Peaceable Fruit of Righteousness

Via Pexels

Scripture readings:

If you [merely] love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the [very] sinners love their lovers (those who love them). And if you are kind and good and do favors to and benefit those who are kind and good and do favors to and benefit you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the preeminently sinful do the same. Luke 6:32-33 (see also verses 27-42)

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. John 15:5 (see also verses 1-13)

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. 1 Corinthians 13:4–8

The Greek word for love in this particular passage (1 Corinthians 13) is Agape and it has this as its definition: God’s love produced in the heart of a yielded saint by the Holy Spirit. A love that impels one to deny him/herself for the sake of a loved one. This is God’s love, not our love. It doesn’t emanate (originate) from us, it comes from God. It is produced in the heart of the yielded saint. That means we have to allow the work to be done, we have to invite it. And the outworking of that love is that it impels us to deny ourselves for the sake of the loved one – that would imply a relative or someone who is close to us. Every human being is close to the heart of the Lord. It’s not His desire that any should perish. Chris Poole

As the last post mentioned, it is through difficult and painful circumstances of divine discipline when our deceitful hearts are exposed and laid bare before us through the sovereign testings of the Lord (Jeremiah 17:9-10). As Hebrews 12:11 tells us, for the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful.

Stop for a minute and hear that, will you please.

No discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful. There are seasons, are there not, where we experience the deep discipline of the Lord and that which is in us is being exposed and we are not joyful about it in the least. That is okay! However, the verse goes on to say that afterwards, the discipline that was not joyful but painful, yields to those who have been trained by it what the Amplified Classic puts as the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Peaceable Fruit of Righteousness: [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].

Conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action.

Brothers and sisters, this is a maturing process that goes beyond merely having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, for that righteousness of Christ must increase even as we (our self) decreases.

Be encouraged! What God is doing is a wonderful work that is bringing our souls under the control of the Spirit, and what a time for Him to be in the increase among His own throughout the world!

Grace and peace be yours in Christ.

Your sister,

Becky

The Potter Knows the Clay

Via Pixabay

And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action). Romans 6:18

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. Hebrews 12:11

Becoming a servant of righteousness is in no way instant or immediate. The fullness of Christ is indeed living inside of us, but in order to have that fullness flow out from us, it will take time. Time, submission to His work, suffering and discipline (see Hebrews 12 verses 5-10 and keep in mind that the term son in those verses is about maturity not gender).

T. Austin-Sparks’ daily open windows from earlier this week was perfectly timed, if I may paraphrase:

The Cross of Jesus Christ means that not even for Him can we be or do anything out from ourselves, if there is to be anything at all it must be out from Him, and that means a life of absolute dependence and faith…such a revelation, if it is to be a staggering and breaking thing, so that there is no strength left in us, requires a background of much vain effort…while an end is written large in the Cross, and while that end is to be accepted as our end…Jesus lives…and that means boundless possibilities.

For us to recognize this vain effort may require – dare I say it must require – difficulties beyond our scope, trials and testing’s sovereignly placed in order to expose that in me there is no good thing! Anything up to that point of exposure and recognition on our part may have appeared good but it was the flesh and is as filthy rags. Do not fear! Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter, and we are all the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

So, may we work out – cultivate, carry out to the goal and fully complete (mature) – our own salvation with reverence…not in our own strength, brothers and sisters, for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in us – energizing and creating in us the power and desire both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). Amen and thank You, Father.

If you find yourself in these difficulties which are meant to expose and never to condemn (Romans 8:1), if you are under the hand of the Lord in a season of deep discipline, may we be among those who have been trained by it and may we also find life and comfort and encouragement in Hebrews 12:12 (JB PHILLIPS):

…take a fresh grip on life and brace your trembling limbs. Don’t wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse.

Forge steadily onward, brothers and sisters! The Potter knows the clay.

I know you are going through the fire
Its getting hard to stand the heat
But even harder is the wondering
Is God’s hand still on me
Its lonely in the flame
When you’re counting days of pain

But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
‘Til there’s submission to His will
He’s planned a beautiful design
But it’ll take some fire and time
Its gonna be okay
‘Cause the Potter knows the clay

Friend I just came through that fire
Not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why
And that my God was in control
On the hottest day I’d cry
Oh Lord, isn’t it about time

But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
‘Til there’s submission to His will
He’s planned a beautiful design
But it’ll take some fire and time
Its gonna be okay
‘Cause the Potter knows the clay

He’s planned a beautiful design
But it’ll take some fire and time
It’s gonna be okay
‘Cause the Potter, He knows the clay.

Lyrics to The Perry’s, The Potter Knows the Clay (for the YouTube link, click here.)

Grace and peace be yours in Christ.

Your sister,

Becky

The Church That Jesus is Building

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Chip Brogden just made this series, The Ekklesia: A Revelation of the Called-Out Assembly, available on his website earlier this month at no charge. It is the most clear and concise message on what the Church is that I have ever come across. In this recording he is younger and a bit more zealous at times, but the Spirit comes across loud and clear! With four parts, each around fifty minutes, it is an easy listen, and one I believe is imperative at this present hour. Brothers and sisters we are living in increasingly deceptive times. If I could I would encourage everyone I know to listen to these messages. But not everyone is able to bear it.

A few of the many notes I took as I listened:

The Spiritual ministry of the Ekklesia flows out of the Life and the fellowship we enjoy in Christ, and this spiritual ministry is nothing more and nothing less than the expression of Christ Himself to each other and to the world around us.

“Spiritual ministry is the expression of Christ, it is the fruit of our abiding in Him. It’s not something we do for Jesus, it is Jesus Himself living through us. That is spiritual ministry.”

As is often the case when the Lord wants to bring a message home it comes from every angle. And, so, it is not surprising that after many months of not reading T. Austin-Sparks, the articles I would choose to read that started showing up in my email on September 20th, would be from a work titled, The Ministry of the Church. During an ever-increasingly difficult year and thus far the greatest test to my faith, these are the things He brings to surround and inundate and encourage. I offer them here for you and for you to share with another that may be in need of them as well.

These are challenging messages to our flesh, brothers and sisters. It is easier to live a so-called life of faith in vain (external) repetition than to accept His work within (within, within, within) conforming us to the image of His Son. It comes through suffering, the Scriptures are full of that fact and encouragement.

Yesterday morning as I read chapter four of T. Austin-Sparks, it was this that brought me to tears:

“Ministry is not in the hall and gathering on the Lord’s day or at special times, the ministry is in our home – that’s where we can be read most clearly. Be read; it is in our business place. It is wherever we are. Wherever we are, that’s the place of our ministry as the church and its members. And the ministry is that we are read, and make no mistake about it, we are read. People who live with us are reading us, people with whom we work are reading us, summing us up, taking account of us, passing their mental judgments upon us. And what is it? What is it? Are we difficult people to live with, to work with, awkward, cantankerous? See? Or do they read Christ? “Epistles of Christ,” says Paul.”

I haven’t got the ability, I am not fit – fitted in any way for this work but there’s the Holy Spirit equal to it all. I can count on the Holy Spirit”. And from that first until this day, I believe that it’s just been that. On one side the deep consciousness that we are not sufficient of ourselves. On the other, there’s the anointing. There’s the anointing, we can always fall back on the Holy Spirit. I wouldn’t be speaking to you so strongly about our ministry if I couldn’t say this to you, that the weakest, foolish, most inefficient naturally, can count upon the Holy Spirit. And to keep to our point: the Holy Spirit’s object is to manifest Christ, to make the impression of Christ by our being present.

There I’m going to stop for the present. That is another aspect of our ministry: living epistles. Howhow is the gospel to spread? How is the world to know? Well, the apostle doesn’t say here anything about, or very much about, our going out here and there and everywhere talking, preaching. It may come into it for some. But what he does say is “read and known of ALL men.” That’s how the gospel grows! That’s how the world knows, that people are able to read Christ where we are. We should go to prayer in our hearts I’m sure, and on our knees more and more: “Lord, fulfill this ministry, make me a certificate of Christ. Make me a living letter of commendation of Christ, an epistle of Christ, we pray“.”

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.

And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Rejoice in our sufferings. Seems almost like a joke, and a bad joke at that. But it is not the kind of rejoicing our flesh makes when we hear something agreeable to our feelings or opinions. No. For suffering always goes against our feelings and opinions. The rejoicing here is much deeper than the flesh. It is a consistent and definitive knowing by way of experience with the indwelling Lord that even this – whatever this might be for you and for me – He will use to conform us to the image of His Son. For our benefit and His glory.

Sometimes it is just in our quiet, patient endurance, whereas other people would begin to show their resentment and their bad temper and react to what is done and what is put on them in a sulky way, a disagreeable way, with a vengeful spirit. You’re down under it – quiet, humble, patient, enduring, suffering wrong rather than doing wrong. That’s the glory of Jesus.” T. Austin-Sparks

Father, thank You that nothing can separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus. Thank You for Your patient endurance with each one of us! We ask that these trials each of us are facing would refine us to have more of You and less of us. Father, we ask that those who are blind but hungry be given sight as only You can break through the veil that the god of this age has over the eyes of Your people. Father, we ask that the costliness of this way be the last thing on our minds and the expression of Christ in and to and through us be our motivation, out of our love for You, Father; that we would not be found to be like those of old with Your name on our lips but our hearts far from You, but rather be a people prepared by You and for You. Amen.

Our Present Need for Spiritual Discernment

 

Papagayo Gulf Beach sunrise seashells card black and white

The Body of Christ in this present hour is in need of spiritual discernment, and that only comes from:

being a republican

being a democrat

being a conservative

being a liberal

being a non-affiliate

attending church

being a Protestant

being a Catholic

being a Lutheran

being an Episcopal

being a Presbyterian

being a Baptist

being non-denominational

going to seminary/bible college

searching the Scriptures

heaping up (head) knowledge

fighting against the Covid-19 state restrictions so we can have things back to the way we are used to them being

No. None of the above.

We need spiritual discernment and that only comes from CHRIST IN US. (Originally spoken by Josiah Bennett. All of the above was what came to my heart in listening and added here for effect.)

Christ in us and Christ in us alone, brothers and sisters, that is where our spiritual discernment will come from. Oh that we would allow the Father to work in us by way of His Holy Spirit, and through circumstances and people, to an ever-decreasing of ourselves and an ever-increasing of Christ in us, unto His fullness for a time such as this!

For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth.

[No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.

And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God.

But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin].

So then, as it is written, Let him who boasts and proudly rejoices and glories, boast and proudly rejoice and glory in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden.

Colossians 2:3

[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,

Ephesians 1:17

 

 

 

Part Four: There is a Fountain

Hebrews chapter 9 begins by telling us that the first covenant had its own rules for divine worship, and it had a sanctuary, but one of this world!

Then the few verses that follow (2-5) list what was in and a part of that earthly tabernacle and earthly sanctuary. The author adds at the end of verse 5, we cannot go into detail about these things. Should we not presume that the author knew the Hebrew Christians to whom the letter was written would understand full well what the covenant-detail was of those items listed, even if the more modern day Christian does not? I would think so. The author is driving at something, the chapter in its entirety is a comparison from what was (earthly, temporary, passing) to what now is (heavenly, everlasting, unshakeable)! Actually the whole letter is exactly that!

Hebrews 9 verse 9 as shared in the previous post: Seeing that that first [outer portion of the] tabernacle was a parable – a visible symbol or type or picture of the present age. In it gifts and sacrifices are offered, and yet are incapable of perfecting the conscience or of cleansing and renewing the inner man of the worshipper.

Take verse 9’s what was: incapable of perfecting the conscience or of cleansing and renewing the inner man of the worshipper and compare it to verse 14’s what now is: How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?

The blood and unblemished sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the heavenly work of our great High Priest, accomplished what the earthly was never intended to, and never can or will!

Pezibear fountain

Photo courtesy of Pezibear at pixabay.com

And Jesus said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood [unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood]. John 6:53

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

There is a Fountain hymn/William Cowper

Jumping for a moment to Hebrews 10:1 –  For since the Law has merely a rude outline (foreshadowing) of the good things to come, instead of fully expressing those things, it can never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who approach [its altars]. 

So we’re seeing here that the old and earthly way which was merely a shadow of the heavenly substance (Colossians 2:17) was incapable of perfecting and could not perfect. Those sacrifices of which so much instruction was given in the Scriptures of old; those sacrifices which had become the annual pilgrimage for the Israelites, a sacred ritual by which alone they found atonement. The author, writing to Hebrew Christians who had been crucified with Christ to the old way of death and were born from above into a new & living way, and were in great danger of going back. These Hebrew Christians who had a lifetime of conditioning as to the importance of this ritual, their very life with God demanded it; this earthly means of forgiveness and life, of ritual and tradition. In other letters the Judaizers were making circumcision the rite of passage for the Gentile believers; in Colossians (2:11) Paul puts it this way: In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a (spiritual) circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh [the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts].  Do we not think that these same folks would use the very historical and Scriptural means of the shedding of the blood of goats and bulls to lure the Jew back to the sacrificial system that was no doubt losing its congregation?

A quote I have scribbled down at the beginning of the New Testament of my bible is one by T. Austin-Sparks. It reads:

Here (the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the New Testament as a whole) is the embodiment of another order of things, in constitution and in behavior, in ways of life and in laws and principles governing life. Here is Heaven in evidence. Here is Heaven in control.

The thread running through here is heavenly and not made by hands.

Not made by hands.

Not. Made. By. Hands.

Friends, the ease with which our flesh goes with what is seen, what is made by hands is understandable. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. But the Body of Christ is in need of a revelation as to their heavenly King Who is our unshakable Source above all shakable things below.

Do we think that with all of this so far, and leading up to Hebrews 10:25, what God intended to tell us (or as some would describe as command us) was not to forsake attending church?

Lord willing the next post will wrap this up.

Until next time,

Enjoy life under the Heavenly Fountain

Part Three: We Have Such a High Priest

Father, that You would lead us through this by Your Spirit; that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the called-out ones To-Day. Father, thank You that You are patient and long-suffering with us, and thank You for the afflictions that we may learn Christ and be ever decreasing as He ever increases.

It has been six weeks since the last post in a series that first came about as I worked on some Facebook posts on the blood of Jesus. You may need a refresher (as I most certainly did). If so, please click here and read before continuing.

Hebrews 9 and 10 were given as suggested reading. In preparing to write I re-read those chapters and added Hebrews 8 as well.

What a glorious thing God has done, friends!

What a glorious thing, indeed!

Let it be made clear that this is neither pro-brick & mortar church or anti-brick & mortar church. Brick & mortar church is not the focal point, Christ is. It is my heart to show the meaning of Hebrews 10:25 as it pertains to the context of the letter to the Hebrews and the two chapters leading up to it, as well as chapter 10 itself; in the hopes that it will serve to free those who are in the shackles of religious bondage. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. 

You might consider what is to follow as an urging to assemble together, and all the more faithfully as we must all see the day approaching. But to what or to Whom are we assembling in these intense and difficult days?

Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; John 1:14

The tabernacle of wood and cloth pointed ahead to the true tabernacle of flesh and blood, in which the covenantal throne and altar of sacrifice would be united in the crucified Christ. ~ Chris Powers, Full of Eyes.

Chris Powers Full of Eyes Exodus 25 8 and John 1 14 and Hebrews 10 25

Photo courtesy of Chris Powers – Full of Eyes

In the wilderness Moses used two silver trumpets; their loud & significant blasts would summon the whole community or chiefs as a signal to assemble before the tabernacle. Keep this in mind as we go on.

Hebrews 9:6b-9b shows us that:

the priests enter [habitually] into the outer division of the tabernacle in performance of their ritual acts of worship.

But into the second [division of the tabernacle] none but the high priest goes, and he only once a year, and never without taking a sacrifice of blood with him, which he offers for himself and for the errors and sins of ignorance and thoughtlessness which the people have committed.

By this the Holy Spirit points out that the way into the [true Holy of] Holies is not yet thrown open as long as the former [the outer portion of the] tabernacle remains a recognized institution and is still standing,

Seeing that that first [outer portion of the] tabernacle was a parable (a visible symbol or type or picture of the present age). 

I had read that a number of times and didn’t catch that the outer portion of the tabernacle was a parable until recently, and then it shot off the page like a lightning bolt. Let’s go to Luke 8:9-10 to see what Jesus says about parables:

And when His disciples asked Him the meaning of this parable,

He said to them, To you it has been given to [come progressively to] know (to recognize and understand more strongly and clearly) the mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that, [though] looking, they may not see; and hearing, they may not comprehend.

Jesus tells us plainly that the mysteries of the kingdom of God are given to His disciples; to those whom He has chosen to learn from and of Him. But for others, for those who are not His disciples, the mysteries of the kingdom of God are in parables. Undoubtedly we have experienced both in our journey. Even presently there are things which, looking we may not see, and hearing we do not comprehend. But as His disciples, we trust our Teacher to teach us in His timing, not our own.

Now the outer portion of the tabernacle was a parable. The inner portion, the holy of Holies, was only entered once a year by the high priest. By this the Holy Spirit points out that the way into the true Holy of Holies is not yet thrown open.

Not yet thrown open.

The way is closed.

The message is death to those who draw near.

Hebrews 8:1-2 tells us:

Now the main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic [God] in heaven,

As officiating Priest, a Minister in the holy places and in the true tabernacle which is erected not by man but by the Lord.

In Hebrews 8:2, 6 we found two names given to our Lord Jesus, indicating the twofold work He does, with God in heaven and in our heart on earth. As a Minister of the Sanctuary, He is in God’s presence, ministering the grace of the sanctuary to us, giving us the enjoyment of that presence. As Mediator of the new covenant, He works in our heart on earth, giving God’s law within us, as the law of the Spirit of His own life, and fitting us for the worship and fellowship of the sanctuary.  ~Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All

We have such a High Priest in the holy places and in the true tabernacle which is erected not by man but by the Lord. This is reason to rejoice! Whether we are able to meet in a brick & mortar building or partake of any of the religious traditions we may be accustomed to or believe we must adhere to, we have such a High Priest! When the brick & mortar church as we know it is shaken where is this High Priest? He is seated at the right hand of God, in the true tabernacle. Where is our life, friends? Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God, so rich in His mercy, raised us with Christ and made us sit together with Him in the heavenly sphere. Colossians 3:3 tells us that our real life is hidden with Christ in God.

To what or to Whom is our life attached to? To what or to Whom is our heart and soul and strength and mind focused on and assembled unto? To what do we attach our identity to? Family? Relationships? Religion? Church membership/attendance? Tithing? Politics? Education? Emotional validation? Career? Has the Lord been revealing the very personal answer to you in deeper and more poignant ways as of late? He is being faithful to His promise that He will accomplish the work He has begun in us. We can be thankful that He is faithful and He is true. I pray that the Holy Spirit would make us a willing people, humble and adjustable to His life in and through us.

The letter to the Hebrews was written to a people who were in danger of going back to a system the Lord had done away with (Hebrews 8:13). Furthermore, what we now know is that the entire sacrificial system with its priests and temple was leveled in 70 AD; this letter was written between 50-55AD. Imagine the shock & horror of those whose lives were intertwined with all of that which was now no more. Now imagine those whose lives were intertwined, not with the great earthly religious system, but with the great High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of God in the holy places and in the true tabernacle erected not by man but by the Lord, and who knew their life was by God’s mercy with Him there.

What was the author of the letter to the Hebrews working towards? In the book, The Holiest of All, Andrew Murray writes this:

In the previous part of the Epistle (chapter 1-4), the author has been dealing with what he considers more elementary truths, the divinity and humanity of the Saviour, and His fitness as a merciful and faithful High Priest for the work He has to do for us. He (the author) is about to enter on the higher teaching he has to give us on the heavenly priesthood of Christ (chapter 7 through chapter 10 verse 18) but feels that many of his readers are incapable of following or appreciating such spiritual truth.

On May 10, 2018 I jotted down: If this was true then, at the writing of the letter to the Hebrews, it is most assuredly true today! If chapter 7 through chapter 10 verse 18…a mere 7 verses prior to the infamous verse 25…could it be possible we have allowed traditions of men and our own ignorance to interpret these verses, making them appear to say one thing when in fact they mean something quite contrary with depth and higher teaching? And, could it be, like the days of old, that we, too, are in danger of missing this new & living way?

Friends, I must stop here. It is much too comprehensive to gather into one post without making it cumbersome to read.

Until next time,

Lord, help us not to miss the new & living way You have made freely accessible.

 

 

Part Two: Hold Fast the Hope

NMQ pexels

Photo Credit: NMQ via pexels.com 

If you missed part one or need a refresher click here.

Friends, join me for a dance through Scripture in order to get us to part three without having too lengthy of a post.

At the end of part one was Luke 8:5-15 where Jesus discusses the parable to the crowd, followed by the meaning of the parable to His disciples, of the types of soils (hearts) in which the Seed is sown. Verse 15 says:

But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.

“But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart.”

“…these are the people who, Hearing the Word, hold it fast…”

“…hold it fast…”

Now, let’s shimmy on over to Colossians 1:22-23 and see what deliciousness we can find there:

Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence. [And this He will do] provided that you continue to stay with and in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope [which rests on and is inspired by] the glad tidings (the Gospel), which you heard and which has been preached [as being designed for and offered without restrictions] to every person under heaven…

Friends, does this not create in us a thankful heart of worship for what our Father has done? We have been reconciled to God by the body of Christ’s flesh through death, in order to present us holy and faultless and irreproachable in the Father’s presence.

How are we presented holy and faultless? By what means are we irreproachable in the Father’s presence? (Irreproachable meaning: Perfect or blameless in every respect – every respect!) Not by any single human effort we could ever conjure up, nor any religious tradition we remain in bondage to! But by the body of Christ’s flesh through death!

The verse goes on:

And this He will do (present us holy and faultless and irreproachable) provided that we continue to stay with and in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope

“…hold it fast…”

“…continue to stay…”

“…well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope…”

If this were a movie this is where the background music would begin, creating in the viewer the anticipation that something crucial to the whole story was about to take place. From there let us whirl on over to Hebrews 10:23:

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

What is this hope we cherish and confess? In order to see this we first need to look at verse 10 (still in Hebrews chapter 10):

And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One).

It is the will of God that we be made holy through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ! Is that a settled matter in our hearts with the Lord?

And skipping down to verse 14:

For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.

Who has God forever completely cleansed and perfected? Those who are consecrated and made holy! And who has been consecrated and made holy? We have through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ!

Oh, friends, it is so grand, so immense, a measly blog post on the internet can touch but the hem of His garment.

The hope we cherish and confess is that we have been reconciled to God by the will of God through the offering made once for all of the body (and blood) of Jesus Christ. This was the inauguration of the New & Living Way in which our Father would have us live now!

It would be a nutritional benefit to us, and helpful to part three that is to come, if we were to read Hebrews chapter nine and ten in their entirety, allowing the Holy Spirit His God-given space as Guide into all truth. We have so many preconceived notions, don’t we? We have opinions and old teachings that hang on us like grave clothes. We read a familiar phrase in the Scriptures and we are automatically reduced to man’s thought on the matter.  Oh, that the Spirit of the living God would allow a newness and a freshness to His Word being sown in our hearts, resulting in His people being encouraged and edified and strengthened to go on, holding fast their hope bringing forth fruit with patience.

Until next time, friends, stay healthy and hold fast the hope!

Part One: Founded on the Rock

 

santiagotorresc195 house in storm with deep roots

Photo Credit: Santiagotorresc1 via pixabay.com

In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus says, “So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

It is during times of trial when that which we have founded our life on is tested. Our foundation will either survive the test, or it will not. Our foundation will either emerge in tact, or it will crumble. Our foundation will either sustain us, or demand we work harder to sustain it.

Jesus goes on in verse 26-27, “And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it.”

It is God’s desire that our lives be founded on the Rock, which is Christ. What is our life founded upon? Only God is capable of showing us, and He oftentimes uses difficult seasons like the one most of the world is currently in to reveal the answer. Oh, that we would hear His voice today and adjust our hearts and lives to Him and Him alone.

What began emerging in my spirit when working on the blood of Jesus posts is something that the Lord has been revealing to me over the last four years. It is a settled matter in my heart (though there is always a Christ-fullness to come into), but the language to communicate is often lacking. I have been asking the Lord to help me and He is, but it will need to come in two or three parts in order to keep it short and easier for our hearts to mull over and digest.

In our backyard we have an apple tree and a crab apple tree planted next to each other, we presume they are as old as the house which is 48 years old. Underneath the trees is a large section of rocks and a few days ago I was pulling weeds in those rocks. When I was just about through the Lord brought an awareness to me of the difference between the roots of the weeds I was pulling, and the roots of the mature trees. Some of the weeds barely needed a tug of my garden-gloved fingers before they were uprooted. Others needed a little extra help from my weed puller. Sitting there under the yet-to-be leafed-out-this-early-in-spring crab apple tree, it occurred to me how my garden-gloved hands, nor my handy weed puller, would have been able to uproot the mature tree.  It conjured up this Scripture:

Binyamin Mellish pexels

Photo Credit: Binyamin Mellish via pexels.com

A sower went out to sow seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the traveled path and was trodden underfoot, and the birds of the air ate it up.

And some [seed] fell on the rock, and as soon as it sprouted, it withered away because it had no moisture.

And other [seed] fell in the midst of the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it [off].

And some seed fell into good soil, and grew up and yielded a crop a hundred times [as great]. As He said these things, He called out, He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and understand by hearing!

And when His disciples asked Him the meaning of this parable,

10 He said to them, To you it has been given to [come progressively to] know (to recognize and understand more strongly and clearly) the mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that, [though] looking, they may not see; and hearing, they may not comprehend.

11 Now the meaning of the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.

12 Those along the traveled road are the people who have heard; then the devil comes and carries away the message out of their hearts, that they may not believe (acknowledge Me as their Savior and devote themselves to Me) and be saved [here and hereafter].

13 And those upon the rock [are the people] who, when they hear [the Word], receive and welcome it with joy; but these have no root. They believe for a while, and in time of trial and temptation fall away (withdraw and stand aloof).

14 And as for what fell among the thorns, these are [the people] who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen (come to maturity and perfection).

15 But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.  Luke 8:5-15

That we would keep in our hearts the term, hold fast, as we await part two.

In the shadow of His wings,

Becky

The Blood of Jesus, part 9

kalhh pixabay

Photo credit: Kalhh via pixabay.com

It’s taken me a couple of days to get around to this final post. Wanted to be sure the communication could be done clearly. You see I wanted to talk about repentance, and that’s one of those words that religion has hijacked and twisted.

Repentance: Literally, it is a Greek word meaning ‘change of mind.’ Yet the full meaning is somewhat more. In the New Testament, the word metanoia is often translated as ‘repentance.’ But this kind of repentance is not about regret or guilt or shame.; it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction.” (From Metanoia.org)

When religion hijacks and twists a word, it is either altogether incorrect or is so incomplete it loses its flavor and light. But when the fullness comes in, ahh, now we see!

When we view repentance as a word to describe our need to merely change an unacceptable behavior, that is incomplete. God’s position is never one focused on behavior alone. My upbringing was one in which behavior modification was the goal. There is no Life in that. None! God knows that our behavior stems from something, and not always our beliefs, much to our chagrin and effort. It is the root He is concerned with, and therefore, so am I.

Everyone has a need to repent, but not everyone recognizes it. It’s when we recognize it that the decision becomes our responsibility.

If repentance implies facing a new direction, it is most helpful to know which direction that should be, yes?

Have you ever felt lost and without direction? I know I have!

God’s desire is not to have us turning around, facing a new direction, only to find that position unhelpful because we’re really not sure what we’re supposed to be facing, so we end up doing twists and twirls because nothing satisfies. God’s desire is not for us to face that which is incorrect or incomplete either. And that which is correct and complete in God’s eyes is His Son.

One of my favorite Scriptures is Hebrews 12:2 where it encourages us to: Look away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].

Some might find it helpful to know that in the context of the letter written to the Hebrews the “all that will distract” is religious in nature. So the writer is encouraging their readers to look away from all that unto Jesus.

Jesus is the focal point! Jesus is the Leader of our faith; the One who gives us the first incentive for our belief – that should relieve every single one of us of any effort of our own, whether that be in our life or someone else’s (ahem!) Jesus is the Source of our faith. Let’s repeat that: Jesus is the Source of our faith; bringing our faith to maturity and perfection – that should relieve us as well, for it is not a million and one other things that may have our focus, but Jesus and Jesus alone.

In Christ there is a simplicity that religion simply cannot afford to sustain. For one who has seen Christ (this in the eyes of their heart and solely a gift and work of God) and therefore comes out of religion, this will feel strange and foreign at first, because we seem to be hardwired to PERFORM and religion fits that bill perfectly. For one not coming out of religion, but seeing Christ outside the religious camp, this will also feel strange and foreign, for He is altogether other than anything we have ever experienced. But for whosoever is willing there is Life and Life more abundant in Christ’s simplicity.

That is my prayer for whosoever!

Much love to each one of you!

(This was the final post of the daily Facebook posts I did on the blood of Jesus. It was during this time where my heart and mind were focused on these posts and what the Lord would have me write each day, where something began to emerge in my spirit, and that will be the next post here at Occupied with Christ, Lord willing.)

The Blood of Jesus, part 8

Duong Nhan cat resting pexels

Photo credit: Duong Nhan – pixabay.com

Yesterday’s post was on the boldness the blood of Jesus effects for us.

Are you a bold person naturally? I have been, and sometimes still am. I have been known to know what I want or am feeling, and speak my mind frankly, all of my life. Sadly, this has been a source of conflict in some of my relationships.

May I let you in on a little secret about bold people? They’re deeply insecure! Their insecurities hide behind their boldness and matter-of-factness. They want to be seen as strong and smart, when underneath they feel nothing of the sort. We believe if we are not bold, we will go unnoticed. I did not always know this about myself.

This kind of boldness cowers in the Light that sees all. Whatever kind of personality we have, the truth of ourselves, even that which we are presently unaware, hates to be found out. We don’t want to be caught with our hand in the cookie jar, or on an ugly day when our unkindness is showing.

It is written in Hebrews 4:12-13: For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

Without trusting that God loved us long before we, through the work of God in us, are made aware that we are more unkind than we would like to admit, or as deceitful as we would like to admit, or as self-centered as we’d like to admit, or a thousand and one other things, that sounds like some scary stuff. But remember in post #1, this isn’t just good news, it’s the best news!

Because of the blood of Jesus, this can be experienced without shame, guilt or condemnation. Believe me. When this goes on in my heart and spirit, I am initially shocked at the depth of whatever God is showing me about myself. I am not defensive nor do I attempt to justify myself – that is an outlandish idea! His work is so thorough, we know…we just know that He is pointing the Light directly at that part of us that does not agree with His nature being formed in us.

God is not an angry Father Who keeps His eye out for any little thing we may do wrong in order to take His bad day out on us. This is a thorough work of Love. My friends, I would not be here if He was not loving and kind and slow to anger.

Through all of it, here is what the boldness that the blood of Jesus allows means for you and for me and for all:

It is something which there can be no mistake. The question as to the existence of the blood or its being presented in heaven, is settled once for all on the authority of God. We need not reason about it. God has told us that it has been done. As to our own feelings there may be many mistakes; but as to the presentation of the blood, there can be no doubt and no mistake. It is a certainty; and on that certainty we rest.” H. Bonar

“…it is settled once for all on the authority of God.” Not on the authority of a pastor or priest or a man-made tradition. Not on the authority of our feelings or opinion on the matter. It is settled once for all on the authority of God. Happylujah! Thank You, Father!

There is rest here, my friends. It is a rest for us that, even in these unprecedented times of uncertainty with a laundry list of unknowns, we can say with an honest heart, It is well with my soul.