Newsletter for Feb 2009
Often times we refer to someone who works hard as being "busy as a bee." This is, for the most part, an insult to a bee. In order to produce one tablespoon of honey, a little bee must make 4,200 trips to flowers. He will make about ten trips a day to fields where the flowers are located, each trip averaging twenty minutes and four hundred flowers. Our tiny worker will fly as far as eight miles if he cannot find a nectar flow nearby.
If our diligent bee decides to make one pound of honey, he will have to visit 56,000 clover heads. Since each head has 60 flower tubes, a total of 3,360,000 visits are necessary for that pound of honey. In the process, the bee will have flown the equivalent of three times around the world!
What was it you said about being too tired to pray or read your Bible?
Diligence seems to be one of the most difficult character traits to develop when it comes to our relationship with God. Some of us are very diligent when it comes to our jobs, our hobbies, our television programs, and our children.
I remember back when I was quite active in weightlifting. Practically nothing could keep me from working out. In fact, if something came up which interfered with my training schedule I would become upset. Why? Because I enjoyed the way I felt when working out, not to mention the physical results weightlifting produced. Now, however, I get more enjoyment from studying for messages and preaching and teaching those messages than I ever did from pumping iron.
One would think, then, that based on the level of enjoyment it would be easier to have at least as much diligence about the things of God. Wrong! There is no Christian alive who has found it easier to develop and maintain a consistent, growing relationship with God like they were able to do about other interests and hobbies in life.
Why is that? One reason is because the devil fights us so hard when it comes to diligence in our relationship with the Lord. Think about it: when was the last time he fought you about working in the garden, playing sports, working overtime for extra money, watching television or whatever else you do? He doesn't. But you just make a decision to restructure your priorities to put God first and see what happens! He'll come at you with both barrels loaded, and all of a sudden you'll find yourself involved with things you never thought you'd be interested in.
There is another reason so many fail to be persistent in walking with the Lord: they really aren't convinced that their persistence will cause anything to happen. I was diligent in weightlifting because I knew there would be results. As I strained to lift that bar, I could feel the blood rushing into my muscles. I could look into the mirror and see them all pumped up and looking huge. I knew that within the next couple of workouts I would be adding more weight to the bar. When I would get dressed, my clothes were constantly getting tighter because of my muscle growth. In other words, I literally watched my results each time I exercised.
God tells us in His word that we will see results if we refuse to give in to Satan's tactics and quit. Let's read Galatians 6:7-9, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. God makes it very clear in this passage that if we sow to the spirit, or stay diligent in our relationship with Him, we will see results.
What if I were to tell you that 200 years ago some explorers buried 300 pounds of gold in your back yard, and then I produced ragged, yellow documents to prove what I was saying? That 300 pounds of gold means that over $2 million is just waiting for you! My guess is that you would grab a pick and shovel and start digging and digging, day in and day out. You might even call your boss and ask for a day off so you could keep digging. Your back yard would look like a construction site, but you wouldn't stop until finally, 40 feet down, there it is: box after box of pure gold! What had just happened? Someone told you something, you even read that it was true, then you acted on what you were told and had read, and your diligence produced results.
We have so many promises in the Bible. We say we believe them. But when it comes to being diligent with the Lord to see those promises manifest in our lives, we have seen ourselves become weary in well doing, then we faint and reap not. I believe we're all guilty of this and it is very frustrating when we realize that we have been slacking off. We repent, promise God we'll not do it again and vow that we'll get back into prayer, the word, worship, etc.
Someone might say, "Yes, Brother Martin, you're right. I want to live according to God's word. I want to be a (man or woman) of faith. But I'm so up and down; one day so very committed and the next day so passive. I feel like the man in Mark 9:24 who said, 'Lord I believe; help me with my unbelief.' I'm so frustrated with myself. What can I do?"
Our answer is in God's word. In Luke 5:1-11 is an interesting story about Jesus, Peter, James and John. Jesus had been teaching the people along the shore of Lake Gennesaret one morning and noticed that the crowd was growing quite large. Fishermen were on the shore next to their boats washing and mending their nets. Jesus stepped into one of the boats belonging to Peter and asked him to push the boat out into the water. Peter did this and then sat there in the boat with Jesus as He taught the people.
When finished teaching, Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught. To Peter, this made no sense whatsoever. He, James and John were professional fishermen; it was how they made their living. They knew the best time of day for fishing. They had just spent all night fishing at the right time and the right places, but had caught nothing. Then, here comes some carpenter-turned-Bible teacher who gives His lesson for the day and turns around and acts like He knows more about fishing than the pros! To Peter, Jesus' instructions seemed ridiculous.
But Jesus wasn't just any Bible teacher: He was (and is) the Son of God and He had a powerful anointing of the Holy Ghost upon Him. When Jesus said to launch out into the deep, Peter looked at Him and said, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Scripture then records, And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
Why did this happen? Why did Peter go fishing at a particular time when everything in him said it was a total waste of time? T he answer is found in his response to Jesus, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. When Jesus climbed into Peter's boat and had him push off from shore, he had nothing to do but sit and listen to Jesus teach; no washing and mending of nets, just listening to the word of the Lord.
As Jesus' words passed through Peter's ears, they entered deep within his heart and something inside of him began to change. Romans 10:17 says, So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The words that Jesus spoke began producing faith in Peter; faith to the point that he did something which, to human reasoning, was a waste of time.
Peter didn't deny the conditions before him. He didn't deny the fact that he had fished all night and had caught nothing. He didn't deny that fishing at this time of day made no sense. Instead, he chose to place more value on the word of Jesus than on the conditions before him. The result was that he got exactly what the Lord told him he would get. If Peter had not made the choice to separate himself from all the things he "needed" to do and focus his attention on nothing but Jesus, he would never have caught all those fish.
Many Christians are facing a life that resembles Peter's empty fishing boat. They love the Lord and would never do anything on purpose to hurt Him. They give offerings, serve in their church, and are faithful to attend every time the doors open. Yet time goes by and nothing seems to change. Not only that, if asked they may even tell you they really aren't sure if they are growing spiritually. What they are describing is a plateau; a point in their lives where they seem stuck. There is only one thing that will help such a person break past their plateau, and that is diligence to the things of God.
Those who think that attending every church service and serving in their church is all that is needed to continue growing in the Lord are sadly mistaken. While I will agree that such commitment can result in a type of growth, you can never truly go deeper in God unless you force, and I do mean force, yourself to become diligent to the things of God. A person might ask, "What does it mean to give diligence to the things of God?" Once again, God's word holds the answer.
Jesus said in John 5:39, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Searching the scriptures is kind of like digging for that gold in your back yard. You would never have found the gold if you had only dug for a few minutes. Likewise, you can never uncover the gold in God's word if the only time you read the Bible is during sermons when the pastor tells you what verses to look up. The word "search" in John 5:39 means "to seek; to investigate." You must be like the people at Berea in Acts 17 who searched the scriptures daily.
James 1:25 says, But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. The perfect Law of Liberty is God's word. The word "continueth" means "to stay, abide, remain." God says if we stay in His word we will be blessed!
Joshua 1:8 says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Do you grasp the impact of this verse? God is promising us that if we are diligent to His word we will have a prosperous and successful life. He does not promise it will happen overnight, but He does promise it will happen.
"But Brother Martin, I have great difficulty understanding that King James English!" If that's the case, before you start reading you should pray and confess Psalm 119:18, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law. Ask the Holy Spirit to fulfill God's promises in John 14:26 and 16:13, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. Do this and I can guarantee that you will begin understanding the Bible like never before.
As Christians, the only revelation we have of what we can become is in the Bible. Preachers can tell us anything, but unless it comes from scripture it means nothing relative to growing spiritually. The only source we have that accurately portrays our genuine potential is God's Holy Word.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 the Apostle Paul wrote, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Then, in John 1:1, 14 we read, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh (speaking of Jesus) and dwelt among us…" Thus, if we are conforming to the image of the glory of the Lord, then we are conforming to the image of the glory of the word.
Then, in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 is says, For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. It is impossible for the word to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ if we haven't received it. It is impossible to receive the word if we do not spend time in the word. And it is impossible to believe the word if we have not spent time in it to receive it. Simply put, giving diligence to the word of God means:
If you want to move beyond a spiritual plateau, then you must make God's word a priority in your life. Growing to the next level in God cannot be done absent of His word. Think about it: repeatedly in scripture we see account after account of how the power of God's word changed people and circumstances. He has said that neither He nor His word will ever change. Therefore, if His word produced results in the past, it will do the same today.
"Brother Martin, is that all there is? Is that all I need to do to get past this 'spiritual sticking point' in my life?" No, there is more, and next month I will share what else you can do to get "unstuck" in your walk with God. But for now, give diligence to God's word and let it work its effectual work in you!
May the joy of knowing Him fill your life