Intimate Theology

Do you believe this? —John 11:26

Martha believed in the power available to Jesus Christ; she believed that if He had been there He could have healed her brother; she also believed that Jesus had a special intimacy with God, and that whatever He asked of God, God would do. But— she needed a closer personal intimacy with Jesus. Martha’s theology had its fulfillment in the future. But Jesus continued to attract and draw her in until her belief became an intimate possession. It then slowly emerged into a personal inheritance— “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ…” (John 11:27).

Is the Lord dealing with you in the same way? Is Jesus teaching you to have a personal intimacy with Himself? Allow Him to drive His question home to you— “Do you believe this?” Are you facing an area of doubt in your life? Have you come, like Martha, to a crossroads of overwhelming circumstances where your theology is about to become a very personal belief? This happens only when a personal problem brings the awareness of our personal need.

To believe is to commit. In the area of intellectual learning I commit myself mentally, and reject anything not related to that belief. In the realm of personal belief I commit myself morally to my convictions and refuse to compromise. But in intimate personal belief I commit myself spiritually to Jesus Christ and make a determination to be dominated by Him alone.

Then, when I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and He says to me, “Do you believe this?” I find that faith is as natural as breathing. And I am staggered when I think how foolish I have been in not trusting Him earlier.

by Oswald Chambers

Called to Serve

Matthew 20:20-28

Christians are identified by a variety of names in the Bible—such as believers, brothers, and saints—but one title we seldom call ourselves is “servants of Christ.” However, that is exactly what the Lord tells us to be. After His disciples wrangled about who was the greatest, Jesus turned their worldly thinking upside down with a call to become great in the kingdom by being a servant of all.

Christ is not just our Savior but also our Lord and Master, and we are to follow His example. Just as He served His Father by caring for people, so we serve our God by lovingly meeting the temporal and spiritual needs of those around us.

Service is essential for spiritual growth. God is always at work in the believer’s life, transforming his character into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). A major hindrance in this process is self-centeredness. Serving others is one of the tools that the Lord uses to set us free from the slavery of selfishness.

Service is required to achieve God’s purpose for our lives. The Lord has designed specific works for each of us to accomplish in our lifetime (Eph. 2:10). If we only take in and never give out, we will miss much of what He has planned for us.

Never forget that you have a high calling, which is realized only by lowering yourself to the level of a servant. Look for the opportunities that the Lord will give you today to serve someone. Take your place alongside Christ, who was the ultimate servant of all.

Fiery Trials

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you . . . But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)

In addition to the normal distresses of life comes outright persecution—direct opposition to the Christian and his faith by enemies of the cross. Millions of Christians down through the ages have even suffered martyrdom for their testimony, and many are suffering today around the world.

Christ promised that we would be hated for our stand (John 15:18-21), but He also prayed for us, not that we would be spared the persecution but that we would be victorious in it and sanctified through it. “The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. . . . sanctify them through thy truth” (John 17:14-17). This is the message of the fourth verse of “How Firm a Foundation.”

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply,
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

In His wisdom, He may choose to allow persecution to block life’s pathway, but we will not face such opposition alone. His grace will supply our every need.

Heating gold above its melting point allows the denser gold to be separated from the frothy impurities (or dross), thus purifying the gold. Just so does God allow “fiery trials” in our lives, pushing us beyond the melting point, to “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). JDM

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.—Psalm 55:22.

To Thee I bring my care,
The care I cannot flee,
Thou wilt not only share,
But bear it all for me.
O loving Savior, now to Thee
I bring the load that wearies me.
FRANCES R. HAVERGAL.

CAST thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee”-burden and all. “Thee” is the greatest burden that thou hast! All other burdens are but slight, but this is a crushing burden. But when we come to the Lord with our burden, He just lifts up His child, burden and all, and bears him, all the way home. CHARLES A. FOX.

He lays his affairs and himself on God, and so hath no pressing care, no care but the care of love, how to please, how to honor his Lord. And in this, too, he depends on Him, both for skill and strength; and, touching the success of things, he leaves that as none of his to be burdened with, casts it on God, and since He careth for it, they need not both care, His care is sufficient. Hence springs peace, inconceivable peace. ROBERT LEIGHTON.

Lead me in thy truth, teach me

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me Psalm 25:5

When … the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. — Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. — All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. — The holy Scriptures … are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. — The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. — If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. —The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

John 16:13. 1 John 2:20. Isaiah 8:20. 2 Timothy 3:16,17. 2 Timothy 3:15. Psalm 32:8. Matthew 6:22. John 7:17. Isaiah 35:8.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. — God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. — When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. — It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.

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.

John 11:25. 1 John 5:11,12. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. 1 John 3:2. 1 Corinthians 15:43. John 14:3.