Today Derek begins a study on agreeing with God. To agree means to harmonize our ways and thoughts to God’s. God has said in His Word that His thoughts are not ours and His ways are higher than ours. Since God does not change, then it is up to us to agree or harmonize with God. We need to line up our ways and thoughts to His.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you Keys to Successful Living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
My theme this week will be Agreeing with God. I’ll be explaining one of the basic requirements for success in life.
But first, let me say thank you to those of you who’ve been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. It means a great deal to me to hear how this radio ministry of mine has been helping you and blessing you. So please take time to write—even if it’s only a brief personal note.
Now back to our theme: Agreeing with God.
The New Testament is, in its essence, an invitation to share fellowship with God and with the apostles. This is stated very clearly at the opening of the first epistle of John, that is 1 John, chapter 1, verses 1 through 4.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled concerning the Word of Life—[and John is speaking there about the Word made flesh, that’s Jesus, and he goes on in verse 2:] the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—[understand he’s speaking about Jesus. Then he goes on:] that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (NKJ)
John is writing as one of the apostles who have brought to us, in the New Testament, their own personal witness and record of what they saw and experienced with Jesus. And then he adds the reason why this New Testament record has been transmitted to us by the apostles. The ultimate purpose, there in verse 3—“that you also may have fellowship with us [that’s the apostles] and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” So, in that way, the New Testament is an invitation to all who read it to share fellowship with the apostles, and the fellowship that they have is with the Father and with the Son, Jesus Christ. So I put it this way, the New Testament is an invitation from God, through the hand of the apostles, to come into and enjoy the fellowship that God the Father and God the Son have together eternally. It’s an invitation to enter into and enjoy the eternal fellowship of the Father and the Son. That’s the end purpose why the New Testament was written and if we don’t enter into that, then we’ve missed the purpose for which the New Testament was given to us. And then, in that connection, John adds one more purpose for his writing. In verse 4:
“These things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (NKJ)
So, the result of entering into this fellowship is fullness of joy and if we stop short of the fellowship, then we do not have the fullness of joy that God wants us to have and that He’s made available to us through the New Testament. So understand, the end purpose is fellowship with God.
Now one way the Bible describes this fellowship is in a phrase that’s used a good many times one way or the other, that is, walking with God. Walking together is one common form of fellowship. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of people don’t appreciate how much fellowship there is in walking together. My wife and I walk together regularly almost every day. And we find that as we just walk and get into step and harmonize our thoughts, our fellowship is strengthened and deepened. And that’s a little simple picture, I think, of what God wants us to have with Him. He wants us to walk with Him. He wants us to be brought into harmony with Him. He wants our fellowship to be deepened.
Now in the Prophet Micah, chapter 6 and verse 8, the Lord speaks and lays down certain basic requirements for this kind of fellowship which is called “walking with God.”
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)
More literally, the Hebrew says, “humble yourself to walk with God.” So what are God’s three requirements stated there? First of all, justice or righteousness; secondly, mercy; and third, humility. And God says, if we will cultivate those three aspects of character—justice or righteousness, mercy, and humility—the result will be that we’ll be able to walk with God, to have fellowship with God.
And then, right back, early on in the Old Testament, the first great saint of God, after all the sad events connected with man’s fall, was Enoch, and he is singled out in the New Testament as an outstanding man of God. And this is what the Book of Genesis says about Enoch in Genesis 5:21 through 24:
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (NIV)
See, the great, outstanding fact about the life of Enoch, as recorded for us in Scripture, is that Enoch walked with God and ultimately he just disappeared. Somebody said that one day after they’d walked together for 300 years, the Lord said to Enoch, “Well it’s much nearer to my place than it is to yours; why don’t you come on home with me,” and Enoch was no more. That’s just a theory.
Now, I want to take the New Testament picture of Enoch, in Hebrews 11:5, the commentary:
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (NIV)
How did he please God? By walking with God. How did he walk with God? By faith. So that’s God’s purpose. It’s God’s invitation to share fellowship with Him, expressed in walking with Him.
Now, in my talks this week I’m going to deal with one great, basic requirement for walking with God which is Agreeing with God.
This is stated so clearly in Amos 3, verse 3, which says this. It’s a question.
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (NKJ)
To agree means to harmonize in our ways and thoughts. So we cannot walk with God unless we learn to harmonize with God in His ways and His thoughts. However, the Bible also makes it clear that by nature, God’s ways and thoughts are quite different from ours. This is stated with great clarity and emphasis in Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 6 through 9, where the Lord is speaking through the prophet, and He says this:
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. [Notice that when we turn to God, it’s not enough merely to turn in outward act, but what really matters is our inward ways and thoughts. That’s what has to be forsaken, our own ways and our own thoughts in order to turn to God and to relate to God and be reconciled with God. And then God goes on and tells us why:] ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (NIV)
So God says emphatically, clearly, “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways. The way you think is not the way I think. Your natural ways,” God says to man, “are not in harmony with mine.” In fact, He says, there is an immeasurable gap, “as the heavens are higher than the earth,” that’s the measurement of the gap between God’s ways and God’s thoughts, and our ways and our thoughts.
Now we need to lay hold in this connection of one other very important fact which is really in a way very simple and very obvious, but nevertheless, it needs to be stated. It’s stated by God in Malachi, chapter 3 and verse 6, where the Lord says:
“I the Lord do not change.” (NIV)
I’m sure really, when we meditate on that, we see it’s obvious. It’s good that God doesn’t change because He’s perfect and any change would have to be a change for the worse. But God is unchanging. He does not change and His ways and His thoughts are not going to be modified; they’re not going to be adjusted; they’re not going to be altered. Well, that leaves only one option for you and me—if we want to agree with God, if we want to bring our ways and our thoughts into line with those of God, what is the only remaining, logical option? It’s very clear. God doesn’t change. His ways and thoughts are not ours, so there’s only one possibility which is that you and I change our ways and our thoughts. That’s the only way we can agree with God. It’s the only way we can harmonize with God. And therefore, it’s the only way that we can walk with God because Scripture says, “Can two walk together unless they be agreed, unless they are in harmony with one another.” So there has to be a deep, radical change of our ways and thoughts.
Tomorrow I’ll explain this more fully, but our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be explaining how God has made it possible for us to bring our ways and thoughts into line with His.