It is still early in the New Year. Many people make - and then break - resolutions for the new year. How are your's going? I think Jesus told us the one resolution we need to make DAILY - Matthew 6: 33 - Seek first HIM---and His will for our lives! If that is not done, then I believe we are probably doomed to fail at any resolve me make.
This morning I began a devotional by A. W. Tozer designed for pastors/ministry leaders. The title was "Personal Life: Let God Alone." Immediately I was reminded of the old cliche, "let go and let God." The scripture it used was James 1: 4 - "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." You guys know me, I love to go to the Amplified Bible and meditate on the words they use . The verse reads this way there, "But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." A few additional words to emphasize the assurance.
Tozer tells us that through this verse God is saying, "I stand ready to pour a little liquid fire into your heart, into your spiritual being!" However, we respond: "No, Lord, please excuse me. That sounds like fanaticism—and I would have to give up some things!"
So, what are we doing? We refuse His desire for us, even though we want all the benefits of His cross. That cannot be! We must resolve to seek first Him---and allow Him to do His work in us.
The devotional goes on to say: "There is this thoughtful phrase in The Cloud of Unknowing: "He wills thou do but look on Him and let Him alone." We are being challenged to "Let God alone." Let Him do His work in us. Do not try to stop Him. Do not stand in His way. Do not "prevent Him from kindling your heart, from blessing you and leading you out of a common state into that of special longing after Him."
You and I do not have to "coax" God. He is not waiting for us to beg Him for His blessings. The blessings are His to give and He waits for us to let Him work.
Again the devotional says, "Look on Him and let Him work, let Him alone." Get your hands down to your side and stop trying to tell God where to cut. Stop trying to make the diagnosis for God. Stop trying to tell God what to give you. He is the Physician! You are the patient...." I guess it is our human nature to try to reverse the roles and manipulate things along, but we really need to heed what Tozer is saying. As we are admonished in the Psalms - be still and KNOW God. Our constant efforts to "reverse roles" and manipulate things to "help the process" stands in the way of God accomplishing His full and complete work in us.
Today, I challenge you (and myself) to let Him work in you (us). As we do, our spiritual lives will begin to "blaze like the rising sun." It will be visible to those around us. We will be better able to withstand the snares of the enemy!
Here is the prayer they ended the devotional with: "Lord, I know there is a work You want to do in my life today. I'll try to stay out of the way, take my hands off, and let You work! I'll put my hands to my side even now as a sign that I'm going to let You alone today to do Your work in me. Amen."
"SEEING THE crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying…” Matthew 5: 1 – 2. (The Amplified Bible)
This is how the Sermon on the Mount passage begins. One might think there is nothing to be taught in verses that set up the scene. I think we can learn a great deal if we simply read through each passage prayerfully and carefully, both “listening” for God to speak to us and as we “hear” Him to act in obedience. I was taught that to “hear” God is to obey God.
The first phrase---SEEING the crowds---taught me something as I read through it this morning. Everywhere Jesus went, masses of people followed Him. They were seeking something from Him and pressed upon Him. The scripture records elsewhere that He saw the “multitudes,” that He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd,” and that we were go out into the harvest field. So, He SAW the multitudes---but here the word SEE takes preeminence.
Reading that this morning, I sensed not simply viewing the mass of people before Him, but I also visualized my Lord looking into my very being and truly seeing me for who I am; where I hurt; how I live my life; what I truly need to find fulfillment in life. These people that had come to Jesus had come with their own needs/agendas/desires, and Jesus SAW them (their hearts), He began to teach them. He spoke, and to find what they (we) really needed, they needed to HEAR Him and act in obedience.
In the mass of people that would “follow” Jesus, there were Scribes and Pharisees seeking to catch Him in something that would reduce His impact on their “turf.” There were those in need of healing, and the sick would often cry out loudly for healing. There were some who wanted to see Him destroy the Romans – they had a political agenda that did not align with the purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth. Some people were just plain curious. When we read the scripture, we see often that people would jostle (push, shove) one another to get a closer look to Jesus. We see this also in the account of the healing of the woman who pressed in to simply touch the hem of His garment.
As the news spread about Jesus, it seemed as if the crowds would drop all they were doing and rush to be in His presence. They came for whatever reason, but they needed to HEAR Jesus and follow Him! In this account, Jesus SAW the crowd of people and He began to teach what we reefer to as the Beatitudes – what we need to understand to experience the blessings of God.
I don’t know how I really see the setting of the Sermon on the Mount. I see a crowd pushing and shoving, seeking their own agenda. This would mean there would be a noisy buzz in the crowd. Yet, I see a serene setting of Jesus sitting on the mountain, lovingly (and quietly) speaking these words to the mass of people. However, I noticed something as I read these verses that taught me something “new.”
Note: Jesus SAW the crowd, but His disciples came to Him and He began to teach “them.” Isn’t this saying that as the crowds closed in around the disciples, all became quiet. At that point, Jesus delivers what we have named the "Sermon on the Mount." But it appears Jesus was actually teaching his twelve disciples these truths. Those in the crowd closest to them were also treated to the most profound teaching ever heard.
This same Jesus is our Teacher. He has wisdom to share with us that will amaze us, just as it did to those who heard Him with their own ears that day. We do not have to be sitting in a quiet sanctuary or a Sunday School class for Jesus to teach us. As we read His Word daily and LISTEN to Him, we can learn from Him. He can teach us something no matter where you are, even in a noisy crowd. His sheep KNOW His voice and FOLLOW Him! We need to pay close attention when Jesus speaks to us (through His Word, the teaching/preaching/proclamation of others, etc.) so we don't miss the word He has for us!
Like the crowds of that day, we come with a lot of hurts, personal needs, private agendas, and a lot of baggage. We may even come thinking we “know” the answer. The answer my friends, is NOT found “blowing in the wind.” The ANSWER is found in Christ Jesus so we need to LISTEN UP for and to His voice, HEAR what He is saying to us, and act in OBEDIENCE. It is my prayer we will HEAR Him today, and experience the abundant blessings He offers to all who follow Him.
Associational Missions Strategist at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!