“Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. Again and again, you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender. Yet we tend to say, “Yes, but— suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about…?” Or we say, “Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.”
Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.”
– Oswald Chambers
“No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better”
Spiritual growth is often the result of a series of spiritual crises and the rending of former things in order to embrace deeper and higher things in God. It is an easy thing to read of in the scriptures; the Spirit of God draws men and women from the former things into the new. However, when it is your own faith, your own beliefs and your own forsaking of things, it is a different matter.
“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth. ’But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common”
The true living faith of Christ within a heart is able to make that transition from one place into another for it is ever drawn by the Author and Perfecter of it. Peter’s ability to step into New Testament Truth was the result of a faith that knew his God. Many of God’s people are stuck in former things simply because it is comfortable and known. There is an inability to go beyond the elemental because of a faith which is rooted in something other than a living relationship with Christ.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways”
1 Corinthians 13:11
It is an easy thing to recognize and observe the natural growth of a child. Those with children or grandchildren are amazed at the constant changes and development they see in them from week to week and month to month. Spiritual growth however requires faith to move from the things of a child into the truth of the fullness of Christ. There are consequences to those who move on in God; there may be losses of friendship, changes in responsibilities, a battling of new enemies within and without. Yet it is these transformations which bring the adventure of walking with God. The years of holding on to the hands of a teacher (good for a season), must give way to the experiential touching and walking with God for themselves. The teachings and doctrines of others must give way to the ministration of His Life in order that His Name and His Power be made known. Clinging to forms of truth, without walking in them, will leave us stunted and undeveloped in our spiritual growth.
The compulsion to leave the shadows and forms of a thing to walk in the reality is a vital step of faith; the same one multitudes of God’s people have stepped into before us. Paul declares in Romans “from faith unto faith”. Every step taken is one of the joys of the Christian experience; not only for us but even more so for the joy it brings to our heavenly Father. May each of us hear His call to “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). To linger in the former things is to deny this call.
The stepping of Peter out of the boat, the young man’s lunch feeding the multitudes, the stretching forth of the withered hand on the Sabbath (in opposition to all in the Synagogue), are all examples of those who obeyed the faith stirring within. As Pilgrims of a living faith may we venture into the world around us with His Light, Love and Life.
“The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted”
– Oswald Chambers
“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am ….I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master…”
John 13:13, 16
“To have a master and teacher is not the same thing as being mastered and taught. Having a master and teacher means that there is someone who knows me better than I know myself, who is closer than a friend, and who understands the remotest depths of my heart and is able to satisfy them fully. It means having someone who has made me secure in the knowledge that he has met and solved all the doubts, uncertainties, and problems in my mind. To have a master and teacher is this and nothing less— “…for One is your Teacher, the Christ…” Matthew 23:8
Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not.
“You call Me Teacher and Lord…”— but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in His Word. The way we use the word obey is proof of this. In the Bible, obedience is based on a relationship between equals; for example, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not simply God’s servant— He was His Son. “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience…” (Hebrews 5:8). If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it— a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey.”
“A missionary is someone in whom the Holy Spirit has brought about this realization: “You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). To say, “I am not my own,” is to have reached a high point in my spiritual stature. The true nature of that life in actual everyday confusion is evidenced by the deliberate giving up of myself to another Person through a sovereign decision, and that Person is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit interprets and explains the nature of Jesus to me to make me one with my Lord, not that I might simply become a trophy for His showcase. Our Lord never sent any of His disciples out on the basis of what He had done for them. It was not until after the resurrection, when the disciples had perceived through the power of the Holy Spirit who Jesus really was, that He said, “Go” (Matthew 28:19; also see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8).
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). He was not saying that this person cannot be good and upright, but that he cannot be someone over whom Jesus can write the word Mine. Any one of the relationships our Lord mentions in this verse can compete with our relationship with Him. I may prefer to belong to my mother, or to my wife, or to myself, but if that is the case, then, Jesus said, “[You] cannot be My disciple.” This does not mean that I will not be saved, but it does mean that I cannot be entirely His.
Our Lord makes His disciple His very own possession, becoming responsible for him. “…you shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8). The desire that comes into a disciple is not one of doing anything for Jesus, but of being a perfect delight to Him. The missionary’s secret is truly being able to say, “I am His, and He is accomplishing His work and His purposes through me. Be entirely His!”
“Peter began to say to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You”
“Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (Mark 10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it”
– Oswald Chambers
“God has one destined end for mankind – holiness! His one aim is the production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing-machine for men. He did not come to save men out of pity. He came to save men because He had created them to be holy”
– Oswald Chambers