Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walking with God

We are invalids and wholly dependent upon God to bring us to our feet

“I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.  Correct me, O Lord, but with justice; not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing (Jeremiah -24).”
“You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes (Leviticus 18:3).”
“A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps (Proverbs 16:9).”
“The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place (Deuteronomy 1:30-31, and 32, partial).”
“He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man (Psalm 147:10, partial).”
Right from the outset it is imperative that we realize the magnitude of the concept of man and God walking together and the impossibility that it should occur without God actually doing it.  When the prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?” it was assumed that the parties to the agreement be equals and that the agreement reached be upon common or level ground.  God, of course, must always be the initiator and leader; and the follower and supplier of strength within us too.  Indeed, as Mark Chironna once said, “Dare to believe I am walking in your footsteps.”  In other words, unless He walks in our shoes we get nowhere.   God is humbler than His creatures, however, and actually obeys that simple maxim of needing to walk in another man’s shoes before criticizing him.  We criticize without perfect knowledge; God criticizes perfectly and for perfect reasons.  We need much instruction and correction if we are to walk with God.  Thankfully, He has supplied both the walk and the walker in Christ; we have only to retrace His steps in due course.  “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps (1 Peter ).”  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians ).”


Crawling, poor walking, stumbles and falls always proceed walking erect
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk (Ezekiel 36:27, partial)…”
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed (Hebrews 12:12-13).”
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect (Leviticus 26:13).”
Just as a child is lauded for taking his first steps in the natural so a child of God ought to be lauded and encouraged after taking his first steps in the Spirit.  Perfection is not required and every performance is excellent at this stage of development.  God has placed His Spirit within the believer to cause healing along this erect and upright way.  His intent is to bring many sons to perfection.  Sadly, the Scriptures too often paint a dark picture: “God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices (Ecclesiastes , partial).”  The failings under the old covenant, however, are eradicated in the new when God writes His commands on our hearts and minds; even then, we often do not obey the dictates of our own regenerated natures.  We are like the man in James who –having just looked at his own face in the mirror and quickly forgetting what he looks like –nevertheless runs headlong into error and deception; we forget the law of liberty, the regenerated new creation we have been made into, and shrink back into the dictates of our natural man.  This ought not to be!  As Oswald Chambers once said (2000, p. 416):
Our right standing is proved by the fact that we can walk; if we are not rightly related to God in our thinking we cannot walk properly. Walk means character. If we have only our own energy and devotion and earnestness to go on we cannot walk at all; but if we are based on the revelation that if we receive Christ Jesus the Lord  we are complete (RV) in Him , then we can begin to walk according to the perfection we have in Him. When God brings us up against difficult circumstances that reveal the inability of our human nature it is not that we may sink back and say, “Oh dear, I thought I should have been all right by now”; it is that we may learn to draw on our union with Jesus Christ and claim that we have sufficient grace to do this particular thing according to God’s will. If we are vitally connected with God in our thinking we shall find we can walk; but if we have not been thinking rightly we will succumb—“I can’t do this.” If we are thinking along the line of God’s grace, that  He is able to make all grace abound unto us  (RV), we will not only stand, but walk as a son or daughter of God and prove that  His grace is sufficient.  To be weak in God’s strength is a crime.
God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. It is all very well to know in theory that there are things we must not trust in, but another thing to know it in fact. When God deals with us on the death side He puts  the sentence of death  on everything we should not trust in, and we have a miserable time until we learn never any more to trust in it, never any more to look anywhere else than to God. It sometimes happens that hardly a day passes without God saying, “Don’t trust there, that is dead.
Then He deals with us on the life side and reveals to us all that is ours in Christ Jesus, and there comes in the overflowing strength of God,  the unsearchable riches  in Christ Jesus. Whether God is dealing with us on the death side or the life side, it is all in order to teach us how to walk, how to try our standing in Christ Jesus. God is teaching us to try our steps in faith, and it is a very tottering business to begin with, we clutch hold of everything; God gives us any amount of encouragement, “ribbons” of blessings, of feelings and touches that makes us know His presence; then He withdraws them and slowly we get strengthened on our feet and learn how to walk in Him.
“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them” (Galatians , 16 partial, NASB). We are not slaves anymore; He has set us free to walk erect without shackles and bars and yokes.  Healing ought to be as natural as breathing as we retrace the steps of our Deliverer –He is our marked out path and the enlargement under our feet –the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places indeed.  The realization that He has provided the impetus and the strength to walk with Him through the rule of the power of an endless life resident within our new creation selves is the primary and foundational realization.  The realization that we are seriously impaired –that are legs have been cut out from under us –was a proper initial realization; the fact that we have since been outfitted with a supernatural prostheses of bionic import is what we now need to realize.  We must get are eyes off of past sin and failures and place them upon present righteousness and future success.  David Wilkerson, in his daily devotional, remarking on the parable of the prodigal son, said: “In the father’s eyes, the old boy was dead. That son was out of his thoughts completely. Now, in the father’s eyes, this son who had returned home was a new man. And his past would never be brought up again. The father was saying, in essence: ‘As far as I’m concerned, the old you is dead. Now, walk with me as a new man. That is my estimation of you. There is no need for you to live under guilt. Don’t keep talking about your sin, your unworthiness. The sin problem is settled. Now, come boldly into my presence and partake of my mercy and grace. I delight in you!’”

 Walking with skinned knees
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil (Proverbs 3:6-7).”
  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians , 19-22, 23 partial, 24-25).”
“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men (1 Corinthians 3:2-4)?”
There should be calluses on our knees from seeking direction to ensure we stay in those steps of our Lord, not scrapes of flesh or divots of proof that we were running headlong into trivial pursuits and idle fancies of our own.  Of course, we are now at the teenager stage of our development; we are strong and have overcome the evil one yet our wisdom far lags behind our strength.  When we are right we are often very right and when we are wrong we are often very wrong; such is the nature of too much strength without equal parts wisdom and it is the quintessential teenage experience.  To walk with God, who is a Spirit and must be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth, requires a lifelong dedication to Him and a willingness to be disciplined and changed by Him.  This, of course, presupposes a condition that needs correction; man is first made to be a “soul” and through regeneration he becomes one “spirit” with the Lord; in between, man is simply “flesh.”  “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians ).”
So, what are we to do?  Just as God breathed His breath into dirt and formed the first Adam, Christ has breathed His breath into us and formed a deposit within our bosom that must now overtake and win back our souls.  The flesh and our natural man are separate entities and we must be able to distinguish between the two if we are going to be successful in walking this walk with God.  The deeds of the flesh are prohibited; our natural and normal inclinations are not prohibited, but they must be sacrificed in pursuit of higher and nobler states of being.  Our spirit’s, one with the Lord’s Spirit, must be the dominant and essential nature of our being; our soul is denied and forsook in this dispensation only because it has been polluted by touching the flesh.  God’s corrective agency through the Holy Spirit is to take every act of death to ourselves and transfigure it; losing our soul is only for the express purpose of gaining it forever in a proper and holy condition.  The process of the cross is the process of everlasting life.  The walk to the cross is heavy, burdensome, deeply sorrowful and life taking; the walk outside the tomb is light, easy, exceedingly joyful and life giving.  To walk in resurrection power is to not walk as mere men; men of this world that walk in their flesh are dead men walking, and so are we if we do not lose our lives to gain it.  A raised life is the only true life and cannot happen until it defeats death by passing through its horror.  The flesh and blood that could not inherit the kingdom of God could not inherit it because of inherent weakness; a new creature infused with eternal life that could endure the ravages of corruption is needed.  Life from the dead, like a phoenix arising from the ashes, is the essence of a true and enduring optimism that places people upon the path of life and encourages them to the end.  The soul having been tested by fire is the sure soul and is indelibly imprinted with a heavenly image; awaiting its spiritual body, this soul nonetheless walks unlike mere men and may even dare to walk upon some water.  Paul sheds some light upon this process here (1 Corinthians -49):
But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?"  You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.  All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.  There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.  The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.  As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.  Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
Instruction at this time in our life is critical; “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18).”  Correction to the degree needed to cause our steps to be straight is all that is needed; the one hundred and eighty degree correction needed, however, makes our heads spin and upsets our equilibrium.  Many allow the correction in the early stages of development but shrink back when they discover the extent of the correction and the duration of time needed to make the adjustment permanent.  Many bouts of disorientation and consequential conclusions filled with delusion are the normal states of being while in transition.  Many fall often before correction is complete and their equilibrium is reestablished and all delusions purged. 
The saddest thing about not allowing one’s self to endure God’s way and suffer the cross is how stupid we will become; delusions will become entrenched, believed upon, and will be the modus operandi of our pathetic lives.  Every soul is destined to be expressed; we are designed to flow and create within the stream of God.  If regeneration does not occur, or we remain in the flesh, we are in grave danger of expressing our own mind, heart and feelings devoid of their proper context within Christ.  The antichrist is little more than a man independently expressing himself; being designed to express ourselves in concert with God alone, we, by default, make ourselves god when we do so without Christ.  Satan is always looking for someone to express their fallen nature under the guise of a proper and legitimate expression; he knows the power of mankind’s soul and is always trying to get mankind to use it unlawfully.  Watchman Nee, in The Latent Power of the Soul, expresses deep concern about mankind’s latent potential and our unlawful use of it; he said:
The Babylonians, the Arabs, the Buddhists, the Taoists, and the Hindus all try in their respective way to release the power which Adam has left to our soul.  In any religion, using whatever means or ways of instruction, there stands a common principle behind all their apparent differences.  The common principle is to aim at overcoming the outward flesh so as to deliver the soul power from all kinds of bondage for freer expression.  Some lessons of instruction given in these religions are directed at destroying the obstruction of the body, some at uniting the body and the soul, while some are aimed at strengthening the soul through training and thus enabling it to overcome the body.  Whatever the ways may be, the principle behind them all is the same.  It is important to know this or else we will be deceived.    
Once the bulk of our instruction is complete we now begin a most enjoyable and rewarding period wherein full application of our instruction is now being manifested.  Mark Chironna recently sent a word to the body of Christ that said this: “When you have endured a long season of seeming ‘silence’ in your own personal walk, while the Lord has indeed been speaking in the larger arena, it is comforting to know that there is coming a time where, having trusted Him while HE remained silent, you can trust Him indeed when He once again begins to speak to the steps you are taking.”

Walking the walk and talking the talk
“Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.  Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:20-21).”
 “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9, partial).”
“The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk are His delight (Proverbs ).”
“Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years (Genesis -23).”
“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them for the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them (Hosea 14:9).”
The heydays of correction and instruction are essentially over; the maturing process will not wait for us forever.  We are ever moving to a sealing –but not the kind that has skylights!  The days of youth gather information and instruction which are the engines of our old-age wisdom; if we fail to buy gold tried in the fire and white garments to cover our shame and nakedness –if we fail to transact with Christ –we are fools.  Either God will seal us as His servant (see Revelation 7:3) upon our forehead or an angel will stencil a “666” across it; either way, we are going to eventually be forever sealed, locked into a perpetual state of being.
Though not much is really known about Enoch, he especially speaks to a well rounded and full perfection in this walk and talk with God.  The amount of days he walked with God before he was translated is interesting, three hundred and sixty five being, of course, the number of days within a calendar year.  This may seem a loose and disingenuous assertion as many calendars do not subscribe to the 365 day count (and the fact that a normal year is really 365.24219879 days, equal to 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 49.98 seconds).  It is even speculated by some, that the 360 day calendar used from antiquity by the Babylonians and Persians was completely accurate before the catastrophic deluge known as “The Flood” occurred (and Enoch was taken away before this occurred).  Either way, 365 years went by before Enoch was translated and a symbolic relationship to walking with God “24/7, 365 days a year” seems ingenuous to me.  “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).”   In other words, Enoch had been paraded before God all the days of many years and situations and circumstances and had been tested and established as a faithful walker with God.  Indeed, Enoch means “dedicated” or “initiated;” from the root meaning “to dedicate, to train up, to catechise.”  Catechise is an interesting word and is a form of the Catholic usage, catechism, which means, “a summary of the principles of a Christian religion, in the form of questions and answers.”  Catechise/catechize means, “1. To instruct by asking questions, receiving answers, and offering explanations and corrections, –esp. in regard to points of religious faith.  2. To question or interrogate; to examine and try by questions; --sometimes with a view to reproof, by eliciting from a person answers which condemn his conduct.”  It seems reasonable to assume that Enoch walked deeply in the meaning of His name; dedicated to instruction, reproof and correction he asked questions and got answers straight from the Almighty.  Dedicated and determined to walk straight he also instructed others to do likewise.  Godliness became his heart cry and Jude records these immortal words especially decrying ungodliness:  “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 1:14-15).’”

Having mastered our walk with God it only leaves us to leave this earth
“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless (Genesis 17:1).’”
“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis ).”
“For we walk by faith, not by sight—(2 Corinthians 5:7).”
When enough time had elapsed to ensure the deadness of both Abraham’s and Sarah’s natural abilities to procreate, God arrives on the scene and reminds Abraham that He is “God Almighty.”  For Abraham, that was enough to inspire him to walk before God and be blameless; the onus was on God to make it happen and his deadness was of no consequence in light of God’s Almightiness.  Abraham had only to believe this incredible statement for it to be true in actual practice.  Likewise, Enoch “was not” anymore; “he that loses his soul shall find it” is an eternal principle, and it would seem that Enoch found his soul in places where we can scarcely imagine.  He transcended his earthly life and was now enjoying a heavenly one; one day he was walking on the dusty trails of earth and the next day he was walking on streets of gold in heaven.  Could it have been, however, that he had already walked on streets of gold before he left this earth?  Does rest for our souls start here on earth or do we entirely wait till we get to heaven? “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls (Jeremiah , partial).’”

Some closing thoughts and Scriptures
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers (Psalm 1:1)!”
In closing, let us look at what some aspects of proper walking with God looks like.  As Oswald Chambers has previously said herein, “Walk means character.”  Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs there are tidbits of illumination regarding character; these are expressed as simple acts of walking.  These are:
1.     Walking in integrity:  (Ps. 15:2; 26: 1, 11; 101:2/ Prov. 2:7; 10:9; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6).
2.     Walking uprightly:  (Ps. 84:11/Prov. 14:2; ).
3.     Walking in shadows/darkness/among ghosts/as a vapor:  (Ps. 23:4; 39:6; 82:5; 89:15).
4.     Walking in truth:  (Ps. 1:1; 26:3; 86:11; 89:30).
5.     Walking in God’s ways:  (Ps: 81:13; 101:6).

References
Chambers, O. (2000).  The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers.  Grand Rapid,
          MI: Discovery House Publishers.
Nee, W. (2007).  The Latent Power of the Soul.