“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” (Psa 84:5-7)
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”
This is the first mention of grace in the scriptures. The grace Noah found produced a life that was radically obedient and pleasing unto the Lord. In the midst of a violent and lawless generation he alone stood true to do the works of God.
He is called in the New Testament a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) and is given to us as an example of what grace produces in the lives of those to whom it is given. His preaching was revealed in the life lived and in the work of his hands.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”
The glory of Grace is we are not saved by good works, but we are saved unto good works; it is by grace His works shine forth! Grace is the provision of God for any life to make His wonder known in the earth.
Grace received will always culminate in our making Him known.
“If grace does not make us differ from other men, it is not the grace which God gives His elect”
“But working together, we also call on you not to receive the grace of God in vain”
2 Corinthians 6:1
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body…”
1 Corinthians 6:20
The renewal and re-genesis of our minds and spirits is a constant need of God’s children. The stains from living in an unholy world, the accumulation of wrongs which remain unforgiven, the disillusionment of unfulfilled hopes and aspirations, can all cloud our seeing of the truth and perfection of Christ. The need for His renewal is essential to eviscerate the weights of bitterness, envy and unbelief which encumber our souls. Cynicism and hardness of heart are the result of seeing the world through the dark lenses of unbelief. God’s answer is always Himself. His work of preserving His own is through the agency of His Spirit revitalizing us through a fresh ministration of His Son.
Without this vital work of God, we would become casualties of our own wrongness. We would spend years in vanity and disillusionment walking in a wilderness of futility. The years would pass, the best of our days consumed in the emptiness of vain imaginations and deceptive reasonings. David knew well these dark valleys and left us glimpses of God’s mercy to keep the steps of His own.
2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency…
In the mire of his own thoughts David descended into unbelief and envy. We can see the digression as his thoughts become more cynical and despairing. He states that his “feet almost slipped” in the abyss of unbelief. His salvation was God’s Presence which lifted him from the dregs of this world into the marvelous realms of the light and glory of God.
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; now I understood their end
Clarity and understanding come from Him. The eyes of our spirit are renewed in the seeing of Him. We are enabled to mount up with wings as eagles in the beholding of His Glory. Let us ever draw near to the only one who can keep our eyes lifted up, our hope alive and our spirits refreshed — the One who is making all things new!
Let Him lift us out of our own dark reasonings into the blessed hope of His appearing. Find fellowship and communion with those who speak truth, love truth and have the fire of the Living Christ within that we may be found faithful in the coming days. Paul spoke highly of those who refreshed the hearts of God’s people, including his own.
“For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, acknowledge those who are like that.”
1 Corinthians 16:18
“And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.”
The Life of Samson is a SIGN to the Downtrodden
Round and round the unseen track trod this prisoner bound in brass. Round and round, his broken soul weighed down with the pain of having failed his God. The once proud and arrogant Samson, with God-given strength, who feared little and did as he pleased, was now reduced to an object of worldly sport and the jeering of his enemies. Round and round the defeated one walked, his hopeless and pitiful existence spent in this daily, endless grind. Ridiculed by his foes, and apparently abandoned by his God, his end seemed near.
Many children of God have lost hope and thus assume that these are their last days with no seeming purpose. Others cling to promises which seem farther away today than they did the day before. The evening shadows fall heavily upon their souls. The light which burned bright in former days gives way to obscurity and growing doubt. Round and round the monotony of the daily path slowly drains their joy and passion for God. Just like Samson lives are beaten down with defeat, broken dreams, and shattered hopes in the midst of failures and circumstances too great to overcome. The way seems barred, the doors shut. Such would be the case – except for GOD!
The once powerful Samson was reduced to slavery and ridicule because of his foolish love of Delilah (representing the world and its ways). He fell under her seduction and gave up the secret of his strength. Bound and fettered by her beguiling ways, his eyes were put out (his spiritual vision) and he became the slave and merchandise of the Harlot. Time passed in worldliness and selfish pursuits until at last the realization begin to dawn upon him as to the dire place to which he had fallen. The careless life he lived, the reckless abandon to his selfish ways and pursuits, brought him to a place of utter bondage and hopelessness.
“But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved”
May God remind us that His promises hold true and His mercies never cease. The enemy, your enemy, does not know the hidden ways of the Lord. The Devil sees not the secret council of the wisdom and the purposes of God. God will surely “renew their strength” and in due time “they will mount up with wings as eagles”. It is time to lift up your eyes which have been blinded by your enemy; a day to lift up the hands which hang down and to once again sing the song of the Lord with joy. It is of the Lord’s mercies to work in our Day; to cause His servants to arise and, as Samson, strike a greater blow in our weakness than we ever did in the days of our strength.
“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…”
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
“They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together”
The unseen world is filled with confrontations between Light and Darkness. Temptations and persecutions assail the righteous as flooding waters; a battle that is waged daily. Many of these battles are far from sight but are fought in the thoughts and imaginations of our inner life. It is here where victories are won and we are afforded greater vistas of the Grace of God.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5
Often our victory in casting down these thoughts will come as we lift Him up. The Holy Spirit has one mandate in this world and that is to bring all things into the obedience of Christ. It is in our thoughts that life is defined, victory known and our confidence in Christ arises. Authority in the inner life will culminate in victory in our daily life.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…”
2 Peter 1:5
The persistence of the temptations of the world and the weakness of the human heart require a diligent and continual drawing of grace from Him. In our victories we find ourselves “hid with Christ in God”. He is to become our dwelling place with the intent that He will be at home in the sanctuary of our hearts.
Purity is the path to seeing Him, Faith is the hand which holds Him, Humility is the grace which draws Him.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death”
And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Eze 2:7-10)
Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. (Eze 3:1-3)
“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I will be upright. I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression”
Within many of the sacred stanzas of the Psalms, are prayers breathed. These prayers arise from difficult situations, treachery, the threat of enemies within and without, deep repentance, and thankfulness unto God for salvation and deliverance.
It is very apparent that Psalm 19 was composed by David in his later years. It is a Psalm that reflects the heart of a man who, in his pursuit of God, has recognized his need for the God of light to continually search and keep him pure and right.
Presumptuous sins are ever the blight of the human condition. They can arise from our position in the world, our accomplishments, our associations with others, our knowledge, and a multitude of other things. David knew well his propensity for such things. As the King of Israel, he had taken advantage of his position to cause the death of Uriah and enable adultery with Bathsheba. He had numbered the people of Israel to inflate his pride as to the extent of his kingdom.
Pride is an insidious stain upon the human race and nowhere is it more hidden and deceitful than in the realms of religion. In this Psalm David reveals the sinister nature of presumption and asks his God to prevent him from being overtaken by its dark and deceptive power. There is knowledge borne of very painful experiences, the outcome of unspeakable sins. It is to that end David cries out to God to preserve him from this evil.
Presumption is the result of spiritual blindness; a knowledge of God without the benefits of seeing God.
We have all witnessed this blinding pride at work in the Church around us; in prayer meetings, in outreach ministries, in building programs, and in associations with great teachers, prophets and leaders. There is pride in the accumulation of knowledge and understanding, and even pride in confessions of spiritual poverty! I know from my own experiences its horror and deception. It can begin with a thought, a good deed, a gracious ministration of His Spirit into the life of another. Instead of being humbled that the God of all glory has chosen to use us as a means of reaching another life, we begin to think of ourselves as special; the concept of “more special” than others is a sure path to Pharisee-ism and spiritual death. How good and faithful is our God to provide us with multiple opportunities to see, turn and repent from this web of deceit.
The hope and cure for this pervading malaise is to spend time in His Holy presence, as David did, in continual prayer that God watch over the affairs of our hearts. In touching Him we are instantly aware of His unspeakable glory. In this wonder pride is eviscerated by the fire of His presence. Grace and mercy are only fully appreciated in the atmosphere of His greatness. The ability to remain free of this presumption is found in our total reliance upon His mercy to keep us and our acknowledgement of our vulnerability. In the measure to which we know ourselves is a corresponding openness to receive admonition from Him and others. Presumption left unchecked becomes pride which leads to a life of callousness and spiritual blindness.
“But the person who does wrong in the pride of his heart, if he is one of you or of another nation by birth, is acting without respect for the Lord, and will be cut off from his people. Because he had no respect for the word of the Lord…”
Numbers 15:30-31 (BBE)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts…”
“It is said that Gainsborough, the artist, longed also to be a musician. He bought musical instruments of many kinds and tried to play them. He once heard a great violinist bringing ravishing music from his instrument. Gainsborough was charmed and thrown into transports of admiration. He bought the violin on which the master played so marvelously. He thought that if he had the wonderful instrument that he could play too. But he soon learned that the music was not in the violin, but was in the master who played it“. Quote from Mrs. Charles Cowman
So it is with us; we are but poor instruments. Only as we surrender ourselves to the master do we become effective in touching the life of others. In His hands we can bring His light to a lost world and a living hope to those who sit in darkness. In His hands the five loaves and two fishes fed the multitude, a little oil delivered a poor widow’s two sons from slavery and the song of the Lord at midnight shook a prison and set the captives free. May we discover this powerful truth; it is not who we are, it is who we are in the Master’s hands.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus“
“God heals the sicknesses and the griefs by making the sicknesses and the griefs his suffering and his grief. In the image of the crucified God the sick and dying can see themselves, because in them the crucified God recognizes himself”
– Jürgen Moltmann
“Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice”
Peter’s love and commitment was based on emotion and the utter ignorance of his need for brokenness and grace. In his mind his resolve to follow Jesus to whatever end was unquestionable. How utterly confused he must have been by the certainty of Jesus’ statement regarding Peter’s failure to come in the hours ahead.
To be told by his beloved Master of his failure, even down to the time a certain rooster would crow at a particular place, must have been utterly unnerving. How could He know of this sequence of events? How could He be so precise in His Word?
I can only imagine that Peter must have gone to sleep that night mulling over this warning. How he must have resolved in his heart to not fail his Lord! Tears and self-doubt would have dominated his thoughts as he contemplated what the next day might hold. His Master’s words had been uttered with no sense of anger or resentment in His voice, but just a knowing of who Peter really was. In spite of all his soul-searching the night before, the next day, in the heat of the moment, he denied his Lord and wept bitterly.
“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept”
God, in dealing with His own, prepares everything for the Master’s use; the mundane as well as the great. All tools in His hands are to bring His Own to the end of themselves and the beginning of God. As the master builder must build the foundation upon the rock beneath, so God brings us to the Rock of Christ. Only here can the real building start and our true life in God proceed. Authenticity is the only rock upon which He will build. Pretense and hypocrisy, though they may cause others to think well of us for a time, will leave the soul in poverty and lead to spiritual death. Christ knows all, sees all and will judge all. The light we refuse on this side of heaven will surely be faced in the Courts of His Justice in that Day. It is here and now that we must free ourselves from the need to please men and bring ourselves to the piercing light of Christ. Then we may stand in that Day as those who have passed from judgement unto the right-being (righteousness) that can be found in Christ alone. He alone can make us right; He gave His Life to make it so.
“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
As our love is made perfect in Him, we will have the grace and boldness to be “as He is” in this world and in the Day of Judgment.