Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “If,” meaning, “You do not need to do this unless you desire to do so.” “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Luke 9:23). In other words, “To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me.” Our Lord is not talking about our eternal position, but about our being of value to Him in this life here and now. That is why He sounds so stern (see Luke 14:26). Never try to make sense from these words by separating them from the One who spoke them.
The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When God’s redemption brings a human soul to the point of obedience, it always produces. If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the word of God skilfully amongst them. Workmen of God, 1341
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy.Psalm 19:7
A rugged, cast-iron ring stood strong against the harsh Minnesota winter as it hung on the doorframe of my great uncle’s old farmhouse. More than a hundred feet away was another ring, firmly fixed to the dairy barn. When there was a blizzard, my uncle would attach a line between both rings so he could find the path between the house and the barn. Keeping a firm grip on the line kept him from losing his way in the blinding snow.
My uncle’s use of a safety line in a snowstorm reminds me of how David used lines of Hebrew poetry to trace how God’s wisdom guides us through life and guards us against sin and error: “The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:9–11).
A firm grasp of the truths of Scripture informed by God’s Spirit working in our hearts keeps us from losing our way and helps us make decisions that honor God and others. The Bible warns us against wandering from God and shows us the way home. It tells us of the priceless love of our Savior and the blessings that await all who place their faith in Him. Scripture is a lifeline! May God help us cling to it always.
We come boldly to the throne of God because it is a throne of grace. We do not come on the basis of our merit, but we come in the name of Jesus, with praise and thanksgiving, without condemnation. We come boldly because God has bid us to come. The author of Hebrews wrote:
“We have confidence [‘boldness’, NKJV] to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19, NIV)
When we pray to God, we should never approach Him with condemnation. Condemnation is one of the greatest enemies to answered prayer. And the basic source of condemnation is a search for self-righteousness. If we feel that we must justify ourselves, we will never do it to our own satisfaction. There must come a time when we lay aside every attempt to justify ourselves and simply say, “I receive by faith the righteousness of Jesus Christ, imputed to me by my faith in Him, according to the Word of God. I will neither parade my good works nor blush for my bad deeds. I will come boldly because it is a throne of grace. I will not examine or analyze my own heart all the time to determine if I am good enough. I will trust God that the blood of Jesus has cleansed me from all sin. And I will come boldly to the throne, right into the Holiest of All.” That is a glorious way of access.
“Let us draw near with a true heart,” the Scripture says, “in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22). An evil conscience will keep us from successful prayer. We must allow the blood of Jesus to be applied to our hearts and receive with complete assurance the fact that we are forgiven — cleansed because of what Jesus has done — and then come boldly into the presence of almighty God.
Prayer Response Thank You, Lord, that I can come boldly to You. I proclaim that the blood of Jesus has cleansed me from all sin, and I come boldly to the throne, right into the holiest of all. I shall draw near to the throne of grace. Amen.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him. — James 1:5
In Jesus Christ we find that wisdom has become incarnate. We read that Jesus Christ “has become for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV). The fear of the Lord can grow into a complete love and adoration of God who now has come to live in our midst.
We need wisdom. Our world is full of the inexplicable, the inscrutable, the unfathomable, the impossible, and the insurmountable. We cannot, in fact, go three steps in any direction without running into the hard wall of mysteries, riddles, paradoxes, profundities and labyrinths—problems that we cannot solve; labyrinths that we cannot make our way out of; hieroglyphics that we cannot decipher; anagrams that we cannot spell out and sphinxes that just will not speak. Life is full of puzzles.
God gave Solomon great wisdom and he has been regarded as the wisest man who ever lived. But Jesus is the one “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42) and in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). That wealth of wisdom from God is ours if we simply ask Him for it.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. —John 3:8
One meaning of the word “power” is “ability to do.” There precisely is the wonder of the Spirit’s work in the Church and in the hearts of Christians, His sure ability to make spiritual things real to the soul.
This power can go straight to its object with piercing directness; it can diffuse itself through the mind like an infinitely fine volatile essence securing ends above and beyond the limits of the intellect.
Reality is its subject matter, reality in heaven and upon earth. It does not create objects which are not there but reveals objects already present and hidden from the soul.
In actual human experience this is likely to be first felt in a heightened sense of the presence of Christ. He is felt to be a real Person and to be intimately, ravishingly near. Then all other spiritual objects begin to stand out clearly before the mind. POM092
The Holy Spirit creates in us a new life and a new set of spiritual senses altogether, through which we discern, understand, and enter into the life of God and the spiritual realm. HS344
How I love Your instruction! It is my meditation all day long…. I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation.—Psalm 119:97, 99
One of the highest priorities in order to stay spiritually fresh is to cultivate the art of Scripture meditation.
For some reason, Bible meditation has become a lost art in our day. A survey conducted among Christians in the United States showed that only one in ten thousand knew how to meditate on the Scriptures.
What, then, is the art of Scripture meditation? Is it reading parts of the Bible as slowly as possible so that every word sinks in? No. Is it studying a passage with the aid of a commentary so that one understands exactly what the Scripture is saying? No. Is it memorizing certain texts and recalling them to mind whenever one has a spare moment? No. You can do all of these things and still not know how to meditate.
Andrew Murray describes it as “holding the word of God in your heart and mind until it has affected every area of your life.” My own definition is this: meditation is the process by which we place the Word of God into the digestive system of the soul, where it is transformed into faith and spiritual energy.
Psalm 1:2-3 paints a picture of amazing freshness and vitality: “His delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” What is the secret of this amazing freshness? It is simple—meditation. To draw from Scripture the inspiration and power we need to stay spiritually fresh, we must do more than read it, study it, or even memorize it—we must meditate on it.
O Father, I want so much to learn the art of meditation. Quicken my desire to hide Your Word in my heart so that it becomes the hidden springs of action and determines my character and my conduct. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin.—James 4:17
It is never a minor thing to know God’s will and not do it. God calls this sin. We can make excuses for our lack of obedience: “I’m just not ready yet” or “I’ll do it later!” or “I don’t think it will make a difference” or “I can’t afford to!” We rationalize, we procrastinatate; yet, in God’s eyes, rationalization and procrastination are nothing more than disobedience. At times we deceive ourselves into thinking that good intentions equal obedient actions. They do not. A good intention without corresponding activity is disobedience. When we encounter God and He gives us a direction, it is not enough to write down the date in our spiritual journal, or even to tell our friends and church of our “decision.” God’s call is not to “make a decision” but to obey! Deciding to obey is not equal to obeying! (Matt. 21:28–31). Loudly affirming the necessity of obedience is not the same as obeying (Luke 6:46). Making commitments, even publicly, is not the same as obeying our Lord. Substituting our own good works is not the same as obeying.
God told King Saul to wait until the prophet Samuel arrived. Instead of waiting, Saul took matters into his own hands and offered a sacrifice. Saul discovered, to his deep dismay, that other acts of supposed piety do not take the place of obeying a clear command from God (1 Sam. 15:22). As with Saul, God expects you to obey everything exactly as He tells you. Only obedience satisfies God’s desire for obedience!
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