Trusting Words From a Changed Heart

When we are being trained by Christ to live and speak in a manner pleasing to Him, we begin to feel nudges when we live and speak in a manner that is not pleasing to Him.

First and foremost, above all other things we may have been taught or believe, we must accept that we who have trusted in Christ for our salvation and life are not living separate from Him, so that the training or discipline is viewed as learning to live and speak in a manner that is pleasing to Him in our own flesh and by our own effort, no! This is getting down to the brass tacks of this life of faith. It is all Him, indwelling in us, and our learning to allow His Life to pour through us by our choosing Him, yielding to Him, being adjustable to Him, and not the ways of the flesh that had been so second nature to us.

Jesus says in Matthew 15:18 that what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart. So we do not try to change our speech without first having had some impact from heaven on our hearts, no! God, by His Holy Spirit, is the only heart-changer. We do not use our words as a magic potion to get God to change us or our circumstances or others. He is the only One Who turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh; meaning hearts that are pliable and adjustable to Him in loving trust. In this learning we find ourselves quite often speaking what had once been normal to the heart of stone; this heart did not trust in God our Father, did not have Him as a loving, available and indwelling presence. Oh, beloved, how many times have you heard the words come out of your mouth and at once – at once – knew they were words coming from your old heart and not your new which trusts and relies on Him? It has happened to me a few times just in the last week, and the nudging is getting more obvious. Immediately we turn to Him in agreement with what He has shown us; that what we have spoken does not reflect His abiding love and life within, and we turn from those spoken words of old; words displaying a distrusting heart, and we lean on Him Who, by His power that is at work within us, and is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams. (Ephesians 3:20).

This takes training. It requires cooperation, agreement. We yield to Him, we allow our speech to reflect our new hearts where He abides in resurrection power.

Lord help us. Thank You for helping us, for taking us into Your Hand and training us in this way.

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The Liberating Chains of Christ

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For every form of bondage a person can know, God in Christ is the Ultimate Freedom-Giver. He saves us from ourselves unto Himself, breaking the death-grip of the myriad of ways our hearts have been in chains.

We are, by human nature, influenced by the tangible which we can physically see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Our senses are always pressing about to interpret our circumstances to us. We presume that success has a certain kind of appearance to it, and that failure does also. We squirm under defeat and condemnation when we interpret failure in our lives; we celebrate with the force of our fragile ego’s when we interpret success in them.  Each one of us has a desperate need of validation for our words, our choices, our actions. We live in an oftentimes fickle and unstable environment when the outside or external circumstances dictate to us our standing in this world.

The renewal of our mind is ongoing and constant. This is not written to be a discouragement. For every layer and level of renewal brings with it a new apprehension of Christ and He is the great Encourager, full of Life and light; offering love and mercy and grace.

When we are walking after the flesh, prior to our being born from above, our minds perceive God and our surroundings through the lens of dread, fear and distrust – this is the enemy’s DNA! When we begin walking after the Spirit, allowing the new nature within, which is Christ’s very nature, to come forth, choosing to cooperate with and renew our minds to His mind, we are better able to perceive God and our surroundings through the lens of love, redemption, and trust – this is God’s DNA in Christ! Romans 5 verses 1 through 5 speak to this very thing. Oh, beloved, this is life-long for us. It is not shared here with a spirit of having arrived by any means. But, and hopefully you would be able to say the same, He has brought me further into knowing His heart than any previous recollected time.

Here is the irony: God in Christ’s Life and light are often revealed to our hearts when what our physical eyes are seeing in the tangible is death and darkness (not to be taken literal, for death and darkness close in by various means). There is always a temptation for us to go back to Egypt, so to speak; where the tangible was our comfort, even if we were slaves; we had food, rules, and knew what was what. There is the temptation to see the trouble and oppression; to feel the perplexity and the pain; to hear the silence and the persecution (in all its many forms), and, using the old nature’s lens to perceive God we suspect He has abandoned us, is deaf to our heart’s plea, or is punishing us due to His great displeasure; dread, fear and distrust are like the wolves banging at the door of our heart: Let us in, let us in! Everything is falling apart! God never heard you, this is proof of the absence of His presence, His love! If you have walked this narrow road for any amount of time, you know the roaring of the lion seeking to devour.

But it does not end with a wolf banging on the door or a roaring lion looking to devour or our selves going down under the weight of the death and darkness. We may emotionally succumb to it, He knows we are but dust. The flesh is weak to walk on and endure, that is to be certain. But the spirit, our spirit, where the Spirit of the risen Christ is living within us, this is strong – He is our real strength. It is downright laborious at times to leave the Egypt of our flesh and cross over to the Promised Land of Christ.  Many of us are being pressed in on, troubled, oppressed, crushed, embarrassed, deserted, etc. There seems to be an onslaught of the removal of various degrees of human and earthly help that once supported us ceasing to hold any longer.  Beloved, lean in closely and listen: He is here! Our real life is hidden with God in Christ. He is our Source. He is our Refuge. He is our ever present help in our time of need. Our lives are, even here in whatever you and I are facing, being liberated by the chains of Christ. It is shocking to our frail systems which have clung to so much of this earth, religious and otherwise. It is the One who was dead but is now alive forevermore who is our Life, teaching us in these times of great difficulty how to look to Him, lean on Him, seek Him, trust in Him.

 

Identifying As Christ Ones

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We live in a world that has become obsessed with how a person identifies; be it race, gender, sexuality, politics or religion, even Christianity and church or denominational affiliation. We live in a world that encourages a person to choose this identifier based on their origins of birth, their beliefs, their feelings or what bends pleasurable to their particular background or nature.

Our union with Christ eradicates all earthly identifiers, leaving only a heavenly and living Christ as our identity (Galatians 3:28). We accept this new identity by faith; faith that our old creation or our human nature was crucified with Him on the cross; faith in our being raised with Him in newness of life – His life, His resurrected life (2 Corinthians 5:17). This identity is an indwelling reality by way of the Holy Spirit, with a progressive outward manifestation as we yield to His work within.  It was a call of love when, to the weary and overwhelmed, Christ invited us to come to Him, making His yoke available to and for us, that we may take it upon ourselves, learning from Him Who is gentle and humble. This coming to Him, this taking His life as our own, He promised would result in our having heart-rest and life-peace (Matthew 11:28-30).

We starve spiritually and are vulnerable to the bearing down of the enemy when we do not know the truth concerning Christ. It is not human beings, however they may identify, whatever their actions or accusations, with whom the spiritual battle rages. The world is a stage for this on-going deception, and we as believers are too easily caught up in it if we are not careful. The battle is with the powers and principalities of darkness that hold this world in bondage. It is in that real fight where we are encouraged to put on the full armor of God (which God Himself supplies), and we must know more than just the words on the page; we may be able to recite them and yet not carry the power of them in our very beings. (Ephesians 6:11-17) It is imperative that we seek to know Christ above all else.

T. Austin-Sparks once shared: “The all-inclusive and comprehensive work and meaning of the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ. […] We need to get away from our man-crystallized systems of Christianity to a new Holy Spirit revealed apprehension of Christ.” This was shared prior to 1971, for that is when Sparks went home to the Lord. Nearly 50 years later it is even more so the case. On a grand and terrible scale Christianity has become what Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for in Matthew 15. For the sake of your Christian tradition you have set aside the Word of God, depriving it of force and authority and making if of no effect. Jesus called them pretenders and hypocrites, using Isaiah’s prophecy to identify them: You draw near to Me with your mouth and honor Me with your lips, but your hearts are far from Me. The disciples went to Jesus informing Him what offense the Pharisees took with His words to them. Jesus told His disciples to leave them alone, to disregard them, for they are blind guides and teachers. It is possible that the Holy Spirit will guide us away from what we have known in Christendom. This will be scary. He can be trusted.

Now this Holy Spirit revealed apprehension of Christ does not puff up, for it cannot. There can be pride in theological knowledge or in one’s religious standing in a particular church or community. But there can be no pride in knowing Christ, for one is brought to an understanding of Him outside of all natural means of learning; outside of what the world accepts as education;outside of what the religious world views as acceptable learning. Those who learn Him by a revelation of the Holy Spirit experience a deep humbling through the process. It is in that revealing where our human nature we once depended on for so long comes to mean nothing. Paul stated it best when all earthly advantages and reasons for self pride he once had – family lineage, religious standing, adherence to the law, etc. – he considered as garbage compared to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ (Philippians 2:4-8).

The armor of God in this spiritual war is the only thing that can suffice. Our self-sufficiency, our self-strength, even our religious and earthly affiliations never could, never has, never will meet the battle. We may get through a lot of life in that fashion, and admittedly human strength can be unbelievably powerful. But we have an enemy we cannot come face-to-face to in that strength. It took the death of the Son of God, the shedding of His blood, coming toe-to-toe with the enemy on his playing field to conquer that enemy. Our identifying with a risen Christ in His victory is absolutely necessary for us as His return draws closer and the enemy pulls out all the stops to use against us in keeping us from the truth concerning Christ.

God’s armor of Christ in His resurrected life, having defeated all the destructive works of the enemy, enables us to resist evil’s temptations and stand our ground.  In ancient Roman armor the belt was not a significant piece of protective gear in and of itself, but was necessary to hold weapons. The only weapon we are told to take up is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; and when seen as the Living Word of God, or Christ, Who is Himself Truth, this changes things, for He is both our belt and our weapon. The breastplate of God’s righteousness in Christ and what that now makes us cannot be penetrated, pierced or entered into by the enemy. The shield of faith is necessary in quenching all the flaming arrows of the enemy, for it is by faith in Christ, in our being made the righteousness of God in Christ, where the enemy cannot prevail. The Passion translates Ephesians 6:17 as, embracing the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. Jesus called our enemy the father of lies (John 8:44). But the One with Whom we are urged to identify with is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). In Him there is no lie (1 Peter 2:22).

Beloved, He is faithful, He can be trusted. Let us hear His love call, and, disregarding blind guides and teachers, go outside the camp to Christ, seeking above all else the Holy Spirit’s life-saving revelation of Him (John 16:13).

A Tried Heart Flooded with Light

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Our prayer life has got to be on a heavenly basis. It is not enough just to be praying for our earthly affairs. It is so easy to get up in the morning and hurry through a few words asking the Lord to bless us and ours, and our earthly things for the day, as though these things of this life were all. Oh, no! The Lord would have prayer touching things heavenly, things spiritual, related to that which is not of time, but of eternity; not of this world, but in relation to His eternal, heavenly intentions. He would have us separated from the merely temporal. There is a place for bringing those before the Lord, but they have got to be lifted in relation to the heavenly and not be dealt with as things in themselves. The blood makes everything heavenly, separating from the old creation. There is a very great deal of the old creation in our prayers; it is our convenience, our deliverance from inconvenience and discomfort, our salvation from what would bring us a great deal of trouble and sorrow. That is the motive behind a good deal of our praying. “Lord, don’t let anything bad happen today, because it would spoil our life today!” T. Austin-Sparks

We live in an unbelieving world. The god of this age has blinded the minds of the masses; the veil firmly in place preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The work of removing that veil is not ours, though we may be brought into or participate in the work. We do not, we cannot, in our own strength and by our own effort of hard work, mental reasoning and emotional feelings, get a blind person to see.

A spiritually blind person can only find hope in earthly change; be it their own circumstance or world problems, for them there is nothing beyond what they can physically see. It is all right here and right now, nothing further, nothing else. Like the mentality of a teenager, they are unable to see beyond the limitations of time and emotion. This is not a judgment or even a criticism of anyone. We are all spiritually blind until we are given spiritual sight.

In recent history the greater opinion of this unbelieving world became wholly fed up with “thoughts and prayers” during times of tragedy and turmoil. These “thoughts and prayers” are obviously not changing anything; a headline of an internationally known newspaper had a 2015 headline, “God isn’t fixing this.”

If we narrow the scope from larger world issues to our own individual lives, what, on the surface of things, could we say that “God isn’t fixing,” no matter how much we beg and plead in prayer? Maybe a lot. If we’re honest and not attempting to make a glossy, social media, or church acceptable presentation of our life…there’s probably much in our personal circumstance that has gone unchanged, sometimes they may even worsen.

There is an ironic humor in the last sentence of Sparks’ quote above: Lord, don’t let anything bad happen today, because it would spoil our life today. The irony is that it’s true for many of us. The humor is that it’s true for many of us.

When Jesus began to speak clearly about His impending suffering & death, Peter was not going to let Him have it. Peter took Jesus aside and reprimanded Him for saying such things. Jesus’ response is alarming: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way – an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23, Amplified Classic) We jump to Romans 8 to get the gospel or new covenant interpretation: Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace. In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to His direction, because it cannot! (Romans 8:5-7, The Passion)

“Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves.” Every single human being who has ever lived has been motivated by their flesh. This is not something unique to one and not to another. This is all of us. Some are naturally more kind or understanding than others; some are naturally inclined to religion and its duties, others are more bent towards rebellion. Either way you slice it, it is the flesh that pursues what benefits ourselves, or as Jesus said, “what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men.” It is Christ’s life in us that changes the narrative altogether. But how does it happen practically, in every day living? How does Christ’s life in us become more prominent than our flesh? We can follow the words on the page of Scripture and repeat over and over and over again, “I have been crucified with Christ – in Him I have shared His crucifixion; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) But until that has been worked out in us by the sovereignty of God via the Holy Spirit, and our yielding to that work, we will be frustrated.

The Lord still tries you to convince you thoroughly that your estimate of your own strength is utterly false and exaggerated and to bring you to the place where it will be truly, Not I but Christ liveth in me. A. B. Simpson

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely and mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? Verse 10 answers with, I, the Lord, search the mind, I try the heart

It is through the Lord’s trying us where we come to know our heart, deceitful as it is. We groan under the light, acknowledging what He shows us is true of our old fleshly nature; we worship in that same light, grateful that there is no condemnation, and that what is old has passed away and the fresh and new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It is through these initially unwanted, yet sovereignly unchanged circumstances, where we come to the end of ourselves, no longer being led by the flesh and seeking what benefits us, but walking after the Spirit and what will ultimately glorify the Lord. We can better hear the Peter’s in our lives, who are not minding what is of the nature and quality of God, when they reprimand us in some season of suffering we are yielding to; not in a fleshly submission to the suffering alone which leads to despair, but in obedience to the Lord in the suffering. Trusting that since Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered (Hebrews 5:8), we too shall learn. Having a determination like Paul to know Christ; to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and clearly. And that we may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers]; and that we may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into the likeness of Christ (Philippians 3:10).

Weaving the thread back around to bring this writing to its completion, Father, we admit that our prayers have been filled to the brim with our old nature, seeking what benefits us, whether it be for ourselves or for the self of others. We recognize that old creation prayers are no match for the battle, for we wrestle not against flesh & blood. It takes something altogether other to keep us standing in this day, when the rulers of the darkness of this world are stepping up their game. Lord we ask a heart seeking the downright reality of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19 be made good in us, for nothing else – no other thing – will suffice.

Father, we ask for a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Flood our hearts with Your Light illuminating the mysteries we could never know when we were blind and behind the veil. We ask this so we can know and understand the eternal hope to which You have called us, and how rich is your glorious inheritance in the called-out ones. We accept that to continually experience the immeasurable greatness of Your power made available to us through faith we will be faced with naturally insurmountable odds. But that is, through us, the very epicenter to the world the same power You released when raising Christ from the dead, exalting Him above all things.

Thank you Father!

Our Warrior King

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For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].

1 Corinthians 13:12, The Amplified Classic

He did not consider His equality with God something to be held tightly to His chest, kept for Himself alone. Therefore He gave it all up to become one of us. He is the ultimate Preacher of the Gospel to the poor. He is the eternal Healer of the brokenhearted. He is not the prison guard as some may believe, but He is the only One Who holds the Key; His death tore the veil, His precious blood opened up the new & living way in which the captives are set free from sin, His resurrected Life now living within believers around the globe. Following in the footsteps of our Forerunner we now find ourselves in the very presence of God Himself; living boldly in the Throne Room with His righteousness wrapped ’round us like a garment, our consciences cleansed, His law written on our once stone hearts that have been transformed into flesh, we now see God as Abba, as Papa, as Father.

He gave up His position to enter the battle. Of all the wars this world has known since its creation, none were as important as this one, nor as historical…this one shifted the very foundations of the Universe as to blot out the sunshine on the first day, and blot out death on the third day. Of all the lives laid down for nations’ freedom’s, none can compete with His. His work once and for all at completion He is seated at the right hand of the Father. His human body, the vehicle for the heavenly combat, though disfigured more than any veteran of war has ever known, is mangled no more. His nail-pierced hands and feet, His side-gash from the sword, are His only scars.  We do not look on Him with pity because the ravages of war have had their way with Him…mind, body and soul. He is our great warrior King Who led captivity captive; Who conquered sin and grave; He is the One Who says, I am He that was dead but now I am alive forevermore.

This and so much more is a labor to believe when all that contradicts it inundates our every waking moment. This is where the prayer in Ephesians 1:17-21 enters into our modern world:

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,

Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places],

Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.

Beloved, let us not end there. For what is true of Him is also true of us. Stroll with me into Ephesians 2:5-6 where it is written that in God’s great mercy and love for us,

Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus.

May He give us hearts to receive, eyes to see, and ears to hear that this…this is the Great Spiritual Reality brought to us by our Warrior King. It is a position of faith being the assurance of the things we hope for, the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality – faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. Amen.

 

 

In the Loving Hands of a Sovereign God

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The circumstances begin to circle us like a vulture. They close in on us squeezing out the sunlight, like the midday slamming of a cellar door.  The accusations from the enemy sound louder in these conditions. We tremble. He snickers.

It takes time for us to learn to ask the Lord what He would have us know, what He wants us to learn in and by these circumstances. To seek the eye of His perception, which will bring peace; rather than depending on the lens of our own emotions and opinions and fears, which will bring agitation and squirming, and sometimes resentment of Him.  The peace that He gives is not as the world gives. The circumstances do not always change, much to our initial chagrin. The storm may very well continue to stir dangerously about us. But the core of our being has been settled by the Heavenly One who has spoken to our hearts. When we first experience this peace, and possibly for a long time of our journey, we may not be able to verbalize why it is well with our soul. For when it is the risen and very much alive Christ settling us, our words don’t get thrown out verbatim with the masses. It is humbling to be in His Presence. This is a cosmic shifting, beloved. From a heart of distrust and self-sufficiency to a heart of faith and trust in the Lover of our souls. Oh the sovereign work of our Father to bring us there!

2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 7-11 can interpret these times for us very well; helping us to see the purpose of where we are, where He has placed us. For our good and His glory. It is imperative that we ask His help in bringing these words from the context of Paul’s life circumstances right into our own. We must not leave them on the page. It is the Spirit’s eternal pleasure to be the Revealer of Heavenly realities.

But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us. We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. For while we live, we are constantly handed over to death on account of Jesus so that His life may be revealed even in our mortal bodies of flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 The Voice

We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them.

We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair.

We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned.

We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 

This is not our old nature with its self-sufficiency and positive thinking doing its best to keep the wolves-of-life at bay. This is not a motivational speaker looking to cheer on a crowd. This was written by a man to whom God had given a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ; what Christ accomplished, Who Christ is, and what that means for, in, and through us. We do not read these words and strive to make them true about us in our own effort! We do not simply respond with an amen and expect the Life in these Scriptures to be made our own. This must be God’s revelation to us as well, then worked in to us; and it is our yielding to the loving hands of a sovereign God which will bring the power of what Paul wrote here into our own lives, whatever the circumstances may be.

It couldn’t possibly be stated all the various & sundry ways that believer’s lives are handed over to death. Not always literally! Let’s not get stuck thinking that! As we go on with the Lord, every last thing we have used in our flesh as a means to sustain us will be touched by His loving & sovereign Hand. Beloved, if you have walked any distance with Him you may already know what this feels like…it feels like death. But the death of our old nature, the death of our self-sufficiency, the death of all that we once used to sustain us, this is not the end! Oh no! This is merely the beginning!

It is here now that I must walk gently, for a messenger cannot give beyond what they themselves have been given. It is from a position of faith and trust that I now write because it is on the edge of these words this life now walks. As Paul states in verse 10, it is as a result of our carrying around in our bodies the reality of Jesus’ death that His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. Oh, beloved, that is a power beyond anything that the strongest, most courageous human in their own nature can provide or muster up. His resurrection life is the life of One Who has defeated the enemy on every level, it is the power of an endless life…this is what we are able to walk in when we accept the afflictions and bewilderment’s and knocking down’s as coming from His loving Hand of sovereignty. Oh how easy it is to view these as His displeasure with us – Father save us from that mindset! When something is allowed into our lives, it is His loving Hand of sovereignty that will work all things out for good to us who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Not everyone will understand! This is not something that the flesh can conceive of, no! This will be a costly and lonely path as far as this world is concerned, but it is one that our Forerunner forged for us; and we are in resurrection union with Christ as we walk it. There is no safer place than that.

In Possession of a Heavenly Treasure

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It is during seasons of trial and hardship where we are better able to see the truth of what (or who it) is we have depended on. It is in this testing of our hearts that God brings to light that which cannot endure in order that we may agree with Him and let loose of the temporary for the eternal. This is a deep work, a long work, and oftentimes a painful work. Though it is not painful to see the Truth of God, which is Christ; it is painful to see our true selves in the Light of Him.  But never to end with the pain or death of our old self or habits or beliefs, we look onward to the risen life of Christ in us and all that is true of Him, which is the hope of glory.

When these seasons seem to drag on like cold molasses; when we feel as if we’re living isolated lives out on a dark country road with no cell service; when the testing of our hearts is seemingly unrelenting, this is when we need the encouragement and reminder of what He has brought us to; not to continue our death-grip on the things of this earth which are merely temporary, fine as they may have been for us at one time, but to allow the Author and Perfecter of our faith to break down the temporary in us in order to build us up into the that which is Him – heavenly, spiritual, deathless, incorruptible; or as Jesus is recorded in Matthew 6:19, Don’t keep hoarding for yourselves earthly treasure that can be stolen by thieves…Instead stockpile heavenly treasures for yourselves that cannot be stolen and will never…lose their value; it is here where we see that, our hearts will always pursue what we value as our treasure – earthly or heavenly. Beloved, let the Lord’s testing do its good work in us, that we are transformed from one who once demanded our earthly treasures be kept safe & sound, to one who trusts that the heavenly treasures of Christ are priceless in comparison.

It is not the intention of the author to presume what a reader is going through presently or their needs. But it is a guarantee that it will be God in Christ Who is abundantly more than we can ask or imagine capable of meeting the many-sided need(s) of our life and heart. This is not cheap talk. It is that which in His great love for us, He works into our spirits during our darkest days. It is in faith where our needs are met in and by Him, and not always in change of circumstance. He is at the center of it all; it is out from Him which flow rivers of life, and when that endless supply of holy water pours into the crevices of our hearts’ deepest need, we are better able to stand firm wherever He has planted us. For it is not written that through our change of circumstance or the rights we think we deserve being returned to us, is our strength; it is through Christ, through His strength in us, that we are able to do all things, to stand firm in any place (Philippians 4:13).

Oh, how hard this is for our flesh to accept! We live in a world where we are bombarded with the megaphone demands that all things on the outside must change. It is a world  that marches, creates causes, and writes open letters for a change in this or that or the other; changes in legislature and/or human behavior. This is by no means against social justice, it is an attempt to bring us onto higher ground in the Lord. It is understood that the world, without God, knows no other way; they are only doing what they think is best or right for the time in which we live. But we are not without God, we have been shown another Way, and that Way is Christ. Let us stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around us, and be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how we think (Romans 12:2).

It is in the letter to the Hebrews where we are able to see what it is that God has brought us to. In 10:19-22 it is written: …because of the blood of Jesus, God welcomes us to come right into the most holy sanctuary in the heavenly realm – boldly and with no hesitation. For He has dedicated a new, life-giving way for us to approach God. For just as the veil was torn in two, Jesus’ body was torn open to give us free and fresh access to Him! And since we now have a magnificent King-Priest to welcome us into God’s very presence, we come closer to God and approach Him with an open heart, fully convinced by faith that nothing will keep us at a distance from Him. It goes on in verse 23: so now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps His promises.

If we stop here for a moment and focus in on “fully convinced by faith that nothing will keep us at a distance from Him.” Fully convinced by faith – uh oh. This may find us out. How often, beloved, have our circumstance closed in or the world’s news startled us into thinking that He is far from us. Let’s go to Romans 8 to have this interpreted for us.

8:35-37 it is written: Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish His love towards us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love….even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and His demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything. What is God’s demonstrated love? Earlier in verse 32 it tells us, For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His Son. Christ is our glorious victory over everything – oh, thank You Father!

It begins to weave like a beautiful pattern of life and peace when we see again in Hebrews 10 what this treasure of God in Christ has made available to us. Not just for another time later on, but for us to experience in our day to day lives right now.

Romans 8 goes on in verses 38 through 39: So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus.

Later in Hebrews 10, verses 32-36 it is written: Don’t you remember those days right after the Light shined in your hearts? You endured a great marathon season of suffering hardships, yet you stood your ground.  And at times you were publicly and shamefully mis-treated, being persecuted for your faith; then at others times you stood side by side with those who preach the message of hope. You sympathized with those in prison and when all your belongings were confiscated you accepted that violation with joy; convinced that you possess a treasure growing in heaven that could never be taken from you. So don’t lose your bold, courageous faith, for you are destined for a great reward! You need the strength of endurance to reveal the poetry of God’s will and then you receive the promise in full. For soon and very soon, The One who is appearing will come without delay!”

He will come without delay – our hearts leap within us. We possess a treasure growing in heaven that can never be taken from us.

A timely T. Austin-Sparks quote:

“Perhaps this is just like a window opened into heaven. If you get the right window you can see quite a lot. You can see great things and you can see far things. But the best that I can hope is that this has just opened a window, and that as you look through it you are seeing one thing – how superior is Jesus Christ to all else, and how superior is the dispensation into which we have come, and how superior are all the resources at our disposal to all that ever was before!”

Heavenly resources at our disposal, beloved. Christ in heaven and Christ in us, God has made Himself available to us. Cling to this hope!

(All Scriptures listed here are from The Passion Translation.)