Joan Corbett - Williams and Perth Special Meetings - May, 2006

Hymn 292

In Matthew 12, we read of Jesus speaking about the Queen of Sheba. The thing that impressed Jesus was how far she had gone to see the wisdom of Solomon. I found myself questioning myself; how far am I willing to go? How far am I willing to go to deepen my relationship with Jesus to get to know the Saviour? I found myself thinking of various lives who were fully committed to the will of God and no matter what it cost there was no compromise. True commitment doesn’t compromise.

We read of lives very early in scripture who were committed to obey the voice of God: it led them to a very close relationship with their God. God was able to speak to Abraham, that he was a man who, right from the beginning of scripture, was willing to go just as God sent him. When God called him first and told him to leave his country and kindred it was like taking a step out into the dark and, if flesh had risen up, he could have thought it unreasonable. But he rose up and went because he had faith that enabled him to see the help of God that day at his disposal. We heard about him offering his son: it was his obedience and as a result we have the record in the New Testament – beautiful stories of his faith. He was willing for what it meant to deny himself. How far are we willing to go in self-denial? How far in taking up the cross and denying ourselves?

Some of you may have come many miles and, I hope when you return, there will be fresh commitment to go further into the will of God. Miles don’t count, but its how far we go and how much we are willing for. We were hearing about the disciples in the ship fishing, and Jesus came and said to launch out into the deep: go a little deeper. Deeper experiences can help to deepen our faith, deepen our love – its the depth of the experience. He said to Peter, “You just launch forth.” Sometimes we might fear deep experiences: it’s our nature. We don’t like experiences that are hard to the flesh; but launching out, just trusting with the help of God. Peter proved so much. He would never have proved it had he not been willing to launch forth. He would never have experienced that miracle if he hadn’t launched forth.

We have taken steps and, maybe, the Lord will ask us for more costly steps. When I offered my life for this work, it was like a step out into the deep. Wonderful what I have proved since: and I would never have missed it. Anyone thinking of the work: you think it’s difficult and a hard step. I hope you will think of the wonderful blessing that comes as a result. We don’t need to fear deep experiences but go a little further in self-denial, taking up the cross. I was thinking about Ruth when she left Moab to go with Naomi to the land of Israel: she made a commitment to serve the living God. Wonderful blessing came into her life because of that commitment and there was no thought of turning back: no compromise. All that belonged to Moab she left behind and she became a wonderful woman that the Lord could use.

How far are we prepared to go in prayer? Sometimes we get to the place of prayer and we never know the voice of the Lord speaking to us. Sometimes we want the Lord to bless us: ask for all the blessing without making any commitment ourselves. It’s one thing to ask for blessing, but another to commit ourselves. Thinking of Hannah: she got into the place of prayer: asked for the blessing that cost. She made the commitment and committed her life: then the blessing came when she was prepared for that. That’s true prayer. How far are we prepared to go in the place of prayer?

I was thinking about Abraham and Lot. They separated because there were problems, “You go to the left hand and I will go to the right.” Abraham didn’t want strife. He was prepared for cost himself so that there would be peace. How far are you prepared to go for peace with your brother? Abraham was willing that there might be peace: he didn’t fight with his brother, but later on fought for his brother. When we keep the right attitude towards our brother or sister, it makes it possible to pray for them effectively. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

We need to keep our hearts pure, our attitudes right for our prayers to be effective. I was thinking of Jesus, “I know that Thou hearest Me always.” There was nothing in His heart that made it impossible for God to hear His prayers. Even though He was hated and men did their best to destroy Him, it didn’t bring bitterness and He could pray effectively. Even when He suffered His worst, He prayed for those who were responsible that there would be forgiveness. Can you and I go that far in wanting to make peace? He is our peace: He came and brought peace, made it possible for us, as Gentile people.

How can we be reconciled to God? By Jesus, who came and poured out His life. He gave Himself so that we might have peace. How far are we prepared to go when we think of how far Jesus went? It’s easy when there are problems, to excuse ourselves and blame others instead of taking the blame. Jesus took the blame and He wasn’t guilty: He took the blame.  Like the scapegoat that we read of in the Old Testament: the sins of the people were put on the shoulders of that goat, like Jesus. The goat was innocent but it carried those sins away. When those people confessed their sins and they were trusting in the blood, their sins were taken away. That’s what Jesus has done for us.

That’s what Abigail did. She wasn’t in the wrong, but she took the blame upon herself and it was enough to melt David’s heart. If we are prepared to take the blame, it can fuse a lot of the problems. A lot depends on our attitude, too. I was thinking about Moses: there was no compromise as far as he was concerned when Pharaoh refused to let them go. First of all, he said, "All the men could go," but Moses couldn’t agree to that. Then he said, "They could go but they were to leave their little ones behind." Do you ever feel you compromise with the world? You feel you don’t want your little ones to suffer, don’t want to know reproach? It’s the voice of Satan! It’s not going to hurt any one of us. I am thankful for reproach when I was young and thankful my parents didn’t spare us and didn’t sacrifice us to this world. Then Pharaoh said, “You can take your children but leave all your stock behind.” But Moses said everything was to go. How far are you prepared to go from the separation of this world? It’s easy when your flesh is crying out. How far are we prepared to go in keeping the righteous standard?

There are so many aspects: we just want to learn how to go further and deeper, trusting Him during the dark and deep experiences.They can work something into our lives. We read of Joseph: there were blessings from above and wonderful that that man was prepared to keep true throughout the dark and deep experiences. He became a feeder of his brethren as result of being true. I would like to learn how to yield myself in full surrender, totally committed to obedience.

How far can we go in obedience? A little disobedience isn’t obedience. It does matter - it’s still disobedience! It will bring us into a closer relationship with our Lord if we just obey, if we submit and surrender; the Lord will be able to claim us as His own. Like Noah who did everything God asked him to do: salvation came to all his household because he was willing. Think of Daniel: fully committed - no compromise. He could have said that for 30 days, “Maybe I don’t have to seek God and I’ll be alright.” But no compromise, he was committed to serving God. It didn’t keep him out of the lion’s den but it saved him in the lion’s den because God was true to him.

If we commit ourselves to God, it doesn’t mean to say we aren’t going to face difficulties like the lion’s den. The help of God is there, if we are true to Him. We can think of our Saviour who has gone all the way with no reservations. He went on from Gethsemane, on to Calvary and gave Himself without reservation. If we are following His footsteps, it means the same for you and I. Not holding anything back for ourselves but committed to go all the way: all the way in self-denial in pleasing God. We want to go all the way in denying ourselves, all the way in obedience to the Master, and may God help us.