God desires that we move forward – going on in Him – looking to what is ahead. I have been wanting to go “back”. “Back” to Queensland, our old home. “Back” to family and friends. “Back” to familiarity. “Back” to convenience of living. “Back” to bearable seasonal weather. This is dangerous ground.

If going to Queensland is part of my future, according to God’s leading, then well and good, but my heart must be for what lies ahead in Him, not what is behind.

Genesis 19:17b
“Do not look behind you…lest you be destroyed.”
Genesis 19:26
“But his (Lot’s) wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Jeremiah 7:24
“But they harkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”

The perspective God would have us maintain is one of pressing on in Him, following His leading, and being willing to walk wherever, whenever.

Ezekiel 1:12
“And they went every one straight forward: wither the Spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.”

Philippians 3:13
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”

God knows my heart and love for my family and friends, but I must…no, I AM willing look forward to what is ahead for myself and my family, whatever, wherever that may be.

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Psalm 1:3 “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

I find that if I stay outside working in the garden long enough, God is surely going to reveal something whether I’m looking and expecting it or not.  Such was the case yesterday after a few hours, yes…hours, of watering (we really must sort out our irrigation system! – and no, that wasn’t the revelation!)

This is how I did it!

This is how I did it!

As I gave each  valuable plant a thorough soaking, careful not to simply wet the surface of the ground and move on, but hosed the earth (using the exact technique displayed in the above photograph 😉 ) s0 the water went down deep to the roots, God showed me that just like the life-giving water to the plants, so is His Word life-giving water to His valuable children.

God’s Word often speaks of “watering”, “planted and watered”, “washing with the Word”, and “quenching thirst”.  Soaking in God’s Word brings life, quenches thirst and cleanses believers; but we must drench ourselves with it.  If we do not thoroughly immerse ourselves in God’s Word but rather just taste a snippet occasionally, it will encourage shallow roots.  And this was God’s point – it must be deep watering.  Shallow roots do not produce an enduring church.

Mark 4:17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

The image of a tree beside a river is a perfect example of deep watering and a constant supply coming from God’s Word.  The verse preceding Psalm 1:3 explains who will be like this tree; it is the person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2  This is not just watering the surface, but a saturation!

Just hearing the Word at church on Sundays, glancing at a daily verse on a calendar, or even reading a daily devotional penned by someone else, is not going to encourage the steadfastness and surety in God’s promises that really seeking in God’s Word provides.  I know that after opening God’s Word with a heart to receive from Him directly, I am refreshed and strengthened in my faith.  It is essential, like the air we breathe, and wonderful!

Be open to God’s Word. Seek His counsel in His pages with a heart open to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.  The roots of your faith will find depth and strength so that you will not be shaken in this dry and thirsty land.

Jeremiah 17:8 “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Philippians 3:18-19 “18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.”

These statements are referring to people who are “walking”, those who know The Lord, and are supposedly following the Way of the Cross; but through their misdirected focus actually war against it.  Let us not be “enemies of the  cross of Christ” but fix our mind on Jesus and eternal matters of the Spirit – not the things of this world.

1 John 2:15 & 17 “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Matthew 6:24-25 “24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

There are things we are told by Jesus, not to concern ourselves with, yet often these very things become the main focus of our thoughts and actions. I have been struggling with this myself and as I laid it all before the Lord this morning looking for answers, He showed me great and wonderful things in His Word. Hallelujah! These very same things were what Satan put before Jesus in the wilderness.

I have been reading Love not the World by Watchman Nee, and together with my bible study which has been working through Isaiah, God lead me to a passage from Luke this morning which complimented the thoughts presented in both, and gave me the answers I needed. Luke 14:1-13 takes us through Jesus’ experience in the wilderness being tested by the devil.

From Watchman Nee’s book, a point was made that in the last days, the World will be as it was in the Days of Noah and as Lot went out from Sodom. “They ate, they drank, they married, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.” see Luke 17:26-30. Scripture tells us not to concern ourselves with eating, with drinking, nor what we shall wear. Romans 14:17 tells us that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Scripture bids us “first seek God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to us” Matthew 6:31-33. This point also resonates throughout the book of Isaiah.

I have been engrossed lately with “What we shall eat”. Being 28 weeks pregnant with baby #5 and a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding in 3 weeks, I have been concerning myself with trying to eat for the health of my baby but not the size of my backside. Add to this, struggling with cravings and a lack of willpower against all tasty treats that are bad for both! I have been utterly defeated despite my most ardent desire to succeed.

We are also looking to sell the house in which we live and the to-do list which must be completed prior to this becoming a reality is consuming beyond distraction!

Watchman Nee points out regarding Christians, “The undue attention to eating and drinking is far from normal; it is supernatural. For it is not just a question of food and drink that we are meeting here; we are meeting demons.” Heavy stuff! I had never considered this at all, but it makes perfect sense. It was clearly confirmed when I opened my bible this morning, but more on that in a minute.

Watchman Nee also states “the question today is not so much one of sinfulness as one of worldliness. Eating and drinking? Marrying and giving in marriage? Buying and selling? These things are so common and so simple, they are yet being used by Satan to ensnare God’s children into the great net of his world order.” He reminds us that, “There was a time when the Church rejected the world’s ways. Now she not only uses them, she abuses them. Of course we must use the world, but let us not want it, let us not desire it.”

When I read the passage in Luke 4:1-13 I saw the truth of Nee’s statements. Here we see Satan’s plan in action – he tried it out on Jesus first, yet Jesus “overcame”, let us take note!

The first temptation Satan presented was food! He suggests that Jesus should break from Truth and rely on Himself or His power to provide bread to eat. Rarely do I take the concern regarding “What I shall eat, drink or wear” to God but rather I plan and allocate finances (ultimately funds that are not guaranteed) sometimes weeks ahead. Jesus’ mind regarding this is evident in His response, a response taken from the passages of Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord. Jesus lived His life this way and shows us this in action in John 4:32-34.

Satan then presents Jesus with an offer of worldly power, authority and the glory of man. This is ultimately what the world seeks after. Power, prestige, the never-ending striving for more. I see this within my own family – members who are not saved, strive and strive for what is never enough. It’s futile and easy even for Christians to slip into if we take our eyes off Jesus.

Jesus combats the offer with “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Striving after the world’s goods and glory is worshipping Satan, pure and simple – keeping your eyes fixed on The One True God in worship to Him only is the key to overcoming this trap.

The final temptation is one that was discussed in my bible study group this week. We did not see it as an influence of Satan but definitely as something facing Christians today. As I read the Luke passage, it became clear that the force behind this certainly comes from the pit of hell. In bible study we looked at Isaiah 32:9-11. The passage begins as follows: “9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.” The NIV translates this passage as: “9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; You daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say.”

In Luke 4:9-11 Satan then takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and tells Him to “throw yourself down from here” and have God save Him. As I read, again scales fell from my eyes and I saw the reality of what we had discussed in our group. It’s easy for today’s Christian to become complacent. We have no real “need” for God, being secure in our worldly endeavours fully able to provide for ourselves.  We also harbour an attitude of taking even our salvation for granted. We stand on the pinnacle of the temple, secure in our salvation but we often “tempt the Lord our God” Luke 4:12. When we live lifestyles in contradiction to God’s word, in hypocrisy to the grace offered to us, we “throw ourselves down” in opposition to the Truth of God’s Word.

In complacency we live each day with eyes set on the things of this world, showing little regard to redeeming the time as this age comes to a close. The salvation of unsaved loved ones does not weigh as heavy a burden upon us as it should and these passages have certainly been a wake-up call to me.

As Jesus stood firm against the wiles of the devil, He overcame him and the lures of “the World”.   Seeing who is behind these concerns certainly puts them in their proper perspective! 

As we take on the Mind of Christ and listen to the voice of God in all things, being willing to walk in His Way in obedience to His guidance, we too will overcome Satan’s schemes in the World and detach ourselves from it’s seduction.  We will discover the peace, rest and strength that comes from living by every word which proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.

Psalm 4:4b – 5 “Meditate within your heart on your bead, and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”

This week my bible study group looked at the passage of Isaiah Chapters 30 and 31.  It’s a message of God’s judgement on those who do not put their trust in Him, and throughout the passage you can read of God’s earnest desire for His people to look to Him and find their true security in the face of adversity, which only He can provide.  These chapters echoed the message of last week’s passage, Chapters 28 and 29, which contain a wonderful parable which portrays how God desires us to walk in His guidance. (Isaiah 28:23-29)

Trusting in God in the face of adversity, or any situation in which we find ourselves uncertain about future outcomes, or that cause us fear or anxiety, can be difficult.   Clearly we see from scripture that God’s people have always struggled with complete reliance on God in spite of His continued proof of ability to come through seemingly insurmountable odds.  While I didn’t identify with the people in the Isaiah passage who wanted to ignore God’s truth and would rather have their ears tickled, I could identify with them in the sense of  their “planning”.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit.”  Isaiah 30:1

I’ll admit it; I’m a planner.   And further to that, I confess that at times, God has been my “back-up plan”.  But God’s word is clear on how He wants His people to live – in complete reliance on Him, seeking His counsel, and listening and obeying Him as He leads.  God’s plans rarely, if ever, resemble man’s plans or the seemingly logical ways of the world and so-called experts.  We are called to reject these ways, which ultimately are the “Ways of the World” and walk in God’s Way.

“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh and not Spirit.” Isaiah 31:3a (Israel was looking to Egypt for protection from the Assyrians rather than seeking God).  This passage highlights the futility of looking to earthly means and reasoning rather than God who is sovereign above all things.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 31:21

God has told them previously in Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quiet confidence shall be your strength.” 

My morning reading reiterated the truth presented over the last couple of weeks; given that this message is being resounded, I guess I need to have it solidified in my life…being presented with situations in which we must trust in God is not an overly pleasant thought, it’s not something one would look forward to, but certainly one that is unavoidable and will ultimately be for our own good in the end.  Just a “reminder to self” here for when one is in the thick of it!

The Bible tells us to wait on the Lord for His wisdom, in quietness and with an obedient heart, and to trust in Him.

Psalm 4:4-5 “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” The outcome of this – Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Proverbs 4:21-26 “My son, let them not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.  Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.  Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”

The reaction of God’s people in the face of trouble in the Isaiah passage was to flee.  But God’s word tells us we are to trust.

Taking time to seek God, in quietness, in waiting on the Lord, being in His Word and with an open heart and an obedient spirit, we can rest and have confidence in Him.  He is our proven hope. not just in the face of adversity but in our everyday lives; in our everyday tasks (like in the parable of Isaiah 28) He gives us wisdom and guidance to live in this world but not be “of the world”.

When we fully embrace these truths and walk in them, those around us will look and know that we walk with God.

 

 

 

See the Light

Revelation

1 John 2:6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

How are we to walk? What are we to do each and everyday? As He did in the world.

When we spend time with God, waiting before Him, meditating on His word and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in His presence, we know Him, His heart, His love, and His character.  We will “see” Him and know Him.  We cannot do “the will of the Father” nor “be about the Father’s business” if we do not seek Him first.

1 John 2:17 “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Jesus walked “doing the will of God”.

John 5:19 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

1 John 4:17 “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

THOUGHT FOR TODAY – 1 John 4:8b “God is love.”  BE love in the world.

 

 

 

This morning I read from Matthew 24:3-51. It is such an interesting passage, spoken by Jesus, regarding the end times and His return. There is so much we can glean from this passage and many applications for our lives today.

The particular verses that spoke to me this morning were Matthew 24:42-51. After describing the signs of the times and the events leading up to His return Jesus speaks these words:

(42) “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

(43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

(44) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

(45) Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

(46) Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

(47) Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

(48) But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’

(49) and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,

(50) the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,

(51) and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The faithful servant has been called to give his master’s household food “at the right time”. We are all called to feed the sheep as it were. Jesus is talking about the entire household of faith. This is a picture of what our lives are to look like now in these last days; feeding the Word to our fellow brothers and sisters – the members of the household of Christ. Dwelling in and feeding on His Word in communion with each other.

The evil servant (notice this person is also a “servant”) begins to beat, or attack, fellow servants, that is, brothers and sisters in Christ who are faithful, and to eat and drink with the drunkards. This servant discredits what the good servants are doing and partakes of the world’s offerings. Jesus says this servant will have his apportionment with the hypocrites and then makes reference to hell! This is a serious warning!

It is interesting that this portion of scripture leads into the parable of the ten virgins. Now is the time – the last time – to fill our lamps with oil and have them trimmed and ready as we watch. Let us not take our eyes off the road as our bridegroom approaches. Let us be about the Father’s business – feeding each other with the Word, building each other up while it is yet day in these last hours!

Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians regarding the coming of and the day of the Lord. (1Thess 4:13-5:11) He exhorts us to “watch and be sober” and twice in the passage he speaks the following verses:

1 Thessalonians 4:18

“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

And again in 5:11

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

In these last days, it is important to encourage one another with the Word of the Lord. We know these things are coming to pass before our very eyes and we are to be a comfort to each other and most importantly, to speak truth to the members of the Lord’s household. Some may not wish to hear it as the world lures their attention away from watching for Him. Many grow weary as we know, but as good and faithful servants, we are to be found feeding, feeding, feeding. Speaking, exhorting, and lifting up the Name of Jesus as we keep our eyes lifted and fixed on Him. The time is short!

“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Matthew 24:34