The Called According to His Purpose

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

If I am one of the called, when did He call me? And for what purpose, did He call me?

He brought us into being; not to live to ourselves, or to do what we want.

We are God’s, bought with a price, and are not our own.

1 Peter 1:18-20 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ; as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

It is His calling, His saving, His purpose and grace for us….we are to find for ourselves.

What is His purpose?

First, His purpose for us, is that we know Him, and keep learning more of Him.

We are to come into a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and grow in that knowledge.

He is life, and as we know Him more, we experience more His life, within our life….in our everyday situations.

His joy, His peace, His hope, His correction, and His satisfaction.

He wants fellowship with His saved, beloved ones.

Second, His purpose is for our conformity to His Will……..He is life, His Word is Truth…and we are to deal with anything that hinders our walk in HIs Will.

There is the cleansing we need,….so we can receive from Him all He has for us.

If there is unconfessed sin, that puts up a barrier between us. Therefore we are to:

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

And this on a daily basis….that no shadows come between us..

His purpose is that we should walk before Him…..as His children,…for He will look after us.

His purpose is for us to follow after Him as His disciples…learning dependence and obedience to our Master’s commands.

His purpose is for us to walk as friends with Him…

John 15:14-15 “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Henceforth I call ye not servants; for the servant knoweth not what His Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.”

Colossians 2:6-7 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him:

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”

Shall we not yield to His purpose for us, and honor His love for us?

It is to set yourself aside to Him, in each situation.

This takes some effort, but as someone once said, (and I like this) “It is to find out where Jesus is standing in this situation, and then go and stand with Him.”

To yield to Him. Yes, yield is to “give-in”. And that is what we are to do….give in to Christ….believing He knows best….believing He sees all that is going on with me….believing He loves me.

He is our life, let us embrace Him….and learn of Him.

He made it again.

Jeremiah 18:3-4 “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”

This is Jeremiah, learning the lesson for Israel…..God could still use Israel….even after their rebellion and idolatry…

….if, they would return to Him and let Him make them again….another vessel, as seemed Him good.

And what was that?

God had allowed Nebuchadnezzar had come and put them under tribute to him, for their sin and iniquities.

But….

….if they would turn from their evil, and follow the law….

…even though they would have to pay tribute,…they would be able to stay in the land God gave them…..in peace….under their own olive trees and vineyards…with their families.

But, if they rebelled against this second chance…..they would be destroyed….they city of David and the temple burnt….and their children taken away as slaves or starved.

God was speaking bluntly…..and giving them hope….

….if they obeyed:

Jeremiah 25:5-6 “…Turn ye again now everyone from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers forever and ever.

And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke Me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.”

Second chances from the Lord, to be molded into a vessel unto honor….useful to the Lord,…..are a bounty and a blessing.

What are we doing with ours?

Perhaps you have failed in the purpose for which you were sent…or called to someone, or someplace, or to some time?

But let me tell you…..God has a second chance for any who come to Him in repentance and obedience.

The great call of Israel was to be a nation under God….with Him as their King.

Yet,….when they failed….time and time again,….

….He sent prophets and priests….He sent messages of love and correction…

…and finally, before the captivity…..

…He sent a final word:

“Return….obey….and I will give you a second chance at being My people.

It will not be with the great and grand promises that I gave your fathers….

….that will come under the Messiah, My Son…

….but you can still be a blessing….still get my blessing…

…will you have this second chance….this forming of the Potter’s hands….of Me?”

And He says the same to us…..His people….now, to any that have failed, or gone away from Him….

Hebrews 12:12-13 “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and feeble knees;

And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

“Lift up the hands which hang down”…..go and do what the Lord says….get up….here and now……and do it.

“And feeble knees”….have you stopped praying? Have stopped seeking His Word?…start again.

“And make straight paths for your feet”….if you know you have done wrong….correct it….go to the Lord and set it right….and get back in His Way for you.

Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Work at your relationships with others….and with the Lord.

“Holiness” here is sanctification….to be set aside in all we are, to the Lord.

His Purpose for us is to manifest His glory….His light and love.

And He gives us a second chance to do just that…..He gave Peter, who denied Him, that second chance….

….and, if we return to Him….He will do the same for us.

God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

God loveth a cheerful giver.

This giving is of our time,…..our ability….our testimony,….as well as our tithe, and offerings.

Cheerful here, means hilarious….joyfully helpful and generous.

(In 2 Corinthians, Paul is talking about the offering he was going to take to Jerusalem for the suffering brethren. There had been persecution, and then a famine….many were suffering.)

But the principle is the same for everything we do for Christ…..God loves a cheerful giver.

Proverbs 15:13, 15 “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

Simply, God has made our hearts to rejoice in Him…..and when they don’t…..it bends the spirit, sometime to the breaking point…..and effects our minds…makes us melancholy (a feeling of anxious sadness).

But joy…..or the hilarious giver is blessed….always.

Jesus, said five times….”Be of good cheer”…”or to have joyful courage”:

Matthew 9:2 and Mark 6:50….He spoke of this joyful courage to the man with palsy.

Matthew 14:27…..to the disciples in the storm, as He walked on the water to them.

To the disciples…before He was betrayed and taken….imagine the knowledge of the suffering to come….yet….He knew He would overcome….and the courageous joy in His heart toward His Father’ Will….was present.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace, in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

And then, to Paul, when he was first arrested….

Acts 23:11 “….the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

God does not give as a miser….He gives abundant mercy and grace…and joy.

And He requires that we should act in accordance to what He gives.

Nehemiah 8:9-10 “And Nehemiah,….and Ezra the priest…..and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God: mourn not, nor weep, for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto your Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Here, are these Israelites gathered to hear the Word of God,….some for the first time (since they had been in captivity)…..and they realize how little they had obeyed the Lord….

….sorrow filled their hearts as the priests taught them the Word, and gave understanding in it….

…yet,….God did not want weeping….but joy in the hearing of His Word….and so commanded them to put away their sorrow, for this day…..

…..and go and enjoy what His Word set forth…..a feast with Him, and their neighbors.

(This was the peace offering…which was always shared with family, neighbors, friends, and the priests. And this was to be enjoyed.)

He give us “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:7-8)….and we should give with the utter freedom of cheerfulness…..joyful courage.

Speaking of the gifts among the church….Paul wrote the Romans:

Romans 12:8 “Or he that exhorted, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence (seeing the job done); he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Anything we do for the Lord, is to be done in joy and peace.

An old preacher once said, that as far as he was concerned….the real criteria for spiritual maturity….was the hanging onto the Lord’s joy and peace.

God loves a cheerful giver.

We should give hilariously to the Lord….in all the things that He wants us to do.

Will Ye also go Away?

John 6:61-67. “When Jesus knew in Himself that his disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?

It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profitteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you they are spirit, and they are life.

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who would betray him.

And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto Him of My Father.

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”

We often think that Jesus had only the twelve which followed Him……but this is far short of the many that first accompanied Him.

There was at least seventy, at one time. (Luke 10:1)

“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?”

It is one thing to hear and respond with your ears;……..But another thing altogether to hear and respond with your spirit.

Jesus was talking to men who had heard what He preached to the multitudes,……who had walked with Him for a while,………but they became “offended”.

Would they go away?

The word “offend” here, means to scandalize.

It is one thing to follow a coming King…..and a different thing to spiritually depend on Jesus for everything! (The Bread of Life….our very sustenance)

To begin this, we must go back to the day before…..

Jesus had fed the five thousand….a very impressive miracle…..He had fed so many till they were completely satisfied…(John 6:11-13)

The multitude of people were, of course, amazed about their full bellies……they began to think that He was the Prophet that should come into the world (John 6:14)

The next day, they found Him on the other side of the Lake….for they followed Him across the Sea, the next morning.

He told them plainly that they should not run after Him for the meat that perishes, but….

John 6:27 “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.”

So begins a conversation about the Manna……and the Bread of Life. What is the “true” bread of life?

Manna was bread the Israelites were supplied with from heaven, as they cross the desert from Egypt to Canaan….

Jesus said, “Moses did not give you the true bread from heaven, but my Father has: which gives life unto the world.” (John 6:32)

(Now, you have to wonder about their hearing: Jesus had plainly told them that the Bread of Life was unto everlasting life;

But they are still thinking of food, filled bellies, rather than filled hearts and lives)

So, they said “Lord, evermore give us this bread.

(they are not following His Words at all. They been fed,….and now wanted to be fed all the time.)

John 6:35, 40 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst.

And this is the will of the Him that sent Me, that everyone which seeth the Son (as the Son of God), and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

(Here is the everlasting life which is our bread to eat and to drink……

…..believing on Him…..

……it fills us with His presence, sustains us in troubles and joys, guides us through every day till He brings us home with Him.)

Jesus begins to explain that everyone who comes to learn of the Father, will come to Him…….because I am the Bread of Life……which the Father has sent to “feed you”…..not with food,…..but by My life, and My Word…..which is everlasting.

Therefore you have to “eat” it. Digest my Words, and believe on me.

This is to eat my flesh and drink my blood.

How can this Man give of His flesh to eat?

Some people never understand Christ’s Words, because they live in the darkness of their own thoughts (2 Corinthians 4:4).

These people wanted to eat food.

They did not want Him, but food…..bread and fish, like yesterday.

So the people turned away.

But the sad thing was:

John 6:60 “Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?”

You will notice they said “Who can hear it?”…….not “Who can understand it?”

They understood it……it was their hearts……not their minds that had a problem.

When you “hear” Jesus words aright:……they should not offend, or scandalize,…….but comfort, and enliven.

They did not like the way He said the truth.

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

If you are not encouraged and quickened by My Words, then your heart is not yielding to the Spirit, in My Words.

If hearing Christ’s Words does not bring some life to you; then you have not heard aright.

John 6:66 “From that time many of his disciples when back and walked no more with him.”

There were many who would follow Jesus because of He was to be King…..

But few who wanted to hear about Jesus giving His life’s body and blood, that they might have spiritual life.

This was not the Mighty Messiah that they had expected.

John 6:65 “And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

To live for Jesus, you must be empowered to do so.

You cannot, of yourself, come to God, and you can not, of yourself, live for Him.

If you are not being empowered to do His Will, then something is stopping that flow of power…..for He has it….for all who will.

John 6:67 “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?”

Now, Jesus asked the twelve disciples…..the answer came instantly:

John 6:68-69 “Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Here is what “hearing” aright does: It brings you to believe, and trust in Christ Jesus.

So, will you also go away?

What have you heard lately, which has caused you to be offended in Christ?

Go to Him and tell Him your complaint: but tell Him you believe in Him, and He will give you life.

Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

As Christians, are sins are completely and eternally forgiven at the Cross of Christ,….

….yet,…..we are to ask forgiveness for our daily sins….that the fellowship between us and the Lord will be open and full.

Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”

1 John 1:7, 9 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Our sins are the great obstacle to the blessings we might receive from the Lord.

Our sins narrow the channel of blessing, so that the things the Lord wants to give us…..can not pass on to us.

Therefore, as we pray…”give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)….

….we also need to pray….”forgive us our debts”.

The Lord wants to encourage all who pray, to go from strength to strength….

…first dealing with us about our sins, as debts.

“Debts”, as we all know are “something owed”.

We owe God our all…..as Creator, for He has given us life,….and we were made to glorify God….not to please ourselves…

….and as our Lord and Savior, for He has given us Eternal life….a life of purpose and power.

We owe God….perfect worship……..for He alone is the One worthy of our praise.

Hebrews 13:15 “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

But we daily fail in this…..we sin, we get short tempered, we get frustrated, we say words we should not, we covet.

All these, are the sins we should bring to Christ Jesus and confess….thereby learning from them….and be saved from them.

Are we letting our debts pile up?

Full atonement for all our sins was made by Christ Jesus at the Cross. There, our guilt was canceled….the penalty of sin washed away.

But, there is a very real sense in which the sins we do not confess to God….(when we find we have failed, and commit them)…

…..are still with us, in their influence and darkness….

…..because the Lord wants us to come to the light of the truth….and tell Him about them…

…to seek pardon from them.

The wrath of God cannot abide on a Christian, but it can on the sin in a Christian’s life.

Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

God is ready to forgive….but He requires us to turn toward our Lord and Savior,…. and confess our sins against Him.

Like when we ask for our daily bread,…..we need to ask forgiveness for our daily sins….

….that our conscience will know the cleansing of His forgiveness for those sins.

The effects of this kind of forgiveness is peace…..and confident access to God.

When we pray for forgiveness…..it should not be a mumbling…..but a humble acknowledgement that we have sinned.

(So many go along with the world’s estimation of sin…..little sins and big sins….when every sin is a manifestation of “I will rule myself, in this”.)

We should seek God’s mercy….for Christ’s sake….realizing that only He can righteously pardon us….and make us free from this sin.

But there is more to this petition:

“…forgive us our debts,…..as we forgive our debtors.”

If we are born again, and He is our Lord….then the character of mercy found in the Lord Jesus……

….has been planted in us by His Holy Spirit…..

…in other words….we can be merciful.

If we have a drop of God’s mercy….we can forgive those who offend and hurt us…..because we can readily remember how He has forgiven us.

(And the Lord has already told us that there will always be offenses [Matthew 18:7]……and those who seek to hurt, or slander, or exclude us….for His sake.)

We need to pray for God to remove all bitterness and the desire for revenge [so prevalent in our times]….from our hearts and tongues!

Hebrews 12:14–15 “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

To fail of the grace of God, is to not use it at the time….to let the hurt, anger, or other thoughts….take hold on our heart.

Holiness is to be set aside to God…..imagine having every thought set aside to God….every spark of anger…..every wound of spirit, soul and body….set aside to God.

Well….by the Holy Spirit’s working, it can happen. Usually it happens little by little….dealing with this hurt, or anger [and the reason behind it].

But, as we stay with this….God will indeed remove all bitterness….we no longer bear any malice toward those who have wronged us.

And bitterness here means “piercing”…..it is like a horrible taste in your mouth….only it is in your heart….turning everything sweet into acid.

That is what bitterness does…..

….let us, by the Holy Spirit’s help….remove it!

And be free in the mercy God gives us….and we give others.

The Narrowness of Self

How narrow our life is, if we exist for ourselves, alone.

Or exist in our world as a “bubble”,….our family, our job, our everything…..insulating us from reality.

Christ said, (yes, this is for Christians):

Matthew 16:25 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

We lose our self-life, that we might find our Christ life.

You find your Christ life, as you, by deliberate acts of the will, bring yourself into subjection to the principal of obedience, which is God’s Principal.

Let us describe what our “self-life” is:

It is all the experiences you have had in your life (those we remember and those we don’t).

It is our thinking……….this is shaped by our parents, our background, and the world we move around in: If people around us hate something, mostly likely we will, too.

It is our affections……….the things we truly love, not what we pretend to care for: You may go out for tennis, not because you love tennis,….but because there is someone you see, at tennis practice, that you “love”.

It is also your will. It is the active part of yourself. What you will to do, you will do.

All these are your self life. You can easily see how they can be influenced (as a Christian) by the world, and the devil, as well as God.

Each of these powers exerts influence in your life.

Which you choose to yield to is the most important question you face each day.

Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whither of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

We lose our self life, little by little, until you are an expression of God’s Will, no matter where you are, or what you are doing.

This brings the life we live into reality….it is not the big decisions alone which help to mold us into the character of Christ…it is this decision before me.

Do we pray, seeking God’s guidance? Do we praise Him when He keeps us safe? Do we tell Him, as our best friend, all that we feel and think?

For He wants us to.

We will be defeated by the wiles of the Devil, in this, unless we keep before us always: “For My Sake”.

We do this for Jesus sake. This is the personal choice of our hearts, minds, and wills, for Him.

It is done, once, when we give ourselves to Christ, as Lord and King.

And it is done again and again as we walk through life, with Him.

“For Jesus sake”. It should ever be our thought and desire.

Now, let us see how we are to lose our self-life:

First, let us see how we shrink back into the narrowness of self, any time we are put into a trying position.

We are going along, denying self, when someone says something we take very personally about ourselves.

We then begin a series of steps, backing up, into the “safety” of our self.

If we back up, we start shutting doors, closing windows; keeping out as much of what is being talked about as possible.

We may smile and even agree with what is being said; but plainly we have shut ourselves up, so we will not be hurt.

We focus on something good we have done, or something bad that person has done. All the while we are smiling, and pretending we are really in the conversation.

But we are not.

This is seeking the narrowness of self. It is a mechanism that most people employ at one time or another.

What they are thinking and saying inside is entirely different, than how they are acting outside.

But this is self. And Christ says, if we are going to follow Him, we must deny self.

Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Will we?

It is a matter of the will, willing with Christ.

And it is effort. To find out His Will, and then to set aside our opinions about it, and do it: “for His sake”.

Will we place ourselves in His pure Light, and see Reality?

You see, our memories, attitudes, and affections all play a part in our bringing ourselves to Christ.

They are all to be sanctified, or set aside to Him; one by one, as they start to hinder our walk with Him.

This requires us to see them as they are. To stop hiding from the truth about ourselves, and bringing us….the real us, to Christ.

The old song, “Just as I am”, is true.

(It was, in fact, written because a person who felt that he could never be saved, was about to give up. In a last ditch effort to know for himself whether God would save him, he entered a church, and sat in the last row.

He listened as the preacher was giving his message; when suddenly he stopped, looked around, then said: “You come to Jesus, just as you are.” Then he went back to his message.

The person was saved, just as he was, for that was what he needed to hear.)

God can not save the pretend you. He saves you.

And salvation is four-fold.

He saves from self’s love of sin–conviction of the Holy Spirit.

He saves from our guilt of sin–being born again.

He saves from the power of sin and self–sanctification.

He saves from the presence of sin–taking us to Heaven, when we die, or are raptured.

To come out from the narrowness of self, you must want to get honest with yourself and God, tell Him the way you really feel, and listen to His reply.

If you are ready for such a personal relationship, for His sake; start talking with Him.

And expect an answer, for He will speak to all who will hear.

John 7:17 (N.A.S.) “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.”

This is the Way….Walk ye in it

Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ear shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the Way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, or when ye turn to the left.”

Have you heard that Word?

Do you know this is the Way, Walk ye in it?

[Paul and Silas had come to a cross road….and been led to Philippi….someplace new…..they had not gone into Europe before…

There….they end up in prison.

“this is the way, walk ye in it.”

Beaten, and in stocks….they began to pray.

Did we do what You wanted? Or had we overstepped ourselves in dealing with the demon-possessed fortune teller? Acts 16:16-18, 22-23

And when they heard that they had done the Lord’s Will…than….Praise the Lord….this beating is for the greater glory of Jesus!

And they got to feeling so good about it,…that they broke out into song.

After the beating they had….their backs open and sore,…bleeding and stinging…..they were leaning on the strength of the Lord, and praising Him for the opportunity of suffering for His Sake.

They were in His Way….

….and being in the Lord’s Way….they were given opportunity to deal with someone….the Jailer.

Yes, there were others there that heard their prayers, singing,….and the Word to the Jailer….but it was with the Jailer….tough, efficient, seemingly uncaring….that the Spirit deals most.

Acts 16:30-32 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

And they spake unto him all the Word of the Lord….”

[they did not just tell him what to do…..but informed him of God’s Word, so he would know…..Who Jesus was….what He had done…and why he needed to believe on Him]

Paul and Silas heard the Word and walked right into Jail….and led a Jailer and his household to Christ.)

How many people who would gladly hear about salvation…..do we come into contact with?

If we wait for “great days”….they may never come.

What of us?

Have we listened for His Voice to guide?

Have we heard the Word….yet not used it?

[ Pilgrims Progress:

Christian and Hopeful had just come from the Shepherds in the Delectable Mountains….a place of rest and security…about in the middle of their way to the Celestial City.

As they left, the Shepherds gave them three things:

A warning….beware of the Flatterer.

A map….if they came to a place that was confusing.

A Word….Godspeed. (This is a old English word meaning….Go with God…at His time and speed.)

As they went on, rejoicing in such a beautiful place that the Lord had made for the wayfarers….they came to a place of turning…

….but the turning was in a “Y” shape.

Which way to go?

(Now I want to say….they had a map….which they should have used….but it was nicely tucked away in their pocket….)

As they looked at this turn….a man…covered from head to toe in a bright garment came up….and asked, “Where are you going?”

They said to the Celestial City….trying not to look too confused about the turn….

…..he said….”I am too, follow me”….

…so they did,…..

…..without asking him who he was….or seeking to know how he knew…..they just followed…because it was easier….and this man did seem quite confident in what he knew!

Soon, they seemed to be twisting around….the way seemed to go from straight…to curved backward….but they kept following, thinking it would probably straighten back out….

….when suddenly they were caught in a net! And the man threw off his bright cloak….to reveal an enemy of the right Way!

This man left them there, stuck in the net……and there they continued, for several hours when….

…….a “shiny one”….one of God’s messengers came by….asking them why they were in the net…..

……they told him about following the brightly clothed man….

….and the messenger said, “He was the Flatterer”……and rescued them out of the net.

God’s messenger then took them back to the Way….the same place of turning….and then chastened them for listening and following the Flatterer.

Didn’t you get a warning and a map? He asked.

Yes, they said….their heads down, realizing they had been given all they needed….but did not use it.

The messenger warned them, from now on, to use what they had….and let them go on…in the Way.)

We often think of special enlightenment, when He has already told us.

Perhaps through a message, a Bible study,….a verse the Holy Spirit brings to mind….

….there is in our everyday paths the means of the fulfillment of God’s Way for us…..

….and we need to be faithful there…..in what we have in hand….

…and faithful to God in those we come into contact with.

1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

When He is Lord, there should be no problem with your answer to any.

They may be able to find a way around what we say…..but they cannot get around what He says through us!

I know the first time I lead someone to the Lord, I was full of trembling and fear….(I had “not passed this way before”)…

…I was confident in the Lord….and His salvation….

…but fearful that I might make a mistake….and I told Him so…..

…He told me to follow in His Word, verse by verse, that she might be founded on what God’s Word said…..

…..and I followed His leading……and she became a child of God.

Joshua 3:3-4 “And they commanded the people saying, When we see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God,….then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

…..that ye may know the way by which you must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.”

There are many “side roads” which we come to, on our way to heaven…..and they must be seen for what they are. How?

Plainly we need to keep our eyes on our God…..and use the map of His Word….

….heeding every warning….and using every promise.

If we wait only on the Lord, in our everyday lives and walk….then…thine ear shall hear a word behind thee, this is the Way, Walk ye in it.

Being made Conformable

Philippians 3:10-12 ” That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Not as though I had already attained, neither were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that which I am also apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

“Being made conformable”

To be made “conformable” is to be made pliable in the Lord’s hands.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit’s impressions.

This something Paul had to learn, as he says here……and we have to learn.

The Holy Spirit does not zap us with some power which is apart from Himself.

But He fills us with Himself, and His grace (the unmerited favor of power) as we yield.

Yield in scripture is to give in, to submit, to bow our hearts, to Him.

One of the greatest Victories of the Holy Spirit in our life, is that we are made useable.

God can never use the natural man, and bless him as He wants, for the natural man is at odds with Him.

Romans 8:7″ Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

The natural man won’t yield to God’s authority, except in lip service to make himself look good.

So God gives us a new nature. It is His nature implanted within us by the Holy Spirit, when we are born again.

We must yield to the new nature instead of yielding to the old habits, ways, and attitudes, in any given circumstance.

Our adversary, the devil, fights against the new nature, and uses tricks to get us to be unthankful, or discontent with the way the Lord is leading us.

To quench the Holy Spirit’s help by distrust, and worry.

Often we do not realize the subtlety of this weapon; or the extent to which it ruins our peace.

It appears quite reasonable: “You don’t really want to do that, now, do you?”

“Think of what everyone is going to think about you!”

Or, “How rude people are!”

But, Paul says he learned to be “conformable” to the Holy Spirit, in his life’s situations. And we can be, too.

We are not all the same. Some yield easily in this,……but not that. And some are just the opposite.

But if you stay at this yielding, He will make you conformable in every situation which comes up.

You will know His Will and the power to do it will come, because you will do His Will.

This is true freedom. Freedom to be what we ought to be.

Resurrection Power:

Ephesians 1:18-20 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,”

There are three things promised us:

That our understanding would be enlightened or given light to see His Will, and how we are to do it.

That we may have the confident expectation that God will do what He says where our calling is concerned. That we may know the true riches we have in Christ Jesus, and since they are our inheritance; we may get them into us here, and now.

That we may, by the knowledge of experience, have that same power working in us, by which God raised Christ from the dead.

Philippians 3:12 “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul is saying that he had not attained or become complete in Christ Jesus, yet; …….but that he followed after Christ, so that he could have in present possession all that Christ had for him.

(That is what “apprehend” means)

Because he was Christ’s present possession; he belonged to Christ.

The Lord had empowered him, and would empower him……so he chose to follow on after the Lord, till he had fulfilled the calling Christ gave him.

Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

This all begins with us knowing Christ Jesus.

We may know Him a little, or a lot; but there is always something more to learn about our Lord.

He calls us to follow Him….and become pliable in His hands….for our lives.

The First Principle we Learn, Obedience.

John 14:15 “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”

As babes in Christ, we are given great joy in knowing our sins are forgiven, and we are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6-7).

Then we are told to grow in grace, and the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.(2 Peter 3:18)

We are to grow up into Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15), and that is by Obedience.

Acts 8:1, 4 “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.”

Persecution for the believers, results in sending the gospel far and wide! (The Lord can always change what bad people determine to do…..into good.)

Acts 8:5-6, 8 “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto the things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

And there was great joy in that city.”

Wow! The Lord has blessed His Word, and many believed, and were baptized in the name of Christ Jesus, in obedience.

This obedience to the word preached, continued;…..and word got back to the apostles at Jerusalem.

Acts 8:14, 25 “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.”

This word preached by Peter and John, (as they were witnesses of Jesus’ earthly ministry…..His words and actions, crucifixion, and resurrection)…..would have been to establish these beginning believers in Christ Jesus.

For this is what is next after being born again….growing in the grace and knowledge of God.

But in the middle of this revival, Philip is called of the Lord to go somewhere else!

Acts 8:26 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south, unto the way which goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.”

Philip could have said: To the desert? Really, Lord? I’m have a revival here; shouldn’t I stay here?

But if you love the Lord, you obey Him.

Acts 8:27-28 “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.”

And Philip arose and went.

God had sent him to Samaria; and God was sending him away from it, to a desert place.

When he got there, he saw a man in a chariot (we know who he was now, but Philip didn’t, then).

Acts 8:29-30 “Then said the Spirit unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understandest what thou readest?”

Again, the Lord gives him direction as what to do in this situation.

The Lord always honors those who obey Him, with more: more of His Presence, more of His guidance, and certainly, more of His peace and protection.

Philip does not know who this man is, but the Lord does. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, so he believed in God.

But with all the things going on there (there had been multitudes saved, and still being saved, even under persecution), yet he had been untouched by any of them.

This man was reading Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter,

and like a lamb before his shearer, so he opened not his mouth:

In his humiliation his judgement was taken away: And who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth” (Acts 8:32-33)

God knows his heart, and sees his hunger for knowledge of the truth, and fills it.

Philip runs! How wonderful when the joy of the Spirit fills us.

And asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The answer is, “No, how can I? I need help.”

So Philip asked if he could come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:34-35 “And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man?

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

Philip began with Isaiah, and showed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ who was prophesied to come as the Lamb of God, and take away the sins of His people.

Acts 8:36, 38-39. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: And he went on his way rejoicing.”

Baptism is to show that you believe that Jesus Christ went down into the grave in death for us, and was raised the third day; and you are identifying yourself with Jesus, as belonging to Him.

This eunuch was empty at Jerusalem, going home empty. But Christ Jesus knew his need, and would not let that happen.

Philip’s obedience was the way this man was saved. And he went on his way rejoicing!

And what of Philip? He went on to the next calling: preaching Christ.

Acts 8:40 “But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, til he came to Caesarea.”

Obedience is the way to show Jesus Christ that we believe and trust Him.

Obedience is the way to show Jesus Christ that we love Him.

Are we made whole?

Luke 5:17 “And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”

This is quite a crowd of important religious men…..”and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”

In other words….if they had sought it….if they had they asked…..The Lord Jesus would have “healed” them.

He would have made them “whole”, which is what this “heal” here means.

(And how many of us are not whole…..

……not completely healed from some sin,…some resentment,…some hurt…..

…..yet the Lord Jesus has this power to do so….and is more than willing to heal us….make us whole again.)

At the same time….there were four friends of a palsied man….who were seeking healing….that their friend would be made whole.

And when they could not get in to see Jesus, because there were so many at the door of the house He was in…….they tore the tiling off the roof, and let him down, for the palsied man was still in his sick bed!

The power of the Lord was present to heal these Pharisees and doctors, sitting right under the teaching of the Lord…..

…..but they did not ask, or seek for it.

But the palsied man…..who came by the help of his friends….was made whole.

For Jesus said:

Luke 5:20 “And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

This man was a sinner…..he needed to be wholly and completely healed….

…..from sin, from the disease, and from inability to do anything about these, himself.

The Lord Jesus healed him…….wholly.

Luke 5:24-25 “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,). I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed unto his own house, glorifying God.”

This sinner….healed wholly….did exactly as the Lord said….getting up! And going to his house…..glorifying God, for all He had done!

The others? What about the Pharisees and doctors?

Did they seek that same healing, then?

Luke 5:26 “And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today.”

Why didn’t they reach out for this same healing?

They glorified God….they knew that this man was healed by God….so why not come and be healed….made whole…themselves?

Individually, I do not know…..but pride and the desire to “stay the course” in our spiritual life….especially if we are religious….often need to be overcome….

….and it is the same for us….don’t let pride or anything hinder your coming to Christ….for anything.

….for remember, the power was there to heal them…

….and just as much power, as before He healed the palsied man….for another time….”He…healed them all.”

Luke 6:17-19 “….and a great multitude of the people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem,….which came to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases;

And they were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

And the whole multitude sought to touch Him: for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all.”

Plainly…..Jesus Christ has enough power to heal me….to make me whole…

….and He has enough power for you as well.

Will you come to Christ and be made whole?