Quote for Today
“The distance between our knowledge of truth
and our obedience to it is the measure of our integrity
“The distance between our knowledge of truth
and our obedience to it is the measure of our integrity
Work in us,
That we may work out,
The grace you pour in.
Grant us faith for the impossible,
That we may believe for the impossible.
Give us eyes to see the Invisible,
That we may become like Him.
Grant us power to become nothing,
That Christ may become all.
Grant to us the fear of the Lord,
That we may not stray.
Cause us to know your Love,
That we may Love others.
Cause us to know Righteousness,
That we may preach Righteousness.
Cause us to see You
That we may be freed from ourselves.
“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness”
“So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”
We live in a day of information overload; books, blogs, writings, conferences and multimedia resources. Much of this data remains ethereal and untempered in the lives of those who are offering these things. The lives of many who travel in ministry would not measure up to the established criteria for deacons and elders within the local assembly! It is a day filled with many voices all clamoring for the affection of the hearts and souls of men and women.
Paul in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit wrote this advice to his son in the faith…
“The husbandman that labors
must be first partaker of the fruits”
2 Timothy 2:6
In other words, the fruit we seek to impart to others must of necessity be reaped within the confines of our own personal life. Character and righteousness are as important as the message itself. In reality the person is the message; Paul called himself a living epistle known and read of all people. The words he spoke were evident in the life he lived. The call is great and those who bear in their lives His living word must know the necessity of abiding within the vast resources of Christ Himself. Paul described the ministers of the Body of Christ in his day as those who manifested the truth in how they conducted their lives.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty,
not walking in craftiness,
nor handling the word of God deceitfully;
but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves
to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”
2 Corinthians 4:2
The untempered mortar and the whitewashed walls of man’s own makings will not withstand the rigors of moral decay in our day. Truth ministered apart from character and integrity robs God’s Word of its force and power. This is why the people were astonished at the Word which proceeded from the living Christ.
“And they were astonished at his doctrine:
for he taught them as one that had authority,
and not as the scribes”
It takes little discernment to know whether the things someone shares are the untempered mortar of the intellect or the pure gold of Christ Himself. The depth of truth which proceeds from the individual life will always be in proportion to the extent of their identification with the words they share. It is in fact a part of their very lives. Information and truth are very diverse from one another; so is the impact they have upon the human heart.
It is in the touching of His presence that the Glory of God impacts, transforms and breaks the pride and shallowness of all we are by nature. No one can get a glimpse of God and remain the same. It is from this encounter that the truth of Christ flows unhindered into the world around us. We cannot invite others to taste and see of that which we have not eaten ourselves.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good”
“My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness,
for without being holy myself I cannot
promote real holiness in others”
“And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself, and became obedient”
Humility is the precursor to obedience. Only a humble heart can obey God’s Word. True humility is expressed in a life of obedience. It is the stiff necked, self-willed, and obstinate who cannot obey God’s Word. Men may preach, teach and perform many overt signs and wonders but it is God who searches the heart (Matthew 7:21-23). Only those who are truly humbled in heart before God can obey, please and honor Him.
As the Son humbled Himself as a man He became obedient to the Father while clothed in mortal flesh. The book of Hebrews declares:
“Though he were a Son,
yet learned he obedience
by the things which he suffered”
It is not that Jesus was ever disobedient but in His incarnation, as a Man, He had to learn obedience! He came from Glory into a whole new realm and manner of life. In becoming a man, He had to overcome the testings, the temptations and the frailties of all that we are. Why and to what end?
“And being made perfect,
he became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey him”
In His overcoming here, as a true man, He became the author of a salvation which is available to all who obey Him. The authenticity of the salvation of an individual must culminate in obedience unto Him. Salvation is revealed by our obedience. The depth to which we are saved is revealed in the depth of our submission unto His will.
Those who claim to be “saved” will show forth His salvation by living a life of obedience.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
and do not the things which I say?”
While many may say “Lord, Lord” it is in the crucible of obedience that His Lordship is revealed.
The humility of a life
is not known by a timid demeanor,
It is known by the submission
of itself to the Word of God.
“To him that overcomes
will I give to eat of the hidden manna…”
It is not the process of overcoming that entitles us to eat of this “hidden mana” for there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. However, it is in overcoming that we grow in our capacity to eat and walk within the provisions of this manna. Doctrine and teaching require simply a certain intellect; but living truth is ministered to us according to our development not our intellect. Jesus said to His disciples…
“I have yet many things to say unto you,
but ye cannot bear (support) them now”
The disciples’ lack of character and spiritual maturity hindered Jesus from sharing the deeper things. With the promise of the coming Holy Spirit the very nature and outlook of these same men would be radically transformed into new vessels. It is grievous to see and hear men and women speak of deep and wondrous truths with the flippancy of just another teaching. They neither understand nor are able to carry truth in a spirit of humility and the fear of God. They speak of Judgements, Sonship and other precious truths without the depth of character which should humble rather than exalt them. Martin Luther, whom God used to restore the truth of justification by faith, declared that the most dangerous doctrine in the church was “any truth carnally received”. Knowledge attained by carnal means “puffs up” without the ability to love and edify others. The real and living truth of God is the revelation of Christ Himself to the individual with the express purpose ministering to others by the development of the love of God. Any time there is a true seeing of Him men and women are immediately humbled and broken; for no flesh shall glory in His presence. Those who speak of high and lofty things without the corresponding humility and fear of the Lord have seen nothing but carnal concepts.
The true knowledge of God is revealed to those who have been weaned from the milk of the word to eat the meat of the word. The difference between these two stages of the Christian life is easily discerned. The milk of the word is for those who taste of its wonder and provision as an infant in Christ. This is a stage of great growth and delight to the Father’s heart.
“As newborn babes,
desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby”
1 Peter 2:2
The issue is there is a failure to go on into the maturity of Him. The stage of the “strong meat” is where His people began to obey, walk and live God’s word. Jesus said to His disciples at the well of Samaria:
“…he said unto them,
I have meat to eat that ye know not of…
My meat is to DO the will of him that sent me,
and to finish his work”
While many in God’s house linger in the infancy stage the strong meat of God’s Word is withheld from them. It is not a question of “earning” it but of having a life that is able to bear the revelation of His character and heart. Men and women may be Christians for 50 years with all kinds of “deep” teachings and doctrines yet never able to become like Him in heart and character. There is no growth through the intellectual apprehension of a truth in God. Change only comes by virtue of SEEING HIM; where the life and soul of the beholder is humbled and captivated by a Holiness beyond description. The “strong meat” of the word is withheld from the carnal, the unstable, the proud and self-seeking ones for it must be borne in broken and contrite hearts. Purity of heart is necessary to see God in a way that affects the entire being. Truth is not a teaching; it is a portion of the life of Jesus and its apprehension is proportional to the purity of our hearts.
“Blessed are the pure in heart
For they shall see God”
The milk of the Word, as good and precious as it is, must give way to the “strong meat”. The Epistle to the Hebrews was a strong admonishment to people who were failing to leave the milk:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” Hebrews 5:11-13
The Apostle goes on to say…
“But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” Hebrews 5:14
The condition of our hearts determines the depth of our understanding in the things of God.
“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”
The Way into the Holy things of God will be discovered by those whose hearts desire purity (freedom from agendas and recognition) and obedience. This is the very “meat” and sustenance of the true seeker of God.
“When I was a child, I spoke 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
Many hold to deep teachings and concepts which can only result in a life…
“having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof:
from such (we are to) turn away…”
2 Timothy 3:5
Paul continues by declaring these same people are those who are…
“Ever learning, and never able to come
to the knowledge of the truth…”
2 Timothy 3:7
It is a day to be sober and honest within the very core of our being for an intellectual relationship with God will not sustain us in this hour. It is time to turn to Him with honest, open and contrite hearts and seek Him for Himself alone. May we cast off the things we count as “gain” in our standing with Him and come with purity of purpose and faith unfeigned. It is here we will see Him in truth which will bring a full transformation from all that we are (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“Knowledge without repentance
will be but a torch to light men to hell.”
“If anyone is blameless, husband of one wife,
having faithful children,
(who are) not in accusation of loose behavior, or disobedient”
Religion has a way of circumventing truth. When men in leadership fail to live according to the standards presented in scripture there is a moral decline that permeates the household of faith. If the faith of a man does not work within his own house how can he be equipped to function within the local assembly? Titus and Timothy were commissioned to ordain Elders throughout the Church of God in their day. Paul gave instructions so that the quality of faith and wisdom would be passed along by men who had proved themselves faithful in their own homes and within the community in which they lived.
“…for if a man does not know how to rule his own house,
how will he take care of the church of God?”
In this day of apathy standards have been lowered to such a level that a few years in a Bible school is all that is required for leadership. When such low expectations are placed on leadership we must expect a compromised truth to be passed on to those they teach. This results in a subtle and downward spiral within the church with all manner of sexual immorality, divorce and remarriage and faithless lives. Congregations with unsaved men and women are impervious to the conviction of the Holy Spirit because the fear of God is no longer known by the people of God. Accountability has been replaced with a gospel of tolerance and men are no longer expected to live Godly and Righteous lives.
The leaders of the church today are often from somewhere else and not known by the local community of faith, contrary to the very instructions set forth in scripture. We end up with men who have no personal testimony locally (as they are brought in from outside the local community), they are not required to live righteously before they are qualified for leadership within the local church. The scriptures clearly teach that the leadership OF the local assembly is to be raised up FROM the community IN which they live. They are to be men who are known by the people locally; those who have proven their faith and wisdom; those who love their wife and raise godly children in a godless world.
It does matter how we live and it does matter that our faith works in our own home. Men who do not stand for truth in the home have no business being involved in the leadership of God’s people. The priesthood of every man starts in his own home. When we water down truth to be merely a teaching rather than a life of example, the power of God will be lacking in the community of faith. Truth is not a teaching. It is a life, and how a man lives reveals the truth he holds. Truth is a power that enables us to live righteous lives. It transforms men and makes them strong in Christ.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith”
The Gospel of Christ is meant to produce lives that reveal the righteousness of God from faith to faith. As our faith grows so will the revelation of the righteousness of God in our lives. That is why faith and righteousness are inextricably linked in the New Testament. Faith is the means by which we are enabled to live Godly in this present world. That is why the LEADERSHIP of the Church of God must be men who have proven their FAITH by how they live.
“Let a man so account of us,
as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful”
We must return to the scriptures; we must repent from the ways of men that have produced worldly organizations rather than a living organism which is called THE Body of Christ. Let us examine our place in the home, in the workplace, in the fellowship of believers and in our personal secret lives. Righteousness is the product of a living faith. Sound teaching must come from a life that resembles the very truth it proclaims.
“But as for you,
speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate,
sound in faith, in love, in patience;
the older women likewise,
that they be reverent in behavior,
not slanderers, not given to much wine,
teachers of good things—
that they admonish the young women to love their husbands,
to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers,
good, obedient to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works;
in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
sound speech that cannot be condemned,
that one who is an opponent may be ashamed,
having nothing evil to say of you”
“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly”
The greatest and most essential disappointment we will encounter in our journey with God will be with ourselves. No one who has any true aspirations of walking with our God in the pursuit of truth can escape this vital experience. It will be one which we will encounter many times in the processing of our hearts to become what HE has called unto. It is in this discovery of ourselves that we come to know our NEED for HIS mercy, longsuffering and salvation. These are the times that we come face to face with our own spiritual poverty and HIS incredible provision. This stark contrast of all that HE is with the horror of our incurable condition brings us to a knowing of Him. We must come to realize that God cannot heal the natural man; HE must crucify it. The human condition had come to such a terminal state that God, by the necessity of LOVE, had to send HIS only SON to be crucified on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. The road to self-discovery is the means by which we are made “…kings and priests” unto our God. For in the learning of our need we are able to pray, encourage, reprove and admonish one another with the same love and concern that HE has also ministered unto us. In the New Testament priests are not born (as was the case in the Old Testament) they are made (Revelation 1:6) by the outworking of the Spirit of Truth in our own lives. The real purpose of truth is to make us true as HE who is TRUE. We cannot hold to outward forms and hypocritical appearances and think that we are growing in HIM. The Spirit of Truth has come to reveal, to purify and to cleanse us from our own unrighteousness and self-will in order to bring forth an expression of HIS character and heart in our lives. This journey into truth always begins with the living WORD…
“For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And no creature is hidden from his sight,
but all are naked and exposed
to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”
The ministration of that living word will begin to cut away at the deception of our own hearts. It causes us to see the difference between the ways of men and the way of the Spirit of God. It will expose our thoughts and intentions so that we may grow into a purity of heart whereby all of our actions are born from a true desire to please Him and not man. Without this essential work we will remain undeveloped; lost within the ignorance of self and a religion of dead works and faithless deeds. To those who truly desire HIM there can be no shortcut or escaping this disappointment with one’s self. For this place of our undoing is also the place of becoming a man or woman of faith and life. The man who declared “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” is the same one who also declared “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing”. We cannot know the one truth without the full knowledge of the other. While much of the religious world is content with excusing our condition, and ignoring the undeniable condition of the church today, there are those who cry out unto the Lord to search us and know us that we may find in HIM the power to change by the glory of HIS grace.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting”
Such is the cry of those who desire the truth and reality of God. Disappointment with self is the necessary consequence of a desire to know HIM. Disillusionment is the doorway to HOPE and FAITH. All those who walk the Emmaus Road will find the Great High Priest of our confession walking with them, speaking words of truth and even reproof, but that road will always culminate in communion with the SON! Let us find great encouragement in HIM who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us faultless before HIS throne of Grace. HE is our REDEEMER and HE cannot fail those who put their trust in HIM.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me;
because the LORD hath anointed
me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
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”
“But when his heart was lifted up,
and his mind hardened in pride,
he was deposed from his kingly throne,
and they took his glory from him”
Pride has been the downfall of many. From the lowest of men to one of the highest angelic creatures pride has corrupted and destroyed. We see it everywhere; in the halls of government, the justice systems, the corporate world of business, the world of sports, the dark corners of crime and even the pulpits and pews of the religious world. Pride is the contagion of the human heart. It lifts its head in the high thoughts of men and is the same power that causes men and women to wallow in discouragement and despair. It is a power that feeds on the selfishness of man. It is the “ME” that it thrives on. It fastens itself to the enlargement and gratification of the need for recognition and sympathy. It is insatiable in its desire for attention and acknowledgment. It cares little for the needs of others unless there is something to be gained by doing so; even its good is corrupted by the self-serving motive that lies behind its deeds. It will make men become whatever is necessary in the acquisition of its end. It will serve one master for a season until a more useful one comes along and then it will change as a chameleon in a new environment. It has no loyalty and hates truth though it will use it for its own ends. In the end, however, it will be the means of destruction for all who live by its sway. The only means of deliverance is through the power of TRUTH. Truth is the means by which humility is born. Truth is the tree upon which the fruit of the Spirit is produced.
Truth is not a fruit. It is the only means by which fruit can be produced. The Holy Spirit is never called the Spirit of love, for even love is the key fruit of truth.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:
against such there is no law”
It is in the ministration of the Truth that the fruit of the Spirit is formed. For in the ministration of TRUTH we see the condition of our own hearts and of those around us. It is in seeing HIM that we truly know ourselves and, in seeing ourselves, we are no longer surprised by what we see in others. Truth is the leveler of all men. Truth is only known in the seeing of Him and in the seeing of Him we are transformed by HIS GLORY. There is no change, of any lasting value, wrought within the heart of man except by seeing HIM who alone is true.
“But we all, with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image
from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord”
2 CORINTHIANS 3:18
Isaiah, a prophet of the Most High, had been commissioned by God to prophesy for some time in Israel but in chapter six we read…
“In the year that king Uzziah died
I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne,
high and lifted up …
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”
One glimpse of the majesty of the Lord and Isaiah was undone. In the beholding of the Holy One he not only knew his own condition but he was made aware of the general condition of fallen man. A man who has touched that Holy Presence is no longer swayed by either the accolades or the criticisms of those around him for he has seen the One to whom he must give an answer. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the chorus of voices shouting Hosannas the scriptures declare that “Jesus did not entrust himself to them” for He well knew how fleeting were the praises of men. A short time later that same crowd was shouting “crucify Him”.
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast,
many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them,
because he knew all people
and needed no one to bear witness about man,
for he himself knew what was in man”
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast,
when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Took branches of palm trees,
and went forth to meet him, and cried,
Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel
that cometh in the name of the Lord”
God’s answer to all men is truth, living truth, that penetrating ministration of HIS LIFE that cuts asunder the heart of man, piercing us to the very separation of bone and marrow even to the dividing asunder of the thoughts and intents of our hearts. It is at the very core of who we are that our motives must be laid bare in order for mercy and grace to bring forth the fruit of His Spirit within us. Humility is the garment of all who would participate in the ministration of truth to others for it is the grace that frees us from the opinions of men to speak and do as HE leads. Meekness is the power to persevere under the most strenuous of ordeals with the patience and steadiness of Christ Himself. Joy is that inward sense of His approval that strengthens and encourages us with a power that is unconquerable and radiant. Joy is not to be confused with cheerfulness or happiness.
As we contemplate these and other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, and realize the immensity of their power and glory, we are reduced to a singular pursuit of HIM in whom alone we have hope of their realization. They are never to be “our” fruit. They are, and always will be, the Fruit of the Spirit. For them to flourish we must live and abide in HIM.
“Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you,
unless you abide in me”