“Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”
The sheer thought of having His Mind created within us is staggering as well as sobering. God never calls us to heights unattainable. He who measures the talents (minas) to us “according to their ability” knows our frame and our weaknesses. His expectations are not established upon our strengths but are rooted in His provision. The Call of God to us is therefore within the reach of everyone. His grace is not limited by the miry clay of our human composition. It is here where we stand upon the magnitude of an accountability unto Him who has made us able to walk in heavenly places. Grace requires response. Faith is the ability to respond to His Call. The personal Call of God in Christ to each of us requires faith, a faith which is revealed in our obedience to that Call.
Faithless belief will declare its allegiance to Christ, but will fail to respond to the Call of Christ. It is here where we need to forsake the deceptive cloak which we weave for ourselves, a false comfort in something other than truth. Truth pierces our false self – it cuts into the very essence of our being in order to bring us into the wonder of selfless living.
His ministry to us is relentless, His Call is ever filled with the divine enablement to walk in deeper places, to live beyond the veil of human impotency and to reach unto the High Call of God in Christ Jesus. His corrections and His grace bid us to be His hands in this world, to be His Light which reaches into the dimness of humanity to touch the Hem of His Endless Life for themselves. This is not a time to be crowded in by the limitations of fear and isolated living. The “mind of Christ” is ever available to those who by faith hear His Call to Obey the inspiration of His Life.
“No man has the mind of Christ, except him who makes it his business to obey him”
“…the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way”
The purpose of the Way of God is to bring purity and freedom. By design it shatters our self-seeking and self-realization. It is not an easy way. Our concepts and aspirations will be crushed in the wilderness. It is there our presumptions must die in order to prepare us for the Land of Promise. The Land of Promise is where “we live, move and have our being” in Him. It is where resurrection Life arises out of the grave of self. That carnal self ever seeks to have the pre-eminence; it is the antithesis of all that God has purposed in Christ. Unity in Him is the result of a people who have laid aside their carnal selves for the joy of relationship in Him. They understand and feel the cords of Life binding them to one another. Humility is a necessity for those who seek the reality of being “hid with Christ in God”.
The Way will dry up the springs of self. Obedience is the Way into the provisions of Christ. The life of obedience is what gives us access to the “Tree of Life” and the abundance of all Christ is.
“Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city”
The Tree of Life gives its fruit in every season. It is rooted deeply in the River of Life and in fact the River runs through this living Tree.
“…on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month…”
Let us be not discouraged by the Way of Christ. Let us not fall victim to self-pity, murmuring, blaming others, and the bitterness that can so easily contaminate our being. The Way of Christ is sure. His end is glorious and His Wisdom beyond our own. Blessed are we if we continue to “do Truth” in spite of the hardness of the way. The Passover was eaten with “bitter herbs”; a reminder that the bitter way brings us to sweet waters and the “oil of Joy for mourning”.
Faithfulness is revealed in our obedience to Him regardless of our feelings and disillusionment. It is here the mettle of our faith is tried, the reigns of our hearts tested, and the power of His Life is increased within us.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation”
He is worthy of a faith life which continues to do of His good pleasure regardless of the situations in which we find ourselves.
“And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet”
May we be of such a disposition that when He comes to our tree He may find fruit even in the time when by “nature” the season has not yet arrived. Save us oh Lord from a life of fig leaves (the religious garments of Adam) and cause us Lord to bear fruit in every season!
“I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite,
king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.” Deuteronomy 2:24
In spiritual things there exists a substantial difference between His gifts and our possessions. There is a consistent revelation of this truth throughout the Bible. Whether it be Joshua and the Israelites needing to battle to possess the land that God had given them, or the passionate pursuit of Paul to “apprehend that for which he had been apprehended”, the essential truth is unchanged. In the Old Testament there was a physical element to possess His gifts; in the New Testament the truth of possessing His profound spiritual provisions remains the same: that of fighting “the good fight of faith”.
“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses”
1 Timothy 6:12
“Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called”. The exhortation to “take hold” is in the now of life. Paul is beseeching Timothy to continue to fight that he might “lay hold” of this Life of Jesus in an ever-deepening way. Too few comprehend the battle required to experience the Life of Christ to which we have been called. There are depths and wonders for us to take hold of that He might be shown to the world around us.
May we be encouraged afresh to “fight the good fight”, not in the realms of carnal warfare but in the issues of our hearts. By the power of His grace let us continue to battle to subdue every unholy thought and desire to the intent that we will take hold of His Life now
All creation is groaning for this: to see people who are fully His. It requires a full and complete submission to His Holy will and an obedience which springs from the root of His love working within us.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”
His return is predicated upon a people moving in the full Life of the Son; those who through faith have “apprehended” this Life in Christ. However, there is a land to be conquered; a thought life brought into the obedience of Christ and an unruly nature made subservient to Him in all things. The call goes out to all those who are His to overcome as He overcame.
“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Fight the good fight my brothers and sisters that we may “lay hold” of this magnificent Life of Christ. He who has given us all things invites us to possess our possessions IN CHRIST.
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
“Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey; and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.”
“The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.”
Benedict of Nursia
Only a humble heart can obey God. The proud and the stiff necked cannot obey Him. Obedience is the revelation of our growth into a purity of heart.
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, untoobedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied”
1 Peter 1:2
The validity of our election through the power of His sanctifying grace will correspondingly be revealed in our growth “unto obedience”.
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…”
Faithfulness to the present truth we know will always culminate in greater things in God. The Church at Philadelphia, even in their weakness and poverty, were faithful to do the works of God and were given an open door. Doing the will of God inevitably leads us into greater avenues of service unto Him. Those who are faithful in the little things will always receive more.
The stagnation of a faith without works perpetuates its own lethargy and barrenness. Within the true disciple lies an eagerness to do that which is before them without hesitation or delay. We must always bear in our hearts the verdict of God upon a “faith” which is void of works.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?”
The “Open Door” is set before those who are faithful to yield themselves to the promptings of God within and respond accordingly. There are those who feel hemmed in by circumstances when in fact they may have not been faithful to the things at hand. Joseph, bound within Pharaoh’s prison, remained faithful to the gifts which God had given him, and, in the end, he was given great authority!
“For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has”
The path to enlarged places in God is found within our faithfulness to Him in the little things; hidden things, often only known to God. In the end they will bring us to the open door of His grace.
Just a couple of examples are David who, while tending the sheep of his father, overcame the lion and the bear. Rebekah at the well, in her willingness and faithfulness to serve, was brought into the lineage of Christ!! (read Genesis 24:12-27) May we see the importance God places on those who reveal their heart by the work of their hands. He sees and measures out greater faith in proportion to their faithfulness in everyday life.
Let us seek His “open door” through faithfulness in our commonplace lives. Let our determination to honour Him “in all things” be an entrance into the greater things of Him. May we find joy each day in ever looking for ways to glorify Him, even in the secret thoughts of our hearts.
“I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service…”
1 Timothy 1:12
Obedience will open doors that no amount of praying alone can.
“The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.”
May His exhortations permeate our hearts, and may we seek to be faithful to Him in all things.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
The one who was unfaithful lost what he had been given and the eternal consequences were even greater.
“But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Faithfulness determines eternal destinies.
“…they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful”
“We are taught in an especial manner to pray that God would give his Holy Spirit unto us, that through his aid and assistance we may live unto God in that holy obedience which he requires at our hands”
— John Owen
“Partial obedience is not obedience at all; to single out easy things that do not oppose our lusts, which are not against our reputation, therein some will do more than they need; but our obedience must be universal to all God’s commandments, and that because He commands it. Empty relationships are nothing; if we profess ourselves God’s servants and do not honor Him by our obedience, we take but an empty title”
– Richard Sibbes
“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.