Month: January 2009

How Long Can You Slight the Christ of God?- W.E. Smith

by A.W. Tozer

tozerI have heard one of our modern Christian activists say, “I am still busy looking around for the best doctrine on holiness;’ or I don’t know when I will find a doctrine of the deeper life that is satisfactory to me!”

There is really only one answer to this kind of a quest-turn your eyes upon Jesus and commit yourself fully and completely to Him because He is God and Christ, Redeemer and Lord, “The same yesterday, today and forever!”

In these matters of spiritual blessing and victory, we are not dealing with doctrines-we are dealing with the Lord of all doctrine! We are dealing with a Person who is the Resurrection and the Life and the Source from whom flows all doctrine and all truth.

How can we be so ignorant and so dull that we try to find our spiritual answers and the abounding life by looking beyond the only One who has promised that He would never change? How can we so readily slight the Christ of God who has limitless authority throughout the universe? How long should it take us to yield completely and without reservation to this One who has been made both Lord and Christ-and yet continues to be the very same Jesus who still loves us with an everlasting love?

I never want to come to a halt, pleading that I hold the right and proper doctrines-because I know that the only righteousness I can ever possess is His righteousness imparted to me. I claim nothing and my testimony is the same as Martin Luther’s prayer: “Oh, Lord Jesus, Thou art my righteousness-I am Thy sin!”

The only sin Jesus had was mine, Luther’s and yours – and the only righteousness we can ever have is His.

Christ does not change

It seems to be very hard for us to comprehend the importance of the fact that Christ does not change and that there is no fluctuation in His character, in His nature, in His resources, in His love and mercy.

Because change is everywhere around us at all times on this earth and among human beings, it is difficult for us to grasp the eternal and unchanging nature and person of Jesus Christ. We are well aware that if we elevate a man, giving him a high position with great influence and plenty of money-he is going to change! He may not realize it and often he will deny it, but he is not going to be the same in character and attitude and habits and manner of life. He will become proud-and probably aloof and unsympathetic! He will probably have his nose up in the air and it will be hard for him to recognize his old friends.

But nothing about our Lord Jesus Christ has changed down to this very hour. His love has not changed. It hasn’t cooled off, and it needs no increase because He has already loved us with infinite love and there is no way that infinitude can be increased. His compassionate understanding of us has not changed. His interest in us and His purposes for us have not changed.

He is Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is the very same Jesus. Even though He has been raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and made Head over all things to the Church, His love for us remains unchanged. Even though He has been given all authority and power in heaven and in earth, He is the very same Jesus in every detail. He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

It is hard for us to accept the majestic simplicity of this constant, wonder-working Jesus. We are used to getting things changed so that they are always bigger and better!

An important man in the Old Testament represents all of us in our humanity. He was afflicted with leprosy and he wanted the prophet of God to come and strike a noble pose and in a very dignified and proper way say to the leprosy, “Be gone!” But the prophet said he should take his pride in hand and go to the Jordan river and bathe in the waters of the Jordan in order to be healed. In other words, God asked him to do something very simple.

You and I are not always satisfied with the manner in which God deals with us. We would very much like to do something new, something difficult, something big and dramatic-but we are called back. For everything we need, we are called back to the simplicity of the faith, to the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His unchanging person.

The very same Jesus-a Brother who bears your image at the right hand of the Father, and who knows all your troubles and your weaknesses and sins, and loves you in spite of everything!

The very same Jesus-a Savior and Advocate who stands before the Father taking full responsibility for you and being easier to get along with than the nicest preacher you ever knew and being easier to approach than the humblest friend you ever had.

The very same Jesus-His is the sun that shines upon us, He is the star of our night. He is the giver of our life and the rock of our hope. He is our safety and our future. He is our righteousness, our sanctification, our inheritance. You find that He is all of this in the instant that you move your heart towards Him in faith. This is the journey to Jesus that must be made in the depths of the heart and being. This is a journey where feet do not count.

Good at footwork

Many of our Christians are activists-they are good at footwork and they are engaged in many religious journeys, but they do not seem to move up any closer to Jesus in heart and in spirit. This modern religious emphasis on activity reminds me of the Japanese mice that I have seen in the windows of the pet store. Don’t stop and look at them if you are the nervous type. I do not know why they call them dancing mice because they don’t waltz-they just run continually. I think they must be fundamentalists, brethren-they are on the go all the time! Some Christians seem to feel that it is a mark of spirituality to attend banquets and seminars and workshops and conferences and courses, night after night, week after week.

This naturally brings up some lessons from the New Testament record concerning the sisters, Martha and Mary. I think it was plain that Martha loved Jesus but her concept of devotion was activity. She was an active girl and she believed that because she loved the Lord, she ought to be doing something all the time to show it. Mary also loved the Lord Jesus but with a different attitude in her devotion. She was fervently occupied in spirit about the love of His Godhead! Our Lord knew the difference then and He knows the difference today.

Actually, our craze for activity brings few enriching benefits into our Christian circles. If you look into our churches, you will find groups of half-saved, half-sanctified, carnal people who know more about social niceties than they do about the New Testament; and more about love stories and soap operas than they do about the Holy Spirit.

When they get together, they have no trouble in thinking up things to do, but there is a question in my mind as to whether all of these things ought to be done in the name of the Lord!

It is not enough just to be rushing somewhere to another meeting, another discussion, another dialogue. Jesus commended Mary for knowing the value of the one thing that is necessary-that God should be loved and praised above all other business which may occupy us bodily or spiritually. Mary was fervently occupied in spirit about the love of His Godhead. I like that- although I know it sounds strange and almost heretical to our modern activists.

My plea is that we will not be satisfied to continue on as “external” Christians. The extroverted Christian lives largely for the externals of Christianity, and therefore sadly neglects his inner life and growth.

Recall what happened when Jesus said to the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Peter jumped up right away, grabbed his hat and would have been on his way, but Jesus stopped him, and said, “Not yet, Peter! Don’t go like that. Tarry until you are endued with power from on high, and then go!”

I believe that our Lord wants us to learn more of Him in worship before we become busy for Him. He wants us to have a gift of the Spirit, an inner experience of the heart, as our first service, and out of that will grow the profound and deep and divine activities which are necessary.

Religious amateurs

Years ago I heard Dr. Oliver Buswell warn that our evangelical churches were beginning to suffer from what he called “a rash of amateurism.” He didn’t know what a prophet he was-for now we have religious amateurs running in all directions!

The first thing we tell our young converts, the babes in Christ, is, “Here is a handful of tracts- now get out and get busy!”

But the Lord did not say that. He spoke about the first thing that was needful-to be fervently occupied in spirit with the love of Christ’s Godhead, and to love and praise Him above all other business, bodily or spiritual. That’s what it means to love God, to be a spiritual person-to have an ordained and measured affection plainly directed unto God Himself! This is more than a flash of spiritual feeling or emotion-it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with goose-pimples!

An ordained and measured pouring out of our love and affection-and this cannot be done with out some involvement of the emotions. But it is not like a rainy day when a cloudburst may pour itself out in a few hours-and then there may be a dry spell for weeks. It is a demonstrated love for the Lord Jesus Christ, continually pouring itself out, ordained and measured!

Knowing and loving the unchanging Christ with this kind of adoration will keep us from falling into a number of subtle traps which have long plagued unstable believers.

It will keep us from stumbling over “people.” You will continue to have your longing after God, but you will no longer stumble over the imperfections of men and women around you. It was Thomas a Kempis who wrote in The Imitation of Christ: “If thou would’st have peace of heart, do not inquire too earnestly into other men’s matters:’ If you spend time examining your Christian brother, you will find him lacking in some things. Don’t forget that all idols have feet of clay.

We have plain teaching that the Lord does not want His children to become “saint-worshippers:’

He doesn’t want you to become a preacher-worshipper or a teacher-worshipper. God wants to deliver you from the best man you know so that man can die and be removed and you won’t backslide!

Praises of people

Another thing we know is that this kind of love and devotion will keep you from stumbling over the praises of people. I am of the opinion that perhaps the praises people try to give us are more dangerous to our Christian walk than their blame. The devil wants us to believe that we are saintly and superior to other Christians – that’s the way he hooks us! That’s why he gets other people to tell us how well we are doing-and how we are passing right by other Christians who are not humble and warm-hearted “like we are!”

Every time you take a new step forward for God the devil will have some means of communicating to you the fact that God is proud of you-and that you are wonderful! As soon as he can get you interested enough to say, “Yes, I guess that’s true;’ you have had it, brother!

Now, what about the blame we often get from our fellow Christians? Are you hidden away in Christ Himself and so occupied in spirit that you take little heed of what men do or say about you? I have observed that as long as we sit frozen to our chair, making no spiritual progress, no one will bother us. No one will come and put an arm around our shoulder and urge us: “Thou hast dwelt in this mount long enough-rise therefore and go across this Jordan!”

But, if we start to cross Jordan urged on by our own spiritual thirst and desire, at least fourteen people will ask prayer for us in the concern that we are losing our minds.

During my ministry I have seldom been blamed for being cold when I was cold. People don’t come to the pastor and say, “You are no longer warm hearted-what has happened to your spiritual life?”

I have concluded that you can be backslidden, and in the rank and file of evangelical Christians no one will take any notice of it. There will be no rebuke.

On the other hand, they will jump down your throat and accuse you of showing off as soon as you start to seek God in earnest for victory and blessing! It does seem odd that we can be in the Christian faith and yet we are going to have bleeding fingernails and sore knees for every inch of ground that we take away from the devil!

That’s why so many Christians are taking so little! Many of us had actually taken more spiritual ground when we were converted than we now possess.

I picked up a little piece of printed paper on a muddy road in West Virginia many years ago. I will never know who put it there, but I know God planned that I should see it and remember it.

There was only one paragraph and it said, “There are only two things known in this universe that are bigger when they were born than when they get their growth. One is a wasp and the other is a church member.”

I don’t know about the wasp, but I do know that many church members start out with a blaze, and then they look around and decide that they should be more like other Christians-just settle down. Soon they are as backslidden as the rest. The amazing thing is that so many people can be so backslidden and never know it!

What a sad condition for Christians who are in the church of the mighty Redeemer and Deliverer who is eternally the Victor, the Rock of Ages. Why can’t we claim all that He has promised for us?

Christ is the same

In view of much of today’s dispensational teaching about Bible interpretation, the apostles, miracles of God, and the fullness of the Spirit, I must remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. That allows me to tell you something blessed and heartening which I have found to be true, and which I will stand by to the end of time.

This is my finding: there is nothing that Jesus has ever done for any of His disciples that He will not do for any other of His disciples!

Where did the “dividers get their teaching that all the gifts of the Spirit ended when the last apostle died? They have never furnished chapter and verse for that. When some men beat the cover off their Bible to demonstrate how they stand by the Word of God, they should be reminded that they are only standing by their own interpretation of the Word.

I find nothing in the Bible that says the Lord has changed. He has the same love, the same grace, the same mercy, the same power, the same desires for the blessing of His children. You will have to prove it to me if you take the position that Jesus Christ refuses to do for you something that He did for any other of His disciples! He is just the same toward everyone and everything.

His attitude toward the proud is unchanged. In the Bible record the proud men who came to Jesus got uniform treatment. Somehow, they were never able to discover that side of Jesus which is gentle and loving, kind and merciful. The proud always came up on the wrong side of Jesus, and they got that which the proud will always get from Jesus- justice and judgment, rebuke, warning and woe! It was the same with the self-righteous, the insincere, the hypocrites-they all came up on the wrong side of Jesus!

It is about time that the modern artists who paint pictures of Jesus should be told that He was not a pretty, curly-haired weakling. They should be told the truth-that He is the Christ of God and He will come riding through the skies on a white horse and with a sword at His side. He will judge the world, He will call all men to their feet and they will honor Him for His majesty, His power, His purity, and for creation itself.

He is the same Jesus-He will always be the same!

He is always the same to the meek, the mourner, the brokenhearted, the penitent sinner. His attitude is always the same towards those who love Him, the honest-hearted person. These are the people who come up to Jesus on the right side- and He never turns them away. He is ready with forgiveness. He is ready with comfort. He is ready with blessing.

He loves us

We cannot understand this readiness of Jesus to love us and help us and bless us-because He does not really need us. One of His attributes is omnipotence-so He doesn’t need us. But the secret of this-He loves us!

Think of a man who is president of a great, thriving corporation. He has cars and airplanes at his disposal and hundreds of people who will carry out his orders immediately. This great man has a three-year-old daughter. Does he need her? No, of course not, but he loves her and he wants her! His heart is responsive to her needs and desires.

So it is with us. Before we were born, God was God, the Lord God Almighty! He has never needed us. None of our human talents and abilities are significant to Him. But He needs our love and wants our love!

The Apostle John leaned his ear against the beating heart of the Son of God and the Lord recognized His love and devotion and called him “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He loved the rest of the disciples, too, but He couldn’t love them as much because they didn’t reciprocate as much.

Jesus is still just the same towards those who seek His fellowship. He wants to be with those who are occupied with the love of His Godhead! Our relationship with Him is all summed up in this simple fact-everything you need is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

He is God and He is the Son of Man. He is all the guilty sinner needs and He is more than the fondest expectation of the loftiest saint. We can never go beyond Him. We can never learn all that He is able to teach. We can never use all of the spiritual power and victory He is able to provide.

It is good for us to remember how strong He is- and how weak we are. I settled this issue a long time ago. I tell you I have talked to God more than I have talked to anyone else. I have reasoned more with God and had longer conferences with God than with anybody else.

And what did I tell Him? Among other things, I told Him, “Now, Lord, if I do the things I know I should do, and if I say what I know in my heart I should say, I will be in trouble with people and with groups-there is no other way!

“Not only will I be in trouble for taking my stand in faith and honesty, but I will certainly be in a situation where I will be seriously tempted of the devil!”

Then, after praying more and talking to the Lord, I have said, “Almighty Lord, I accept this with my eyes open! I know the facts and I know what may happen, but I accept it. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not crawl under a rug. I will dare to stand up and fight because I am on your side-and I know that when I am weak, then I am strong!”

So I don’t let anyone praise me and I try not to pay attention to those who would blame me; I find that this is not difficult, for I am only a servant of the holiest man that ever walked the streets of Jerusalem-and they called Him a devil!

This is how I have learned to stand fast for Christ, and all that He is to His own!

***********************

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Your friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

Wayne

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…And the People Love it So! – W.E. Smith

As usual my brethren, I am not real sure where this message will go, so please forgive me if it jumps around somewhat. Also know that my heart and spirit is with all of you “out there” in this pathless wilderness, where only the sound of His voice and His Word lead us from moment to moment, and place to place. Our time will come dear saints. The sands of the hourglass marking the end of this present age are falling little by little now, and His coming is imminent; I can almost feel it in my bones if you know what I mean.

davids_mighty_menI pray that this message finds you strong and patient dear brethren, and that you are redeeming the time with much prayer and petition and seeking  Him with all thirstiness in this barren wilderness. Oh that He might refine and prepare His own, as did David his mighty men in the dark caves of mystery leading up to his manifestation to all Israel as their rightful king. Let us not be tempted to expedite the arrival of the glorious reign before the time of readiness, as did those who would have readily dispatched Saul into Sheol; for the times and seasons, my friends, lie with the Lord –

He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Dan 2:21)

Our place is not with this world and its kings; with its wisdom and ways; with its lofty words and superficial reality! For the illegitimate reign of Saul (the people’s king) will soon be at an end, by the Lord’s hand and not ours. Our hope must not be bound up in the empty promises of those who know not that this present world has already been judged, and that the sword has already been drawn from its sheath, ready to strike at His word. There is no future for the nations as we know them, nor for anything wrought in this day of Adam, this day of man –

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:31-32)

Yet now is the time for those loyal to the future King to do great exploits in the spirit; to prepare for battle against the “world the flesh and the devil” with all provision and preparation, for the days are evil, and all that is presently veiled in mystery and hidden from men (including most believers sadly), will soon be made manifest –

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He  is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,  and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,  that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:7-12)

armorarmor-of-god-postersMy prayer for you in this dark and final hour is that of the Apostle Paul, who knew intimately that we are the “mighty men” of this age, and that the enemy before us is great; not only the Canaanite in the land, but all those among the redeemed who follow Saul, and seek the scraps from his table –

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph. 6:10-20)

No less than three times here, brethren, we are admonished to STAND FIRM; to be established, to stand against all that might prevent us from winning the day and entering His Glorious Kingdom! This will not be possible unless and until we fully comprehend – in the spirit – the truth of such matters, and the urgency of the hour! Continued and earnest prayer, petition and patience is vital, such that we maintain our focus, faith and zeal, as we await the appearing of the Rightful King!

The hour is close is my friends, and our hearts must be set on His soon coming, and being prepared in all readiness in the Spirit. The fig tree (Israel) is in bud , as are the other trees (nations) (Luke 21:29-33), and this generation will by no means pass away until all things are fulfilled according to His Word. Dear friends and saints – His Word cannot and will not fail us! Yet we can most certainly fail Him! Let that not be so among those who love Him and love His appearing; those who seek a place at His table in His Kingdom; those who are running the race so as to win that crown of righteousness for all those found worthy at His seat of judgment. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

fig_tree_fsThen He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Luke 21:29-33)

If this be so brethren, that His words will by no means pass away, why is it that so many of us so readily, so casually it seems, set His words aside and trust rather in the empty claims of men – (men of science, politics, religion, philosophy, etc), who have no power whatsoever to bring it to pass? It is as though Christians today (the majority anyway) want so much to believe that there is a future for their particular nation, or the world at large, when such an investment of hope is foolish and contrary to all that is recorded in the prophetic word of scripture.

A WORD OF EXHORTATION –
FOR THOSE WHO WILL RECEIVE IT

I want to exhort all of you who name the name of Christ Jesus, in the Spirit and love of He who will complete all that He has begun, to hearken to the Word of the Lord. For if we refuse to acknowledge and take to heart what became of His people Israel, and fail to understand the message to our generation – then we may very well suffer the same loss and rejection at His Coming (please read that again and ask the Lord, by His Spirit to impress this truth upon your heart).

Consider the word given to Jeremiah, for example,

An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it? (Jer. 5:30-31)

Here we have a most deplorable condition among those blessed as the very apple of Jehovah’s eye (Zech. 2:8), and yet the very worst part of this is not so much that the priests and prophets (spiritual leaders in the land) had abandoned the Lord and His Truth (this is sad enough to be sure), but that…

THE PEOPLE LOVE IT SO!

THE PEOPLE LOVE IT SO!

Folks, as I drive around my community here in the mid-west USA, and behold these colossal (christian) “mega” churches springing up in so many former corn fields, with false teachers “teaching falsely” and “ruling on their own authority”, it mystifies me that so many of our Heavenly Father’s blood-washed children actually join themselves in spirit to these worldly bodies.

megachurch

Now we know, of course (or should know) at the end of this age that the tares must proliferate among the wheat, and the leaven must permeate the lump, just as our Lord assured us. Yet the degree to which His own; those precious sheep for whom He gave His very life, would so readily, so casually, and so willfully forsake His Word for the scraps at Saul’s table is positively alarming to this observer.

To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it. (Jer. 6:10)

Astounding! Incredible! Rather than tremble at the Word of God, and come to see it as the path to all blessing and life, the people of Judah utterly rejected it. It became, as the scripture says, a “reproach to them”. They took no delight in it, and for that reason they failed to understand the work of the Lord in their lives, and the rugged path to glory. Now there were many false prophets in Jeremiah’s day as there are in our own, and just as Judah was quick to receive these smooth and easy words, so the many in the church today seek those who will flatter and tickle their ears.

BEWARE MY BRETHREN!

Do not be deceived when you feel that light and wispy sensation tickling your ears and puffing up your heart and mind. For such words are not from the Lord at all but from somewhere else. This is not the time for the easy way, but to be tested in the harsh wilderness and caves, such that we might be found worthy at the inauguration of the TRUE and RIGHTEOUS KING! If we, like David’s mighty men, are to reign with the King we must also suffer His rejection and testing. The Kingdom of God and of His Christ has been won most certainly; yet it lies in mystery for an appointed time (and this time is close my brethren, real close). And during this time the King is training, testing and hardening all those who will rule with him in His kingdom as His officers. He must not only prove their love in this hour but also their loyalty and steadfastness. He must know as a certainty that they will never leave Him nor forsake Him, nor discount His Word, regardless of  what happens around them.They must be found faithful, not living by bread alone, but by every word breathed into the world by their Heavenly Father and His Son –

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matt 4:4)

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

Oh how I pray you will receive this dear ones, for it is not this writer’s opinion but the truth of the Living God to be sure! His Word is food and it is life!

And to reject His Word is to rebel against Him, and rebellion is not something the Judge of all the earth sniffs at or takes lightly. It makes Him angry! Yes angry at His own people! It is as reprehensible to Him as witchcraft, and a rebel will never hold a place at the Master’s table.

Indeed, had Judah, remaining in the land of promise, hearkened to the Word of the Lord and considered His judgments, they would have been severely admonished by what happened to their brothers in the north a short while earlier. For the house of Israel became wholly given over to idolatry and willful disobedience. They had effectively closed their ears and hearts to all that the Lord wanted to give them, and they would not receive correction, but chose rather to stiffen their necks and reject the Lord who bought them at such a price. This is important brethren, so I am inserting here the whole sad conclusion of the matter as provided in 2 Kings 17 –

Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”

Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.  And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them.  So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.  And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.  Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.  And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin.  For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. (2 Kings 17:13-23)

Note: I would strongly encourage you to read all of the chapters leading up to this one in 2nd Kings, and again ask the Lord to make it real and alive to you, in terms of its message and application. I was practically trembling as I made my way through this sordid history of rejection, abandonment and scornful rebellion shown by those who had been so blessed at the Lord’s hand.

So, despite the mournful pleading of the prophet Jeremiah, who came to them crying, “Hear the Word of the Lord“, Judah scoffed at the Word and hardened their necks to anything the Lord had to say. In fact, by this time their spiritual condition had become terminal, as evidenced by Jeremiah’s prophecy –

I brought you into a bountiful country,
To eat its fruit and its goodness.
But when you entered, you defiled My land
And made My heritage an abomination.

The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me;
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
And walked after things that do not profit. (Jer 2:7-8)

And lest you think that this was describing but a few in the land; a minority perhaps, think again –

Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the LORD. (Jer. 6:13-15)

Everyone, from the least to the greatest, my friends, and to make matters worse, they were most especially confident and content in their condition. After all were they not God’s chosen people; His elect? Had He not brought them out with a high hand from bondage in Egypt, and did He not dwell among them in the house they had built for Him?

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.’

“For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,  if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,  then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. (Jer. 7:3-7)

Such things mean nothing to He who searches the heart and knows our true condition. And just to draw this cord a little tighter if I may, perhaps it would be helpful to translate this verse for our own days; something like this perhaps –

Thus says the LORD Jesus Christ, King of King and Lord of Lords: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to sit on my throne with Me in My kingdom. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The church of Jesus Christ, the church of Jesus Christ, the church of Jesus Christ are these.’

Now the house of Israel (the ten northern tribes), removed from the land over 2700 years ago, have never returned, and will not until the Shepherd of Israel draws them home. They were accounted unworthy to retain the promises in that day. And although there is a Jewish population in the land of Israel today, they reside there in unbelief, before the time, and their current spiritual condition and response to the Word of the Lord has not changed from what it was in the time of Jeremiah.

Consider therefore, my brethren the “goodness and severity” of the Lord, and that these things are so; and that for whom much is given much more will be expected –

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)

Followers in Christ Jesus in this age of grace (while the kingdom is held in abeyance, and the King, although anointed, suffers rejection by the many) have the bloody example of the children of Israel fleshed out before them, and, although many feel that the Lord expects less of us than He did the people of the land, the very opposite is true. And further, although there are many who believe that there is nothing we can do to forfeit our inheritance in His Kingdom, saying effectively “peace, peace“, the very character of God stands against this heresy, as does the entire counsel of His Word. Be not deceived dear ones, for the gift of salvation by faith in the shed blood of the Righteous Lamb is merely preliminary to the prize or reward of entering His Kingdom once He assumes the throne of heaven and earth.

Note: if the concept of being accounted worthy to enter into the Kingdom is a new concept to you, perhaps the best place to begin is with Govett’s “Entrance Into the Kingdom“. Also, I would suggest becoming acquainted with the writings of Robert Govett, D. M. Panton, Watchman Nee, G.H. Lang, Arlen Chitwood, etc (linked on this site and elsewhere).

And so I put this to you dear reader – How do you presently receive the Word of the Lord when it is brought to you? Do you receive it gladly, with delight, or do you scoff at it, privately despising it in your heart for the many ways you feel it constrains and binds you?

If the Word of the Lord demanded hard things, or in some way challenges you, or exacts a cost from you, how do you handle this? If the Word of the Lord was to open your eyes to error or idolatry within your heart or even your local church (or denomination), would you immediately dismiss it? Or would you follow it wherever it leads; whatever the price? If the Lord was to ask you to give up all that you possess in this life; all that defines and clothes you – home, family, security, king, country, etc – how might you respond to this? If like Jeremiah, all that the Lord permitted you to possess in this life was Himself and His Word, would that be enough? Or is your life yours alone, to define and determine?

What, in the end, is your attitude towards obedience to every Word the Lord has breathed into the world? Do you see His Word, in fact, as the animating principle of all life; even your own? Do you understand what the scripture means when it says – “In the beginning was the the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”?

Can you say with psalmist –

Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever,
For they are the rejoicing of my heart.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, to the very end. (Psalm 119:111-112)

and..

Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.
The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:159-160)

Is the word of the Lord something you hold in your hand or in your heart?

When His Word offers the way of direction do you obey it readily, and when it offers the promise of things unseen, do you you believe heartily?

Have your eyes been opened, beloved of the Lord, to behold the many wonders and precious treasures contained in His Word; or is it mere orthodoxy, scholarship, moral injunction, dusty history?

And if proving faithful and obedient to His Word will invariably lead to persecution, affliction and rejection by the many, how will this affect your response to it? Will you therefore lay it down, or maybe in some sophisticated way convince yourself that it wasn’t really for you anyway?

Interesting questions to ponder most certainly, and I leave them with you, as the Lord has laid them before me. We must all decide dear saints, what we do, and how far we will go on behalf of He who awaits His Kingdom and Glory. And as I have perhaps said far too much here, I will end with something else for you to consider, and it is this –

Why in 2 Samuel 23, is not Joab, David’s trusted general and confidant for many years, not listed among his mighty men?

Hmm.

What is the lesson for you and me that in 1 Kings 2:34, it is told that Joab died “in the wilderness”?

I will leave this message there for now and pray that the Lord will bring it home to your hearts in His grace and mercy. In Jesus Mighty Name. Amen.

The Lord is My Portion – W.E. Smith

So many delusions and distractions today it seems, diverting the saints of God from essential things – so many forms and shadows that appear useful on the surface, to the natural wisdom, but so decidedly misplaced in terms of where we are in His ultimate plan and purpose.

michelangelo_jeremiahI was out walking the other night and conversing with the Lord, when out of nowhere I said something like – “Lord, I want you to be my only portion; I want to be satisfied with you alone.” He then started to reveal the oh so many things on my mind and in my heart that are currently my “portion” – things I trust in and rely upon and look to. When I got back home, I opened the Scriptures because this whole concept of having only God as our share or portion was something that seemed so powerful and real.

Consider the following passages (in no particular order) –

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (from Jeremiah) Lamentations 3:24

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. Psalms 16:5

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Psalms 27:4

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Psalms 63:1

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none [RSV: nothing] upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Psalms 73:25

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalms 84:1

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalms 84:10

Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words. Psalms 119:57

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Psalms 142:4

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. Isaiah 26:8

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Philippians 3:7

But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him {anything} to eat, did he?” Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Jhn 4:32

The concept of selling or releasing all that we have and are such that we can attain the Lord God (not His gifts and blessings, but Himself as the gift and the ultimate blessing) as our portion, and be satisfied is a powerful one in the Bible, touching the very heart of His desire for His children. Consider the hard and horrendous life of Jeremiah, how he was asked to forsake all – his family, his calling in the priesthood, his nation, a bride and family of his own, his reputation, everything – all he would be permitted to have was the Lord his God.

“The Lord is my portion.”

My friends, perhaps take some time to read the Book of Jeremiah and Lamentations prayerfully, and ask the Lord to lead you to His conclusions about how it might recognize your need for a prophet’s heart and conviction.

The times in Jeremiah’s day were very much like our own – anticipation and impending judgment, uncertainty, false and natural religion; an entire generation of believers professing true things but not partaking of the one True thing; pride and trust in the temple or the church, and the activities of such as though by this the Lord God who sees the whole heart is impressed or satisfied. False prophets abounding with words of peace, peace and the easy way. And all the time Babylon is knocking at the door.

father_prayingMy friends, I really don’t know what will happen; what circumstances or losses I will be asked to bear in order that He might know that I love Him, and that in Him as my only portion I will hope and be satisfied. This world means nothing to me, but I do have a wife and son whom I love deeply and dearly. In fact, they have been very much my portion for many years. I secretly fear that perhaps my love for them has often crossed the line into that dangerous area where idolatry begins. This is not a syrupy romantic, natural love as the world might recognize it – but a love born of time and dependence and belonging.

Am I ready to give them up if necessary? I can’t answer that, only He can. But far greater men than I have been asked to give up far more. Again, consider the 40-50 years of Jeremiah’s faithful service to the Lord; where our Lord’s words were the prophet’s very breath and food keeping him alive. Oh to sell all that we have, to relinquish all that hinders and obscures His purposes in us, to release ourselves completely like a little child falling into his father’s arms behind him.

Yes, the oil is His life flowing into us and through us and out of us. In this sense can we ever have enough of His fullness and essence. He is the living and flowing dynamic, the spark of divine existence and being, that gives wings to the dust that we are.

Is He alone your portion brethren?

Perhaps it is time to go to him quietly now and let Him search all that is in your heart (just a thought). Are you content with Him alone? Is He your one true desire? Have you discovered Him as the strength of your heart and life? If all else were required of you – all that you love and hold dear – would you let it go gladly that you might have Him, and Him alone? Is He your Infinite Supply or do you seek something elsewhere – in religion, or community perhaps, in the warm and familiar embrace of loved ones? Would you be willing – as the prophet Jeremiah – to be hated and considered an enemy by your family, your church, your pastor – such that you would enter into the Love and Blessing of the Eternal God?

Why is it brethren that we covet the oh so many things, even GOOD things (of and by themselves), when the very BEST thing is –

God Himself.

And here’s another thought –

If indeed we were that last generation of faithful servants before The Son of God returns for His own – should He not be the only one we trust and turn to in this darkest hour, when all is being aligned in opposition against Himself and His testimony on the earth? If this world and even the “church” of His day utterly and brutally rejected Him, then will we be willing in this day also to suffer that rejection with Him, when “no man” would know him or “care for his soul”?

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. (Psalms 142:4 )

job_1-21Dear saints, try to imagine if you will that everyone, and I mean everyone – including friends, family, fellow church members – has abandoned and rejected you; that they have cut you off from among them, then spoiled your goods, and left you festering on some dump heap somewhere to die. You had nothing, it would seem, as the world reckons it. Penniless, friendless, naked, alone… What would you have at that very moment? Would all be lost? Would you be as Job and curse the day you were conceived? Would you reckon your life’s account to have a zero balance?

I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Heb 13:5)

Oh dear ones why does it seem that He is never enough for us? How fouled and wicked are our hearts that He whom we should love the most, and be satisfied with above and in place of all else – is the one portion that we esteem so lightly? So many people and things and activities and pursuits that we always seem to so easily and naturally put before  HIM! Amazing isn’t? Astounding! Oh Lord saves us from ourselves and our blind and covetous hearts!

Here is a spiritual insight that I hope and pray you will receive my friends, and it is this –

True godly contentment can never be attained unless and until the Lord Our God becomes our only portion! Amen.

And here is a a very serious question that I believe we would do well to answer honestly once and for all – Is prayer merely a means to an end for us, or is the time we spend in intimate fellowship with our Lord the ultimate end in our life? Do we seek Himself or His blessings in other words?

Hmmm.

“The Lord is my portion.” wrote Jeremiah and the Psalmist. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work“, affirmed our Lord. If all we have is the Lord God, brethren, will that be enough for us? What now is our portion in this life? Are we willing to suffer the loss of it – whatever it might be, such that we might gain Christ in all His fullness and provision?

Oh Heavenly Father – we give praise and glory and honor to You and for Your Most Precious Son; so hard and deep are such thoughts oh Lord! Oh that in your Precious Son we might enter into Thee as our only portion and provision; into all your grace and fullness, into all your ever-abounding life and blessing. Food indeed, we have beside meat for the natural body – and that food and vitality is Thee. Grant that we might have the oil of overcoming – the life that flows from Thee – flowing and moving in us as your little children. Claim us as your own dear Father, claim us from the world and the evil one and all others who might seek to steal us away from your heart! Make us ready and worthy for all that is coming to test the hearts of men – whether they truly love Thee or not. Forgive us Oh Father, for so weak and feeble are our hands and our hope. Make us holy in thy Son; that all the world might see your Glory, Your Splendor, Your Beauty and Your Righteous Judgments! In Jesus we pray. AMEN

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Your friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

Wayne

The Scab of Unbelief – W.E. Smith

Only a soul fed with pure truth accepts each new phase of it, and thereby grows in intelligence and confidence towards God. The soul that refuses truth is hindered in its course, stunted in its spiritual growth, and moves farther toward the flesh and the world with each rejection. (R. Govett)

Dear friends, precious to our Lord and Shepherd and King…

To walk by faith is everything, and yet it is that which is least amenable to this old man who lives persistently by his will, desires and worldly wisdom (all entering his being through the eyes primarily). Notice here what Robert Govett has written about this –

“There are many wrong motives and states of the heart, but there is only one right motive. Whatsoever is not of faith – is sin.” (emphasis added)

As the Lord, through His Spirit in the Word, reveals His treasures to us (especially those related to our heavenly inheritance as adopted sons and co-heirs in His Kingdom), He expects us to be perfectly obedient to that truth, wherever that obedience might lead. As the Lord forewarned all those contemplating allegiance to Him –

“Count the Cost!”

…for the costs are high – rejection, hardship, false accusations, sacrifice, loneliness, the forsaking of all that people of the world take for granted, the waiting indefinitely for a home and a place where you truly belong.

govettFor Robert Govett, it meant the abandonment of all the security, honor, worldly esteem, and privilege bound up in a career with the Anglican Church. And yet our Lord blessed this faithful servant mightily in the priceless revelation of His Word, perhaps unrivaled since the time of Paul the Apostle (and I choose this comparison carefully).

If we however, are disobedient to that which our Lord and Teacher reveals to us, this scab of unbelief will fester and thicken upon our hearts. He will no doubt persist with us for a time, as He is ever gracious and longsuffering with His students. But if this pattern of unfaithfulness and disobedience persists, this dullness of hearing and hardness of heart will develop into what well may be an irreversible condition of blindness and unprofitableness, such that He no longer reveals His treasures to us at all. This happened to the children of Israel, and it can happen to twice-born followers of the Lord’s Anointed as well!

How pitiful and tragic!

At that point, although birthed spiritually from above, at a most precious cost (in the blood of His Beloved Son) to Himself, we are (or become over time) good for nothing. Our salvation (the regeneration to life of the spirit within us making it at once possible to receive spiritual food) has thereby become cheapened and wasted. We have become what the scripture refers to as a vessel of dishonor and vomit for the spittle –

So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (Rev 3:16)

Dear ones, please let the enormity of all of this settle deep into your hearts for as long as it takes. These are His own He is referring to here, so please do not be deceived into thinking that these are the lost. Here the Prince of Peace is actually spewing from His mouth those to whom He gave His precious and perfect blood to redeem. Astounding and terrifying!

“Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Cor 5:11)

Now it was said of the children of Israel after being brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand, that they failed to understand the Lord’s wonders wrought on their behalf –

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea-the Red Sea. (Psalm 107:7)

After this it is revealed that they actually forgot these very wonders, but before this they failed to comprehend what the Lord was doing in saving and redeeming them. I considered this prayerfully for some time and I believe the Lord was impressing on me how vitally important it is that I comprehend (as the Spirit leads me) what my spiritual birth means in the larger context of His Glorious Purpose in Christ and His Kingdom.

To be saved or born again is indeed a marvelous and mighty thing dear saints, no less a miracle than when the Creator brought forth Adam from the dust and breathed life into him, or the Lord delivered Israel mightily out of the land of death, through the sea. Yet, we also, as His elect in this age can fail to understand the Lord’s ultimate and age-lasting intent in showing forth His life-giving power on our behalf.

For Adam, it was that he would exercise dominion over that which the Lord God had restored, in consort with the queen that was to come from his very body.

For the nation of Israel, it was that they, as His First Born Son would first meet Him in the wilderness, become a holy and enlightened people, then subsequently inherit the earthly and heavenly promises given to Abraham, and ultimately be a light of salvation and blessing to the gentiles.

And for us, it is precisely the same, that we might rule and reign, from the heavens, over the dominions of the earth, with our King on His Eternal Throne, in all holiness, justice and wisdom, for a thousand years.

And so to first understand what is involved and at stake is everything isn’t it? Then to trust Him and obey Him and follow Him as he leads us the long way home to the promised inheritance by One greater than Moses is essential. The lessons preserved for us are more than clear for those with eyes to see them, and a heart to receive them.

Oh that we would learn such lessons from former times and people; that there is in fact no good (none whatsoever) in ourselves; that, quite apart from how enlightened or fit to rule we think we are, there is no light in our eyes, and that to think we can attain the prize without first being trained and tested and brought to holiness and wisdom, is a delusion straight from the serpent. Indeed, this is the first lie isn’t it – that we can exercise the intended dominion without the requisite wisdom of God (fruit of the tree of life) to do so. To reign over God’s domain, apart from Himself – His blessing and provision, such that He receives no glory whatsoever? This is preposterous! For we were born anew solely that we might display His pre-eminent glory among those who have no knowledge of Him and His ways!

“I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. (Ezekiel 39:21)

Fellow saints and brethren in the Lord, I must follow Him and be faithful to Him wherever that leads, and to be perfectly honest at this point, I am not sure where or what this is. Yet He who authored my faith (when I was born in Him) will also finish (or perfect) it as His coming. I believe this with all my heart and mind and spirit! It is truly all I have to hold fast to! And yet it is enough to be sure.

(Though on far too many days, more than I care to admit, I do not live up to these high sounding ideals, and become fearful, self-willed and small, distracted and hesitant to accept the full cost of obedience – forgive me and cleanse me dear Lord, for my heart so often dreams that which I cannot live up to).

But oh that He would enlighten my eyes, and help my unbelief, and bring me further into the wisdom of His Kingdom, into the mature knowledge of His Word, into a more perfect and complete understanding of the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus! Oh that I would enter deeper into His fullness, that will one day fill all things! That I would trust him completely and absolutely and without equivocation! For it is not He or His Word that is untrustworthy and faithless but I! I have failed Him many, many, many times, but it is impossible for Him to fail me!

Impossible dear ones –

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess 5:24)

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thess 3:3)

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor 1:9)

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut 7:9)

Please pray for me my friends, and all of His little ones who hear His voice from outside the door of this Laodicean age, that we would hear Him and follow Him, whatever the cost; that we would be found faithful at His Coming, that we would follow Him alone as the Way and Truth and Life, through this wilderness onward to perfection, maturity and glory!

All is by faith! All we have and need is to be found faithful to His Word (Read all of Psalm 119 – on your knees preferably). Though everything seen and all evidences known may contradict His Word and His Promises, we must grip tightly to all that He has “breathed” into the world, lest this scab of unbelief leads us away from Him and we die in this wilderness, not having received the promised inheritance. The threat is real and tangible, and the many in this generation will (tragically) fall away. But let it not be said of us, that we did not endure to the end, that we did not keep the word of His patience with steadfastness, that we failed to overcome, that we did not trust the good report of the land out ahead of us, and the Lord’s ability to establish us therein.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 3:22)

Oh Gracious and Loving Father, Lord of all Life and Glory –

Please complete that mighty work which you began in us, and lead us to the ultimate purpose for our being created anew in Your Beloved Son – to reign with Him in His Kingdom such that You alone might receive all the Glory Father! Help us Lord to walk by faith alone, and to abide by every word which you have breathed into this world. Teach us and feed us with your glorious and precious scriptures Lord, and lead us in all things by your Most Holy Spirit. In patience correct us, and help us to lay down all and anything that is revealed to be false or incomplete, regardless of the price to be paid – the approval of men, church membership, security in this world, job and salary, even family and friends – whatever the cost, however high Oh Lord, help us to be willing to pay it in faith and love to everything you have commanded us. Thank you Father that all of your promises are AMEN, and that your word will not and cannot ever fall to the ground; that everything that we have set our hopes on will be fulfilled. Lead us home to the place you have prepared for us dear Lord, such that we might serve you and love you forever!

In Jesus Precious Name. Amen

Note: for my readers who are not familiar with the writings of Robert Govett, I encourage you to visit the web site of Schoettle Publishing, and review the many offerings there. His books are rare, so this is the best place to get started. You will not be disappointed my friends. I dare say, that in in my most humble opinion, there has not been a servant of the Lord since Paul the Apostle who has so fully brought forth the whole counsel of God, past present and future. (WES)

The Gift of Exhortation – Part 3

In addition to teaching, the gift of exhortation is intimately aligned with that of prophecy. Note again 1 Corinthians 14: 1 –

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

jeremiahThe New Testament endowment of prophecy (GK – “propheteuo”, meaning to speak under divine inspiration), speaks edification, exhortation and consolation to the companions of Christ. Similar to prophets of old, such as Jeremiah and Isaiah, who constantly urged the people of Israel to return to the Lord, to love Him above all else, and to put away the false gods and idols in their midst, the one who exhorts the brethren does so out of an insufferable love for his people, and a heartfelt desire to see them realize all the blessings that the Lord has intended for them.

And here is another point regarding exhortation – that it is intentionally directed at the heart and the will and not (so much) the mind, as is teaching. It is an appeal to heavenly ideals such as love and steadfastness; to a return to a manner of life and living as it was ordained by the Creator to be. It urges fellow saints onward to maturity and the putting away of “childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:1). But lest you be mistaken; it is not about the development of theologians, but of saints and servants who are fruitful and profitable to their master. For this reason it invariably involves an appeal to repentance and continuing endurance. It pierces forcefully through every example of  falseness and shadow to reveal what is authentic, sincere and substantial. Purity of the faith once delivered, and bringing our minds into alignment with the Lord’s ways and wisdom is where true spiritual exhortation leads.

He who exhorts stands not for himself, nor his group or denomination, but for the Lord Himself. He defends and represents God’s position, perspective and point of view regarding the condition being addressed. Consider if you will the entire message given by Elihu (Job 32-37) to Job and his friends, as perhaps the greatest Old Testament example of exhortation to be found. Although a young man, who rightly deferred to his elders, once Elihu started speaking, what came forth was the full force, inspiration and authority of the Holy Spirit; even to the point of commanding his listeners to be silent while he spoke (see 1 Corinthians 14 for a New Testament example of this principle).

If we care to look closely brethren, we will see that much of the New Testament is exhorting us (and warning us of the consequences of not doing so) to press tenaciously onward toward our inheritance in the sabbath rest of God; the “Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (see Rev 11:15, and note that this will ultimately be fulfilled in the “age to come”, the last 1,000 years called the millennium and the Lord’s Day). This passage in Hebrews is one of many examples –

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,  while it is said:

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”

For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief (Heb 3:12-19)

Throughout this and other epistles, Christian disciples are exhorted to learn from the mistakes made by the children of Israel, and to remain steadfast until the coming of the Lord. And although all are encouraged to exhort one another daily in the Spirit, there is the sense in Scripture that certain individuals are granted this particular gift for the edification of the body. Yet perhaps more important than the source of the exhortation, is the response of the people when it is presented. Let’s note some additional passages here in Hebrews –

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.

If  you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:5-11)

And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. (Heb 13:22)

Lest we take too lightly the words given by the exhortation of our Lord through His servants, here we see that the consequences of neglecting or despising the word of exhortation are severe. In fact, we have the example of Israel ever before us in the testimony of God’s Word to see where their hardness of heart and stubborn disobedience led them. Similarly, if the church dismisses or ignores genuine God-breathed exhortation, then the result over time will be nothing short of apostasy, a falling away from the faith once delivered; from the Lord Himself. This, sadly, has been the story of the Christian testimony since that first generation when “wolves” and false shepherds first slipped into the sheepfold and the Lord’s shepherds failed to protect (by exhortation among other things) the sheep. This is serious business little ones, and the times are short! Will we in fact heed the exhortation of the Lord, through those imbued with His Spirit of exhortation, or will will despise it, seeking rather to have our ears tickled with feathery words of self-congratulation?

If indeed we are sons of the kingdom and of the day (Matthew 13:38, 1 Thess 5:5) and children of light (Ephesians 5:8), then chastening and correction is absolutely necessary for us to mature in the faith, that we might be partakers of His holiness, and to be able to stand at the coming judgment of the saints. Exhortation by its very nature makes us uncomfortable and unsettled to be sure; it forces us to evaluate whether we are truly living for the Lord, abiding in Him and not in this world. It gives weight and substance to the teaching we have received related to what we are as new creations, and sons of the kingdom. It reveals that which is hidden or false, as a spotlight pierces into the darkness and exposes it as such. For this must only be if indeed we are to be children of the day, who are not afraid to have all things in our hearts revealed and laid bare.

Yet again, the one who exhorts is not merely standing loftily in judgment over his brethren, but he is enabled through the Spirit to see that which the Lord sees, first (always this must be first) in himself, and then in the body at large. His zeal is singularly for the Lord’s glory, and for the manifest well-being of the brethren. He is constantly aware that it is salt that preserves and not sugar, and that it is light that exposes things for what they truly are and not the darkness.

In this light, let us revisit the final words of Joshua to the children of Israel just prior to his death –

And the LORD your God will expel them from before you and drive them out of your sight. So you shall possess their land, as the LORD your God promised you. Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,  and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.

For the LORD has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations-these that remain among you-and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

“Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.  Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the LORD your God promised you, so the LORD will bring upon you all harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.” (Joshua 23:516)

This brethren is as good an example of God-breathed exhortation as can be found anywhere in the Word. Notice that Joshua’s appeal is to what they already know (in all their hearts and souls), to what they have seen (that the Lord is faithful; that not one word of His had failed them), and to “hold fast” to the Lord their God, that they might ultimately possess all of the land He had sworn to them as an inheritance.

Well, we too dear brethren, have an inheritance set out ahead of us, and it is nothing less than entrance into our Lord’s Heavenly Kingdom, to rule and reign over this earth with Him for a thousand years. Yet in this wilderness journey, from faith to faith, from children needing milk, to mature saints sustained by meat,  we have so very much to learn, so very much to let go of and so very much to apprehend. And the spiritual gift of exhortation is a most essential condition of our training and development as children of God.

Tragically, as we read in the Book of Judges following this appeal from Joshua, the children of Israel proved just how pitifully they took his words to heart. They did in fact perish quickly from the good land, rather than go on to possess all of it with the Lord’s fullest blessing and purpose (to be a light to the gentiles). Indeed, they always reacted with hostility to the Lord’s prophets and messengers, who meant them only that which is good. Ultimately, they rejected and then crucified the One sent from heaven, the One greater than Moses, whose heartfelt words of exhortation and truth fell always on uncircumcised ears (Acts 7:51) and stony hearts.

It is fitting here also to add to Joshua’s final words, what well might be some of the final words of Peter (at his approaching death), and the similarity of the message is rather striking –

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,  to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;  for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.  Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. (2 Peter 1:10-15)

Yes, little ones, as long as we too are in this tent, we need to be constantly reminded of essential and important things, to be “stirred up”, that we will “be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and ready to present ourselves to Him at His Coming. God-sent exhortation, if it is heeded and taken to heart,  keeps us from stumbling, it keeps us established in the present truth, and advancing in the faith, such that an “entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

And so to conclude dear brethren, do not despise this gift, whether you are the one to whom it has been granted, or those who are being exhorted. It is one of those most precious gifts given to the church, ministered under the watchful care of the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Comforter, who will lead us into all things in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Please pray for one another in this matter, as the days and hours grow short, and as we wait His appearance for His watchful ones. Please pray for those who are the exhorters among the brethren, for theirs must only be a difficult and lonely path, and they need the Lord’s blessing, provision and empowerment,  such that they will not become bitter or proud in the ministration of this gift. And pray also that our hearts will not become hardened and our necks stiff, once the word of exhortation comes forth, wherever that may be. In all this and other matters, we pray for you dear children, that your faith might remain and even grow stronger as the days grow darker. In Jesus Righteous Name, Amen.