The Habit of Rising to the Occasion

Breakthrough
…that you may know what is the hope of His calling… —Ephesians 1:18

Remember that you have been saved so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in your body (see 2 Corinthians 4:10). Direct the total energy of your powers so that you may achieve everything your election as a child of God provides; rise every time to whatever occasion may come your way.

You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it. You must “work out your own salvation” which God has worked in you already (Philippians 2:12). Are your speech, your thinking, and your emotions evidence that you are working it “out”? If you are still the same miserable, grouchy person, set on having your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Designer, and He allows adversities into your life to see if you can jump over them properly— “By my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29). God will never shield you from the requirements of being His son or daughter. First Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you….” Rise to the occasion— do what the trial demands of you. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your body.

May God not find complaints in us anymore, but spiritual vitality— a readiness to face anything He brings our way. The only proper goal of life is that we manifest the Son of God; and when this occurs, all of our dictating of our demands to God disappears. Our Lord never dictated demands to His Father, and neither are we to make demands on God. We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. Once we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed and nourish others.

by Oswald Chambers

Adjusting to the Lord’s Plan

Matthew 4:18-22

I have been a Christian for many years, and not once has God asked me, “Charles, what do you want to do?” The Lord doesn’t change His plans to suit my purposes or yours. Instead, He asks us to adjust our lives to align with His will.

One change He often requires has to do with lifestyle. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen before they became Jesus’ disciples. Their lives revolved around the details of their occupation—equipment repair, weather conditions, catching fish, and turning a profit. But when Jesus called them to become fishers of men, they willingly and suddenly made a dramatic change.

In contrast, the rich young ruler walked away sad when he realized what he’d have to give up to follow Christ (Matthew 19:21-22). An invitation from the Lord usually means modifying our way of living. Whether this involves switching jobs or altering habits, God expects us to adapt to His plan.

At times the Lord may call for a shift in our relationships. Before being invited to travel in Jesus’ company, James and John worked in the family business with their father. Saying yes to God meant seeing friends and relatives less frequently. Pursuing His plan may mean the same thing for us. But Christ promises a great return on any sacrifice we make (Matthew 19:29).

Our heavenly Father’s plans are based upon His goodness, justice, and mercy. Because of His perfect character, we can trust the direction He gives us. Adjusting to God’s design—accepting His will and making the needed changes in our circumstances and relationships—is always the wisest action we can take (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Tongue of the Learned

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” (Isaiah 50:4)

The prophetic words of our text were spoken by the Lord Jesus in the context of His suffering: “I gave my back to the smiters . . . I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (v. 6)—and His attentiveness to the will of His Father despite the suffering —“The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back” (v. 5). The amazing love of Christ is seen in the fact that, in the midst of His intense personal pain, He could still continue, even on the cross, “to speak a word in season to him that is weary,” as He comforted His mother, spoke salvation to the dying thief, and even sought forgiveness for His executioners.

In all this, He was “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). How easy and natural it is to complain and rebel when we are suffering. We seek comfort and counsel from others, when we (like our Exemplar) should be comforting others with “the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Though we cannot comprehend it fully, we must simply believe the mystery of the incarnation. God became man in Jesus Christ, and the omnipotent One “learned . . . obedience” (Hebrews 5:8). He was omniscient, yet somehow He “increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52), as well as stature, and as He studied God’s Word, wakening “morning by morning,” He learned to hear the voice of the Father, thus receiving “the tongue of the learned,” that “gracious words” might proceed out of His mouth (Luke 4:22).

May the Lord grant each of His younger sons and daughters this gracious “tongue of the learned,” as we, like His Firstborn, awaken each morning to hear His voice. HMM

The Authority of God

I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith me Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear… yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. —Ezekiel 2:4-5

I don’t want to be unkind, but I am sure there ought to be a lot more authority in the pulpit than there is now. A preacher should reign from his pulpit as a king from his throne. He should not reign by law nor by regulations and not by board meetings or man’s authority. He ought to reign by moral ascendancy.

When a man of God stands to speak, he ought to have the authority of God on him so that he makes the people responsible to listen to him. When they will not listen to him, they are accountable to God for turning away from the divine Word. In place of that needed authority, we have tabby cats with their claws carefully trimmed in the seminary, so they can paw over the congregations and never scratch them at all. They have had their claws trimmed and are just as soft and sweet as can be….

I believe in the authority of God, and I believe if a man doesn’t have it, he should go away and pray and wait until he gets the authority and then stand up to speak even if he has to begin on a soapbox on a street corner. Go to a rescue mission and preach with authority! They had it in those days—when they stood up, there was authority!

Lord, may I always preach boldly like the apostle Paul, like Ezekiel, like Jeremiah and the prophets. Amen.

The Characteristic of the Prophet Is Always Love

…We were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8

If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of!

God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt. And He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way among men.

A characteristic of the true prophet has always been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to crush others under their feet. These have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety.

But the free man—never; he has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. Whether accepted or rejected he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them!

More Than Religion

Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 1 THESSALONIANS 2:12

Contrary to much that is being said and practiced in churches, true worship is not something that we “do” in the hope of appearing to be religious!

True worship must be a constant and consistent attitude or state of mind within the believer, a sustained and blessed acknowledgment of love and admiration. If we have this awareness in our own lives and experience, then it is evident that we are not just waiting for Sunday to come to church and worship.

Having been made in His image, we have within us the capacity to know God and the instinct that we should worship Him. The very moment that the Spirit of God has quickened us to His life in regeneration, our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition!

That response within our beings—a response to the forgiveness and pardon and regeneration—signals the miracle of the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God. Thus the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration.

Lord Jesus, many people in our country and around the world are not yet born again. I pray that Your Spirit will restore many lost souls to intimate fellowship with God today.