The Habit of Wealth

“For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11) Through the promises we are made partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4); then we have to “manipulate” the Divine nature in our human nature by habits. Jesus prayed “that they may be one, even as We are one,” and Paul urges, on the most practical lines, that we form in our actual lives the habits that are in perfect accordance with oneness with God. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit in which Jesus Christ is to manifest His life; and He can only do it as we put on the new man and see to it that our external conduct springs from a right relationship to Him. 2 Peter 1:3-4 describe the super-natural works of grace; then we have t form the habit of working out all that God has worked in. “Add to your faith virtue…” (2 Pet. 1:5) “Add” means there is something we must do.
 
 “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you…”  The entrance is “by a new and living way,” through our Lord Jesus Christ and the outgoing is to God Himself – “filled with the fullness of God.”
 “For if these things be in you, and abound,” (2 Pet.1:8). Have we formed the habit of wealth spiritually, or are we gambling with what is not ours, deceiving ourselves with delusions? “These things” (self-control, patience, love) are not in us if we are not born from above. Are we trying to persuade ourselves that we are right with God when we know we are not? Earthly inheritances are particular possessions of our own, and in taking them we may impoverish others; but the great thing about spiritual wealth is that when we take our part in that, everyone else is blessed; whereas if we refuse to be partakers, we hinder others from entering into the riches of God.
 
It’s a crime to allow external physical misery to make us sulky with God. There are devastating experiences, such as many of the Psalmists describe. Then they say “I will go to God who is my joy.” No calamity can touch that wealth! No sin is worse than self-pity because it puts self-interest on the throne; it “makes our bastard self seem in the right”; it obliterates God and opens the mouth to pour out murmurings against God; and the life becomes impoverished and mean, there is nothing lovely or generous about it. If we indulge in the luxury of misery, we become isolated in the conception of our own sufferings; God’s riches are banished and self-pity, the deeply entrenched essence of Satan, is enthroned in the soul.
 
“abundantly into the everlasting kingdom”  Jesus Christ’s kingdom is not built on principles that can be discerned naturally, but on “otherworldliness,” and we must never adapt principles that He did not adapt. If we have come to a dead stop spiritually, is it not because we have stopped to be “otherworldly”? Are we prepared to obey the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit when He brings the “otherworldly” point of view of Jesus to bear upon our practical life? If we are, we will then be considered fools from every point of view but the point of view of the Holy Spirit. We are to in the world but not of the world. Are we letting God’s light break on us as it did on Jesus? Are showing the characteristics that were in Him? “The kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus Christ is the King and the Kingdom. Eternal life is God and God is eternal life; and the meaning of the Atonement is that Jesus produces that life in us. By sanctification we enter into the kingdom of perfect oneness with Jesus Christ; everything He is, we are by faith. He is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” we have nothing apart from Him. Have we formed the habit of rejoicing in this privilege?
 
“of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord in experience, and Lord and Savior in discernment. The witness of the Holy Spirit is that we realize with growing amazement who Jesus is to us personally, our Lord and Master. The baptism of the Holy Spirit makes us witnesses to Jesus, not wonder-workers. The witness is not what Jesus does, but what He is. When God is beginning to be satisfied with us, He impoverishes every source of fictitious wealth. After sanctification God will wither up every other spring until we know that all our fresh springs are in Him. He will wither up natural virtues; He will break up all confidence in our own powers, until we learn by practical experience that we have no right to draw life from any other source than the tremendous reservoir of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.
If you turn away from the Source and look at the outflow (yourself), at what God is doing through you, the Source will dry up and you will sit down on the outskirts of the entrance and howl. It’s dreadfully hard to live the Christian life! Turn around and enter the kingdom, pay attention to the Source, our Lord Himself, and you will experience the hilarity of knowing that you see God. Never be surprised at what God does, but be taken up with Him that He may continue to do surprising things through you.
 
Are you sulking before God? Are the corners of your mouth, morally and spiritually, getting down and are you feeling sorry for yourself? You have turned your back on God and are marching away from Him. Get straight to God, be abundantly stamped with His grace and His blessing will come through all the time. There is no self-pity left in the heart that has been bound up and aided by the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Reflection Questions:
Are you focusing more on you or God? (See John 3:30)
Are you dried up spiritually?
What has this study – through the Holy Spirit – help you discover where you are spiritually?
 

The Habit of Rising to the Occasion

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble” (2 Pet. 1:10). In the natural life our aims shift and alter as we develop; but development in the Christian life is an increasing manifestation of Jesus Christ. Christian faith is nourished on dogma, and all young Christian life is uniform; but in the mature Christian life there are diversities. We must be careful that we do not remain children too long, but see that we “grow up into Him in all things.” We have to assimilate truth until it becomes part of us, and then begin to manifest the individual characteristics of the children of God. The life of God shows itself in different manifestations, but the aim ultimately is the manifestation of Jesus Christ.Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
 
The Habit of Confirming Your Election: “make every effort to confirm your calling and election.” I have to form the habit of assuring myself of my election, to bend the whole energy of my Christian powers to realize my calling, and to do that I must remember what I am saved for; that the Son of God might be manifested in my mortal flesh. How much attention have I given to the fact that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? When the Son of God is formed in me is He able to exhibit His life in my mortal flesh, or am I a living contradiction of what my mouth professes? Am I working out what God works in or have I become divorced from Jesus Christ? I become divorced from Him immediately I receive anything apart from His indwelling. Have I a testimony to give that is not “me”? When I am in contact with Jesus Christ every testimony of mine will reveal Him.
 
The Habit of Realizing Your Exercises: “For if you do these things.”  We can’t do anything for our salvation, but we must do something to manifest it; we must work it out. Am I working out my salvation with my tongue, with my brain, and with my nerves? We put off the realization that if we are going to grow up into Him in all things, there are things that we must do. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17) Character is the way we have grown to act with our hands and our feet, our eyes and our tongue; and the character we make always reveals the ruling disposition within. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Where is the new creation? If I am still the same miserable person, set on my own way, it’s a lie to say that I am a new creation in Christ. Have I learned to submit my will to Jesus? “For if you do these things” – am I adding resolution to my faith, self-control to my knowledge, steadfastness to my relationship to the Lord? We ought to be infinitely more humble in exercising ourselves in these ways. God knows where we are, and His order comes to us moment by moment.
 
The Habit of Recognizing Your Expectations: “You will never stumble.” What do you expect? One way to detect a disproportionate expectation is to ask yourself what you expect God to do. One expectation you cannot have is the expectation of successful service (See Luke 10:17-20). We are not called to success but to faithfulness! We are to have one aim in life, and that is that the Son of God may be manifested; then all dictation to God will vanish. We are to submit our wills to Him so that He works through us what He wants.

This reminds me of the movie called “Hacksaw Ridge.” It about a WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. During the battle, Doss, was bringing out of the battlefield the wounded as he finished carrying out one he prayed “Lord give strength to get one more.” He allowed God to work through him by giving him the strength to carry out 72 wounded.

Where did Jesus place His feet? He placed His feet exactly where we have to place our, either with or without Him, in the ordinary rough and tumble of human life as it is. “I will make the place of My feet glorious.” As we walk in this body according to the new life that has been imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, we shall find it is no longer mounting up in ecstasy, running and not being weary, but walking with an infinite, steady, uncrushable, indescribable patience until men take knowledge that the Son of God is walking through us again.
 
Reflection Questions:
Are you a living contradiction of what your mouth professes?
Have you learned to submit your will to Jesus?
What do you expect?
 

The Habit of Enjoying the Disagreeable

“ But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).In order to express what God’s grace has done in us we have to form habits until all habits are merged in perfect relationship of love. It is the relationship of a child wherein we realize that everything which God tells us to do we must do and not debate. God’s commands are made to the life of His Son in us, not to our human nature; consequently all that God tells us to do is always humanly difficult; but it becomes divinely easy immediately we obey because our obedience has behind it all the power of the grace of God.
 
The meaning of sanctification is that the Son of God is formed in us (Gal. 4:19); then our human nature has to be transfigured by His indwelling life; and this is where our action comes in. We have to put on the new man in accordance with the life of the Son of God in us. If we refuse to be sanctified, there is no possibility of the Son of God being manifested in us, because we have prevented our lives being turned into a Bethlehem; we have not allowed the Spirit of God to bring forth the Son of God in us.
 
“But he that lacketh these things is blind…” When Christ is formed in us we have to see that our human nature acts in perfect obedience to all that the Son of God reveals. It’s not a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved in order to manifest the Son of God in our mortal flesh. Our responsibility is to keep ourselves fit to manifest Him. For instance, do we exhibit the virtue of self-control, the virtue of godliness, in the letters and e-mails we write, in the conversations we hold? If not, then we not only give the wrong impression of the Son of God, but we hurt His life in us. The only way to keep yourself fit is by the discipline of the disagreeable. It is the disagreeable things which make us exhibit whether we are manifesting the life of the Son of God, or living a life which is antagonistic to Him.
 
It is one thing to go into the disagreeable by God’s engineering, but another thing to go into it by choice. If God puts us there, He is amply sufficient. No matter how difficult the circumstances may lie, if we will let Jesus Christ manifest Himself in them, it will prove to be a new means of exhibiting the wonderful perfection and extraordinary purity of the Son of God. Our light is to shine in the darkness; it is not needed in the light. It is on earth, in this condition of things that we have to see that the life of the Son of God is manifested in us, and we must keep ourselves fit to do it.
 
“and cannot see afar off…”  In human sight we soon lose the innocence of sight; we know what we see, but instead of trusting the innocence of sight we confuse it by trying to state what we ought to see. Jesus restores the spiritual innocence of sight – “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Cor. 4:18). The way to keep our sight fit is by looking at the things which are not seen, and external things become a glorious chance of enabling us to concentrate on the invisible things. Once we realize that God’s order comes to us in the passing moments, and then nothing is unimportant. Every disagreeable thing is a new way of bringing us to realize the wonderful manifestation of the Son of God in that moment.
 
“and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” Jesus says that a man must lose his soul in order to find it – “whosoever will lose his life [i.e. soul] for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25). Soul is “me,” my personal spirit, manifesting itself in my body, my way of estimating things. The incoming of the Holy Spirit into my spirit enables me to construct a new way of reasoning and looking at things. Our Lord’s way of reasoning certainly is not ours naturally; we have to form His mind. We cannot form the mind of Christ without having His Spirit, but we may have the Spirit of Christ and refuse to form His mind. We may have been going steadily on not realizing that we had to readjust our views, and then the Holy Spirit brings to our conscious mind what we knew perfectly well, but had never seen in that connection before. There must be instant obedience. The moment we obey the light the Spirit of God brings, the mind of Jesus is formed in us in that particular, and we begin to reason as He reasons; but if we debate and go back to our old way of reasoning we grieve the Spirit of God. In new circumstances there are always readjustments to be made. We have to keep our soul fit to form the mind of Christ.
 
Reflection Questions:
Are you putting on the new man in accordance with the Son of God, or are you chocking His life in you?
Are you lacking in the things that Peter through the Spirit of God says we must add – the things which ought to mark the life of the saint?
How are you keeping your sight and soul fit?
 

The Habit of a Good Conscience

“Having a good conscience.” (1 Peter 3:16) We hear it said that conscience is the voice of God, but logically that is easily proved to be ridiculous. Paul said in Acts 26:9; “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Paul was obeying his conscience when he hated Jesus Christ and put His followers to death. If conscience was the voice of God it would be the most contradictory voice human ears ever listened to. Conscience is an aspect of self-awareness that produces the pain and/or pleasure we "feel" as we reflect on the norms and values we recognize and apply. Conscience is not an outside voice. It is an inward capacity humans possess to critique themselves because the Creator provided this process as a means of moral restraint for his creation. The critique conscience exercises related to the value system which a person develops. Romans 12:1-2 makes the point that God desires that his creation conform to divine values by a process of rational renewal. The Scriptures provide the content for this renewal.
 
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” (Acts 24:16) If I am in the habit of steadily and persistently facing myself with God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law to me. The question then is will I do what my conscience makes me understand clearly I should do? When conscience has been enlightened by the Son of God being formed in me, I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I obey that which I perceive to be God’s will. I have to be sensitive to the tiniest touch of His Spirit that I know what I should do. If I keep my soul inwardly open to God, then when I come in contact with the affairs of life outside, I know immediately what I should do; if I don’t, I am to blame. I should be living in such perfect sensitiveness to God, in such perfect sympathy with His Son that in every circumstance I am in, the spirit of my mind is renewed, I prove or make out, what is God’s will, the thing that is good, and acceptable and perfect.
When we come to a crisis it is easy to get direction, but it is a different matter to live in such perfect oneness with God that in the ordinary occurrences of life we always do the right thing. Is my conscience so sensitive that it doesn’t need a terrible crime or sublime holiness to awaken it, but the ordinary occurrences of life will awaken it?
 
“Whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2) The conscience referred here has been damaged by a “hot iron” (Metaphorically, anything that confines or hampers). Conscience is the eye of the soul recording what it looks at and if the innocence of the eye is lost, then the recording of conscience may be distorted. If I continually twist the organ of my soul’s recording,, it will become perverted. If I do a wrong thing often enough, I cease to realize the wrong in it. A bad man can be perfectly happy in his badness. That is what a seared conscience means. Have I formed the habit of keeping my conscience sensitive to God on the inside and equally sensitive to man on the outside by always working out what God works in? God engineers our circumstances and He brings across our paths some extraordinary people, embodiments of ourselves in so many forms, and it is part of the humor of the situation that we recognize ourselves. Now God says, exhibit the attitude to them that I showed to you. This is one way of keeping a conscience void of offence toward God and man.
 
“Having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…” (Hebrews 10:22) Can God readjust a seared conscience and make it sensitive again? He can, and it is done by the vicarious Atonement of our Lord.  “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14) When the Holy Spirit comes into me, my whole nature is in a desperate turmoil because immediately I see Jesus and understand Who He is, in that instant I am criticized and self-condemned. If the Holy Spirit is obeyed He will make the Atonement of the Lord effective in me so that the blood of Christ cleanses my conscience from dead works and I become readjusted to God. The element that works this transforming mystery of the Atonement, is repentance wrought in me by the Holy Spirit. The deepest repentance is not in the sinner, but in the saint. Repentance means not only sorrow for sin, it involves the possession of a new disposition that will never do the thing again.  The only true repentant man is the holy man. If I allow the saintly conscience to have way in me it will mean that I keep my own life steadfastly open towards God and keep steadfastly related to Him on the line of intercessory prayer for others. The saintly conscience means that I maintain an open scrutiny before God, and that I carry out the sensitiveness gained there all through my life.
 
Reflection Questions:
Where are with your relationship with God?
Have you seen your conscience changed by the Holy Spirit?
What is the area of your life that the Holy Spirit is asking you to repent from?
What can you do to have your conscience become more sensitive to Gods will?
 

Making a habit of having no habits – 2 Peter 1:5-8

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)
When we are forming a habit we are conscious of it, but in the real Christian life, habits do not appear, because by practice we do the thing unconsciously. As Christians, we have to learn the habit of waiting upon God as He comes to us through the moments, and to see that we do not make common-sense our guide; we do until we have seen the Lord. When we realize that God’s order comes to us in the haphazard, our life will manifest itself in the way our Lord indicates in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5-7). Of our childlike trust in God is giving place to self-consciousness and self- depreciation, it is a sign that there is something wrong; and the cure for it is to reach the place where every habit is so practiced that there is no conscious habit at all. Watch how God will upset our programs if we are in danger of making our little Christian habits our god. Whenever we begin to worship our habit of prayer or of Bible reading, God will break up that time.
 
“these qualities in increasing measure”  Exercising Habits until each Habit is Lost:  Are “these qualities” existing in us? (See 2 Peter 1:5-7) Consciousness of a defect is a disease spiritually; yet it is produced by the finger of God because we have neglected to add some quality. We must acknowledge the defect, and then look out for the opportunity of exercising ourselves along the line of the quality to be added – patience, godliness, love. We have to exercise the quality until the habit is merged in the simplicity of a child’s life. We have to beware of singling out one quality only. Peter says “as these qualities.” Our Lord is the type of all Christian experience, and He cannot be summed up in terms of natural virtues, but only in terms of the supernatural.  The dominant thing about a saint is not self-realization, but the Lord Himself. When a crisis comes the saint is the one to whom men turn; and the life which seemed colorless is seen to be the white light of God.
 
“they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive”  Expressing Holiness until Conscious Holiness is Lost: Once we come into a simple relationship with God, He can put us where He pleases and we are not even conscious of where He puts us. All we are conscious of is an amazing simplicity of life that seems to be a haphazard life externally. The only supernatural life ever lived on earth was the life of our Lord, and He was at home with God anywhere. Whenever we are not at home with God, there is a quality to be added. We have to let God press through us until we gain Him, and life becomes the simple life of a child in which the vital concern is putting God first.
 
“in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Experiencing Knowledge until Knowledge is Lost: “Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12) – love abides and knowledge is merged. Knowledge is faith perfected, and faith in turn passes into sight. We experience knowledge until knowledge is swallowed up in the fact of God’s presence. Knowledge is the expression of the nature of God, and is the practical outcome of the life of God in us, but if we isolate knowledge we are in danger of criticizing God. We look for God to manifest Himself to His children; God only manifests Himself in His children, consequently others see the manifestation, the child of God does not. You say, “I am not conscious of God’s blessing now” – thank God! “I am not conscious now of the touches of God” – thank God! “I am not conscious now that God is answering my prayers” – thank God! If you are conscious of these things it means you have put yourself outside God. When a little child becomes conscious of being a little child, the child-likeness is gone; and when a saint becomes conscious of being a saint, something has gone wrong. Go to your own funeral and ever after let God be all in all, and life will become the simple life of a child in which God’s order comes moment by moment. Let the word of God be always living and active in you, and give the best you have every time and all the time.
 
Reflection Questions:
Are you careful that your habit is not your god? Is your prayer and Bible reading unconscious?
Where are you in your spiritual life in putting God first?
Are you living the simple life of a child in which God’s order comes moment by moment? Or are you taking control?
Have you learned the habit of waiting on God?
 

You Won’t Reach It On Tiptoe!

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Peter 1:5&7)
Love, to most of us, is an indefinite thing; we do not know what we mean when we speak of love. The love Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 13 means the sovereign preference of my person for another person and everything depends on who the other person is. Jesus demands however that the sovereign preference be for Him. Devotion to a person is the only thing that tells; and no man on earth has the love Jesus demands, unless it has been imparted to him. We may admire Jesus Christ, we may respect Him and reverence Him, but apart from the Holy Spirit we do not love Him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit. In Romans 5:5 Paul says:  “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  We cannot reach it on tiptoe; some of has tried but soon we got tired. The springs of love are in God, not in us. It’s foolish to look for the love of God in our natural hearts; the love of God is only there when it has been poured out by the Holy Spirit.
 
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The revelation of God’s love is that He loved us when He could not possibly respect us – He loved us “while we were still sinners”; when we were enemies. When we receive the nature of God into us, the first thing that happens is that God takes away all pretence and pious pose; and He does it by revealing that He loved us, not because we were loveable, but because it is His nature to love. “God is love.”  The surest evidence that the nature of God has come into me is that I know I am a sinner – “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.” (Rom. 7:18) When God has made me know what I am really like in His sight, it is no longer possible for me to be upset at what others may tell me I am capable of; God has revealed it to me already. The worst things that are said about us may be literally untrue; but we know that whatever is said is not as bad as what is really true of us in the sight of God. The curious thing about the love of God is that it is the cruelest thing on earth to everything that is not of Him. God hurts desperately when I am far away from Him; but when I am close to Him, He is indescribably tender. The greatest love of a man is his love for his friends; the greatest love of God is His love for His enemies; the highest Christian love is that a man will lay down his life for his Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
“But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21) We will not always be respected if we are disciples of Jesus. Our Lord said - “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” (John 16:1-2) and that will be so again. How much respect did Jesus Christ receive when He was on this earth? “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:20) We are apt to think of a Christian merely as a civilized individual; a Christian is one who is identified with Jesus; one who has learned the lesson that the servant is not greater than his Lord. If you want a good time in this world, do not become a disciple of Jesus. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,” i.e. give up his right to himself to Me. There is always an IF in connection with discipleship, and it implies that we need not unless we like. There is never any compulsion; Jesus does not coerce us. There is only one way of being a disciple, and that is by being devoted to Jesus.
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) What has God redeemed? Everything that sin and Satan have touched and infected, God has redeemed; redemption is complete. We are not working for the redemption of the world; we are working on the redemption, which is a very different thing. Jesus Christ’s last command to His disciples was not to go and save the world; the saving is done. He told them to make disciples. Our work is to “open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins,” i.e. that they may receive the redemption which is complete but which is incredible to a man until he does receive it- “I do not doubt that God saves men; nor do I doubt that He can do all the Bible says He can; but it is ridiculous to suppose it includes me!” We have to beware of making the need the call; the redemption is the call; the need is the opportunity, and the opportunity is in our own homes, in our work, just wherever we are, not simply in meetings. Naturally we always want to go somewhere else, but the love of God works just where we are, and His live works irrespective of persons. Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. We must form the habit of love until it is the practice of our lives.
 
Reflection Questions:
Has God’s love been poured out to you through the Holy Spirit?
How do you feel when you are far away from God?
Are you devoted to Jesus/? What does that mean to you?
How are you forming the habit of love in your lives?
 

Take the Initiative

*This material is from the talks and lectures given by Oswald Chambers at the Bible Training College in London, October 1 through December 17, 1914.

 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;” (2 Peter 1:5)
The question of forming habits on the basis of the grace of God is a very vital one. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His Divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will; the practicing is ours, not God’s. We have to take the initiative and “add to…faith goodness…” To take the initiative means to make a beginning, and each one of us must do it for himself. We have to acquaint ourselves with the way we have to go; and beware of the tendency of asking the way when we know it perfectly well.

To “add” means to acquire the habit of doing things, and it is difficult in the initial stages. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save ourselves or sanctify ourselves; God only can do that; but God does not give us good habits, He does not give us character, He does not make us walk aright; we must do all that. We have to work out what God has worked in (Phil. 2:12-13). Many of us lose out spiritually, not because the devil attacks us, but because we are stupidly ignorant of the way God has made us. For instance, we are not born with ready-made habit of dressing ourselves; we have to form that habit. Apply it spiritually – when we are born again, God does not give us a fully fledged series of holy habits, we have to make them; and the forming of habits on the basis of God’s supernatural work in our souls is the education of our spiritual life. Many of us refuse to do it; we are lazy and we frustrate the grace of God.

“ Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:8) We have to stop hesitating and take the first step; and the first step is to stop hesitating. There are times when we wish that God would kick us right over the line and make us do the thing; but the remarkable thing about God’s patience is that He waits until we stop hesitating. If God tells us to do something good and we hesitate over obeying, we endanger our standing in grace. “A double minded man,” the man who does not put God first in his calculations is always double minded. When God speaks we have to be resolute and act immediately in faith on what He says. When Peter walked on the water, he did not wait for someone to take his hand; he stepped straight out, in recognition of Jesus, and walked on water. Take the initiative, take the step with your will now; burn your bridges behind you – “I will make that call”; I will pay that debt”; make it impossible to go back on the decision.

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice…” (Luke 6:47) Whether we are Christians or not, we must all build; the point is that a Christian builds upon a different basis. If we build to please ourselves, we are building on the sand; if we build for the love of God, we are building on the rock. Do we listen to what Jesus has to say? All we build will end in disaster unless it is built on the sayings of Jesus. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” If, when no one is watching us, we are building ourselves up in the Word of God, then, when a crisis comes, we shall stand; but if we are not building on the Word of God, when crisis comes we shall go down, no matter what our wills are like. Have we learned the habit of listening to what God says? Have we added this resolute hearing in our practical life? The Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance a certain word of our Lord’s and apply it to the particular circumstances we are in, the point is – are we going to obey it?

“…have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13) It is a great deal easier to fight than to stand; but spiritually our conflict is not so much a fight as a standing on guard – “having done all, to stand.” When we are in frenzy, we attack; when we are strong, we stand to overcome. Today in Christian work we are suffering from a case of spiritual nausea that emphasizes doing. The great thing to do is to be a believer in Jesus. With Jesus it is never “do, do, do,” but “be, be and I will do through you.” To stand means to work on the level of the heroic. It would be a terrible thing to lose the sense of the heroic, because the sense of our duty is only realized by our sense of the heroic. Our Lord calls us to a joyful heroic life, and we must never relax. “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). If we try to put on the armor without a right relationship to God we shall be like David in Saul’s armour; but when we are right with God we find that the armor fits us exactly, because it is God’s own nature that is the armor. The armour God gives us is not the armor of prayer, but the armor of Himself, the armor of God. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph 6:13). The Devil is a bully, but when we stand in the armor of God, he cannot harm us; is we tackle him in our strength we are soon done for; but if we stand with the strength and courage of God, he cannot gain one inch of way at all. Remember, we have to take the initiative where we are, not where we are not.
 
Reflection Questions:
How is your relationship with God?
What are you building on, sand or Rock?
Have you been hesitating? If so, what are you going to do to take the initiative for the glory of God?
What are some Christian habits you are going to start doing?