“Strength is always the effect of having to do with God in the spirit of dependence.”
“A Soul often gets an ‘evil day’ after triumphing through Christ. There may be exaltation in the remembrance of the triumph, and a new source of trial and dependence comes. I may give up the world and be so very happy in the esteem and love of Christians as may bring out a bit of the flesh lower down. A saint often gets into this state, having gone on for a while in the strength of former conquests. A fresh battle comes; and, if he is not prepared for this, he is overcome for a season. The place of strength is always that of being forced to lean on God.”—J. N. Darby, (Excerpts from a study on Eph. 6:10-24, Faith Furnished For The Evil Day) http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/PRACTICE/16005_7E.html
We want to walk in confidence and strength, being sure of our footsteps. We desire and seek after security, confidence, inner strength and ability to truly be happy and at peace in life. Some seem to have more of this than others! But are they better off than the one who is forced, by necessity and lack to cry out to God and lean on Him? What a stronger person in themselves does not understand, is that his strengths in his own abilities may get him through life, as far as taking care of his earthly needs, but only as God allows them to. They are all from Him, given on deposit from Him, by grace, and even the circumstances that all seem to go his way are only from God as He allows. In a moment all he depends on can be taken away. Then what will help him? What if today you have health, wealth, ability, talent… but tomorrow you are told you have cancer, or some other wasting disease that will take away your strength? What if your source of wealth is suddenly, overnight, gone? During the stock market crashes at the time of the Great Depression, many, who lost the most, committed suicide.
What’s your source? What do you lean on? You may say, “I am self-sufficient! I don’t need to lean on anyone!” But everyone has a crutch of one sort or another whether they like it or not. Everyone leans on someone or something. Whether it’s something in yourself, your circumstances, or whatever, you are leaning on a crutch. The crutch can be pulled out from under you in a moment—just like that—without warning. I have heard unbelievers say, “Oh religion is simply a crutch for the weak”. Thank God! Jesus is the only sure crutch for any of us, weak or strong! He is the only true crutch, and the only dependable crutch!! What is your crutch? Is it yourself? Do you suppose you are a better crutch for yourself? You may find you have the strength for much in this world and support yourself well. Life is going your way. You have great strengths and intellect and are able bodied. You have fought great foes and won. Even if you make it all the way to deaths door, can you defeat death itself? What will you lean on to get you through that door? Do you have control over it or what is on the other side? What crutch will you have as you face God Almighty Himself at His judgment seat? There is only One—that is Jesus Christ, in Whom alone we must lean on, in order to be saved from our sin, that we may find He is all of life and truth and eternity Himself.
How much better then, to learn to lean on Him now in this life in our every day walk, and to walk in that utter dependence on Him alone. The more we learn that now, the better off we are, in this life and the next. Some of us must go through very hard trials, and have those “crutches” in life that we are depending on, taken away, so that we may be forced to lean on Him and find that all along, we could have leaned on Him alone and found the security and strength that is true and can never be moved. He is the one sure strength for us to lean on in all of life, whether we have natural strength in ourselves or not. Even our natural blessings and strengths must be surrendered to Him and we must be made to see our “nothingness” so we are able to see He alone is life. Those who think they can be their own god in this world do not realize that all that they enjoy, even without trusting God, is of Him and His grace and love even toward the unbeliever. His sunshine shines on them and His rain rains on them, and the flowers that He created they enjoy. The assurance of each day coming and each season and the earth turning and all happening in harmony is from Him. If He did not exist, neither would any of these things they enjoy. They could not create one thing for themselves or in any way sustain themselves or their very life. It is all of Him. The Bible speaks of some being cast in utter darkness… this is what life without God is… utter darkness. God alone is light and life and without Him there is nothing but utter darkness. How wonderful for those who come to learn to lean on Him to be light and life to them, and turn wholly from dependence on their own light and life, which is none at all, but only a façade. All they have was created and is sustained by Him.
Then how blessed we are when our weakness is made evident to us! How blessed we are when our strengths are removed, though it cause us fear and pain and sorrow for a time. If it causes us to lean on the One Who is our true joy and strength and life, then we shall be made to know Him more intimately because of it. We shall be made to see more clearly. His light will be ever brighter to us. His strength will hold us up where we could not hold ourselves up. It will be more stable and sure for us so that we will not again have to fear ever having what we lean on pulled away. It can never be taken from us! There is no greater security! We fear being left in weakness, inability, and we are in agony of soul at the time. But as we are forced to cry out in utter dependence and helplessness He is faithful to hear our cry and come in His presence, which is our strength, and His grace, which cannot fail, and by that carry us and lead us and cause us to stand and walk, and not fall.
So don’t despair if you are in a situation where you are “forced to lean”. See it as a place of blessing. See it as a place of strength indeed. Reach out and lean on Christ and all He is—all you are, throwing yourself on all He is, and knowing He will take the care of all of you unto Himself. We cannot even lean on past strengths of spiritual experience. We cannot live on “yesterday’s manna”. We must lean on Christ, receiving fresh from Him daily. We know whatever our need we have free access to His throne of grace and mercy in our time of need—Heb. 4:14-16. He will always meet us there, not on our own merit, but because of the blood of Jesus. It is confidence in that alone that we come to Him, and are assured of His help. We cannot come on our own terms ever and expect His grace, but on His alone. If we come on our own, we are again leaning on ourselves and not on Him! We must lean all on Him and Who He is and what He did for us, not in any way on who we are and what we can bring to Him. This, pride cannot accept. We must come empty of ourselves. Come as you are, come helpless, come a sinner in need, come to Him, and let Him be all He is to you!
Mal 3:16 Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another; and Jehovah hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name.
Mal 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith Jehovah of hosts, even mine own possession, in the day that I make; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Mal 3:18 Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
H. A. Ironside's comments, (The Minor Prophets—Malachi):
A remnant is distinguished in verses 16-18 that may well be a shining example to us. In the midst of all of the declension and the coldheartedness of the masses,a few people feared Jehovah and sought each other out in the dark and cloudy day, speaking often one to another of the precious and serious things pertaining to a walk with God. The Lord took pleasure in this feeble company and harkened and heard their communings and their confessions, and He entered their despised names in a book of remembrance, which will soon be opened at the judgment seat of Christ: "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my [peculiar treasure]" (v. 17). As they had found their treasure in Him, He found His treasure in them.
What does God find treasure in? Is it in those who follow the popular religious movements of the day? In those who follow treasure in this life? God’s treasure is in those who treasure Him, and His Word, and love to seek out those who also love His Word and treasure it. As they sit together in fellowship over that Word in a dark day of evil, He sees, takes note, and treasures them. He is there in the midst of them. In Malachi’s day, the Israelites had a form of godliness, but denied the true power of it. They had outward religious form but were cold towards God. They did not understand what God had against them! It is even the same today in the last days professing church.
In Revelation, to the church of Laodicea, Jesus says:
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
This “church”, professed His name, but denied His Word and left Him outside of their door, not letting Him in, but going about in their own religious ways. This is characteristic of the last days church. Those who love God truly, and love His Word and hold fast to it, are also left outside their door, with Jesus, fellowshipping with Him in Spirit and truth and in His Word of truth, delighting in God. Those of the last days apostate church will have nothing to do with them. But God finds treasure in those Who love His Word and put faith in His righteousness alone.
God’s treasure in those He loves is not because of anything good in us at all. Many today in psychology want to say God loves us because we ourselves are of some worth or value in ourselves, though they disregard His Word. But the Bible says there is no good thing in our flesh. If we had to look for something in ourselves that would cause God to love us we would never be assured of His love. We couldn’t be. But if we look at God Himself, and see that God Himself is love and that He created us for that love, we have an assurance of the treasure we are to Him, when we walk by faith in Him alone, and look to nothing in ourselves.
Darby’s comments, (Why Do I Groan?)
It is quite impossible for us to draw any right conclusion about grace, until we are settled on the great foundation of grace—God’s gift of Jesus. No reasoning of our own hearts could ever reach up to “the grace of God,” for the very simple reason, that in order to be such it must flow directly and freely from God. What I had any, the smallest possible, right to expect, could not be pure, free grace—could not be this “grace of God.”
God can never treasure any of our “works of righteousness”, if they are our works. When we think He can find anything satisfactory in our works we bring God down to a very unholy standard that meets with our standard, and not His. The only works God treasures are perfect, and meet only with His perfect standard and we can never, with all our striving, ever live up to it! Our trying does not satisfy Him or please Him! Our best does not measure up! How unfortunate when we think our religious works could ever please Him. Then we do not know God or see His holiness if we can think so. He will not lower His standard to ours ever or overlook sin, or accept anything in our works, not for salvation, or for our walk as a Christian after we have received His salvation. The answer is Jesus. He alone has lived up to the perfect standard, kept the law, and Himself is perfect love that satisfies God’s heart. It is only that righteousness that is excepted and treasured by God. It is only His work for us, in us, and through us. When He sees that righteousness and love in us, counted on by faith alone, completely turning away from and giving up all self-effort and reliance on our own works, that He finds treasure in us. Our works must be done with, and His finished work relied on alone. When we have found treasure in Him alone, He finds treasure in us. If our treasure is in this world, it’s values, it’s philosophies, in self-fulfillment here, or anything else, than Him, He can only be grieved by what He sees.
May the Lord reveal to us the treasure He alone has for us and the treasure He finds in us as we trust in Him alone. That treasure is Jesus Himself, in us, our hope of glory!
Rom 1:17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
What a contrast—the righteousness of man vs. the righteousness of God. In our day what is “right” and “true” is judged by each individual according to whatever he/she feels is right for them. Everyone has his or her own truth, or his or her own “righteousness” and we are not to dare judge another’s concept of right. If one claims to have thee way of righteousness or truth they are told they are self-righteous. But according to the Bible one who is self-righteous is one who is righteous in their own way…their own self, not regarding what God calls righteous. So the truth is just the opposite of what we are hearing in the world today. Those who trust in Christ alone have the true righteousness of God imputed to them.
What is God’s righteousness—the righteousness He alone bestows on man? It is only the righteousness of Christ Himself. No man can ever be righteous in himself or in God’s eyes by any works or religion or belief of his own. Oh how many ways we justify our own actions, feelings, thoughts, etc. We justify even our most self-centered acts, that are self-exalting and God opposing. But there has been a righteousness of God revealed! This righteousness is of God alone, and not of man. It does not come by any works of the law or goodness of man.
The world has its own form of righteousness. They justify themselves according to their own mind. Below is a quote from Vincent Word Studies I found interesting…
“Righteousness is union with God in character. To the Greek mind of the legendary age such a conception is both strange and essentially impossible, since the Greek divinity is only the Greek man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. According to the christian ideal, righteousness is character, and the norm of character is likeness to God.”
How can a man be in union with God in character!! The Greek mind is the same as the mind of today’s thought—divinity being man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. Man does not even conceive of the true character of God but instead makes for himself a god of his own choosing in his mind, which he can comfortably unite with. Just take a look at some of the movies recently made about the life of Jesus! They have made him into a man like us in character, vice and virtue rather than the God of the Bible that He is. So in doing so they have lowered the standard of righteousness that they must have in order to be united with Him. In doing so they will never be united with the one true God but will continue to be alienated with Him.
What is the righteousness of God? Only Jesus Himself. How can we then ever attain to that?? We cannot. How then can we be united with Him? Only by faith in the finished work of Christ. That is the only way God will accept. It is the only way that we shall know true righteousness—by faith taking that righteousness in the form of Christ Himself into our hearts, because of the justification He worked for us on the cross, (Rom.5). In doing so we live by faith, unto faith. That faith grows and becomes greater and fills our hearts with an abundant life that will never end.
Dear Christians, I pray that you will not come to Him by faith only to live by your own works of righteousness. They are just as unacceptable to him as they ever were! The same way you came to Him is the way you must live unto Him—by faith in the righteousness of God! Just as you could not come up with your own righteousness in order to be saved, neither can you now ever work out your own righteousness by your good works. You are to live by faith in the righteousness of God to replace, (not reform), the unrighteousness in your flesh. You have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer you who live but Christ Who lives in you---your hope of glory—and the life you live now you live by faith in Him! This righteousness is by faith and it is unto faith. It is faith that causes it to grow in you and produces more faith. The more faith is developed in us, the more abundant spiritual life we have, which again produces works of righteousness that are works of the Spirit’s overflowing abundance in our hearts, not our own. The Analytical Literal Translation says it in an interesting way—“But the [one] righteous by faith will live”. If we are righteous by faith, then we will truly live—life abundant in Christ!
How great God is! He made the perfect way for us to walk in union with Him--a true righteousness that is not judged by man according to his thoughts and ways, but by God Himself. He made a way for us to be perfect before Him. What greater love can there be in the universe? As He is perfect in all His ways, so He will make us to be before Him so that we may live with Him and enjoy His glory forever! Why would we want to settle for anything less!!
What a wonderful gift we have in that God has "poured out" His love to us by His Spirit in our hearts. Because of that love we have a confident expectation that no one can take away from us.
Rom 5:5 and hope [or, confident expectation] does not disappoint [us], because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the One having been given to us. (ALT)
The word for "poured out" means without abandon, gushed forth, poured out, to run riotously...
Ran riotously (exechuthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of ekcheo, to pour out, "they were poured out," vigorous metaphor for excessive indulgence. But it is used also of God’s love for us (Rom_5:5).
”Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts - We have the most solid and convincing testimony of God’s love to us, by that measure of it which he has communicated to our hearts. There, εκκεχυται, it is poured out, and diffused abroad; filling, quickening, and invigorating all our powers and faculties. This love is the spring of all our actions; it is the motive of our obedience; the principle through which we love God, we love him because he first loved us; and we love him with a love worthy of himself, because it springs from him: it is his own; and every flame that rises from this pure and vigorous fire must be pleasing in his sight: it consumes what is unholy; refines every passion and appetite; sublimes the whole, and assimilates all to itself. And we know that this is the love of God; it differs widely from all that is earthly and sensual. The Holy Ghost comes with it; by his energy it is diffused and pervades every part; and by his light we discover what it is, and know the state of grace in which we stand. Thus we are furnished to every good word and work; have produced in us the mind that was in Christ; are enabled to obey the pure law of our God in its spiritual sense, by loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor, any and every soul of man, as ourselves.” --Clarke
There is no way that in our natural selves we can love God. Without God’s love in us by His Spirit we are only capable of loving ourselves. All we do, as Christians, is motivated by that love in us, by His Spirit. The love of God not only fills our hearts so that we are able to love Him and others, but it is what gives us peace and assurance that no matter what we see in this world or what we face in our trials, we know His love is there, never failing us. We can be assured that that love will bring us through it, as we trust in and yield to His Spirit. If we have any doubt we can look to the cross to see it demonstrated there in Christ Himself being poured out for us. What greater assurance do we need than that?
There are many things in this walk that we do not understand. The world is full of evil all around us. Bad things happen to people, including Christians in this world. It is not because of the lack of love God has for us. In fact it is all part of the great love He has for us. We only see and understand the here and now. But God sees eternally. We look at our temporal life as though it were all we have. But there is far more that God sees and has for us. Now is His time of grace. Because of that grace He allows evil to take place until the time of fullness has come and He will bring all things under one head… Christ. When that happens, those He loves will have that love in its entirety fulfilled in them, around them, through them, and to them continually without end. His plan of love will be brought to completion in all its perfection! Think of it! No sin, disease, or corruption of any time. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. If He did not allow evil right now, then He could not also be showing grace to those yet who have not found Him. The just and the unjust alike at this time all experience His mercy and grace though they don’t realize it. The sunshine and the rain falls on them both. One day soon that will end, and evil will be judged. His love is allowing many to come to Him.
2Pe 3:7 but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.Because of His great unfathomable love for those who come to Him, He cannot allow evil to continue. It must be judged. In doing so He must judge all who rejected the way of righteousness He provided. If He allowed evil men into Heaven, it would not be Heaven but it would be another place of corruption such as we seen now in the earth. Even the unregenerate have an inborn sense of justice when they see wrong. God is the measure of all justice and judgment. It is His love that it is all measured by. He Himself is love. His love, His justice, His righteousness—they are all inseparable.
2Pe 3:8 But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
By faith, we can live by God’s love. It is His love alone in our hearts as born again Christians that motivates, keeps, and teaches us. It is that love ever growing like a seed in our hearts that compels us to do what does not come natural for us in reaching out to others. It is that love alone that is our very source of life and all that we are meant to be as Christians. That love will never fail. We may fail in our flesh, but God’s love in us will never fail. His love in us will keep us to the end. It will be longsuffering, and will also be firm in correction. It will always be true to God’s character and His Word. It will never be wishy washy. It is not based on weak emotion but all that God Himself is. God is love. What does that mean? Look at the law and it’s perfection, and then look at the cross, and it’s provision. Perfect love never fails. The love that suffers long will reign at last! God’s love suffers long with us. That love will reign in the end and all those who love Him and His appearing will reign with Him! We can reign now in this life over sin as we trust completely in Him and not in ourselves, but walk by faith. That love that reigns dwells in us and will never leave us or forsake us. May God make His love shine greater in your hearts today!
LIVING SCRIPTURES DEVOTIONAL