GO WITH US AND GOD WILL BLESS YOU
Numbers 10:29‑32 “And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred. And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.”
Moses said to Hobab, his father-in-law, who had come from Median to visit him in the wilderness, “We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it you.’ Come thou with us, and we will do thee good.” Those who by faith see that city whose Builder and Maker is God desire others to come and share the blessedness.
The Christian life, as a pilgrimage, may be illustrated from this incident in the following ways:
“We are journeying” from the house of bondage, from the slavery of sin and the dominion of the devil, from a life of misery and fruitlessness. The pilgrim’s journey takes him through the wilderness of this world, still lying in the lap of the wicked one. The experience of each individual pilgrim may be vastly different, but all keep plodding on to the blessed land of promise.
Salvation is a pilgrim journey. A pilgrim is a person who journeys, esp. a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion i.e., pilgrims to the Holy Land.
We are pilgrims and as we journey we invite others to join us. It is an invitation that will so change their lives that they become pilgrims in a journey toward the promised land. John 14:1‑3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The pilgrim is convinced that his journey will pay off in eternal dividends. He is willing to be treated by the world as an alien because he understands that this is literally true. His willingness to be unchanged by the world is a major problem with the world.
AS PILGRIMS JOURNEYING TO A LAND OF PROMISE
It is like it was in the days of Noah. The people of that day had to think that Noah had lost his mind. That is, until it started raining. But then it was too late. For us we are looking for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10).
As pilgrims we sing along the way. Most of our Christian songs celebrate our salvation and anticipate the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we journey toward that land of promise we get glimpses at the glory of it through the Scriptures. 1 John 3:1‑3, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
The Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us. May our spiritual life grow up and journey on into an ever increasing likeness to Him, whom having not seen, yet we love.”
AS PILGRIMS ANIMATED BY FAITH
The Lord said in our text, “And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.”
How do we know that we will inherit the blessing? It is simple. God said it and we believe it. It is faith that digs in and says, “God cannot lie. He will stay true to His world. We will inherit the blessing and the sacrifices that we make by self denial concerning the thing of this world and not to be compared with the reward that awaits the child of God.
AS PILGRIMS ANXIOUS FOR OTHERS TO COME WITH THEM
The coming of others into the joy of salvation does not curtail but enlarges our own inheritance of blessing. The days in which we live challenge us to ask, “are we truly His disciples? Are we willing to die believing the promises of the Divine inheritance? We want you to come but we must also caution you that a mere visit with the pilgrims when we meet to worship is not salvation. One must embrace by faith the person of Christ and all He has to say.
As pilgrims we are anxious for others to come with us. Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of one’s soul will translate him from the path that leads to eternal destruction to the high road that leads into His presence forever.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
THE DOINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN
Col. 3:23-25 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
We are not saved by our works. If anything is plain in the teaching of Scripture, this is it. I am surprised that so many who claim to be Christians cannot see this. But good works are important part of the Christian’s life after salvation. “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). It is one thing to be “created unto good works” and to claim to be “created because of good works.” We do need to get that straight. There are seven things in these three verses Paul points out that will be the focus of this meditation. First, he speaks of,
THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE DOING (OUR GOOD WORKS)
The words, “And whatsoever ye do . . .” include all things. “Whatsoever” actually translates three words. First, the word “pas” which means, “individually, each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.” Second the word, “hostis” which means, “whatever,” and third, “ean” and means, “if, in case.” The word “whatsoever” has a big job to do to say everything that those three words say! “Whatsoever” means, “each individual thing, what ever it is, in case you do it.” All of that in whatsoever! The words “ye do” translates “poieo” and means, “to make, with the names of things made, to produce, to construct, to form, to fashion, etc., to be the author of, the cause.”
The second “do” is different from the first “do.” The second “do” translates “ergazomai” and means, “to work or labor, the work done is business.” It would be the work of a manager or what we call common labor.
I believe from this definition that we can conclude that nothing is left out. It truly means “whatsoever.” God is to be in mind in whatever we do. It can be ministry of some kind, or just a father out making a living for his family (an employee), or the mother keeping house, or the child struggling through the years from birth to maturity, or a servant (a slave), or the business owner or manager, whatever it may be, if it is DOING, it must be related to our obedience to, and our relationship to our Lord.
GLIMPSES FROM EARLY MISSIONARY ENDEAVORS
Heb. 6:12 “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
This verse encourages us to be motivated by those who walked the path of faith before us. I have been reading again the biography of Adoniram Judson and am always challenged and instructed by his experiences.
Adoniram and Nancy Heseltine and Samuel and Harriet Newel, were married just before embarking to Burma. One of the prominent citizens of “Haverhill” wrote to a friend in Portugal the following:
“I can think of nothing interesting to add, I will just observe that religious enthusiasm still continues to prevail here. Believe me, unaccountable as it may appear to you, what I am about to repeat to you is true. A daughter of the late Moses Atwood, deceased, by name of Harriet, and a young Miss Heseltine, of the Heseltine family of Bradford, young ( about seventeen or eighteen years old), and totally inexperienced in the school of human nature, are about to embark with their companions (to whom they have but yesterday allied themselves by marriage) —yes, I say that these four foolish and inexperienced young people are about to embark, and will actually sail to the far-distant shores of Hindustan, and marvelous to tell, to teach that numerous and ancient people the right way to heaven!”
The ship on which they sailed was the “Caravan” and was to be captained by a young man 27 years of age and was making his first voyage as Captain. He proved to be very capable to do the job. The Caravan had coops and pens of cackling chickens and squealing pigs which would provide fresh meat for the voyage.
“The Caravan was not long out of sight of land before Harriet and Nancy became aware of something unpleasant about the rise and fall of the vessel on the open ocean. Within a few hours both were seasick. Probably their husbands were, too, but they did not record their sensations in their journals.”
“Harriet was completely incapacitated for several days. Nancy was more fortunate. The first night she had many distressing apprehensions of death, and felt unwilling to die on the sea, not so much on account of her state after death, as the dreadfulness of perishing amid the waves. But she was less sick than she had expected, no worse, through the whole, than if she had taken a gentle emetic. Meanwhile, five days out, the Caravan scared everybody by springing a bad leak and nearly sinking in spite of the efforts of all hands at the pumps until the hole was finally located and stopped. After a week or so, however, all four of the passengers began to enjoy the voyage.”
Another excerpt from the biography: “Presently the Caravan entered the torrid zone. The missionaries discovered the invigorating effects of a bath in salt water; following her first, Harriet noted that it was very refreshing. She said, “I think I shall bathe regularly every other day.”
“By the first of May they had crossed the Equator and run into cold rainy weather as they began to round the Cape of Good Hope. On this day Harriet summed up her feelings: ‘I care not how soon we reach Calcutta, and are placed in a still room, with a bowl of milk and a loaf of Indian bread. I can hardly think of this simple fare without exclaiming, oh, what a luxury. I have been so weary of the excessive rocking of the vessel, and the almost intolerable smell after the rain, that I have done little more than lounge on the bed for several days.’”
“. . . And the next day, the twelfth of June, after seeing nothing but sky and water for one hundred and fourteen days, we this morning heard the joyful exclamation of ‘land, land!’”
Can you imagine a missionary today going this long at sea in the pursuit of his mission? The reason I am quoting from this biography is to acquaint us again with the distances and hardships that the early pioneer missionaries had to endure to do the work of missions.
By the time the missionary party reached Calcutta, Harriet was expecting a baby. When Judson and Newell met Carey he discouraged them from going to Burma and told them as Americans they were not welcome in India. But they did have a warm welcome from the missionaries there. However, the missionaries were not the ones who determined whether they could stay in India or go to Burma. They had to deal with the authorities and the authorities had no use for the missionaries. They were not allowed to stay in India. And they were not granted permission to go to Burma. The authorities were determined to send them to England and the missionaries had no intention of going there.
The biography continues: “The next day Newell returned to Serampore to tell Nancy and Harriet that permission had been granted and a ship was sailing for the Isle of France in four days.” The Captain of the ship agreed to carry two missionaries and no more. It was decided that Samuel and Harriet would be the ones since she was only three months from the delivery date of her child. If she were going to travel by sea she needed to do it now.
Adoniram, Nancy and Rice finally found a ship named the Creole that would eventually take them to Burma. The ship was blown around by contrary winds all over the Bay of Bengal. Eventually they sailed into the harbor of Port Louis at the Isle of France on Saturday, January 17, 1813. They had been at sea seven weeks and away from Salem for eleven months. They looked forward to being able to see the Newell’s. They had not much more than dropped anchor that a boat arrived from shore bringing them the sad news that Harriet was dead. The baby was dead. The next morning Newell himself came aboard the ship and told his sad story.
Harriet on the eighth of October, two days before her nineteenth birthday, gave birth to a baby girl on the cabin floor with no other attendant but Samuel, her husband. The joy of their new baby girl was to be short lived. A day or so later both mother and child were exposed to a violent storm which drenched and chilled everyone on board. Harriet and the baby caught cold; the baby’s cold turned into pneumonia, and five days later after birth she died in her mother’s arms.
Early in November the ship on which the Newels were traveling dropped anchor at Port Louis and Harriet was taken ashore to a small house Samuel had rented. He found two physicians to care for her, but they could do nothing. Little by little she wasted away. By the middle of November, even Samuel gave up hope. On the thirtieth, about four in the afternoon, her eyesight failed, and in an hour or so, she died. The next day Samuel buried her in the shade of an evergreen tree in a secluded corner of the Port Louis cemetery.
The Judson’s tried to console Newell but they needed consoling themselves. The grim unromantic reality of their mission began to dawn on them. Here on the Isle of France were four missionaries one year after they left Salem. They were on an Island none of them intended to go and no other place in that part of the world wanted them.
This Meditation is simply to show the hazards of early missionary life. While our missionaries today have it much better, they still experience some of the same problems and need our prayers. Pray daily for your missionaries.
May the Lord bless each of you.
SEEING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS
Eph. 1:8 “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;”
The word “prudence” needs definition. It is amazing how we will read our Bible and do a kangaroo over what we don’t understand. Sometimes that part of God’s Work lies dormant because of the neglect of the reader to take time to examine. The word “prudence” is found in 2 Chronicles 2:12, “Huram said moreover, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an house for the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.”
“Prudent is defined as, “Cautious; circumspect; practically wise; careful of the consequences of enterprises, measures or actions; cautious not to act when the end is of doubtful utility, or probably impracticable. The prudent man looketh well to his going. Prov.14.” — Commentary by John GIll.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS LIVED ON A HIGHER PLANE
John 8:23, “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
This was a strange message to the unbelievers. The disciples must have had some insight but they did not let it show. Christianity is to be lived with a constant pull toward heaven. That is where the Christian belongs. When we were saved, we changed our homeland. We are now engaged in the Work of the Lord, until He comes again.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS LIVED UNDER HIS SUPERVISION
The Lord Jesus didn’t have to come. He is a volunteer. This is the way He wants us to live. But He has now made himself available to all who call upon His name. In one way Christianity is easy. It is just a matter of trust. When an unsaved man goes to the Lord in desperation and asks for salvation, He is always welcomed at the throne of grace.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Lord Jesus is not in constant contact with His children. He knows who they are, what they are enduring, and is with them through it all. Hebrews 13:5‑6, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
The Greek text (the Received Text) from which we get our King James Bible inserts the strongest possible negative in this verse: “I will never, no never, never, never, leave thee, nor never forsake you. . . So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Think of the worst thing man could do to you. Take your life? Jesus emphatically says, “I will never, never, no never leave the, I will never, never, no never forsake you. You are mine and if the enemy should take your life, I will be there for you when you step over the great divide.”
There is the proof of this in the history of the Church. Many have sung hymns and witnessed to their enemies as their flesh burned off their bones. I can hear someone say, “I don’t think I could do that.” No, and they didn’t either. The Lord was with them, strengthening them, and gave to them a song to sing at their graduation service!!!!
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS REWARDED WITH ETERNAL REWARDS
The rewards we get here are temporal in nature. They are certainly thrilling to receive. It is always good to get small blessing from Him. They let us know that He is watching and pleased with what we are doing. But man!!!! those temporal blessings will fade into the tomb of time never to be remembered, when we get the blessings that have no end.
We need to be good business people. I believe it was Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” A man is a lunatic to put his whole emphasis on his physical body, and do it in exchange for his eternal soul.
Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
We need to see beyond the obvious. This is seeing by faith. When we visualize in our minds what God has promised in His word, it is as good as seeing it. We do not walk by sight, we walk by faith.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
KEEPING OUR COMMITMENTS
Psa. 15:4 “In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.”
I especially want to consider the words, “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” Let’s notice first of all,
WE NEED TO KEEP OUR COMMITMENT TO SERVE
Service for the Lord begins with salvation. The Lord does not call unsaved men to serve Him. Those who believe that salvation is a personal attainment would not agree with this statement. They are ego centered, filled with pride, and feel because they do something to help their fellow man they believe that the final judgment will be based on this. And so they find a false comfort in this.
These people are like the one illustrated by our Lord in Luke 18:9 14, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The Pharisee received no mercy because he asked for none. Those in this condition feel they need no mercy because they are constantly seeing themselves as good men and are better than others. This type of person is hard to reach because he confuses the meaning and necessity of the gospel as being for those who are less righteous than himself. So he marches to judgment without the slightest chance of being saved. He does not agree with God concerning himself. Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Then again in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” God has stated this truth and then offers grace as a way out. God never condemns without keeping the door of His mercy open to the ones He confronts and convicts.
Then let’s consider for a moment the publican. Jesus contrasts this man with the
Pharisee. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
This man is hated by the self-righteous Pharisee. He hears the prayer of the Pharisee. And so when he begins to pray, it reveals this one’s sense of base humility. One does not find in his words a condemnation of the Pharisee. In fact the publican agrees with the Pharisee. His prayer goes like this, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” This man bows his head in humility. He beats upon his breast. This is an act that indicates agreement with what God says about himself. He asks God for mercy. The word “merciful” in this text translates, “hilaskomai” and means, “to expiate, make propitiation for.” This word is also translated “mercy seat” as in the holy of holies in the Temple. The publican is asking God to meet with him at the mercy seat and forgive him of his sins. Jesus said this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.
Why did the publican obtain mercy from God? It is because he confessed himself “the” sinner. The definite article stands before the word sinner in the Greek text (the text from which our King James Bible was translated). The definite article before the word “sinner” makes this mean that he was the sinner at the head of the line. It is like Paul when he called himself the “chief of sinners” in 1 Tim. 1:5, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” This means more than just confessing oneself to have some sin in his life. It means that one has accepted God’s diagnosis and verdict. It is when we realize that our smallest sin, offends a holy God to the point where we see ourselves without the slightest chance of going to heaven unless God intervenes to save us. We must cast ourselves without reserve to a just but loving God and ask Him for mercy.
The Lord does not call an unsaved person to serve Him. Man is not saved by his service to the Lord. He is saved by coming before the Lord in genuine repentance in need of mercy.
When one is saved, at that point he is almost speechless to express his gratitude for God to do such a thing for him. So I think I am safe in saying that every one of us have made a commitment to God and said, “Lord what ever you want me to do, I will do it.” But the tragedy is that it does not take one long to forget that commitment. It is my aim in this meditation to face my own responsibility squarely and help any Christian who reads this to reaffirm his/her commitment.
If we are saved, we need to keep our commitment to serve. Service does follow salvation. It is the result of salvation not the condition to salvation. Next,
LET’S KEEP OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR LOCAL CHURCH
Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 5:14 16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Jesus said, “Ye,” are the light of the world. The “Ye” is a plural pronoun. He is speaking to all His disciples not just one. Next He says, “Ye are,” the light of the world. In the Greek language a personal pronoun is usually attached as an ending to the verb. If it is attached to the ending of the verb it can be translated just like the above. However, if you want to emphasize the personal pronoun it is an added word. It is in this case. When Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world,” there was no room for doubt that He was speaking to all of them in this statement.
Next, Jesus said, “men don’t light a candle put it under a bushel.” That would defeat the purpose of the candle. Jesus is saying to His disciples in this marvelous illustration, “I have made you a candle. A candle is made to shine so that it gives light to “all that are in the house.”
Now we are the candle. We were made so by a creative miracle called the new birth. Where are we to put the candle of our lives? On the candlestick!!! Where is the candlestick? The answer to that question is found in Revelation 1:20, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” If we do not serve the Lord in His Church, we put our candle under a bushel. Next,
WE NEED TO KEEP OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR MARRIAGE PARTNER
I don’t know if you know it or not but the divorce rate among Christians is almost as high as in the unsaved world. One of the things that God makes clear it is His will for marriage to be permanent. Now I don’t have nearly all the answers for those whose marriage has ended in divorce. I don’t think this is the place to deal with that.
My wife and I were married in 1948. We are coming up on our 65th year of marriage. I have never considered divorce as an option over a disagreement with my wife. We still hold hands when we are out walking. I told her if she ever decides to leave, give me notice because I am going with her!!!
Paul’s word on marriage is found in Ephesians 5:21 33, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
This passage speaks of unity. It speaks of permanent commitment. This passage gives a multitude of so-called Bible believers a problem. I had a young lady in the church I pastored come to talk to me about marriage. I told her that I would have to take them through at least five sessions of marriage counseling before I would agree to be the one who married them. We set a date to begin the counseling. I began in Genesis where God Himself performed the first marriage. The young lady who was a member of our church had a problem with “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
She sent the young man to ask me if I would leave that out of the ceremony. I told him as simple and plain as I could that this was and is the Word of the eternal God. I told the young man he needed to find another lady to marry. Well, they went and had someone else marry them. The marriage didn’t last over three months.
This is what I am talking about. God established marriage. When one marries he makes a commitment to God and the one to whom he/she marries. We need to consider that we have made a commitment to one another and God. Then we need to keep it.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGETTING
Phil. 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”
In some ways the Book of Philippians is one of the greatest little epistles in the New Testament. This passage of Scripture is a high water mark in the epistle because it not only teaches a very important principle, which is total commitment of our lives to Christ, but it does it in the form of personal testimony. Paul is telling us how this worked in his life. The truth that is being proclaimed by the teacher should be working in his own life. Otherwise it is just hearsay. It is just truth in an academic framework but totally unrelated to real human experience.
The words “this one thing I do” gives us the single-mindedness of the great apostle. He has one great truth that has mastered him. All other things are incidental. Paul says, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Paul says, “This one thing I do . . .”
Then he says, “forgetting those things that are behind.” The word “forgetting” (epilanthanomai) means “to forget, to neglect, to no longer care for, out of mind, forgotten, given over to oblivion, i.e., uncared for.” I can just hear some who are tortured by certain past memories say, “I wish I could do this to certain memories.” Well, let me give you the good news. You can and should. If you are going to run the race successfully that Paul is talking about in this passage of Scripture, you must. It is essential.
First of all we must have the right to forget. Do I have a right to forget those horrible things that I have done wrong? Or, that has been done to me? Have you dealt with your sins from God’s point of view? John says in his first epistle chapter 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The “if” here is a third class condition. It means “maybe we will maybe we won’t.” It is not assumed to be true. I ask you. Have you confessed your sins to God? You say, “What is it to confess your sins?” The word “confess” (homologeo) means “to say the same thing as another, i.e., to agree with.” Do you agree with what God has said about your sins? If you do not, you have not confessed. This is what confession is. It means to agree with God about what he says is wrong in general and what you have done in particular.
Now there are people who do not agree with a lot of the laws in this country. But they must keep them as long as they remain citizens and live here. As they go from day to day they are not at rest concerning these laws but they reluctantly keep them because they dread the consequences if caught.
This is the way it is with many professing Christians. They claim to be in God’s family but they do not agree with a lot of what God has said in his Word that Christian ought to practice. It they get caught (under a Holy Spirit anointed sermon) they may come to the altar, bow their knee and confess to God that they are not living up to the standard. That is not what “confess” means. The word “confess” means that you have been won over to God’s view point. It means that you go to God and say to him something like, “God I have been disagreeing with you about on this subject. I have gone along. I have claimed to be an obedient child of yours. But in reality, I have been lying to myself and others. Lord, I can no longer do that. I see it now. You are right about what I have been doing wrong. I confess it to you now. I will no longer do this and tell myself it is ok. Lord forgive me for assuming that I was right and you were wrong.” Now that’s confession.
What does God promise that he will do when we confess? John says, “. . . he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The sin or sins have now been forgiven. Do I have a right to forget them even though they are forgiven? I ask you, what does God do with sins that he has forgiven? Hebrews 10:17 answers this: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” You know, there are a lot of mysteries of the Bible that I would not begin to try to explain. But this verse is self explanatory. God does not remember the sins he forgives. If they come back up, who brings them up? Satan is the father of lies. This is Satan’s attempt to deny the complete efficacy of the blood that Christ shed on the cross. You can be sure that he will tell you that God has not really forgiven you of your past. Now here is an important question that I want to ask you. Are you going to believe God or Satan? If you believe God, you will do with your past what Paul did with his: “Forgetting those things which are behind. . .” There is a tremendous release for those who will believe God’s word and do this. Many are in bondage to sins already forgiven. Jesus came to set you free. You are not free if you are constantly reliving those past experiences for which you have been forgiven.
You say, “I have tried and it don’t work.” Let me ask you a question. If you explained the plan of salvation to someone. And you ended your explanation of God’s simple plan of salvation with Romans 10:13 and I will quote it for purposes of illustration: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Say for instance, that you prayed with this person. And after you prayed, while you both looked at this verse, with your finger on the verse, you asked the person, “did the Lord save you?” And the person said, “No, I don’t think so. I feel the same as before. I am the same as before. It just didn’t work for me.” What would you tell him? Now be careful right here. I want to tell you that I have told people the wrong thing at this point in the soul winning process. What would you tell him? You would tell him, “It not the verse or God who is not working, it is you who is not believing.” Listen, this is important. It does take faith on our part. Right? Until this person is willing to believe what God has said, do what God has said, and believe that God cannot lie, and that he has done in response to my prayer what he said he would do, whether I feel any different or not, he is not saved. God counts faith for righteousness Doubt or unbelief will never be counted for righteousness.
Now back to “forgetting those things which are behind.” What Paul says as a personal testimony becomes the taught Word of God for every Christian. How can I forget those things? By an act of my volition and faith in the truth of God’s word that he has forgotten them, I simply refuse to be bothered with them again. They will not bother me if I “put them out of mind.” Start by confessing that it is a sin to remember what God has said to forget. At that point you are forgiven for remembering what God teaches us to forget. Then read 2 Cor. 10:5. That issue no long exist because he has cleansed you of it. If it comes back up, it comes up as a FIRST. Because when God forgives, the past no longer exist in his mind. Amen. Someone hold my mules!!!
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts today.
Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
It is easy to say that there is fulness of water in the ocean, fulness of wealth in the earth, and fulness of light in the sun; but can the richness of this fulness be reckoned up? So there is fulness of salvation in the grace of God, but that fulness can only be realized in the ages of the ages. In the above Scripture we see what might be termed seven steps into a full salvation. First let’s look at,
AN HONEST CONFESSION
“We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves of sin” (vs 3). Someone has said, “Confession is the opening of the windows of the heart to the light of Heaven: an acknowledgment before God of our guilt and need of His mercy.” This is also brought in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God never goes back on a promise when the sinner comes in repentance asking for forgiveness. Next we see,
A DIVINE REVELATION
Titus 3:4, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” This is a Divine revelation. God could say, “I love you,” but it would be meaningless unless there were acts to prove it. God demonstrated His kindness, His love, as the Saviour of man in that He sent His Son to reveal His heart, and to open the door to eternal salvation.
1 John 4:9 10, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The word “propitiation” is translated in Hebrews as “mercy seat.” This is the place where man can meet with God and have communion with Him, receive forgiveness and become a joint-heir with Jesus. Someone hold my mules!!! This is not man’s invention but his discovery of God’s revelation. Next we see,
A COMPLETE JUSTIFICATION
Titus 3:7 says, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Justification is by grace because there is no other way for man to be saved. Man is a bankrupt sinner in need of grace if he is ever to enjoy God’s fellowship forever. Justification takes in a guilty sinner and grace washes him and fixes him for fellowship with God. Man could never have accomplished this by works. Grace is what God is free to do for man because of the Cross. When God justifies the believer in Jesus it is an evidence that his forgiveness has been full and complete. Next we see,
AN ENTIRE REGENERATION
Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
Suppose it were possible (it is not) to be justified from all sin, and yet not be changed in heart, or made a new creature. How soon this justified one would be like the sow that was washed returning again to the mire. 2 Peter 2:22 says, “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
When God saves us He creates within us a new man that is of His own nature. 2 Peter 1:4 says, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Next let’s look at,
A DAILY RENOVATION
To meet this need there is “the renewing of the Holy Ghost which He shed on us abundantly.” Titus 3:5 7, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” It is washing of regeneration, it is the renewing of the Holy Ghost, It is justification by his grace, it is being made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The one who is in possession of this is being renovated daily by these truths. Next let’s look at,
AN ETERNAL POSSESSION
Titus 3:7 says, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” The words, ”that being justified by His grace,” translates the verb dikaioo and is a “first aorist passive participle.” The aorist tense goes back to the place in time where conversion took place. The passive voice means that this justification was bestowed upon them by another, i.e., they did not secure it by their own effort. God is the Actor in salvation man is the receiver. This is what the passive voice means. The words “according to the hope of eternal life” refers to the joyful anticipation of the reality. Hope is not a weak word, it is as sure as God in His immutability has promised the believer.
May the Lord bless us with these words.
COMING SHORT OF THE WILL OF GOD
Heb.4:1 “ Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”
Why do some people have such a struggle with finding the will of God and staying in it? I have run into Christians all of my Christian life who are sincere people but they get all wound up to serve the Lord and the next time you see them they are having a struggle with something as simple as attending church regularly. If you are that kind of person, I am not writing this meditation to criticize you. I am writing it to help you. I do know things can be different for you. But no one can apply the will of God to your life but you. I can’t trust him for you. I can’t obey the Lord for you. This you must do for yourself. But the starting place is to properly identify your problem in the Word of God. Then do what it says. So I’m going to mention some things in this meditation that hopefully will help you identify the problem.
There are two rests what are mentioned in Hebrews 3 and 4. First, we have the rest of salvation. Heb 4:2-3 says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
Here the writer is speaking of Israel in the wilderness. The gospel was preaching to them. He says plainly, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them. . .” The gospel has ever and always been the means of salvation to the lost. Then we have in this verse the failure of the gospel to save all that hear it. He says, “But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” It is not enough to hear the gospel. Faith must be mixed with the gospel or it has no saving effect. Then he says, “For we which have believed do enter into rest . . .” The word “enter” (eiserchomai) means to “enter or come into.” It is a present middle indicative verb. This means that the “rest” of which he speaks here is something to be experienced by the believer in the continuous present. It is not a future rest. It is a rest entered at the point of faith in the gospel message. That is the first kind of rest.
The next rest of which is spoken in this passage is described in verses 9-11: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
This is a rest that remaineth “for the people of God.” Salvation rest is there for the unsaved. When they enter that rest by faith they become the “people of God.” Using Israel of old in coming out in the Exodus, they had faith to get them out of Egypt but not enough faith to get them into Canaan. Canaan is a type of the life of victory in Christ. Most of the Jews that came out of Egypt never made it into the land. They viewed the land and tasted some of the fruit of the land. But they did not BELIEVE that the God that brought them out of Egypt was big enough to overcome the giants and give them victory in the land of promise. Therefore they died in the wilderness completely free from Egypt geographically but not free from Egypts influence psychologically.
When we leave Egypt and enter in with the people of God by faith in Jesus Christ we must leave the psychology of the world behind. We operate according to new principles all together. It is faith. Faith hears what God says and does it.
This is one of the first reasons many Christians fail. They try to bring the things they learned before salvation and apply them to the Christian life. You say, “They worked for me before I was saved, why won’t they work now?” Because the Lord has called you away from the philosophy of the world and has given you a new principle by which to walk. The reason you needed to be saved is because those things that you believed before were completely unacceptable to God. If you refuse the change from Egypt to Canaan then you may wind up dying out of Egypt (truly saved) but also out of Canaan (outside of the “rest” of the life of victory). You are stuck in between! That rest is available to you. It is a matter of choice. If you have not entered into God’s best for your life, it is not because it is not available to you, it is because you do not believe God. Unbelief is the reason given in this passage and it must be accepted as the continuing reason that God’s people continue to live outside what is typified in the Canaan rest.
Let me restate this first principle again. The reason some people have such a struggle with finding the will of God and serving him with the complete joy of the Lord is that they have not moved from the “sight” mode to the “faith” mode. 2 Cor. 5:7 “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”
Another reason some people have a struggle in serving the Lord and never seem to be happy as Christians is because what they want to do for him as Christians is not the same as his will for them. Every life is a plan of God. He has something in mind for you. And if what you want for yourself is different from what he wants for you there will be a struggle. God will not bless your disobedience. I do not choose my path. He chooses it for me. Now if I have so surrendered to his will so that when I discover what he wants me to do that I say, “Thank you Lord. It will be a thrill for me to do this. If this is your will for my life, I accept it and will give myself fully to it.” That is victory. Have you done that? What if it is just being a godly mother and a house wife? This is the role God has given to most women. If you are not satisfied there, don’t expect God to bless you with peace. You are going to be in trouble constantly.
Another reason for the struggle in the Christian life is that many yield to the desires of the flesh and are pulled away from the will of God. I have no doubt that there were Jews that died in the wilderness who could have easily lined up with Joshua and Caleb but they could not think for themselves. They allowed the rebels to influence and they voted with the crowd that day. The Lord does not want us going with the crowd. He wants us to respond positively to his word even when our closest friends are trying to influence us to go the way of the world. God wants us to believe him and act on that faith against all odds. Joshua and Caleb had learned that lesson. They were happy men.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts today.
DOUBTS DOUBTS DOUBTS
2 Cor. 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
A more direct question on the assurance of salvation is not found in the Scripture than this one. I believe there were those in Corinth that had doubts and Paul asks this question to point them in the direction of assurance. Have you ever doubted your salvation? I have heard a few Christians say they never have. That is great and that is possible. But the majority of us somewhere along life’s pathway have. And it is a miserable and scary feeling. You see, if you are truly saved, you understand the Bible and believe it’s doctrines. You are fully aware that hell awaits the end of an unsaved man’s life (Luke +16:19-31). Unsaved people walk around you every day and never give it a thought. But not you. You know there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. And you know that the unsaved are only one heartbeat out of that horrible place. For you to know that and doubt, is to me filled with fear and dread. Corinth had members who fit this profile. Paul says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Paul seems almost put out with having to deal with this issue. But he does, so lets examine it.
The word “Examine” (peirazo) means “to put something to the test.” It is a present active imperative verb. The present tense and imperative mood means get on with this examination right now and stay with it until it is settled. The imperative mood is a command and suggests urgency. Paul understood that urgency. So does the one who doubts. The person who is saved and doubts is a very miserable person. If fact, there is torment in the fears that arise out of doubts. So there is a legitimate Scriptural warrant for self examination for the one who is in doubt.
The following is a summary of Adoniram Judson’s obtaining the assurance of his salvation:
“Adoniram made an instant impression on these two divines (in Andover). His personality was ingratiating, yet without false humility. His mind was of the finest order. He already knew more theology than many theological students. He was open to conviction. He understood that he must undergo inner regeneration before he could look forward to faith and personal salvation. BUT CLEARLY THIS WAS NOT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED IN A FEW HOURS OF ARGUMENT (Caps mine). The very qualities that made the boy so worth saving made him hard to save. Yet the visitors felt almost at once that if he could find conviction he could become a minister such as had not been seen since the days of Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards.”
“Soon he was completely engrossed in his new life of plain living and high thinking. Part of the day he spent in his room translating and working on theological problems. Part he spent with the two professors. Another part he spent alone, walking in a wooded grove behind the seminary building, reflecting on the meaning of what he was learning. November came. The grove was a less pleasant place, perhaps, than it had been in October. The ground was wet with fall rain, the weather raw; only a few lonely leaves lingered on the bare boughs. But with the trees bare, he could see farther. And as he walked thoughtfully through the grove, he found that he could see farther into his problems, too. He began to suspect he had not seen the forest for the trees, nor the trees for the leaves. THAT MONTH HIS DOUBTS BEGAN TO LEAVE, LITTLE BY LITTLE (Caps mind). He underwent no sudden conversion, felt no blinding flash of insight. But he was able to note that he ‘began to entertain a hope of having received the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit.’”
“On the second day of December—a day he never forgot—he made a solemn dedication of himself to God.”
“With the issue settled and himself at peace, he devoted himself with a single mind to his studies. . . The next summer he joined the church at Plymouth, to the unrelieved joy of his father, mother, and Abby. From this time on he was literally a new man. He banished forever those dreams of literary and political ambition in which he had formerly indulged, and simply asked himself, How shall I so order my future being as best to please God?” (Quote from the Life of Adoniram Judson To The Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson).
I just wanted you to see that some of the great men of the past have had struggles coming to the full assurance of salvation.
The word “prove” (dokimazo) means “to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals.” This is what you are to do to your own selves. There were some in Corinth who needed to examine the genuineness of their faith in Christ.
There is a sure test of the genuineness of your faith. Paul puts it this way, “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.?” The word “ye know” (epiginosko) is the word “to know” with a prepositional intensifier attached to the front of it and means “to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly.” It is a present active indicative verb. It means that you are thoroughly acquainted with whether Jesus Christ is in you if He is there. The words “except ye be reprobates” is the exception to the rule. You either know it or you are reprobates. That seems to be the only exception. The word “reprobates” (adokimos) means “not standing the test.” The test is the presence of Jesus. It is not what you are doing for him. It is His presence. It is not your faith, it is His presence.
Sometimes the loss of assurance comes by being misdirected by the devil into believing that salvation depends on the strength of faith. This is a lie of Satan. Salvation has never been based on the strength of our faith. It is based on the TRUTHFULNESS OF GOD. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Some will tell you that they do not know whether they have believed. Paul answers that in this verse. If you believed, Jesus Christ is in you. If He is not there you are what Paul calls a “reprobate.” Can a “reprobate” be saved? Yes. What does he have to do? Believe the gospel. You say, “I have done that.” You haven’t, according to Paul, if Jesus Christ is not in you. Now you may be expecting some big BANG to take place. Please re-read the experience of Adoniram Judson. That was a hindrance to him also. He had to take God at his Word and press on. When he realized God could not lie and that He had kept His Word, the problem of assurance took care of itself.
May God bless each of you.
PAUL MAKES A PERSONAL APPEAL FOR PRAYER
Col. 4:1-4“Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”
Paul says, “Withal praying also for us.” Paul believed that prayer was an essential part in the Christians life. He believed that prayer was essential to the Christian who lives constantly in enemy territory. Not to pray is to take God for granted. It is to take His work in our hands and operate for Him in our own strength. Paul knew that the Colossians were facing the enemy in the person of the Gnostic heresy. So he tells them to pray. He also has confidence in their prayers so he asks them to pray for him. The word “withal” means “at the same time.” In other words, Paul says while you are praying for yourselves and the work there, pray for me. Include me in your prayers.
Then he makes two specific requests. First, “that God would open unto us a door of utterance. When we talk about open doors for service we are using the language of Scripture. God must open doors to us. Paul needed an open door for utterance. This means that the door was shut at the time of the request. Now who do you suppose closed that door? We have three basic enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. I am sure in my mind that Satan had shut the door. Paul was a danger to the kingdom of Satan.
We have a good illustration of this in Acts 19. We have the story of how certain vagabond Jews tried to mimic the ministry of Paul in casting out demons. In verses 13-22 we are told, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
Paul said in substance, “Pray for us also that God will open unto us a door of utterance.” He knew that God had to give the opportunity to speak.
Then Paul gets specific concerning the message he wants God to give him the opportunity to preach. He says, “to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.” The mystery of Christ is defined in Colossians 1:27. It is not a hidden mystery, it is a revealed mystery. It is revealed in the gospel. This was and is a hated message. Satan will help you preach a perverted gospel because it only sets his children more firmly in their unsaved condition. But when the pure gospel is preached, Satan’s kingdom loses population! So Satan attacks the gospelizer through the world and the flesh. In Paul’s case, he was in prison for preaching the gospel. The answer to his situation was prayer.
Paul’s second request is, “That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” This second request is for clarity of presentation. The words “make manifest” translates “phaneroo” and means, “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest,” This is an aorist active subjunctive verb. The aorist tense is a potential (subjunctive mood) point of time. It means that Paul wanted in the future to have an opportunity to do this. He is doing it in prison through his inspired pen as he writes to them. He is speaking here about publicly declaring the mystery of the gospel to those who have not heard.
The word “ought” translates “dei” and means, “it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper.” It is a present indicative verb. This means that Paul recognized his present obligation. The words to speak” translates “laleo” and means, “to speak with the mouth.” Paul wanted to preach the gospel by word of mouth. Could it be that Paul was not doing what he wanted most to do when he was writing epistles to churches? Could it be that the way God orchestrated the ministry of Paul to help the future Gentile Church was to allow him to be put in prison so that writing was his only alternative? Paul was willing to serve the Lord in prison. But that certainly was not a choice! But the Word of God and his burden to help defend the gospel in the churches against heresy, motivated him to do what was next best to his coming in person, i.e., write them instructions. Therefore we have fourteen books in the New Testament written by Him some of which were written from prison. Paul was a great success from the Lord’s standpoint. But probably his greatest success was his inspired epistles. Amen.
Paul saw the need of prayer. He was not too proud to ask the local assembly in Colosse to pray for him. He believed they could pray and get their prayers answered. Prayer is a major key to the success of the Lord’s work in this world. We are operating in enemy territory and we are no match in our own strength for Satan. Prayer protects, delivers, and makes us a strong weapon against Satan. It makes the gospel effectual.
May the Lord help us to see the importance of prayer and do more of it, and may the Lord bless these words to our heats today!
WHEN WE HEAR THINGS IN SILENCE
Psa. 46:10 ”Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” This Psalm was penned possibly by Hezekiah. Sennacherib had sent Rabshakeh the leader of the mighty Assyrian army to take Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:7). Israel had already submitted to unreasonable tribute to this world power. But Sennacherib was not satisfied without conquering. So Rabshakeh led the mighty Assyrian army against Jerusalem. He taunted and made fun of Hezekiah’s resistance and made fun of Israel’s God. Hezekiah called for Isaiah the prophet and God spoke to Isaiah and the end result was that God sent an angel, and one angel in one night destroyed the whole Assyrian army of 185,000 men. This also ended Sennacherib reign of terror for he was killed while worshipping in the temple of “Nisroch his god.” This Psalm came as a result of this awesome victory that God gave good king Hezekiah. Hezekiah sought the Lord and heard from Him. He wants us to know that. Let’s look at this particular verse. GOD IS THE SPEAKER Though the psalmist wrote the words, he is just the recorder of what God is saying. God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We are living in a busy age. Activity is the word that describes this age. Goal setting is one of the chief subjects among christian motivators. The idea is to build a big church. We have all kinds of seminars that will help you accomplish this. One of the things they emphasize is goal setting. If time spent in prayer conflicts with goals, then prayer must go. A friend of mine worked on the staff of a large church. Each morning they had an accountability meeting with the pastor. He went over the former day’s accomplishments and the goals for the day. This young man was a producer. He was definitely meeting the goals that this pastor was setting for him. He told me that a young preacher on the staff asked the pastor, “When do we have time to pray?” The pastor answered, “At the stop sign on your way to the door you are supposed to knock on next.” Everyone laughed and the young preacher learned not to ask such question again. We are living in an age of managed time that does not leave room for a quiet time. This is a tragedy and the Church of the Living God is paying for it in POWER LOSS. God says, for He is the speaker of these words, “Be still.” These words translate “raphah” and means, “to relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened, to relax, withdraw.” This verb is in the Hebrew hiphil stem and describes causative action. This means that we are responsible to cause ourselves “to sink down, to relax, and to withdraw.” It means we are to make this happen when we are faced with road blocks that stand in our way. When the enemy stands and threatens action against us, it is time to “Be still.” Remember this psalm was written when Hezekiah was in an impossible situation against a world power and God sent an angel and destroyed the whole Assyrian army without the loss of one person on the side of Hezekiah. “Be still” does not seem the right thing to do when you are in Hezekiah’s shoes. But God does not always do the reasonable thing. When we are surrounded by the enemy (Satan and his forces of evil) and we are depressed and there does to seem to be a way out, listen to what God says. He may speak to you in the words of this psalm, “Be still.” There are times that God says, “Fight.” It was certainly God’s will for Sampson to fight in the case recorded by him in Judges 15:16: “And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” No Bible believer would say that this was Sampson’s victory. The circumstances were different in this case. No one man can kill a thousand men with the jaw bone of a donkey. But God can take a man as an instrument of judgment in His hands and move him against an enemy and do it. In Hezekiah’s case, he got silent before God, and he met God in the stillness. God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Our verse tells us that something happens in the stillness. We will learn. The word “know” translates “yada” and means, “to know by experience, to know, be acquainted with.” This definition implies that we will know God by experience in the stillness. It implies that we will become better acquainted with Him in the silence. Every great man I have ever read after that really had the manifest presence of God in his life put a high priority on a time when one gets alone with God in a time of prayer where God spoke to him and he spoke to God. Usually the time was early in the morning to begin the day. That is not always the time. But all of them had a time when they had this intimate fellowship with God and came to KNOW HIM. God is the speaker of this statement: “Be still, and know that I am God.” For someone to come along and imply that this is an unnecessary exercise is to put oneself in opposition to the God of the Bible. A lot of people who want to maneuver you into an activity trap don’t like to be challenged, and therefore, make fun of anything that challenges their ideas. If you are considering this verse, you are in God’s audience right now. He is the speaker. KNOWING GOD IS THE GOAL What is it to know God? The word “yada” and the root from which it comes is found 944 times in the Old Testament. It has a multitude of shades of meaning. Its closes synonyms are words that means “to discern,” and “to recognize.” It is used of God’s knowledge of man and his ways. I believe it means that in the stillness of the quiet time, people who spend time with God, come to know Him more intimately. It is not just knowing about Him but knowing Him. This knowledge is not always something that you can put on paper or communicate with words. But it is a knowledge that is life changing. AN EXPERIENCE BASED ON GRACE Another thing. God is really favoring the person who knows Him. It is based on grace. When we come into the presence of the Lord, we come to listen. We do not come as manipulators. We come as sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We are not there to instruct. We are there to receive instructions and discern His will and make requests. It is a glorious experience to KNOW God better. This is what Paul is talking about in Phil. 2:10: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” God speaks in the silence of the “holiest” (Heb. 10:19) and what He says makes us KNOW HIM. THE WARFARE OF MAINTAINING STILLNESS It is not easy to be perfectly still in God’s presence. Have you ever tried this exercise? Have you noticed how many things happen when you make an effort to have an undisturbed quiet time? The phone will ring. The children will disturb and even get into fights with one another during this time. It will be something that will stir your emotions to respond in a flash of anger that will bring a feeling of guilt that will ruin any possibility of a quiet time today! Then in exasperation you just give up for today. I believe one of the reasons many have gotten up early before anyone else is awake is to avoid this type of disturbance. It is not the children or the one calling on the phone who is against your quiet time. Paul says in Eph. 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” If it is Satan causing these problems, your wrong response to those humans that disturb, will only make him laugh and make your situation more difficult. A part of knowing God is to know His ways. And one of His ways is to be kind and unselfish and available to those in need. A STRATEGY OF VICTORY You say, “preacher, how do we have a quiet time when things are like this?” That is a very good question. First, you may learn from another and follow his example and it may work for you. You may rise early. But for you, that may not be practical at all. But if you will pray and ask God to give you wisdom to find a time for undisturbed fellowship with Him, I believe you will find it. It may not be easy because Satan does not want this in your life. The closer you get to the Lord, the more ground he loses. But the warfare that brings you into His presence in the stillness of a quiet time is well worth the fight. God is a winner. And the one who waits upon Him enters into His victory. Imagine the thrill and utter joy of Hezekiah when he awoke to see 185,000 Assyrian soldiers strewn dead on the mountains of Jerusalem. The enemy was no more threat. Not only had God given victory over the army, but He had removed the heavy tax that had been levied on them by this foreign power. They were victors because they entered into a victory already won. In conclusion, we see God is the speaker. He invites us to “Be still.” God is the One who writes the prescription for victory, i.e., “Be still and know that I am God.” So “knowing” God is the goal of the quiet time. It is not a time where the goal is to GET things, but to KNOW GOD. A good question: How well do we know God? Do we want to know Him better? Then we must take the prescription that He writes. May God bless these words to our hearts. In Christ Bro. White
THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST
Gal. 1:15-19 “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;”
Jesus Christ, as God’s Beloved Son, and as the Redeemer of men, has been so honored by the Father that in all things, in all spheres, in all times, and in all Eternity He should have the PRE-EMINENCE. He has the pre-eminence.
HE HAS THE PRE-EMINENCE IN POWER
“For by Him were all things created.” All things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (vs 16). It pleased God that “by” Him, “through” Him, “in” Him, and “for” Him, were all things brought into existence, and without Him was not anything made that was made: John 1:3, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” This leaves no place for evolution. Evolution is Satan’s lie and man’s excuse for his sins. If evolution is true then one makes his own set of moral values and crash lands at the Great White Throne Judgement without a possibility of forgiveness.
John 8:21, “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.” The idea here is that those to whom Jesus is speaking will seek Him when it is too late. Therefore they cannot come where He is, i.e., heaven.
Jesus has the pre-eminence in power. He is able to carry out His Father’s will with irresistible power. The power He has to save is clearly declared in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
This same power is inherent in the Gospel. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
1 Corinthians 2:1 5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
HE HAS THE PRE-EMINENCE IN HIS BIRTH
No one has ever had a birth like His. Therefore He is pre-eminent in His birth. He is called, “The Firstborn of every creature.” Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Jesus is previous.
He is the “first born” of every creature. He could say, “I am the First: the Beginning and End.” This is brought out in Revelation 21:6, “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” He is the Firstborn from among the death. Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Hebrews 1:3, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
HE HAS THE PRE-EMINENCE IN HIS LIKENESS
This is found in Colossians 1:15, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:” Angels are holy, many of His people in every age have been Godly, but Christ alone in His essential character was the express image of His Father’s Person. Hebrews 1:3, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
He could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. John 14:9, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
HE HAS THE PRE-EMINENCE IN HIS AUTHORITY
Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” This is the reason Tozer said, “He is previous.” What ever in creation you can name both seen and unseen, Jesus Christ the Eternal Son, is there. He is before it all. Then Paul says, “and by him all things consist.” This means that He did not only make all things, He made them where they would be dependent on Him to exist. All the Lord has to do to destroy this earth is the loosen His grip and things would immediately loose their cohesiveness and disintegrate. Revelation 20:10 11, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”
HE IS PRE-EMINENT IN THE CHURCH
Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
The Head of the church is ignored in many because they “take Him for granted.” They assume He is for whatever they are doing since they are His children. However, the children are like sheep and need a shepherd. John 10:11says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
John 10:16 says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.”
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.