For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.Philippians 2:21(NASB)
I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. (Nehemiah 1:6)
It is one thing, beloved, for us to get a kind of public concern about things and then begin to make a great noise about it amongst men; to advertise, to demonstrate, and to give it a public form in utterance and effort and organization; to join ourselves to some cause, or to join some cause to ourselves, and then in that cause to make a great big affair of it: that is one thing. And that may have all manner of elements which just fall short of that which is essential and necessary from the Lord's standpoint. It is one thing to come to a situation from the outside, and link ourselves on with it, and take it up, and make it our work for life, our life-interest; it is quite another thing for the Lord to put into our hearts, in secret, an almost unbearable, intolerable burden which is His own heart-burden, and for us first of all to bear that thing secretly in the presence of God upon our hearts in a deep out-pouring of travailing prayer; quite another thing to come to the Lord's interests in that way.
There are plenty of people whom you could get interested in a cause; whom you could get to take up a piece of work requiring help, but it is another thing to have that spiritual fellowship with God which results in God putting His travail into your own soul. The difference is that in the one instance the thing is something objective; we come along and interest ourselves in it, take it up; but it is apart from us. It has our interest, it has our energy, it has our resources, but it is something objective to ourselves. It is a piece of work, a movement, a testimony using that word in a technical sense. The other thing is this: before the Lord we take responsibility. Do you notice that "we" in chapter 1, verse 6? Nehemiah is a part of this and this is a part of him. You notice how, all the way through, in dealing with this matter he uses the word "we." He is apart from the whole thing, that is, he has not accepted the conditions; he is not responsible for the state of things; he certainly repudiates the whole thing, and does not for one moment agree with it, and yet he is in this thing as though he were responsible for it; as though God could lay it all at his own door. The thing has come so near to his own heart that he does not stand here and the situation there, but he finds himself as one with it. It is his own burden, and he takes the thing in responsibility upon his own shoulders before God in prayer, and prays vicarious prayer over this situation.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. § For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?
My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand. § One pearl of great price. § The ruler over the kings of the earth. § His head is like the finest gold; his locks are wavy, and black as a raven. § Head over all things. § He is the head of the body, the church. § His cheeks are like a bed of spices, banks of scented herbs. § He could not be hidden. § His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. § No man ever spoke like this Man!
His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. § Make Your face shine upon Your servant. § Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. § He … became obedient to the point of death. § 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, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? § Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5).
Humility is the hallmark of the servant resting in, and sent from, the Father's presence.
"There is a sense in which God's true servant is always a defeated man. The one who drives on with a sense of his own importance, who is unwilling to appreciate the worthlessness of his own best efforts and is always seeking to justify himself - that one will not be meek, and so will lack the essential enablement by which God's work must be accomplished. Our brokenness must not be feigned; we must not be content with the mere language and appearance of humility. We, too, must be as conscious of Divine mercy in our being recovered for God's service as we are of the original mercy which drew us from the dark waters of death." -H.F.
"Humility is quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or irritated or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have my blessed home in the Lord Jesus, where I can go in and shut the door and be with my Father in secret, and be at peace when all outside is trouble." -A.M.
"The Father may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it."
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6).
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” John 13:13
To have a master and to be mastered is not the same thing. To have a master means that there is one who knows me better than I know myself, one who is closer than a friend, one who fathoms the remotest abyss of my heart and satisfies it, one who has brought me into the secure sense that he has met and solved every perplexity and problem of my mind. To have a master is this and nothing less - "One is your Master, even Christ."
Our Lord never enforces obedience; He does not take means to make me do what He wants. At certain times I wish God would master me and make me do the thing, but He will not; in other moods I wish He would leave me alone, but He does not.
"Ye call me Master and Lord" - but is He? Master and Lord have little place in our vocabulary, we prefer the words Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer. The only word to describe mastership in experience is love and we know very little about love as God reveals it. This is proved by the way we use the word obey. In the Bible obedience is based on the relationship of equals, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not God's servant, He was His Son. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience . . ." If our idea is that we are being mastered, it is a proof that we have no master; if that is our attitude to Jesus, we are far away from the relationship He wants. He wants us in the relationship in which He is easily Master without our conscious knowledge of it, all we know is that we are His to obey.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
The Lord Jesus had a wonderful way of meeting with people at their point of need. He offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well and promised that He would become in her a fountain of living water springing up unto everlasting life. To the hungry crowd He was the Bread of Life. To the lost He was the Good Shepherd. To the sick He was their Healer and to the disciples He was Christ, the Son of God.
But to Nicodemus He was an honoured Rabbi, a teacher from God, for he recognised that no one could perform the miracles that Jesus did unless God were with Him. But under cover of darkness this respected teacher of Israel came to learn from Jesus. Yet the truths that he was to hear, dumfounded him – provoking a series of questions. How can a man be born when he is old? How can God’s Spirit give birth to spirit? How can a righteous teacher such as I neither enter nor see the kingdom of God?
But as with the woman; the hungry; the hurting and lost – Jesus met his specific need. He used the book of Moses and the wilderness wanderings as a startling picture. As Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up – so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish – but will have eternal life.
Oh, Nicodemus knew how a plague ravaged the camp of Israel, due to their rebellion. He knew how the great prophet of God lifted up a bronze serpent on a wooden pole.. so that anyone who was bitten by the snake would look on the bronze effigy, and live.
This learned teacher of Israel knew that Moses represented God’s Law.. the serpent stood for sin and death, and the bronze metal was illustrative ofread more
There are many that claim to be in the service of God. Many that claim to be doing mighty works in the Name of Jesus, but thank God that true ministry is not to be judged and assessed by man – but please God that we will all judge and assess our own hearts and motives.
Some ‘base’ men, like Nebuchadnezzar are taken by God and used to His glory. Some adversaries and antagonists are often used by heaven to glorify His Name. Some Christ-haters have proclaimed prophecies… like the great prophetic words of Caiaphas…the High Priest, who identified Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, when he cried:- “It is expedient for us, that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should perish not.” John 11:50. Some are even manipulated to do His will..like those hooks in the jaws of Magog. Ezekiel 38:4
But what of His direct and elect means of working through chosen, consecrated ones? What of those that claim to be of His own household? What of those that are His own servants – His faithful or unfaithful servants? What should be the true spiritual value of those that are called and chosen ones?
Much is heard of ‘Ministry Work’ and ‘Missionary Work’ and ‘Christian Work’.. work that is often couched in the terms of ‘Vocation’; ‘Calling’; ‘Evangelism’… service that is often dependent on senses; intellect; emotions – the external appeal – labour designed to satiates the tickled ear, the straying eye, the emotional high.
But consider real spiritual realities, which require an unmixed, undivided heart.. a heart that has set its face like a flint to serve in His way and in His strength – a heart, not seeking acclaim through hot air, vivid pictures, romantic conceptions. But consider this… some will falsely claim ‘Lord, Lord did we not serve You in many mighty ways?’ Others will slowly shift the focus of Christ to self – batheing in His reflected glory.
Many living ministries become dead mausoleum whenread more