Month 8:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:228 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 10 November 2017
The Way to Spiritual Maturity
The George Müller Memorial Sermons Part 2
Continued from Part 1
The George Müller Memorial Sermons (GMMS) are a series of sermons honouring the Prussian evangelist Georg Müller who founded orphanages by complete faith and dependency on Elohim (God). These sermons highlight the principles that George Müller so successfully and inspirationally lived by.
Introduction and Thanks for Prayer
Shabbat shalom chaverim. May I start by first thanking all of you who have been praying for me for what has been a very challenging time health-wise. I don't suppose I would have made it with quite as much fortitute without you. I believe, most sincerely, that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16, NIV) because Yah'shua's (Jesus') apostle said so, and because I believe that he was inspired by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to do so. I cannot say how but I can say that I choose to believe. Sometimes that is all we can do. So, thank you, again. As before, this is not a pulpit sermon because I understand that Yahweh has other things for me to do and share at the present time.
Too 'Different' for the Remnant?
So, once more in the interests of the economy of time and energy, let us cut to the chase and get straight to the point. This message is addressed to the Remnant and especially to those of you who think you are too 'different' or 'eccentric' to possibly qualify for it. First of all, it is not for you to define the parameters or establish the qualifications of a servant of Yahweh in these end times. You are what you are and have been led to become what you have become under the guidance of a Divine Hand. Let me explain.
The Product of Complex Intercations
Any project, particularly a complex one on a large scale (and who will deny that a human being is not spiritually 'large', let alone 'complex'), involves 'materials', let us call them, to be built into an organic structure of service, that have been taken from a thousand sources and moulded into form - you - by many hands. You are the product of an interaction with many people under diverse circumstances in a wide array of environments. No one but you has ever experienced such a concatenation of people, places and events.
The Giant A380
As you know, I am rather interested in aeroplanes. Some months ago I watched a very interesting documentary on the building of the European Airbus' latest and most ambitious flying vehicle, the European version of the Jumbo Jet, the double-decker A380. The project was so vast, so complex, four different nations were involved (Germany, France, Spain and the UK), each building different parts, that it frankly amazed me that such a craft could ever be made. Yet it was.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
You are such a project, only you are not a dead machine but a living organisim, endowed with life, choice, intelligence, a heart and an extraordinary system - a 'being', if you like - which is a reflection or image of the Creator of the Universe, Elohim (God) Himself. You are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps.139:14, NIV) - no two questions about it. You are a unique creation yet all of us are founded on the idential divine tavnith or pattern. We are basically the same 'stuff, just as all aeroplanes are, large and small. And it is that 'identical-ness' that allows us to relate to one another and to achieve the prized and highly desired goal of the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones), which is to be in union with the Creator and all His saved human creatures, the state of echadness, the Bride and the Bridegroom.
Individually and Uniquely Called
You and I all have a supreme purpose, none of which is 'greater' than the other, any more than my foot is 'greater' than my hand, or my pancreas is 'greater' than my duodenum. We are the product of the mind, heart and plan of the One who spans the ages, who sees and knows everything even before it takes place, based on the choices of billions of independent entities - you and me, and the supernatural servants - good and evil - of the angelic realm. "For we are Elohim's (God's) workmanship, created in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) to do good works, which Elohim (God) prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph.2:10, NIV). Not only did Yahweh call us to these tasks and missions, but He, foreknowing every man's complex array of choices, also arranged the circumstances that we must actually accomplish them in the midst of what sometimes may seem like insane chaos. But like a reverse explosion, Yahweh sees, and knows, and ordains, and effects this seemingly impossible coming together of events and people to make us who we are and are becoming.
The Chaos and Craziness is Only Apparent
You see, all those apparently disconnected events and experiences in your life were never accidental - they were not like those imaginary 'vestigal' organs of the evolutionists, quirks of our fallibility and stupidity, fallible though we undoubtedly are, and stupid ... well who can deny that? You see, the Divine Hand, in all its brilliance, knew - and still knows - how to shape the apparent craziness of our instability of our lives into something exceedingly useful and of value, something powerful if dedicated to Him, in spite of the continuous stream of mistakes that we make.
Sir Henry Lawrence's Secret
Our task is, actually, remarkably simple. Do you wonder what it is you are supposed to be doing right now? It's simple, as simple as the prayer life of Sir Henry Lawrence, who served the British Army during the 1857 Lucknow Mutiny in India. His soldiers - especially the native Indians who were the majority - understood perfectly well both the source and powerful effect of this leader's success. Sir Henry Lawrence, they said, always knew what to do in any situation. How so? Very simply, by his looking 'twice up to heaven, and once down to earth'. He would stroke his beard in contemplation as he prayed and thought. That was the secret of his success - two-thirds prayer and one-third assessing the situation 'on the ground'.
A Simple Formula
If you will spend twice as much time looking up to heaven in prayer as you do trying to figure out your course of action on earth, you will always know what to do. Turning to prayer for an answer to every crisis, great or small, will then become the secret of your whole life's success. And if you do not believe me - if you are disinclined to trust this simple formula - I am pretty sure you will stumble upon it by-the-by as you seek to make sense of Yahweh, and your place in His overall plan, through trial and error.
Missing the Mark Leads to Frustration
Now this is the great secret, so often stated that it cannot properly be called a secret, but one in which we are disinclined to believe because we spend more time with our eyes on earthly problems than we do with Yahweh. You can churn over a problem in your head again and again and find no meaning, get no answers, and end up getting frustrated and perhaps even, upon occasion, angry. But until you finally yield sovereignty to the solution you covet so urgently to the Most High, you might as well resign yourself to perpetual frustration, for that is what will most certainly result.
Yahweh's Plan for Your Life
I am not trying to be clever in saying this. I am merely repeating what thousands of others have learned before me over the ages. And I am still learning it, sometimes the hard way. This is what I have been leading up to say, however much of a theological cliché it may have become: Yahweh has a divine plan for your life. Just when will you believe it, instead of just the saying? Brick after brick, wooden beam after wooden beam in the construction of the building that is your life and calling, are brought to the metaphorical building site by the Almighty such that every single part fits naturally together and no sound of any workman's tool is heard in the construction. This is how your life is built but you don't appreciate it yet - you can't, because right now the tapestry of your life is hidden, and all you see is the tangled 'mess' of coloured threads on the back side of life which is mortality.
The Necessity of the Word
In all of this, Yahweh planned in advance how to accomplish His plan in your life in spite of your sins. And there is no magic involved because you must be involved. Each transformation of character is wrought only by your coming to a progressively deeper knowledge of the Davar (Word) and will of Elohim (God). Many a fool has thought he could get by without divining the depths of his Bible and solely trusting in some magical transformation-by-faith without it. Others, just as foolishly, have sought to minimise or exclude prayer altogether. Yes, transformation will for sure happen, but it will be all the slower and all the more painful if you choose to treat it lightly. The Bereans are held up as a rôle model, not as one of many alternative paths of discipleship, but as exemplary. They mined their Scriptures every day. There are no different 'types' of spiritual person. Emunah (faith) will not get you smoothly to the goal without a conscientious labour in the Davar (Word) any more than a train will get you to a train station without a railway line first being built on which to run it. I suppose you might try to run it on a motor highway but I don't think the spiritul equivalent of the public works department of the local municipality will thank you or the believers in your life who must bear with the consequences of your neglect and folly. The Davar (Word) contains important keys that Yahweh will not supply you, save by much tribulation, because you refuse to go to the source He has provided. It is nobody else's obligation to give them to you when they are sitting there, in your hands, between the covers of your Bible.
Faith, Study and Revelation
This may all seem obvious to most of you. But just as there are many facets to your life's journey, so there are many facets to walking in the Derech (Way). Learning from the Davar (Word) is one important thing to be sure but then so is courageously denying self in order to simultaneously surrender to the living voice of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Only by this combination alone - emunah (faith) in Messiah, diligently studying His Davar (Word), the Bible, and listening to, and responding to, the Ruach (Spirit) in humble obedience - can we cease to habitually sin, and stop offending Yahweh by failing to manifest godly sorrow for the pernicious error of our ways. Then we can win the good fight against evil. You will see that as you pursue this recipe that open sins will become less frequent and secret sins less ensnaring. By the by, you will overcome. But this is not a one-off affair - it must be the habit of the rest of your life.
Read, Pray, Love and Assemble
So read the Davar Elohim (Word of God), pray often, love your fellow brothers and sisters, seek to assemble to worship Yahweh with right motives, and boldly take a stand on the side of your Master, no matter what reproach or ridicule may come your way from those around you. Only then will you realise just how precious is the Davar Elohim (Word of God).
Mining the Word
There are deep mines of emet (truth) in the Scriptures even if at first you will only become aware of hints of their existence. Rich veins or ore rarely are found at the surface. You have to dig, and sometimes very deep indeed. Last week I urged you to find your own 'little Besorah (Gospel) and you will remember how I picked John 3:16 for my own. This is how we start to grasp so great a book as the Bible, by progressively deeper mining.
A Personalised Gospel
Find what ministers to you - what touches you deeply - and construct your life around these assembled passages and experiences, and by the by you will watch how they link together, seemingly effortlessly, like an organism building itself from scattered cells. It doesn't matter where you start - just start sometwhere! I remember when I was at Oxford doing an experiment with a slime mould. We placed them in a centrifuge which caused all the cells to shear off one another until all that was left was a suspension of these single cells. Then we placed the cells on an agar-filled dish and marvelled at how the organism reconstructed itself. Scriptures build in that way in our life too. The key is finding the ones that are 'alive' to us and then letting them naturally (spiritually) 'adhere' to one another and build up a highly personalised version of the Besorah (Gospel) - a living one based on our own experience.
The Divine Economist at Work
Throughout this journey you will experience various passions, all lawful, seemingly pulling you in different directions. Of course, what is unlawful - contrary to the mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah - must be vigorously resisted and excluded. In dealing with mutually exclusive lawful passions, you will be called to make a choice for His service over your own personal desires. You must fight your personal inclinations that prevent you from doing your duty to Elohim (God). All the nevi'im (prophets) had such struggles and choices to make. Jeremiah had to forsake having a family, Elijah abandoned his farming. You will have heard of famous missionaries who had to abandon sports, musical or other careers to serve Yahweh. In fact, our family only just the other day were discussing a man who wanted to become a professional American baseball player, and indeed trained to be one, but who was called into the ministry as a pastor instead. There are many lawful and desirable things we must forsake to become talmidim (disciples), and always it is for the better But we don't know that at the time we have to make the choice. I trained to become a research Biochemist but Yahweh called me into teaching. Yet the training is always beneficial to the ultimate calling. Nothing is wasted. Yahweh is the Divine Economist. It is only willful and persistent sin that makes us uneconomical with our lives.
Yahweh's Choice of Marriage Companions
You may remember the story of George Müller whose life in establishing orphanages in Bristol, England, we recently studied. He was in love with a young woman and wished so much to marry her. Yahweh told him to renounce his ambition to marry someone he had himself chosen without emunah (faith) and prayer, and which was causing him to become alienated from Yahweh. It was hard for him but when he did so, he found shalom (peace). And then, as you know, he met the woman who would become his life-long companion, without whom he could not have carried out his mission. Yahweh's choice was best.
The Necessity of Self-Denial
He learned, as must we, that to walk in Yahweh's will entails self-denial. There is no way you can circumvent it without drawing away from Elohim (God) in the process. I myself spent years writing an Historical Atlas, one of my passions, which I was very proud of and pleased with, but I had to abandon all hopes of publishing it. Indeed, I have been required to abandon a number of projects which to me seemed highly desirable and useful at the time - becoming a politician and studying Theology for a Doctorate at Cambridge University were two of mine. Politics would have corrupted me irrepairable, I am sure, and studying theology at a man-maden institution would have meant my following the dusty curriculum of man instead of the living curriculum of Yahweh in the mission field. I learned most of what I know organically. Thus we must pick our influences - the psyche of man or the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). I suspect part of me wanted the prestige that comes of having a doctorate in theology with which to impress the professors of the world, but Yahweh would have none of it. Apparently I was to be contented with my Masters in Science which I would need in order to earn a living while serving as a pastor and raising a large family.
Why Difficult Choices are Required
The choices we are required to make, which are often distasteful to our flesh, are to serve one primary purpose: to cause us to be unreservedly given up to Elohim (God). There are no semi-talmidim or half-disciples just as there are no semi-qualified physicians. And remember there is always a compensation for this surrender - and that is the supreme shalom (peace) of Elohim (God) accompanied by simcha (joy).
Channelling Your Peace and Joy
Once you have that - the shalom (peace) and simcha (joy), there must be a channel for it, and that channel is bearing witness. There will always be a need to tell someone and in that endeavour Yahweh will guide too, so that the spiritual seed that has been given to you will fall on fertile soil.
Resistance and Opposition Lead to True Independence and Integrity
At the same time, this witness will be met with rejection too, often angry and bitter at that. This too is necessary for thhe talmid (disciple) for only by this means will he learn to become independent of man as he becomes more dependent on Yahweh. For most, it is in learning to be independent of the approbation or approval of man - to be accepted - that the believer must learn to cease craving. It's hard one for most because in our youth we need the approval of godly peers and especially parents and leaders. The preservation of this independence becomes critical to the preserving of integrity. Like Daniel, we must learn to stand alone, and that is the difference between maturity and immaturity, neither of which are necessarily a function of age. We choose what we become and we likewise influence the speed at which we grow.
Between Wants and Needs
To learn to cast ourselves upon Yahweh to supply our innermost needs is central to maturation. It may take a while to get there, there may be many ups and downs, but to become whole - to become a complete person in Messiah, the one you were designed to be - this course has to be completed. Not all do and so you will find many men and women who, in spirit, are still youths, or worse, infants. Such never have their wants met, because they have not yet learned to differentiate or choose between wants and needs. Yahweh supplies our every need, not our every want.
Works in Progress
Growth is the main thing but only Yahweh knows what you are destined to grow into. Likewise, what you are now is not the finished product and unfinished works of art or science aren't necessarily very beautiful, even if the potential for that beauty is being manifested. Half built aircraft are not the most beautiful. There are parts missing, there is no livery or polish, yet they are works in progress like ourselves. So don't expect yourself to be perfect yet, just make sure you're not stagnant or dragging your feet.
The Fear of Yahweh Ensures No Lack
The fact that we are on the spiritual move, for those who worry about where they are or where they think they ought to be, is what matters provided, of course, the movement is in the right direction and not backwards. We do have to lift our own metaphorical feet and propel our own lives through a dedicated will. Those who are on the move fear Yahweh but not men. And those who do have this promise:
They can testify with David:
"Fear Yahweh, you His qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones),
for those who fear Him lack nothing" (Ps.34:9, NIV).
"Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing - I have all that I need" (Ps.23:1, NIV,NLT).
So whether you are a big mature spiritual tree, or a small immature one, provided you trust in Yahweh and fear Him, you will have absolutely everything you need and are complete for where you are, no matter how anyone else may judge you. Rest in that, don't stress or be anxious. You are accepted and loved. Amen.
Continued in Part 3
Comments from Readers
 "Many of us look forward to your teachings. Yah knows we need you. I am sure you will be fine" (PM, USA, 10 November 2017)