Quote for Today
“A god who is all love, all grace, all mercy, no sovereignty, no justice, no holiness, and no wrath is an idol.”
– RC Sproul
“A god who is all love, all grace, all mercy, no sovereignty, no justice, no holiness, and no wrath is an idol.”
– RC Sproul
“I want the presence of God Himself,
or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion”
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens,
his spirit was stirred in him,
when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry”
The religious know not of this stirring. The ways and temper of religion remains superficial and shallow. Religion is a state of holding His words without being held of His Spirit. Wherever God is, in whomever He dwells, the fire burns with the intensity of all who God is. Salvation is revealed in His hold on us not our hold on Him. The spirit of Paul was stirred because God ruled in Paul’s heart; the stirring was the evidence of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Within the heart of His own the stirrings of God are not the result of a religious fervor to accomplish man-centered purposes; rather they are rooted and grounded in God’s heart and compassion. They who know not God, know not of His stirrings and His intensity; because appearance and reputation are the governing factors of conduct. It is only by abiding in Him where our hearts are stirred with His stirrings.
To hold to His words without His Life beating and ruling within produces an artificial temperament with an appearance of being godly (like God) but void of the power, the life and the wonder of Christ.
“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, “The zeal of thine house hath consumed me” John 2:13-17
The religious are not bothered by the tepid condition of the things of God. They are not concerned with the shallowness of the business of religion nor the inherent lack of the heartbeat of God in their “works”. It is as we abide in the life of all that He IS where we see and feel His stirrings within our own heart.
The passion and fire of God is reprehensible to the religious and the sedated followers of the reputable and pragmatic doctrines of men. To those who are held in Him His fire is the very lamp of His leading and expression.
The Fire of God will only be found in hearts where an altar burns with fresh and daily offerings of ourselves unto Him.
“It is an empty altar which receives no fire”
Fresh fire falls upon those who bring fresh offerings unto Him. Love is the fire, the light and the heat of God’s Life in His Own.
Passion and purity,
Love and Fire,
Reveal the heart
Filled with His desire.
“How are the things of Esau searched out!
how are his hidden things sought up!”
(Read the whole chapter)
Esau was a religious man yet a profane man. He sold his birthright for a mess of pottage in a moment of perceived need. He was a man who relied greatly on his own strength. He was an earthly man; he walked in the things of this world and loved the things of this world. Esau was a picture of a man who looks good and speaks with the language of the redeemed but walks in the ways of the world.
“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passes away, and the lust thereof:
but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.”
1 John 2:15-17
Esau was a self-righteousness man; he looked upon the calamity of others with callousness and pride. He distanced himself from the afflictions of his brother. In his pride he said, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” When Jacob was being carried away into captivity Esau was unmoved.
“For thy violence against thy brother Jacob
shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.”
God considered Esau’s indifference to Jacob’s trouble an act of violence and His recompense was severe. We see throughout the history of God’s people that indifference and complacency brought great injury and judgement to His House. It was the Levite and the Priest who passed by the beaten man; it was the Pharisee who looked at the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet with contempt; it was the Pharisee who prayed thanking God that “he was not like other men”.
The indifference of our hearts to the needs of others who have fallen, been beaten and are suffering will result in us missing the blessings of our God. We reveal our hearts by what we do.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”
For the believer the way to receive is to give. The way to live a life filled with His Blessing is to give of what we have to those around us. The loaves and fishes from a child can feed the multitudes. A word of hope to one that is struggling or an act of kindness to a stranger should be the daily outflow of a life lived in Him.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did,
the which,if they should be written every one,
I suppose that even the world itself
could not contain the books that should be written.
Jesus’ life here on earth was active; He was constantly about His Father’s business. His life was neither passive nor uneventful. Neither should our life be one of faithless inactivity. Let us provoke one another unto love and good works.
“Faith, like light, should always be simple and unbending;
while love, like warmth, should beam forth
on every side and bend to every necessity of our brethren.”
Martin Luther (1483–1546)
“fervent in spirit”
In this day of apathy and lukewarm expressions of faith we need this simple statement of the Holy Spirit to remind us of our calling. We are surrounded and bombarded by the world, the lust of the flesh, the ease of life and the deception of the status quo. We watch in horror how His people treat one another; divided by secular organizations (all in His Name) and fully capable of all manner of evil to one another with no sense of accountability to Him. This dreadful state is the result of a people who are not “beholding the Head” or walking in His Life. Fervency of spirit is the result of His Spirit burning within our lives.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,
let us have grace, whereby we may serve God
acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire”
There are many who preach grace from the pulpit but it is a grace that ministers a human comfort, a consoling message to our sin, worldliness and cold hearts. This “grace” brings an apathy to people who are no longer aware of the Day which is upon us. It is a false grace, the Lie of the very Devil who would lure God’s people into a deadly slumber of spirit which will result in the judgment of a Holy God.
The true ministration of Grace brings forth lives who are enabled to serve God acceptably with “reverence and godly fear”. The Church of Jesus Christ is in need of burning expressions of His Light and His Glory to re-ignite the flame of God within the sanctuary of our hearts. If our God is a consuming fire what should be the temperature of the hearts of those who claim He is alive in them? We cannot sit Sunday after Sunday hearing sermons (which may be good) without the intensity of something rising up within us to be empowered and inspired as a flaming torch for Him! How can this slumber continue without a sense of life passing us by; without the tasting and seeing of His wonder being expressed from our own hearts?
Jesus commenting on John the Baptist declared:
“He was a burning and a shining light…”
Should not this be the normal testimony of Jesus concerning each of us?
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”
Do we believe this? The revelation of our belief is in the outflow of lives held by the fervency of His Spirit. How can we be comfortable with a life which has no resemblance to this? The complacency of spirit, the dead thing men call life in our day, the standards of the life of a Christian are so low that even the world takes note of our impotency.
“For the name of God
is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…”
Read the context of this scripture and feel the passion and heart of God beating in Paul’s heart. Let us hear the admonition of His voice in our Day. Let us turn from our wicked, self-deceiving, and worldly ways and offer ourselves afresh unto Him who can turn our cold and dead hearts into flaming expressions of living sacrifices.
It is the empty altar which receives no fire.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God”
The evidence of His mercy received is a free-will offering unto Him. The greater the reception of mercy the greater is the depth of our offering.
“Our God is a Consuming Fire”
“See, I have this day set thee
over the nations and over the kingdoms,
to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy,
and to throw down, to build, and to plant”
The people of God become weary with the words of His prophets. They perceive the negativity and the sharp words as antagonistic. The desire for only encouraging and comfortable words is human nature. The thinking is that the world, the trials, the heartache and troubles of this life are more than enough for us to bear. This would be fine if God had no other purpose in His house than to bless us and comfort us in our situations. But God has a purpose and He sent His Son to bring about the thing He has purposed. God is intent upon His end and He sends His word to bring it to pass. God is a wise builder He is not going to patch up an old thing (see the parable of the wine skin). He must make everything new. It is the New Wine-skin which receives the new wine. He is not going to pour out Himself (the New Wine) into the Old. While men cling to their sins, former ways and institutions God withholds Himself; and He, as a loving Father suffers while He withholds. Joseph had to keep himself hidden from his brothers until there was a change of heart. At one point he had to leave the room as the desire to embrace them had to be restrained because of the hardness of their hearts.
The words of true prophets are not harsh for the sake of being harsh; they speak words necessary for God to finish His work. God cannot build until He tears down. He cannot plant until He roots up the evil and self-seeking ways of men. He cannot and will not sully His ways with the methods of men; the overlooking of sin to populate their churches and accomplish their agendas. He must tear down the lofty pursuits of those who seek the preeminence in His house.
God’s end is to prosper, bless and reveal Himself to His own. He never wavers in His faithfulness to us. It is we who need to change. It is we who need to give heed to His word and His purposes in this day. God is Holy and as such He requires us to be holy, pure and set apart as purchased possessions. It is the joy of the Lord we pursue not our own. His joy becomes our strength to do the things which please Him.
“Therefore, have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me” Hosea 6:5
The hard words and God’s judgements were as “light” going forth. righteousness is the result of light. It is a light which proceeds from God to give light unto His people concerning their ways and their condition. He desires mercy, not religious sacrifices. He desires that His people know Him rather than all the programs, religious prayer meetings and traditions of men. His people become content with tepid offerings of lukewarm hearts. They become satisfied with elaborate events and magnificent buildings even though Jesus said there would not be left one stone upon another when He is finished! The true building of God is made up of living stones built together as a holy habitation wherein He alone has the preeminence; One Lord, One faith and One body. It is to this end His prophets speak, weep and anguish over the blindness and stubbornness of the day.
“We are not diplomats but prophets,
and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum”
“Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
The depth of our walk in the Spirit of God is revealed in the freedom we have from fulfilling the lusts and desires of the flesh. This scripture is not a teaching it is really a simple statement of truth. The natural man hates the truth for the truth leaves no room for compromise. The natural man, that carnal self with all of its deception and lies, cannot be saved. Its nature is corrupt to the core and God’s answer is not to be found in anything but crucifixion.
“For the mind of the flesh is death,
but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;
because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God;
for it is not subject to the law of God,
for neither can it be”
When Jesus spoke of an individual becoming a disciple He conditioned it with an “if” which speaks of a voluntary choice made by His own. It is not an arbitrary statement; it is the essential and indispensable requirement to come to the place of thinking rightly towards God. Salvation is not a teaching or a formula whereby someone says the right things; it is the very transformation of an individual’s thinking. Without this ongoing process men and women are mere adherents to a teaching rather than living branches partaking of His Life.
“And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God”
Why does the mind need to be renewed by the process of His transforming life within our hearts? To the end we may “prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God”! Those who bypass this process will go through life never fully being able to know God’s will for their lives. The cross is the essential instrument in this work of transformation. Those who circumvent the way of discipleship have no ability to discern between good and evil. They may be able to understand things on a doctrinal level but when it comes to the deceptive works of spiritual darkness they will be ill equipped to know that which is of God from that which is borne of the flesh and the dark work of fallen spirits.
God has not left us without the knowledge of the depth and surety of our walk in Him.
“Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
Paul goes on in this same chapter to explain unto the Church at Galatia what the works of the flesh look like:
“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed,
which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies,
angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders,
drunkennesses, wild parties, and things like these;
of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before,
that the ones practicing such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God”
Do we have jealously? Envy? Uncleanness? Divisions? Lust? These are the works of the flesh. If we are walking in the Spirit of God we are freed from such things. The workings of the cross and the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus are making us free. Let us not deceive ourselves with the horror of the modern day “gospel” for His word tells us if we do these things we will “not inherit the Kingdom of God”. Let us not assume that because we know something we possess it, or because we started out well we are no longer under obligation to carry the cross and remain lifelong disciples of our Lord and Saviour. It is to this end we live to follow Him alone who can make us free from the plague of the self-life. It is in the crucifixion of self that we are made free. We must realize that truth is not a teaching or a scripture on the page of a book; truth is His Life living and ruling in me.
“And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free”
What is the measure of truth at work within an individual? It is the degree to which we are made free to walk and live in His Spirit. The journey into truth begins with the revelation of our desperate need for Him. Truth reveals man’s inherent need for change and it is in the discovery of this that men and women turn their hearts to the One alone who is able to do this. Those who cling to teachings and doctrines will perish in the powerlessness of religion. Truth is a person and His Name is Jesus. In Him we are made free, in Him we become new creations of His Glory and Majesty and in Him we enter into the Kingdom of God.
“Little children, let no man deceive you:
he that doeth righteousness is righteous,
even as He is righteous”
1 John 3:7
“Thy Rod…comforts* me”
Freedom, Peace and Confidence are not possible without authenticity. Authenticity is the result of truth. Truth by its very nature must reveal and make manifest that which is false and superficial. Men may have knowledge and information concerning God without ever touching the TRUTH of God; for it is the Truth that reveals all untruths within me and the world around me. I can have great understanding of the scriptures and yet be totally blind to the true condition of my heart. This is deception of the highest order. It is called “religion” and never are we more susceptible to deception than within the realms of “religious truth”. Instead of the scriptures penetrating our hearts with the Holy gaze of His Presence we use them to “support” our own agendas, weaknesses and carnality; as a cloak to hide ourselves from the very truth that was meant to deliver us. It is to the honest of heart that the Word of God works to uncover and free from all that would hinder us in our growth and desire to SEE HIM. Purity of heart is the pre-requisite of seeing Him!
“For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”
Authenticity (TRUE BEING) is not the result of a man being true to himself rather it is the fruit of a life that (by God’s Grace) has become TRUE IN GOD. It is in the seeing of HIM that I know myself (see Isaiah 6, Revelation 1:12 – 17). HE is the TRUTH and it is in the seeing of HIM alone are we changed from the corrupted Adam into HIS LIKENESS!
“But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
II CORINTHIANS 3:18
The ability to understand and see truth is an issue of the heart not of the intellect. Therefore not only are we unable to see truth by our own efforts, we by nature hate truth because truth is that which exposes the ” untrueness” of all that we are (see John 16:18). When Jesus said “I AM The Way, The Truth…” He revolutionized the definition of truth. The religious Pharisees considered truth in terms of having knowledge of the scriptures and because of that they COULD NOT see HIM who is the truth standing before them, of which Jesus said…
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life;
and these are they which testify of Me”
My knowing of HIM (who is TRUTH) is directly related to the degree that I truly know and see myself in the light of HIM.
“…but then shall I know even as also I am known”
It is because of these things that the Rod of our Great Shepherd is so important in the development of our life with HIM. There are times where I have missed God. I have misinterpreted HIS will and purpose for me and it was HIS mercy that prevented me from walking in the error of my own wrongness. David declares in Psalm 119 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” and again “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” and yet again “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me”! Our God is Faithful, Merciful and True and how vital it is that we acknowledge our need for His correction, rebuke, reproof and discipline in our lives. For all HIS dealings with us is to the end that “we may be partakers of HIS Holiness”!
Men who are only interested in being right will never be able to receive correction or instruction. In reality they do not have a LOVE FOR TRUTH but in fact (as of old) they have a desire for knowledge and understanding that can be used to support their agendas and their way of living. Well has the scriptures declared that there is a people who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”.
It is in our journey into the discovery of HIM that we learn in truth who we really are. This is a journey filled with much of His correction and discipline and it is as we receive these expressions of His love that we are made soft and pliable in His hands. It is here that we grow in mercy and brokenness before Him and tremble at His word. These are the fruits produced by His Rod in our lives and the essential quality of heart that is greatly desired by our Heavenly Father!
“…but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word”
“When a man’s heart is right with God
the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him.
Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect.
It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart”
* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here