” And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives”
Jesus set such a simple pattern before us: teaching by day and communion with His Father at night. In other words, an active life balanced by time spent with Him in refreshment and inspiration. We are called to this balance just as the workers on the wall in Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah. They built with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other (Nehemiah 4:18).
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…”
First, we are to be built up in our faith that
we may encourage and exhort
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works”
“Fight the good fight of faith…”
1 Timothy 6:12
The need to be active and diligent in our sharing of His life with others necessitates His touch of renewal in the evening. I like the work used here: “at night He went out and abode in the mount”. The daily press of the crowds, the vehemence of religious rulers, and the constant treachery of those trying to trick Him into a response whereby they could accuse Him, is beyond comprehension. Time alone with His Father was crucial and is set forth as an example for us. He, the Only Begotten Son, has come to show us the way to live in this troubled and unraveling world. May we draw near to Him that we may be equipped to stand in the darkness of this day in which we find ourselves.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
“Abide in Me says Jesus. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be, as it were, rooted and planted in Me. Do this and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in you”
– J. C. Ryle
“Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still… Selah”
Stillness is a posture of the heart that comes as we commune with Him; as we allow His peace to infiltrate our being. His voice is one of stillness and His word will distill as the dew upon those who wait for Him. The quietness is a prerequisite for His whispers. In the hush there is a sense of His majesty and glory beyond our human understanding and we are filled with holy awe.
In these days of great trouble, the fear, anger and strife that reigns in the hearts of men would seek to draw us into the turmoil. God desires that we come into the pavilion of His peace. It is a resting place, a hiding place and a shelter from the storms of life. He bids us to come and abide under the shadow of His wings. The sheer intensity of our relationship with Him will be the security and peace of our times. Peace cannot be wrought by man; it is the temper of a heart at rest in God.
“Come unto me… and I will give you rest Take my yoke upon you and learn of ME…”
We have much to learn to bring us to the same demeanor of spirit in which He bore our sins in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Here and now He draws us to Himself in the holy bonds of discipleship that we may find humility and grace to walk as He walked. Let us find ourselves drawing near unto Him that we may be “hid with Christ in God”.
“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still”
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”
True servants withhold nothing of God’s counsel for fear of losing the approval of men. They speak the truth because they love the truth. Within their hearts beats the singular desire to live unto the Lord alone. They seek His approval alone.
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God…”
2 Corinthians 6:4
To live unto Christ is to be free from the fear of man. Truth is the person and majesty of Christ Himself. This dynamic of His Life can only be known as we abide in Him. This ONE who purged the filth of man’s pollution from the Temple, also revealed the tenderness of mercy to the woman at the well; His Life cannot be held by the mere doctrines of men. The necessity of abiding in Him is what frees us to express Him in the moment, in the situation we are facing. It is the only means by which His Truth can be expressed! To speak of kindness when the Spirit of God seeks to confront a situation, is error. To speak judgment when God’s Spirit is soft and gentle is to miss Him grievously. A carnal concept of God has always been the bane of religion! To try and live by the precepts of Christ will inevitably end in failure and sin for we are to be in this world as HE IS in the moment.
Only His life can rightly express His heart. We are called unto a Life of abiding in Him to the intent that
“…as HE IS, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
The truth of our walk in Him must culminate in a life of abiding in Him. Present truth can only be known by those who live in the presence of God. As His Life becomes ours, we know the truth; His truth for the moment. Peter in dealing with Ananias and Sapphira did not violate the Love of God; He revealed it. Those who walk in a concept of the love of God will be offended by this expression of truth. Naaman the Syrian had a concept of how the Lord would heal him. Had it not been for the wisdom of one of his servants he would have missed God and remained a leper the rest of his life.
His prophets spoke the Word of the Lord to the situation they found themselves in. The Word spoken was present truth, The Word for His people in the Day in which they lived. It was not a random Word, pulled from history’s pages, but truth for moment.
“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks…”
Yet in another day the word given was:
“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears”
His Spirit will never violate the Word but it will breathe the life and wonder of God INTO His Word. Such enablement, grace and wisdom can only be known to those who abide in the ONE who is the sum of all Grace and Truth. Jesus did not come to expose the world to a new teaching or a new religious concept; He came to fill us with Himself. He did not come to give us A new life but to give us HIS Life that we might know the power of His indwelling word.
The “marks” (brands) of the true servant of God are those who withhold not His truth and counsel regardless of the “consensus” of men. Only as we are freed from self are we truly able to be His servant.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”
The true servant of God is one who is poured out in service to Christ. He seeks no following and does not desire the finances of this world. His only desire is to be true to the ONE who enlisted him into His service. Only then is he free enough to declare the whole counsel of God to his generation.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” ……………………………………. Romans 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” .. James 1:1 “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…. 2 Peter 1:1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” ………………………………….. Jude 1:1
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God…”
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” John 15:4
The Marks of a True Servant is a series of writings revealing the tried and true character of Paul as he met with the Church at Ephesus for the last time. His life was the testimony of a man who had spent his life as a true bond-servant of Christ. May God complete His work in each one of us. Blessings to All who have made it their life purpose to serve and honour Him.
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you are not having life in yourselves. He who is eating my flesh and is drinking my blood is having life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day, for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. He who keeps on eating my flesh and drinking my blood, in me is continually abiding and I in him”
John 6:53-56 (Wuest Translation)
The Wuest Translation brings out the correct Greek Parsing in these very significant verses where the “ing” speaks of a continuously feasting upon Him who is the True Bread of Life. They who feed upon the eternal living bread are filled with the eternal living life of Him. If an individual ceases to eat they cease to know of the fire and the life of Him who holds us in the mystery of His Life.
“The appetite grows for what it feeds on”
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love”
The secret to life is simple. The stratagems and methods of men to bring about the salvation of Christ are as impotent as man himself. The power of the Love of Christ is only realized through the medium of walking in the way of His commandments. It is a life where (in Him) we are lifted out of the strife and sin of this world and made alive by the indwelling wonder of Him. There is no apt description of how such a thing can be, for it is something which cannot be taught, it can only be entered into within the context of our daily lives. The mystery of life unfolds as we step into the wonder of His ways.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation”
All of our needs, our hopes and our daily power to live are hid in Christ Himself. There is salvation in none other. It is in the “today” of our life wherein we are given the opportunity and the privilege to draw from Him grace and glory to run the race set before us.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”
The nature of our walk will influence our requests to God. If we walk in the Spirit our requests, desires and needs will be consistent with His desires. If we walk in the flesh our entreaty can be influenced by the lusts and appetites of the flesh. Prayers delayed or unanswered may at times be prayers offered amiss because we are asking to satisfy or fulfill our own desires; or we may read our desires into the needs of others. Only those who are in the process of dying to self are able to be free of the taint of self. Our sympathies to the needs of others (especially ones we are close to) can skew our ability to see and pray clearly. It is here that our walk in God will determine our effectiveness. Only true disciples can learn to pray effectually for discipleship is only known by carrying our cross and following Him. The outworking of the Cross in our lives brings us to the heart and mind of Christ. It is within the confines of His rule that we begin to touch the true power of prayer.
“If ye abide* in me, and my words abide* in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon translates the word “Abide” as “something that has established itself permanently within my soul and always exerts its power in me”. The depth of abiding in Him is revealed in His Word exerting power within us. Obedience is the evidence of His Word wielding power over me. Those who do not obey express a life in which His Word has no power. Men and women may quote the scriptures, may teach others with seeming knowledge, but if there be no life of doing His word, it in fact has no real influence in their lives. If His Word has no power in us, our prayers will have no power with God. It is as we abide in Him that our prayers become the extension of His heart; His nature praying through us to the Glory of the Father.
Our progress in effectual prayer is contingent upon the growth and reality of our abiding in Him. We all begin our walk in Christ as children and we are “born anew” into a whole new realm of life and wonder.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”
1 Peter 2:2
This initial stage of our journey is blessed and one which we all experience and walk through. Prayer time is spent asking for things and often the answers from our heavenly Father come quickly as He seeks to strengthen and confirm our faith in Him. However, as time goes on God brings us into deeper things as He seeks to teach us the ways of relationship and intimacy. We are required to grow in the wisdom of His ways and as this transpires it effects the tenor and spirit in which we pray.
“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”
1 Corinthians 13:11
A life of change is the evidence of life. Where there is little or no change in the lives of His Own it is the result of His Word having little or no effect within. As we grow from a child into maturity we begin to speak differently and think differently which brings a dramatic change in our prayer life with God. As we put away the former things we begin the process of becoming men and women of God.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”
“And our Lord next unfolds the principle of prayer which laid such hold on the mind of the Apostle John: If ye abide in me (and then, instead of adding, “And I abide in you,” he says); and my words abide in you; i.e. if my teaching so abide with you as to control your thoughts and ideas, remain in you as your guide and inspiration, “then ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done to you”.
“When the soul admires spiritual things it is then in a holy frame, and so long it will not stoop to any base comfort. We should therefore labor to keep our souls in a state of holy admiration.”
– Richard Sibbes
“On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands”
There comes in everyone’s life moments where all hope appears lost. The valiant efforts to extricate ourselves from the situation have failed. The storms batter and assail our soul relentlessly. The dark grey clouds and angry wind hide God’s Face from us and we seem to be at the total mercy of the storm. The context to the above verse is:
“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the great storm continued to batter us, we abandoned all hope of being saved.”
It is here where we see the most seasoned of sailors cast all the tools of their own making overboard in resignation to the sea. When no other hope is left they are simply left clinging to the fragile ship itself. The relentless storm brought ALL who were on the ship to despair. The “we abandoned all hope of being saved” included saint and sinner. The storm came to all. We see in the world around us hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorists, fires, and a multitude of other disasters; God’s people are not spared these circumstances.
It is here that God appears. In these dire moments the word of God comes with assurance of hope and a way of escape.
“And now I exhort you to be of good cheer”
Why could Paul say this?
“For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve…”
God’s coming was to the man who had made God his God. God’s coming was to him who had long before committed the very keeping of his life to God. God’s own are never left to the fate of circumstances and it is in these moments that His Own are revealed. It is in our now that the transactions of our life in God are made. It is before the storm that we are to become His. In the desire and diligent pursuit of God in our daily walk the covenant of grace is realized.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”
The Storm is coming to all saint and sinner alike.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
The keeping grace of God is unto those “who dwell in the secret place of the Most High”. God does not spare His Own from the storm; He keeps them IN it. Paul was kept through the storm for God had purposed that he testify before Caesar.
“For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar…”
Later on Paul would be martyred in Rome. The same God who kept Paul in the storm also gave him grace to finish his course with the joy and certainty of all that awaited him.
The secret of Life is to discover grace in our present circumstances to bring us to the place where we can say in truth “I am His” and “whom I serve”. This is the confession of Paul prior to the great storm:
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus…”