“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. (Isaiah 6:9-10,13)
The first verse here, from Isaiah 6, describes those who walk blindly through the darkness of this world. They have access to the holiness of God but refuse to let it penetrate their heart and cause changes that lead to sanctification. They miss the fullness they have access to in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. The biggest hindrance is people’s refusal to submit to God bigger purpose for His people. They can’t imagine that they are not the center of His movements in this world. The thought of suffering or becoming a servant leave them seeking gratification in their own way. The constant struggle against the pull of their hearts toward their Father cause them to become calloused so that the desire for God becomes dull. They fall into the trap of putting their desires over those of God. God desires that submission to Him and a deep relationship rooted ion love would lead our desires to become His desires.
The voice of God becomes drown out in the business associated with self-servitude and self-gratification. The calloused heart isn’t the pliable vessel where the Holy Spirit is meant to thrive and shine forth the light of God through His children. When a person wrapped in the cords of the enemy comes to the end of themselves, they are then in a position to receive the greater gifts of God. Their eyes can then see, ears can then hear, and hearts can then receive the power found in Jesus Christ through their weakness. They can then turn to the faithful Father who stands patiently waiting for His children so that none may parish.
The second verse above talks about the holy seed of God. In this case it refers to the remnant that God uses to carry His glory through time even as the people turn away with callused hearts. I think of this as the holy seed found in every person that we refer to as a conscience. God speaks into our spirit and writes His moral code upon mankind made in His image. Even in a calloused condition the draw toward God, the empty place we look to fill with lesser things, still causes us hardship and struggle. Acknowledge the holy seed that pulls at you when God isn’t first place in your life. Never let your heart become so calloused that the Holy Spirit cannot shine through your life. Refuse to let yourself be ruled by your fleshly desires. Be restored to, submitted to and led by your Heavenly Father so that your life finds the purpose and joy for which it was created.
Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:4)
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Look at the scriptures above. Read the first slowly and let it take you to that silent place where God calls you to receive Him. Then use the second scripture to bring deeper meaning to the underlined portion of the first scripture. Now sit with the first passage again.
When God allows us to struggle through trials we have two options: run to the comforts of this world or run to everlasting comfort in Him. God is our firm foundation and our refuge. Difficult moments are times when He calls us into deeper relationship with our Father, our Creator. Turning to God is described in detail in the passage above. It doesn’t have to be taken literally but let’s look at what it describes.
Tremble (in your anger) do not sin (turn toward things other than God (idolatry)). Trembling could be in fear or anger, both draw us out of comfort. We then have a choice of where we can find peace in the storm. We can choose between the Creator and His creation. The eternal or the temporal. God desires a relationship that grows deeper as our spirits mature. The best way to grow in relationship is through the difficult times where we have to rely on God’s provision and comfort to carry us through.
When you are on your bed (alone and away from distraction) search your heart (for what God is looking to teach you in this turmoil) and be silent (so that you may hear the still small voice of God). The world and its business look to captivate our attention and draw us away from the stillness we need with God. Seek the quietness and seclusion you require to draw close to God and avoid distraction. Search your heart, in openness and honesty to see where the Lord is missing in your life or situation. Where do you need in insert His power and rely less on your own? Look for the lesson God has for you. He loves you too much to let you remain idle. Seek and find what the Lord has for you. Then the most difficult part, be silent so that His voice can be heard, and the presence of His Spirit can work in your heart. Ask for understanding and be still to receive what God chooses to reveal to you.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous (humble spirit of thanksgiving) and trust in the LORD. Our sacrifice to God is submission, and a willingness to follow God’s will over our own as they become the same. Give thanks that God loves you enough to correct and lead you. Be thankful that as His chosen you are able to hear His calling and turn to the shelter of His love and faithfulness. Then trust that God is fighting battles that you cannot fight. We can rest assured that battles fought by God are fought to completeness. He will bring about His will which far surpasses our dreams. Turn to God and seek the fellowship described in Psalm 4:4. See the loving relationship and guidance the Father has for you.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)
If someone draws closer to God through certain practices, we are not to judge as long as they don’t go against scripture. This includes denominational differences. We have to let all things lead to Christ even if we might think of them as senseless. We shouldn’t let the things that make us different draw us apart. God creates many diverse parts to make up the church, the bride of Christ. God uses many ways to touch the hearts of each of His children. Just like God used ceremonial law to keep the focus of His people on Him, He will use multiple ways to draw people from the darkness of sin.
The danger comes when people lose focus on God and develop a reliance on acts. This is where people become legalistic and think that their actions take the place of the faith we are called into. Be careful not to let differences in practice draw believers apart. Keep your opinions between you and God so that your thoughts don’t create division.
If you feel God call you to a certain place, walk with Him. If you have a practice that you feel draws you closer to God and honors Him, draw close to Him as He draws close to you. As long as your practice doesn’t contradict scripture, praise God in what draws your heart to Him. Don’t rely on your practice, let those moments develop your intimacy with God and grow your relationship with Him. The ultimate intimacy with God is found in relationship with Jesus Christ. Let your walk be yours and let your neighbor’s walk belong to them.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews (believers) or to Greeks (unbelievers) or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:29-30)
God’s prepares you to accomplish what He destined you for from the beginning of time. Many times, you pray for God’s provision and His provision first comes as preparation for His bigger purpose. That’s why many times our lives seem to become more difficult after prayer. We were expecting a divine miracle to bring us relief when instead God groomed our character to walk in His upcoming revelation. God is more interested in our character than our pleasure. That may sound unpleasant to someone who is always seeking instant gratification, but you should consider what kind of joy and peace come from a character refined by God. How much more will you be able to succeed in His provision and plan for your life when you have submitted to His preparation?
The scripture above shows God’s purpose in preparation. He could have driven out all of the enemies of the Israelites as they entered the promised land but that would have left them fighting into the dangers of the wilderness. Instead He allowed the enemies to keep the land farmed and provision gathered so that His people would be taken care of as they conquered each group of enemies in turn. At the same time, He was allowing His chosen people to increase so there would be enough to inhabit the land. God let His people grow in strength, number and relationship with Him before they were spread out over the land He had promised. Spreading His people too thin, too weak, and not focused on Him would have left them vulnerable to the things that try to destroy God’s plans.
Know that God has a plan much bigger than what you can see. His ways are higher than our ways. Rely not on your own understanding of a situation but on your understanding of the God you serve. Submit to His refining, like the refining of gold. Let God increase your strength and value for His name sake, for His kingdom purpose. Be clay that is pliable in the potter’s hand and know that the joy found in the purpose God designed you for is worth the difficult season. Know that the God that sees all things from beginning to end has your best in mind as He grooms you for a purpose beyond your wildest dreams.
As we grow closer to God we not only grow away from the things of this world we also create a distance from other believers who’s walk is different from ours. It might be that God’s timing or direction for them differs from ours. It is important to support those around us while still seeking our own growth in God through His Spirit. There will be times where people will be unable to support your steps and upward calling. That can be to your advantage in many cases. God guides your steps, lights your path, and is the source of your calling. Your first resource for growth in your spiritual walk should always be the Spirit God has sent to dwell in you. The Holy Spirit should always be the source of your conviction and truth. Allowing the Spirit to be your filter as you seek God through His Word and through Spirit driven sermons means you can receive what the Lord has for you specifically. The living Word of God can speak to you a different way each time you seek guidance through its pages. Allowing the Holy Spirit, which dictated every word, to speak to you with scripture means you can get exactly what you need in your time with the Lord.
There are times when we look around and realize that our walk with God has brought us to a place of unique experience with Him. He speaks to us and grows us in ways that are specific to how He made us. There will not always be someone to share that moment with. It is those times we can take our love and gratitude directly to God, our Source. We can use those moments of revelation to worship and praise Him.
Seeking fellow believers to walk with is God’s desire, but we cannot rely on human counsel as our primary source of revelation and growth. People are fallible where God is not. He designed you and seeks to mature you in His way at His pace. Your growth will drive the right people closer to you and some people away from you. Some of the people who were closest to you in your worldly life will be the furthest from you as your spirit matures. Let God bring people into your life that will develop you through His Spirit. Seek God first and let the Spirit be your counsel.
We are each uniquely design as part of the body of Christ (the Church). He created us and now grows us in different ways to strengthen His Church. Allow God to grow gifts in you that you can bring to grow His Kingdom here on earth. Don’t let people pull you from God’s unique design for you. Make God first and let His light shine forth from you to serve Him and His purpose for your life.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
To justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ.
You are saved in the profession of your heart and justified in the righteousness received in Christ. Justification and salvation come from your heart. Being saved is much more than words spoken when prompted. Salvation is evident from a changed heart and the love that grows from it. People can say anything, but the condition of their heart is what speaks to the Father. Their heart is what has to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23) The will of the Father is to love Him with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. It is the love of a changed heart that truly allows a believer to walk in the salvation of Jesus Christ. The knowledge of Jesus has to fall from your head to your heart where is can grow and blossom into spiritual fruit.
Let your faith come from more than words. Ask God to let His grace and mercy fill your heart. Let the indwelling of the Spirit which comes through receiving Jesus change your heart in a way that magnifies God through you. Let the words of your mouth reflect the condition of your changed heart and not the content of your mind. The deceiver looks to plant seeds into your mind, but your heart belongs to your Savior. Your heart is the source of your salvation and relationship with God.
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Romans 9:22-23)
Just because we see sinful people prosper doesn’t mean that God has looked away from their sinfulness. We are told not to envy wicked people in their prosperity, for that prosperity will lead to their ruin. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong (Psalm 37:1) The scripture above tells us about God and the great patience He shows toward the “objects of His wrath.” It then ask us to consider what purpose He has in showing them patience. He looks to show His children the “riches of His glory.” What could that mean? The Hebrew word for glory originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word is then used to express importance, honor, and majesty. Take a moment and consider that definition in this context.
How many people that the world views as prosperous are dead and empty on the inside? They have sought and gained the best the world has to offer at the expense of their peace and are now left with nothing to fill the void in their heart. Our sovereign Father gives us the opportunity to see what gaining the world and losing your soul looks like in the flesh. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26) These people who have chosen to ignore God are without the most fulfilling thing available to us, a relationship with the Father.
As the “objects of His mercy” we can live with the joy of knowing the riches of His glory. We know that the presence and provision found in relationship to God outweigh the lesser things of this world. God’s provision is designed for us by our Creator, not our sinful desire. Believers can live with the peace of knowing God and the assurance that we have more than enough to walk the path He has called us to. Gaining more might drive us into worldly assurance. God loves us too much to let us wonder from what is best for us. We can let His light guide us on our walk with Jesus and be an example to those God has “prepared for destruction.” God desires that none shall parish.
Let God’s glory shine through you. You might be the reason His patience benefits someone who is looking to fill the place in their heart where God is meant to dwell. Let others know what it means to see the riches of God’s glory and what it is to grow in His mercy. Show the world that God’s great power can also be shown in the grace and mercy of His patience toward all of us.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)