“Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work; if you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus.” (Charles Spurgeon)
The Army brought an impressive and massive array of weapons to the war front. When they had set them in place, their enemy cowered in awe.
Seeing that they had achieved a ceasefire by their display of superiority, the Army dug deep trenches and gathered themselves within them. There they pleasured themselves with conversation and delights that they had brought with them. Less than an eighth of a mile from death, they celebrated, relaxed, enjoyed each other’s company, and fell asleep at nightfall.
During the night the enemy sent out spies out along the front. The spies took note that the threat was not real. When they returned and told their commander what they had found. Then, all hell broke loose against their enemy.
The night was lit up to the eye and ear. Explosions made the night sky look like daylight. And the sounds of terror could be heard an eighth of a mile away. When the dawn broke over the battlefield, all that was left of that impressive array were smoldering heaps of wreckage.
Is this what modern Christianity has done? Have they brought the massive power of the Living God in Christ to the war of this world, only to huddled in their expensive palaces? While they should advance without fear, they throw a garden party! While they should be wielding the Eternal words of God, boldly and defiant against the lies of this place, they enjoy each other’s useless dribble of Chit Chat.
Yes it makes me irate!
Judge for yourselves what is right.
Curiosity has touched me. I tried to hide among the bushes, but he found me out none the less. I thought I could rely on understanding. But understanding is like a loosely built fence, which through the cracks between, I can receive a glimpse of heaven. And it is while I stand along that fence, in the shadow of obscurity, that curiosity comes to greet me.
I know the answer to the question, but that there should even be a question marvels me. The question covers three topics. By necessity, I can’t figure out how to make it short. But the answer is supported by the legs of the three topics. At the top of the “Table of answer”, I lay my conclusion.
Leg 1. Why is constant and enduring self-discipline necessary for the things of God?
Leg 2. Why must man be encouraged, and even sometimes forced, to pray?
Leg 3. To where do the words of the Bible disappear after we have read them?
Human beings are so amazingly capable of learning, doing and retaining. The volume of technology is proof of this. There are those who have mastered virtually the complete volume of Technology ( Make no mistake, the word volume is misleading. How many books are written on various subjects by various masters of their own trade?). And the list of those who aspire to join them in this accomplishment is very long.
Self discipline, zeal, and retention, do not lack among men. What I find mysterious is the lack of understanding of those three “legs” in the things of God.
I know there is a distinction between what is flesh and what is Spirit. But even a man who contains the Holy Spirit of God finds himself being dragged back to the flesh from time to time. Today he remembers and does. Tomorrow he forgets and stumbles.
Obviously, dedication to God’s things is not accomplished by a momentary decision; as if one flips the switch in the room and the light comes on. Now he can go about the room and do as he pleases, forgetting the switch. No, it is more like the man must rise from his chair to switch it on again. For the switch tends to move down to the off position, as if it were a being in itself. (Please don’t become paranoid, and find yourself watching the switch. It’s just an analogy.)
The answer to this mystery, is that God has made these things so that he may test the fullness of a man’s heart. Laziness in the things of God is not an option. It requires a constant straining toward the things of heaven. Relax, and you will surely suffer loss.
A man may study technology, then take a vacation without loss. But the man of God who does this, will find himself horribly lacking. The information of God does not arrive without direct connection to the Spirit of God. And it cannot be reliably retained by the flesh. And dissipates rather quickly with non-use. But where does it go?
I have found the Lord Jesus to be incredibly humble. He does not force himself on anyone. Neither does he help us unless we ask. Agreed, there are circumstances beyond our knowledge in which he must help us. Rest assured, he does and is. But the volume of what is Holy belongs to him. If by derilection, we push him away, the things that are Holy go with him. That my friend, is where the words of the Bible go.
I am warned afresh. Yet in this I also find a great promise. The Lord has promised us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. And he has taught us, “Without me you can do nothing”. But I am struck by the reality of his promises as they play out in our daily life.
This is not hidden knowledge. It is not only available in the Bible, but all his people testify of these things everyday. Perhaps what is more amazing, is that there are still Church going folk who do not know these things. For I perceive how often the Pastor must encourage the flock to read the Bible, to pray, and to do the things of Christ.
Indeed, the mystery of godliness is great!
By His Grace
In the Gospel of Christ Jesus, I bring you life.
It is painful by reason of necessity.
For you have not moved your limbs since a little while after you had been born.
Now the Gospel tells you to move your limbs.
It tells you to believe and do.
But in the wickedness of desire you have let your soul become lazy.
Spiritual atrophy belongs to you.
Now the message I bring you is of difficult work.
You must let yourself believe.
Endure the pain or die.
By His Grace
A man is given a job. What is expected of him is taught. In many cases the expectations are written down thoroughly. The man is tested to be sure he has grasped what is essential. Still the question remains, has he understood.
The man who understands is rare. Yet the one who understands will learn to do what is expected of him. Most people do their job to their best. But there is always some lack of full understanding. By this mistakes are made and the employer suffers loss.
Only the seriously diligent will truly understand what is expected of them. In truth, at best, most of us can only say we have perceived the expectations. Understanding is an entirely different animal.
The more complicated the expectations, the less the possibility that the man will understand. Yet, as he is taught, his perception becomes more clear. At some point, if he applies himself, he becomes a reliable representative, and perhaps one who can teach.
If this is true among the things of men, how much more so the things of God?
Shall we stand and proclaim that we understand the Gospel? Is not very likely that understanding has come. If it is true that few believe the Gospel, how much more rare are those who understand?
If a man is able to do what the Gospel demands, then he may be able to say he has understood. But more likely, truth will say he has only perceived very well. Even in the best of us failures come and go.
The Lord has told us what is expected of us. Do we find ourselves willing to listen? “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.”
Sadly the majority of people grasp the beginnings of the Gospel, but fail to understand the fullness of it. Like rudimentary students they live their lives lacking understanding. All the while simplicity rules their life, and they find themselves falling horribly short.
Like the worker who simply shows up to perform some menial task, the manual of expectations is rarely read. Such a man may be coerced or forced to do what is expected of him. But he does not have the will to succeed.
What employer will give promotions to those who are not diligent? The productivity of the company will surely lack for the sake of laziness and rebellion. How is the Kingdom of God any less?
The wise go back to the Bible everyday. They kneel in prayer often. They watch carefully to the things that come to them, striving to gain understanding. In such men, loyalty is supreme.
Men will pay us according to our willingness to serve. Should God treat us any differently? The answer, in words, is obvious. Does our performance give those words life?
The key to understanding lays in our loyalty. Perception obeys like a servant. Striving to understand obeys like a son. The difference between them is the quality of love within the heart.
As a man loves the one who gives him the opportunity, the service is more beautiful, and understanding is bound to come. Equally, as a man loves only himself his service to the one who gives him opportunity will lack. The one who truly loves the Lord will find himself very prosperous for the Living God.
Again, the proof of our love will be shown by the things we do. And the things we do present themselves clearly before us, that we may determine how we love the Lord.
“If you love me, obey my commandments.”
By His Grace
I lay two pieces of wood into the stove. The fire has gone out during the night. All that is left is a small bed of lightly glowing coals. I sit before the glass and wait for the flame to appear.
While I knelt before the stove waiting, I pondered the will of man to produce obedience. All the while I watched for the flame to appear. Then it struck me.
If I allow the power of God within me to dwindle to warm coals, it will take some time to rekindle the flame. But if I am not lazy, I will get up in the night and add what is necessary to keep the fire burning hot on cold nights. I do not need to lay shivering under the slim covers of a warm room.
How shall I continue the flame? Do not be lazy. Get up and pray. Go to the Word, that you might Re-member the glory which fades with neglect. Get your will assembled before the Lord and consider His desire. Refine dedication to godliness. Be diligent in the things that stoke the raging flame of the Gospel within.
Time steals what is useful by consuming what is provided. Recapture, then, what is useful. Add fuel to the holy fire that brings life.