The Importance of His Presence

Exodus 34:29 “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”

Judges 16:20 “And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”

The little phrase “wist not” is used nine times in the Bible. The meaning of the phrase in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is basically the same; to know, ascertain, or having knowledge of in reference to seeing. With respect to its usage, there are two times that the phrase is used in reference to the presence of God in the life of an individual; Moses and Samson. Neither man realized the potential associated with the presence or the passing of God in their life. One was ignorant to his witness and the other was ignorant to his weakness and both conditions were the direct result of the personal presence of God in their life.

Doesn’t the principle set forth in these men’s lives give divine insight into our Lord’s promise; “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Acts 1:8 emphasizes the fact that weakness and witness of the saints are eternally linked to the presence of the Holy Ghost! In examining these events in the lives of Moses and Samson we discover that not only is there a link with respect to God’s presence, but one’s witness and one’s weakness are eternally linked together; they are inversely proportional! A decrease in weakness yields and increase in witness; an increase in weakness yields a decrease in witness! This principle is visually reinforced in the lives of Peter and John; “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The absence of weakness in the lives of Peter and John yielded a marvelous increase in witness for the Lord Jesus Christ; the key, the presence of Jesus in their lives!

If you want to see a significant change in your weakness and your witness for the better, just increase your exposure to God!

Are You Believable

II Timothy 3:12-15 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Writing to a young comrade that was destined to take his place, Paul encouraged Timothy to “continue” (vs.14). The word “continue” means to stay in a given place, state, relationship, or expectancy. In spite of the persecution and adversities that await all that will live godly, Paul encouraged Timothy to abide true to the Word of God. Having encouraged him to take an unmovable stand and not to deviate from the truth, Paul reinforced his personal encouragement with his personal example; “in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”

Within verse 14, there are two areas of Paul’s personal example that he used to encourage faithfulness. In the first part of verse 14, Paul will magnify contrast, “the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” While it is not all that he has learned, much of what Timothy knew about the Word of God, he learned from the Apostle Paul. Earlier in this letter, Paul said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses” (II Timothy 2:2). Paul knew that is it one thing to hear the truth, but it’s another thing to see the truth! Paul is telling Timothy to contrast what he has heard from Paul’s lips with what he has seen lived out in Paul’s life. Paul is confident of the results; Timothy will be “assured.” The word “assured” means to assure and comes from a word meaning trustworthy, faithful or true. Paul had not only proclaimed the truth, he had personified the truth.

In the last part of verse 14, Paul will magnify character, “knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Here Paul is emphasizing the principle of character and content! Our Lord enlightens us to the principle in Luke 6:43-45, “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Timothy’s mentor was not “evil men and seducers” that were “deceiving, and being deceived” (vs.13), but rather an individual that possessed a love for God and the things of God. This was the type of individual that had imparted to him the precious truths and principles of God’s Word. He had given Timothy something worth hanging on to: the content of the scriptures was established by the character of the speaker!

Paul would do more than just encourage Timothy to abide in the truth of God’s Word; he would be a personal example! What Paul set forth in the life of his young comrade is a simple, yet profound principle; what is received from one’s lips will only be retained when reinforced by one’s life! As an example, are you believable?

The Seek Heart

John 20:10-16 “Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”

On two separate occasions there is a reference to the seeking of Mary. The first is by an angelic creature seated on the right in an open sepulcher; “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth” (Mark 16:6). The second time is by the Risen Lord, Himself; “Jesus saith unto her . . .  whom seekest thou?” (John 20:15). The word “seek” and “seekest” are the same Greek word and means to seek as especially to worship, or in a bad sense, to plot against life. In either sense, the spirit of intensity is readily seen. In this case we are introduced to Mary’s intense desire to seek out the Lord Jesus Christ so that she may lavish worship upon Him!

In consideration of the spirit of devotion that is readily seen in the life of Mary; after a diligent searching of one’s own heart, could we put ourselves in the same passionate category? Can I honestly say that I too, possess a seek heart? If I am to answer the question in the affirmative; there are two areas of consideration that must be considered.

The first that calls for our attention is the characteristics of a seeking heart. In John’s account of the resurrection, we see the response of a seeking heart. A seeking heart responds to the absence! That which it longs to be near has been taken, even if but for a short while; a search must be immediately made for my love! Many posses the spirit of a Samson; “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Secondly, we see the remaining of a seeking heart, “Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher.” Mary knew the last place that He was seen, and she is not leaving unto she sees Him again. It takes so little to pacify the spiritual appetite of most! Mary would not be satisfied with an open and empty tomb, the words of an angelic creature, or the activities of the disciples; a personal encounter with the Risen Lord is the only thing that would satisfy the hunger of her heart!

Secondly, we must consider the creation of a seeking heart. In many cases, what it takes to make or manufacture something will declare its worth. The higher the cost of development, the greater the worth and the better the quality! The marvelous forgiveness of God had created the seeking heart of Mary. To know that one’s sins have been forgiven should generate the desire to seek Him out for worship. There is an interesting phrase used to indentify this Mary from the others mentioned in the scriptures; “out of whom he had cast seven devils” (Mark 16:9). In Luke 7, Jesus tell the story of a man forgiving the debts of two servants; one five hundred pence and another fifty pence. Jesus then asked the question, “Tell me therefore, which of them will love him the most?” (Luke 7:42). Mary never got over the forgiveness of God! She never lost sight of who she was and what she was when Jesus saved her! The seeking heart of Mary had been forged in the sacrificial fires of forgiveness!

The scriptures are clear; Mary has a seeking heart. Using nothing more than the characteristics and the creation; could we put ourselves in the same passionate category?

You Can Expect It

I Kings 22:29-33 “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel. And they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out. And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.”

Jehoshaphat finds himself in dire straits; he has become the subject of a man hunt! There are thirty-two elite men that are in charge of all the chariots of the king of Syria and they have focused all their attention on the apprehension and death of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat’s problem is the result of mistaken identity. Jehoshaphat has been mistakenly identified for Ahab, the King of Israel. In order to grasp the truth that God is setting forth, it is imperative that one understands who Ahab is! Ahab is a man that abides under the divine condemnation of a Holy God that has chosen to use the nation of Syria as the rod of His wrath and Jehoshaphat is about to die for the sins of Ahab all because of a case of mistaken identity!

But, that’s what you can expect when you fellowship with the wrong crowd; “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). The two words “fellowship” and “communion” have the idea of a partnership in eating or drinking; the activities of social intercourse. When I Kings 22 opens, we have Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah coming down to visit Ahab, the King of Israel; “And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel” (vs.2 ). Why would Jehoshaphat, a man that knew the True and Living God come down to socialize with Ahab, a man that rejected the will and worship of Jehovah, the true God of Israel?

That’s what you can expect when you follow the wrong crowd; “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14). The natural order of progression is fellowship and then following! Jehoshaphat hadn’t been down there but a short while and Ahab said, “I want to declare war on Syria” and Jehoshaphat said, “I’m with you!” There had been three years of peace and prosperity and it’s all about to end because of the rash judgment of Ahab. Jehoshaphat followed Ahab into battle and he’s about to pay for it!

Thirty-two captains are leading an entire host of chariots and they are about to converge upon Jehoshaphat and administer God’s wrath. Jehoshaphat is about to die for the sins of another; all because of a case of mistaken indemnity. But, what can you expect when you fellowship with the wrong crowd and you follow the wrong crowd; you can expect to be punished with the wrong crowd! Jehoshaphat was about to get what Ahab deserved; all because of the crowd he fellowshipped with and the crowd he followed, but that’s what you can expect!

It’s The Religious Thing To Do

I Kings 22:2-5 “And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day.”

Jehoshaphat came down to visit with Ahab, the king of Israel. While they were together in the midst of conversation, the subject of Ramoth in Gilead came up and the king of Israel wanted to know if Jehoshaphat would join him in an attempt to recapture the property. Jehoshaphat responded by saying, “Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day” (vs.5). In other words, Jehoshaphat said, “Let’s ask Jehovah for His word on the matter.” When I consider the words of Jehoshaphat my first response is, “That’s the religious thing to do!” Please note that I didn’t say that it was the righteous thing to do, but the religious thing to do.

The response of Jehoshaphat is that of a religious man and not necessarily a righteous man! While it is a tough pill to swallow, the actions of Jehoshaphat are in many cases duplicated in our lives. We find ourselves doing religious things which may not necessarily be the righteous thing! The question that quickly surfaces is; “Isn’t seeking a word from God the mark of a righteous man?” The answer is “yes” and “no.” In this case the answer is “no!”

The actions of Jehoshaphat were religious rather than righteous because of its timing. When the conversation began and Jehoshaphat was asked to join in the venture with King Ahab, Jehoshaphat said, “I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.” Jehoshaphat committed to the union before he ever sought the Word of God. It was only after he committed to the venture that he did something religious, he prayed for God’s guidance. How many times have you sought God’s direction knowing full well that you had already determined your course of action? How many times has a pastor called the church to prayer knowing full well that the direction has already been determined? It makes us feel better about what we are doing if we do something religious; pray, read the Bible, or seek counsel from our pastor. The action could have been the mark of a righteous man if only we had done it before we committed to the course; now it’s just the evidence of religion and not righteousness!

The actions of Jehoshaphat were religious rather than righteous because of its trust. After getting God’s man to deliver the Word of the Lord; the outcome of this foolish venture is revealed. If they proceed in this venture, it means defeat for their troops and death for the King of Israel. God said, “I will not bless this venture.” Question; “Why ask God for direction if you don’t trust it enough to follow it?” What’s funny is that King that wanted to hear from God didn’t trust the word enough to not go and the King that didn’t want to hear from God trusted the word enough to go into battle disguised. How many times have you and I sought the Word of God and didn’t trust the Word enough to do what it said?

Does a righteous man seek the counsel of God’s Word for direction in every area and activity of life; yes! But, it ceases to be the mark of a righteous man when the counsel is sought only after the course of action is determined and we are willfully disobedient. What could have been a righteous act is now nothing more than a religious act to pacify the religious nature of fallen man! It’s nothing more than “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

The Greatest Curse

I Samuel 15:13-19 “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?”

Please note that Samuel makes reference to an event that occurred in Saul’s past. While it was recorded as a single event, two things occurred in the economy of God; one physical and one spiritual. There was a physical allotment, “thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel” and a spiritual anointing, “the Lord anointed thee king.”

One of the things to be noticed is the timing of the event, “When thou wast little in thine own sight.” The word “little” means diminutive in quantity, size or number, to be least or lesser. The word “sight” means eye, outward appearance, countenance, knowledge, yourself. The physical allotment and the spiritual anointing were bestowed upon Saul by God when Saul’s perception of his outward appearance and countenance was at its least or was lesser! The thing that we need to understand is that between the allotment and the anointing, and the confrontation with Samuel; there has been no change in Saul’s person, only Saul’s perception! Saul is the same man he has always been; it just took the allotment and the anointing to reveal it! One old writer said, “Few men can stand to be great even as few men can stand to be rich. It is easier to bear poverty than riches and easier to bear mediocrity than magnificence.”

The second thing to notice is the transition, “the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” (I Samuel 15:26). The very things that God chose to bless Saul with, He chose to take from him! The sad thing is, while they were given at the same time, they were not rescinded at the same time. Saul knew when he lost the one, but he like Samson was unaware of the fact that he had lost the other. Saul lost the spiritual anointing long before he lost the physical allotment! Like Samson, it took a physical event in the life of Saul to reveal the truth about his spiritual state. In most cases spiritual death and deficiency precedes physical death and deficiency!

The greatest curse for most is not the buffeting of Satan, but rather the blessing of substance!

I Saw . . . Then I Said

Isaiah 6:1-9 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people,”

I have no idea if you are grieved as I am at the apparent weakness of Christianity and its impact upon the world. Maybe what I mean is I’m grieved at the apparent weakness of my impact for the cause of Christ! While reading the account of Isaiah’s encounter with God in Roy Laurin’s book, “Meet Yourself In The Bible”, I was made aware of order. God has a divine order in which He works and if I am expected to make a positive impact as did Isaiah, I must follow God’s order. I want to set forth the order in which God works, and then set forth its example in Isaiah’s experience.

The first thing that I want to call to your attention is; God is always the first to act! Please get this divine truth; in the divine order, it is man’s response to God and not God’s response to man! If there is no activity on God’s part, there need be none taken on man’s part. Please note the order of activity between God and Isaiah; Isaiah never said anything until after he saw or heard something of God; “Then said I” (vs.5, 8, & 11).

There is a divine order to cleansing; “I saw (vs.1) . . . Then I said (vs.5).

In the cleansing process there is the need for both the throne of holiness and the altar of atonement, but the revelation of the throne must precede the request for the work from the altar. Could our failure be attributed to the fact that we are trying to get people to require a work from the altar that have never had a revelation from the throne. Only a revelation of the throne can generate a true desire for the work on the altar! There is no need trying to get a person saved that’s never gotten lost.

There is a divine order to calling; “I heard (vs.8) . . . Then I said (vs.8).

Only after the revelation of the throne and the visitation from the altar was there a call from heaven! While God can and will use anyone and anything He likes for His Glory; in the divine plan it is His general order to cleanse and then call. Is the church trying to get sinners to do the work of the saint?

There is a divine order to consecration; “he said (vs.9) . . . Then I said (vs. 11)

Close examination to the divine order in Isaiah’s life can reveal the life that is used of God to impact a world for His glory and honor! Only those that have had a divine cleansing that has resulted in a divine calling can ever be expected to be totally consecrated unto the Lord. It is that one that is following God’s order that realizes that the results must be left up to God; for it is not God’s response to man, but it is man’s response to God that counts!

A Passion For Truth

Luke 4:42-5:3 “And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.”

Jesus had just returned from the wilderness where He was tempted of Satan; “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about” (Luke 4:14). Upon returning from the temptation, Jesus was not only known for power and preaching (see vs.14-15), but He was known for powerful preaching; “being glorified of all” (vs.15), “and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (vs.22), “for his word was with power” (vs.32).

When we come to Luke 5:1, we see the response of the people; “the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God.” We find an element of people that have a passion for truth. There are two descriptive thoughts that I want to draw your attention to. Please note their purpose, “to hear.” The word “hear” means to hear, to give audience, to understand. The idea is more than just hearing with the natural ear; it implies the idea of paying attention, to give place to, to grasp the meaning. While the subject was “to hear”, the substance was “the word of God.” It was not the words of a mere man that they had set a premium on; it was the words of God Himself! In John 7, officers were dispatched to take Jesus into custody; they return empty handed using for their excuse; “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). Speaking of the Word of God, Job said, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Those that have a passion for truth not only make room for it, but give the Word a preeminent place in their life!

The second descriptive thought is, “the people pressed upon him.” Here we see their position in relationship to Christ. It would have been admirable if the text had said, they followed Him to hear the Word of God; that’s not what it said. Note the phrase “pressed upon him.” The phrase “pressed upon” means to rest upon, to lie on. It comes from two words; one means to come to a place or time of rest. The second word means to lie outstretched. The people have come to a place of rest where they lie outstretched on the person of Jesus. My thought is this; “They want nothing to get between them and hearing what Jesus, the Son of God has to say for He declares the “words of God.” To our shame; think of how often we allow the most trivial things to get between us and the glorious opportunity to hearing God speak!

These passionate seekers were not empowered by the desire for meat or miracles, but a message; for “the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God.” If we had lived in that day would we have been among those that have a passion for truth?