“Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act”
– Richard Baxter
“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.
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good*”
Spiritually we are what we eat. The richness of the Word of God is revealed here as producing within the lives of His own discernment and right choices. How people walk reveals the depth and the import of their partaking of the things of God. In our day of lukewarm attitudes towards sin and conformity to the world it becomes clear that a religious gospel is not capable of producing a separated people. By and large the church is more concerned with the numbers in the pews rather than the righteousness of the people of God. The Word has been robbed of its power and purpose. Smooth things are spoken. Oratory has replaced the anointing. Programs and written resources have taken the place of the individual’s responsibility to seek God and His Will for themselves. Knowledge about God replaces the knowledge OF God. We have become as comfortable as Samson in Delilah’s lap. We have fallen asleep and know not the hour and the day that is about to break upon us. In our slumber we characterize those who cry out to the current condition of things as “legalistic” and overly religious. We have “discovered” new methods of evangelizing where we seek to appeal to the masses with a Jesus that can tweak human nature but still allow them to enjoy the world. This gospel is presented as a band aid rather than a cure; a new paint job rather than a new creation.
Unto those who feast upon the butter and honey of the word of God there is a growing ability to refuse evil and choose good. What a precious gift this is! Discernment is critical to our growth and maturity in God. Without discernment there is no ability to partake of the “strong meat of the Word”.
“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”
Those who refuse the “butter and honey” of the Word cannot eat of the strong meat that produces men and women separated unto God. We read of Moses though raised in the very house of Pharaoh and given the opportunity of living a life of luxury…
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward”
This empowerment to esteem the reproach of Christ as “greater riches” only comes by the eating of the Word through obedience and having our senses exercised to see things as they really are.
“The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side”
(The last words of GK Chesterton)
*NOTE: The prophetic word spoken here of the Son communicates to us His manner of life and His Beauty. All that is true in Him is to be true of those who are in Him.
“…because as he IS, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
Paul though bound in prison by order of the Roman government never saw Himself as such. His life and all that pertained to it had been fully given to God and His purposes therefore the circumstances were seen as attendant to God’s will.
Absolute surrender is the means to Godly Contentment
It is the surrendered life which is the victorious life. Paul could have called on lawyers and had petitions signed on his behalf to extricate himself from his situation; but it was his surrender to God that freed him from the bitterness of the moment. This victory in Christ can only be realized in the validity of our transaction with God. The rest of God comes with the surrender to God.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”
2 Timothy 1:12
God’s keeping power comes from the persuasion that we know in Whom we have placed our trust. It enables His Own to see that the crucible is the means to the crown.
“…he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well”
This verse immediately follows Isaac receiving a promise and a visitation from the LORD. The PROMISE was no longer just Abraham’s it was now Isaac’s. The promise was given because of Abraham’s life of faith and obedience but there must come a time where the promise of God becomes our own. HIS promise not only becomes Isaac’s own but it produces a life of response within him. In the reception of the promise Isaac builds an Altar, calls on his God, pitches his tent (dwelling/abiding) and digs a well.
In the New Testament the altar speaks of many things but for the sake of brevity we will sum up the altar in the life of the individual believer as the place of true worship. This worship is to become a way of life for the true child of God. The Altar speaks of much more than a short time of singing one day a week; it is the place where we live and grow in our relationship in HIM, where we begin to realize that we are to offer ourselves unto HIM (Rom. 12:1) as a living sacrifice, where we offer the praises of our hearts, where we bow down under the weight of a Glory that softens our hearts and allows us to touch the very Holiness of HIS PRESENCE and the wonder of HIS BEING. It is here that we commune with HIM in the private sphere of our lives hidden away from the seeing of men. Here we offer prayers and the secrets of our heart in the most intimate of transactions with a Holy God. It is here that we learn of Him, we touch HIM, and HE speaks to us of things that words fail to convey. In this seeing of HIM we discover the truth of whom we are and the staggering contrast between who HE is and what we are. We begin to understand that even angelic perfection, though sinless and pure, cannot look upon HIM in HIS undimmed Glory in the heavens.
The Altar is the only place where we can touch such places of Glory. Here we are CHANGED into the Glory that we see from Glory to Glory; “EVEN AS BY the SPIRIT OF THE LORD”. As the Son walked this earth HE would spend hours alone with HIS FATHER in that perfect HOLY UNION that HE had from all eternity. The New Covenant provides ACCESS for us into the Holiest of ALL because of our lives being “HID with Christ in God”. It is by virtue of such a living reality that we can grow into the place of living and abiding at the very ALTAR of God. It becomes our spiritual habitat as we learn to abide in HIM.
The Altar is not only a place of sacrifice, communion and worship it is also the place of PROVISION; a PLACE where we eat and partake of HIM. It is the place of the “hidden manna” that comes to us by the seeing of HIM and the eating of HIM in the secret place. We read in Hebrews…
“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle”
“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?”
I CORINTHIANS 9:13
Suffice it to say that the way of the ALTAR is the way of life. In the life of Isaac the first act of his response to GOD was the building of the altar. In the New Testament all spiritual realities are “made without hands” and as such we build our altar by simply spending time with HIM in the secret places of our hearts until it becomes our spiritual habitat. The Altar preceded the pitching of Isaac’s tent for it is in the “building” of the one that the life of “abiding” is cultivated.
The scriptures implore us to continue in prayer not as some religious duty but as the means by which we remain in His Spirit. This is how we maintain the wonder of His Peace and His Goodness in our lives; not necessarily the type of prayer that is always asking for things, but the prayer whereby we live and commune with Him. It is in this place of “continual” prayer we begin to discover the way of abiding and living in Him. This place of abiding is to become a habitual attitude of our hearts for it is the secret place of the Most High. It is to be to us a continual refuge, a sanctuary and a hiding place from the lust, pride and temptation of this world.
To continue in prayer is much more than a duty; it is the WAY of Life. It is the place where His springs flow in difficult places, where we are constantly built up to withstand the assaults that come without warning. It keeps us prepared and looking for the moving of His hand in our life. In this place of continual prayer we become sensitive to the needs of those around us. We become cognizant of His will and it keeps us walking in the wisdom of God. His presence is the only safe-guard in our daily life.
“Prayer is surrender –
surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat
and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore?
Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.”
Eli E. Stanley Jones
Prayer is the means by which my heart is stilled; it is the fruit of being in His Spirit. It is in touching Him that we are subdued and held within the PEACE of Him that passes understanding.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee…”