also be mindful that our horses ought still be prepared in the process. Throughout Israel’s biblical history, we are most attentive to the many miraculous deliverances that were wrought at the hands of God—enemies slaying one another, hail and rainstorm descending upon foreign invaders and even the sun being held in time and space to ensure victory; Yet and still, in each of these events Israel was ready, armed and prepared for victory to be delivered into their hand. For contrary to what many believe, safety, deliverance and the spectacular often comes to those who have prepared themselves for it. (We do our very best, and then we trust completely in the Lord.) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Until thou be Increased
29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
Many would be the challenges, dangers and hostile persons rising against us if God were to give us everything He has promised prematurely and in a short period of time. For if we are not strong enough, wise enough, mature enough or increased enough to handle God’s blessings, then they would be unnecessarily wasted when placed within our care. While we should never ask whether God will bless us, we might rightly question whether we are increased enough to receive the blessing we desire. Therefore, despise not the day of small beginnings, for as long as the earth remaineth, there will be seedtime and harvest. And he who receives the word with an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keeps it, and brings it forth fruit with patience, this man or woman will indeed inherit the land.
1 Kings 15:14
14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
It would be a mistake to assume that a perfect heart amounts to a sinless life resulting in perfect actions even as our Lord. Consider King David. Although he committed adultery with Bathsheba, plotted the killing of her husband, disobeyed God by numbering his forces and had countless difficulties when rearing his children, scripture describes him as a man after God’s own heart. And no less was the case with his great-great grandson Asa. Asa, who began his reign with a series of reforms and great victories, concluded his life with a refusal to seek God’s assistance for his own health or in battle. Yet, in spite of this, scripture records that his “heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.” The notion of a perfect heart speaks to those motives that fuel actions. While one may indeed accomplish wonderful things for God, God will only be concerned with the motives by which these things were accomplished. On the other hand, one may fail to accomplish something that brings glory to God, but God will be principally concerned with the motives of the heart. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
Becometh a Tree
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Throughout scripture, trees often represent that which has come into full maturity, thus providing fruit to feed upon, lodging to rest within, shade to comfort and a host of other uses. And the mustard tree is no exception. Most are well aware that the mustard seed is a very tiny seed, which upon first inspection does not appear to be able to eventually become a tree some 9-15 feet tall. However, the intrinsic qualities of this seed are equally remarkable. The seed is persistent and possesses a vigor and vitality that responds best in hostile climates and conditions. It seems to function best where it appears least likely to flourish. No less is the case when we begin with a seed of faith for the desires of our hearts. For who hath despised the day of small things? Fruitfulness in godly character, godly wisdom, godly service, vocation, finances, family, and a host of other things is not an overnight process. Rather, the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Stronger and Stronger
2 Samuel 3:1
1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but
David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and
Whosoever believes that strength, wealth, fame, wisdom, status, maturity and a host of other godly blessings is an overnight process (absent from struggle) possess hopes, dreams and ambitions that the men of God of old did not experience: For these men often waxed stronger and stronger while contending for a long time; And perhaps there is no better example of this than that of King David. While one could begin easily enough with Saul’s pursuit of David in his youth, even when David would be king at Hebron (over the house of Judah) at age 30, he would not be king over all Isreal until age 37 (after reigning for 7 years and 6 months over Judah). Though Saul had been dead for some time, David would still need to contend with Saul’s house until God would bring about what was promised. And while David contended, fought and struggled, God was causing him to wax stronger and stronger, while his enemies waxed weaker and weaker: And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.
7 I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.
Though believers may face very open and conspicuous (fortuitous and unfortuitous) happenings as they pursue God’s purposes for their lives, we should not quickly dismiss such happenings as signs of uncertainty and God’s displeasure with them, for more often than not these men and women are being made “a wonder unto many.” Such was the case with Abraham, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Peter, Paul (and even the Lord) who were all subject to circumstances that did not always conform to what their contemporaries believed to be God’s will for their lives. Yet the author of this psalm–King David–was perhaps the most notable wonder of all. Here was a man who having been anointed king while yet a teenager experienced many contradictions (triumphs and disappointments) throughout his life that made him a “wonder to many.” Shortly after triumphing over Goliath, he was persecuted by the once favored King Saul; Though he stumbled in committing adultery with Bathsheba, and lost the child of their union, they were immediately restored with Solomon. When he committed sin by numbering the people, he willingly offered himself and his household as a substitute for the sufferings; As a result, the angel of the LORD’s hand was stayed and David was allowed to sacrifice burnt offerings instead. In the end, these apparent contradictions (and many others) were not intended to demonstrate that men and women should live lives free from imperfection (or perceived imperfection in the case of the Saviour’s crucifixition, for the Savior’s death was for the salvation of men) but to demonstrate His enduring love and mercy to them that love Him: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was
dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe,
thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Praise God that the biblical record contains both the virtues and foibles of men and women who are in every way much like ourselves. And Martha was one who reveals much about those who often do not believe so that they may “see the glory of God”. This same Martha who was “careful and troubled about many things” instead of sitting at his feet when the Master was teaching was the one to declare unto Jesus: “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for hath been dead four days.” While such an observation is a plain statement of reality and fact, which surely the Saviour is unintimidated by (for honesty in our communications with God is the surest way to develop and cultivate relationship with Him) this statement was not intended to relay the circumstances of their situation. Instead, she relayed these to the Saviour to suggest that these circumstances could not be reversed, and to do so is a most telling sign of those who do not believe. For whenever one comes into the presence of God declaring that death, sickness, financial worry, men, obstacles, difficulties or a host of other troubling factors are greater than He that is above all things, then one cannot hope to see the glory of God demonstrated for all to see on one’s behalf. For though reality ought certainly be communicated to God, it ought not be done so from the standpoint of unbelief: For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
First The Blade
26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into
27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and
grow up, he knoweth not how.
28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the
ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle,
because the harvest is come.
One need not become overwhelmed or discouraged when fruitful harvest in a particular area is not immediately forthcoming when godly seeds of action, time, service, resources,family and other things have been sown faithfully; For when fruitful harvest is brought forth, it will be by “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” To be sure, Jesus informs us that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Yet and still, in the process of assessing fruitful harvest in one’s life or in the life of others, one must be mindful (and patient) because generally such fruit is brought about over time. Still further, properly examining “first the blade, then the ear…” helps one to “prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.” For whenever one casts the seed of faithful works towards a particular end, one can be sure that if increase is forthcoming, it is entirely possible to discern indications that fruitful (or unfruitful) harvest is soon coming: And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
I, Even I Only
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
The prophet Elijah was gravely mistaken in assuming that he alone remained faithful in the midst of corrupt and hostile ungodliness. And the Lord would move quickly to correct the prophet’s presumption: “I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” The Lord’s reminder certainly wrought a deep humility in the prophet, and should do so for ourselves as well. One need not ever think that his or her solitary efforts are needed to preserve God’s kingdom: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
War Against the Soul
1 Peter 2:11
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Peter’s exhortation to “abstain from fleshly lusts” because they “war against the soul” is much more than a theological exposition of the effects of sin. Instead, it has many practical effects. If we accept that one’s soul consists of emotions, intellect and will–that which composes the whole of our human personality–we’ll quickly discover that both seen and unseen sin hinders a wide variety of areas that are essential to one’s moral life: Soundness, emotional stability, the ability to discern and comprehend, perseverance, powers of focus and concentration, creative abilities/witty inventions are a few of these areas. Nevertheless, perhaps the clearest reason to avoid those things that harm one’s soul to his or her own detriment is that it prevents us from completely loving God as we ought: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
All Men Have Not Faith
2 Thess 3:2
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
There’s really no way to get around what the apostle suggests in this verse: All men have not faith. While it would be grand indeed if every exhortation to “believe God” were returned with “I believe,” were the typical exchange between men and women (both believing and unbelieving) that we encounter on a daily basis, this is usually not the case. For faith requires submission, patience, humility, perseverance and complete adherence to God’s way of doing things in spite of its perceived absurdity. Sadly enough, most men believe in the exact opposite. Instead of submission, they believe in force. In place of patience, they believe in haste. In lieu of humility, self-assertion and pride, and for perseverance, they believe in taking the path of least resistance. And above all things, for (perceived) expediency’s sake, most will not follow God’s way of doing things with promises of succeeding results because of fear of ostracism, men, and a variety of other factors. This is why such men are described as unreasonable and wicked. For to place one’s faith in any other course of action than that which proceeds from God’s word and Himself is not only unreasonable and wicked, but foolish. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Things New and Old
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Let no man or woman resign themselves strictly to New Testament study of the Kingdom of God and Christ: For the instructed scribe and disciple must discern, understand and communicate truths proceeding from both Testaments. Quite telling, Jesus is not speaking to scribes and Pharisees when he utters these remarks, but his disciples. The Hebrew word for “scribe” is caphar (saw-far) and it means to mark, record through recounting and/or celebration. And for all of Christ’s disciples (including ourselves) one’s recounting and celebration of the gospel may prove infinitely more valuable to others (and ourselves) when we can convey both Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, as well as, those things that foretold (and confirmed) his existence before he appeared on earth. For the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
Even Our Faith
1 John 5:4
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Nowhere in scripture is there an act of faith demonstrated that has not faced opposition and overcome it. Consider this. The word “faith” has been used 247 times in the KJV translation, and only twice has it been used in the Old Testament. While this may appear to suggest that faith is primarily a New Testament construction, Hebrews 11 quickly disabuses us from such an idea. Perhaps the Old Testament chroniclers do not appear to employ the term as often because it was no new theological innovation, but a lifestyle? Small acts of faith such as Ruth’s decision to break from her past to follow Naomi into a new land was as much an act of faith as great acts of faith such as David’s defeat of Goliath. The notion of faith is not a denominational framework, instead it is part and parcel of Christianity. For without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Then Understood I
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Even the most ardent believer who believes in the economy of God (His methods, ways, rules and principles) will easily become discouraged when he or she becomes preoccupied with the apparent success of the world’s economy in comparison. And this is why we must constantly attend to the hearing of God’s Word. Consider Asaph. In Psalm 73 the psalmist contemplates the apparent fruitlessness of living righteously in the face of evil men who prosper without any regard for God. This he contemplated until he went into the sanctuary of God. Since Asaph was probably writing during the period of Israel’s captivity–and thus there was no physical sanctuary to attend–it is safe to assume that there was either some spiritual haven or his own personal time when Asaph congregated with others or studied for himself to uncover the proper meaning of things according to God’s Word. For there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
Affairs of this Life
2 Tim. 2:4
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that
he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
He or she that truly desires to please God will find it increasingly difficult to do so if they find themselves entangled with earthly affairs; In fact, it is impossible. To be sure, every man or woman should be engaged in some profitable employment, family matters, secure material goods and become engaged in serviceable engagements in society. Yet and still, (even as a soldier) such things should never require the sacrifice of one’s duties that are consistent with assignments issued by one’s commander. And in this God’s soldiers have often become entangled. For if one’s vocation is driven by figures and not God’s calling, one has become entangled. Or if one’s expensive home has come at the expense of a goodly family, one has become entangled. Or if one’s financial expenditures serve only ourselves (and creditors) and not others, we have become entangled. Or finally, if the whole of our service is directed towards pleasing others and not God, we have most certainly become entangled. For there a great many pursuits that we might be rightfully become engaged in (for here and now) yet those things that will remain hereafter are what pleases the One in whose command we are forever under: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Isa 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
Although it may appear that one’s efforts and labors go unnoticed, make no mistake, your work will ever be before God. Consider Joseph’s labors. Though his work for Potiphar, the keeper of the prison, and his interpretations of the butler’s dreams gave him favor enough, surely it did not amount to what his labor was worth. For the lives of Potiphar, the prison keeper and the butler were far more abundantly enriched and prosperous as a result of Joseph’s labors than the favor he had. Nevertheless his labor was not in vain and his strength was not for nought, for “surely [his] judgment [was] with the LORD, and [his] work with [his] God.” And God was not unrighteous to forget Joseph. He became a fruitful bough, blessed with the blessings of heaven above and blessings of the deep, and his bow abode in strength and the arm of his hands were made strong by the hand of the mighty God of Jacob: For [like Joseph] every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Our Eyes Are Upon Thee
2 Chron 20:12
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
Sometimes in our attempt to walk boldly by faith, we mistakingly walk in arrogance and pride. We are not always strengthened with might for the problem, and we do not always know what to do. Nevertheless, our eyes can always be on God. King Jehoshaphat understood this. He understood and demonstrated in prayer, an utter dependence and reliance upon the living God. There is no shame or lack of faith in declaring our need for God; There is simply an abiding humility which should encompass all of our prayers. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, for He resisteth the proud but gives grace to the humble. For He revives the spirit of the humble, and revives the heart of the contrite ones.
Put Them Off
1 Sam 17:39
39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.
Perhaps the surest way of failing to achieve one’s calling is by trying to employ the gifts of another. For while we each have our Goliaths to slay, let us not slay them with weapons that we are unfamiliar with. For whatever our calling, God has already granted the requisite gifts for it. For every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
In the face of despondent want and obscurity or exhilarating opportunity and promotion, let us endeavor to maintain sobriety, for both circumstances present suitable opportunities for our adversary the devil. To be sober is not employed here in the sense of abstaining from wine or drink; instead it means to be discreet. Consider our Lord’s temptation. In an attempt to appeal to his need for food, the devil bid him to turn stone into bread. In an attempt to tempt him of vainglorious ambition, he offered him the kingdoms of the world. And finally, to compel our Lord through flattery to demonstrate God’s omnipotence, he acknowledged the benefits he has as the Son of God. Were our Lord like ourselves, he would have been inclined to feed his hunger during a period of fasting, to receive any and all earthly glory that was offered him and to tempt God by demonstrations of God’s power that were unnecessary. Instead, a faithful discretion preserved him and he was not ignorant of his enemy’s devices. Therefore, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
He knew all men
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
To be sure, the Lord was not cynical, pessimistic, nor did he think evil of persons. However, He understood the intrinsic nature of humanity. Shouldn’t we? When Jesus tells us to be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves, He bids us to be aware that people are not God. With man, who can understood his errors? Even the very best intentions may simply fall short because of unforeseen circumstances beyond (or within) his control. So what is the whole of the matter? Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? We owe men nothing but love.
One Day or Two
11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
In our zeal to remedy past errors, we must never presume that such reforms are an overnight process. When Ezra learned that many of the people had married strange wives that did not honor the God of heaven, he directed and implemented what was necessary for reform. And while the people confessed their transgressions in the matter and consented to his plans, they were wise enough to realize that such efforts could not take place in “one day or two.” For the people well understood that true repentance always accompanies works in keeping with it, and they desired to do nothing less than to bring forth fruits meet for it; For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Not for Price
13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.
Throughout biblical history, the Lord has raised many men and women up in righteousness to advance His purposes. And one of their most glaring characteristics is that they did so “not for price, nor reward.” To be sure, the man or woman who advances God’s purposes will forever be blessed in return, for the Lord is never “unrighteous to forget works and labours of love.” Yet and still, the heart’s motive of such men and women is to seek God’s glory, not their own. Isaiah speaks here of Cyrus, a type of Christ, who was raised up to commission the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple and to deliver God’s people from the Babylonians. Although Cyrus was not a member of God’s own people, and his achievements often unheralded, were it not for Cyrus, the treasures of the temple would not have been restored, cedars from Lebanon would not have been provided and the work of Ezra and others would not have been initiated. And he did so, not for price, nor reward: Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for they mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
I Have Not Spoken in Secret
19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
Too often we lay to God’s charge that his ways and his doings among men are somehow difficult to understand or perceive. However, this charge has no bearing when we consider this scripture. For God is not in the business of hiding his plans and purposes from his children; most often we are simply not diligently seeking. For it would be terribly unfair for the Lord to declare, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” when he knows that we are unable to find it. Instead, God (according to his own record) declares, “I said not…Seek ye me in vain.” Therefore, let us become like the man who finds the kingdom of heaven hid in a field. For this man, after careful searching, found it, placed it where no else could take it and sold all of his possessions to buy the field that contained the thing that he diligently sought for.
Hath He Hid Me
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
It should come as no surprise when the Lord finally reveals to others those servants that he intends to use for His purposes; besides, what brilliant military strategist (or even card game strategist) allows his enemy to see the instrument that will ultimately prove to be the enemy’s undoing? Consider Moses. Would the Egyptians have trained Moses in all their art and skill if they knew that he would be the Hebrews’ hoped-for deliverer? Consider Paul. Would Gamaliel and his contemporaries have trained Paul if they knew that he would be the conveyer of the truths of Christ? In many ways, both Egyptian and Jewish institutions unwittingly assisted God in hiding men that would be later used for His purposes. Therefore, care not for the apparent obscurity of your present circumstances: Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Strengthened With Might
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be
strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
There are a great many strengths to be had during our time here on earth, yet the Apostle Paul recognized that none are more pressing to pray for than “to be strengthened with by his Spirit in the inner man.” For spiritual strength is none other than God’s own Spirit finding union with and abiding within our very own spirit(the inner man). And the results of such a union are clear enough throughout biblical history. For though Old Testament personages like Gideon, David, Elijah, Sampson and a host of others were not able to experience the finished work of Christ, and thus able to have God’s own Spirit permanently abiding within them, periodically God would endow such men with His Spirit for the accomplishment of great and mighty tasks. And when one considers their accomplishments, all of which done in the face of opposition and adversity, then it becomes all the more necessary for contemporary believers in God through Jesus Christ to labor in prayer for the same spiritual strength when we face the challenges of our lives: [For] if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
Where art Thou?
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Nothing is more liberating in our personal communications with God than to be completely honest about our present whereabouts whether material or immaterial. Frankly, it makes little sense to attempt to hide from omniscience what He is already aware of; this amounts only to self-deceit or even worse, self-delusion. To be sure, Adam and Eve would certainly have to take responsibility for their transgressions but in acknowledging their failures they would be able to partake of mercies that are abounding even beyond the forgiveness of sin. For the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Grace and Glory
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
You may rest assuredly in the fact that wherever there has been manifested glory among men, there was first grace. One cannot have glory without grace, and certainly without grace there can be no glory. For not only are we saved by grace through faith, our continuing sanctification, perfection and service we render unto God will only be achieved by more grace. And the reason is quite simple; In the economy of God faith always accesses grace, for it is never of works lest any should boast. Therefore let us not only grow in grace, but let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: And herein men may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.
Bond of Perfectness
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
In spite our preoccupations with spiritual gifts, these are (by no means) indications that he or she that employs them are mature (perfect). For “charity [love]…is the bond of perfectness.” The Apostle Paul provides the most telling theological exposition of this truth when he informs the Corinthians, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” To be sure, Paul also informs the Romans that the “gifts and callings of God are without repentance,” but make no mistake, giftings (without charity) never amounts to perfection (maturity). And though we find this illustrated in the lives of Peter, Sampson, Gideon and a host of other biblical personages, perhaps the clearest example of such is Joseph. Although Joseph possessed an unimpeachable character throughout his life, while still a child, Joseph was in possession of a great variety of giftings (i.e. visions, prophesy, interpretation and revelation), but did not always demonstrate charity (love). For scripture records a number of his uncharitable acts: He brought an “evil report” to his father about his brothers; He “vaunteth” himself when he reported to his father and brothers his dream. And finally, he “sought after his own” in doing so. (For what edification is it to one’s fellows to report to them the manner in which God will exalt you, except it be for selfish vain glory?) These were uncharitable acts, and as such they were not the bond of perfectness (maturity). Nevertheless, Joseph would eventually move “on unto perfection,” (not simply relishing in giftings) when he demonstrated charity (love) towards Pharaoh and his brothers. For in interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he would not be prideful regarding his gift of interpretation, for he remarked: “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” He would cover the transgression of his brothers with mercy and forgiveness and not give an evil report (though he discerned and was aware of their transgression): “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” And finally, though his brothers would in fact bow down before him, it was not for the purpose of his own exaltation, but for others: “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” In the end, Joseph’s giftings would not be the principle marker of his notoriety, but his charity (love), “the bond of perfectness (maturity).” When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things […] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Of Some…And Others
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Among believers and unbelievers alike there are found two general classes of people who walk contrary to the doctrines of Christ–those who do so ignorantly, not understanding the doctrine aright, and those who do so willfully and intentionally by providing some rational justification for their actions. And here Jude provides two separate prescriptions for such classes: For the first class, enduring (non-judgmental) compassion and love is what may invite such persons to consider their lives in light of God’s truth, doing so “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. “For the second class, the expression “save with fear” suggests that such believers or unbelievers must be confronted with boldness and truth for their ways. (Though much in contemporary Christianity resists such confrontation, this ought not be the case. For there are a great many people whose deeds will lead them directly into the “lake of fire” and our failure to confront them boldly will by no means prevent it.) Such a confrontation will often prove to be what “pull[s] them out of the fire,” for though they reject and ignore such words, such a confrontation will forever be lodged within their conscience, and with this awareness will Christ remind them on that day. Still further, such a demonstration ought be done so with deep and abiding love for the person, yet not for the “garment spotted by the flesh.” For one’s garment whether clean or unclean, typifies the righteousness and unrighteousness of one’s works throughout scripture, and in the case of both unbelievers and (faltering believers) we can only stand before God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ: Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Although there have been men and women throughout scripture who have been privy to eternal majesties and have been assigned to spectacular missions by God himself, their qualifications were not much different than our own. James writes of the prophet Elias that he was a man subject to like passions even as we are. Notwithstanding, the virtue and nobility of those men and women selected by God for magnificent purposes lie not in the fact that they were sinless and perfect like our Lord, but within the fact that they were deeply aware of, and admitted their own sinfulness when others were not and would not. Though Isaiah’s vision of the throne and his subsequent response, “Here am I; send me” is quite familiar to most, what’s most impressive about the prophet is his acknowledgement of his own uncleanness, and God’s subsequent purging of his sin. For this pattern is one whereby all believers follow when responding to a call from God to serve. One must be completely assured of one’s own forgiveness, and having been forgiven, one must serve. For how much more shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Did Not Answer
1 Kings 18:21
21 And Eli’jah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go
limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if
Ba’al, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
Seldom will one receive confirmation from others about a God-given purpose for your life without some tangible sign or demonstration. (Even the man of God, Elijah, experienced the same.) For before the fire of the Lord fell upon Elijah’s burnt sacrifices in his competition with Baal’s prophets, “the people did not answer him a word.” To be sure, such demonstrations here within our own time need not be equally miraculous. Yet and still, whosoever would desire to have others to sign on or confirm a God-given purpose that has been assigned to you and no other, let this man or woman be prepared to show forth signs, wonders and evidence that demonstrate to all involved (including one’s opponents) that what he or she speaks is so: And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Eli’jah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O LORD, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.”
15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
Whether one concedes it or not, the overwhelming weight of scripture repeatedly describes persons who were once tormented by unclean spirits and devils. And the man from Gadarenes demonstrates much. For his physical condition reveals much about the condition of a mind where such activity occurs: This man spent his days lamenting over the past within a place of remembrance (not of one memory but several); he was rebellious and independent, and therefore was not (nor could be) subject to the rule or leadership of another; he cut himself with stones (used for condemning) in repeated acts of self-condemnation; and finally, he was tormented by fear. He was even made to fear the mercy and grace that would be found in our Lord and Savior Christ. These acts symbolized a variety of unclean conditions, and it is no surprise why these spirits implored our Lord to send them into pigs (animals that symbolize uncleanness). Most importantly, this is why the man’s final condition (a right mind) was all the more glorious to all who observed. This new believer in Jesus Christ would not only be renewed in spirit, but in mind also: Therefore, be renewed in the spirit of your mind; For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Mercy and Truth
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
It is with good reason that the need for mercy and truth is a necessary part of the wisdom found in Proverbs. For the truth is that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and it is also true that God is rich in mercy and he freely gives mercy to all that seek it. In order for us to handle people accordingly requires wisdom. For all men understand and gives favour to one who recognizes that his condition is very much like everyone else’s. Therefore, do justly, love mercy and walk humbly before thy God.
Kings and Priests
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Whether it leads to a position with secular or ecclesiastical influence, as we diligently pursue our vocational callings let’s be ever careful to remember that God’s highest calling involves both. To be sure, God has used His people as instruments of change in both civil and sacred capacities: This is perhaps best demonstrated by Zerubbabel who served as governor and Joshua who served as priest; both of whom worked cooperatively during the restoration of the second temple. Yet and still, when God sent our Lord Jesus Christ, he was not sent solely after the line of Davidic kingship or after the line of Aaronic priesthood, he was sent as a high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Scripture records of this man that as “king of Salem [he] brought forth bread and wine and he was the priest of the most High God.” Finally this man blessed the patriarch Abram declaring, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” While very little is known about Melchisedek, we are informed that his positioning as king and priest allowed him to give provision and blessing to someone in need. For it matters very little if one’s singular secular vocation cannot offer a spiritual blessing to those we encounter, and it equally matters very little if one’s singular church vocation cannot offer material and tangible blessing either. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
They are spirit, They are life
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
We will never advance in our spiritual life with God until we regard scripture as our most pressing necessity that surpasses the food which nourishes our physical bodies. While we may live easily enough between 75-120 years by adhering to the most excellent diet that medicine prescribes, you will not be able to live for 1 day eternally without having the words of spiritual life digested into your spiritual being. When they remarked that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God, our Lord and Moses understood that a man’s spiritual health contributes exceedingly more to his life than his physical health; For man’s spiritual health accesses blessings both now and in the time to come. Although you do well to care for your earthly vessel, bodily exercise profiteth little:but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Knew Me Not
8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Many of the darkest periods of history occurred when persons who were responsible for handling God’s words and His law actually never knew Him at all. Even in our own time, there are many who represent God, Christ and His kingdom in a number of capacities, yet they have no knowledge of who He is. To know Him is to be intimately acquainted with Him, which is why the analogy of marriage is often used to describe God and Christ’s relationship with their people. For in marriage, all is revealed and laid bare before one another’s eyes, and sadly when persons represent God without having opened themselves to Him they risk hearing the one admonition from Christ that none of us would ever desire to hear: “Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Therefore let us endeavor to know Him increasingly, for hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
Thy Word is Truth
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
It is virtually impossible to be set apart and conformed to the image that God desires from us without the truth of His word. For the word of God is sharper than a twoedged sword, not only dividing soul and spirit and joints and marrow and discerning thoughts and intents of the heart; the word of God divides also divides that which is unholy from holy, unrighteous from righteous, and ungodly from godly. How then shall a young man cleanse his way? Take heed according to God’s word.
The Thing which is Good
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
One way of discerning our true vocational calling is determine whether what we are doing is good. For honest work that is fruitful, rewarding, edifying, prosperous and in balance with family and useful to society is what we are called to. When giftings accompany callings you will experience nothing other than the thing which is good in your vocational calling; For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works that were before ordained that we should walk in them.
The Will of the Lord
Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
There is no more important pursuit for the children of God than to know, perceive and understand what the will of the Lord is for their lives. For what servant can rightfully declare that he serves and obeys God if He knows not what His master’s will is for his or her life? For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. There is no more important pursuit for the children of God than to know, perceive and understand what the will of the Lord is for their lives. For what servant can rightfully declare that he serves and obeys God if He knows not what His master’s will is for his or her life? For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Worketh In Us
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
It is fairly well established among most that God can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; yet the fact is often loss upon us that he generally accomplishes such wonderful things according to power that lies within those who believe. While it is true that Moses demonstrated the great and mighty signs among the Egyptians, prior to doing so, it was God who told Moses, “I am come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians.” Although God promises to do the same for us, we should not expect the spectacular from without, for the kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or Lo there! For, behold the kingdom of God is within you.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Pressing is the position that the perfect (mature) believer must take in order to progressively move toward all of what God has for him or her both in this time and in the time to come. For contemplation and meditation of things of old (both good and bad) results only in stagnation and inactivity in the present unless it translates into present activity. And the mature believer quickly forgets both his shortcomings and successes because he is reaching towards an even higher calling that was before predestined that he should walk in. Therefore, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. And remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. For behold, the Lord will do a new thing.
God That Sheweth Mercy
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
We should never make the mistake of believing that our own will power or our own strength for the race was sufficient enough to achieve a particular goal. For if it were not for the mercy of God that prevented, or allowed a host of factors to simultaneously occur, the outcome might have been entirely different. For thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
But If It Be Of God
38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
No matter the absurdity, irrationality, or sheer impossibility of an another’s viewpoint or actions as opposed to our own, let’s us humbly, carefully, and deliberately consider whether their views and actions are indeed of God. If it is not of God, it will inevitably fail, but if it is of God, you can be sure that you will not succeed against it. For scripture records that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; all of which suggests that in all our assessment of opinion that does not reflect our own, we should take care that we are not found even to be fighting against God. For he whose soul is lifted up is not upright within him, but the just shall live by faith.
He Hath Done All Things Well
Mark 7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
Consider the image of Him. In addition to the making the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak, the Gospels record a host of acts by the Lord that were filled with kindness, gentleness, sincerity, integrity, strength and excellence, which is precisely why the people declared, “He hath done all things well.” Let us also strive to do all things well, considering him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds.
How Canst thou Contend with Horses?
5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?
All too often, precious men and women of God lay claim to the wonderful call of God upon their lives into full time ministerial or into a variety great spiritual tasks; sadly enough however, in the proving grounds of vocational calling, service to the local community, family, neighborhood and friends, we have not sufficiently proven that we can run with the footmen of the earth before proceeding to a race with spiritual horses (and forces) while in service to God. For many are called, but few are chosen; And if a man or woman know not how to rule his or his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?
From The Heart
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Whether it be loving God, service to God, or fulfilling the purpose for which God has created us, there is but one way that man or woman can do the will of God in any area: “From the heart.” And the apostle Paul’s exposition of the life led by the Spirit as opposed to the life led by the flesh does much to explain why: “[…] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” To be sure, Paul is not suggesting that those who have been re-created in the image of Jesus Christ no longer inhabit earthen vessels of carnal flesh, and thus are unable to please God. Instead, he suggests that our carnal mind and flesh is incapable (in and of its own leadership) of fulfilling godly, spiritual aims; all of which explains why one can only do the will of God from the heart. For no matter how determined one may be to do the will of God, if it proceeds from one’s flesh and not from one’s spirit (the heart), the enterprise has failed from the outset: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Clean, Enduring Forever
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
If there be any that believe “the fear of the Lord” to be a burdensome, slavish difficulty, which hearkens back to misunderstood Old Testament ideals about God, he or she has not understood this expression rightly: “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” When we fear the Lord, we effectively obey the Lord. And when we are in obedience to the LORD, we are effectively being led into “clean” paths that will allow us to abide with the Lord for ever. (This is why we are encouraged to follow after holiness, “for without which no man shall see the Lord.”) For the Lord’s commandments for living here and in this time are “true and righteous altogether” and as such, they are not designed to stifle notions of grace, liberty and increased fruitfulness, but on the contrary, they promote it: The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Let us not become disgruntled when our Lord discloses, shares, and reveals those areas within our own lives that were previously darkened. For scripture records that “whatsover doth make manifest is light.” All too often, mankind decries against the very thing that they are most in need of. Doctors who offer painful and distasteful cures; Huge amounts of homework designed to teach a skill; A morally sick and dying world that stands in need of a savior, our Lord Christ; The latter is most needful of all. For the Lord is not only the light of the world, he is God’s Word become flesh. And God’s Word, which has only once become perfectly embodied in flesh remains with us even today. It provides counsel, correction, reproof, leadership and a host of other things that are essential to life both here and in the time to come; For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him to whom we have to give account.
Love of God
1 John 5:3
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Although the love of God abounds with heart-felt joy and emotions, His love is not chiefly found there: For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments. And we need look no further than our Father, God to demonstrate this. (For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoseover should believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.) For the Father would not be content with heart-felt declarations for fallen man, but in giving our Lord Jesus Christ as a substitute for the sins of men, He conveyed His love in “deed and in truth.” And no less will be the case when we express the love of God to the Father and people. For in the doing of His commandments, there is much in the way of “deed and truth” that has nothing to do with how one feels, but in what one does: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Yet Not I
1 Cor 15:10
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
If a believer in God through our Jesus Christ has no other reason not to glory in individual triumphs, the apostle Paul provides an important one: Yet not I but the grace of God which was with me. To an uninformed observer, such as noble Festus, many of Paul’s assertions bespeaks of a man who was irrational (or even mad) because he gives glory to another divine force which governs his thoughts, ideals and actions. Paul does so repeatedly throughout the New Testament, for instance when he remarks, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives within me.” Nevertheless, in spite of what appears to be some mad communicator of some strange new doctrine, we find in Paul’s articulations a complete dependence and utter reliance upon the grace of God found in Christ Jesus our Lord. For grace is something much more than unmerited favor that every believer receives upon coming to know our Lord. Grace is a tangible, profitable endowment and gifting that enables us to live holily, walk worthy of the unique vocation we are called to fulfill and to accomplish whatever task that God has assigned to us. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
No Lion Shall Be There
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
Although lions have been used to symbolize the bold righteousness of saints and the strength of our Lord, lions and ravenous beasts have also been used to describe maladies, troubles, enemies and sorrows that frequently destroy God’s people. For instance, in the New Testament, the enemy of our souls–Satan– is described as a roaring lion, that walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Such a description makes Isaiah’s prophetic declaration concerning the purity, cleanness and holiness found in the heavenly Jerusalem applicable to us even before our entry into this blessed place. Scripture informs us that he that is begotten of God keeps himself and that wicked one toucheth him not, and the suggestion to keep oneself by maintaining holiness is connected with Isaiah’s description of where only the redeemed will walk. For those who are blessed are the undefiled in the way, because they walk in the law of the LORD. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Judgments of Old
52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
One way to have a glimpse into what God is doing now in our individual, national and global affairs is to carefully consider what He has already done in the affairs of those individuals, nations and generations who have gone before us. And there is no better record of God’s activities among men than to consider the judgments of old found in scripture. To be sure, having a glimpse does not amount to absolute certainly about God’s present plans and purposes (for such omniscience belongs solely to God), it simply confirms what God declares about himself, “I am the LORD, I change not.” This is what the psalmist is comforted by when He remembers these judgments. By considering the many fulfilments of God’s holy promises–regarding obedience and disobedience–it has the effect of both assuring and comforting us about the integrity and endurance of God’s Word, particularly when we align ourselves with those things that pleased Him in times past; For what pleased Him or displeased Him in times past is what pleases Him and displeases Him now. Therefore remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. There has not failed one word of all his good promise.
More Upright In Heart
2 Chron 29:34
34 But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.
Although there have always been ebbs and tides in the quality of the priesthood in the history of Israel and Judah, God has always left a remnant in the midst of His people who would remain upright in heart. While God has often used prophets such as Jeremiah for such a task, in this instance, it was the Levites who were found faithful due to their willingness to remain consecrated to God. Although all priests were apart of the Levitical order, all Levites were not priests; these performed a variety of services (such as singers, scribes, judges etc.) throughout the sanctuary and among the people. And this parallel resembles the body of Christ today. For while some men are full time stewards in the house of God, other members serve in helps ministries as well as fulfilling their own vocational calling. Yet, most importantly, we find here that God was no respecter of persons in describing the Levites as more upright in heart than the priests; For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
In Presence Am Base
2 Cor 10:1-2
10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:
2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
We should never make the mistake of judging someone as passive, timid or unlearned simply because they are deferring, meek and quiet in the presence of others. More often than not, this person has a strong reservoir of inner strength and wisdom, (which for our sakes) makes it most necessary to conduct himself or herself in deep humility lest we ourselves are put to shame by if his or her gifts were on display. Among the many wonderful revelations of God that Paul shares with his readers in his letters to the Corinthians was the disposition and personality of God’s ministers when communicating the gospel. For these men and women know that the excellency of the power is of God and not themselves; And besides, even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
After That Ye Have Suffered
1 Peter 5:10
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
While the psalmist boldly declares that “many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all,” he doesn’t declare when the Lord will deliver. Consider the Apostle Paul who after having petitioned the Lord three times to remove a particular malady, the Lord only responded with, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The notion that that there is one who is able and will provide all that is requisite for delivering us from our present trials provides immeasurable comfort in spite of the fact that His grace isn’t always apparent. For it assures us that any percieved delay isn’t due to the fact that the God of all grace isn’t capable of delivering; Instead, we understand that He is simply accomplishing a far greater and far more significant purpose than our present deliverance. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth…For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
Wrought in God
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
One of the most joyful discoveries that a believer can make is to discover that the completion of a particular assignment or task was wrought in God. To be sure, it matters not what may appear to others as failure or success. What matters is that the actions undertaken to achieve a certain goal can stand the test of God’s eternal scrutiny. For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and seeth all his goings.
An Open Door
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
The very best open doors of opportunity are those open doors that have been set before us by the Lord. While there are many doors of opportunity that lie open before us each and every day, we would do well to test and prove whether the door has been opened by the Lord. Consider Jael and Sisera. As Sisera fled from Barak, Jael invited Sisera into her tent and offered him milk and butter in a royal dish. And when he became weary and went fast asleep, she smote a nail into his temples. Although Jael offered Sisera safe entryway into her tent and was supposed to stand guard at the door to decieve would-be pursuers, ultimately, Jael proved to be the person that would take Sisera’s life. While Sisera was already in opposition to God, the principle taken from his entry into an open door remains the same: Unlike Jael, when the Lord promises you entry into a door, He will also ensure your safety while within. For when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us
with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
In the heavenly places there a found a great many spiritual blessings (mercy, grace, sanctification, revelation, wisdom, etc.) that exceedingly surpass those that are temporal and material. And the weight of scripture suggests that such spiritual blessings will chiefly be realized and accessed through prayer. And Jacob’s wrestling with the heavenly messenger demonstrates much to this end. To be sure, Jacob’s wrestling with the manifest presence of God himself in the form of an angel was a unique moment in the history of Judeao-Christian faith,for the resulting spiritual blessing of this wrestling was God’s eternal identification of His people as Israel. Nevertheless, the patriarch’s wrestling contains the same characteristics of those who would labor in prayer to access “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” First, having done all that ought be done (and could be done) in preparation for facing Esau, Jacob “was left alone, and there wrestled…” (Like Jacob, Paul and even our Lord, heartfelt, fervent prayer availeth all the required spiritual blessing that is necessary in the face of trial, and it often resembles a violent, intense wrestling.) Secondly, the heavenly messenger served as a strong adversary who stood in opposition to Jacob’s blessing. (Though holy heavenly messengers are not to be classed with demonic, evil beings, in the case of Daniel, Job and Zechariah and Joshua, the priest, we find heavenly messengers contending with such forces in order to render some benefit on behalf of God’s people.) Thirdly, Jacob wrestled for quite some time, for the messenger relayed, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.”(While there are a great many prayers–short and long–those who would labor for unseen spiritual blessings will often labor long and persistently.) Lastly, Jacob would not let go until he experienced some tangible spiritual blessing: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” (Without fail, one will always experience a tangible, manifest spiritual blessing in the inner man after such travails in prayer, for whenever one draws nigh to God, He will draw nigh to you.) Jacob leaves us with no misunderstanding. Spiritual blessings require spiritual prayer: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Prior to his performance of one single miracle, or his experiencing a single trial, our Lord heard his Father’s pronouncement: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” For the Father’s love (often unlike our own) is unconditional and undeserving, without respect to any performance or failure (extreme testing and trials in the case of Christ). And this is why the Father informed the Son in his own voice for all to hear, and before Jesus began his earthly work. For in those times or exaltation, or extreme humiliation, the Savior would not be swayed by neither the fickle praises or wicked insults of men, but by the boundless love of His Father: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
A Light Thing
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Whenever we limit God to our own provincial location based upon race, ethnicity, or socioeconomics, we’ll quickly discover that His plans are always surpassingly greater than our own preconceived notions. Consider the prophet Isaiah in describing his mission, even signifying prophetically the mission of Christ. God sees ministry directed only towards the tribes of Jacob and Israel as a light thing in comparison to the innumerable persons that would eventually become fully and intimately acquainted with the good news of the gospel. And this is God’s usual pattern when he calls his people to fulfill particular purposes. Joseph not only served his own people but the Egyptians and persons from surrounding nations; Paul not only preached to the Jews of Damascus and at Jerusalem but would go on throughout the coasts of Judaea and then to the Gentiles. Bearing prophetic witness which transcends race, culture and creed (even as Christ) is the intrinsic calling of every Christian regardless of our vocation. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Not Yours But You
2 Cor 12:14
14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be
burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not
to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
Whosoever lies awaiting for the day when their children (or those within their charge) become so increased that they will repay them with material possessions for the services of rearing them, grossly misunderstand what the apostle suggest here about parental responsibilities: For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. To be sure, expressions of appreciation, gifts, honor and service ought not be neglected in giving honor to those who have labored in rearing the lives of future men and women (natural and spiritual). Yet and still, the belief that children owe some measurable, material return to them who the Lord has charged with the responsibility to care for, nurture, make provision for, teach, train and model godly living in front of is not consistent with God’s expectations. For such a responsibility (though perhaps lessened in degrees as children take their place as mature men and women, naturally and spiritually) is never rescinded in the eyes of God. For much like God the Father, when one seeks the welfare of sons and daughters, it is forever, because their attitudes are that we desire, “not yours, but you.” A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.
Thy Profiting May Appear
1 Tim 4:15
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
Whether one concedes it or not, the surest proof that one places God’s Word as preeminent in his or her life, and has allowed himself or herself to be governed by its precepts, is to consider how it has profited one’s own life. For if the Lord’s assertion is correct that the words that He has spoken are spirit and life, then it must follow that after meditating upon them and having given ourselves completely over to them, there will continuously be tangible, substantive, fruitful growth and harvest in multiple areas of our lives which is able to not only bless yourself, but provide encouragement to all who observe. Therefore be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Friends of the Mammon
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Who would’ve thought that our Lord would commend the worldly for their ability to rightly utilize money to achieve particular purposes? Yet, this is precisely the idea when he remarks, “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” The unjust steward having been dismissed by his Lord was wise enough to use his employ, his authority and the money under his stewardship to secure him a place so that he would not be without future employment. He made friends with these material possessions and relied upon these to please his future employers who greatly appreciated those measures that he had taken on their behalf. Our Lord remarks that he is wiser than the children of light, because unlike the unjust steward, we often do not use our material possessions in such a way that will please He whom we will dwell with eternally.For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And if ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
John 9: 40-41
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said
unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye
should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
Perhaps there is no more difficult group of people to communicate God’s truth to than to those who claim, “We see.” For in this assertion, is the outright pronouncement that their way is already properly enlightened, and therefore have no need for the light of the world, (the living Word) Jesus Christ. And such enlightenment about God is one that we would do well to avoid. For if we ever come to such a place in the knowledge of God where we can tell the Saviour, “We see,” then we effectively communicate to him that His purpose was for nought, and that we are indeed most blind: And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
Not Meat and Drink
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
While God is very much concerned with and well able to make provision for our material circumstances, let us never reduce the kingdom of God to such matters. When our Lord bids us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you,” he’s offering not only a godly principle, but God’s priority. For what man or woman that is truly righteous (in right standing with God after freely accepting the righteousness of Christ and following thereafter) will ever be without requisite material substance? This man or woman will forever be blessed with blessings from above and beneath. God is concerned with the condition of our inner men (its’ righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost); for when one is truly being conformed into the very image of Christ himself, he has all things because he has Christ himself. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
There is virtually no way to sustain one’s self in the midst of trials and difficulties without possessing a vision for the future beyond your present circumstances: In such conditions, without vision, one must inevitably perish. And perhaps this is why the person who keeps the law remains happy throughout. Consider Joseph. How could he have withstood familial rejection, repeated injury and prolonged longsuffering were it not for the vision he received early on? Moreover, how could he have remained faithful, patiently keeping God’s law, without being given over to despair? For in the keeping of the law lies the keeping [alive] of God’s promise for your life. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Although some read the book of Revelations for those things that have already been fulfilled, some read it for its many future implications and still others read it for its many present implications; perhaps the most expedient way to read it is to bear all three in mind simultaneously, particularly for the principle of the pillar. For having overcome his insecurities, doubts and double-mindedness, Peter (along with James and John) was considered a pillar in the Lord’s house. And surely all who have endured to the very end, overcoming the world and its temptations, trials and afflictions, will become pillars in the temple of God found in Heavenly Jerusalem. Moreover, we who are alive ought appear as pillars in our present assemblies, (fixed in the faith) grounded and settled, always overcoming because of it: That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
Contrary to popular opinion, being wealthy is not synonymous with unrighteousness and being poor is not synonymous with righteousness. To be sure, scripture indicates that there is a certain expectation to be generous to the poor when one has significant resources, but this is altogether different from how many view the aforementioned scripture. While God may very well take wealth from those whose gains were ill-gotten and distribute them to just men and women, it does not necessarily follow that these just men and women are poor. For if an unjust poor man or woman receives wealth from unjust persons who already possess it, then he or she would then become the same as the unjust person who happens to have wealth. How then would God be glorified in transferring wealth from the hands of a wicked wealthy person to someone who will also quickly become a wicked wealthy person when the opportunity presents itself? Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
For The LORD Revealed Himself
1 Sam 3:21
21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.
While it is entirely possible for the Lord to make appearances through visions, miracles, dreams and through angels, we should not seek such demonstrations for a personal revelation of our Savior. For it was by the word of the Lord that he revealed himself to Samuel, and the word of the Lord is perhaps the most reliable means for receIving direct revelation of Christ. For we have not all seen the Lord Jesus but have come to believe based upon the preaching of the word of the Lord. And scripture indicates that blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed; For our faith came by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Afterwards Build Thine House
27 Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
Understanding one’s purpose and calling before designing our personal lives in the ways that we desire should become one of our chief petitions before the Lord. And the very first citizen of earth followed a similar pattern. The record in Genesis informs us that the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. It was only after this purpose and calling was established that God gave him Eve; Herein we discover that Adam understood both his purpose and his calling prior to being joined with Eve and further multiplying the earth. For both men and women alike, the Lord expects us to prepare our work in the field that He has given us and then (and only then) should build the house that we desire. Therefore walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work.
The Hand of our God
For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God [is] upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath [is] against all them that forsake him.
Ezra was intensely with David’s psalmic declaration, “By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.” Ezra desired no additional protection from the king because he was a man who not only sought after the Lord but was on a divine assignment from God to instruct his people after the rebuilding of the temple; thus the hand of our God was upon him for good. And the hand of our God is upon all who seek after Him and are directly in the middle of His will for their lives. Therefore, let us labour to seek after Him and enter into his will for our lives. For some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Throughout scripture, clothing often appears as a metaphor for righteousness for very good reasons. It protects from harmful external elements, it beautifies, and it provides comfort. Similarly, the righteousness of God which has been provided to all who believe in Christ protects from the accusations of the wicked one, it beautifies our character and it comforts us in times us trials; Therefore put on the new man that has been created in righteousness and true holiness for we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and our fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Things Which Are Impossible
6 And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?
27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Although the verse is quite familiar, we would do well to consider what impossible things that our Lord was referring to. Jesus offers this response to his disciples after they approached him concerning the certain rich young ruler who was unable to give up his worldly possessions and wholeheartedly commit to following Him. Jesus declared to his disciples that it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter heaven, to which the disciples responded, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples well understood that entering into heaven would require the kind of life with God that (heretofore) they could never have imagined. And Jesus provides the two most important concepts for his disciples to understand in order to attain any spiritual success: 1. Spiritual success is only impossible with man. 2. Spiritual success is only possible with God. For in all spiritual matters, there is absolutely nothing that we can achieve (in and of ourselves). Consider the beginning of our faith. Even in so great a salvation, it was God who drew our hearts to Christ, and he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Remember, having begun in the Spirit, we are not made perfect by flesh.
Until Ye Be Endued
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
While it would be a mistake to believe that present-day believers are still waiting for the promise of God’s Holy Spirit to be imparted into our lives, there remains a principle here that is worth repeating to believers of any age: Tarrying until you are endued with power from on high. In whatever task, action, word, or project that we undertake as children of God, we must be oh so sure to have a profitable endowment of God’s own Spirit upon whatever we set our hands to. And scripture suggests that all we need do is wait. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons and daughters of God. Therefore, wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Them He Also Glorified
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
While we usually have little difficulty believing that God foreknows all who would accept the call (for everyone on earth is invited to freely come), and He then justifies those who have accepted the call through the shed blood of Christ, we usually stumble in our belief that God will complete the process that He started by glorifying us. Though our most perfect glorification will not be seen until we see Him face to face, scripture suggests that there is a measure of tangible glory and perfection (maturity) that can be obtained here and now within our lifetime. For the path of the just(ified) is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
There Is None Good But One
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
If our Lord who was perfectly sinless, entirely faultless, completely obedient and possessing the fulness of God’s own Spirit without measure, declared that all goodness is in God how much more should we? The very first instance of declared goodness was when God said, “Let there be light” and after seeing the light, God saw that it was “good”. The suggestion here is clear enough. Except it be wrought by God, there is nothing that can be rightly described as being perfectly good. While God is perfectly and completely faultless (thus good), man is perfectly and completely fallible. For they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Faith Which Worketh By Love
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
The commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves is perhaps the most familiar to believers; Yet the implication that our faith is dependent upon it is not quite as familiar. Consider the patriarch Jacob. When he desired to have Rachel’s hand in marriage, he offered to work 7 years for her hand. And scripture records that Jacob served the 7 years for Rachel and “they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” Scripture suggests that Jacob’s ability to work 7 years under a difficult master was fueled by his intense love for the object of his pursuit Rachel. (In fact, Jacob would work 7 more years due to Laban’s deceit.) Nevertheless, believers should expect no less in their pursuit of God. An intense love for God will enable us to have the kind of faith that overcome any obstacle that man or our past actions set before us. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Not In the Fire
1 Kings 19:12
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Throughout scripture the power of God was often manifested through fire in order turn the hearts of His people from idolatry back to him. And if anyone was familiar with such demonstrations, it was the man of God Elijah. He invoked the fire of God to consume burnt offerings in his competition against the prophets of Baal for the hearts of the people. He also invoked the fire of God that consumed two groups of fifty soldiers in service to a rebellious king in order to demonstrate that He was indeed a man of God. Nevertheless, when God wanted to speak with the prophet whose heart was always towards Him, He did not reveal himself in such spectacular manifestations as the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the still small voice. And this is usually the case when God speaks to we whose hearts are already towards him. For when thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying This is the way, walk ye in it, it will not be a fiery declaration but a still small voice.
I Had Fainted, Unless
13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
It is not inconsistent with a living faith to sometimes feel discouraged and overwhelmed. However, feelings of discouragement need not result in fainting as long as you hold fast to the belief that you will see God’s goodness (right here, right now) in the land of the living. For the Lord will not cast off forever; There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.
Quicken Your Mortal Bodies
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Try as we might, there is no way of getting around the remarkable assertion that Paul provides here: The very Spirit that inhabits our mortal frames is the very same Spirit that quickened, made alive, energized, and empowered our Lord Christ’s resurrection. And such a statement should encourage us to believe (have faith) that the inward dwelling of God’s own Spirit will revitalize our otherwise lethargic actions, strengthen us for the tasks that we are engaged in and actually heal us from our sicknesses and infirmities. At all times, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. For behold the kingdom of God is within you.
Ye Were the Fewest
7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he reminded the brethren: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” And the reminder is one that we would all do well to remember. For the state that we were in when our Lord sought us out and found us was not one of position, status, rank, stature, fortune or spiritual strength; rather we were altogether weak and in need. Consider King Saul. He was from the smallest of the tribes of Israel—the Benjamites, and when he became king and was in need he relied more upon the position he obtained rather than returning to the state he was in prior to receiving the title of king. Samuel reminded the king of this when remarked: “When thou was little in thane own sight, west thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” What Saul failed to remember is one of the most recurring ideas found in scripture: God resisted the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Therefore if we presently find ourselves in need of grace, let us glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. For it is only when we are weak, that we are truly strong.
The Love of Many
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
When Jesus responded to the disciples’ inquiry as to the sign of his coming and of the end of the world, he provides not only the tell-tell signs and characteristics of persons found in the last age, but incidentally, he insightfully informs us why our own love often “waxes cold.” When iniquity abounds from without (persecutions, trials, and afflictions) and from within (injurious thoughts, lusts, backbiting, murmuring) it has the effect of hardening our otherwise softened hearts; We become like stone, both hard and cold. Consider our Lord’s revelation to John for the church of the Laodiceans (and churches of all ages): “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” The admonition here is clear enough; the Lord desires our heart to be neither cold nor lukewarm, but fervently hot. Therefore, if we discover that our love is not as it should be, let us quickly return to the place where we were when we were baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire. And when the love of God is once again shed abroad in our hearts, let us be oh so careful to keep our hearts with all diligence from becoming cold; For out of our heart are all the issues of life.
1 Peter 4:10
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
We mustn’t begin to think that certain members of the body of Christ have been gifted with graces while we ourselves have none. While it is true that some have been better stewards over the grace that God has deposited into their lives, it is inconceivable to think that there is even one believer without grace to be used for the benefit of others. For when the scripture speaks of manifold grace, it describes the extraordinary and innumerable grace of God that takes upon a variety of shapes, forms and giftings. And every single one of us represents a unique demonstration of the manifold grace of God that he expects us to utilize in whatever our vocational or ministerial calling. Therefore, if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever.