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Mind not High Things

Mind not High Things

This meditation is taken from “The Hyssop that Springeth Out of the Wall” by George H Warnock

We can understand how a man gifted with wisdom would write about great and lofty things; but God would show us that men of wisdom are concerned also about little things. It reminds us of Paul’s admonition: “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate,” (Romans 12:16).

Much reference is made in Scripture to both the Cedar and the Hyssop; but whereas the Cedar speaks of stature and honour and glory, the Hyssop always relates to sacrifice… and therefore to humility, weakness and contrition of heart. Other than this I knew nothing about the plant itself. But after having been impressed to minister on the “hyssop” relative to its weakness and sacrificial character, I felt to put it in writing; and I have since looked up a number of reference books concerning it.

I found it grows in dry places, out in the full sun. It is particularly suited to a rockery, and this may be inferred in the statement that it “springeth out of the wall”–perhaps a terraced rock wall. It is low-growing, up to about 2 feet. It is native to Egypt. It has strong wiry stems, with bunches of flowers and leaves. Produces small bluish-purple flowers, and has a sweet fragrance. It is a bitter herb, belonging to the mint family, and was once used for medicinal purposes. It seemed to grow plentifully in Egypt, for on the Passover night it was readily obtainable to every Israelitish family, who would use it for the sprinkling of the blood. It was used for various sacrificial purposes in the Levitical order, and therefore must have grown extensively in the wilderness also. It is always associated with “sacrifice”… so that even at Calvary, when the supreme Sacrifice was being offered, mention is again made of the lowly “hyssop.”

Solomon, a great and Wise man, was impressed to write about the weak, insignificant “hyssop.” Great men are always small enough to take note of little things.

They are concerned about the weak. Jesus stood still at the cry of a blind beggar. True greatness reveals itself in areas of meekness, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

The world considers a meek man to be a weak man. But God considers the meek to be strong. They shall inherit the earth; because in their meekness and weakness, their confidence is not in themselves but in Another.

The weak must assume an attitude of defensiveness; but the strong are prepared to let the Truth defend itself. So when the weak assume positions of power and authority, as is often the case, they must use that power and authority to bolster their own inadequacy. The meek are strong, because they are prepared to commit their cause into the hands of God who judgeth righteously.

As I ministered about the hyssop I could not help but think of our own little fellowship. It seems so fragile. What is it that keeps us gathering together week after week? Just a handful of us… but we will travel 30, 50, 70 or a 100 miles a week just to gather with a handful of people in someone’s home. But when you come to know God’s ways a little, what does it matter whether there be 20 or 30 people, or 1,000? God can use 20 as well as 2,000… 1 as well as 10,000. It doesn’t really matter, as long as we are faithful; and as long as God is directing us in this way. But how strange this may sound to those who have not known God’s ways?

How long will we continue to gather in this manner? We certainly do not know; for we have no plans to fulfill of our own. And we are reminded that the precious “hyssop” having served its purpose was thrown away! Precious as it is in the eyes of the Lord, it was made for sacrifice.

And every sacrifice that delights the heart of God requires it. God has therefore put it within the reach of all. It grows there at our feet, lightly esteemed by most… but prepared of the Lord for sacrifice… a certain kind of sacrifice: the sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. It is not something beyond our reach.

The elders of Israel had no problem finding it… apparently it was right outside their doors, and when the blood had to be sprinkled on the doorposts, the hyssop was readily obtained. When the last Passover Lamb was offered, hyssop was there too, and readily obtainable. When Jesus cried “I thirst,” a soldier bunched some hyssop together and lifted it to Jesus’ mouth with a sponge full of sour wine. He must use hyssop to fulfill the Scriptures, and God had provided it even on Mount Calvary! Then it was discarded… it had served its purpose.

But what waste? And to what purpose is this waste?

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24, 25).


Rewards in Heaven

From the minute a sinner accepts and receives Christ into his or her heart, God’s reward is waiting for that individual whether the person dies immediately after or continues to live on the earth.

The question is, will the person who repents on their ‘deathbed’ receive an equal reward as the person who remains on earth producing good deeds and suffering for Christ?

Before answering the question, let’s remember that some people who are healthy become born again and die shortly after without the opportunity of having good deeds in Christ. God will not penalize them by giving them a lesser reward. Selah! It is our belief in Him that actually gets rewarded as opposed to the works grace accomplishes through us 1 Corinthians 15:10. God rewards our faith.

Christ told Paul, ‘you will see how much you will suffer for the gospel’. What does suffering for the gospel mean? It is labouring hard in the gospel with its attendant consequences.

Why did Paul and every other believer who remains on the earth have to suffer for the gospel? It was for him, and every believer to keep on believing in Christ Jesus and not for a reward. Every work the Holy Spirit accomplishes through us is aimed at keeping us looking to or abiding in Christ to the end.

This is the reason we’re told in Hebrews, ‘Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness’ without works. And though His faith produced good works and he was rewarded with blessings, we’re told he did not receive the thing (reward) he was believing for. What reward did he look forward to receiving?

It’s important to know what the reward is because, the body of Christ (The church) is also looking forward to the same reward though she is presently receiving blessings for her work and sufferings in the gospel like the past people of God. We know that the reward is not ebullience because, Jesus said, ‘He delights to answer our prayers now so our joy may be full’. Believers’ full felicity is for now not a reward later in heaven John 16. To enjoy it, we’re encouraged to abide in Him and ask for what we want according to His will.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul said, “in a race, all run but only one gets the prize, so run that you may obtain it”. What is the meaning of “run” in Paul’s statement?

“Run” in Paul’s speech means, keep believing aright. All who keep believing or running aright are “one” — that is, (the Church). Only the Church will receive the prize. In other words, the Church (The body of Christ) is like a relay team that includes those that have finished their laps but are waiting for the final team member to reach the finishing line. Then, the team will be declared as overcomers and receive the reward Hebrews 11:40.

So, those who walked perfectly with God while on the earth are not yet made perfect because of us, the church. Why? The reason is, the phrase “not yet made perfect” speaks of the reward and they can’t get it until the Church as the “final member” finishes her lap of the race.

John the apostle, tells us what the reward is in 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends (Team or Church), now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is”. Notice the phrase, “We will be like him” When? At His appearing! This is the reward for which the saints are being kept by grace. Our perseverance in labouring in the gospel and suffering joyfully is to the end that we may keep believing in Christ.

Our believing ties us to His work which in turn refreshes our believing. The greatest reward or gold medal we will receive is Christ! We will be like our Lord, when He appears. Selah!

Before His appearing, even the walk of those pronounced perfect by God is only partial 1 Corinthians 13:10. His appearing will give the Church her reward in full. Of all the grace the Church has received, the appearing of Christ will bring in such grace the Church has never known 1 Peter 1:13. By this grace at His appearing, we will be like Him. Then, indeed, God would have brought many sons out from Christ as the first Son. No reward supersedes this!

After the Church is pronounced winner and all her parts decorated with Gold (Him), we will serve with Him in different capacities, as sovereignly assigned by God. The capacity each part will serve with Him is not earned by us.

Jesus explained it in Matthew 20. The hired labourers worked in His Kingdom’s vineyard. At the end of the day (Time of reward), each received the same prize though they started working at different times. They as “one man”, were rewarded with “one denarius” (representing Him or the Master’s heart). Same principle applied in Matthew 25. Both the servants with five and two talents were rewarded equally, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master”. Notice their differential talents of five and two were tagged little. And, both talent and reward was sovereignly given. The person with one talent who stopped believing had no work or fruit and was condemned. His lack of faith in the Master was the real problem as opposed to his fruitlessness John 15:4.

James and John wanted to sit, one on the right and the other on the left side of Jesus in Mark 10. Jesus promised them, ‘you will surely drink my cup and get the baptism of death as me but for sitting on my right and left, God will assign it to those for whom it’s prepared. Notice, Jesus did not say it’s for those who worked for it. Whilst the working or producing fruit cannot be separated from genuine faith, the fruit is as a result of faith.

While we’re busy in the gospel worshipping and serving others by faith, we’re consciously and unconsciously keeping our faith aflame. All who keep it aflame to the end will be saved and rewarded. His pleasure and reward is not for those who refused to repent (believe in Him) or for those who draw back and stop believing.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. We know that what we have done means nothing without the faith that propelled us to do so. So, the reward is actually for the faith as against the deed itself. Paul clarifies it in Romans 14:23, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”. This is why we don’t talk of heroes of deeds in Hebrews but of faith. Hebrews 11, was careful to highlight the means over the heroic deeds. There is no good deed found with Christians that cannot be seen with some people who are outside of Christ but, it is faith that matters to God.

Our faith is our work and it is what gets rewarded. Every good deed done for the sake of doing good means nothing to God. But, good deed in the name of Christ Jesus, will be rewarded as faith in Christ. No other good deed will compare to the good deed of believing in Christ. Those who keep believing will keep His work to the end and be called overcomers. They shall eat from the “Tree of Life”, perpetually escape the “second death”, eat the hidden manna and receive a name written on “White Stone” and be clothed with “White Garment” Revelation 2:7, 11, 17 & 26.

The grand hope and reward of all believers is to be the sons of God with the first begotten from the dead (Jesus Christ) and to reign with Him in authority over the nations Revelation 3:5 & 21:7.

Believing or abiding in Christ to the end is everything! This is why all the apostles prayed and pleaded with the disciples to keep the faith to the end lest their (the apostles) labour would be in vain not that their labour will not be rewarded. It’s vital to note that if a convert turns back or stops believing and following Christ, it becomes a “labour in vain” for the believer(s) who planted and watered 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. However, their reward remains intact! 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Finally, remember, it is God, that gives the growth and not the labourers. We will be rewarded for the faith of doing the assignment and not the result of the assignment. We’ll receive the same reward because it’s our faith that’s rewarded. Therefore, the acceptance and receiving of Christ into the heart by faith though on one’s ‘deathbed’ will not stop a person from the reward of being like Him at His appearing. Selah!


The Uncomplicated Life of Jesus

This rich meditation for the Church is taken from “Feed My Sheep” by George H Warnock

What then did He do about it? Did He start acting upon the Scriptures that related to His Messiah-ship, and seek to fulfill what He had read and studied? His pathway is clearly set forth in the Word.

He simplified His life by walking in union with the Heavenly Father… and as a result ALL SCRIPTURE WAS FULFILLED THAT GOD INTENDED TO BE FULFILLED in the short ministry that He had in the earth… and what remained unfulfilled He was prepared to commit into the hands of the Father who sent Him. Doing the will of God was MORE IMPORTANT to Jesus than seeking to fulfill His Messianic office. With what result?

His ministry was cut short, for He was “cut off out of the land of the living…” But He did exactly what God intended Him to do… and the Scriptures which He did not fulfill while here on earth will yet be fulfilled in His Body, as He sits enthroned at God’s right hand in the heavenlies.

This may not seem important to some… but it is vitally important. For if we understand this WAY, then we can spare ourselves all the frustrations and needless anxieties that a minister of God has to endure when He sets his course to fulfill a New Testament ministry, or to bring into being a New Testament Church.

Let us not read the Scriptures with the thought in mind that it is up to you and I to strive to fulfill all that we read. Rather let us read the Word for our daily bread, that we might have the strength and the wisdom to do just what God wants us to do TODAY, and rejoice in the hope of the promise that seems as yet unattainable. And let us be assured that every glorious promise of the Word that God has given us… high and unattainable as it may seem to be, is nevertheless yours and mine to embrace as God quickens the Truth of it to our hearts. And as we faithfully walk in obedience in the realm that God has enabled us to walk in TODAY, the time will surely come when we shall also walk in obedience in a realm which is at present beyond our grasp.

I am not being “scriptural” when I try to fulfill Scripture; I am only being scriptural when I walk in fellowship with the Spirit, and in union with the Son… and in so doing I make way for the Word to take hold of my spirit and to nourish and renew the inner man.

“Dear Lord, as I meditate upon your Word, help me to know that I hold in my hands the plan and the blueprint of the greatest and most wonderful masterpiece of your creative power that you have ever undertaken to bring forth. For when you formed the heavens and the earth… the heavens and their wonderful galaxies and universes, and the earth adorned with beauty and majesty… you simply spoke a Word, and it came into being.

But when you saw fit to bring forth your Masterpiece, even the Church of the Living God, composed of redeemed sons of Adam’s fallen race. you must needs descend to the lowest depths with them in the Person of your Son, that in His death, resurrection, and exaltation to highest heaven we also might be lifted from depths unreachable to heights unattainable, in virtue of your own grace and wisdom and power.

And now in this Book that you have given us to read you have set forth in minute and intricate detail your plan and purpose concerning your people. Who am I that I could begin to formulate and arrange my life and calling, or the lives of your people, according to your Divine blueprint? I have it in my hands… I read it… I memorize it… I meditate upon it… But Lord! There is nothing that you say that is within my desire to perform or within my power to accomplish except as your indwelling Spirit breathes afresh upon the Word that you have spoken, and causes it to become Life within me.

Let me therefore read your Word with the consciousness that you are causing the very dew of Heaven to fall upon it, that it may quicken thy servant, and take on form and reality in my life as I receive it. Give me only that which I need for today, for thus you taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” May we not be greedy for wisdom and knowledge, while as yet we are not able to digest it. For again you have said, “Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16).

Let us be happy as we walk one step at a time, as long as there is union with Thee, with a Word here and a Word there that we can lay hold upon. But let us not grasp hold of Scriptures, as an undisciplined and inefficient workman would grasp his tools… to erect the pillars and walls, and install the furnishings… when as yet the foundation has scarcely been laid. For so you have declared Thy Word would be fulfilled to a people who would enter in to your rest”:

“For precept must be upon precept,
Precept upon precept;
Line upon line, line upon line;
Here a little, there a little:
For with stammering lips, and another tongue
Will he speak to this people. To whom he said,
This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest;
And this is the refreshing:
Yet they would not hear”
(Isaiah 28:10-12).

And because Israel would not hear, God’s Word that was intended to bring them into rest, caused them “to go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken” (verse 13). “For if the light that is in you become darkness,” Jesus said, “How great is that darkness!”

Jesus, then, did not formulate any plan for the fulfilling of the Scriptures, nor for His own ministry… nor should we. He simply walked with the Father in perfect harmony and as He did everything came to pass as God intended, and the Scripture was fulfilled. How often we read the phrase, “That it might be fulfilled, according as it is written…”

This is how He began His ministry; for as He entered into the synagogue of Nazareth after His anointing and baptism, and stood up to read, He opened the scroll to the place where it was written concerning His great Messianic ministry. Then having read the portion that pertained to Him FOR THAT HOUR He closed the book, and handed it back to the minister of the synagogue, saying, “THIS DAY is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears…” (Luke 4:21).

There would be other days, when other Scriptures would be fulfilled, But for this day this was sufficient, and this was relevant, and God was truly glorified. God’s ministers often feel free to boast: “This is Bible, and I’m going to preach it…” But Jesus was confined to that portion of the Word that God was speaking TODAY.


Mentor and protégé

Paul’s exhortation to the church addressed to Timothy does not pass for our modern exclusive leadership training. Actually, leadership training does not exist in the bible.

The phrase in Paul’s speech in 2 Tim 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses”indicates that the instruction was an open one. Some people have different understanding of the verse. However, no matter how we choose to comprehend it, it wouldn’t negate the truth that the exhortation was to the church and not those handpicked for leadership.

Jesus never took the apostles or his disciples aside to teach them how to lead others but how to serve Mark 9:35. He never taught them the psychology of humans since He never intended to relinquish leading or shepherding the people to His apostles or disciples. He always taught them God’s heart; His will for all men to be saved (not Calvinism) —and served. He showed them the general doctrine to be taught to all who truly know Him. Those whose hearts truly know Christ will pick it and follow on with God Hosea 6:3, 10:12, Jer 4:3.

The end part of Paul’s statement in verse 2 of 2 Tim 2, “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” highlights what should be seen in those to pass on this “open knowledge” not “secret knowledge”. The key dispositions of the people are these;

*A life of faithfulness to God not to Paul

*Willingness to continue to learn ways to be more loving, obedient to Christ and joyfully serving others through the gospel.

This kind of faithfulness was Paul’s emphasis. In other words, not to selfish folks, but Christians (those who are selfless and eager to pass same knowledge they have freely received to others without demanding payment and or allegiance to themselves but to Christ). This is different from the mentor and protégé practice in the circular and religious systems.

In the gathering of the Church, to recognize the gifts in more matured believers and be drawn to benefit from it is perfectly scriptural. Therefore, to give due respect to such persons is highly advocated but to become their protégé is not scriptural Matt 23:8.

In the bible, particularly the New Testament, it was the matured Christians that saw the grace and faithfulness in the lives of younger believers and the areas of lack they can fill in their lives. So, they drew them closer. Paul and Onesimus in Philemon 1, Acts 18:25-26, 12:25.

However, the matured always recognized that they too stood to be blessed with the calling in the lives of those they had drawn into closer relationship for the work of Christ not their ministries 2 Tim 4:11. This is quite different from the mentor and protégé system where, the protégé submits their resume officially or unofficially for consideration by the mentor who sees him or herself as master having a disciple who owes him or her allegiance. The allegiance becomes the main criteria for passing those who are interested to serve their vision—though, it’s put smartly in scriptural terminology.

The relationship that Priscilla and her husband Aquila had with Apollos,  Elijah and Elisha and Paul and Timothy is far from the mentor and protégé humanistic invention.

Only Christ should have us as His protégés or disciples and, —“you all are brothers” Matt 23:8. Paul and Timothy was referred to as servants of Christ and the church in Phill 1:1. For Timothy to be a servant of Christ and the church, he did not have to first be a protege  or serve Paul.

Every believer has a spiritual gift which, those with ministry gifts also benefit from and yet, it doesn’t make them protégés. The counsel of scripture is, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Eph 5:21, 1 Pet 5:5. The ministry gifts equip those who operate in it. They also benefit from the safety of the spiritual gifts in the body to which God has set them Eph 4:16, 1 Cor 12:7. John and Paul’s statements in John 1:9-10 and Gal 1:8 echo’s it, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting” and “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal1:8, Acts17:11NLT.

Reading verse 8 of Galatians 1 carefully, you’ll notice that Paul is saying that the words they were inspired to preach is Christ himself or, their words were the voice of Christ. The implication is this; if the churches know the Lord’s voice, then, even if he (Paul) or anyone else came with another word, it is not to be received John 10:4-5. For this reason, as seen in 1 Cor 7:12, Paul always made it clear when he spoke from himself and not from the Lord.

The concluding statement of verse 8 of Galatians 1 indicates that God—not us, will be instrumental to those bringing their own words as if it were Christ’s to be accursed.

Paul never saw himself or others as above being derailed. How important that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer!

All believers are encouraged to grow in Christ by interacting with the other spiritual and ministry gifts in the fellowship of saints. In this interaction within and outside of one’s immediate community of faith, no one should be the disciple or protégé of a fellow believer. To use Jesus’ example of having twelve Apostles or many disciples to support the unscriptural practice of having a protector (mentor John 17:12) and the protected (protégé) is to say the least absurd.

Believers are to be equipped generally not specifically. True believers grow in Christ through fellowship with God, Christ and the saints by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When a believer has the privilege to give his or her time specifically to help another believer (for a season) to sharpen his or her comprehension and walk with Christ, it doesn’t obligate the helped believer to work in the gospel with the one who helped him or her. And, it shouldn’t turn the helped believer to the puppet of the one who God used to bring the help.

The Christian life is holistic not specialistic—as such, no individual in the body of Christ can supply another believer all he or she needs to fulfill their destiny. This truth will be appreciated if we understand there is a huge difference between our destiny and our ambitions. All Christians share one destiny which is eternal life but, ambitions run wild 1 Tim 6:12. God fulfils our destiny by taking us through His Way and ways if we’re willing Eph 4:1, Isa 1:19. Blindness and tragedy occurs when we accept His Way but refuse His ways because we want to fervently pursue our good ambitions. Misunderstanding the difference between our destiny and our ambitions is what drives us into the mentality and practice of mentor and protégé relationships.

It is true that mentor and protégé relationship can foster success in a particular specialty e.g., an architect seeking to advance in his field  may be better off going to a more experienced and acclaimed architect who shows interest in him or her than going to an academic institution to acquire just a certificate. The additional benefit of profitable experience, contacts or networks the mentor creates is not likely to come from the institution of learning. But, if he or she is seeking to advance the entirety of his or her life as a Christian, the place to go is to God who holds her destiny in His hands. This is the reason all who become believers in Christ are added to a gathering of the saints.

We’ll continue in another post to examine and meditate on the subject

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ