“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). The Lord wants us to take our share in the heavenly city which has foundations as we see in Heb. 11:10. We have to be chastened and rebuked by the Lord, to prepare us for that heavenly city. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:6-8). We must be partakers of God’s holiness that we may be able to live in the heavenly city as heavenly kings and possess it for ever. We must be constantly chastened by the Lord. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to the joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). God’s purpose is so great that He wants to make us citizens and kings in that heavenly city, to reign with Him where angels are ordained to minister to us (Heb. 1:13,14).
In the end days God is going to shake everything (Hebrews 12:26). All that has been accomplished by our own effort, wisdom, or strength will be removed. Only that which has been accomplished with His strength, for His glory and praise will remain. Constantly we have to examine ourselves and do nothing in our wisdom and strength, but do everything through the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (v. 28). We are going to be in that kingdom which shall not be shaken.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
In the eighth chapter of Hebrews we read about the Lord Jesus as the High Priest of the Heavenly Tabernacle. The earthly tabernacle was pitched by Moses. Now the Heavenly Tabernacle is pitched by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (v.2). Just as in the Old Testament period, all those who were willing could take a share in the construction of the tabernacle by brining offering such as gold, shittim wood, brass and iron, now as believers of the Lord Jesus Christ each one of us has the privilege to become a part of the Heavenly Tabernacle. The material used for the tabernacle built by Moses was earthly: that is why it did not last long. Now our Lord Himself is building an everlasting tabernacle in which each one of us can take some share. We do not offer a little of what we have, but we offer all. All of us are built together into a sanctuary according to the heavenly plan under the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. The previous tabernacle was only a shadow of the true Heavenly Tabernacle, as we read in Heb. 8:5.
God kept Moses on mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights before giving him the pattern of the tabernacle. Before that he was kept in the wilderness for forty years. During that period he was completely and thoroughly emptied of his own wisdom. Then God gave the pattern and he had to carry out His instructions without any change. Even though the whole pattern was given by God Himself, yet it was only a shadow. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is building the true Tabernacle without hands but with our co-operation. That is why believers are called by different names such as: God’s building, God’ habitation, God’s temple, God’s co-workers, God’s peculiar treasure, the pearl of a great price, His bride and so on. All these names reveal our heavenly vocation. Here, the Lord is reminding us that His heavenly pattern cannot be changed by anyone.
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17).
These three small words “Looking unto Jesus” which we read in Heb. 12:2 contain a great secret. They tell us that first of all, we should see the Lord Jesus now, and then go on seeing Him not only upon this earth, but throughout eternity. The Niagara Falls in Canada is supposed to be one of the seven wonders of the world. It is a very beautiful sight. In 1928 I stayed there for six days and began to visit the Falls at sunrise, mid-day and at sunset. I began to see them a new way. The more I saw this wonderful sight, the more I noticed how exceeding beautiful it was. Nevertheless to appreciate the full beauty of the Niagara Falls one needs to see them in winter and summer, and other seasons as well. If it takes so long to appreciate the beauty of the Niagara Falls, which is only a very tiny bit of God’s creation, then it is evident that it will take eternity for us to appreciate the beauty of the Creator, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is so glorious and beautiful. When you feel downcast, discouraged and disappointed in your private life or in your ministry, your should pray, “Oh God, give me a new glimpse of the glory of Your Son”.
John the apostle had the privilege of seeing the Lord very closely. He served Him very faithfully. He could ask Him any question. In fact, he could even lay his head on the Lord’s bosom. He saw the Lord transfigured; he saw Him rise again and ascend to heaven. But now in the Book of Revelation, John in his old age saw Him in an entirely new way. He knew it was the Lord Jesus Christ. He had no need to ask, “Who are you?” because he heard a voice saying “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Rev. 1:11). John turned around to see the One that spoke and straightway he fell at His feet and said, “O Lord, I never knew that you are so beautiful and so great.”
Why did our Lord appear to John that way? The answer is simple. Our Lord was telling John, “I want My people to become like Me”. That is why the Lord’s people had to go through extreme suffering at that time. Now, for example, if you want pure shining gold, the gold has to be melted, and refined in the fire. The goldsmith makes the fire exceeding hot until the surface of the molten metal becomes like a mirror in which he can see his face. The reflection of the goldsmith’s face in the molten metal is the test that the gold is perfectly pure. In the same manner, we have to be refined by the fire of suffering till the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ can be fully seen in us.
“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD” (Joshua 9:14).
Joshua and the people thought there was no harm in making a league with the humble and fearful Gibeonites. So without consulting God, in their desire to show kindness and sympathy to the pleading people, they made a covenant with the Gibeonites not to destroy them. Just as Joshua and the children of Israel failed to enquire from God and know His will concerning the Gibeonites, very often we also fail to seek guidance from God. It is the privilege of God’s children to be led by the Lord. He has promised, “I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).
This is the solemn warning to us all. Before making any decision, before doing anything whatever, whether it is a family matter or a marriage or a job, let us take care to come to the Lord for guidance, lest we should suffer loss and shame. Some might wonder whether they should go to the Lord for small things also. Remember, this doubtful thought is exactly the same as what Joshua thought concerning the Gibeonites. As God’s people, let us take warning not to be governed by our relations, our own community, our friends, or neighbours or anybody else. Be governed only by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit and the voice of God. Now it may take a day or a week or five years, or ten years, or even more, to find God’s will. However that might be, wait patiently till it pleases Him to speak to you. Pray again and again morning, noon and night, day after day. Otherwise you and your children will suffer loss. This loss may be in many ways. First of all you will become blind spiritually. You will not be able to hear the voice of God, because of dullness in spiritual hearing. The enemy will go on gaining more and more ground in your life.
The Lord wants to give you a heavenly inheritance, and make you higher than all the nations of the world. He wants to give you all that He has, His kingdom and His authority. That is why sometimes He makes you wait. If you want to receive all things from God, you must learn not to leave a hoof behind for the enemy. In everything you must be governed by God. It is a sad thing how in spite of repeated warnings from the Lord many parents have been deceived and have committed mistakes concerning their children’s future. Sometimes they have feared their daughters are getting old and no one will marry them. So they have hastily got them married even to unbelievers without asking counsel from God. They argue after marriage, the daughters can convert their husbands. With great sorrow we have to warn you that if you do this, you and your family and that very same daughter, will suffer many years and bring you much misery.
“That I may know … the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).
The subject of the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ is very important. By the power of resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. By this power He has been highly exalted far above all principality, and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:20-21). This power is also manifested to make us more than conquerors, and to enable us to be with the Lord as kings and priests with immortal and glorified bodies. With a heart full of worship and praise, Paul the apostle says in Eph. 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.
In the first part of the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul mentions a few of those great spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus which have been prepared for us by our loving God from before the foundation of the world. From verse 15 onwards, he goes on to explain how these blessings can be abundantly enjoyed by all of us who have been spiritually united with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, through simple faith in His finished work on the cross on our behalf. In this connection the apostle is praying very earnestly that the believers at Ephesus might know, “…what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward 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, Far above all…and hath put all things under the his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:19-23).
The very same power by which the Lord Jesus Christ rose again and was so highly exalted after His resurrection is also poured into us. Yet, how much spiritual poverty exists today among believers because they fail to appropriate this power daily for all their needs!
“…the God of peace … brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus” (Hebrews 13:20).
The risen Lord appeared the fifth time on Easter evening itself when the disciples were gathered together in a room in Jerusalem. The Lord came into the room, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst. His first words were, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). He repeated these words in verse 21, thus showing us that it is only by maintaining our peace that we can continue to experience His power of resurrection. The enemy is bent upon disturbing our peace. To this end he brings into our hearts all kinds of fears, doubts and subtle temptations of the flesh. But as we humble ourselves and keep on claiming the cleansing power of His precious blood we can enjoy His great peace which passeth all understanding. God’s Word says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psa. 119:165) and “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). The more we have peace the more can we enjoy victory over every attack of the enemy.
But we must exercise our faith more strongly to make his peace reign in our hearts and flow like a river, not allowing the enemy to robe us of our peace. In case we have to put right anything with God and man we should do so immediately by His grace and with humility. It is also by this growing, multiplying, inward, spiritual peace that we can be sure of His will. Only when we have this inward peace shall we be willing to go anywhere He may send us, and be prepared without any question to give Him all what He demands for His glory. When He had said this to the disciples He breathed on them and said “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). As we obey Him, He anoints us afresh with the Holy Spirit to help us carry out His commands joyfully.
“O love the LORD, all ye his saints” (Psa. 31:23).
We need to be prepared as the Bride of Christ so that we may appreciate and return the love of God. As we are we have little capacity to understand God’s love; we think of God only when we are in trouble or in need. As His Church He wants us to be co-workers with Him to gather the material which He requires for the coming new creation. For this purpose we should be able to discern what things really give Him joy.
Imagine a newly married couple. The young bride is very anxious to please her husband. She will not take her food until her husband comes home. She is so zealous in her love for her husband. In many cases, after few months, things become different; but those who are really joined together by the Lord will find their love increasing day by day. Even trials and difficulties fail to quench their love for one another, because it is not based upon their complexion and upon the wealth which they possess. They are joined together in a threefold manner, in a union of spirit, soul and body. “…a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccles. 4:12). Often family-happiness is made to depend upon sarees, or food, or earthly pleasures and possessions. That is why it does not last long and we find so many unhappy homes. A few days after the wedding, quarrels begin. Husband and wife are not able to agree. If the husband says, “Let me go North” the wife says, “No, let us go South!” On the other hand those who are joined together by the Lord have no need to argue: they go upon their knees to find God’s will. Their love for one another increases day by day.
In the same way when we are joined to the Lord Jesus as His Bride we learn to love Him, and as we grow spiritually our love increases. In the beginning we might say, “LORD, these are the things I require. Thou art my loving Saviour, so give me all these things and satisfy my desires”. As we increase in spiritual understanding our prayer changes. Now we say, “Lord, what is Thy wish, what is Thy will? Tell me what things will please Thee, and I will do them”. It gives us great joy to please and satisfy our Lord. We obey Him, not out of compulsion, but with willingness. It becomes easy to obey the Lord because we have full assurance that He knows more than we do. He knows the end from the beginning. His way is perfect, and He makes my way perfect. (Psa. 18:30,32).