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Chapter 23 - Life
Accept life—God knows all about it. Turn your life over to Him. Let Him show you how to work it out.
If you learn to interpret life, you can accept it.
Regarding high, ecstatic points in life, we can’t maintain the emotional stimuli of that high point. We couldn’t live under it. We are not made to; our spirits are made to go up, and become acquainted with the realm of spiritual reality, and then come down again, and live it out in practical life.
Talents were given to each servant; not sinner, in Matthew 25:14-30. Talents here means the responsibility of life which He deposits in us. God is never partial. What have you done with the gift of your life? It can be wonderfully invested and multiplied—the life, light, truth, illumination, whatever He has deposited in you. I am only responsible for what I am. The capacity is varied in each. How many would like to have the burden and responsibility of the five talent man?
The reward has nothing to do with a material thing; it was a spiritual thing. Some day He will hold me accountable for my use or abuse of it, i.e. life (talent). Will you invest it in a thing that will bring a return, and result to the glory of God? Or will you squander it so that it won’t have a return? The responsibility of life and vision—what avenue will you use?
I say to young people, “Make a good choice here which will carry you through the ages. We can’t come back again and make it.” What decision we make, guarantees, and puts a qualifying character mark on us, which is projected into the next age: He said it in the New Testament regarding faithfulness. “He that is faithful over a little—I will elevate that quality of faithfulness which I have worked in you—not the things you have been doing. All this work you did was the technique. I was not interested in that. That was the medium which I used: all that you did worked in you. I am bringing to pass in you a quality of faithfulness. It has taken your lifetime to accomplish in you what I was after, and that is what I will multiply tenfold in the next age.—I Will make you ruler over ten cities.”
Now that doesn’t mean He is going to make you ruler in Timbuctoo over ten cities. I don’t want you to think that. He is talking about spiritual things using the symbol of ten cities. Don’t get hung up on that. No, He is looking for these qualities—they are abstract, but real.
So He says, “I’ve found in you a quality called faithfulness, and you were faithful over the least thing; that’s the thing I want projected, and multiplied tenfold.”
Won’t it be wonderful to feel that all this living wasn’t in vain after all! We had to have all the discipline to produce the quality of faithfulness. Then we say, “Look, Lord, what I did!” No. He said, “I’m not concerned with that.” Did you notice in that story of those talents, when they came to deliver their response, and stand before Him, Jesus never said a thing about any of the works they did? I said, “Lord! You didn’t even thank them.”
Do you know what the Lord said? He told me, “Whatever was worthwhile, I had to do it, because it was Spirit-wrought.” He doesn’t thank Himself for anything He does!
How many can see the emphasis in our Christian world is completely out of order today? The emphasis is on: “To the work! To the work!” I say, “What are you building a church for unless the Lord is in it? If the Lord tells you to build a church, build it. If He doesn’t tell you any such thing, then be still.”
He is looking at us; He is training us; disciplining us. God says, “I’m giving you these little things to teach you. I want them to work faithfulness, love, and charity in you through this medium. I let you go as a missionary. Now you thought you were going to bring all the world to the feet of the Lord.”
We aren’t big enough to do that; we are too little. God is big enough, though. He may not call some other man to the mission field at all, but let him serve where he is. This same man may cry, and say, “That other man is over there saving the heathen, and I can’t be over there.” God says, “Don’t worry,” but we get worried about it, because we don’t see God working in our everyday pattern of life. We don’t seem to know much about Him. He only puts these activities into our pattern for their reflex action; not to encourage God, but as we react to these activities, we are changed. We are not the same creatures. God didn’t even thank them for their works. No work is acceptable to Him except that which is wrought in the Spirit, and no work is acceptable to Him except that which has gone through death.
So, for what has a man to be thanked? The very first word Jesus says to all those churches in Revelation is, “I know thy works. Now sit down. I have something to say to YOU. Don’t come here with your arms filled with all the things you did. That’s nice; it kept you busy; kept you out of jail, and some other things.—Well done, good, faithful servant.” The emphasis is on the SERVANT and not the works: What is the work accomplishing in this man while he is engaged in these activities? It produces three qualities:
1. “WELL DONE”—It has to be correctly motivated, and wrought in the power of the Spirit.
In Swedish or Norwegian the word for good, “good” is “God-like”. It comes from the same root word.
The very thing that has occupied you has wrought in you a God-like quality, which is reflected in your character.
3. “FAITHFUL”—You can be faithful when you can’t be successful. It isn’t that you are so successful, but you are faithful. On the basis of this faithfulness, you have the quality that He wants to expand in the next age. (Matt. 25:14-30)
If you are selling peanuts, sell them to the glory of God.
If you are a carpenter, be a carpenter to the glory of God.
If you are washing dishes, wash the dishes to the glory of God.
Why? It isn’t just washing the dishes—it’s the spirit back of it. There are some people never called to go to the mission field, or to preach.
In Luke 15, we read of an awful famine in a far country. The word ‘prodigal’ is not in the Bible, but “younger son” is. The phrase “riotous living”, used in this story, means extravagant expenditure of living. The life was misspent, or didn’t bring the return or meet the objective for which it was meant. It was squandered; it had no return; it was wasted. God received no return from His investment in the life of the younger son. Your life can be lost in its most cultured form, because it never yet functioned in the field where it was meant to be. Life had lost its aim, and never found it.
No man fed him, because it is not in his nature to feed a spiritual desire; nothing in the world can feed that! We never find any satisfaction, or meaning to life until we come back to our first primary principle, and we enter into the thought that: “The heart was made for God; neither can it rest until it rests in God.” (St. Augustine) The younger son never came to himself—that evasive ego; he never came to that until . . . (Luke 15:11, 32)
If life doesn’t obtain the objective for which it is intended, it is “riotous living”. “Riotous living” doesn’t bring back the income—the purpose for which it was intended. It’s the wrong investment. Life has lost its objective and purpose in unfortunate, wasted living. But God is interested in its restoration; not its punishment.
In John 4:5-42, we have the story of the woman at the well. She had had five husbands, and the one she was living with was not her husband. Five is suggestive; it is an incompletion; an exhaustion. It is always a five—five avenues in which the hungry heart moves out on—five senses too.—We have the avenue of five senses to move out on before we strike reality in God.
We can almost name them:
1. Intellectual research
4., 5. Any kind of aimless pursuits toward which we push and focus our lives.
She had had five husbands, but never found what her heart wanted. We have all these husbands to which our hearts are united, but there is no marriage; no union; no completion, because the heart was never made for it. But when she says, “Come, behold a MAN!—I have found THE MAN. Behold, here is the Answer to my life problem! My life has been pushing out through all these avenues.” These five men represent various things in an individual life. Think of the pursuits we have made before we find THE MAN!—THE Answer!—The ONE! Come behold HIM!—He is the Center. I feel any testimony or any life which is organized and centered about anything but the Presence, and the Personality of that dynamic Christ is miscentered.
Everything that God brings, and permits to come into our lives, has an objective; it has a reason. We have to learn to interpret it.
We will never grow without a conflict and battle. Where there is life; there is opposition. Note the flowers, as they push through the hard soil.
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