Journey of the Bride
Beauty For Ashes Part III - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 3 - GOD'S SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF THE BRIDE
When Godís servants move in the realm of the will of God, there is always the interaction of the heavenly with the earthly. This is what makes the difference between secular and Biblical history; and this is what has always captivated the hearts and minds of Godís people in any age. It is not just that men lived right and prayed right, and so God intervened. Rather, in and through all of Godís dealings with men, His own purposes are intricately woven into the fabric of Biblical history so as to reveal to us, and to the heavenly realm, the beauty of His own eternal purposes. Men of faith who moved the hand of God were simply those servants who knew and recognized that God had a plan and a purpose, and their commitment and dedication to Him was such that they discovered what that plan was, and moved according to His direction. By faith they tapped into the unseen realm, heard what God said, knew what He wanted, and acted accordingly. Their prayers did not change Godís plan; but having heard from God, and knowing a little of His plan... they learned how to pray according to His will. They did not determine or change their own destiny; but in drawing nigh to God, and coming to know His will, they learned how to walk in a pathway that would fulfill Godís destiny for their lives.
As we discover ourselves moving in this kind of a scheme, we come to understand that God works at both ends of the situation, as well as all the way through and in between. We are prone to manipulate situations to make them work out right; but the servant that is sent of the Father will not do that. He may try to do so at times, but he soon discovers that whenever he has tried to make it work, he has failed miserably. Experience has taught him that if God is in it, God Himself will be there... at this end, as well as at the other end of the road; for He is "the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." If this One is the One we are serving, then He must be first and last in all that we desire, and first and last in all that we do. We would like, perhaps, to have things more under our control. We would like to go forth with a greater sense of knowing how to cope with contingencies that may arise along the way. Just to flow along in the River of Truth... or to be wafted along on the wings of the wind... this can be very distressing to our calculating minds. What if it doesnít work out? What if it doesnít happen? These and similar questions would continually nag our spirits. But the man of the Spirit must learn the ways of the Lord so well that he can go forth at Godís bidding, led of the Spirit, in ways which he does not know or understand. He does not step out in what man calls "faith" to get involved in programs and structures that he thinks might glorify God. If God is not directing... if God is not giving a sure Word... then it has nothing to do with Faith, it is mere presumption. As God makes known to us His will, only then can we move in the realm of faith, and be assured of His guidance along the way. He gives us faith according to the measure of our obedience... obedience to His will. You do not apprehend faith as you step out boldly to perform some worthy task for the Lord... but rather, when you have learned, as Jesus learned, that "I can of Mine own self do nothing." When your own strength has been weakened, then you will be able to hear what God has to say. You do not have to see the whole picture clearly. But as you move in faith, as He gives you the Word to move, then you can go forth in the confidence that He will make the picture complete when you come to the end of the road. You do not need the knowledge, or the understanding, or the faith for the other end until you get there. But if you have been apprehended with a great longing and desire to do the will of God, you will walk with Him today, and tomorrow, and the next day, "strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man," knowing each day the faith that you need for that day, and for that situation. Then once again you come to the crossroads... but having learned a little of His ways you do not panic. You simply stand by the well, as Abrahamís servant did, and look to the Lord for the next step.
Standing By The Well
"And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed, for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master" (Gen. 24:10-14).
The servant had gone forth in obedience to the will of his master, and had arrived at the right place, and at the right time. Now what? Where does he go from here? He must find this bride for his masterís son. What will he do now? Go knocking on doors? Go scouting? Ask people on the street the where-abouts of Abrahamís relatives?
We have emphasized that God does have a plan and a purpose for our lives; and we must know that, if-we are to have rest and quiet in the storms of life. We do not need to have great understanding as to what that plan and purpose is; BUT TO SEE THE UNFOLDING OF IT IN OUR LIVES WE MUST KNOW HIS WILL AND WALK IN IT. We must not attempt to fulfill the plan, for our understanding of it is very faulty... and if we set our sights to fulfill it, we will end up in frustration. The secret is to come back to the pathway of His will, and begin afresh to walk in that. True, it may seem that the way He is leading has no bearing on the plan at all; but when we discover His ways a little, we understand this is the way it is supposed to be; for our thoughts are not His thoughts, nor are the ways of man, Godís ways. This is what usually disturbs us: we feel we have a little insight into His plan, and we try to turn in that direction... rather than simply doing what God wants us to do today... and tomorrow... and the next day. Our goals may be receding, and we are inclined to feel that we are getting further and further away from what God had in mind for our lives. Perhaps it is because of some prophecy we have had... some dream... some vision... and the way we are going seems to be leading us farther and farther away from that. But let not this disturb you. It has always seemed that way to men and women of faith. Let us continue to seek Him, know His will for today, and walk in it. Somewhere along the Way we will become aware that in simply doing His will and walking in the pathway of obedience, our pathway is converging with the plan and the purposes of God.
Here is where we so often fail. We have direction to go so far and then comes a time of crisis, and we are prone to take matters into our own hands. And counselors often fail us by telling us to do our part, and then God will do His. Human wisdom and understanding is always detrimental to a walk of faith. We have a sound mind, and we have many counselors, and it seems to be easy enough to choose the next course of action.
But the true servant is ever aware of two things: his own inadequacy, and the burden of the oath that he carries. He must have Divine guidance, or he knows he could spoil the whole picture. Once we are assured that God is indeed painting a beautiful picture in our lives, for His own glory, and for the revelation of His wisdom to the celestial hosts... then do we find ourselves more and more under the constraint of the Spirit to tread cautiously, lest we mar the picture with our own intervention and folly. It is a glorious and wonderful thing that God is doing... and it is not for our pleasure, but for His. He is about to reveal and bring forth a Bride for His Son, and all Heaven is focusing on what God is doing in the earth. Peter tells us that "angels desire to look into these things"... these things that pertain to our redemption. (See 1 Pet. 1:12.) Paul says we are made to be a "spectacle," or we are "put on display, both before angels and before men" (1 Cor. 4:9). He tells us again that it is "through the Church" that God would make known to the celestial realm "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). How dare we mar the beautiful picture that God is creating, by taking things in our own hands. Let us rather stand by "the well of water" and ask counsel from the Most High, before we proceed any further. It is always better to "wait" than to hurry. The scripture, "What thou doest, do quickly," was not given to a true servant of the Lord, but to the betrayer. To you and me He saith, "Stand by the well of water, and ask counsel at My mouth."
Suddenly he became aware that here at the well God would complete the picture. He would simply stand still and see the plan and purpose of God unfold. We can do that, if we are truly walking by faith; because faith is not of human origin. It originates in God; it is the "faith of God" by which we live; and it originates in God in order that men who have learned obedience to God might partake of it and walk in it. And then when he walks in it, he finds himself flowing in the plan and in the purpose of God. The concept of faith that emphasizes the ability to get and to get and to get, is a very low character of faith, especially when it means the getting of material things. Scriptural "faith" proceeds from God, the God whose plan for our lives is that we be "conformed to the image of His Son." It is primarily faith to BECOME, not faith to GET, or faith to DO.
The ultimate purposes of God were all wrapped up in this choice that the servant had to make, and he was aware of the importance of getting Divine direction. Once again he cast himself upon the mercies of the God of Abraham. Perhaps unknown to the servant, but known to us, was the fact that God was at this time bringing together the vessels that would, in the fullness of time, be the instruments in Divine providence for the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, the Christ Himself. The supreme purposes of God were all converging at this point in time, at this place in history, as the servant stood before the well of water. He may not have known much about the ultimate unfoldings of the purposes of God; nor did he need to know. It was enough that he loved his master so dearly, and served him with such love and obedience, that he knew he must know the voice of God at this most critical time.
And so the servant was moved to ask God to answer a very difficult prayer: "Let this chosen one give me a drink when I ask for one... and let her offer to water my camels also." No easy task that! I am told a thirsty camel can drink up to 22 gallons of water at one time... and he had ten thirsty camels! True faith does not look for the easy way out. Godís plan and purpose is very specific... and we must have Godís faith, which will likewise be very specific. And so while the servant looked on in amazement, Rebekah came to the well and began to fulfill the servantís prayer in every detail. She gave him the drink he had asked for and then with a sigh of relief he heard her say, "I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking" (vs. 19).
We have many examples in Scripture as to how Godís purposes would converge at a certain time, at a certain place, under certain circumstances... but which had, in the plan of God far-reaching implications that Godís servants knew nothing about. Yet see how they reacted in the time of crisis... not even being aware that it was a time of crisis. They were just going about performing the menial, routine tasks of life and right there on the job the wheels of Godís purposes began to move together, and Godís true servant was suddenly caught away in the movements of God. See Joseph, cruelly apprehended by his brethren... but in reality apprehended of God, and sold as a slave. But because he was true and faithful, the movements of God eventually brought him to a place of power and a place of fruitfulness. See Moses, tending the sheep, and suddenly apprehended of God to become a mighty deliverer.
What are we to learn from all this? That it is not in the halls of learning, that we come to know God. That it is not in kingís palaces, that we are groomed for a place on the throne. That it is not in the realm of politics that we learn the ways of spiritual rule and authority. That it is not according to the strategy of natural warfare, that we learn the secrets of spiritual combat. Rather, that IT IS IN THE ORDINARY PURSUIT OF DAILY LIVING, ACCORDING TO THE PLAN AND PURPOSE OF GOD... RIGHT THERE ON THE JOB PERFORMING FAITH-FULLY UNTO OUR MASTER, AS UNTO THE LORD, THAT WE WILL BE ACCOUNTED FAITHFUL TO BE HEIRS OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM.
Little did Rebekah know or understand that in saying out of the kindness of her heart, "I will draw for your camels also," that she was there and then, standing by the well, qualifying herself to become the bride of the chosen seed through whom all nations to the end of time were to be blessed! But she passed a test that she didnít know she was taking, because in living the right way everyday she had partaken of those qualities of love and mercy and tenderness that would make her to be a faithful and compatible bride for the one who was to inherit all nations.
An Engagement Ring from Isaac
"And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; and said, Whose daughter are thou? Tell me, I pray theeÖ?" (Gen. 24:23).
br>Gold for her ears, and gold for her hands... signifying that she was to have an ear to hear her masterís voice, and hands to do his bidding. And as she ran home to tell her mother and her brother, the man stood there with bowed head and worshipped the Lord... for His great faithfulness and mercy in leading him in the right way.
When Godís servant is committed to do Godís will, in Godís way, in Godís time (for all these elements are essential in this matter of doing the will of God)... then he cannot fail to be in the right place, at the right time, and to see Godís glory unveiled in that which He has ordained. For in this kind of commitment he is not wandering to and fro in the earth, looking for a place of rest, and thinking to find it in the works of his hands. Rather, he begins to comprehend that he is locked into the purposes of God and moving along in the streams of those purposes. He refuses to yield to the pressure of the times, the pressure of the world about him, or the pressure of well-meaning people in the Church; and he finds a new assurance and confidence in earnestly desiring to do the will of God. To please the Lord becomes his highest desire... perhaps we should say, his only desire. When he is tempted to take the brush in his own hand, to see if somehow he could fill in the blank spots on the canvas... he hesitates, and draws back, lest he mar the Masterís handiwork in his ignorance. He chooses rather to stand back, and see how the picture may unfold.
The Servant Tells The Whole Story
"And he said, I am Abrahamís servant. And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great: and He hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my masterís wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my fatherís house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son" (Gen. 24:34-38).
With his mission accomplished thus far the servant tells the whole story to Rebekahís brother and her mother, and simply waits for their decision. "I have faithfully done what Abraham told me to do... God has been faithful to do what I had no way of doing and brought Rebekah into the picture... now what is your answer?" And the reply was simply, "The thing proceedeth from the LORD... take her and go."
br>We are emphasizing a lot the faithfulness of Abrahamís servant, and how zealous he was to do simply and only what his master told him to do... no more, and no less. I am convinced God is not going to tolerate the unfaithfulness we see everywhere in the Church of this hour, in those who feel they have the right, because of their calling and their ministry, to move out "by faith" and get involved with all kinds of worthy projects that God has not authorized them to do. In doing so they are actually distorting and marring the beautiful work that God has in mind. We know Godís plan will not fail, so we do not get overly disturbed about all this; for God knows how and when to crumple the earthen vessel in His hands, and "make it again another vessel, as seems good to the potter to make it" (Jer. 18:4).
Godís Part And Our Part
Let us clearly understand what "our part" is in this whole matter of serving the Lord. Our part is to discover Godís will, and then do it... by His anointing and direction. Our part is not to make the vessel. It is rather to so yield ourselves to Him, that we might be an instrument that God can use. All we can ever do is mar the vessel. And when this happens we cannot expect the Potter will come along and take over where we left off and fix it up a little. He does not bring forth nice new patches to mend the worn-out garments of our own righteousness. He does not try to plug the cracks in the old wine-bottles. Rather, HE MAKES A NEW ONE!
Let us understand the message of the marred pot... the message of the old garment... the message of the old wine-skin. If we do, then rather than being discouraged at the devastation He would bring us to, we can find the courage to rise up again, and seek the will of God afresh, and learn to do His will more effectively.
Jesus the True Servant said: "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (Jn. 5:30). Strange, isnít it, that men can do so many wonderful things because of their great abilities and talents... and Jesus could do NOTHING! Why? Because in His commitment to do the Fatherís will He was so apprehended of the Father that there was no place for His own desires to enter the picture. He walked this way that you and I, who are able to do so many wonderful things, may rejoice when He brings it all to nought, and begins to fashion us after His own will. When will Godís servants begin to comprehend that as they speak out from themselves, out from their own knowledge and their own understanding, and that in doing their own thing, they are in reality seeking glory for themselves:
"He that speaketh of [out from] himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true" (Jn. 7:18).
Abrahamís servant did explicitly what his master told him to do; and then God was faithful to interlace his act of obedience into the beautiful garment of His own purposes. Only God can do that. We hear a lot about Godís part and our part; and it is often presented as if God starts His work going, and then turns it over to His servants to do their part. It is not quite that way. My part is to do only what God lays upon me to do... and I can only do it as He does it through me. He only asks me to carry the burden which I find when I come into union with Him, and come under His yoke.
He is the Potter; we are but the clay that He would fashion for His glory. To be the right kind of clay is all He asks... to become yielded and pliable in His hands, to be molded as He sees fit.
He is the Master Artist; we are but the canvas... to be surrendered into His hands, and to receive the color that comes from His brush.
He is the Sculptor; we are but the rock... perhaps hard and impenetrable... but yielded to the blow of the hammer and chisel we find ourselves coming forth in His own image and likeness.
He is the Architect and Builder; we are the building that He would join together--timber upon timber, stone upon stone that we might be builded together for "a habitation of God by the Spirit."
He is the Gardener; we are the garden. We are but the dirt. He desires only that we become the "good soil" He is looking for... as we permit Him to do the cultivating, and to sow the good seed of Truth within us... and then to water, and to weed, and to prune as He sees fit.
The servantís part was not in any sense something additional to Abrahamís part... it was -really one and the same thing. Jesus said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I workÖ" (Jn. 5:17). Only as He saw the Father working was He able to work. Only as He heard the Father speak, would He speak; for then it would be the Fatherís words and not His own. Otherwise He would have been seeking His own glory.
The Servant, A True Worshipper
"And it came to pass, that, when Abrahamís servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth" (Gen. 24:52).
Worship has come to mean something you do in church. But true worship is not something you do in church any more than in any other place. If worship is genuine it is something that becomes your whole way of life.
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:23, 24).
The man that Jesus healed who was born blind was considered by the Jews to be rather ignorant, but he taught them a very wonderful thing about worship:
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth" (Jn. 9:31).
God is earnestly desiring "true worshippers"... not merely a congregation of people who "know how to do it." Abrahamís servant didnít learn how to do it; but he did learn strict obedience to his master Abraham, and partook of some of his qualities and he, too, became a "true worshipper." He had observed worship in the life of Abraham. He knew how his master had worshipped the Lord all his days, as he moved about in obedience to God, and how he erected an altar unto the Lord wherever he went. And he most certainly knew about the altar on Mount Moriah where Abraham, in a supreme act of worship, laid his son Isaac on the altar... and how God met him there in that great act of obedience to the will of God. (See Gen. 22:5.) He knew how worship had become a way of life for Abraham, whether it was at Bethel, in the Negeb, at Hebron, or at Moriah. It was not an art, or a method... it was a way of life. He had become a "worshipper."
So with Job. When things went well, and he prospered, he worshipped God. When calamity struck, and God took it all away in one devastating stroke, Job tore his clothes, not in anger against God or man, but in "worship." Strange way to worship God? Not really, when you understand what worship is. It is an act of total submission to the will of God... total denial of any right on our part to resist what our God is doing. It is giving God glory and humble obeisance in all our ways... because we know He is always right, and He is always worthy.
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped" (Job 1:20).
Our whole way of life, and our gatherings together in church fellowship, are going to change drastically when Godís people become "worshippers." For we cannot "worship the Father in spirit and in truth" until we become worshippers... until we begin to walk in Truth, and in the Spirit.
God make us to be "true worshippers"... a people so totally committed to God, so totally apprehended by the desire to do His will, that we worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, morning, noon, and night... day by day, and everyday... in what we say, in what we do, in what we are!
Gifts For Rebekah And For Her Family
"And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things" (Gen. 24:53).
God has special gifts for His Bride... gifts of gold, and silver, and of raiment.
Jewels of Silver. Silver speaks of our redemption, because we too are "bought with a price." But the price is not the silver and the gold of this world. It is nothing less than the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. We are not our own... we are His, at the great cost of His blood (1 Pet. 1:19).
Now if this be so, why do we take it for granted so often that we have a right to choose our way? It is not our option to go here and there... to preach or not to preach -- to build or not to build... to enlarge or not to enlarge. We are not our own. We belong to Another.
We assume too much as servants of the Lord. The reason, very often, is because of our ignorance of Godís ways. We just assume that God always wants enlargement... He always wants increase... He always wants expansion. And the reason we think this way is because our thoughts are so different from Godís, and our ways from His.
Surely our God doeth great and marvelous things, and there is enlargement and fruitfulness. But when Jeshurun "waxes fat," as Israel did and as the Church has done, it is time once again for God to come on the scene and call together a "little flock," a small remnant, a crippled army... and bring them back to the simplicity of church life and practice, and do still another "new thing" in the earth. Surely we have come to such an hour! Surely, once again, the time to favor Zion, "yea, the set time, is come" (Ps. 102:13).
Jewels of Gold. Gold speaks of Divine nature and character. But to bring forth the gold God must lead us into trial and testing. He must lead us through pathways in the wilderness. He must lead us into places of confinement, to prison-houses of His discipline. The gold is there if you truly love Him and desire to do His will. But He wants to remove the dross, all the human element, all the human ambitions, all the human zeal, all the desire for success and achievement. If you and I truly walk in His ways, we are going to stumble into the fire. At least it may appear to us that we accidentally stumbled into it. But if we accept it as from Him, we will come forth out of it again, "A vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Masterís use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21).
And Raiment. Rebekah got her engagement ring at the well, and we can be sure she was excited about that. But there is much more to a wedding than to have an engagement ring. There are beautiful garments that God wants us to wear. These garments are brought to us by the Servant, from Fatherís House. Because He wants us to live the life of the heavenly realm down here:
"Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:2, 3).
These garments are not woven by our hand -but by His. We have to know that what God requires of us He also provides. He it is who makes our garments. Of course as He would weave the threads of His will into our lives, we must make way for it. But the grace is His, and the humility is His, and the gentleness and the meekness and the patience... it is all of Him; and as He begins to weave these virtues into the fabric of our lives they become, like the garments of the priests in Israeló"garments for glory and for beauty."
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another." And then He says, tie it all together with love: "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:12-14).
Our old garments are the old man... and so Paul tells us to "put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:9, 10). So it is His creative work in our lives that brings forth these beautiful garments of His righteousness.
It has been the ceaseless struggle of Godís people to somehow discover the secret of putting off the old man, and putting on the new. The understanding of Godís way to do it I think is clear enough in the Scriptures. We must reckon the old man to be dead unto sin... for that is what God did with the old man at the Cross. He was crucified there with Christ on the Cross. But how to so effectively "reckon" the old man to be dead that he acts like he is dead, has been a ceaseless struggle in the hearts of Godís people. I am convinced the problem is more than somehow just trying to theologically know and understand what Jesus accomplished at the Cross. Now the Holy Spirit is the One who effectually ministers in our lives all that Jesus accomplished in His great work of redemption. The secret, then, is to have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in our gatherings together in His Name. I am convinced this is the real problem. He wants to be Lord in our lives, and in our midst when we assemble together; and He is not being given His Lordship. He it is who bears constant witness to the cleansing of the blood, and the cleansing of our conscience. He it is who applies the blood of Christ, by "the washing of water by the Word." Like the dove that flew away from Noahís ark, she could find no place for the sole of her foot to rest, and had to return to the ark until the waters had abated. Paul speaks about the grief of the Holy Spirit. He is easily grieved... and cannot long abide where there is carnality, self-will, and rebellion. We must with great longings and yearnings for His presence invite Him back, and make way for His return in humility and repentance. The sad part of it is that all over the land the precious Dove of Godís abiding presence has flown away from our churches... and in most cases they do not even know He has gone!
These precious gifts that Abrahamís servant brought forth glorified his master, not himself; for they were brought to the bride from the house Abraham. Would that Godís people, and especially His ministry-servants, could see this! It is not in our option, it is not of our choosing, how we may glorify the Lord Jesus. It is only as we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to bring forth treasures from the heart of God and to weave the beautiful garments of His righteousness into the lives of His people that our Lord Jesus is truly glorified. I wish I could emphasize this more:
"He shall glorify Me: FOR HE SHALL RECEIVE OF MINE, AND SHALL SHEW IT UNTO YOU..."
It is only glorifying to the Lord Jesus if it is SOMETHING THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE TREASURES OF GOD.
"All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" (Jn. 16:15).
The cute things we can say and do... the entertainment that we can offer... the eloquent sermons that we might prepare... we might sincerely profess we are doing it all to glorify the Lord; but God says we only glorify the Lord when we take of His treasures, and bestow them upon His people.
"WILT THOU GO WITH THIS MAN?" "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Gen. 24:58).
God had sovereignly worked together all the details involved in this matter of choosing a bride for Isaac. The servantís jealousy for his masterís welfare had brought forth from his heart a deep and sincere prayer for guidance and direction. God honored his prayer and his faithfulness, and brought Rebekah across his pathway. She, unknowingly, had qualified to become this worthy bride not simply because she had said the right words to the servant, but because she had developed these qualities through years of training and upbringing: qualities of grace, of kindness, of gentleness, of generosity, and of concern for others. Her mother and her brother were likewise deeply impressed with the words and the deportment of Abrahamís servant, and they had to admit, "The Lord is in all of this."
Now there was a temptation to delay proceedings. "Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten." The number "ten" is recognized in the Scriptures as a number of "test" and of "trial." Here the test is: "Can we not delay this journey for a few days?"
Let us be clear in our hearts regarding this matter of "waiting." We emphasize much this matter of waiting for God. But the true servant that has a waiting heart is quick to respond to the desire of his Master. Waiting for God is not a case of slothfulness, unconcern, indifference, neglect. We wait for direction, for counsel, for guidance... and sometimes we must wait long, and suffer long. But when He speaks, we must be quick to respond. The waiting heart is quick to respond. The waiting heart is faithfully doing the will of God, as he patiently waits for Him. The impatient heart is slow to come to a true spirit of waiting, and therefore slow to comprehend what the voice of God is all about. The brethren of Jesus, who urged Him to action, were "always ready" to do things. But with Jesus it mattered whether or not God was ready. "Your time is always ready, but My time is not yet come." When His time came He was quick to respond, quick to do the Fatherís bidding. Being quick to act on our own initiative might produce quick results, but it does not bring about a true unfolding of the working of God in our lives, or in the lives of those whom we seek to help.
We must emphasize this matter of waiting for God and for His times to unfold... because it is only in the pathway of the perfect will of God that we are going to see the heavens opening and responding to the needs and to the cries of the earth. Those who urge quick action and spurn the thought of waiting for God do not find themselves apprehended of God in the day when His sovereign purposes begin to coincide with men of faith and of patience. This coincidence of the heavenly with the earthly is that which dominates the Biblical account of the heroes of faith in both the Old Testament and in the New. It is no haphazard thing that we can manipulate. It happens when men and women walk in the ways of the Lord... seeking Him, waiting for Him, and pursuing a life of total submission and obedience to the will of God. They do not miss God. They cannot miss God. Because as they walk in His way God has determined a meeting place with them in the very pathway in which He is leading them. He waits for them there, that He might visit them... in a cave, in a prison cell, in a ship tossed about on an ocean, at a threshing floor, near the winepress, or in a burning bush. If we knew where He was going to meet us, we would take a shortcut and rush there at once... but we would not find Him, for then we would be there ahead of Him. It is only after we have done the will of God, and have learned patience, that we may expect and anticipate the opening of the heavens, and the shining forth of His presence.
Abrahamís servant replied: "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way. And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Gen. 24:56-58). The waiting heart is a prepared heart... and is quick to respond to the will of God.
Man says, and generally the Church will agree, that to be effective and successful one must be energetic, ambitious, innovative, zealous, powerful... and have the wealth behind you to make it work.
But God says, if you want to be fruitful in His Kingdom you must be like a seed that would fall into the ground and die...
Chapter 4 - The Journey of the Bride
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