And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Mat. 13:52 NASB)
Every once in a while I hear people saying things like: “I only read the Bible”. I went through a phase like this for a short time in my walk with Christ and now I realize how silly it was.
Scripture is the revelation of Jesus Christ and there is nothing to add to it. Likewise, it is clear that the Spirit is able to teach us all things, so we don’t need a teacher. We have Scripture and we have the Spirit, so why read anything else? This is actually similar to those who believe there is more importance to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, in the gospels, than in the writings of Paul and the apostles. This belief lacks the understanding that the same Jesus who spoke those words, became the life-giving Spirit, who spoke through Paul, the apostles, believers throughout the ages, and now us.
There are many Christians who have spent their lives studying Scripture and when we learn from them we are standing upon their shoulders. For example, Witness Lee who stood on the shoulders of Watchman Nee, was a Christian for seven decades. When we read his writing we stand on his shoulders, rather than going back and starting where he began. Someday people will stand on your shoulders, as you stand on the shoulders of others. Don’t go back to the beginning of the revelation of Christ, but stand upon the shoulders of the ever-increasing revelation of our Great Lord until He returns.
You should choose wisely whose shoulders you will stand on.
Here are some shoulders that I think you would be wise to stand on:
“That he expected after the pleasant days God had given him, he should have his turn of pain and suffering; but that he was not uneasy about it, knowing very well, that as he could do nothing for himself, God would not fail to give him the strength to bear it.” – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not shrink back from pains and sufferings in this life. We should embrace them as great graces from God, which He is using to sanctify us. If only we could understand, in the hour of difficulty, the blessings God is pouring on us.
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
(Act 14:21-22 ESV)
There is no reason to search for pain. God will give what is needed. If it is necessary for your growth, then it will come. If your difficulties become too great, know that God will give you strength to bear them. Often, He will use other Christians to strengthen you.
If we are in a situation where our pain will alleviate the pain of someone else, we should wholeheartedly embrace it. There are people who will not suffer a little discomfort for the life of another person. All of us have chosen ourselves over others at some point in our lives. This is not the way of Christ. This is not the way of love. If we wish to save our lives, we must lose them. We must die to self, that Christ may live through us.
If our Father reserved the greatest sufferings for His beloved Son, we should expect that, as heirs with Christ, we should suffer something as well.
“But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord, who reposes in it, and He will quickly calm the sea.” – Brother Lawrence
Christians are but sailboats in the vast ocean of life. We have no engine, but the gale of God’s Spirit. He leads us forward in our walks with God. He takes us where we need to go and teaches us what we need to know. Often, He leads us into storms. We must remember that our Lord has all power over the storms of life. All we need to do is ask our ever-present Father, and He will calm the seas at just the right time. The Christian life is not about struggling to become holy. God will do the work. We need to toss our engines overboard and unfurl the sails. Take us where you will and do with us what you will, Jesus.
“That we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen. That God never failed to grant it, as he had often experienced.” – Brother Lawrence
This is a great lesson for a Christian to learn. Many Christians only address God before or after their day. Instead, we must ask His assistance in every circumstance. We shouldn’t wait until a particular situation is over, but go to Him as it is occurring. God doesn’t require complex speech, but wants us to come to Him in simplicity. He wants us to come to Him as we are, with speech that naturally flows from our love for Him. We have a wonderful God who is always present with us. He is always faithful to help His children.
“…That having resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method.” – Brother Lawrence
If only we would make the love of God, the end of all our actions. Our lives are meant to revolve around Jesus. If you wash the dishes, do it out of love for Him. If you pick up trash off of the ground, do it out of love for Him. If you sleep, do it out of love for Him. None of us can claim that we have loved God perfectly, as He loves us. Fortunately, this moment is a new moment. God is always waiting for us to direct our attention to Him, as His attention is always on us.
Today, let’s begin to devote our every action to God. We must ask Him for His help in making Him the end of all our actions. We can’t do it, but His Spirit is faithful to remind us of Him when we forget.
“That there needed fidelity in those dryness, or insensibilities and irksomenesses in prayer, by which God tries our love to Him; that then was the time for us to make good and effectual acts of resignation, whereof one alone would oftentimes very much promote our spiritual advancement.” – Brother Lawrence
Some days we wake up and we feel down. We search for God, but it seems like He has hidden Himself from us. We attempt to pray and worship Him, but we don’t feel like it. John of the Cross described this as the dark night of the soul. It may last for a few minutes, some have experienced it for years. If you are experiencing this you can rest assured that it is absolutely necessary, according to the wisdom of God. This is a time of spiritual testing, as well as great spiritual blessing. You have a great opportunity to spend time with God for no other reason than the love of Him, because you can no longer perceive the present benefits. Once the time of testing has passed, your walk with God will be much closer.
We must show our fidelity to our beloved Lord, even when we feel spiritually desolate. God’s Spirit is always with us, even when we can’t sense Him.
“That we ought to give ourselves up to God, with regard both to things temporal and spiritual, and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will, whether He leads us by suffering or by consolation, for all would lie equal to a soul truly resigned.” – Brother Lawrence
Indeed, it is a rare Christian who gives himself or herself up to God for suffering or consolation. We quickly and happily accept God’s blessing when it is clothed in things we enjoy. Although, when God’s blessing is clothed in difficulties and trials, we cry out to Him, “Why God?” If we are in Christ, we will walk as He walked. Jesus suffered greatly. If you do everything for the love of God, then everything you suffer will be in His Name.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
(1Pe 4:12-14 ESV)
Today, resign yourself to God’s will, whatever it may be.
“That we ought to…enliven our faith. That it was lamentable we had so little; and that instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions, which changed daily. That the way of Faith was the spirit of the Church, and that it was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection.” – Brother Lawrence
How many of us actually walk by faith? We claim to have faith, but our lives don’t show it. How many Christians are not living the life of peace and joy that Jesus promised? Jesus calls us to live free of fear and anxiety. With man this is impossible, but we have the Spirit of God and enjoy the divine life. If we had greater faith in the One who promises eternal life, we would not fear the trials of life. Has God been faithful to you in the past? Let your faith be built on the faithfulness of God. If anyone is lacking in faith, let him ask God to give him greater faith.
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
(2Co 5:7 ESV)
“…We should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of God; which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.” – Brother Lawrence
It is my firm belief that the higher our view of God, the greater our reverence for Him. As we learn about Him and get to know Him, we can’t help but adore Him. We should meditate on Him and praise His greatness. Great thoughts of God will yield us great joy because we will begin to see God as He is. We will come to know that He is love. We will see that He is so far beyond us that we could never fully comprehend Him. Part of having a relationship with someone is getting to know that person. It takes time to get to know God. By His grace, He bestows on each of His elect a revelation of Himself. Jesus enjoys sharing who He is with us. Also, we will find great joy in getting to know Him. We should continually ask God for greater and greater revelations of our great Lord, Jesus Christ. Why wouldn’t we want to get to know the One we love above all else?
“…We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence, by continually conversing with Him.” – Brother Lawrence
Obviously, we who have God’s Spirit live in His presence. Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize we are in His presence. We need a sense of His presence. We need to continually recognize our God as being there with us and guiding us. If we truly love Him, won’t we want to spend time with Him? As we spend time with God in these little conversations, our love for Him will grow tremendously. God is love and He enjoys pouring out His love on His people.