I find Christians all over the world forever being intimidated by
that “accuser of the brethren” who says that when things go wrong, “You
are out of God’s will.”
They are wrong and bad enough in themselves, but he just adds on more weight: “It is happening to you because you did something wrong.” Not so! This kind of circumstance is not happening to you because you did something wrong. To those Christians who have said to me that the sign of being out of God’s will is things going wrong circumstantially in your life, I have oft responded: then all the saints in
God’s book were out of God’s will most of the time!
The Christian journey is warfare.
The abomination of the people was they never went past what
they saw. They would reduce God’s house and God’s ministry down to
their needs. They would evaluate the church and its ministry on the basis
of what it did for them. A church is a people who belong to the Lord; it
is the house of God assembled together as a household in the Lord’s
house. In this Temple that God was showing them, they had limited their
vision. They only saw ministry to themselves; they wanted a ministry
that would stand before themselves.
Let me tell you something: you don’t bring any needs into the
That’s all taken care of in the outer court.
Human need is adequately met at the altar of sacrifice. In the inner court, God is the
Recipient. You come in here to kindle an altar of praise to Him. If in the
last few days you have not found a place to pray, and tuned every
pressure of your need and every other need out, and done only one single
thing: lift praises to Him, then you have not moved into that inner court.
Every prayer is, “Give me this and give me that” and “Worry with
me about this.” Leave it in the outer court! You don’t take anything into
the inner court!
You bring yourself to God. That’s not just Old Testament doctrine; Luke 5:15 says, “So much the more there went a fame abroad of him,” speaking of Jesus, “and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.” Now they needed to hear, and they needed to be healed. Nobody can challenge that.
He had the words of life, and He could heal them. A conjunction is in the
Gospel: “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and there prayed.”
He made the very press of the crowd and its needs an excuse to go pray,
and He was the Son of God. You turn away from the line of people with
There are times I don’t know why God wants me, but amazing
grace and glory to God, as long as He does, I know the door is open. The
initiative starts with God, and you are not brought to God by chance.
When He starts scratching the surface or pounding on the door, thank God.
This story puts it in dramatic perspective; David is asking, “Where is he?”
“Is any,” underline that word, “Is any of the house of Saul…?”
Now, what is the nature of the one he was seeking? Notice that God does
not seek the sinner because of his merits. That is why I keep saying we
are not in the business of transplanting saints; we take all who come.
But He still came to seek and to save that which is lost; and it is the sick, He said, who need a physician. David wasn’t looking for a particular quality of person to receive the benefit of his kindness. He says, “Is there any?” and Ziba says, “Yeah, there is one which is lame, crippled, whose name is Mephibosheth.” Do you know what Mephibosheth means? Literally it would translate “a shameful thing.” A shameful thing.
We have to face up to the fact that when we fail, we fail. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13); but having done it, don’t let the devil beat you to death! Abram didn’t have to pause very long back in that place where he had started and where faith had originally brought him to this land.
The Lord said, “Lift up now thine eyes”: not tomorrow, now! Put it behind you, all failure once for all; put it behind you, if that’s where you’re at! Do you know what Philippians 1:6 says? “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you,” what does it say? “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s my promise! Just as literally as God spoke to Abram, that’s my promise and your promise. “Lift up now thine eyes!”
Do you need healing? Is there anybody sick here? Have you been prayed for lots of times? Well, let the Word penetrate today. God’s promise says, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them anoint him with oil and pray over him: And the prayer of faith….” What does the Word say? “Shall save the sick.” (James 5:14-15)
God says in His Word, “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” (Exodus 15:26) How many need healing? “Lift up now thine eyes, from the place where thou art.” As literally as when Abram got up and began to walk in that land possessed by heathen, it became his, in God, established that day. As you arise and walk today and claim the promise as the Word goes forth, God will back His Word. If we walk in it, He will back us.
What was the condition of the first man to whom Jesus addressed this word? He was “sick of palsy” on the surface, but that wasn’t what Jesus treated first. Jesus, who knows the heart, doesn’t waste words.
This chapter doesn’t make any sense to me unless Jesus saw something in the heart of that man sick of palsy that wasn’t so apparent to everybody else. To everybody else, he was sick with palsy, helpless, needing friends to carry him into Jesus’ presence and let him down before Him. But that is not where Jesus focused in. He first addressed Himself to something hidden. Jesus said, “Son, be of good courage,” to use the literal meaning; write it in the margin of your Bible. “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Jesus lived in a culture and came preaching in a culture that was forever linking physical sickness with sin. In John 9:1, He came upon a boy blind from birth. The scholars asked Him the question, “Who sinned, this boy or his parents?” Jesus said, “Neither one of them” and went ahead and treated the need. Everywhere a sick man was encountered, the onlookers would begin to suspect sins. Something was wilting the courage of this sick man. Jesus, in the giving of courage, removes the cause of non-courage, removes the basis of fear. He says, “Be of good courage; thy sins be forgiven thee.”
What about those “sons of the prophets”? They show me that the crowd is equally happy for you to get along without some things in God. The person who is determined to get the best tends to make the crowd nervous. And forever there is that watering-down influence that would package Christianity in one palatable formula so that everybody can get it and be done with it. With a wave at God on Sunday, like a friend in the house, they can then go their way.
This book is teaching me that there is a place in God where God will let you get along without; indeed He may even test your resolve and put up resistance to you getting it. It teaches me that the majority in the kingdom are quite willing to get along without it. Indeed, they want you to stop and stay with them. These sons of the prophets discouraged Elisha, but he would not be satisfied staying where they were.
In the New Testament, “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus went out into a mountain to pray, and he continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) Before He chose His disciples He spent all night in prayer. If the Lord of Glory spent time, I’d better spend it. Stay in His presence.
What is the third ingredient of the Inner Court? Ministry to the Lord is hidden.
Hear me closely. In this outer court where I minister to human need, I am seen. There’s a guard at the gate, another guard over there, and the line of believers. Everybody sees me perform out here. They see me get the job done. Ministry to the Lord is hidden. Nobody sees what you do in there. And that, by the way, if I can parenthetically put it in, might be why the God who knows the heart puts priority here. Only a people with the faith who truly believe that the invisible God is with us will go into the inner court. You can get lost in the activity of working for the Lord, but you have to really believe He is alive to do what one old saint did, which is to just sit down, put a chair in front of him, believe God was right there and talk to Him.
This is hidden; nobody sees you do this.
God help us in our Puritan dominated work theology of the Kingdom if somebody thinks I’m not working for God; if you are hidden away ministering to Him you are viewed as a failure. But not to God.
God had moved out of the eternal and invisible realm, and the Word, that was facing God and was of the same nature as God, dwelt, tented is the meaning of the Greek word: struck a tent in human flesh and moved into a package of flesh called Jesus of Nazareth. (John 1:1-14)
And there was God in a Person on the stage of history. If you wanted to know what God was like, there He was. And when He passed by, they went with Him. That was the good news being proclaimed. Onto the stage of history, a child would come: “Emmanuel” would be His name, “which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Pastor Melissa Scott goes on to say, Dr. Scott told me that he heard Canon Bryan Green at Stanford University once describe some people’s religious search. He said they are like a little child who quit playing hide-and-seek because it was “all seek and no find.” He said that is the way some people seek after God. They are forever looking in the wrong place. God came to find us.
Psalm 84 says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.” “Of them” is in italics because it was added by the King James translators, but it is not in the original. The word “ways” modifies God, not the people who are in the valley.
Literally, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee and in whose heart are the ways of thee.” You read in the Bible that God’s acts were made known to the children of Israel. They saw the acts of God and the results of His acts, but to Moses God revealed His ways. It takes time to learn these things.
Again, let me demystify spiritual things. That is common language: have you ever said of any close friend, after you get to know him long enough, “That’s just the way he is”? You become familiar with your friend’s ways. Well, God has ways, and we are forever getting ahead of Him. God has always dealt with these extremes. There are those who come along who want to do it in place of God. Those are the matchbox, self-made fire builders that we are talking about here. They don’t need God; they will light the way with their own instruments. The other extreme is someone who leaves it all to God. This passage reminds me of a story about a farmer who had a marvelous crop and somebody said to him, “You ought to thank God for the crop He gave you.” The farmer said, “I do, but you should have seen the field when God had it by Himself.”