Meditations in the Word: Life & Light

 

 

Stormy skies3 July 8 2019

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And each man will no longer teach his neighbor and his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me [through personal experience], from the least of them to the greatest,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will no longer remember their sin.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

My people are destroyed because they don’t know me, and it is all your fault, you priests, for you yourselves refuse to know me; therefore, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Hosea 4:6

Chandalier Barn Apr 19

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

For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

Beloved, we must have a real honest interaction with the Lord. We must seek to have our very own hearts cleansed from all that is not of or from Him. We must allow Him to have His way in us. This will be costly, indeed. But His Body is perishing from the lack of their personal knowledge of Him. By in large we are a people who have one foot in the old covenant and one in the new. We believe that we can only know Him by way of the preachers and the teachers. But what are they preaching? And what are they teaching? The well-known, the well-accepted and the highly educated. What are these “guides” guiding us to?  Are they politically influential? Are they followed by millions on social media? If they have a special building are they packed to the brim each weekend? Who has the focus of our heart? Who is influencing us? What do we think the “issue” is presently? Abortion? Gay marriage? Gun laws? Mental health? Are we taking the moral high ground, using the Scripture as our foundation? Do not misunderstand. This is not for or against any one thing in particular. What do our conversations involve? Whether they be on social media, over the fence with our neighbor, or privately within the walls of our own homes? Are we proudly displaying our disgust with what we are disgusted with? Are we dragging those we hate through the mud and taking Jesus along with us? Or are we setting forth the wonderful deeds and displaying the virtues and perfections of Him Who called us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light?

The issue is timeless. The issue is that there is nothing new under the sun, we just place different labels on it. The issue is hard hearts of unbelief and rebellion towards our Father in heaven, whether we are professing Christians or not.

The answer is timeless. The answer is that there is nothing new under the sun, for in the beginning He was, and all things were made and came into existence through Him. The answer is found in surrender to Jesus Christ, the One in Whom Life is found and that Life is the Light of all mankind; this Lifelight shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. the answer is in counting as a combined loss all the former things we may have counted as gains unto ourselves (this is usually a plethora of self-righteous pride in believing that we ourselves are or what we believe makes us something better than the next person. Forgive me for being so frank). The answer is counting them as a loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly].

Beloved, we are not to be conformed to this world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds afresh, not with our opinions and traditions of men, but with Christ Jesus.

Beloved, we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Our enemy is not those who change abortion laws, perform abortions or even receive them; our enemy is not our gay child or sibling or neighbor; our enemy is not the one with the gun or the many guns. But if today that is the only way you are able to view it, remember Jesus’s words that we are to love our enemy. This is only possible when we choose that it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me. Our flesh is incapable of expressing God’s love, we have plenty of evidence to that fact in our own lives.

Remember, it is Christ in Whom the Life is found and this Life is the Light of all mankind. This Lifelight shines on in the darknesshow does it shine on in the darkness? Beloved it shines on in the born-from-above-one’s, the crucified-one’s representing Him, not religion or human wisdom, but representing God in Christfor the darknessno matter how dark or evil it may appear to our human eyes or our human fearHAS NEVER OVERPOWERED IT!

Father, to the fearful, reveal Your perfecting love; to the weak, reveal Your strength; to the sinner, reveal Your grace; to the proud, reveal Your humbling hand; to the blind, reveal Your seeing eyes; to the deaf, reveal Your hearing ears; to the dying, reveal Your resurrection Life. We thank You, amen.

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world,
but that you keep them from the evil one.”
John 17:15 ESV

This prayer of Jesus is answered when we embrace the Cross. The Cross renders us dead to the world so that we can bring Life to others who are in the world and not worry that we may become contaminated or polluted by the things we encounter. Jesus was not afraid of being around sinners. He affected them for good, and they were powerless to affect Him for evil. This same Jesus lives within us, and He is greater than anything we may encounter in the world.

So if we are to follow His example then we must be as dead to the things of the world as He was. How is this accomplished? God’s solution is for us to embrace the Cross so that we can be truly “dead” to the world’s temptations and “alive” to Him. God desires a crucified people who can represent Him in the earth and be faithful to Him even in the midst of a dark, rebellious world.

Source: “Embrace the Cross” by Chip Brogden
I am your sister,
Becky

{References: Philippians 3:8; John 1:1-5; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 5:44}

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Sacrificial Love

Daniels park June 2019

 

God of grace and holiness
Heaven’s mighty King
Yet You choose to be enthroned
On praises that we bring
You gave Your son of righteousness
No spot or blemish he
Yet bruised and scarred and wounded were
The hands that lifted me

Hallelujah our God saves
Hallelujah our God saves

Father to the fatherless
Refuge for the lost
Saviour of this guilty world
By sacrificial love
The name above all other names
The only Prince of peace
God of grace and holiness
Be enthroned in me.

(Robin Mark, God of Grace and Holiness. Link to the YouTube video HERE <—)

Over the last couple of months I have listened to this song on repeat many, many times. Indeed it was by sacrificial love that He is Father to the fatherless, refuge for the lost and, last but not least, Saviour of this guilty world. To merely sing the words is one thing. To be moved by them is another. Yet to pray the prayer for this Prince of peace, this God of grace and holiness, to be enthroned in us is something else altogether still. For that is just another way of praying, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This enthronement in us is His having reign in our hearts and lives. So it would follow that His same sacrificial love will be made true to and in and through us to the world around us.

Oh, beloved, this is not perfect and it is messy, to be sure. These words are not written without my own journey being lived on the battle field, this warrior’s shield battered by the war. The perplexity and pressure’s close in so fiercely that it often leads me to a sense of despair and tears. The rejoicing is not always with a smile of joy on our faces, but a resolve in our spirit where He lives, victorious and moving us along.

This sacrificial love is in complete contrast to the rest of the world, even Christendom at large. It is costly! To our lives, our pride, our desires, our opinions and even our strongly held beliefs. There is much available out there, that goes without saying. Everyone has an opinion on what is needed for the atrocities of any kind to end. But Christ manifested through His Church, His Body, will bring more than any legislation or policy or parade could ever bring.

The battle has left me with very little time to come up with any pretty words. Something is being so wrought in me that at times it feels like labor, in a spiritual sense. I know I am not alone, but this goes on behind the scenes even to those closest to me. So I will leave some words by a brother who has done much in ministering Christ to me in this season of my life.

We often sing: “Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend”, and that is the nature of our union with Him. That is really what it means to be a Christian. May our Christianity be redeemed from anything less than that!

But when the relationship has been established in His Blood, then its purpose begins. We are His for His Pleasure and not our own. He has made us for His pleasure: “Working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:21) … “To the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12) … “that ye may shew forth the excellencies of him” (I Peter 2:9).

This compasses the Christian life. This is why He has drawn us with the bands of love and the reason for our union with Christ: that we should be unto His pleasure, that He may take pleasure in us. The time is coming when He will look at His bride and then He will say ‘She is a glorious bride’. He has brought us to Himself for that very purpose: to reveal Himself by means of us.

Perhaps our heads and our hearts are going down now. What a poor revelation we are of our Lord! We are making a terrible mess of this business of revealing Christ, but He is taking great pains with us. Truly it is not easy, and He does not make it so. It seems that so often He puts us into difficult positions in order that we may show forth His glory.

Paul was given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (II Corinthians 12:7). Do you know what it is to have a thorn in the flesh and a messenger of Satan always buffeting you? Paul says that he went to the Lord three times about this. I do not know whether he meant literally three times, but I think he meant: ‘I went to the Lord again, and again, and again! I asked the Lord to remove this thorn and to destroy this messenger of Satan, but He said unto me: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

That is strange sovereignty and providence of God! It seems that He sometimes puts difficulties into our lives, and makes it hard for us, and then, in the grace that He shows, we magnify Him. […] Yes, for the self-revelation of the Lord the Church is a suffering Church. This wife of the Lord is a suffering wife, but the revelation of His grace is a wonderful thing. T. Austin-Sparks, The On-High Calling, Link HERE

Christ revealing Himself in us, through our difficulties and thorns; messengers of Satan, that His sufficient grace in our utter weakness may magnify Him. This is what we need for our personal deliverance,’ this is what the Church needs for her deliverance, this, too, is what the world needs for its deliverance.

Come, through me, Lord. Come, through Your Church, Lord Jesus. We accept that You are the Light and the Life; the Way and the Truth. You are Faithful and You are True. We acknowledge our weakness and accept your sufficient grace, so that You may love sacrificially through us. We love you. Thank You for Your sacrificial love! Amen.

I am your sister,

Becky

The Living Word

Jackson Hole spurs

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and 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. Hebrews 4:12

Beloved, He sets before us life and death, and then in His ever-loving kindness, He encourages us to choose life. There is no life in our flesh, or as the Scripture puts it: in us, in our flesh, there dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). We don’t believe it until He shows us, and that revelation comes in the midst of our trials and difficulties. Prior to them we are naturally inclined to think ourselves better than we are. In Hebrews 4:12, quoted above, the Word that God speaks is Christ (Hebrews 1:2). It is Christ Who is alive and full of power, and when we are in union with Him, the risen and living Christ, the manner in which the Amplified Classic translates it becomes the norm, as He ever-increasingly touches to the quick of our old nature which stands at the ready to live once again.  The life that God has set before us and encourages us to choose is not in ourselves, in our flesh; it is not in the Bible apart from the indwelling Spirit bringing Christ to the forefront of every page and story of old. Outside of Christ is every manner of death. Inside of Christ, where we are living today when we choose it by faith, is life and life in the power of an endless life.

Our flesh, the old Adamic nature, is condemned wholly and thoroughly through the death of Christ on the Cross. And though we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8), it is in that very union in Christ Jesus where we reckon our flesh having been crucified with Him, so we are dead to sin and alive to God. Hallelujah! However, those words on the page, even though we may rejoice in reading them, can only be made real in us through a daily recognition and cooperation with the reality of Hebrews 4:12.

Last week I happened upon a YouTube video of a man explaining the spurs he wears on his cowboy boots. This gentleman’s spurs were the same as those in the lower left-hand corner of the photo above. He explained how though they may appear to be more dangerous than others with less points, but they are the more gentle of all spurs because of the area of pressure they allow; there is not just one point pressing in on the horse, there are many. For observation he brought a friend on camera and started jabbing his calf with the spurs. The friend mentioned that, yes, he could feel it, “the pressure is enough for me to look for an answer.”

Is that not the human condition? Are we not all, in one way or another, simply looking for an answer to alleviate the pressure of life and of sin, though one may not call it sin?

A cowboy, or any person who rides a horse, knows that the spurs are a tool to control the horse, to guide it in the way that they would have the horse go. In our rebellion we prefer to be a wild horse, choosing our own way. This was once my proudest banner to wave. I was a non-conformist and no one could make me do anything. But the Lord in His mercy and grace found me, and He has saved me. This saving continues on the daily, as He takes the once proud non-conformist and uses the spurs of life’s circumstances and the relationships around me to cause this pressure so that I will look for an answer. Our only answer is to be conformed to the image of the Son, to be made in the likeness of Him Who made us. This is where the narrow road becomes difficult, and many go back. I, like many who have gone before, and those who are scattered around the world today, have found life in no other thing but Christ, so there is nowhere else to go back to. “Come to Me, choose life”, He whispers in our weary and worn hearts.

When the double-edged sword penetrates us to the dividing of soul and spirit; when the very thoughts and purposes of our heart are exposed and analyzed in the Light, it is with shock and awe that we acknowledge what He is saying, showing, revealing, is true. Yes, Lord. I am that way. You are right in showing me. Now may that point in which you have said and shown and revealed be dead and may it no longer be I who lives, but You Who lives in (and through) me. That the world around me would no longer see the manifestation of my self, but would see You, even if they are not able to recognize it, even if this will mean loneliness and misunderstanding. Lord, the world needs You! We do not need more preaching against this, that, or the other; we do not need more policy; we do not need more sermons, we need You in Whom this Life is, and in Whom is the Light of this world.

Beloved, it is here where we begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of how altogether different He is from ourselves; how true it is that His ways and His thoughts are not our own. Our human judgement and opinions; our likes and dislikes; our impatience and ugly tones and argumentativeness, is not only not Christ, it does not and cannot manifest Christ. We may manifest a religious appearance, but that is not Christ either. The only way to manifest Christ is to die to ourselves, and the only way to die to ourselves is to be in agreement with and cooperation with the Living Word, Christ Himself.

Thank You, Father, for Your Living Word that is alive and full of power. Though we walk through the difficult seasons in our lives in often a weariness felt in our bones that are but dust, You are ever present with us, in us and before us. We love You.

I am your sister,

Becky

“How To Become Spiritual Worshippers”

Wyoming chapel

The woman said to Him, Sir, I see and understand that You are a prophet. Our forefathers worshiped on this mountain, but you [Jews] say that Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary and proper to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither [merely] in this mountain nor [merely] in Jerusalem. You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews. A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality). John 4:19-24

The following was written by William Law in the late 1700’s in an original publishing titled, “The Power of the Spirit: Selections from the Writings of William Law.” You can find the revised edition in pdf form by clicking here.

How are we to become and continue worshippers of the Father in spirit and truth? It is answered: All consists in turning inwards, in attention to that, which is daily and hourly stirring, living, and working in our hearts.

Now though the Scripture nowhere gives this direction in these very words, yet, since it is said in Scripture, that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, but in the temple of our hearts (Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24), since the kingdom of God is said to be within us, and not to come with outward observation (Luke 17:21), but to be in us, as a secret, living seed of the incorruptible word; since our hearts is our whole life (Proverbs 4:23), and we are said to live, and move, and have our being in God (Acts 17:28), it is directly telling us that we are to turn inwards, if we would turn to, and find God.

Let’s stop there for a moment to clarify. William Law is not suggesting we become naval-gazers, turning inwards on our pitiful selves or some divine power a human may believe they have in and of themselves. No! We will see more as we go on, but he most definitely is suggesting that we, as born-from-above one’s, are to turn inward to the Living God, Emmanuel – God (living) with us! Oh! It’s not just a nice story owned by December! It is a daily reality! Thank You, Father!

It is directly telling us, that in what manner we are within, as the worship is done there, so is God in such manner within us; and that He is no otherwise our God, our life, our rest and happiness, than so far as the working of our hearts, is a willing and choosing, a hungering and thirsting to find, feel and enjoy the life-giving power of His holy presence in our souls.

To be inwardly therefore attentive to God, showing the good and the evil, distinguishing the light from the darkness in our own souls; to listen to the voice of His ever-speaking word, and to watch the movings of his ever-sanctifying Spirit within us (Hebrews 4:12), waiting and longing in the spirit of prayer, of faith and hope, of love and resignation, to be inwardly quickened and revived in the image, and according to the likeness of that Son, in whom He is well pleased, is the worshipping of God with our whole heart and soul, in spirit and in truth.

It is living to God, in and through the power of Christ, as He lived; it is praying with Him, and by His Spirit, that continual prayer which He always had, whether speaking to the multitude, or healing their diseases, or alone by Himself in the stillness of nights, and loneliness of mountains. For this inward prayer, in which the whole heart, and soul, and spirit, loves, worships, and applies to God, not absent or distant, but to a trinity of goodness and mercy, of light and love, of glory and majesty, dwelling, and working within us, willing and desiring to do all that in the temple of our hearts, which is done and always doing in His own temple in heaven, is a prayer that only needs outward words for the sake of others; and of which it may be said, as Christ said: ‘Father, I knew that Thou always hearest Me, but because of the people, which stand by, I said it.’

[…] I have gone through all that I have said, only to show, that church unity or communion is not a matter that depends on any particular society, or outward thing, but is complete, or defective, in such degree, as we live in unity with, or contrariety to the inward Spirit and outward example of Christ. For no union signifies anything to us, or our salvation, but union with God, through Christ, and nothing unites us to Christ, or makes us to be His, but His Holy Spirit dwelling, and working inwardly and outwardly in us, as it did in Him.

This is the only church unity, that concerns the conscience, and when we are in this unity, we are in union with Christ, and with everyone who is united to Him, however distant, or separated from us, by human inclosures.

Father, thank You for giving those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, that we may know You and the life-giving power of Your holy presence within us. As we receive light and truth from you, all the darkness and deception, which has enslaved us all too long, loses its grip. We thank You for your deliverance, though it be through trial, suffering and discipline. We trust Your hand and love unto Life and life more abundantly lived with and in You, Father. Amen

 

 

 

 

To the Citizens of an Unshakable Kingdom

Citizens Vegas April 2016.jpg

Beloved, the following two lengthy excerpts are being offered today for your prayerful contemplation.

The first is by T. Austin-Sparks, from a work titled: The On-High Calling, and is taken from Chapter Five: The Changed Position of the Companions. The work is from a conference in Switzerland, 1963. (The link to The On-High Calling in its entirety will be at the end of the excerpt.)

“As a subject, we have pointed out that this is a key to the whole of this Letter to the Hebrews, which is an appeal for companions of Christ, and for companions of a heavenly calling. We have also said that this Letter is a summary of the whole of the New Testament. In making that statement, of course, we provide you with a very large field of consideration. We simply have to say that all that is in the New Testament is gathered in some way into this Letter. Therefore, all that is in the New Testament is gathered up into this one thought: God is seeking companions for His Son in a heavenly calling.

We are now going to dig more deeply into this Letter, always with this one thought in mind: It is companions of Christ which are in view.

Let us say one brief word about the point of view taken by this Letter. We understand that it was written and given to these Hebrew Christians at a time of very serious crisis, when a whole system which had existed for many centuries was about to pass away. The whole system of the Old Testament, from Moses onward, was about to go. After the writer had put down all that is in this Letter he put over it a quotation from the Old Testament: “Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:26,27 – quoted from Haggai 2:6). By quoting that Scripture and putting it at the end of this Letter, the writer indicated that this was just about to take place, and he proved to be right. It is evident that this Letter was written just before A.D. 70.

The Roman legions may already have been gathering around Jerusalem, and we know from history what happened. The city was besieged and destroyed, not one stone of the temple being left standing upon another, and the whole land was desolated. The priestly service ceased and all the functions of the temple came to an end. The whole country was put into a state of utter desolation, and from that day, even until now, that system ceased to be.

And this Letter was written because the Lord knew what was going to happen and because, in the Divine plan, the time had come for it to happen. Always read this Letter in the light of that great historic crisis.

That was the dark side of the story. But you will notice that this Letter is just full of that ‘better thing’ which had taken the place of the old, and we shall be dwelling upon that ‘better thing’ as we go along. As the people of an earthly calling were being set aside this great Letter of a heavenly calling was presented to them.

Before we go further with the Letter, let us remember that its message abides for us. It would be a very blind person who today could not see that another such event is very near. There has been built up on this earth another great system of Christianity. It is very earthly as a system, and , just as the hearts of the Jews here were very much bound up with their system, so in our time multitudes of Christians are just bound up with this historic Christianity. I do not claim to be a prophet, but there is much in the Word of God which points to the time when this whole system will be shaken. It is very impressive that in our lifetime we have seen this in a small way, when churches have been destroyed, congregations scattered, and it has not been possible to go on with the old forms. People have had to find the Lord for themselves without any earthly helps. They have had to get their help from heaven and not from earth. We have seen this happen, in a comparatively small way, on at least two occasions. The Lord has smitten the earth on two terrible occasions, with not so many years between them, and it is not difficult to see that it could happen again on a very much bigger scale. That event may not be very far off. We Christians speak of the coming of the Lord. That is our hope and our salvation: but we must remember that the coming of the Lord is going to be accompanied by a terrible judgment upon this earth, when everything that is not heavenly is going to be shaken, so shaken that it will just collapse.

So this Letter has a real message for us. As was said to the Jewish Christians at that time: ‘Your whole system, in which you are so bound up, is going to pass away’, so this Letter says to us today: ‘All the earthly system is going to be shaken, and shaken out of its place. But there is a better one coming’ – “God having provided some better thing” (Hebrews 11:40).

Well, that is the standpoint of this Letter. I am sure we can see that it is very applicable to our time. We are not just studying a book of the Bible which relates to many centuries ago. God is the eternal God and He speaks to all time, but the message is intensified as we get nearer the end.”

Link here —> The On-High Calling

The second is by Chip Brogden, from a book titled: The Church in the Wilderness, and is taken from Chapter One: Escape From Churchianity. (Chip’s book was first published in 2011, and is currently offered on Amazon. It comes highly recommended. The Amazon link will be at the end of that excerpt, as well as a link to his article of the same name – Escape From Churchianity – on his website.)

“We simply see things the way we have been trained to see them; we do not see things as God sees them. It is very easy to quantify and describe things in terms of Organized Religion because it is earthly, worldly, and natural. As someone on the street, ‘What is the church? ‘Why it is that building there with a steeple on top.’ ‘What is a pastor?’ The fellow who does the preaching.’ ‘What is a Christian?’ The folks who read their Bible a lot and pray a lot and go to church a lot – you know doing good works.’ You see how easy it is to define. It is tangible, concrete. We can get our hands on that, we can see that.

But the reality is that everything which makes up the Ekklesia is spiritual, and thus, it is invisible to the naked eye. It is non-corporeal. It cannot be measured by dollars and statistics. Now ask the same questions of someone who knows better. ‘What is the church?’ ‘The Church, the Ekkelsia, is the synthesis of individuals who have the Revelation  of Jesus and have to Him to receive Him as their Life.’ ‘Pray tell, where do I fond that? What do I look for?’ ‘You can’t find it or see it, it’s like trying to find the wind at 101 North Main Street. It is beyond geographical description; it is everywhere and nowhere.’ … This Life defies explanation because the truth is that it has nothing to do with the external, only the internal. Like the wind, you can see the effects of it, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes’ so are those who are born of the Spirit (John 3:8). This invisible Life is the characteristic of the Ekklesia. When you can capture the wind in a bag, then you can stuff Christians into a building and call it ‘church.’ ‘Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21 NKJV).

So, from our vantage point here on earth, Organized Religion can be easily seen, felt, touched, experienced, quantified, denominated, characterized, categorized, analyzed, and explained. We can chart its progress and hang the data up on the wall, point to it and say, ‘See? We’ve got this many million converts here, and this many million converts there. Church growth is up (or down), we collected this many billions dollars last year, and in relation to the rest of the world’s religions we rank number whatever. We’ve got this many thousands of churches in this part of the world, we have this many thousands of pastors and Christian workers, and we’ve translated the Bible into this many different languages.’

Meanwhile, what drives the Real Church, the Ekklesia, is invisible, spiritual, ethereal, hidden, veiled, in the world but not of the world, and hard to describe in terms we can understand. We can’t generate date and hang it up on the wall. Even those who know what the Ekklesia is sometimes have difficulty expressing themselves. Ask them where to find the Church of which they so longingly speak, and they are apt to reply, ‘I’m not sure if I know where the Church is, brother, but I sure know where it ain’t.’

Now imagine that the Lord wakes you up one night and says, “Come up hither, and I will show you the Church.” You expect Him to carry you down the street to the Family Worship Center or across the country to where the crowds say they are experiencing revival; but instead you find yourself rising high into the air, leaving the earth behind, and in the blink of an eye you travel beyond the edges of the temporal universe and into the spirit realm, seated with Christ in heavenly places, there in the throne of God.

Seated with the Lord and looking back down upon the world, we find from this perspective that the cathedrals, the church buildings, the worship centers, the sanctuaries, the denominational offices, the seminaries, the tithes and offerings, the membership drives, the movements, all vanish from sight. Everything melts away. He does not see the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptists, the United Methodists, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, or the Roman Catholics. He does not see Charismatics or Fundamentalists or Bible Belts or Christian Conservatives or Religious Rights. He does not see the building devoted to religious meetings as anything more special or significant than the grocery store or barber shop. He sees pastors, yes, but strangely, He does not see every director of a non-profit organization who owns a building devoted to religious meetings as a pastor. And it is not just the pastors that are different, from our heavenly observation point. Everything seems odd. Backwards. Apostles are not where you expect them to be, and they are not doing what you expect them to be doing; neither are prophets, evangelists, or teachers. Yet, they are right where He wants them to be, doing exactly what He wants them to do. Interestingly enough, He is not concerned with a rise or a decline in church attendance because He does not see the Church as something which can be attended. Hmmmm.

Standing next to Him we see as He sees. We realize when we look upon Christendom that all God sees there is His Church, the Ekklesia. He deems those who abide in Him, those who possess the Son, as those who have Life. His Church is not declining, it is growing because His Life cannot be contained or restricted. His Ekklesia is outside the matrix. His Church is spiritual, and as such, it is eternal, transcending time and space. Just as He is, and does.

You look upon His Face and see the curve of His smile, so you follow His gaze – and there it is, the living stones and precious gems which make up His Church. You couldn’t see them before, because you were right in the middle of it while still on earth. But now, far removed from it all and looking down upon it from the Lord’s perspective, you see that the living stones are being assembled together into a brilliant, gleaming, dazzling building which covers the entire earth! An angel stands apart from it, shouting, “100% pure: never touched by human hands!” You zoom in closer and discover that the stones and gems are not literal stones and gems, but people! Wonderful, beautiful, joy-filled people, joined together into a striking mosaic of vibrant colors, a tapestry of interwoven beauty, a medley of lives in perfect twelve-part harmony, all pulsing with His heartbeat, His Life, His Essence. You begin to weep at the unadulterated purity of it and oneness of it. There is no spot, wrinkle, or blemish to be found.

Only God could make something this gorgeous. Only God. Only God. And there in the midst of this wonderful place, you see what makes it so splendid…

There HE is, walking around in the midst of this Temple, adding living stone upon living stone, precious gem upon precious gem, and what do you hear? Singing? Yes. The Living Stones are crying out in praise. And He is smiling, and – whistling! – while He works.

Jesus is building His Church.

Then, as quickly as it began, it is over.

You open your eyes and find yourself back on earth, having returned to your three-dimensional world. It’s a sunny day, the birds are singing, the church bells are ringing, and you see men, women, and children walking down the street, carrying their Bibles. You rush out into the road and grab an elderly gentleman.

“Where are you going? What’s going on? Why are you so dressed up?”

“Get your hands off me, you crazy idiot! It’s Sunday morning, and I’m going to church!”

“You’ve seen the Church??”

“Seen it? Of course I’ve seen it. My great-great grandfather helped build that church!”

“No, I mean have you SEEN the CHURCH,” you repeat emphatically. “The Church that JESUS is building!”

“I don’t know what the devil you’re talking about, young man. Now let me alone, or I’ll be late!”

You let him go and before you know it you are swept along by the crowd and find yourself sitting within the four walls of a building that calls itself “First Hypocritical Church, International.”

The service is just beginning. The pastor approaches the lectern and announces, “Let’s all stand and sing!”

Not sure what to do, you join in the chorus:

Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Ye are the Temple of the Holy Ghost!

At the end of the song the pastor appears at the lectern again and matter-of-factly shouts, “Isn’t it good to be in the house of God today!” It’s more of a statement than a question. And all the people say, “AMEN!”

Hope rises! The House of God! Maybe he’s seen it too! Forgetting where you are, you stand up and excitedly shout “Have YOU seen the House of God, brother?”

“Amen!” He replies. “It’s good to be in church this morning!”

“Amen!” the people agree.

“No, wait a minute,” you interrupt, mouthing the words ever so slowly and deliberately, as if you were talking to a deaf lip reader. “Have you SEEN the CHURCH, brother? The Church that JESUS is building?”

All heads are turned now, facing you. The old man, one of the deacons, whispers, “That’s the weirdo I met on the way to church this morning!”

The pastor is growing impatient. “This IS the church, brother. Hallelujah!”

“But sir,” you press, “KNOW YE NOT YE ARE THE TEMPLE???”

The silence is deafening.

“You are the Temple. WE are the Temple! Jesus is building His Church! I’ ve seen it! It’s a wonderful House of Living Stones, filled with His Life! We are the Church that He is building! We are the Living Stones, the Precious Gems! I saw Jesus, and He was smiling and placing the stones together, and…”

Some teenagers on the back row are giggling.

“I’ve seen it! It’s true! The stones… the jewels… it’s gorgeous!”

The people are looking at the pastor to see what he will do.

Slowly it dawns on you. You realize that to them you are an alien from another planet trying to communicate something that is so real to you but is totally foreign to the rest of the world.

Desperately you grab the man standing next to you by the shoulders, thinking to shake it into him. “You don’t believe me… But it’s true! You sing about it… but you don’t believe it! YOU ARE THE TEMPLE! You have to believe me! I’ve seen it! Jesus is building His Church!”

The ushers are making their way over to your place in the pew.

Sweating and shaking, you look around the sanctuary, wild-eyed. “No, something’s wrong here. Everything is different… this isn’t the Church! I mean, you’re calling it church, but this isn’t what I’ve seen at all. No, the Church is… is… One Flock with One Shepherd, not divided up into denominations and sects! It’s a mosaic of people! It’s a tapestry of rich colors! It’s a medley…” You begin to sob. “Listen to me! Know ye not ye are the Temple?!?”

The congregation is uncomfortable and agitated. The old deacon is ashen-faced, glaring at the pastor to put an end to this.

“Friend,” the pastor finally manages, “if you’ll go with the ushers I’m sure we can better minister to you in private. With every head bowed and every eye closed, why don’t we go to the Lord in prayer right now.”

While every head is bowed and every eye is closed, except the pastor’s head and eyes, the ushers quickly hustle you out the back door and throw you down the steps.

The pastor smiles. “and the church said… AMEN. Amen. You may be seated. Well, praise the Lord. Today my message is entitled, ‘What It Means To Be A Christian’. Turn in your Bibles to…”.

Amazon link here —> The Church in the Wilderness

Website article link here —> Escape From Churchianity

Father, that You would grant us, Your children, a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the deep knowledge of Your Son, Christ Jesus; that You would grant us, Your children, out of the rich treasury of Your glory that we be strengthened with mighty power in our inner man by Your indwelling Spirit; that we would hear Your voice To-Day, Father; and harden not our hearts by unbelief, but lean on You solely in trust and in Your faithfulness we shall find in You our Source for all rest and peace and living. To You alone be the glory throughout all generations, for ever and ever – Amen. 

Meditations in the Word: Gentleness

Jewell Park4 May 2019

[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light. [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:11-13

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

For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons (see 1 Peter 2:12)[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:15,16

[You who are] household servants, be submissive to your masters with all [proper] respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate and reasonable, but also to those who are surly (overbearing, unjust, and crooked). For one is regarded favorably (is approved, acceptable, and thankworthy) if, as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering. 1 Peter 2:18-19

For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps. He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips. When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:21-23

Before we go any further let it be known that any and all of this life lived in Christ has to be just that – in Christ! This is not for the flesh! It will either be an offense to the flesh and we will turn back, or the motivating factor for going on in the strength of the flesh where Christ will profit us nothing (Galatians 5:2). It begins, we begin, with the Father delivering and drawing us to Himself out of the control and the dominion (or sovereignty or preeminance of Satan) and having transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love! This is the new creation! This is where we are brought, in hopeful and ever-forward progression, when God in Christ now has the control and dominion; the sovereignty and preemincance in our hearts and lives.

Beloved, this fact alone, in spite of any brick & mortar church affiliation, political affiliation, or earthly label we may attach to ourselves, will gradually and consistently make us different from the rest of the world. It is a quiet force of gentleness in the power of an endless Life in an ever increasingly harsh world.

G.D. Watson writing on a gentle spirit puts it this way:

Real gentleness is not a mere set of parlor manners that we can put off and on; it must be soaked into every fiber of our being, and must be drawn from a divine fountain.

So few are willing to undergo the suffering  out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness. Crucifixion involves suffering, and it is not a painted death but a real breaking and crushing of self which wrings the heart and conquers the mind. There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification now-a-days which is only a religious fiction. […] that death must be carried out in the little hidden details of life. This involves a vast amount of quiet suffering, the unostentatious bearing of a thousand pains, and the speechless enduring of secret crosses, told only to God with silent midnight tears. But it we want to be filled with a gentle spirit we must be filled with death to self. Many Christians seem to not understand that, after the instantaneous work of sanctification, there is a vast stretch of progress in having the mind of Jesus; that the will can more and more sink into God’s will until, in numberless ways, the choices and preferences on the smallest matters are sunk in the sweet, placid waters of the Father’s will, and the thoughts can be more and more lifted to heavenly perceptions, and all the affections enlarged and flooded with the indwelling of Jesus until every expression, and tone, and manner in some way indicates the mark of God upon it.

This immediately brings to mind Hebrews 12:14 – Strive to live in peace with everybody, and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. How much the world needs to see the Lord! It is why we are here!

When we do right and good in the face of wrong and evil, when we suffer an injustice silently, let us not miss this: as in the sight of God, this is what Peter says we are called to, it is inseparable from our calling. We can pretend it’s not there. We can rebel against it. We can justify our flesh and nullify the Word of God by saying that God does not call us to be a door mat for anyone. We can be hard and harsh and use our brute strength and mighty mental stamina to conquer our so-called enemies, but we have no part in Christ in that, and no one sees the Lord. (For clarity sake, it must be stated that this is by no means an invitation for abuse by the hand of any spouse or clergy! Nor is it the acceptance of that abuse without seeking help. The enemy would have us throw it all out without allowing the Spirit, through it, to bring Life to us and to others. I trust that the Spirit will make this plain to the reader.)

To end, a heart-to-heart to anyone who finds themselves in a marriage relationship with an unbelieving husband; be that a religious, fleshly unbeliever, or simply unsaved. 1 Peter 3:1-4 certainly takes it up a notch! Contrary to popular evangelical-Christian culture, we do not nag or berate or condemn or belittle our husbands. Oh, friend, I hear your heart, I do. This is where the rubber meets the road for us. Go to the Father with it, Beloved. All is perfectly clear to Him. Others may hound and criticize, others may question to death, never letting up; it is their fear and religious spirit, but there is Another Way! Cultivate that inner beauty, which is both authored and perfected by Him who has the power of an endless life. And know, please know, that the marital misunderstandings and the heart-longings are felt and known by many of us.  God is faithful and He is true.

In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives,

When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;

But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:1-4

I am your sister,

Becky

Offered For Your Encouragement

Crabapple blossom 042019

In 2009 after a particularly difficult conversation with my mom where I lamented over many things going on in my life which I could not understand, she shared with me something she had remembered from years before. It had the title of, “Others May, You Cannot,“a word written by G.D. Watson (1845-1924).  Once off the phone I searched the internet for it and printed it out. Every now and then I have an urge to go it, and have read it hundreds of times. It is now covered with my notes in every shade of pen, sprinkled with dates over these last ten years. Last week came another one of those urges, so I went to it, carefully reading over G.D. Watson’s words and every scribble of mine.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

By G.D. Watson

G.D.Watson (1845-1924) was a Wesleyan Methodist minister and evangelist based in Los Angeles. His evangelistic campaigns took him to England, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea. He also wrote several books.

Ten years that the ever-deepening reality of these words continues in my life. It never ceases to challenge my flesh. As much as it is challenging, it is of great comfort to me. Trusting it is all for a purpose. Not my will, Father, but Yours be done.

One reason I have so appreciated the Christ-centered ministry of T. Austin-Sparks is how deep and constant the Holy Spirit’s word and thought coming through his writings has confirmed the place where I have found myself in this journey of walking the narrow road.  It hasn’t been that he has taught me much necessarily, but that the faithful and true Lord has brought me through the crucible of experience and, either after or in the midst of that, I will read something of Sparks and He brings it to Life right there in the privacy of my own home as I sit on my couch or kitchen table or desk.

It isn’t always that the Lord lifts the clouds of our circumstances, but gives us the faith to see Him in all things. It seems our journey is holding onto the memory of what has gone before; the many ways the Lord has showed Himself faithful in our yesteryear’s, as well as the practical outworking of our faith when living in the present and looking into the future. There is not a moment where He is not alive and an ever present help in our times of trouble.

That being said, here is an excerpt from Sparks’, “Knowing Christ in the Power of Resurrection“, that has so comforted me in the challenge of its truth and its reality in life:

Very often those who ought to be, by reason of their spiritual position, helpful, are anything but encouraging; they would put us back. All that we are left with is: “The Lord has called me; I know that in my heart. The Lord has led me this way. The Lord has caused me to take this step that I have taken. I have burned my bridges; I have cut all my ties; I have stepped out on the Lord. Now, although I have done that, the Lord is testing me, seeming to give me very little confirmation and encouragement, and the Lord’s representatives (officially) are by no means helpful. Nevertheless I stand to it, I am going on with God.” A man or a woman who can go on like that is going to count for God. Elisha had nothing whatever to fall back upon but his inward knowledge of the Lord. He went through on that.

It is a very nice thing when we get encouragement from every direction in the way of our conceived call; when the Lord comes along and confirms it in all sort of ways. And then everyone else, and everything else, says: “We are with you; we will stand by you; we are going to support and uphold you.” We can get on all right that way. But if the Lord gives us no special, conspicuous providences or sovereign acts; if He hides Himself, so that what we do see is rather discouragement to go on, even from the Lord’s side; one of the most difficult things is the hiding of the Lord. He is there. He is with us. He is doing things, and yet there is nothing that our flesh can take hold of; we could never write an account of how wonderfully and marvellously the Lord carried everything through, and left nothing to us at all; it is a matter of faith going on with God, even when the Lord seems to be hiding Himself, and allowing much of discouragement to remain on our horizon. And then no one else could enter into it. Everybody else to whom we might look, and from whom we might expect something, are no use to us at all. All that they have to say is something that is melancholy: “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?” Elisha seems to be a little impatient with that. It might have been expressed in this way: “You are a morbid crowd, and I would sooner you kept quiet if you had nothing better to say!” They are not inspiring at all. And that is very often how we find the people to whom we look for encouragement, They see the difficulties, they see the dark side of things, they tell us what we are running our heads into, the calamities that will overtake us. The question is: will you go on with God? Elisha went on. The statement is: “They two went on”. There is something in that which leads to a large place, which means much for the Lord.

For the entire article, you can click here.

I am your sister,

Becky