Is Our Time Always?

Jesus against the crowdDo you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works… Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. (John 14:10 &12 RSVA)

What could I mean by this by this title, “Is our time always?” When Jesus was with His brothers in Nazareth, one of the big annual feasts came up. Every devout Jew was required to attend it if he could. In the Gospel of John we read:

After this Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. (John 7:1-7 RSVA)

Jesus’ very own brothers did not believe in Him. They were tempting Him to do the “reasonable” thing. “Hey, Jesus! Here is your big chance. Your disciples and all who believe in God will be at this feast in Jerusalem. Get on up there and do your miracles and blow their minds with your wisdom and Bible knowledge. Don’t you know that it pays to advertise? Location, location, location! What are you doing hanging around in this back-water town?” Weren’t they being reasonable according to the way most people think today? “Seize the moment! Go for the gusto!” To this Jesus replied, “Your time is always! You can come and go as you will, but I cannot.” T. Austin Sparks wrote,

You get to the heart of everything in the case of the Lord Jesus when you recognize that the one question which constituted the testing ground of His life was: “Will this Man act alone, speak alone, choose alone, decide alone, move alone?” And His answer was always, “Not out from Myself!” “The Son can do nothing out from Himself.” “The words that I speak unto you I speak not out from Myself.” Every kind of appeal was made to Him to persuade Him on the impulse of the moment, or in response to an entreaty that seemed to promise success, or by an argument that appeared to be the truest wisdom, to move, act, speak, do something as out from Himself….*

Jesus was tempted in this very same way by the devil during His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” (Matthew 4:5-7 RSVA)

“Yes, Jesus, you are the Son of God, leap off the pinnacle of the temple in front of all the faithful worshipers in Jerusalem and His angels will catch you and you will float down to the ground like a feather. It will blow their minds and you will be able to prove to them and yourself that you are the Messiah! Think of the instant following you will get!” The devil often tempts us to do the “reasonable thing.” Acting on our own for the benefit of others without getting the direction of our Father seems like the reasonable thing to do. “God has given you this gift! Shouldn’t you use it to the max?” But have you asked Jesus what to do? Are not we His disciples? Did not He say to His disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing”? T. A. Sparks continues:

That ninety-nine people do a thing is no argument for the hundredth to do it. We are not to be led by the appeals that decide the actions of the many – “It is the popular thing! Everybody else is doing it! It is the recognized thing to do!” No! Does my Father want me to do this thing? That is the question that must ever rule our steps. In the case of the Lord Jesus there was all the time an underworking to get Him to adopt the contrary course, to act without inquiry of His Father, without direct leading from His Father; to act in His individual capacity as though He were His own Master, as though He had not to make appeal elsewhere… *

In the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness, in Luke we read, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him for a season.” (Luke 4:13 KJ2000). Have you ever wondered when the “season” of temptation resumed again? In Matthew we read:

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be unto you. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:21-23 KJ2000)

Peter was appealing to Jesus to do the reasonable thing! “Spare yourself, Lord! Don’t go up to die in Jerusalem. Think of all the good you can still do here in Galilee! You have people here that believe in you and need you!” But once again we see Jesus only doing the works that His Father gave Him to do. He recognized the words of Satan in Peter’s mouth, tempting Him to not go to the cross as His Father had destined Him to do so that He could fulfill all righteousness. Sparks continues,

In Him there was none of that which was personal, [or] independent. We are not speaking merely of such things as are sinfully personal, positively personal, but simply of independent action, action taken for the best ends, for a good motive, with quite a proper intention. Yes, all this may be done, but apart from the positive word from the Father. That creates an independent thought, however good may be the motive.*

And it is our independence from God in our words and our actions that is the devil’s playground. Paul wrote:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. (Galatians 5:16-17 RSVA)

Jesus said that if any one would be His disciple that they would have to take up their cross an follow Him. The cross in each of our lives that He gives us to carry is tailor made to put an end to our childish independence. When we were young in the Lord we ran out and did all kinds of “good works for Jesus.” But was our Father in them or did they come out from us as we tried to outguess God as to what His will for our lives would be? There is a death that must happen to that old foolish Adam in each one of us that seeks to maintain control even when doing “good works.” Old things must pass away and ALL things in us must become new. For this process to occur our Father wants to hear from our hearts just as Jesus prayed before they crucified Him, “Father, I would that this cup pass from me. But none the less, not my will, Father, but thine be done.” The cross He gives us to bare is our doorway into lives filled with His life giving Eternal Life. May we embrace it as an instrument of His Fatherly love for us. Amen.

* http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002218.html

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14 comments on “Is Our Time Always?

  1. Dear Michael,

    This has been a very timely article for me. Thank you so much for listening to His voice and writing it down the way you did. Excellent blog post, my brother!! ⭐

    You wrote above,

    Acting on our own for the benefit of others without getting the direction of our Father seems like the reasonable thing to do. “God has given you this gift! Shouldn’t you use it to the max?”

    Well, I do know this temptation from Satan, too, especially when I get compliments about certain gifts I seemingly possess. But as you go on and point to Jesus’ statement that says apart from Him we can do NOTHING, I do know from my own experience that I don’t possess them – at all. From the outside it might SEEM the gifts are mine, but instead, it is God whose possession I am and if He does not want me to use those gifts, He leaves me with a blank mind and an empty heart until He eventually sees fit to fill me up with His wisdom and love once again. Others might want me to do this or that (spiritually speaking, of course, it’s not about cooking, teeth brushing, or watering the plants 😉 ), however, I am not able to fulfill their expectations. That is frustrating for the Old Adam who relies on his flesh, but it is pure joy for the one, the new creation, that beholds and loves the Giver of all good gifts.

    As for dying to our childish independence from God, maybe, it helps to see that everything we do without God’s Spirit nudging us to do it, is spiritually completely worthless. Even though others might find it “admirable”, in the eyes of God it is only stubble and hay (cf. 1 Cor 3:12). Who wants to produce hay if he could also bring forth gold, silver, and precious stones with God’s help?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Michael says:

    Dear Susanne,

    I am so glad that this article came through in our Father’s timing for you and speaks to where you are at. You are describing exactly how it is with me.. My mind has been blank since I wrote that last blog post except for a couple of comments I wrote later. I am NOT a gifted writer in the natural… quite the opposite and my mind is not as sharp as it was once. But God chooses the foolish to confound the wise. He would rather manifest His glory in an ordinary clay pot than a silver challis so that the beauty of it all is His and not ours.

    You bring up and interesting point about just Who has the gifts these are in us.. IT IS THE GIVER’S Gifts! They are HIS to release and use and His to withhold as HE wills. And we are His, too. We are NOT our own. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof… Wherever HE occupies is where His fullness is found. May He fully occupy with His presence, dear sister!
    Bless you as you rest in Him! 🐻

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lori J. says:

    Michael – I have two cards taped to my mirror that speak to this. One is: “He doesn’t want what I have, He will give me what He has.” The other is “God’s power is fitted for our weakness; and our weakness is just fitted for God’s power; so we perfectly suit each other.” ~Wm Kelly If we could only truly grasp that He has created us for His pleasure and glory — that He wants to do all for us and in us so that we can bring glory and pleasure to Him — we might be able to begin to understand the cross. We cannot grasp this if we reason from our place on earth up to heaven instead of knowing, and reasoning from, our place in heaven. Seated with Him — enjoying His fullness for the life we must live here.

    **Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.** Phil. 3:12-14 NASB

    Great post Michael, thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Michael says:

    Dear Lori, you wrote, “If we could only truly grasp that He has created us for His pleasure and glory — that He wants to do all for us and in us so that we can bring glory and pleasure to Him — we might be able to begin to understand the cross. We cannot grasp this if we reason from our place on earth up to heaven instead of knowing, and reasoning from, our place in heaven. Seated with Him — enjoying His fullness for the life we must live here.”

    This really is quite insightful, dear friend. We are created to give Him pleasure as His children and and to Jesus as His bride. The question is, will we yield to His leading in our lives? He first must deal with that rebellious soul of Adam in us from which comes many fears that control us and get in the way. The cross He has for us will deal with these things as we embrace it as His gift to us because of His love for us. Will we then enter into our Father’s rest? For it is only as we rest IN Him that we will begin to find the fulness of who He is and who WE are IN Him and what truly gives Him pleasure. Love is at the center of what pleases Him. He loves us so much and wants us to love Him back and be made perfect in His love. John put it this way,

    “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:16-19 KJ2000)

    Thank you, dear sister for sharing your insight with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lori J. says:

      Michael, don’t you love that word *rest*? This has been a hard one for me to grasp. I’ve recently (past few weeks) been visiting a little church (yes, one of those organized churches!) where identification with Christ, heavenly position and union with Him are bedrock. Knowing Christ and resting in Him is the focus, so I am not only studying by myself to grow in Him and learn the heavenly life — I am becoming immersed in a body with others who are doing the same. I had two mentors who helped me learn these things for 20 and 30 years, but they were at a geographical distance. It’s really nice to be among other men and women who desire to know Christ crucified and what the cross means for believers. *Know* who He is and what He says, *believe* it and *rest* in it. The resting part is finally becoming more of a reality to me. I see it! I know it! These are perilous times (spiritually and otherwise) — how we need HIS rest!! So . . .resting in Him . . . but have you (or any other readers here) noticed that the more you know Him, the deeper you take on the sense of His heartbreak over the world as it groans under sin? Anguish for loved ones and people in general who are suffering under sin, especially as we see the day of His wrath approaching? I have unsaved family (including a beloved daughter) — sometimes it’s really hard to rest in Him as I see them more and more taking on the progressive anti-God philosophies of the world. What to do? What to say? Every morning I must take up His rest for another day — still learning how to do that. Looking forward to the day when we will see Him face to face and be completely overwhelmed in His rest!!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Michael says:

        Dear Lori,
        Yes, resting in Christ is hard for most people to grasp. I first found Hebrews chapter four where it makes it clear that we who believe in Christ are to be in God’s rest. Well, I was all excited and I took my discovery to my “pastor” and he said, “Rest is for when we die. NOW we work!” Well, I knew that he was wrong and continued to seek its meaning, though as long as I was under this guy there would be no rest. He made Pharaoh’s task masters look like Day Care teachers.

        The point I got from Hebrews was that if we have entered into God’s rest that is appointed to us, we cease from our own labors. The works that we have to do in Christ were foreordained from the foundation of the world by God and are not generated by us or our best intentions.

        “For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God’s approach present, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 CLV)

        As for your question about taking on the sufferings of Christ. I have noticed this specifically when a dear saint of the Lord suffers whom I know and love. He puts them on my heart and I actually feel their pains and sufferings. It is not a general thing with me, but rather it is a specific assignment he puts on me to intercede for them. Somebody once said, “Love runs toward pain.” That seems to be the case with me when He does this. How can we bear such a burden? We learn to take it upon us, but to also lay it down at His feet in prayer and rest again.

        God bless you, Lori.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Pat Orr says:

    Michael, thank you for the post. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. I have done much that I saw others doing. The Christian life is a mystery. I thank the Father that He told us to seek Him. The scriptures tell us that He is faithful to be found by us. I pray to do only what the Father is doing. I’m so grateful that we have a faithful Father.

    Love in Him,

    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Pat, there is a difference between doing what God shows us to do and what other want us to do and sometimes these conflict. Like I quoted to Lori,

      “For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God’s approach present, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 CLV)

      Being at rest in our minds so we can hear His voice is the key.

      Love to you and Bernie,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is well-timed for me, also, Michael. Someone I love dearly has been struggling for as long as I can remember. She is facing yet another crisis.

    Only God alone has kept her through these trials. All I’ve attempted has proven, for the most part, fruitless — at least in a worldly sense. All that is left for me to do is pray…which is the most powerful thing I can do, really. Now it is up to God whether to intercede or not.

    We cannot always know His mind. We may never understand the scope of His plan. The challenge for us is to say freely, despite that, “…not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42).

    With friendship,

    Anna ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna,

      When I took life saving classes as a young man they warned us of the dangers of trying to save a person who is struggling to save themselves. Sometimes you have to let them play themselves out and save them at the last minute when their own strength is drained. If they have any strength at all they will try and climb up on top of you and push you under to get above the water or worse yet, grab you with a death grip an make it impossible for you to swim and then you both go under. We were taught to never approach them from the front but to go underwater and come up on them from behind.

      There seems to be some wisdom in this in the way God handles those of us who are still thrashing about trying to save ourselves. He has to let us play out and come to the end of ourselves. He wants to hear one thing from us when we finally realize that there is nothing we can do, “Jesus, help!” You do well with this woman to “approach her from behind,” that is to pray for her and let God do the rest. Some people will drain you as you try to “save them” and only pull you down, as well. God loves her even more than you do. I am praying for Him to guide you in this matter.

      Your friend and brother always,

      Michael ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  7. rockley says:

    What about the idea of “living intentionally”? I’ve heard this idea endorsed in the “Christian” world, but it’s always stuck in my craw. It seems another way of saying “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.” But maybe that’s just me. There’s a subtlety in the phrase that reminds me of the subtlety of certain lies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Rockley,

      I had to look that one up. I just read an article by Joshua Becker about “living intentionally” and it would be good advise if there was no God. The article and his advise perfectly fits the temptation in the garden by Satan. Adam and Eve were just “floating along” one day at a time without a care in the world or a self designed “purpose filled life.” And then the serpent had a “better idea.” “If you eat of this tree, you will be like God! You can DO this! This method will make you wise. You have what it takes to be great… without God.”

      Jesus appealed to man to return to the simplicity of a God filled life and to HIS purposes for us as HIS children and not of our own selves. Satan always appeals to us to do something, ANYTHING, out from us. That is the way of the world and men like Rick Warren, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Napoleon Hill, etc. are filled with Satanic advise that will lead you away from Christ. But Jesus said, “Seek you first the kingdom of God and HIS righteous and all these things (we need for life) will be added unto you.” Oh, the sweet simplicity of walking by faith!

      Thanks for your comment. Keep listening to His voice inside of you.

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

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