Walking with God – Isaiah 50:10-11

Do Not Walk In Your Own Light

10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

Reverential Respect

God asks us a question, and reminds us of how we should respond to Him. He qualifies that the advice He is about to give is for those who, first and foremost, fear Him. In this context, the fear of the Lord is a reverential respect of the Lord God Almighty. This is not the fear of absolute destruction, but rather a reasoned trust in someone who is far more knowledgeable, powerful, and faithful than ourselves. God not only uses this type of fear as a qualifier, but also lists another qualifier – those who obey the word of His servant.

Obedience to Orders

Obedience is a key aspect to the fear of the Lord. Obedience indicates belief in both our intellect and our heart. It would be disingenuous to say that we believe something then not act on it. While there may be times when circumstances prevent us from doing certain things (it would be hard to buy something you need on sale if you have no money, or go somewhere if you are in a coma…), we act upon what we believe. Obedience is an outward sign of acknowledgement of the authority of another. God calls us to obedience to Him. Disobedience is sin. In this manner, He is calling those who believe in His name – His character. And to all who believe God, it is credited to them as righteousness.

Ambling in Absence

In an interesting twist, Isaiah talks about walking in darkness. While we are told that the word of God is a light for our feet and a lamp for our path, this is a situation where the word of God is not shedding sufficient light to show you how to proceed. Here is an example:

  • You have a choice between two job positions, and both seem as though they will honor God, yet each one has a drawback. Which should you choose?

There will be times when God’s word does not shed enough light on your situation to make it clear how you should respond. When that occurs, you are walking in darkness. God may even withhold his peace from you in this time of darkness. That is a scary place to be.

Complete Conviction

And when you face this time of abject darkness, God tells us to trust in His name – His character – and rely upon Him. God desires that we have complete and total trust in who He is, especially when circumstances are against us. He may even do something that seems cruel and punishing – God may do the opposite. And when He does that, when there is no promise that He will help, and then the opposite happens in answer to every prayer, that can be devastating. You may begin to ask, “Does God even care?” It is in darkness that our faith is made stronger. In every case where we are walking in darkness, it is always better to wait upon God than to take matters into our own hands.

False Fire

God warns us about making our own fire and walking about in it. We can come to conclusions apart from God that are devastatingly wrong. Additionally, we will be out-of-step with God’s timing. EVERYTHING is about timing. If you doubt this, watch what happens when someone puts milk in a pot on medium heat, and walks away. If they don’t pay attention to it, they will receive a brand new kitchen! – the old one will burn down, and likely take the rest of the structure with it.

When we walk outside of the light of God – His timing and direction – we will not only miss the blessings that He has in store for us, but we may very well receive something that has terrible consequences. When we walk in our own light, we are, in effect, telling God with our actions that we don’t trust Him, and we can do it all by ourselves:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Tumultuous Torment

God then promises what our reward will be for disobeying Him, turning our back upon Him, distrusting Him, and “doing things our own way.” We will receive torment from His hand. That is a powerful statement. Rather than receive His blessing, we will receive torment. Think carefully about that. God takes this very seriously. He is a holy God, upright and just in everything that He does. He does not take insolence and outright disobedience lying down. God may give you exactly what you ask for. And it will be torment, delivered from His just and holy hand.

Just as a very young child asking for an orangutan as a pet should be told “No!”, we need to trust in the wisdom of Him who is all-wise, all-knowing, and completely faithful. For if we don’t, and we decide to reject the Lord after He has graciously been faithful in all things, we will certainly deserve what we get. Don’t allow your circumstances to control your emotions and permit them to inform your intellect. Instead, trust in the Lord, and allow your intellect to direct your will, and force your emotions to be in obedience with God’s holy word – no matter how painful, devastating, and crushing your circumstances may be. For God will provide everything you need in the time that you need it to get through everything in life – “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: How do I respond when I am walking in darkness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your Son is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the light that we need to seek and follow. He is the only way to You. Help me to trust in You and Your perfect character as my circumstances grow dim, and seek to destroy me. Help me to find comfort and encouragement in the lives of Job and Joseph, whose circumstances just kept getting grimmer every day, but who never stopped trusting in Your perfect character. Give my heart hope and peace in the midst of my trials, and help me to secure the emotional damage that the enemy inflicts ever painful, agonizing second that I am called to endure my trials. Guard my heart against all bitterness, and help me to grow in love. Help me to respond to my tormentors the same way that Jesus responded to His. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training With God – 2 Timothy 2:3-6

Be Engaged In The Work Entrusted To You

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Equally Engaged

No one is above their master.  Jesus suffered at the hands of the very people that he was trying to bring the message of salvation – God’s people!  We have been charged with spreading the Good News to every nation and people.  We are going to experience the same resistance and, in some cases, the same persecution that He experienced.

No matter how many times we hear this, we need to hear it again and again.  God had directed the Israelites to build monuments of stone in certain places to remind them of what He had done for them.  When children would ask what the monuments were for, the parents were to explain it to their children.  It was also there so that the parents wouldn’t forget what God had done for them either.

Imagine being led by a pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night FOR FORTY YEARS.  Imagine walking in the desert in circles FOR FORTY YEARS and your clothing and shoes NEVER WORE OUT.  Imagine gathering manna every day FOR FORTY YEARS in the desert where God provided all the food, shelter, and water that you needed.  And now imagine that the same people who witnessed this amazing power of God FOR FORTY YEARS so quickly forget His wonderful provision to them.

It would appear that we have the memory equivalent to that of gnats.

Committed to the Commander

In the same way that a soldier is committed to his commanding officer, we are to be committed to our commanding officer – Jesus Christ!  This requires discipline and the ability to do what our commander says.  To the extent that we listen to our Commander-In-Chief will be to the extent that we are successful in completing the missions that we are assigned.

And just like in the military, promotions and better assignments come to those who are obedient in their callings.  The committed military person doesn’t get involved in civilian matters, because they are dedicated to military matters.  In the same way, those who are Christ’s don’t pursue the pleasures and desires of this world, but instead pursue the instructions of Christ.  And like military members, we can be called at a moment’s notice to serve in whatever capacity that Christ desires us to serve – whether temporarily or permanently, often relocating our family to our deployment site.

Don’t Disqualify

Just as in the world of sports, we are not to cheat our way to success.  Jesus was given the opportunity by Satan to have what He was competing by submitting to Satan.  This would have been cheating.  God had rules in place that Jesus needed to follow in order to accomplish the goal that was set before Him in order to achieve complete success.

Moses learned this the hard way when he was faced with an obstinate and forgetful people.  God was trying to reveal Himself in a greater way to Moses when He asked him to speak to the rock to bring forth water.  This was far different from the previous method of striking the rock with his staff.  When Moses, in a fit of anger, disobeyed the revealed will of God by striking the rock twice with his staff, he forfeited his life early, and was not able to see the people that he had shepherded for forty years enter into the promised land.  Keep in mind that Moses appeared with Elijah on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus.  Nonetheless, ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.  Disobedience is not looked upon very kindly by God.  There is always a penalty for disobedience.

It is only by obeying the rules that we win the race.  Jesus said that many will come to Him saying, “Lord, Lord”, but He will turn them away because of disobedience:

  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!‘”

When tempted to go around what appears to be obstacles by doing what is specifically delineated as wrong in order to avoid pain, suffering, or a perceived delay in timing, remember that Jesus didn’t take the easy road.  And by doing so, He won the keys to Death and Hell for us.  It took a long time, effort, and pain.  Jesus willingly submitted Himself to all of this and more for us.  Should we not do the same for Him?

Receive the Reward

Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase.  The use of agrarian principles to illustrate spiritual truths was widespread because the people at that time would have fully understood the implications of what was being said.  They lived it each and every day.  The farmer should receive the reward for his effort.  Paul was planting and watering the seeds of Godliness in Timothy as well as his grandmother and mother.  Paul had laid his hands upon Timothy, apparently with other elders, and God has provided Timothy with his spiritual gifting.  Timothy was to teach others.  Their spiritual growth and resulting efforts would be reflected back upon Timothy as he sowed and watered their seeds.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: When engaged in my work, am I following the rules?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your love, patience, and persistence with me as I try to obey You and do Your will.  Thank You for Your many mercies that renew every morning.  Thank You for showing me the Truth, and giving me the opportunity to do Your will.  Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin, and giving me the freedom to follow and obey You.  Thank You for revealing Your Son to me.  Help me to do all that You have instructed me to do, in the way that I should do it, so that it would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in the name of Your Precious Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?