Apr 24, 2012
Freely, Freely You Have Received….Go…
Apr 24, 2012
Freely, Freely You Have Received….Go…
Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you… —Luke 10:20
Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God. One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God, we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and those lives will be God’s testimony to us as His workers. God brings us up to a standard of life through His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that same standard in others.
Unless the worker lives a life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), he is apt to become an irritating dictator to others, instead of an active, living disciple. Many of us are dictators, dictating our desires to individuals and to groups. But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an “if,” never with the forceful or dogmatic statement— “You must.” Discipleship carries with it an option.
The Bible does not thrill; the Bible nourishes. Give time to the reading of the Bible and the recreating effect is as real as that of fresh air physically. Disciples Indeed, 387 R
Jesus made it clear that we would endure many hardships in this life. But God provided amazing tools to keep trials from overwhelming us. For instance, He placed His Spirit inside each believer to guide and empower. In addition, He gave us prayer so we could not only communicate and stay connected with our Father but also bring Him our requests.
Today I want to focus on yet another one of His marvelous gifts: the Bible. Scripture is the actual Word of God Almighty. It is truth. It never changes. It enables us in all circumstances, so we have a sure foundation on which to base our lives and decisions.
There are thousands of promises in the Bible—countless assurances that we can rely on with perfect confidence. God wants us to learn them so we won’t miss out on blessings He wants to give. And wise believers will turn His promises into prayers, which they express as the cry of their heart.
Let me give you an example that relates to difficult decisions. Psalm 32:8 states, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” We can pray God’s words back to Him, saying we believe that He will teach us and reveal His path—and that He’ll remain by our side as our caregiver through the entire situation.
When hardships arise, we need a solid foundation on which to stand. Otherwise, our emotions could easily lead us astray through faulty thinking. God is faithful and unchanging, so we can trust in His promises, which enable us to rest confidently and act boldly.
“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:19)
Seven times in the letters to His seven representative churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus says: “I know thy works” (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). Whatever we are doing—or not doing—He knows!
Sometimes such knowledge can bring—or at least should bring—great consternation. He knows, for example, all our hypocrisies: “I know . . . that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). He also knows when our outward display of religious activity masks a real heart-attitude of compromising self-interest. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15).
Yet He also knows when our service is genuine and our testimony is God-glorifying and faithful. “I know . . . thy labour, and thy patience. . . . I know . . . thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith” (Revelation 2:2, 13).
Of these seven testimonies of His knowledge, the central one is in our text. He knows when we really love Him, for the “charity” mentioned is nothing less than agape, or unselfish love. He knows all about our sincere “service” and true “faith” in His Word, as well as our “patience” of hope.
Perhaps the most precious of His assurances, however, is that to the suffering church at Smyrna. “I know thy . . . tribulation, and poverty” (Revelation 2:9). When He says that He knows, the sense is that He understands, because He has been through it all Himself. Therefore, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). HMM
Moreover the law entered, that the offence night abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. —Romans 5:20
Grace is God’s goodness, the kindness of God’s heart, the good will, the cordial benevolence. It is what God is like. God is like that all the time. You’ll never run into a stratum in God that is hard. You’ll always find God gracious, at all times and toward all
peoples forever. You’ll never run into any meanness in God, never any resentment or rancor or ill will, for there is none there. God has no ill will toward any being. God is a God of utter kindness and cordiality and good will and benevolence. And yet all of these
work in perfect harmony with God’s justice and God’s judgment. I believe in hell and I believe in judgment. But I also believe that there are those whom God must reject because of their impenitence, yet there will be grace. God will still feel gracious toward all of His universe. He is God and He can’t do anything else….
What God is, God is! When Scripture says grace does “much more abound,” it means not that grace does much more abound than anything else in God but much more than anything in us. No matter how much sin a man has done, literally and truly grace abounds unto that man.
Lord, I am so horribly rebellious and sinful in the light of Your perfect holiness. Thank You that where sin abounds, Your grace abounds even more! Amen.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)
Consider with me the appealing Old Testament story of the beautiful young woman in the Song of Solomon. Deeply in love with the young shepherd, she is also actively sought out by the king, who demands her favor. She remains loyal to the simple shepherd, who gathers lilies and comes to seek her and calls to her through the lattice.
In many ways, this is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus, of His love and care for His Bride, the Church. In the scriptural account, she does turn her loved one away with simple excuses. But condemned in heart, she rises to go out and search for him. As she seeks, she is asked: “What is he above others that you should seek him?”
“Oh, he is altogether lovely,” she replies. “He came and called for me, and I had not the heart to go!”
But at last she is able to confess, “I have found him whom my soul loveth!”
He had been grieved but He was not far away. So it is with our Beloved—He is very near to us and He awaits our seeking!
An honored saint was once so ravished with revelation of his Lord’s love, that feeling his mortal frame to be unable to sustain more of such bliss, he cried, “Hold, Lord, it is enough, it is enough!” In heaven we shall be able to see the bottomless well of love to our lips, and drink on forever. Ah, that will be love indeed which shall overflow our souls forever in our Father’s house above! Who can tell the transports, the raptures, the amazements of delight which that love shall beget in us? and who can guess the sweetness of the song, or the swiftness of the obedience which will be the heavenly expressions of love made perfect?