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 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.

 

 

“Incline you ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord;” Prov 22:17-19

As we ponder on the sayings in God’s word, the simplicity of the Gospel becomes a stark reality. Jesus has done for us, what we were unable to achieve for ourselves. God made the Way and we are now equipped to walk in it.

Discussions at our gathering yesterday revealed that the Christian walk comes down to one thing – the state of our hearts. Are they wholly set on God? While this post touches on two topics, they are really inseparable. Firstly, the futility of trusting in earthly assurances, and secondly, what it is that enables us to walk securely in Christ.

That night, as I meditated on the truths presented in our meeting, and sought God as to what to post here, the following words were planted in my heart:

“Let go of anything whose roots are in this world. (James 3:14-15) Let go of anything which has been elevated to a level of importance above God. These things will be shaken. Your trust, security and faith must be rooted in God alone lest your heart fail you. Your heart must be wholly His.”

“Lest your heart fail you…your heart must be wholly His”

The securities originating from sources within this temporal world will be shaken so as to reveal to us (God already knows) the true state of our heart. Many of us have not had to totally rely solely on God for our provisional needs. It is easy for our hearts to remain in a state of deception. Thankfully, God will not allow this to remain, and will cause the true affections of our hearts to be exposed lest we deceive ourselves. Let us therefore, examine our hearts thoroughly so we may stand boldly and confidently during any time of trial, trusting steadfastly in the faithfulness of our God.

Right through the Word of God, we see a common cry of God; He sought a people whose hearts were wholly His. (2 Chronicles 16:9, Jeremiah 24:7) This is the heart of a Christian. A Christian’s heart is Christ’s. A heart that is wholly God’s, is one that desires continual fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is a time for solitude and waiting on the Lord – essential to renew our strength and gain wisdom from above (Isaiah 40:31); but the heart that walks with the Lord is one in communion with the Holy Spirit.

We often talk of the Fruit of the Spirit and living righteously – we cannot produce this. The righteousness we are called to display, is the righteousness of Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit. These only become evident in the lives of those who are willing to listen and obey the Holy Spirit moment by moment.

Someone who changes from “spiritual” living, to clear outbursts of the flesh does not have a heart wholly turned to God. When James states “My brethren, these things ought not be so” (James 3:10) he is saying that a Christian whose heart is wholly turned to God, just as it should be, will display righteousness and speak life. This is reiterated by Paul in his letter to the Galatians (5:16) and John in 1 John 3:6.

Those who have committed their life to Christ, have committed to following Him. Their heart’s affections are set after Him alone. A love for God will be evident by a willingness, or even more than that, a desire to listen, obey, change, forgive, love.

Friends, let us all examine our hearts, that we may let the Light of Christ expose every corner. (2 Corinthians 13:5) Let us also be in continual fellowship with Him, listening and obeying His promptings. This is how we prepare and make ready for the moment we all long for; that moment when we will stand face to face with Him who holds the world in the palm of His hand. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Life.

“Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19

We have all heard the saying “You only live once.” It is the justification of the actions of many who know not the Lord Jesus. God’s word declares that for them, this is indeed the case; but for those who trust in Him, this life on earth pales in comparison to life eternal.

Psalm 17:14-15 “14…men of the world who have their portion in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, and leave the rest of their possession for their babes. 15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”

I have written this post with my spirit rejoicing at the hope we have in Jesus and life eternal. How wonderful it will be to dwell in the glory of the Lord! As I read the following scripture, my heart leaps within me; it truly reflects the heart of all who love God.

Job 19:25-27 “25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

We shall all stand face to face with the one who gave everything for us. Hallelujah! I am so grateful that my life is not limited to this world, and that I will NOT “only live once.” I sigh in relief at the thought!

1 John 3:2-3 “2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

For those of us with our hope in Jesus, the anticipation of the moment in which we will stand face to face with Him, will cause us to purify ourselves.

In these days, when sin abounds more and more, those who know the Lord cannot help but prepare and ready themselves as we look for His coming. We must rid our hearts of anything that would seek to distract us from the love of God, and in so doing, the trappings of this world fade into nonsense and loose all value.

When I read the above scriptures earlier today, my hope rose to new heights. The time is all but upon us, when we shall no longer see in part, but all will be revealed. This moment will bring joy unspeakable to all whose lives are consumed with love for Jesus.

I feel the coming of Christ drawing closer with every new day and know that each one of us, right now, must redeem the time. I know that the days will darken quickly, things will turn upside down in a moment, and this will take many by surprise. We need not be surprised if we dwell close to the Lord and prepare as he leads us. My heart yearns for those who continue to forsake the Lord Jesus, whose hope and joy are caught up in all that is about to be shaken. Seeing the blindness of many who “only live once” brings much sorrow.

In saying this, it is our love and joy in the Lord that will draw people to seek the hope within us for themselves, so I have posted these scriptures to encourage all who may stop by. I pray that the spirits of all who read these words of God would leap and rejoice within them as we look forward to the revealed glory of the Lord.

When Nehemiah enquired regarding the state of the remant children of Israel who had been brought out of captivity, he received a negative report; they were in great distress and reproach (v3).  His response was:

Nehemiah 1:4-5 “4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,”

He goes on to cry out to God day and night for the sins of himself and the children of Israel (v6-10).  We read in verse 11 that God is attentive to the prayers of His servants who desire to fear his name.

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Daniel had been fasting for three weeks when he received a vision.  He was in a deep sleep with his face to the ground (v2-9).

Daniel 10:10-12 “10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.””

We have been made righteous by the death and resurrection of Jesus and can add nothing to that.  I am not about to suggest that there is a certain way or time required for prayer, nor some scheduled fasting.  Our works done in the flesh do not impress God, however, these things can display our heart attitude. 

Are we hungering and thirsting for righteousness?  Are we pure of heart or do we harbour a love for something other than Him?  It is the pure of heart who will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

It seems that at some point, today’s christianity lowered the bar.  God did not humble himself and come in the form of a man, so that man could reduce their reverence of Him! 

As I read through the old testament, I see men and women humbling themselves, devoted to studying the Word of God, not out of obligation, but out of a consuming love for God.  It didn’t make them perfect (sin still entered their lives) but God heard their prayers because of their love and fear of Him.

It is the absence of the fear of the Lord, (i.e. the understanding of His all powerful, awesome greatness; His ability to destroy both soul and body in hell; His tender mercies, available to all who humble themselves before Him so we are not consumed) which is holding people in deception and is removing the reverence of His Holiness from people’s hearts. 

His word declares His greatness.  We must not fail to see it.  He will soon be seen in all His Glory – a glory that was too terrifying for the children of Israel in the wilderness.  We must know Him to the point where His glory revealed does not cause us to run and flee, but to approach (no doubt, trembling) but forward nonetheless.

Deuteronomy 32:3 “For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greateness to our God.”

 

I have been thoroughly enjoying my time in the Word this week. I have found it difficult to post, however, as much has been inputted into my heart…too much and too broad to put into words. Every time I open the word, it seems it is all saying the same thing; everywhere confirmation of God’s heart and instruction. It all seems so clear.

I have decided to post a lengthy, but rich passage of scripture, so I can refer back to it now and then. There is really no need to elaborate, as the writer of Hebrews has written very plainly. I will however, highlight the words that leaped off the page, so to speak, as I was reading. There is also one particular point that stood out, which I will close this post with.

Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the decietfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. 15 While it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?… 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. … 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, … 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. …
5:7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

I found it most interesting that in Hebrews 3:12 and 13 we are called to exhort one another daily that we may not depart from the living God.  Each day, with all our heart, we are to walk, clinging, seeking, in and by the Spirit of God. 

The amplified version describes Jesus reverence for God noted in Hebrews 5:7 as “His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father.”  Here we see Jesus, who considers being departed from the presence of God, horrifying.  It is this fear, this love for the presence of God, which causes us to seek Him continually, and will keep us in obedience to His Word.

Ultimately, it is our heart’s cry for Jesus that God is interested in.  If our hearts are turned wholly toward Him, we shall see the Glory of God manifest. It is hearts turned wholly to Him, that will hear His voice and can enter His rest;  the rest that is available to us now by His Spirit, and the rest that we shall experience eternally at His ever approaching, glorious coming.

I don’t like getting into theological debates (truly I don’t 😯 ), however, I found myself discussing the topic of celibate homosexuals in ordained positions in the church over at Tim Farley’s Blog Theologically Speaking.

After putting in my two cent’s worth, I found myself unable to shake the yuck feeling you get (well, I get) when you have been discussing such a topic.

Ephesians 5:11-12  “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

The topic seemed to result in a search for scriptural basis to justify a homosexual’s desire for continuance in their sin. Is there a debate as to whether or not homosexuality is a sin, even the desire of it? (rhetorical question – done debating this topic!)

Romans 6:1-2  “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

*sigh* oh, I really didn’t want to be going over this again in my head, so I’ll try to move on quickly to the point, but I wanted to give some background…

In considering the sins of those in positions in the church, I realized that the ‘debate’ that I had entered was akin to profane and idle babblings. The focus was totally wrong.

Each man (or woman) must stand before Jesus alone, we must only look at our own relationship with Him. Our focus must be solely on Him – as a committed christian, he is my sole desire and I seek only to please Him daily. While our heart is turned to Christ, and our delight is in Him, we shall walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

Romans 8:5-6  “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

If your mind is set on Spiritual things then you will have life and peace, not struggle with the flesh.  If you are debating things of the flesh, then you are not focused on Spiritual things.

Philippians 4:8  “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” 

In these times when the world is screaming out to attempt to deceive those who are not fully committed in their relationship with Christ; planting seeds of doubt as to the truth and clarity of God’s word (twisting words and looking for loopholes in a sea of knowledge yet little wisdom,) we must seek the Holy Spirit ever the more to teach us and guide us into all truth.

We must take our eyes off the sins of others, focus only on Jesus and comfort each other with the assurance of His coming.

Revelation 22:11-17  “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.  But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and merderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.  “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say “Come!” And him who hears say, “Come!”  And let him who thirsts come.  Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”