“It is Christ who is to be exalted, not our feelings. We will know Him by obedience, not by emotions. Our love will be shown by obedience, not by how good we feel about God at a given moment. “And love means following the commands of God.” “Do you love Me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Feed My lambs.” He was not asking, “How do you feel about Me?” for love is not a feeling. He was asking for action”
– Elisabeth Elliot
“Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed”
“We may regard this inspired prayer as containing within itself the assurance that those who keep close to the Word of God shall never have cause to be ashamed of doing so.
See, the prayer is for soundness of heart. A sound creed is good, a sound judgment concerning it is better, but a sound heart towards the truth is best of all. We must love the truth, feel the truth, and obey the truth, otherwise, we are not truly sound in God’s statutes. Are there many in these evil days who are sound? Oh, that the writer and the reader may be two of this sort!
Many will be ashamed in the last great day when all disputes will be decided. Then they will see the folly of their inventions, and be filled with remorse because of their proud infidelity and willful defiance of the Lord; but he who believed what the Lord taught, and did what the Lord commanded, will stand forth justified in what he did. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun. Men much slandered and abused shall find their shame turned into glory in that day” Charles Spurgeon
Soundness of heart is an authentic heart, a heart free from duplicity and hypocrisy. The inward reality is congruent with the words spoken and the life lived.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart”
“The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Beginning of God’s creation”
Christ is the Beginning and the Head of all creation. The scriptures declare “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”. He is the initiator of all things and it is through the agency of His Life that we are in the process of becoming. Every act of submission, every ministration of His Faith within us, every impulse of the Divine Nature, hastens our own development. There is no growth apart from our redeemed will coming into harmony with His. The closer we walk with Him the more sensitive we become to the flicker of His Life within. His press upon us is the evidence of His Life. True Faith must produce an evidential response in those who are growing into His likeness.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God”
The above scripture is not a teaching or a doctrinal statement. It is the declaration of God describing those who are held in the grip of His Spirit. Being “led” implies that He is inserting Himself into our daily lives whereby we become an extension of His hands and His heart to those around us. Those “led by the Spirit of God” know the Divine imprint of His grace actively at work within the recesses of their hearts. It is a life of joy and adventure which requires a walk of abiding in Him.
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
The Ancient Hebrew pictograph here translated “agreed*“ (see below) means one of “seeing the door”. It speaks of opportunity and an open door. It is more than just a doctrinal agreement, more than mere belief. It means we are moving in Him! As we walk with Him, we can agree to step into the doors of opportunity as we see and feel the impulse of His Spirit. Too few in our day comprehend that the New Covenant is entirely based on relationship, not a teaching or a mental assent to His Word.
The evidence of our relationship with Him is revealed in our seeing “the door” of opportunity and stepping into it. This door can only be entered into by the moving of His Faith, and with Love being the inspiration. The movement without is a result of His movement within. If there is no press from Him, we must tearfully examine the core and the substance of our relationship.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God”
Let His Word strike a powerful chord within us. Let us examine our lives to see whether we be “IN FAITH”. Or do we merely have a belief which births nothing, costs nothing, and therefore brings forth nothing to the honor of His Name?
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…”
2 Corinthians 13:5
“Be putting yourselves to the test whether you are in the Faith. Be putting yourselves to the test for the purpose of approving yourselves, and finding that you meet the specifications, put your approval upon yourselves. Or, do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are those who are disapproved?”
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (Wuest Translation)
“I being in the way, the Lord led me…”
* NOTE: Agreed (1349) ac: Repeat co:? ab: Witness: The pictograph o^ is a picture of the eye, the d^ is a picture of the door. Combined these mean “see the door”. As coming to a tent, a tent of meeting and entering in. A place, time, or event that is repeated again and again. (^ the pictographs are not representable in text)
“Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty”
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Separation from the world is an issue of the heart; it is in itself the revelation of our salvation. We are not sanctified by our confession, we are sanctified by the living truth of Christ working within to sanctify us without.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”
It is in the Word becoming the truth in us, whereby we know what sanctification is. Obedience is the only path to sanctification.
“Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips, and the world in your heart”
“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”