Approaching God

Ray of Light
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! —Isaiah 6:3

It used to bother me that the closer I drew to God in my walk with Him, the more sinful I felt. Then a phenomenon I observed in my room enlightened me. A tiny gap in the curtain covering my window threw a ray of light into the room. As I looked, I saw particles of dirt drifting in the beam. Without the ray of light, the room seemed clean, but the light revealed the dirty particles.

What I observed shed light on my spiritual life. The closer I approach the Lord of light, the clearer I see myself. When the light of Christ shines in the darkness of our lives, it exposes our sin—not to discourage us, but to humble us to trust in Him. We can’t depend on our own righteousness, since we are sinners and fall short of God’s standards (Rom. 3:23). When we are proud, the light reveals our heart and we cry as Isaiah did, “Woe to me! . . . For I am a man of unclean lips, . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5 niv).

God is absolutely perfect in every way. Approaching Him calls for humility and childlike trust, not self-importance and pride. For it is by grace that He draws us to Himself. It is good for us that we feel unworthy as we draw closer to God, for it humbles us to rely on Him alone. By Lawrence Darmani

This passage recounts the call of Isaiah to a long and difficult prophetic ministry spanning the reigns of four kings (740–681 bc). Isaiah was not the only one in Scripture who viewed himself as too sinful to be in God’s presence (6:5). Peter, when called to be an apostle, cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). The tax collector in Luke 18:13 demonstrated a similar humility and recognition of personal sin.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eyes of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love and purity. —Heber

There is no room for pride when we walk with God.

The Door of Opportunity

Revelation 3:7-10

In New Testament times, the city of Philadelphia was strategically located on travel routes between Rome and the east. This made it an important conduit for Greek culture and language. The church there received an exciting opportunity when God planned that the region would become known for a new export—the good news of Jesus Christ.

For the loyal church at Philadelphia, this was a tremendous blessing. In Revelation 3, Jesus Christ acknowledged the congregation’s deeds, which means they must have carried out their work with diligence and dependence on the Lord. That community of faith also followed God’s Word and didn’t deny His name, despite opposition from “the synagogue of Satan”—the worldly people who also inhabited the city.

The Lord opens doors, not simply for mission organizations and churches, but also for individual believers. A chance to do His will in any area of life must be taken seriously, as His opportunities always lead to the path He has designed for us. Some seem too good to be true, others are cloaked in hardship, and still others defy human reasoning. We need to know how to listen for and discern God’s voice so that we can be certain when it is His hand opening a door.

We all desire that the Lord give us His best for our life—in our vocation, finances, service, and spiritual growth. So we must build a proven record of faithful obedience, as the Philadelphian church did. When we serve Him with loyalty, humility, and diligence, God will open doors for even greater blessing.

The Rough Places Plain

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:4)

This is an amazing promise. In the primeval “very good” creation (Genesis 1:31), there was nothing “crooked” or “rough.” Even the hills and mountains were apparently gentle in slope and relatively low; the rugged mountain ranges and volcanic peaks of the present world date from the upheavals and residual catastrophism of the great Flood (see especially Psalm 104:5-9). God had instructed men and women to literally “fill” the earth (Genesis 1:28), which would indicate that no part of the lands was uninhabitable.

That is not the way it is now. Vast inaccessible mountain ranges, deserts, glaciers, swamplands, etc., abound, all basically as a result of sin and God’s curse on the ground (Genesis 3:17).

But in the coming period of God’s judgments on the rebellious world of mankind, there also will be extensive renovational physical changes accompanying them. For example, there will be such “a great earthquake” that “every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Revelation 6:12, 14). Then a few years later will follow an even greater global earthquake—“so mighty an earthquake, and so great” that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Revelation 16:18, 20).

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; . . . I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come” (Haggai 2:6-7). Finally, indeed, “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:4-5). HMM

Spiritual Gifts

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. —1 Corinthians 12:4-6

The time is more than ripe for a rethinking of the whole matter of spiritual gifts within the church of Christ. The subject has fallen into the hands of people for the most part extreme and irresponsible and has become associated with fanaticism in its various forms. This is a huge misfortune and is causing tremendous loss to the work of spiritual Christianity in our times.

Prejudices pro and con make the consideration of this subject extremely difficult, but its neglect is costing us more than we should be willing to pay. A revival of true New Testament Christianity must surely bring with it a manifestation of spiritual gifts. Anything short of it will create a just suspicion that the revival is something short of scriptural.

Thank You, Lord, that since old times there has in fact been this rethinking about spiritual gifts. May we continue to see their proper functioning and renewed manifestation. Amen.

“Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God”

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

The miracle of the new birth was foreshadowed in the Old Testament record: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

There was at least a hint of miracle within the human breast—not the reasoning of yourself into a position, but something happening that could not be explained!

Coming into the New Testament, there is no longer any hinting or suggesting about the miracle of the new birth—it is boldly and openly declared. Our Saviour said that if we come to Him and are not born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of God—that we must be born from above.

Paul told the Corinthians: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

You couldn’t make it any stronger than that! Something happens in a man’s nature that no man can explain!

Just the moment that a man’s experience in Christ can be broken down and explained by the psychologists, we have a church member on our hands—and not a Christian! For that which must happen in the new birth can never be explained by psychology or psychiatry. The professional can only stand off respectfully and say, “Behold the works of the Lord.” He can never explain it! And in that great and terrible day to come, many will be shocked when they find that they depended upon a mental assent to Christianity instead of upon the miracle of the new birth!

We Have It All

Seek ye first the kingdom… all these things shall be added unto you. MATTHEW 6:33

How much time have you spent in your Christian life meditating on the plain instruction from our Savior?—”Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The God who has revealed Himself to needy men and women wants us to know that when we have Him, we have everything—we have all the rest!

Any of us who have experienced a life and ministry of faith can tell how the Lord has met our needs—even for food and the essentials of life.

Brethren, we ought to learn, and learn it soon, that it is much better to have God first and have God Himself, even if we have only a thin dime, than to have all the riches and all the influence in this world and not have God with it!

Let us go on to know Him and to love Him more dearly, not for His gifts and benefits, but for the pure joy of His presence. Thus we will fulfill the purpose for which He created us and redeemed us!

Dear Lord, help me make the transition from wanting more and more “things” to being satisfied—and overjoyed—with only Your presence in my life.