AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 6, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES Ö
TRAVELLING IN THE TRUTH
Luke 11:37-38, Hebrews 11:27, 12:2
I SET THE SCENE BY THE SIGHT OF THE INVISIBLE
It is necessary in all things to have perspective. Whether you are making a cake, a friend or an enemy, you must know what you are doing. The principles, purposes, programs if any, values, instructions, motivations should all be clear. It is like the captain of a ship: you should know WHERE you are going, WHY, under whose auspices, or if your own, in terms of what authority (unless you own the ship and the ocean and the skies), in what POWER and to what end, at least in intention.
Hebrews 11:27 gives us a delightful insight into the journeyings of Moses, first in forsaking Egypt and then in enduring the long march, with all its disappointments and travails, though no less with its arrival, personally deprived though he was by his own fault in that particular consummation of actually entering it. Nevertheless, his people did so.
HOW did Moses accomplish this epic in that epoch of history ? It was as "seeing Him who is invisible." How visible is the emotion of your friend's or enemy's heart to you, and of your own deception or sincerity to them ? There are many ways in which we seek to construe, even with the most tricky and devious, but do you have it on a spread sheet, in a graph, shown in its reality in fidelity ? No, you see what is invisible. You may of course be mistaken in much; but when God is concerned, it is neither something outside your experience, like the love life of snails - they DO study such things now... nor obstructive for your knowledge.
Someone may always TELL you the inward reality if the desire to do it is there; and when it comes to God, or better when HE comes to you, then faithfulness and truth and mercy are all there, with a willingness at the level of personal life, to match the divine application, when as a type of creation, you were made. THEN you can safely and surely proceed as SEEING the invisible, for HE makes the sight of His love, mercy, peace, truth, intentions and plans known to those who in faith come to Him, as you need them, each one.
There is the invitation in Proverbs 1:20-23:.
Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you."
There is the invitation of yearning, forcing the ready heart to escape the scornful screeching of contemporary culture and to stand out from the crowd in Christ (Proverbs 8). We must not despise His rebuke at the sin which so readily besets us, for it must be stripped as old paint from a wall to be repainted, and we need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, a topic on which DV we shall dwell next Sunday. If the cost to us, to be reduced to reality and produced for spirituality, seem great, for Him the cost of paving the way for it, is awesome.
Here is the REST you need, and if sometimes it comes after wrestling, that is not the result of combat, except with your own sin, slowness, retardation of this or that kind, or appreciation and apprehension of the awfulness of the cost of obedience (Luke 14:26), amid the splendour of what you are seeking to do for the Lord, which should ALWAYS transcend what you are trying to do for yourself. Indeed, the latter should itself be subordinated to HIS perspective, motive and values. THOSE like stars, are set firm, yes and firmer yet, for stars may terminate; yet He is for ever. Moreover, since love is His nature (I John 4:7ff., John 3:15-19), what you leave for His sake, will make this purer, never defunct!
Will the basis and original of love spoil it, or protect and perfect it! And He will leadÖ
II KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE LORD
The sight (as when Paul was called in a vision to Macedonia, and in another, as Saul at first, to the Lord) may be in the inward eye of the spirit, but it may also be in the understanding (as in Acts 16:10). In that case there was a coincidence of considerations. Firstly, the vision showed the sense of NEED in Macedonia for the love and grace of Christ; secondly, it seems that the Holy Spirit moved in the spirit of those serving the Lord, so that they were "assuredly gathering" that this was where the Lord wanted them to go. As you WAIT on the Lord, HE ACTS (Isaiah 64:5).
The CONSTRAINT of the Lord's presence, if you like, the cast of His eye, the touch of His hand, as of a rider on the mane of his mount, the vivid bringing to mind of relevant and vital
considerations, the sense of being led, the divulgement of His own will and interests in many inter-personal ways, the duties which are yours and the responsibilities, the opportunities (and sometimes you have to MAKE these, as when Christ identified Himself to the guards at the time of Gethsemane, as He went to His long planned sacrifice): all these things may operate.
The Lord is His own, and it is not well to seek to limit Him. He KNOWS how to lead; it is for us to know how to listen, and first of all, to study His word. SO often, alas, one may tire of reading instructions as the new item purchased is unwrapped, for they are often obscure, ill-put or inadequate. However, the Bible is not so, and to love the Lord and to slice off His mouth is not wise. It is self-contradictory indeed.
Psalm 32 tells us of the intimate leading of King David. He asks to be guided with the Lord's eye.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
"Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.
ďMany sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!"
For any familiar with riding steeds, the idea of being guided by the rider's eye, of the horse understanding his drift, from the way he looks, is or should be perfectly clear. You look at something that you seek, in the distance. Your weight moves slightly as you adjust for getting the better sight: it may be slight, but if you are bearing the man, on your back, you are ... aware of such things. It is like a slight shift of a sack of wheat on the back of a labourer. HE KNOWS!
So does the eye of the Lord, His intention in various spheres, emotional, pitiful, loving, kind, concerned or whatever it may be, convey something of His intention; so does He communicate most intimately. It is making a contrast between the rough use of the bit or bridle, for the recalcitrant animal, and the sensitive swaying togetherness of horse and rider in one concert and with one objective, even though this is initially known to the rider alone. In the end, that is solved, so that the animal may commodiously and skilfully reach the now commonly shared destination desire.
How would you do this unless you trusted Him! Hence "he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him." Or again, how could you trust Him if He were not trustworthy; but He above all and altogether IS trustworthy.
Thus we read in Hebrews 12:2, these words.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
LOOKING to Jesus, towards Him, pondering His way, will and presence in your spirit with the eye of faith, this produces that dynamic interchange as the case may require. Certainly (I Peter 1:1-6), your faith may expressly be tested from time to time, but NEVER will you be left without adequate guidance if you seek Him without impediment, ruse or ulterior motive. He is alive, and MOST lively.
Accordingly, now that the start of this year's race is over, its opportunity patent and almost blatant, for you to compromise the Christ for private reasons, or else to serve Him with heart, consider this, that we must "run with endurance the race that is set before us", and despise shame, if that is in view, while putting aside every weight. Do you put a double bed in an Army tank, for sprawling luxuriously in the battle ? Hardly, for it would be a counter-productive weight, something ... to stumble over. Therefore mere self-indulgence should be watched. It is not that the abundance of spiritual life is not a wonder in itself, but that since this world is full of spiritual mines, and needs great care in 'handling' it, to gain spiritual purposes, therefore LAY ASIDE entanglements, weights and compromises.
If some action is occurring which you just CANNOT handle, so that you must sacrifice 'everything' to gain the result desired, do not therefore lay aside the LORD or His word, or the ministration of His word in His Church; but the more wait upon Him. That, it is a dividing of the ways. Consider well, for here is the way for idle rationalisation for disobedience; yet even for your bodily health, if the doctor tells you that if you eat sugar in your current condition it might kill you, would you not heed his COMMAND ? Whose are you ? If the Lord's then follow Him, as Elijah put it to the people, before the slaying of the idolatrous and treacherous priests of Baal.
III HEAR HIS WORD, DO HIS WILL
"And it happened, as He spoke these things,
that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him,
'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!'
"But He said,
'More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!' "
In other words, the Christmas pageantry, the special services of pantomime and the rest, the household bright scenes depicting the Holy Ones, this is not nothing. Christ did not say, NO, do not say that. Just do what you are told.
No, instead, He wisely declared: "MORE THAN THAT, BLESSED are those hear the word of God and do it."
Thus, WHATEVER ELSE you do, FIRST make sure that you do the will of God, and HENCE know the word of God, by hearing it. If you do not love His word more than that of anyone else, or His way more than that of anything else, any other, how then is He your Lord, and how are you in any sense, crucified with Christ (Galatians 5:24), seeking like the horse above, to know and do what you, the rider, want. He is the rider now! Would you instruct God ?
The salvation of God, again, it is not so that you may ignore the One who saved you, like some brutish person, without gratitude for the dangers suffered by the lifesaver on your behalf. But this One, the Christ, He did not merely suffer dangers, but suffered death; and does not only show strength, but the gift through resurrection of eternal life. Life is like that: it is set in our hearts as that which yearns, and it does so because like a flapping, flipping fish out of water, it wants to return. It does not however have the power to put itself back into the eternal waters of truth. It needs mercy in the fisherman. This, it is readily available, but you have to be ready to land in this sea, and hence not to have strangely repressed, but suddenly lordly desires after all to stay ... on the land!
If you have returned to the Lord, to the oceanic profundity and peace of His presence through the repentance and realisation of His functionally sufficient death on the Cross, and vitally available power in life from the dead, the prelude to our own resurrection (cf. I Cor. 15:1-4, Romans 10:9): then what if you slip ? Then renew contact with the Lord immediately. If a pilot were to make a drowsy or over-excited manoeuvre while flying, it is not wise to wait till after he has had his morning cup of tea, before 'addressing' the situation thus created. Things happen in the interim... Act at once. Remember Psalm 51: and act in spiritual humiliation, for that is the place, and give to this its due. In this Communion Sunday, enter by the door of grief, and find the peace of grace. Be whole-hearted as He was to give, so to receive
What then ? It is this. Whatever may be your current position, griefs, discomforts, uncertainties, weights, burdens, even oppressions, suffering for Chris, your life requires its uplift. Thus Paul for a period was in prison, a hard place from which to maintain spiritual leadership ... or even personal respect. In II Timothy 1:8, see this vulnerability, set in a diamond embrace in vv. 9-10 and rejoice in His salvation. Carefully. READ, HEAR, FIND, SURVEY, MEDITATE ON the word of God and DO IT! The pith of this is not a poetic symbol, whether it be put as order or in poetic form. It is a transmission of truth; and if you do not regard it so, then your lie, fall or failure, self-centredness or deviation may indeed be used to the glory of the Lord. Yet you will suffer loss (I Cor. 3:11-18).
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every manís work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,
because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work
of what sort it is.
"If any manís work abide which he has built up, he shall receive
If any manís work be consumed, he shall suffer loss:
but he personally shall be saved; yet this will be so as through fire."
Indeed, it is even possible within the intentions of keeping the faith, to hold forth on the circumstances and fail to realise the requirements. We who are Christians are as those requisitioned; and that willingly, to serve. We did not refuse in order to be overborne. We came. Let us then act like it and HEAR the word of God, like nectar to the bee, and DO it, like performance to the athlete, but out of love, like breast-feeding of a baby.
If you are travelling in the truth, then reverence for the Lord is not just a feeling; it is a fact. If you are in the Army, of what possible point is it to come to your CO and tell him how much you admire him, if you do not carry out his orders - if imperfectly, then at least with heart! Travel then in the truth, despising shame, and lies, and half-heartednes, and relishing the map He provides, the word of God, the vision He gives, the revelation of Christ within you (Colossians 1:17-19,27). Seeing what He wants, do it in that delicious delight of service for the One whom you love. See Psalm 40 and realise that for Christ, even to come to the Cross, it had delight in this, that He delighted as Messiah to do the will of His Father. Reality ruled cost, joy pain, and the demand of His love ruled the bitter rancour of His assailants, with the rigour of obedience. Let Him then rule you.