God put a message in my heart many years ago, after bringing me through a deep dark valley of depression, irrational fears, and spiritual confusion. Nobody else knew all the struggles that had been going on inside me. I was afraid to let on to anyone around me that I was having thoughts of suicide and that I felt so far away from God. I played the good Christian daily, attending my classes in Bible college, chapel, doing my “Christian service” each week, etc. I smiled and laughed with my friends. But inside I was in a living nightmare. I cried out to God, but when I tried to seek Him in His Word, there were so many things as a new Christian I did not understand that I only found more condemnation there and no solace at all. I continued to cry out to Him and look for help from Him. Was He still there? Did He hear me? Who could help me if God alone did not answer the confusing turmoil in my heart? How could anyone else answer me for God? I needed to hear from Him alone.
The Christian life takes us through times of very lonely experiences. For many things we can look to a teacher, or someone close to confide in and find help. But there were things inside me that only God’s answer to my soul would help. I felt farther and farther from Him until I was no longer sure I was a Christian at all – in fact, I felt sure that I must have no hope left. I decided to end my life. God’s intervention stopped me. His still small voice, speaking “I still have life to give you” into my heart reached out to me and pulled me toward Him once again in faith, believing that I could still know Him and once again find the joy and life that I knew when I first came to Him. He was still there! Over the next year God alone picked me up, revealed Himself to me once again and filled me with His Spirit. I remember looking back and realizing that there was nothing too hard for God. If He could pull me out of the dark dungeon I was in, and bring peace once again to my confused mind, and love and joy to my dry soul, then I felt assured He was able to keep me to the end and I was no longer afraid of whatever I would have to face in this life. I knew I could put my trust in Him, Who has gone before me and seen the way already, Who knows beginning from end, Who has already made a place in heaven for me. He is the One Who will show me the grace to walk through it. He is the One Who will never let go of His grasp on me. He is the One Who will, by His own life that He put within me, lead me through safely and not a hair on my head will be singed. He is the One I can trust every day, all the way, no matter what.
Sometimes we only see what we ourselves have the ability, the experience, and the courage to face. But we fail to look at Jesus and see what He is able to do, and go through. He gives us examples through martyrs, through many believers in history, and in parts of the world today that are forced to endure unspeakable atrocities from the evil one. They shine, full of His glory and grace. We think, “that person was a strong, courageous person.” No! They were just like you and me. Weak, helpless, having all the same needs of physical comfort, peace, love and hope as we do. It was not their noble character or strength that brought them through, as any one of them would attest to, but it was God’s Holy Spirit living in them, enabling them, holding onto them, giving them whatever grace was needed to get through and endure, and overcome.
If you are a Christian, then you have the same Holy Spirit in you! Will you ignore Him in your time of trial and forget the provision God has made for you and give in to despair, or will you realize, and walk in faith in Christ in you…your hope of glory? This is the test. This is what the testing of your faith is all about. There is no question that the circumstances are not too hard for God. They may be too hard for you, but it is not left up to you. What is up to you is will you walk in faith in all that Jesus is in you, to you, for you, and what He has accomplished in you for eternity. Will you stand in that armor? Will you trust Him to be your all?
1Co 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
God will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. We look at that when we feel we are in a trial way beyond what we can endure and think it not true! “But God! I am even now suffering what is way too much for me! I’m falling! I can’t endure this!” Yet, the reason God knows it is not above what you are able is not because He thinks you are so strong. It is because He knows the power of His presence and life that He has given you if you will only recognize and put your faith in Him. It is by His life in you that you are to live by, not your own. It is by His life in you that you are to conquer your flesh, not your own. It is by His life in you that you are to walk through this time of challenge, testing, difficulty, beyond your capabilities, and NOT YOUR OWN.
What is the way of escape? Faith in Jesus Christ and all that He is in you right now for this moment. Faith in all He is and will provide for you. Will it come out the way you want it to? You can be absolutely sure it will….because the way you want it to come out in your heart of hearts if you are a believer indwelt by His Spirit, is for His glory and His righteousness being performed more deeply in your heart, and a greater oneness with Him. Will it come out to the comfort and pleasure of your flesh? No. Yet God promises you that if you delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. You will certainly not be disappointed!
“That ye may be able to bear it”…. sometimes we feel we cannot bear it when we go through the death of our flesh. He does not say that it won’t be painful. But He promises to give you the grace to bear it. Just as Jesus Himself went through His own Gethsemane prayer time of agony before facing the cross, we too will have our Gethsemanies!
Heb 12:2-4 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
He, Who has resisted unto blood, striving against sin, is living in you and has overcome the world. Don’t be afraid! But trust in Him.
Psa 119:10 “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.”
Our pursuit of God can be a pursuit of our flesh, for all the wrong reasons, though we seek Him earnestly. Many fall because they think they have pursued God with their whole heart, only to be disappointed, and left without the sign they sought after from Him. They walk away, angry with God, hurt by Him, and full of unbelief. Why?
Here is one example in Scripture of people earnestly seeking Jesus for all the wrong reasons, and His rebuke of them.
Joh 6:2 “And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.”
Joh 6:5 “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
Joh 6:12-15 “When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, this is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.”
Joh 6:24-27 “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
I would encourage you to read the rest of that chapter as Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life, the true life they were to seek after. There response was to walk away in unbelief and confusion. What was the response of His true disciples? Though they did not understand Jesus words at the time, they knew Who He was and this is what they said…
Joh 6:68-69 “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
When you don’t understand what God is doing or His lack of answering your prayer, what is your response? Will you walk away in unbelief or will you say to Him, “Lord, where else will I go…only You have the words of eternal life! Only You are God!”
Sometimes we seek Jesus to better ourselves, or for a miracle, or for some other reason. But unless we seek Him for Himself, to know Who He is, and to put our trust in Him alone to be our life, then our pursuit is in vain and we will come up empty. So many times we think we know what God should do for us and why He should do it. It all comes down once again to our wanting to be a god and wanting God to be under our control. It goes back to the garden, and seeking power and independence rather than our giving up our own power and independence for powerlessness, and a submissive heart to the God Who created us for His pleasure and purpose. We still think our “life” is wrapped up in satisfying our passions, and ambitions, and desire for independence and importance.
True faith gives up self and pursues God for Who He is, desiring to give up all to find Him and surrender oneself to Him – to all that He is and all that He desires of me. We can seek God diligently for all the wrong reasons and find ourselves empty. Many have done so and come to the conclusion that God does not exist, because He didn’t answer them the way they desired to see Him. Yet those who have truly believed in Him, knowing He is God and all that His Word says He is, is true, have found Him to be just Who He says He is in their lives and they have found freedom from self in that pursuit.
Those who seek him in the flesh are found to be very self-centered, and have no time for others, are insensitive to the needs and feelings of others, and will even go as far as to neglect their relationships and responsibilities for that pursuit. They continue to look for an experience, or a sign, or sensation. I’ve seen this in churches I’ve been in and, in fact, have been there myself all too often in that self-centered pursuit. I thought I was seeking God with all my heart. All I wanted was a “tangible” manifestation of His power in my life. When I didn’t get it I felt betrayed by God. In fact it led me to error and to false doctrine in the process, and I found myself deceived. When I came away from that I felt betrayed by God, as though He Himself led me to deception when all I wanted was Him. I thought I wanted the truth. But it was when I truly sought truth, and God alone in His Word for all He is and surrendered all my preconceived teachings, and notions to Him, flat on my face before Him that I realized I had Him all along, but was distracted from Him in my “pursuit” and my own fleshly pursuit was what led me astray. When I got back to the foundation of His Word and simply took it as it was and put my trust in Him, I was truly revived and knew that I needed nothing more. I had to repent of my earnest pursuit in the flesh, for all the wrong reasons, and trust what God had already given me. I had been actually walking away from what He had given me, not realizing it, thinking I was drawing closer to Him, until it dawned on me one day in the midst of this earnest pursuit, that I was drained and felt very far from Him.
Our pursuit of Him must be driven by faith in all He is, and a hunger for His Word, for His truth, and out of a submissive heart to all He is and wants to be in our lives, and most of all, to the work of His cross in our lives. This kind of pursuit is what will lead to the power of His resurrection in our lives. Let this be your hearts prayer daily as you seek Him….
Eph 1:17-21 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The 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, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”
Do you want to truly know God for Who He is, discovering His true riches? What kind of a god are you seeking? Will you be content to simply find a god who will make your life better in this temporal world, or do you want to discover the God of creation, the God Who is perfect in love, justice, righteousness, holiness, and power – the God Who created you for His perfect plan and love and to enjoy Him for all eternity? Will you submit to Him? Will you surrender your life in faith in all He is, and all you do not understand, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you? When you don’t understand Him, will you turn away? Or will you hold on to this incredible, wonderful God in faith, believing He is the One He says He is? Even in this – our trials, our misunderstandings of God, our vain pursuits, seemingly betrayal by God, if we continue in faith with Him, even in this He reveals Himself to us.
Joh 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Could this be all there is to it? Just “believe” on Him? Too often Christians have the attitude that this is only the starting place. We believe in Him to come to Him but then we must work to stay Christians.
Col 2:6-7 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
This does not mean we just give mental assent to Jesus and then walk as we wish. Those who think that way do not understand what it means to believe in Him. Our English word does not adequately describe the word used by Jesus. To believe in Him means to rely on Him, to cling to Him, to adhere to Him, to trust in Him. You cannot have true faith without a surrender of the heart to the object of that faith. It is not a matter of “our works” after we believe in Him. It is a matter of truly believing in Him, which is our “work” or the one thing we need to do, and what that means. There is a difference in this kind of “surrender” and the kind that so often we see. It is the surrender of faith, or truly believing in Him.
I’ve seen altar calls many times where the congregation with teary eyes sang “I surrender all” and went forward with tears surrendering their lives to go to Africa or wherever God would lead them, and to obey God always, be whatever He wants them to be. Soon they are having the same struggles with their flesh, falling into the same sins, and unable to surrender their hearts to God. Again and again they go forward to these altar calls truly meaning it, or trying to, and trying again to surrender all. This time they are sure they mean it strong enough and are crying hard enough. I was one of them! That’s how I know. But this is not the surrender of faith.
True surrender of faith is simply believing Him, clinging to Him, relying on Him, trusting in Him, adhering to Him. In this faith, we simply yield to all He is in us and all He has done for us. It is not our determining to “work” better for Him, or do more for Him, or to resolve to read our Bibles and pray more, etc.
We are to walk day-by-day, moment-by-moment of our Christian life, by believing in all Jesus is and all He did and accomplished for our salvation, and for our life. He alone is our life – our eternal life – His life living in us. Our fleshly surrender no matter how sincere will never cut it. But simply believing in His finished work is how we are not only to come to Jesus, but how we are to continue to walk in Him, just as it says in Col. 2:6-7. Sounds too simple? Is this “easy believism?”
There are two problems I see happening. The first one is with those who believe readily in Jesus and ask Him to be their Savior, but it never even makes a difference in their lives…they continue to walk as they did before, only a slight bit more religious. But His grace has now become a license for their sin. They only really gave mental assent to Jesus. Paul and James both condemned this kind of “faith”.
Then there is the other group who comes to Him and believes in His salvation, but they believe that it is up to them once saved, to live under the law and keep it to maintain that salvation. It may not be the Old Testament law. It may be their “church law” that they must keep. Even if they believe they are not under the law, they live under the “principle of law”. Neither is this group learned what it is to “believe” in Jesus.
But what did Jesus say? This is the work you are to do…to believe in Me. I think then, we must learn what it means to believe in Him daily. All that will flow from our lives that is worth anything to God has only come out of our “believing Him” or it is wood, hay, and stubble. It is our own self-righteousness and as worthless as filthy rags in God’s site. But as we live by believing moment by moment, in Jesus, all He is, His finished work, His perfect plan for us, His ability, His Spirit given us to indwell us, then true life will flow from us. In fact as we learn to abide in that place of rest in Him, then and only then can we truly work. We must first rest from our own works and put our trust in His.
Do we really “believe” in Him? Do we believe that He is Who He says He is? Do we believe He will save us to the uttermost, forever, and day-by-day, moment by moment, guide us, fill us, and work through us? Do we believe that our only righteousness is His? Do we rely on, cling to, adhere to, and trust in all He is to us and for us moment by moment, as we walk through trials, as we face difficult things we must do, as we see mountains we must climb, and as we see the world going the opposite way? No matter what we face, we can “believe” in Him to “make our feet like hind’s feet to walk on the high places” as He leads us over the mountains, through the valleys, up the steep slopes, and to do all He alone has prepared beforehand for us to do. No matter how big the mountain, He has already prepared a way of passage for us. We must walk in faith in Him.
We are His workmanship, not our own. He is the one Who will work as we believe in Him, giving ourselves up to His completed work.
Jam 1:25 “But the one looking into the perfect Law of liberty, and continuing in it, this one not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in his doing.”
We gaze at Jesus, looking intently at Him as we look intently into His Word of life, the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, which sets us free from the law of sin and death.
How many of us will only spend a small time looking at Jesus, and then walking away and forgetting what we saw? How many of us will take the time to gaze intently at Him through His Word and see Who He really is as He uncovers to us more of Himself and brings us deeper into that law of liberty to fill us with Himself and free us from ourselves?
Matthew Henry - If we heard a sermon every day of the week, and an angel from heaven were the preacher, yet, if we rested in hearing only, it would never bring us to heaven. Mere hearers are self-deceivers; and self-deceit will be found the worst deceit at last. If we flatter ourselves, it is our own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man. Let the word of truth be carefully attended to, and it will set before us the corruption of our nature, the disorders of our hearts and lives; and it will tell us plainly what we are.
We don’t always want to see “what we are” but as we do we also find life and freedom in Jesus from what we are as He is formed in us by faith.
As we look intently into His Word and search Him out, we discover the greatest riches of life. We discover a fountain flowing continually that we can drink from. We discover true bread to nourish us. But one can simply look at the riches, and they can look at the fountain, and they can look at the bread, and never partake of it – never benefiting from it. This is like one who is a hearer of the Word and not a doer. They hear, but don’t partake, don’t yield or give up their heart to it, don’t let it’s glory fill their lives and set them free. They Don’t walk in that which they heard or apply it to their lives.
Heb 3:18-4:3 “And to whom did "He swear" "they would not enter into His rest," except to those not obeying? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear lest perhaps a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short. For, indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the Word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard. For we, the ones believing, enter into the rest, even as He said, "As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest," though the works had come into being from the foundation of the world.”
If we are not a “doer” it is because we have not mixed faith with the Word. If we truly believe (adhere to, cling to, rely on, trust in) what we read as we look intently into this Word, then it becomes our food and drink and we find there His rest. From that rest we are able to truly be and do what He has called us to.
Joh 6:51 “I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever. And indeed the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Joh 6:53-56 “ Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood abides in Me, and I in him”
I believe these verses are saying the same thing in a different way. That as we are hearers of the Word it does us know good until we “eat and drink” and partake of by faith all that is in it, and obey by faith this Word of life.
Even as Christians we fail at times to be a doer of this Word and to look intently into it for the answers to every trial and every circumstance we face. We fail to partake of the grace and life that He gives us and the counsel He teaches us there as we substitute other things in its place rather than taking the time to gaze intently at Him and find His purpose, His Will, His counsel, His strength, and His life itself within us. We fail to practice that which we see as we look there, walking away and continuing in our unbelief.
It is so easy for us to do this and really not even be aware of it! We take the Word casually rather than “looking into it intently”.
My prayer today is for myself and all who read this that we will begin a new day of looking intently into this Word of life in faith and become always a doer of that which we see revealed there.