The Call to Discipleship
as the purity of our motives in following Him”
“And the fuel on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it morning by morning.”
The altar of the Old Covenant is a representation of our hearts in the New (Romans 12:1). It was the duty of the priests to keep the fire ever burning by adding wood “morning by morning”. In the morning as we set aside time to commune with our God who is “a consuming fire”. There is a necessity to touch the flame of the Eternal One that our own hearts may burn with a love for Him. It is this burning which keeps us from the temptations of the world and the impurities of our own selves.
As one man, greatly used of the Lord, stated: “an empty altar receives no fire” (1). Each morning we arise and lay ourselves before Him as a fresh offering that we might walk circumspectly and alert throughout the day. His fire ever falls upon the altar of sacrifice; as it was in the days of Elijah it shall be in this day.
May we discover the secret of His Flame. May we feel the embers of our hearts stirred by His Holy Breath until we are filled with the fire and intensity of His Spirit. He has an answer for cold hearts, for the lethargy in His house. It is nothing less than His presence burning within.
“Who maketh his angels spirits,
and His ministers a flame of fire”
His true ministers carry the flame of God burning within their hearts. They cannot be satisfied with tepid prayers, powerless sermons and the lifeless conjectures of those whose lives do not align with their words. The fire of God purifies. It warms the very soul of man and brings Him into the zeal of the Lord for His House (John 2:16-17). There is a lamentation within over the condition and the temperature of the hearts of His people. There is a seeking of the purity, power and intensity of His Spirit to see His Unity arise in His House.
It is the “fervent prayer” of a “righteous man” that avails much, that brings forth the moving of His hand in the earth. Let us keep the flame burning within; let us seek out fellowship with others who will stir the embers of our hearts that we may know, to quote a good friend, “the fellowship of the flame” (2).
His beauty will arise
out of the ashes of ourselves.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified”
What is the purpose of these people?
“And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations”
This is the Day of the Lord and He Himself is appointing unto them who mourn over the state of the Zion of God in our day; beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! Let His fire fall afresh upon our hearts that He may be glorified by the lives we live and the words we speak!
“But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the festal gathering and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel. See that you don’t refuse him who speaks.”!
“Keep yourselves in the Love of God”
(1) Frank Bartleman
(2) CR Oliver
“I know thy works:
behold, I have set before thee an open door,
and no man can shut it…”
Faithfulness to the present truth we know will always culminate in greater things in God. The Church at Philadelphia, even in their weakness and poverty, were faithful to do the works of God and were given an open door. Doing the will of God inevitably leads us into greater avenues of service unto Him. Those who are faithful in the little things will always receive more.
The stagnation of a faith without works perpetuates its own lethargy and barrenness. Within the true disciple lies an eagerness to do that which is before them without hesitation or delay. We must always bear in our hearts the verdict of God upon a “faith” which is void of works.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?”
The “Open Door” is set before those who are faithful to yield themselves to the promptings of God within and respond accordingly. There are those who feel hemmed in by circumstances when in fact they may have not been faithful to the things at hand. Joseph, bound within Pharaoh’s prison, remained faithful to the gifts which God had given him, and, in the end, he was given great authority!
“For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has”
The path to enlarged places in God is found within our faithfulness to Him in the little things; hidden things, often only known to God. In the end they will bring us to the open door of His grace.
Just a couple of examples are David who, while tending the sheep of his father, overcame the lion and the bear. Rebekah at the well, in her willingness and faithfulness to serve, was brought into the lineage of Christ!! (read Genesis 24:12-27) May we see the importance God places on those who reveal their heart by the work of their hands. He sees and measures out greater faith in proportion to their faithfulness in everyday life.
Let us seek His “open door” through faithfulness in our commonplace lives. Let our determination to honour Him “in all things” be an entrance into the greater things of Him. May we find joy each day in ever looking for ways to glorify Him, even in the secret thoughts of our hearts.
“I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service…”
1 Timothy 1:12
Obedience will open doors that no amount of praying alone can.
“The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.”
May His exhortations permeate our hearts, and may we seek to be faithful to Him in all things.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
The one who was unfaithful lost what he had been given and the eternal consequences were even greater.
“But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Faithfulness determines eternal destinies.
“…they that are with Him
are called, and chosen, and faithful”
“…it was needful for me to write unto you,
and exhort you that ye should earnestly
contend for the faith”
During these days of uncertainty and chaos it would be tempting to retreat into our own isolated worlds. The confines of “social distancing” and the fear of reaching out to those around us make it easy to excuse ourselves from life. Now more than ever it is imperative that we remain alive in Christ; to walk in the eternal truth of the Word of God. That Word is fulfilled by His Spirit moving through us by the Love of God. Love casts out all fear and in Him we find the resources to walk as He walked.
There has never been a time when sharing the love and mercies of God was convenient in this world. Every generation has had its battles. Every generation has had to contend for the faith of God in their time. May we be faithful in our day to minister unto Him in the faces of those around us.
“Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred,
or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick,
or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?”
“Forget yourself and live for others,
for It is more blessed to give than to receive”
– A.B. Simpson
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa 28:9)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:1-2)
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good,
and doeth it not, to him it is sin”
Omission is the fruit of apathy. It is the result of a false gospel which demotivates us to act. Our personal involvement is the shining forth of His Life through us. The non-involved life is a life centered on self, one that withdraws from an active life of faith, of reaching out into the world around. It leads a sequestered existence, safe and insulated from the personal ventures of faith.
“That the communication of thy faith
may become effectual…”
Paul’s prayer for Philemon was that his faith would be communicated to others with an effect. The communication of an effectual faith leaves an effect on the lives of others because it carries the life and power of the Author. Those active in the ministrations of His Life feel the immensity of the responsibility to walk in such a way that there be an actual communication or impartation of the living Christ through their words, their works and their very lives. The impotency and indifference of many people today regarding their “faith” reveals an appalling attitude that they are “increased with goods and have need of nothing”. This “comfort zone” is a gospel of grace with no sense of laying down their lives for the uplifting of Him. It is easier to give money and resources to someone else to do that. It is easy to labour for the unrighteous money of this world yet be careless with heavenly treasures. We are too prone to ignore the promptings of the Spirit of God to involve ourselves in the lives of others. It is easier to “pray” about things than to pour ourselves out for others. There is a cost to obedience. We have invented an insulation from this dilemma of accountability; a gospel woven with the falsity of a devilish reasoning: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good,
and doeth it not, to him it is sin”
Religion often has the correct understanding yet is powerlessness in the realm of doing. Many know right things and understand the words of Life. Yet their faith is one of words without the power and motivation of Love. They believe the tenets of faith with no valid expression of the LIFE of faith.
“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing,
nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh* by love”
(a faith which produces the works of love)
John in his epistles constantly prods the people of God in his day unto love and good works. The Book of Revelation declares to each location of the One-Church that God is beholding “their works”. It is the works of a life that show evidence of faith in that life. “I know thy works” is the Word of God to every Church.
“My little children, let us not love in word,
neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
One deed that springs forth from the Love of God is worth far more than the confessions and proclamations of a thousand sterile lives. Jesus saw the “two mites” of the one who gave of her living rather than the rich offerings of those who appeased their conscience by words and platitudes. A life uninvolved with the lost, the wayward and the stagnant, is a life uninvolved with God.
Omission is the revelation of a inert and lethargic life. It is the one sin which is easily ignored but which paves the road to spiritual bankruptcy.
“Thou wicked and slothful servant…”
The sin of the one to whom the one talent had been given was the great sin of omission; the sin of doing nothing with the great and unmerited gift placed in his trust. The resulting eternal judgment was one of loss and sorrow. Those faithful to the gifts given to them were rewarded with ruling and reigning in God’s coming Kingdom. The truths of His gifts given to each of us are eternal issues. Faithfulness now brings great reward in the unveiling of His Kingdom then.
“Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me,
to repay to each man according to his work.”
Revelation 22:20 (ESV)
“And the light shineth in darkness”
This Light was nothing less than the indomitable Life of Jesus illuminating the dark world in which He walked; a Light of such magnitude that the whole earth was lit with His glory. It was a Life clothed in humility in stark contrast to Roman arrogance and power. It was a Life of purity in the face of the darkness and corruption of the religion of the Jews. It was the breath of heaven bringing hope and power to those who were bound. He was in fact the fulness of the Godhead and the pure manifestation of the Father.
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily”
He would declare without compromise “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father”. The enormity of this truth ought to stagger the human race. The disclosure in this declaration is so grand, so high and so vast that without the power of a living faith no man could grasp its significance. The One who uttered this incomprehensible truth came to inject the very Life of God into the human race in order to raise up those who would walk, speak and, with the same purity of heart, minister that Love to all. In other words, to fully manifest the Glory of the Father in the Face of Jesus Christ. He came with one purpose: to be that living seed which would fall into the ground and die in order to be sown into the hearts of men, and that that same resurrection Life would raise up those who would bear His likeness in this darkened world of men.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
To the natural mind His purposes in Christ are a fable and considered too high to be attainable. Without the power of a living faith, “reasonable” expectations, ministered by faithless teachers, produce nothing but vain religion. The Living Faith of Christ empowers His Own to “unattainable” heights of His Life. They are not staggered by their own limited resources of self. They refuse to comply with faithless expectations and unholy living; they recognize compromise and apathy as enemies.
“They profess that they know God;
but in works they deny him…”
Those who have His Life (present tense) shine His Light into this present world. They cannot profess one thing while in fact living another. His Life is the Light of Men. It is in the shining forth of His Light into the world whereby we reveal the truth of who we are. The measure of the Light that shines from each of us is the revelation of the depth of our living and walking in Him. May we again be struck anew with the force of the call of God to each of us:
“…as He is, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
This Holy truth cannot be taught. It can only be manifested through the power of relationship. To be “as He is” requires a moment by moment dwelling in Him just as the branch simply bears fruit by being One with the Vine from whom the power and life-force flows.
Relationship with Christ is the solitary hope of man. It is one thing to talk about abiding in Him but the undeniable evidence is a growing dependency upon Him.
“He that saith he abideth in him
ought himself also so to walk,
even as he walked”
1 John 2:6
Talking the talk without walking the walk is folly and deception. Faith without the evidence is the lie of religion. It is the result of feeding from the Tree of Knowledge rather than the Tree of Life. “As He is” is the call to each of us and knowing this leaves us no choice but to grow into an ever-deepening relationship with Him who is The Life.
“He that loveth his brother
abideth in the light…”
1 John 2:10
This pulse of Christ Jesus within makes it impossible not to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. To love is to care. The true Love of God is a fire and the spring from which flows admonition and exhortation. We cannot remain silent in the face of compromise; we care too much to see them settle for anything less than God’s purpose. One cannot read the epistles and not feel the burning which stirred within. Their lives were engulfed in the fire of God. If there was ever a time to admonish and exhort one another unto the Life and the Works of God, it is today! Love will never be silent in the face of apathy!
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”
What is to be the temper and the purpose of gathering together? To exhort one another and so much more as we see the Day approaching. What are we to exhort one another unto?
“And let us consider one another
to provoke unto love and to good works”
There is a deceptive gospel which separates Faith from Works. It is the lie and horror of religion to make people feel comfortable in a state in which their faith lays no claim upon their life. It comforts the soul without emancipating it.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”
“And the light shineth in darkness”
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. *For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins”
* Consider the context of this verse… “for if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth”. What truth? The exhorting and provoking one another unto love and good works. May we take heed to the Word of God as we see the Day approaching!