VIDEO Arguments or Obedience

…the simplicity that is in Christ.  —2 Corinthians 11:3

Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly until a long time passes, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and…every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25).

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating, because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We can understand the attributes of God in other ways, but we can only understand the Father’s heart in the Cross of Christ.  The Highest Good—Thy Great Redemption, 558 L


The Simplicity of Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:3 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Whale of a Story

The Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2:10

Michael was diving for lobster when a humpback whale caught him in its mouth. He pushed back in the darkness as the whale’s muscles squeezed against him. He thought he was done. But whales don’t prefer lobstermen, and thirty seconds later the whale spit Michael into the air. Amazingly, Michael had no broken bones—only extensive bruises and one whale of a story.

He wasn’t the first. Jonah was swallowed by “a huge fish” (Jonah 1:17), and he stayed in its belly for three days before being vomited onto land (1:17; 2:10). Unlike Michael, who was caught by accident, Jonah was swallowed because he hated Israel’s enemies and didn’t want them to repent. When God told Jonah to preach in Nineveh, he caught a boat going the other way. So God sent a whale-sized fish to get his attention.

I appreciate why Jonah hated the Assyrians. They’d harassed Israel in the past, and within fifty years they’d carry the northern tribes into captivity where they’d vanish forever. Jonah was understandably offended that Assyria might be forgiven.

But Jonah was more loyal to the people of God than to the God of all people. God loved Israel’s enemies and wanted to save them. He loves our enemies and wants to save them. With the wind of the Spirit at our backs, let’s sail toward them with the good news of Jesus.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who do you know that needs to follow Jesus? How might you increase your love for them?

Jesus, please show me how to love my enemies as You love them.

For further study, read Evangelism: Reaching Out Through Relationships.

God’s Principle of Sowing and Reaping

Ask the Lord to give you the courage and wisdom needed to share the gospel with those He sends your way.

Galatians 6:7-10

Today’s passage contains an important scriptural truth: Our actions and words have consequences. Or put another way, we get back what we put in. And this is especially obvious in our relationships.

Earlier in Galatians, Paul explained that there’s a battle between a believer’s new nature, which is ruled by the Spirit, and the “flesh,” which is ruled by the sin patterns that linger in us. Then he listed some of the deeds of the flesh, many of which are relational: strife, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy (Galatians 5:20-21). In contrast, Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Which one of these lists more accurately reflects how you treat others? Admittedly, there are some people who are difficult to love, yet sowing the fruit of the Spirit in those relationships will reap a forgiving heart, godly character, and faithful obedience in us. But sowing to the flesh has a corrupting influence in our life. Before you interact with anyone, ask yourself what kind of harvest you’d like. You’ll never go wrong by letting the Spirit guide you.

Dark Sayings of Old

“I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.” (Psalm 78:2-3)

Most people do not think of parables—especially the parables of Christ—as dark (i.e., hidden) sayings but rather as figurative illustrations to help people comprehend some spiritual teaching. But Christ used parables to conceal truth, not to reveal truth! “Therefore speak I to them in parables,” He said in response to the disciples’ question as to why He was speaking in parables, “because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). The principle is this: a person must first believe and obey the light he has already received before God will give him further light. “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” (v. 12).

Thus, the parables of both Old and New Testaments are not of any obvious interpretation. They require study, meditation, and obedience to comprehend, but then they bring great blessing. “Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (v. 52).

The “dark sayings” of Scripture are not to be associated with occultism or darkness, of course. The word in Greek simply means something hidden from the world but transparent to eyes of faith and love. “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery….Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory….But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 10). HMM

The Never-failing Presence

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.Acts 2:2

Pentecost did not come and go; Pentecost came and stayed. Chronologically the day may be found on the historic calendar; dynamically it remains with us still in all its fullness of power….

Our insensibility to the presence of the Spirit is one of the greatest losses our unbelief and preoccupation have cost us. We have made Him a tenet in our creed, we have enclosed Him in a religious word, but we have known Him very little in personal experience.

Satan has hindered us all he could by raising conflicting opinions about the Spirit, by making Him a topic of hot and uncharitable debate between Christians. In the meanwhile, our hearts crave Him, and we hardly know what the craving means.

It would help us if we could remember that the Spirit is Himself God, the very true Nature of the Godhead subsisting in a form that can impart Himself to our consciousness….It is His light upon the face of Christ which enables us to know Him. TET095-096

Augustine says it is amazing that anyone should live apart from [God,] apart from whom he cannot live at all. BME058

“Don’t Adjust Your Life”

There is nothing new under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9

It is surprising how many Christians have never read the book of Ecclesiastes. One woman told me that Ecclesiastes was the one book in the Bible she could not read. “I am put off by all that pessimism and gloom,” she explained. There is, however a purpose behind this pessimism and gloom. Dr. Cynddylan Jones, a famous Welsh preacher, put it like this: “No Christian will be ready to open himself up to God until he has been gripped, as Ecclesiastes was gripped, by the emptiness and pointlessness of life. It is only when we see, and see clearly, that life is not to be found in the world that we will be ready to move closer toward God.”

It is interesting to observe that most philosophers, when they look reality in the face, come to the same conclusion as Solomon. Malcolm Muggeridge, for example, in the days before he found God, saw the world as “an interminable soap opera.” Some graffiti found on the walls of Bath University was even more to the point: “Do not adjust your life, the fault lies in reality.”

One of the reasons, I believe, that Solomon used such vivid illustrations is in order to break through our defensive attempts to avoid reality. Life “under the sun,” he has told us, can be boring, fleeting, repetitive, and empty. Life will never be meaningful “under the sun” until we make contact with the One who is above the sun. Those who try to find meaning without living their lives to the Creator inevitably see life as an “interminable soap opera.” Is it any wonder?

Prayer

Gracious and loving Father, wean me off any idea I may have that life can be found “under the sun.” Grant that I might be gripped by the truth that life, real life, is never found in the horizontal but in the vertical. In You. Amen.

Further Study

Isa 55:1-13; Jn 4:13-14

What question does Isaiah ask?

What remedy does he advocate?

Prayer Is Preparation

When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.Acts 2:1

Prayer does not give you spiritual power. Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you. The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God’s activity.

The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost did not induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Prayer brought them to a place where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned.

Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4–5). The disciples obeyed His command, waiting for God’s next directive. As they prayed, God adjusted their lives to what He intended to do next. As they prayed, a unity developed among them. For the first time the disciples used Scripture as their guide in decision making (Acts 1:15–26). The day of Pentecost arrived, and the city of Jerusalem filled with pilgrims from around the world. When God released His Holy Spirit upon the disciples, He had already filled the city with messengers who would carry the Gospel to every nation. Prayer had prepared the disciples for their obedient response.

Prayer is designed to adjust you to God’s will, not to adjust God to your will. If God has not responded to what you are praying, you may need to adjust your praying to align with God’s agenda. Rather than focusing on what you would like to see happen, realize that God may be more concerned with what He wants to see happen in you.