“Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks toward the future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer acquires. So, what prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant trust”
– E.M. Bounds
“For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”
Darkness comes to all who walk in the light. “And the evening and the morning were the first day”. The days of God are all “evening and morning” until we reach the last Day in which there will be no darkness for eternity. Note that the Days of God begin with the evening; the darkness is only to bring us to a greater light. The ways of God are always progressive.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”
The dark seasons of life are given to us for our good and our development. Adversity and resistance are designed to make us strong, unmovable and steadfast in spirit. There are hidden treasures and supplies within the dark places of our lives; resources to be found in the living Christ as we overcome. In adversity we are instructed to grow in the grace and beauty of our Lord. Let us not despise His ways but wait patiently and expectantly for those treasures that He will give!
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord…”
Just as Samson found honey within the carcass of the lion that had attacked him His people find the table of His provision in the presence of their enemies. Caleb declared that the giants of the promised land would be bread for them; so are the trials and situations in which we find ourselves. It is here that the fruit of His Spirit grows and ripens to maturity.
The fruits of the Spirit are all interconnected. The patience (endurance) of the Spirit is the fruit of a living Hope; the Joy of the Spirit comes from the power of a Faith to believe in the midst of trials; the Peace of God comes from the power of a love which sends away all fear. These are the treasures of darkness which are found by those who walk and live in Him. Let us be assured that the darkness cannot overcome those who cling to the light of His Life within.
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”
“And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled* in complacency, who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil.”
In this time of silence preceding the conclusion of all that God began in Christ, there is a searching and a measuring of men’s hearts where eternal destinies are being determined. It is a subtle hour and a most critical time as the lamps of some begin to grow dim as the Bridegroom tarries. The Hebrew word used here for settled*(see below) means to become thick, slow and curdled. It speaks of people who start out well but who, as time passes, become set in their ways and are no longer flexible. They are no longer able to flow in the purposes of their God. Their waiting has turned into stagnation; the brightness of their hope has become dim. The vision has turned from a quest and a pursuit into a doctrinal concept that no longer energizes their hearts and minds. This is a slow and certain death; it is the enemy of us all! Slowly the obscurity falls like a veil over the heart and the whispers of the enemy speak with great cunning and craftiness, “what difference does it make, nothing seems to make a difference, I will just “settle” here and live comfortably…” In other words, “The Lord will not do good, nor evil” I will just pass the time here as other men. If calamity comes I will “then” be ok..
It is in this time throughout the history of God’s dealings with men that there is a marking and a sealing; a determining and a measuring of the hearts of His people. In the silence there are great things at work as God prepares for the unveiling of all that He has purposed. May we consider a couple of examples….
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city,
through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing,
Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare,
neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids,
and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon
whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary…”
EZEKIEL 9:4 – 6
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice
to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”
REVELATION 7:2 – 3
It is a Day for seeking out those who “cry and sigh” over the state of His House; to dig deep and hide ourselves within the secret place of the Most High. It is a Day to speak, encourage and admonish the people of God to fight off the slumber of this hour, to pray and build up our lives on “our most Holy Faith”. It is a Day to seek out that fellowship that will challenge and provoke us unto the ardent pursuit of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a Day to know in the reality of our hearts the setting aside of all that this world can offer to purchase that Pearl of great price. This is a costly thing, more than just a casual walk, more than just a religious concept; it is the Battle for Life…HIS LIFE.
“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES…”
Can we not hear the Word to us, “TODAY”? May the Lord press upon our hearts that we are brothers and sisters of one great family, and BECAUSE of that we speak, we cry out and we plead with one another that we may assemble ourselves together in fear of the Lord and in the awareness of the hour in which we live!
*Note: קָפָא qāpāʼ: A verb meaning to curdle, to congeal; to become settled, stagnant. It refers to something standing still or slowing down its movement, becoming thick (Ex. 15:8). It is used figuratively of a person in great suffering being curdled, tossed about like hardening cream (Job 10:10). It depicts a dead or stagnant spirit in a person (Zeph. 1:12). It means, used with reference to the heavenly bodies, to shrink, to lose brightness (Zech. 14:6). (S. Zodhiates)
“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
Trust is the foundation of obedience, the essential basis of our relationship with Him. Relationship with God grows in proportion to our trust. Like all of the attributes of His grace it is a quality developed over time.
We can only respond to the “go” of God according to the depth of trust we have in Him. It is our obedience to Him that reveals the true quality of our trust. As we obey in the little things our trust in Him grows for the greater things. A lack of trust produces narrow thinking, stunted perspectives and lives with little effect upon the world around them. The growth of trust produces a life that will “trust Him at ALL times” and in all circumstances.
“David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine”
1 Samuel 17:37
What do we see in the obstacles that stand before us? Giants or opportunities?
“Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for timely help”
Hebrews 4:16 (LITV)
The Kingdom we seek is unlike any other for its throne, though majestic, imperial and Holy, is called the throne of Grace. It is here that weary pilgrims approach and receive mercy to finish the race that is set before each of us. It is here we can find grace to rise up against all the things which would wear us out, tear us down, and seek to destroy our confidence in the One who has promised to keep us in His care.
Failure, weakness and discouragement are only a few of the things every child of God will face many times in their pursuit of His Kingdom and Righteousness. It is in these times we are given the opportunity to draw near to the One in whom there is strength, mercy and grace. There we are made partakers of these precious ministrations of Him and have opportunities to become more like Him. He gives grace to us that we may in turn become more gracious to others. In receiving His mercy, we are to become more merciful to others. As we become strengthened we are able to minister strength into the lives of those around us.
The depth and substance of our walk with God is revealed in the ability to strengthen and encourage others. Wisdom is the ability to minister truth into another’s life. It is a divine enablement to touch the heart of another by being sensitive to the whispers of God’s Holy Spirit. Only He who knows the human heart knows the intricacies of its workings, the hidden circumstances and the inner cry. It is incumbent upon us to walk carefully in such circumstances. As we draw near to Him for our own situations we learn to draw near to Him on behalf of others. True priests discover that the real call in life is to come into such Love that the things of others become more important than our own.
It is a learned way of life; one that involves the discovery of our own failures and weaknesses whereby we are enabled by grace to see and touch the same in another’s life. This throne of Grace becomes something much more than a personal truth; it becomes the very means by which we bring others into the sphere and wonder of its power.
True ministry, heartfelt and powerful, will only flow from those who know that the Throne of God is to be the revelation of a Grace which imparts His strength and enablement into the lives of those around us. The Grace of God is never a sentiment. It is His power to cause men and women to rise up and overcome the things which stand in their way. Grace will never allow a life to be comfortable in defeat or compromise. Because of this truth, when we go to His Throne of Grace, we will not find sympathy but help and strength in our time of need.
They who have truly come to such a throne cannot be barren in the ministration of His power to others to overcome the circumstances of life. All of God’s divine attributes can only be had in the sharing of them. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”: It is in forgiving others that we receive forgiveness, and so it is with Grace…
“And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace”
We receive grace for the grace we walk in. To those who are faithful more will be given. Those who seek their own will never excel at knowing God. Those who desire to appear spiritual will know barrenness and the emptiness within the recesses of their hearts. Those who give shall receive. Those who pray and agonize for others will find the added blessing of grace welling up as a perpetual spring within their hearts. How good and wise our God is; how gracious are His dealings and His ways. In seeking the good of others we find our own needs fulfilled. Those who desire preeminence will find the East Wind blowing upon all they seek to do for the way of selfishness leads to poverty and bitterness.
“Israel is an empty vine, he brings forth fruit unto himself”
The whole purpose of God in Christ is to bring forth a people who have discovered the law of His Life “Give and it shall be given unto you”; for it is the outward revelation of the inward law of Christ “Love one another as I have loved you”. He has loved us consistently and faithfully despite our wandering and the error of our ways. The surest test of our relationship with Him is revealed by our love for one another. They who have discovered the Throne of Grace are known by the love expressed in and through their lives.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death”
1 John 3:14
“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded…”
2 Timothy 1:12
Our relationship with God is not based upon the quality of our faith rather our faith is the result of our relationship with Him. Faith is the evidence in the life of one who is abiding in Him. It is the effect in a life caused by our learning of Him. This persuasion to stand in the midst of great trial, the ability to endure the seeming contradictions of this life, and to remain steadfast in the Word of God, is grounded in our knowing of Him. Faith is not a blind religious belief in a teaching or concept; faith is a “substance” which is rooted in the very character of God Himself. It is the fruit of a heart which has, in a corresponding measure, come to know HIM. Faith lays hold of that which it “sees” God doing and joins itself to Him. For this reason faith can never be without works; God is always working, always moving and always invading the lives of His Own.
Peter sees Jesus walking on the water and feels the draw and the impulse to walk with the Son. A living faith is one in which the heart (because of Love) ever seeks to identify with the object of that Love. Faith is simply the expression of Peter stepping out of the boat; it does not need nor seek the opinions of others in the boat for it sees Christ. The ability to rise up and step into the stormy sea is trust. Trust is the means by which faith is exercised. It is the terra firma upon which a man walks. Men who do not know God cannot trust Him. They may hold a religious creed that says right things, they may mentally ascribe to His Word, but it is in the actual doing that true faith is revealed.
“And they that know thy name
will put their trust in thee”
Relationship with God is the purpose of the New Testament. He called the disciples that “they might be with Him”. Their time spent with Him produced men who turned the world upside down.
“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”
It is our relationship with Him that determines the cause and the effect of our lives in the world around us.
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”
2 Corinthians 5:11
Those who know the terror of the Lord persuade men. The cause of someone seeking to persuade men of their accountability unto God comes from “knowing”. Men who know not, do not.
“Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord…”
The cause in a person’s life to do good and bless others is effected by the knowing of God. Those who know not God live unto themselves. The reality of our relationship with Him is revealed and shouted out to the world everyday by the effect produced within our lives. This evidential expression is called “Faith”.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…”
FAITH BEING THE FRUIT (or effect)
Of the Spirit ruling in our lives
The first step of all obedience is not taken in strength, it is initiated by our love and trust in Him. The strength received comes AS we walk, the trust to obey comes as our history with Him grows through the medium of obedience. They that obey their God are strong in their God. A faith that alters not our walk is like seeds that are never sown, deeds never done and love never expressed. Potential accomplishes nothing.
Faith for the future is sown in the deeds of today (Samuel 17:37).
“The way to be strong is to act on the credit of strength being given.
Strength is received in the act of obeying. When the path of duty is clear,
it is want of faith to continue asking for strength, and not to act upon it.”
“To the chief musician. For the sons of Korah; A song. For the Virgins*. God is our refuge and our strength…”
Alamoth is a Hebrew Word that literally means virgins. Translated “virgin”* in Isaiah 7:14, it is also alluded to in the first chapter (verse 23) of Matthew’s gospel and 1Corithinians 11:2-3. This is a psalm referring to those who have set their hearts and affections aside for their future Husband. They resist the draw and enticement of this world. They have found grace to submit themselves to the discipline and breaking necessary to know that singleness of heart and purpose. People who give all, are given all; all of the resources and care of the great God of Jacob. This giving and yielding is the result of the mercy of God working in the hearts of HIS own.
“…by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…”
This is a psalm of protection and refuge. It is a psalm of defense, help and strong confidence. It is a psalm upon which King Hezekiah drew strength and encouragement during a time of overwhelming circumstances when destruction and death seemed certain.
“He is a buckler to all those that put their trust in Him”
Faith and trust are the means by which all the resources of heaven are made available to the people of God. It is by these that we know that God is not only our “refuge and strength” on a doctrinal level but we know the reality of Him as our “present help in trouble”. The ability for us to see Him as our only source of refuge, strength and present help comes because we have learned through His gracious dealings that we do not trust in our own resources, the “strategies” nor the help of this world. We are enlarged in our God by the reducing of our trust in other things. Child-like trust in our God will cause the reality of this psalm to wrap us up in a hope and faith that will hold us secure in the DAY that is upon us.
“A dear friend of mine, who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. A.C. Dixon
*NOTE: The most famous passage where this term is used is Isaiah 7:14, where it asserts an ʽalmāh will give birth to a son. The author of Matthew 1:23 understood this woman to be a virgin. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament – Warren Baker, D.R.E. Eugene Carpenter, Ph.D) (עֲלָמוֹת ʽalamoth is the plural form of עַלְמָה ʽalmâh)
“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up”
The common denominator for all of God’s people is Mercy; by it alone do we stand. We are held by the unseen hand of God at every turn. His loving-kindness is the strength of our walk and the source of our strength. In this Psalm the Hebrew Word for “held” is in the imperfect tense; the action is not completed but it is an ever ongoing one. It is used in the imperfect tense so that we may know that the Mercy that held me yesterday is sufficient for my today. As He has been so will He be. Blessed be His Holy Name!
This steadfast love of God is what enables us to continue to grow in the faith and that ever beckons us to walk into the unknown resources of Him. We see Peter stepping out of the boat to walk unto Jesus in the midst of the stormy sea. We see that Faith stirring within Peter the desire and the ability to walk and identify with its author. With every new impartation of Faith for us to move into a deeper walk with Him we must have that assurance that His steadfast love will be there to hold us up. Even in Peter taking his eyes off of Jesus and sinking into the waves there was the mercies of God to hold him. Faith will always press us into the walk of a greater identification with Him. Our ability to step into the opportunities that are presented to us will be according to the trust we have in Him to hold us.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac… Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead”
Abraham offered up Isaac, because he trusted God. Every act of true obedience is based upon our accounting God faithful to hold us up. Obedience is the highest expression of faith and that faith grows in its depth and its trust of God because we learn that His Mercy will hold us up in the doing of His Will. We can count on Him in our circumstances to hold our steps as we follow Him.
Let us not linger when we feel the stirrings of His call to greater things. Let us not sit when we need to step out for our God is faithful. HE IS COME and He is ever inviting us to leave the shallow shores of safety and to launch ourselves into the great depths of His Call.
“Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught”
Let us grow in the knowledge that His Mercy will hold us where His grace calls us.