I SAT WHERE HE SAT
(Heeding the Call)
not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be
19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom 1:)
God reveals Himself through nature to all of mankind, so no one has an excuse not to believe in a Creator. Then God revealed His true identity and nature through His prophets and His Word, so those who confess belief in His Word have no excuse not to know Him for what and who He is. Then finally God revealed Himself in His fulness in the person of Jesus the Christ, thereby our having no excuse not to know what He expects of us.
24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1Cor 1:)
The "call" goes out to everyone in the form of "whosoever will." And while the churches continue to be filled, the number of people hearing the call is dwindling day by day. There are some hearers of the call, but very few doers of what the call stands for. Instead there are many excuses, not to continue in disbelief, but to neglect to do what they've been called to do.
Beyond the general call to enter through the open door, there's a call issued to a certain group of people that can't be denied of resisted. This call is one Jeremiah experienced, one that begins before a person is even born. This call is not seen nor heard, nor even presented in our awareness, until like Ezekiel the Spirit takes them by the locks of the hair and thrusts them into their new and intended lifestyle.
Those so chosen by God to perform a given function in His purposes are inclined to be on the egotistic side, as was Moses and Paul, until they've been slapped to the ground and humbled. After this humbling they see themselves in a new and undefinable light, other than to recognize that they are worthless, and that they are no more than worms in the sight of God. It's at this point they are given a flicker of light in regard to what their calling is. It's when the light of our self-esteem has been extinguished, that God can fill us with the Light of His Holy Spirit.
14Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:)
God calls His special people "worms" when telling them He will help them. Israel's biggest problem from the beginning of them as a people of God was their dependance on their having the true living God as their Lord. They considered themselves better than others in the world because of this status. We see this attitude clearly in the person of Korah and the Pharisees.
1Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 2Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places. 3Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his light arise? 4How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? 5Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm? (Job 25:)
Man is a worm. Until man comes off his high-horse and can admit he is less than nothing, is no more than the dust under the feet, and unqualified for even the least of the blessing God provides (as seen in the temptation of Israel in the wilderness): Until then he is unless to God and to his fellow man.
Bildad says that even the son of man is a worm. Could he be thinking of our Savior, Jesus?
1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalm 22:)
It just might be. Then when we add to what was prophesied in regard to Jesus through David, we have this:
4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:)
13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:)
25But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mat 20:)
When the Bible says Jesus made Himself of no reputation, the word used means "void, empty, vain, abased, falsified." As you can see there's no room left in this definition to cause one's ego to become inflated. And since what Jesus became is like man, meaning you and me, this means we are vain, empty, and nothing more than dust, as was told to Adam in the beginning. When we make ourself of any reputation at all, we make ourself above what Jesus was for us, and we become useless in God's eyes.
Jesus set us an example as to how we are to be on this earth. We are to serve, not ourselves, but one another. We are the arms, the eyes, the mouth, and the feet of God. When we serve others, we're serving God. We're being the image of God here on earth, what we were designed to be from the beginning. Jesus allowed Himself to be the ultimate servant to the end. And we're told that if we do as He did, to the end, then we will receive the same reward as He, our Lord will receive.
26Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. 27I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him. (Ezek 21:)
Jesus has turned everything upside-down from what we are taught, and are inclined to believe of ourselves. We're told we should make something of ourself. We're to strive to be better than others, to have others look up to us, or have others serve us and consider us as special. God says that those who follow the ways of the world will be brought to nothing in the world to come. And to make sure we understand just what He means, He gave us Jesus and the Apostles, as well as the prophets of old as examples.
9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:)
Man's ways are not God's ways. To understand God and His ways, we have to travel the same road He has taken. Any other road will lead us astray, all the while believing we are on the straight and narrow.
Jesus exalted the low trees when He told the poor and the hurting and the leprous that they were special in God's eyes, and He brought down the high trees when He condemned the church and government leaders who looked down on the poor and the beggarly instead of seeking to help them, which was their job.
20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:)
God sees things upside-down from we humans. Is it any wonder why the wise and wonderful leaders of Jesus' day didn't understand Him or accept what He said?
20Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 23Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. (1Cor 7:)
This statement by Paul can easily be misunderstood. For instance if a person is a thief when he is converted, he isn't to remain a thief. In the same way there are many who are called out of being a wealthy business man and feel the call to become a missionary. We see this in the Apostles: Matthew wasn't to remain a tax collector, nor those who were fishermen to remain in their boats. Paul didn't remain a Pharisee persecuting Christians. But until we feel a call to do otherwise, we're to be God's representative where we were called.
For many of us, certainly me included, there's a state of limbo we're called to. We seem to wander around trying to figure out what we've been called to do. We try to return to our old life and make it work, but we find we're a stranger in that lifestyle, as well as with those people we used to associate with. This may very well include our closest family members who now see us as a religious fanatic, or a kook. Meanwhile you (and me) are trying desperately to show those we love what we've found so they can have it too. But it can never be. We become a citizen of a different world, of a new Kingdom of which our Lord is king. What we've found is unexplainable, especially since those we try to explain what we've experienced are fully convinced, as were we before our encounter, that they have everything there is to have of the Christian experience.
18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (Eph 1:)
We've found a new understanding, something we never knew exists, and something that we find we've merely put our foot in the door of what lies ahead of us. We search for that knowledge of the hope of our calling, but God only gives us a taste, a single step of enlightenment at a time. We want it all, but we only get a sip, a foretaste of what lies ahead for us. David called this a lamp tied to our foot. We can only see the next step ahead of us, if even that. And if we fail to walk into that void, that unknown, then we will not be given more, and we will think we've reached the end of our journey.
2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (Eph 4:)
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. (1Cor 12:)
Although there are many jobs and responsibilities in the body of Christ, we are not all called to the same calling. Some are the toes, some are the eyes: I tell people that I feel like I'm the kidney stone in the body of Christ.
Although we all have a different calling, we all work together for the good of the body. If the eye refuses to watch where the body is headed, it will likely fall into a ditch, which has been prophesied by Jesus and the prophets.
Neither can we judge others according to what place we've been given in the body, what gift of the Spirit. Paul asks "Do all prophesy? Do all speak in tongues? The answer to these questions is, "no," all do not prophesy or speak in tongues. I have prophesied, but I've never spoken in tongues. This was not my gift, therefore I don't understand that gift. But because I haven't experienced that gift, I'm not going to judge its worth or deny its existence, even though many deny my gift because they haven't experienced it.
Note that Paul says according to the "measure" of the gift given to us. Not everyone is given the same measure of a particular gift. We see this in the lives of the saints. David was given a large measure of faith, which took him to battle with Goliath, as well as slaying a bear and a lion. Paul was given a measure of faith even beyond those who followed Jesus during His ministry. We're given a degree of faith, or a gift, and we may be given even more of the same, or some other gift, in the future as it pleases the Lord and suits His purpose.
At this point I would like to interject an observation that contradicts many of the traditional teachings. We're taught that if we use our gift, that we will be given more of that gift. And this may be true for some, or even most of the people called to the work of God. For myself, it's been my experience that what I do has nothing to do with what God does through me, or with me. He yanks me up, usually without notice or preparation, and dumps me in the place where He wants me. And from that point I'm to deal with my new circumstances. We see this in the lives of many of the saints as well, especially the Old Testament saints. Their lives were that of twists and turns of walking in the dark most of the time. So if your life seems to be out of your control, just know that you're not the only one who is experiencing that frustration.
15And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:)
Those people, and those things we look to for our example, and our blessings, are an abomination to God. Do we want to be seen in a good light to man? Or to God?
How often have you found yourself trying to justify yourself and your behavior to others? It may be those in your church, or those in the world you want to impress or to cause to have good feelings about you. I've certainly had those experiences. But of late I've been taken so far into the deep end of the Christian experience that there's no way of trying to justify myself and appear normal at all. So I just go with the popular assumption that I'm a religious fruitcake, and learn to enjoy the ride.
3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. (1Cor 6:)
Here we are, the representatives of God on this earth, filled with the Spirit and the understanding of God, and when we have a conflict we take it to those of the world we know have no godliness in them whatsoever. What does that do to our testimony? What does that say of our desire to fulfill the will if God? What does that say of our calling?
Paul says the least esteemed in the church should be a better judge of a Christian than the wisest of judges in the world.
Our actions demonstrate to the world, and to ourselves, were we stand in our calling to the purposes of God.
13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)
Reaching for the high calling can only be sought by those who've had the Lord reveal Himself to him or her. We may seek to be the greatest of preachers or missionaries, to bring in the largest number of converts, to heal the sick and the emotionally wounded. But to seek the high calling, to abandon our own life and pursue the life of Christ, takes a miracle. And the lack of this miracle is the reason so many in the churches do not understand those who have had the Lord knock them to the floor.
Forgetting the past is nearly, if not totally impossible. Paul himself speaks of his wrong actions many times in his writings. He doesn't dwell on the past, or those he's hurt; but there's no way a person who has had a past of injury to others can just let that past remain in a shroud of darkness. It creeps up and slaps us in the face, and we become reminded of how much we hate that person we were before the Lord laid His hand upon us and yanked us by the hair to a place we least expected to find ourself.
11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2Thes 1:)
Here we have a key, two keys in fact, that unlocks the reason for our calling. First we have our own unworthiness. We have the "why me" of the ones so blessed as to be chosen to be one to take part in God's purposes. Then we have the knowledge that in ourself we are totally unworthy, and incapable of performing up to par. Yet in spite of our own unworthiness, God might be able to use us to such a degree that He counts us worthy of our calling, in spite of our muffing it every step of the way.
We have to always keep in mind that this is God's show, not ours. And all the glory goes to God, and none to us, even if we happen to be a star player in the final game.
5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. (Mat 23:)
8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2Tim 1:)
9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2Peter 1:)
The job we've been given is not to be taken lightly. We're to throw everything we have and are into the purposes of God that He's appointed us to. I know how it feels to work strongly at a job that you have no idea where your going or what you're to do, but you're doing all you can anyway. It's like the old proverbial chicken with its head cut off.
People ask me how I'm able to write so many stories, how I can think of what I'm going to write. I tell them that when I don't know what to write, I just write anyway. Eventually a story forms, and I rework the story to fit what it turns into. The secret is in doing, even if we don't know what we're doing at the time. Things have changed for me in the past few years, and stories and studied are no longer a chore as they used to be. They take me over even while the story I'm working on is still in the incomplete stages. The principle is true however. We read how God told Abraham to go south into Canaan. God just said to go, and his entire life was one of being on the go. Paul said he has a desire to see certain people in a certain city. He heads that direction, then the Holy Spirit flashes a stop sign, and tells him to go another direction. Jesus, after His baptism was directed by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. We just move, and we discover that somehow we find ourself in some place we're needed or are of some use. Each wrong step is made right by the Lord. But if we wait until we receive a complete set of instructions, we'll find ourselves left behind when the Lord's people are called out of Babylon.
13And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14Make thee an ark (Gen 6:)
"Build an ark." Noah was told to do something that made no sense at all to the people around him. He was as zany as the Wright brothers who believed man could fly, or those who believed that man could reach the moon. Noah just grabbed a hammer, and began building an ark, even when there was no apparent evidence that an ark was practical. This is especially true when we consider that the ark took Noah and his family 120 years to build. And can you imagine the comments made against Noah when this fruitcake not only builds a boat large enough to house a city, but when he starts loading it with animals? God puts His people on display, and causes them to appear as escapees from the looney ben. So if you're feeling out of place in the world, it's a pretty good chance that you're fully in place concerning the purposes of God.
1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: (Gen 12:)
Just take off. Walk, and don't stop til I tell you when.
Abraham was to leave house and home and journey into nowhere. Can you imagine what people must have thought of him when they asked him where he was going and how long he would be gone? How would you feel if you had to give an answer of "I don't know" when asked as to your odd behavior? Yet this is the situation God places us, His people in.
41And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. (Gen 27:)
Cain was the first, but certainly not the only one of God's creation who wanted to kill his brother out of jealousy.
Jacob was the one promised the blessings even before he was born. He stole nothing. But in the acquisition of what he was already given, Jacob was placed in harm's way. Then after almost 21 years of serving his uncle, he was again threatened, and forced to leave, this time with the things he had worked for, but was called a thief by the one he had been working for.
Jacob's life was one out of control and why was he placed in this situation? Because he too was one of God's elect, His chosen vessel.
19And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. (Gen 39:)
Joseph, if anyone, was one blessed of God. In fact Joseph in many ways is a picture of our Lord in prophesy. Because of Joseph carrying the blessing, he was treated special. Again we see brothers seeking to kill their youngest brother out of jealousy. Joseph was let down a well to die. Then he was lied about and sent to prison. This special lad had to endure hardship and a bad reputation (that to our knowledge was never corrected, he was never acquitted of the crime he was convicted of) before he was given any of the blessings that might have been due him.
12And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (Gen 15:)
Long before it happened, God said the nation He chose to be the one to carry His name, to receive his blessings, would be slaves in a nation of sinners for 400 years. Then on top of this blessing, we find this blessed and holy nation wandering around the desert for 40 years, waiting for them all to die. And this is God's blessed nation. Can't you just imagine what the Midianites, the Moabites and others of that area must have been thinking? They probably said to one another: "Boy, I'm sure glad God isn't blessing me!"
1Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 3Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. (Psalm 78:)
Read this passage carefully. Notice that what's being taught was for a time to come, which is now. We see that what's being described is the ministry of Jesus. Yet this was spoken a thousand years before Jesus. To the people saying these things the meaning of what they were saying was darkness to them. Daniel experienced this with the prophesies he was given. Though he was told the secrets, he wasn't allowed to know the meaning of the secrets. Can you imagine being told the greatest of things, but unable to understand them yourself? Yet that's exactly what happens to each of us who are called into the special work of our Lord. We work, but we don't often see the fruits of our labor. We do the planting, the watering, but we don't get to be a part of the harvest.
5And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 6And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. (Num 12:)
In the passage we just observed, Abraham heard from God in a dream. We see where Paul had a vision that no one could see but him. God reveals Himself in dreams and visions. So if you've experienced a vision or a dream that you know no one else will believe, the chances are that it was not your imagination, that it was real, and that it was from God.
God reveals Himself in strange ways sometimes. To Elijah He was a still small voice. To Moses and Israel He was a pillar of cloud by day, and fire by night. To Job He was a whirlwind. To me He was the voice of a drill sergeant, demanding and abrupt. To others He's a vision, or a dream, or He's a gentle vision in a garden with welcoming arms. He's many things to many different people, but whatever He is to an individual, He's an experience that can't be forgotten, and one that changes lives.
12Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation. (Dan 5:)
Some people are given many special gifts. But in Daniel's case, the gift didn't come all that easy. Daniel, because of his loyalty to God was cast into a den of lions. The Lions didn't harm Daniel, but he didn't know that would happen. I suspect he, like the three Hebrew children who were cast in a fire, fully believed they were about to meet their Maker.
Relying on God comes with a price. Sometimes, like the cases we're looking at, that price is not revealed to us until we're well on the road to where we will be paying that price.
8Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: 9And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. (2Sam 7:)
David was the youngest son in a family of warriors. He was so inferior to the others in his family that when it came time for choosing the future king, he wasn't even considered. God reached down to the bottom of the barrel of rotten apples to find the one to best suit His purpose. And if we're lucky, we're the rotten apple He'll be drawing out.
David's life, as the one anointed to be the king of God's holy nation, was not one of ease. He was pursued by the one who should have been his protector and mentor. He had to fight, and work with, the very ones he was to serve as king over, as well as the enemies that surrounded the nation of Israel.
Then, at the end of his life, David had to escape for his life because his own son wanted to take over the throne. David had several sons, and they all (those recorded) were a heartbreak to him, except his youngest, Solomon.
Being chosen comes with a price.
9And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1Kings 19:)
Probably one of the most powerful of the prophets, Elijah, who could bring down fire from Heaven, and slay hundreds of false priests, was afraid of the queen. He felt as if he was the last one in the world who was loyal to God. Have you ever felt that way? I have. It's part of the call. If you're finding yourself on a road easy to travel with many people going your way, it might be time to check your road map. You may just have taken a wrong turn somewhere in your past.
1After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2And Job spake, and said, 3Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. 4Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. 5Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. (Job 3:)
Job is lamenting the day of his birth. He's saying "why me," crying the song of the church members when things go wrong, those things that we've been told only happens to the wicked.
6Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; 7Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. (Job 5:)
16Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? 17A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Prov 17:)
We were born for trouble. Is this part of the will of God? It would seem so. And if we look at the lives of those who follow God, we find a people who were indeed born for adversity.
4Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. 10See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (Jer 1:)
Some people are born to a job in the Kingdom. We see here that Jeremiah was one of those so chosen. From this statement by God many preach that everyone is born to a job. I disagree. But if this were true, then there's a lot of people failing in the job they were born to.
Jeremiah tried to avoid his calling. He made excuses. And I suspect if I'd been given a choice, I'd try hard to get out of my calling as well. It didn't work for Jeremiah, and it doesn't work for me. Unfortunately I find making excuses for avoiding the calling is all too prevalent in the churches today.
1How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! 2She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. 3Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. 4The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. 5Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. (Lam 1:)
Jeremiah experienced the grief his beloved city and the inhabitants of that city were experiencing. He was with them in spirit, even though he himself was not among the captives taken to Babylon, having been given his freedom. He lamented the pain the people were enduring, even though these same people, who he had been warning against this day, had persecuted him and refused to pay any attention to him.
3The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. (Ezek 1:)
14So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. (Ezek 3:)
Ezekiel resisted with all his might the job he had been given, and for very good reason. He had to endure the punishment of both Israel and Judah, suffering a day for each year of their rebellion. All he had to endure is too much to tell here, except to say that what's described is Ezekiel kicking and screaming in rebellion as the Spirit takes him by the hair to a place he didn't want to go.
I sat among them. This is the key. We don't understand a person until we've sat where they sat. In sitting, it takes more than remaining still. It takes caring, and it takes listening.
11Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 12And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:)
These are friends indeed. They came from a long way, and were very distressed with what they saw in Job. They just sat there saying nothing, experiencing Job's grief along with him. What more can a person ask of a friend?
There's an old Native American saying that goes: don't judge another man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins. When we've experienced what a person has, then we can better understand him.
There was no way Job's friends could understand what he was going through, even if they had been ill or suffered in some other way in their life. Job's physical condition was only a small part of his problem. He knew, or assumed, as did the others, that trouble (Evils in the Hebrew) was brought on by sin. Therefore his having lost everything, even the respect of the townsfolk who he had helped in every way he could, meant there was some dreadful sin in his life. He knew he hadn't sinned, or better said, he knew he must have sinned, but didn't know what his sin could be. The friends were trying to figure out what Job's sin must have been to be punished so severely, while Job tried to defend himself, adding to his problems.
They sat where he sat, which is more than anyone else was doing for Job. They were at least trying to be of comfort, thinking that if they could discover Job's sin, and get him to admit to some dreadful sin, then he would be released from God's chastisement. At the same time the friends were defending God's goodness and sense of justice, just as many in the churches do today.
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Mat 1:)
God came down and sat where we sit. He endured our afflictions, our sorrows, and our temptations. He understands us because He has been, and is one of us. None of us can say of God "you don't understand what it's like being human. You sit up there in your ivory tower and look down on us and judge us, but you would see us different if you had to walk in my shoes for a while." He has walked in our shoes. And not only has He walked in our shoes, but He has made it possible, through the Holy Spirit, for us to walk in His shoes. In the future there's going to be a people who have overcome this world, and this body of flesh, who will dwell with God, as He now dwells in us, those of us who allow Him to take control of our vessels. It's those who are walking in the Lord's shoes, enduring the hardships He endured, who will be the righteous branch God is looking for to give dominion over this world.
When we suffer, we don't suffer for no reason as do those of the world and those who seek to be pleased, rather than to please God and our fellow man. We read:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:)
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God [see Col 1:27-28; John 14:18-21]. (Rev 21:)
31And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: .... and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. (Ezek 48:)
4And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them [see 1Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28-30;]: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. 5Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch [see Eph 4:10-13; John 15:5-8] , and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer 23:)
14Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. (Jer 33:)
21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:)
12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:)
He sat where we sit. And we, as dedicated Christians, are to sit where He sits.
17I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. (Hag 2:)
When we're smitten of the Lord, it's for a purpose. We're being chastised in order to bring us back into the arms of God. We tend to make promises when we're in distress, then forget our promises when we feel we're back in control again. So God has to cast us down so we will remember who we are, and what we are. It's also to cause us to remember where our blessings come from. Israel sought help in times of need from the powerful countries around them, paying for their military help. God calls this adultery, playing the harlot. He wants us to rest in the assurance that He's in control, and not to seek some outside influence, nor to try and fix our problems ourselves.
15Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, 16As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. 17But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. 18But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. 19And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men? (Jer 44:)
Many believe, and teach, that becoming a Christian brings with it much wealth and pleasure, that as a Christian we can enjoy the pleasures of the world, and in addition receive the blessing God has promised the faithful. Those who have endured the thrusting down God brings upon those He is training, know that this teaching is not true. In order to gain our full attention, God has a big stick He uses. Sometimes it seems we won't survive our wake-up call. But when we finally understand what has happened to us, we then realize that what we knew before our awakening, and experienced in the past, was not reality.
The devil uses blessing to trap those who seek to please themselves, and he labels his blessings "a gift from God."
1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:)
The chances are we won't like the job God has in store for us. We might have to suffer as did Job, or be chased constantly like David was. We certainly will have our ego bashed rather than massaged like we want it to be. But when we finally stop running, or are vomited out of a fish's mouth, we find that the job given us is actually quite pleasing and very rewarding. It's for this reason truly dedicated Christians are happy doing what the rest of the world would consider abasing or even crazy. Jesus was called a devil, how much less can we expect if we walk in His shoes?
12Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: 13But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court. 14Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: 15And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. (Amos 7:)
"Don't speak the words of the Lord around us, we belong to the king." This Jesus discovered when He tried to tell the church about their mistaken ideas, and about the true and living God. They didn't want to hear it. And today is no different. When we finally see the light, and are on the way to truth, we desire to share what we learn with our loved ones, and with our church. but they don't want to hear what we have to say. They consider us heathens for straying from what they consider to be the truth.
Amos didn't ask for the job of prophesying, God told him that's what he's to do. And this is very likely to be our experience as well, at least I can say it certainly has been mine.
8Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: 9That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits. (Isaiah 30:)
"We're happy being lied to. Don't confuse us with the truth." When we're finally taken out of the dark, we're able to see the darkness behind us. We think we're fully in the light, but in reality we have only been given a peek into the light of day. Truth is not a matter of words, any more than a lie is the telling of an untruth. Truth is a matter of the heart, of who we are. If we lie, we become a liar. Truth is what we do, who we have become in the Truth, that being the Lord. If we are in truth, we will demonstrate that truth in our life and people will see the truth, even if they don't understand it and reject it.
What's important is that we live what we've come to know, regardless of the consequences. Jeremiah said he wanted to stop telling people about God because it got him into so much trouble. But He couldn't stop prophesying because the Word burned inside of him. I know the feeling. And if you're relating at all to what I'm saying here, so do you.
16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. (Dan 6:)
The king knew that Daniel was innocent, but because of his own words that he couldn't back out of, even though spoken in ignorance, he had to do what he least wanted to do. We do this as well. We speak out of our ignorance, then to try and protect our dignity we look for the words that will justify our actions instead of admitting our error and altering our course. I've watched this type of behavior in others, and all too often entered the arena myself. It's hard to admit being wrong. But to continue being wrong because of a weak ego is foolhardy.
Nebuchadnezzar knew that the Daniel was a servant of the True and living God. He knew this. Yet because of tradition, the thinking of his people, he continued to worship a false god that could not help him. This we do as well. We serve a god we call by the right name, but in reality the god we worship is one we made up in our own imagination. When we're slapped to the ground, placed in the lion's den because of our faith, then we see who, and what, the true God of this world is.
Reality is not free, it comes at a very high price.
20Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezek 3:)
32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Rom 9:)
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1Peter 2:)
Does God place a stumblingblock before His people? Obviously He does, because He says He does. The question we must face now is: what are we going to do with the stone (see Mat 21:44). We can either allow ourself to be broken when we stumble, or we can paint the stumblingstone with a picture that better suits us, and continue to stumble until it breaks us to pieces.
Some of us have no choice. The stone of stumbling was so sever that we can't deny its existence, nor its importance in our lives. We are the fortunate ones. Sad are those who see their rock of offence as something to continually keep before their face under a different name.
14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: (2Tim 2:)
When I was still in diapers I scribbled some lines on a paper and asked my mother "what did I write?" To me what my parents wrote was just like what I wrote. So I must have written something profound. It's the same way with those in the churches. They don't understand what the Bible says, because it takes living the Bible to understand it. Reading it and studying the Bible is like trying to become a great artist by reading books about the great artists, but not ever picking up a pencil. Doing is what teaches, not study.
When God strikes us down, when He reveals His reality to us, then we are able to see the truth. Until this collision of wills, we only have pictures of God that have been painted for us. For myself I've never had Jesus present Himself to me in a vision, so I don't know what He looks like. But I've heard His voice twice, so I know what He sounds like, at least to hard-heads like me.
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:)
A person can be in the church all their life, and know the Bible inside out and backwards; and yet not know the first thing about the Lord. Knowledge is doing, not reading or serving the church. We must walk where Jesus walked, in His footsteps, in order to understand or to know Him.
Those of the Spirit, know they're of the Spirit. They may not understand what it means to be of the Spirit, or what to do about their new condition, but they know there's been a change in their life, in their person, and they seek to find the door to that new direction.
14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: (2Tim 2:)
The word canker means to gnaw, a gangrene. It's something that once it starts it continues to grow and destroy. We now have cancer that eats away at the body until the body dies altogether. False teachings do the same thing. They continue to spread throughout the body, both as individuals, and as a body of believers. When we accept a teaching, and teach it as a truth, we cause the cancer to take a stronger hold, and to be seen as something benign, or even helpful to the body. The Bible refers to such activity as leaven. Leaven makes the dough taste better, to look bigger and more beautiful, but it contains nothing of value.
When we've experienced the Lord, we discover that all the beautiful pictures that have been given to us are nothing but simplistic images painted by the mind of man. But we don't know where to look to find truth. We feel in limbo. So we attach ourself to someone who is saying something different than what we have been hearing before our conversion. Eventually we begin to hear from our new Spiritual guide things that do not fit with what we've experienced, nor what we now find in the Bible. So we discard everything and assume such a search for truth is hopeless. We now know truth exists, but we don't find it anywhere in the mainstream of the Christian world.
Jesus was the only one of His kind on earth. He was a "new creation." His was a lonely existence. Since we now walk in the shoes Jesus wore, we experience this same loneliness. We feel like aliens on another planet. Which is exactly what we become. We seek out someone who speaks our language. We hope to find someone who can understand what we're going though. Because there's no one to understand us, who we can talk to, we begin to doubt our own experience and our own sanity. Jesus said that to follow Him means to abandon all those we love. What does He mean by this? Does it mean to leave our house and home and those who depend on us? Not at all. But it's very likely they will leave us because we no longer fit their concept of "normal," or a "Christian." They may fear for us, and they may even fear us, what we've become. If nothing else, they're very likely to become ashamed of us, and try to explain away our wayward personality.
Jesus said it would be this way, and now you, having fallen upon the stumblingstone, know what He's talking about.
38Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? (John 18:)
We all want to know truth, but we don't want to travel the straight and narrow road, filled with obstacles (which is what "strait" means) and to leave the popular road to reach the place where truth can be found. Pilot had warnings, and even fears, as to what this man before him meant. But he bowed to the whims of public opinion rather than his own good sense. We do the same. We say we want truth, but we don't want to give up our fantasies in order to obtain truth. When truth is presented to us, we throw up our longstanding beliefs that have no foundation as a wall in order to keep the truth we claim to want so badly from penetrating our comfortable fantasy land.
23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:)
20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: (Gal 2:)
There's a cost for following Jesus. Jesus told the rich young ruler that in order to follow Him he had to give everything away. This was too much. The man, as did several others, had a calling, but he just couldn't make the complete surrender it requires to resign from the world and to become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I SIT WHERE HE SAT.
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:.....37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:)
When my father was old, blind and unable to care for himself, I became a care giver. My back went out completely for over a month, in which I was confined to my bed and in great pain. My father in his sensitive way said regarding my condition: "I never had a back ache in my life." Since he had never sat where I was sitting, he was unable to relate to my situation and pain. If he had been in my condition sometime in his life he would have felt more sympathy for his oldest son.
Those who have been in prison are likely to go into prison ministry because they know what prison life is like and they can empathize with those who are incarcerated. Those who have had cancer are inclined to work with cancer patients. We can relate to those who are sitting where we've sat. This is one reason God has us fall on our knees before Him in distress. He wants us to be sensitive to the needs of others. If we're sensitive to God's creation, we will give of ourself to them. We will consider them as equal, even though by all appearances we are above them socially. Jesus touched the lepers. He was sensitive to every person's need and hurt. When Jesus seemed to ignore the Canaanite woman the disciples implored Him to send her away. When a city didn't respond to them, they wanted to call down fire upon that city. They had the wrong idea as to what an anointed one was to be. Jesus had to set them straight. A Christ, an Anointed One, is not a ruler but a care giver. He's to help, not to herd. He's to listen, not to command.
After Pentecost the Apostles were given this understanding, and they began to sacrifice for the needy, and to be aware of the hurts of others. They understood, through the Holy Spirit, what being a Christian is all about. Far too many in the churches today who go by the title Christian have not been broken. They consider themselves above others, they think of themselves as judges and point the finger of accusation and condemnation instead of weeping for them and striving to help them.
12And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. 13And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. 14And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. (Gen 45:)
21Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? (2Sam 12:)
31And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier. 32And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept. (2Sam 3:)
4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. (Rev 5:)
1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. (James 5:)
35Jesus wept. (John 11:)
14I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. (Isaiah 42:)
Last Sunday an older man lamented the passing of his beloved wife. He apologized for his tears. I told him it was good that he was in touch with his feelings and that he was willing to share his grief with us. I was sure I was talking for everyone, even though none of these gruff old men commented on what I said. Later that week I realized their silence wasn't a sign of agreement, but rather a reluctance to state their opinion in the face of this man's agony.
Men don't cry. How often we, especially those of gray hair age, have been told this by our father? God doesn't seem to understand this concept. We see that God Himself and most, if not all the saints of the Old Testament and the New have cried, and often bitterly. The word used in Jesus' case means to "bemoan, bewail, sob." Why did Jesus cry? The people thought it was because He loved Lazarus so much. But Jesus was going to raise His friend back to life, so He wouldn't cry over what was apparent. Jesus was about to go to the cross, to die and be resurrected. And the people still didn't understand this. They were still in the dark concerning this most important event. The raising of Lazarus was a demonstration of how a body, even though already corrupted, could be given life through God's mercy.
Those men who have learned that men don't cry are insensitive to the pains of other men who have learned the value of weeping. And they force them to be as they are, which is hardhearted when it comes to the hurts of others. God wants to break that stony heart and cause it to be a heart of flesh so He can plant the seed of love where gravel used to be.
Once our heart is broken, and we're able to shed tears, we then begin to judge ourself according to how we had been brought up to think and to judge. We judge ourself as weak, as childish, as foolish because we now cry. In fact it's those tears that cause us to be a person God wants us to be. But we have no one to tell us that we are now normal, so again we begin to hide our feelings and consider ourself as less than human, and possibly going insane.
The world is growing in population yearly. We now have as many people in this world as has been born since creation. The world has taken over the world, and the churches. There's nowhere for the true broken Christian to go for understanding. So like Jesus, we must walk this earth alone, just as did Jesus.
14Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. 15Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. 16And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; 17Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. 18Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame? (Jer 20:)
34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Luke 13:)
Walking in the footsteps of Jesus is likely to be a life of pain in this world, but that pain will turn to joy in the world to come. What we are told the Christian life is like turns out to be just the opposite of what we, as true followers of Jesus, actually experience. Jesus said we're to count the costs before taking on the title of Christian. But we don't hear about the costs until those "costs" are fully upon us.
Jeremiah as well as Job had difficulty dealing with the hand they were dealt. And as we can see here, Jesus experienced pain because of having those He cared for not listen to Him.
1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:)
And we're to walk where Jesus walked. Some of us have had a taste of where Jesus walked. And we have found the road to be a difficult one to follow.
15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:)
4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Rev 18:)
12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:)
7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (Luke 24:)
1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:)
22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. (2Cor 11:)
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev 20:)
It's not attending church that makes us a Christian. It's not the singing in the choir that causes us to fulfill the commandments. It's not even the diligent study of the Bible that cause us to be in God's image. It's the trials and tribulations that turn us into what God desires of His creation. It's hardship that molds us into the righteous person worthy of standing beside Jesus in the presence of an Almighty God. We must partake of the unattractive Tree of Life and avoid the appealing Tree of Knowledge that appease so much to our lusts.
3And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2Cor 12:)
Hearing the Lord's voice, our vision of Jesus that we are unable to express without being considered a nutcase: The event that changed our life which appears to be the ravings of a madman to those who haven't met with the Lord: Our meeting with God presents us with the road to truth, one that we can't deny, yet we are unable to understand or explain. Through the years we find that a new road is presented to us, step-by step, that clarifies the odd twists and turns of our unorthodox past life. Those events that made no sense to us in the past are now needed to fulfill the occupation we find ourself involved with. We find that the skills we've acquired over the years are now useless, while those abilities that were unattainable are now being used. For myself, my ability to draw and paint was taken from me by giving me hands that shake. Yet my poor memory, my inability to type, my failure to learn the English language, and my aversion to technology, are now part and parcel of my daily existence. I'm still unable to do any of these things, yet I do them. Like Paul, I can not glory in what I do, because I'm unable to do them. I just do, and it turns out that what I do comes to fruition. What I try to do on my own, by my own ability, falls flat on its face.
If God doesn't get the glory, there's no glory in what a converted Christian does.
9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1Cor 15:)
When we forget who it is who is working through us, we become a useless vessel to the Lord. That feeling of worthlessness, of being incapable to do what we do is our power to accomplish God's work. Our worthlessness is our value. We should treasure what little we now have, and not regret the loss of the trash that we've acquired in our old life.
1All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. 2And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live (Deut 8:)
1Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. 2Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 3For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. (Psalm 36:)
4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Heb 12:)
God tests those who He considers His children. If we're not being tested, than we have cause to be concerned as to our status with the Lord. We're told that God will not test us more than we can endure, but with the testing, provide a way out. The harder the test, the more God is expecting us to produce. Those servants who received the most talents God had a higher expectation of. God has dealt softly with me because He knows I'm weak. I've been given a half-talent, which I struggle to cause to increase. Some people have been given much to work with, but have failed to produce, instead they either make excuses for their failure, or they spend what they've been given to work with on themselves.
NEGLECTING THE CALL
13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)
"This one thing I do." Those of you who have been chosen find that their sights have been taken off the things of the world, and are now focused on the things of the Spirit. The pleasures of the world now hold little or no interest to you. You seek things of the Spirit. You desire to be of service to your fellow man. You want to heal the hurts of others, to take away their pain. Their suffering causes you to feel their pain.
Although your desire to help, to be of service is strong, and you may even have the abilities needed to be of help, there are things in your life, in your health, or in your past that prevents you from fulfilling those desires. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh that caused him to be less efficient than he could have been. He had very poor eyesight, this we can know from his writings. But I suspect he also had old habits or/and temptations that plagued him as well.
Our habits and desires that we once relished, we now despise. Yet they remain with us. That's part of the trial we have to face. We can't become an overcomer if we don't have our nature and drives to overcome. I've prayed often to have some desires removed. But I know that dealing with the desires of the past are part of the rocky road I've been given to travel.
Life does not become easier for those who are given the Spirit, it becomes impossible to travel on one's own. Dependance on the Lord becomes essential to those struggling to overcome the flesh and become a Spiritual being.
14Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1Tim 4:)
1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:)
"This one thing I do." Our once waning interest in the Bible, and what it is telling us, has taken on a new life of its own. Every word seems to jump out and cause us to seek more, and to understand more. The Bible no longer remains a lifeless book of obscure and misunderstood words. It becomes alive with meaning and purpose. We find we can't get enough of what God has to say. Even those things we don't like to hear in the Bible we desire to hear more of. We now enjoy the sermons we used to sleep through. However, the more we learn of the Word of God, the more we find those preaching the Word are not understanding the word they preach.
Miracles are now happening in your life. You now see that miracles had been occurring with you regularly in the past, but you delegated them to something other than God working in you. The tragic events that brought you to your knees you now see to be blessings, and a miracle, and not the tragedy you viewed them as when they occurred.
16Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18And they all with one consent began to make excuse. (Luke 14:)
2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2Peter 1:)
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1Peter 4:)
The wedding invitation is sent out to everyone, good and bad. And many, if not all who respond are caused to be brought to their knees and to be tested. But not everyone responds in a favorable way. Many make excuses for their lack of attendance to duty. I've found many who have been called, but for one reason or another they go only so far into that calling, then they fall to the wayside. Jesus gave us a parable of just such a people. That parable is called the Sower and the Seed. The seeds are sown everywhere, but only the good, prepared ground was receptive to the seed. Many other soils caused the seed of the Holy Spirit to take root, but before it could produce fruit, it withered away.
We have to judge ourself to make sure we're part of the fertile soil. If we're producing fruit of the Spirit, then we will be recognized as one on good soil. However, it's not those who are themselves planted on insufficient soil who will recognize your fruit: they won't. But those who themselves have had their rocky heart broken up and are producing fruit will recognize a kindred soul. The others in the field will consider the fruit-bearing tree a fruitcake, not a fruitful tree.
4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:)
When we sin, which we will, after accepting the forgiveness of sin at our conversion, there is no more offering to be given. We then place the Lord back on the cross, despising, which means to look down on, the offering of sacrifice Jesus made on our part. How can we do such a thing without experiencing much regret? But the Lord is merciful. He forgives us time and again for our new transgressions, when we come to Him confessing our sin, and repenting of that sin. Repent means to change one's mind about it and to agree with God concerning it's hurtful qualities. Because we're human, we'll likely do it again, and will need to confess and repent again. But if we can sin and not feel pain for having done so, then we need to re-evaluate our conversion.
Our aim is to become as much like Jesus, who is like God, that we possibly can. If that's not our aim, to hit the mark of the high calling of God, then we need to have our sights readjusted.
10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Heb 2:)
Suffering is the road to perfection.
Part of our suffering comes from our judging ourself. The more harshly we judge ourself, the more we will suffer, but the faster we will become what God wants of us. We should relish our suffering. Body builders and weight lifters have a saying that applies to those striving for the mark. "No pain, no gain." The more we put on ourself, the more we will gain. The danger is not placing enough burden on ourself. It's far too easy to slack off our training program when we give ourself a light load and a skimpy schedule. Anyone who has tried a diet program knows what I mean.
When we feel ourself losing interest in the things of the Lord, and about the hurts of others, and we seek to entertain ourself, and to cater to our own self-interests, then we know we're on the road of a backslidden heifer.
1Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? 2Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. 3But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. (Jer 12:)
12Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. 15If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. (Psalm 73:)
6The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. (Job 12:)
22This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. 23If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. 24The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he? (Job 9:)
3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. (2Cor 1:)
Sometimes we question God because life just doesn't make sense. We think if we were God, we would do it differently.
Eventually things will be as they ought to be, but not while we are mortal, selfish creatures desiring to rule the world and have everything go our way.
Why do the wicked prosper? As we can see, we're not the first to ask this question. Then we read that David and Job received the answer. The end is not yet come. It's then we will find our reward for our dedication and steadfastness. We have to keep in mind that as Christians we are not to concern ourselves with the goings on in this earth. We are to live for a time and place yet to come.
Why are the wicked happy? Do the righteous rejoice? Let me tell you about some happy people I know.
Teddy is 55 years old lady. Her body is withering away. All that functions on her body is her head and her right hand. With her hand she operates the controls of her electric wheel chair. Teddy paints with her mouth, having no other way to accomplish the task. Someone has to place the easel on the tray attached to her chair, and place the brush in her mouth.
Teddy is known all over town because she's involved in such organizations as housing for the poor. When she travels the halls of the convalescent hospital she tells others in wheel chairs, in much better condition then herself, to grab on to her chair and she wheels them excitedly to where they wish to go.
When you ask teddy how she's doing, she always says with a smile that she has no complaints.
Sandy has Rheumatoid Arthritis. She is confined to a wheel chair. It's almost impossible for her to move from her chair to her bed. Her hands are hardly more than unusable claws. Opening closets and drawers is a chore almost beyond possibility. Sandy uses hooks of different kinds to reach things and to pick up what has fallen to the ground. Her body is deteriorating day by day. Two years ago she was able to walk, with help. Six months later she was confined to her chair.
Sandy has no complaints. When I visit her I'm often interrupted by someone who needs some counseling or an ear to hear their troubles. Those in need of what Sandy has to offer are in far better condition than she, having far less problems than Sandy.
Sandy has nothing she can give, but of herself.
We find this in many great people. They don't look at what they no longer have, nor what they lack. They look for what they have to offer others, and they give all they are capable of to those in need. They see their burden as a blessing.
How selfish of us who have so much, to desire more. And this while bearing the title Christian.
4And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. (Luke 8:)
Examine this parable closely, then examine yourself. If you are converted as you say you are, if you've received the Holy Spirit as you claim to have, then you are somewhere in this scenario. Find yourself, and judge what will be your end if you continue on the road you find yourself. The judgement call you make on yourself may be found to be vital when all is said and done.
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:)
4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1Cor 12:)
We're all part of one body, the Body of Christ. Jesus is the head of a body, and that body is to be no less than the head. Where do you find yourself in this body Christ is the head of?
Along with the description of gifts we see a series of instructions to the various members of the body. How well are you fulfilling these requirements? Or is it possible you consider yourself above the rules since you're "under the blood?" Remember, the Bible is talking to people under the blood. Paul, especially here, is talking to those under the blood. It's those under the blood who are expected to live up to the requirements given those who are members of the body of Christ.
Those who feel above having to obey the laws of the body, have not been humbled, and have not experienced the chastisement of the Lord.
8Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds.....12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. (2Tim 2:)
9And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him...... for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mat 9:)
22But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Mat 8:)
18And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (Mark 5:)
24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mat 16:)
21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Mat 19:)
7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1Tim 6:)
19For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (1Peter 2:)
4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Rev 14:)
We've been called to follow the Lord. Some are called to be with Him in His travels, and others are told to go back and report what they've experienced. We think that everyone who is called should be a missionary, or a prophet like Jeremiah. But this is not so. In the list of gifts and responsibilities we find many ways the body of Christ can be served. God does the selecting, and the assigning of jobs. It's our place to do with all our might what we've put our hand to. If we look back, we then lose our resolve, and we are well on the way to becoming yet another castaway.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:)
When we've heard the Shepherd's voice, we then can be sure we're one of His sheep. Then it's up to us if we continue to listen for the voice, or turn our back and return to our own life outside the sheepfold.