Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Week Forty Six - Walk

 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  I John 2:6   
This word, walk, occurs 212 times in the KJV Bible.  It is most often used in two ways – man walking with God or before God and God walking with man.  We see a passing of life.   Many are mentioned that walked with God.  One stands out – “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”  This man knew how to conduct himself.  He has an extraordinary relationship with the Creator and an extraordinary exit from this world.
As we look at this verse in I John we see the exhortation for us to walk according to the example of our Lord.  If we claim to be his, our walk should prove it.  The definition means to conduct one’s self or to pass one’s life in a certain manner.  It is a matter of walking according to His Word.  Obedience is a proof of salvation.  Our obedience, according to I John 2:5, shows our salvation and matures our love.  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
Matthew Henry writes:  “To keep the word of God, or of Christ, is sacredly to attend thereto in all the conduct and motion of life….We know that we belong to him, and that we are united to him by that Spirit which assists us to this obedience; and if we acknowledge our relation to him, and our union with him, it must have this continued enforcement upon us…Those who profess to be on his side, and to abide in him, must walk with him, walk after his pattern and example.”
In a sermon on this verse Spurgeon wrote:  We do many of us say that we are in Christ: let us hear how obliged we are by this to walk even as he walked. Oh, Holy Spirit, let us feel the weight of the sacred obligation!
As we look at this word, it is my prayer that we would take time to truly consider how we are conducting our lives.  Time is passing – are we imitating our Saviour?  Are we developing an extraordinary relationship with our Lord?
Are we walking according to His word – or are we hypocrites?

 “…the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”  Genesis 17:1
“…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.  Genesis 6:9
God’s instruction to Abram, and the example of Noah, was to walk.  It simply means to walk, come, or proceed.  Figuratively it has the idea of the manner of life in which one lives and dies.
With Abram we see God telling him to walk before him – to walk in a manner befitting those whose life is under the watchful care of the Creator.  We see that Noah walked with God and he is described as just and perfect.  He, too, ordered his life and steps under the knowledge of the presence and judgment of God.
Henry and Richard Blackaby, in their devotional Experiencing God Day by Day, brought out a great thought concerning walking with God.  Take time to think carefully as you read this quote and ask yourself the questions posed.
“No matter how ungodly the environment you may be in, God will always find you and walk with you.  Noah lived in perhaps the most wicked age in history…How oppressive such an environment would have been to a righteous person….Nevertheless, Noah was not lost to God in the crowd of sinners.  God noticed every act of Noah’s righteousness…Are you constantly surrounded by evil?  Do you struggle at times to live a righteous life when those you associate with each day have no concern for God?  Find assurance in the life of Noah.  God watches you, even as He observed Noah, God will seek you out of the crowd every time, and He wants to bless you and your family just as He blessed Noah.”
So how’s your walk?

 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10
A lovely saint named Nina Burnett once said that this verse is sadly too often overlooked.  She was referring to the fact that many people know Ephesians 2:8 & 9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”, but they stop there.  If you link the two thoughts together you get a much larger picture.  Verses 8 & 9 have to do with salvation being the work of God in our lives.  Verse 10 confirms that with salvation completed God has a purpose for our lives – a work for us to do.  With the gift of this newly created life we are to be using it for good.  That is our God-ordained purpose.
“…that we should walk in them” means we should make our way, progress, and/or make due use of opportunities.  It reminds me of the verse in Galatians 6:10 – “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Good works should exemplify our new life.  The Life of Christ is our example.  He went about doing good.  He was kind – even to those who did not deserve kindness.  He was patient – even with those who lacked faith.  He was accepting and forgiving – even to those who were deep in sin.  He was appreciative towards those who showed him care.  He was thoughtful and considerate.  He reached out to the needy.  He did not reject those with diseases and malformations.  He rejoiced with those that rejoiced and wept with those who wept.  He is our example.
So, once again – how’s your walk?  Is it exemplified by good works toward others?  Or closed and self-centered?

 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called...”  Ephesians 4:1
Of all the Scriptures that have challenged me through life this has to be one that stands out.  As I think of walking worthy it creates a standard and a goal.  The idea of the definition is to regulate one’s life. 
If I am walking worthy I am:
1.    Conducting myself according to God’s Word.
2.    Recognizing my place as a Child of God – an heir to an eternal kingdom.
3.    Walking upright – both in stature and in demeanor.
4.    Making choices that will honour my Lord.
5.    Fulfilling my ministry/vocation thoroughly and with conscientiousness.
6.    Upholding the Name of the Lord in all areas of my life.
The goal is twofold – 1) To bring praise to His name alone. & 2) to hear that “well done thou good and faithful servant.”
To reach the standard and the goal requires that I regulate my life.  I cannot be haphazard about my faithfulness and service.  I cannot run hot and cold in my relationship with my Saviour.  I cannot do things that would bring the ministry or my Lord’s name into disrepute.
I think that is why Paul uses the word beseech.  He wants to impress upon the readers the necessity and passion required as servants of the Lord.  He lives with such regulation and it has brought him to prison.  He knows the cost of a worthy walk, but it is not too high for him to pay.  He beseeches them to not lower their standard, but to walk rightly – to walk worthy.
Are you?

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh….If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:16 & 25
The image of walking in the Spirit seems to be different things to different people these days.  Some think it means some sort of spiritual hysteria.  Some think is it a super-pious existence.  But the meaning is simply – live.  Live in the Spirit. If we will live in the Spirit we will have victory over the flesh.
So what in entailed in walking in the Spirit?  It is to live and act under the guidance and influence of the Spirit.  This is the Spirit that will guide us into truth and bring the Word of God to our heart and mind as we face decisions and temptations.  This is the Spirit that will comfort us and join with us in prayer.  This is the Spirit that brings both conviction and confirmation to our souls.
We need not wonder about how this walk would appear.  Just a reading of Galatians 5:13-26 gives us an adequate representation of the walk in the Spirit and the deeds of the flesh.  They are diametrically opposed.
Galatians 5:25 uses both the word live and walk.  The definitions give more clarity.  To walk in this verse means to proceed in a row as the march of a soldier, to go in order.  To live means to breathe, to enjoy real life, to be actively blessed, to have vigor and power.
So it could read – If we draw life, vigor and power from the Spirit, then we should stay in that order.  The fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our walk and the works of the flesh have no place.

Where are you walking?  You can’t walk both places – they are direct opposites.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week Forty-Five - Upright


“Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.”  Psalm 25:8

“To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”  Psalm 92:15

Upright – straight, correct, level, right, straightforward, just and proper.  This attribute of God is rarely discussed.  We enjoy hearing about the attributes of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  When laid alongside uprightness these take on an element of stringency. 

Today the understanding of this quality of uprightness is so needed.  Without it we get the comments, “I don’t need God to forgive me.  He just needs to accept me as I am.”  Or,  “God made me the way I am.  I can’t change.”  No.  God is upright.  That means he has a standard, a measure, from which He works.  When we deviate from this standard we are in sin.  It is then, by His mercy that we are not consumed or destroyed.

But, back to upright – without this measure everything goes haywire.  Man does his own thing.  Such waywardness is not a quality of our God.  He is straight and correct.  His ways are right and his judgments clear.  He is level and straightforward.  His commandments and expectations are open and not grievous.  His manner of life is just and proper.  It brings blessing to all who walk accordingly.

Such is our God – an upright, loving, and merciful God.  He loves his children and expects them to obey.  His commandments are there to teach and to bless.  There is no ulterior motive.  Love is the key.  Just as a good parent, he sets boundaries and guidelines.  These bring harmony and joy.

Do you view God this way?  Or do you balk at His commands?  Do you expect God to just overlook your discrepancies? Do you think he will wink at and dismiss your disobedience?



“With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.” II Samuel 22:26

“I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according o the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.  With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright…”  Psalm 18:23-25

Here we have the word used both in relation to man and to God.  It could read:  “….with the man of integrity whose life is unimpaired and wholesome, thou, God wilt shew thyself to be fully able to finish what you have started in his life.  You will make him sound and you will deal with him in integrity.”

It is one of those comparative verses.  If you do this, then I will do that.  In II Samuel it form part of one of the Songs of David.  Starting in verse one David recounts the deliverance from the enemy and the almighty power of God displayed in the heavens.  Then, he comes down to God’s personal work in his own life.  In verses 24 & 25 David says, “I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness…”

Now we have a bit of an issue.  David’s sin and poor decisions are written for all eternity.  How can he say he was upright before God and had kept himself from iniquity? How can he claim to be upright?

It can be only through the uprightness of God who forgives and restores.  David’s sins are recorded, but also his repentance.  One has only to read Psalm 51 to see the depth of sincerity at David’s recognition and acceptance of his sin.  He also knows the sincerity and integrity of God who will forgive those of a broken spirit and a contrite heart.  Once sin is forgiven it is purged. 

David can stand before God in his uprightness knowing that all of his sin is accounted for.  He has nothing to hide.  He can rest assured of God’s love, blessing and favour.

The same is true for us.  If we will deal uprightly with God, God will deal uprightly with us.  If we are upright in performing our duty, we will find that God is upright in performing his promises.

So where do you stand?  Are you dealing uprightly before God?  Or are you wrestling against him and walking in hostility?  Have you laid your sins at the altar and gone forth cleansed, or are you walking around in dirty clothing?



“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.”  Psalm 32:11

Uprightness of heart produces joy.  This Psalm and so many more verses in Scripture admonish us to express the gladness of our hearts through praise and music.

“When the poet Carpani enquired of his friend Haydn, how it happened that his church music was so cheerful, the great composer made a most beautiful reply.  “ I cannot,” he said, “make it otherwise, I write according to the thoughts I feel: when I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap, as it were, from my pen: and, since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve him with a cheerful spirit.”  (John Whitecross’s Anecdotes)

This is a wonderful picture of uprightness.  It is an instructive description.  It is a heart that is not horizontal or groveling, nor bent, nor inclined, but vertical – looking up to the heavens with great joy and gratefulness.

When all is right between man and his Saviour, the sweetest and most joyous relationship of formed.  It reminds me of that old song:

Nothing between my soul and my Savior,

Naught of this world’s delusive dream;

I have renounced all sinful pleasure;

Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;

Habits of life, though harmless they seem,

Must not my heart from Him ever sever;

He is my all, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, like pride or station;

Self or friends shall not intervene;

Though it may cost me much tribulation,

I am resolved, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,

Though the whole world against me convene;

Watching with prayer and much self-denial,

I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and my Savior,

So that His blessed face may be seen;

Nothing preventing the least of His favor;

Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.




“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”  Psalm 37:37

Thomas Adams said, “Mark him in the setting out, he hath many oppositions; mark him in the journey, he is full of tribulations; but mark in the conclusion, and the end of that man is peace.”

There is a sure reward for the upright; and it is peace.  Peace can have many definitions 1) peace of mind as opposed to doubting, 2) security, 3) absence of despair, 4) end of labour, 5) quietness, 6) peace with neighbours, 7) peace with self, 8) and, the peace of God which passes all understanding.

Life can hold many tribulations.  Just because we seek to live maturely and with integrity does not divorce us from life’s circumstances.  But the manner in which we deal with life brings forth the final fruit.  The upright man lives by solid Christian character.  His uprightness or sincerity determines his motivation, his way, and his end.  His holiness ends in happiness.  His motivation is toward a life of maturity and uprightness and his journey will lead him to rest in peace.

A calmness and quiet assurance is his.  He has lived his life according to God’s standard, and though life might be tumultuous, his life is one of peace in the midst of the storm.  When he pillows his head he has rest and when his journey is finished he lays down full of years and satisfied.

Are you on this path?  Or are you wrestling and fighting?  Are you living in peace and creating peace around you? Would people look at your life and use the words perfect and upright on your epitaph?



“The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.  Proverbs 10:29

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”  Proverbs 11:3

“The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.”  Proverbs 29:10

Here we have the contrasts between the righteous and the lawless.  The upright knows strength and guidance.  The lawless knows destruction and hate.  This principle is taught extensively through the Proverbs and proven by so many Bible stories.  It is a far-reaching principle of eternal importance and factors into every detail of the Christian’s life and service. It is a measuring rod by which we can check our own motivations. 

“But”, you will say, ”I am not bloodthirsty, perverse or a worker of iniquity.”
And that may be true, but we can all be guilty of acting outside our character.  We can be walking happily along in our Christian life when we encounter an affront.  How do we react then?  Do we maintain our gracious Christian character, or do we dissolve into bad temper, unkind words, or vengeful actions?  Do we get jealous or bloodthirsty when we see others succeeding or receiving blessings we believe we rightly deserve?  The upright would not do so.  Food for thought!

The manner of the upright provokes the malice of the wicked.  They see what is right and good as the condemnation of their own ways.  This is the world in which we currently live.  However, that does not give us excuse to live in like manner.  We are set to be lights to this world, to be different, to be ambassadors of the King.  If we want His strength and guidance, then we must walk according to His ways.

Isaiah 5:20  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” 

Are you tempted to just give up and go with the crowd?  Does the struggle for purity and uprightness bring weariness to your bones?  Don’t give up.  The reward is for those who endure.  Perseverance.  God will give you strength.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week Forty-Four - Through

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” 
Isaiah 43:2 
Through – it refers to a place or a portion of time.  It has the idea of during or while you are in this place. 
God doesn’t rosy up life.  He is straightforward about the things we will face.  We will face difficulties.  Here they are described as waters, rivers and fire.
Vine writes, “When circumstances tend to cause anxiety, and the threatening attitude of things might give rise to natural apprehensions, it is good, not only to recall the gracious dealings of our God, but to hear His reminders of what He has wrought on our behalf in the past, of His inalienable presence with us, and the unthwartable fulfillment of His promises, as in the present passage.”
In Psalms 23 we are assured that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”…..he is still there to comfort me.  Difficult times will come, but we are children of promise.  Let us live so while we are in this place.
The other side of through is that because it is a place and a time it will also change.  We do not stay permanently in waters, rivers, fire and shadows.  We come through to the other side.
Are you going through something difficult right now?  Know that He is with you.  He will comfort you and the light of his love may be the very thing that is casting the shadow over you.  Look up to the Light.  He will lead you safely through.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…Through faith also Sara herself received strength…Through faith he kept the Passover…through faith subdued kingdoms, and these all, having obtained a good report through faith….”  Hebrews 11:3, 11, 28, 33, 39
This word appears several times in reference to the saints in Hebrews chapter eleven.  In this usage it is connected with the word faith.  “Through faith.”  It means to have conviction.  These Old Testament saints acted upon the conviction that God was the Creator and He was fully able.  This conviction brought them to obey the Law and it brought them victory in battle.
Stedman makes a point I believe we sometimes miss when we think about faith – “But I hope you know that faith is derived, not from anything in itself, but from its object. This is a source of great confusion among many Christians. People are always saying to me, "If I only had enough faith, I could do so and so, and such and such," as though faith were a commodity sold by the pound; as though all you have to do is buy another pound of faith and add it to the store you have now, and you could do great things for God.
But the quantity of faith is of very little significance. Jesus said so: "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed," you could move mountains. (Matt. 17:20) It is not quantity that is important in faith. It is quality; it is what your faith is fastened to. What is the object of your faith? The strength of faith is directly related to the strength of what you believe in. What are you believing in? Who are you believing in? What kind of a person is he?”
That is conviction – “…derived, not from anything in itself, but from its object.” If our conviction is placed in Him alone, we will be living by faith and acting through faith.
What conviction are you living by?  What is the object of your faith?

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations…”  I Peter 1:6  
This definition is yet another aspect.  It does not mean a place and time and holds no promise of ending.  It means that we are simply in the problem.  It could read, “in heaviness in manifold temptations”, or, “in heaviness by manifold temptations.”
Surgeon took this text apart.  He suffered with what he described as heaviness – a depression, a feeling of heaviness or breaking down of the spirit.  He wrote, “Ah! beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, "If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;" and what is that but saying, "If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?" It is just how you feel, that is, after all, the pith and marrow of your affliction. It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very fester of the soreness of God's scourging-"the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better."
He goes on to give the following reasons why heaviness of spirit is an absolute need in our lives. 
1)  If we were not in heaviness during our troubles we would not know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, for he too experienced heaviness  My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death”…”and he began to be very heavy”. 
2) If we felt no heaviness in tribulations we would grow too proud and self-sufficient. 
3) Discipline. In heaviness we often learn lessons that we never would learn otherwise  "Ah!" said Luther, "affliction is the best book in my library;" and let me add, the best leaf in the book of affliction is that blackest of all the leaves, the leaf called heaviness, when the spirit sinks within us, and we cannot endure as we could wish.”  Spurgeon
4)  and, Spurgeon writes – “this heaviness is of essential use to a Christian, if he would do good to others. Ah! there are a great many Christian people that I was going to say I should like to see afflicted-but I will not say so much as that; I should like to see them heavy in spirit; if it were the Lord's will that they should be bowed down greatly, I would not express a word of regret; for a little more sympathy would do them good; a little more power to sympathize would be a precious boon to them, and even if it were purchased by a short journey through a burning, fiery furnace, they might not rue the day afterwards in which they had been called to pass through the flame.  There are none so tender as those who have been skinned themselves. Those who have been in the chamber of affliction know how to comfort those who are there. Do not believe that any man will become a physician unless he walks the hospitals; and I am sure that no one will become a divine, or become a comforter, unless he lies in the hospital as well as walks through it, and has to suffer himself. God cannot make ministers-and I speak with reverence of his Holy Name-he cannot make a Barnabas except in the fire.”
Is God trying to do a work in your life through troubles?  Is he trying to make a Barnabas out of you?  Then “greatly rejoice” in this season and learn all you can of His comforts and allow this bruise to make you better!

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Corinthians 15:57
This side of the word means the ground or reason by which something is or is not done.  We use the phrases, “on account of” or “because of” and that is exactly the definition.  We have victory on account of Christ or because of Christ.
Understanding and learning to lean upon this truth brings us to a steadfast assurance.  We know that no matter what we go through we have victory through Christ.
Not only do we have victory, but also peace.  Romans 5:1  “…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
We have joy.  Romans 5:11  “…we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
We have life.  Romans 6:11 & 23  “…alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”  “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
He is the reason we can solidly rest our hope and faith.  He is the foundation.  He is the eminent source.
From this Cornerstone we can make godly decisions and serve the Lord sincerely.  God must believe the same because the next verse, I Corinthians 15:58 begins with the word – therefore – because of what has just been said we can – “ ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Victory, therefore, depends upon where we are placing our faith.  It isn’t dependent upon our works for the Lord, but on account of the Lord.  He gives us the victory!

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”  I John 4:9
We live through him!  On account of Him!  He is the one who deserves the credit!  His sacrifice made it possible for us to have eternal life. 
It reminds me of the wonderful statement of Paul in Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
In the little Methodist church where I grew up they sang a song I have only ever heard there.  It echoes this same truth.
All that I am or hope to be,
O Son of God I owe to thee,
For though hast bought me; I am thine,
And by Thy mercy Thou art Mine.
Thy blessed cross has sealed my peace,
Thy sorrows make my own to cease;
Thy power has cleansed me from all sin,
Thy presence keeps my conscience clean.
Thy cruel wounds my own have healed;
Thy broken heart my pardon sealed;
Thy death, O Christ, means life for me,
A life for all eternity.
Thy mercy sought me, Thy love has bought me,
Thy grace has taught me to believe.
Then, in believing, Thy peace receiving,
Now in Thee only do I live.            Austin Miles
Praise God – we live through Him!