A Thrill of Hope

A Thrill of Hope

There I was parked behind the shopping center a few weeks back enjoying some fast food when Celine Dion’s version of “O Holy Night” comes on the radio. It’s a favorite of mine whatever time of year.

♫ Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn ♪

(For song link, click here <—-)

I sat in my car sobbing & chewing.

The new & glorious morn was prophesied in the stories of Old, the people living under the burden of the requirements and commands of the Law. Recognizing the revelation of Christ in Scriptures, from beginning to end, we are better able to see these requirements were never meant to sustain; in fact they cannot.

On that infamous night, the angels said: Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to ALL THE PEOPLE. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth PEACE AMONG MEN WITH WHOM HE IS WELL PLEASED. (Men meaning mankind, both men and women.)

Well pleased? Have you read some of the stories of Old? ‘You better shape up, buddy. Or else.’ It’s not just a story of Old either, this perception of God continues today. But let this be a reminder that this perception is through a human interpretation of God, not a Holy Spirit revelation of Christ. Of course some religions are better at this than others, and ‘their people’ are buckled under the pressure to ensure that God is well pleased with them.

Faith is not a religious word, but a relationship word based on trust, which is based on love, not legalism. If you see faith as a religious concept, you will be obsessed with beliefs or rules & regulations. Faith is trusting that God is Who He says he is, and that He will do what He says He will do. (Chip Brogden)

What is legalism? It is a rules-based approach to God which is blind and ignorant to the fact that God in Christ has already approached us without our having to ‘do’ anything. In a legalistic religion there is fear and condemnation, there is control and manipulation, along with some self-righteousness for ‘doing’ what is ‘right.’ Of course this may or may not be obvious to those on the outside, but a heart under the yoke of legalism knows it all too well. In a rules-based approach to God there may be a manufactured elation but there is no sustaining LIFE, or LOVE, or JOY, and most certainly there is no FREEDOM! For those are found, not in religion, but in the Person of Christ.

Friends, this is not God’s heart towards mankind! To better see God’s heart one must look at Christ. The simplicity of Christ will always be twisted by the complexities of religion.

If a person believes they must ‘do’ to make God well pleased with them (this could mean one of a million different things), if a person is weary and burdened and are hungry for that which has sustaining power, with an open heart ask the Lord for some Light (He will give it!) and then read John 6:28-29, Romans 3:19-24,28. It has not been my actual experience, because I am the one who ran from a legalistic religious upbringing for the sake of freedom, and ironically wound up in chains of another kind. But I do know a few who have, by the grace of God, come out of a legalistic religion and have spent years unlearning. Legalism and Life: they are altogether different and they make the person on the receiving end altogether different as well!

When Jesus was raised from the dead and walked beside two men who were saddened by the events of recent days, He struck up a conversation with them to hear what they had to say. Then beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning, not the Law or sin or a hundred other things, He explained to them the things concerning HIMSELF.

Jesus’ call is: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

It all begins and ends with Him. The work now, and do believe me that it is a work in the face of all that would convince you otherwise, the work is to trust in the One Whom He has sent – Christ Jesus. It is – He is – A THRILL OF HOPE to be sure! And in His Name, in all that Christ is, all oppression shall cease.

Amen and happylujah!

(Luke 2:10,14; John 6:28-29; Romans 3:19-25,28; Luke 24:27; Matthew 11:28-30)

Kept in Perfect & Constant Peace

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The meditation of my heart and focus of the most recent posts here have had to do with the lifestyle pointed to in Hebrews 12:1-2. I prefer the Amplified Classic translation, though it is much more wordy, it breathes a depth other translations do not.

…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

Looking 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].

The Passion translation of verse 2 is also quite good:

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection

The Lord has been teaching me what it means to look away from the natural realm and fasten my gaze upon Jesus. Not in the midst of things going my way or easy. Not while He answers every plea of mine for provision and/or healing. But in spite of those things. When we look away from Jesus and fasten our gaze on the natural realm, oh, friends, it is chaos and fear unrelenting.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul puts it this way:

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

It should be stated that I am not innocent of not fretting or having anxiety about anything, and I know you are not either. Let this be an encouragement in what the Lord would have us hear from Him. In recent days, maybe weeks, in the wee morning hours there was a collision in my heart between my not knowing how to pray and my very real need of definite requests. The Lord has had me on a journey of unlearning the fleshly prayer life in order to better teach me what prayer actually is. I am not a professional in any regard, merely a student of and in Christ. To find ourselves adjusted to His will, whatever the circumstances are, is quite different than a begging for all to be different than what it is or has been. That is not shared with pride. It is by much difficulty that we learn, or so it would seem, and this adjusting has been no different for me; through difficulty and deep intimate humbling of the Spirit. If I were to list out ten major items I have been taking to the Lord in prayer over the last ten years, it would be shocking to the flesh to recognize how little has changed as far as those things in particular are concerned, though there are snippets of provision and faithfulness on His part. But as for my own once-upon-a-rebel-heart, my relationship with the Lord, and His liberty to flow freely through a crucified flesh, in spite of those unchanged things, praise be to Him for doing what only He is capable of.

God’s peace shall garrison our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The Lord has had me there again, and again, and again. I may have written about it before, I do not recall. If so, let this be an occasion for remembrance of that which will help us.

Garrison is a group of soldiers whose task it is to guard the town or building where they live. God Himself, by way of His Holy Spirit lives in us, and it is His peace, which transcends all understanding that guards us.

Since this has been a focal point of my heart, it was with great joy that I happened across Isaiah 26:3 yesterday:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on what? Unpleasant circumstances? Illness? Finances? Politics? Sin? A tradition-of-men’s religious checklist? No! Whose mind is stayed on the Lord!

The word stayed means to continue or remain. Jesus tells us in John 15:7 – Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. This perfect and constant peace is His, and the peace that He gives is not as the world gives. Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (John 14:27).

To wrap things up, as we look away from the natural realm and fasten our gaze upon Christ, we are focused upon Him to Whom every point of our faith relies, or should. Christ is the Leader and Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] – it is not because of anything other than that! Christ is also the Finisher of our faith, bringing it to maturity and perfection. We cannot strive for this by any other means but fastening our gaze upon Him, trusting Him to do what only He can do, and living in the rest of His work.

In a world of chaos and fear and hypocrisy, may His keeping us in perfect and constant peace be a living message to those around us. Glory be to God!

I Will Build My Church

 

Wyoming chapel

The last few posts have seen words shared such as:

We are not to be persuaded by the title alone, if the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher that you are listening to, following, involved with, is not pointing towards Christ in a manner that is equipping you to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and ONLY if you are sensing a dissatisfaction or hunger by way of the guidance of the indwelling Spirit to walk away, then by all means…walk away!

And:

Is our faith resting in the wisdom of men, for the multitudes that have brought their message in persuasive words of wisdom? Or is our faith resting in the power of God? There is no third option here. Our faith is either in the one or it is in the other. Father, that You would give us transparency to know where our faith lies, and if it is not in You, that You would work by Your Spirit to bring such faith about.

Let it be stated that the author is aware of the vast difference of our journey’s. Anything shared here that is not helpful to the reader on this ever-narrowing journey or encouraging you to focus on Christ alone should be released. But it would be against the very Life within for me to share anything other than what is being shared lately. And though much of it is by way of someone else’s words, it is what is being wrought in me through deep experiences and beyond my own ability to communicate with words, much to my chagrin. I trust the Lord will change this in His timing.

He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am?

Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.

And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]. Matthew 16:15-18

This statement of Jesus has nothing to do with Peter as a man, and has everything to do with the revelation of Christ, not by way of flesh and blood, by way of the Father Who is in heaven. Happylujah!

Let us be encouraged by this:

(Chip Brogden, The Church in the Wilderness) “Just about everything Jesus taught us about the Kingdom of God is intended to be received on a spiritual basis by spiritually enlightened men and women; if you try to understand it in terms of the natural, in terms of the earthly, you’ll not be able to understand it. You’ll not be able to appreciate it or discern it.

[…] This Building that Jesus is building, this Ekklesia, is a spiritual House of living stones (1 Peter 2:4-5). And because it is spiritual, it is heavenly; and that means it is not earthly. Just as the Kingdom of God is not observed or seen with the eyes, but is within you, in the same way, the Ekklesia that Jesus is building is a spiritual reality. Jesus said, ‘I will build My Ekklesia,’ so we know that this Ekklesia is not built by a man, and not organized by man. Man is not the author or the creator of it. Jesus is building His Temple, and so it is a thing that is quite beyond man, quite beyond what man is capable of. It is not a system, organization, denomination, or a movement of man. Just like the new Birth, the Ekklesia is from above, and is conceived and lives in the Spirit and by the Spirit.

We said that the word Ekklesia means the assembly, or the gathering together, of those who are called-out; and the Scriptures paint for us a picture of a spiritual House of living stones being joined together into Christ. Jesus said He would prepare a place for us, and He would come to us, and would receive us unto Himself.

Come to Me, Jesus said.  I believe this place He has prepared is in Himself. He has prepared a Place for us and it is a Place of living and abiding in Himself. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, He says. He is this Place prepared for us, and He is the Way into that Place. He is our Destination, our Purpose, our Promised Land, our Sabbath Day, and our Rest.

So the spiritual House that Jesus is building is the gathering together into Christ of those who are called out of the earthly, carnal, natural, and worldly; out of that which is merely human; out of darkness and death, and into the spiritual, into the heavenly, into the very Life of God Himself.

How powerful this is! How wonderful this is! Can you see how we have utterly failed by trying to bring the Ekklesia down to earth, making it natural, and thinking of it only in terms of meetings attended, sermons preached, or programs implemented? It is far greater, far more wonderful, than anything we can imagine or define in earthly terms. It is spiritual and heavenly, is is a joining together in the Spirit, into Jesus Christ Himself and out of everything outside of Christ.”

This very thing that Chip is describing is the purpose of and object of the letter to the Hebrews. As their temptation was to go back to the earthly representations; the types and symbols of what Christ had brought in their reality in His own Person. And soon there would be a desolation of that religious way of life. We may think that almost unbelievable with the myriad of religious ways of life presently available in the world. But it will not always be like this, and as surprising as it may seem, there is much in Christianity that is outside of Christ. Beloved, If you have experienced the deception of what the multitudes believe Hebrews 10:25 means as mere church attendance, if you are sensing the urge of the Holy Spirit to leave your brick & mortar building, if you are fearful and self-condemning based on that deception, meditate on this. Make your heart available to the Lord for His guidance in this matter. This is hard but important! May I remind you of the infamous quote the beavers gave on Aslan: He is not safe, but He is good. 

And to end, here is something quite remarkable written by T. Austin-Sparks:

“The true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man” (Hebrews 8:2) is “not of this creation.” The whole Letter to the Hebrews has to do with this change from the earthly and temporal to the heavenly and spiritual. Hence, He is no longer in “temples made with hands.” To come right to the point: the New Testament teaches that the Temple in this dispensation is a Person, and persons incorporated into Him through death, burial and resurrection, and “baptized into one body by one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). We must also remember that Jesus foretold the passing away of that entire temporal system, with Jerusalem as its center and representation. With His foreknowledge of the passing of the earthly, temporal and material things; places, systems, fixed locations, and outward forms, the Lord Jesus put the whole matter of survival upon Himself as the constituent of a spiritual structure against which the very powers of hell would not prevail. Against fixed localizing and systematizing of Himself and His presence He was emphatic, and history is evidence of how right He was. If, according to John 3:16, salvation is a matter of whosoever, the Lord’s presence and true worship, according to Matthew 18:20, is wheresoever.” (For the entirety of this article, click here <—–)

He writes in another place, and one which I did not note well where it came from: “There is only one sure safeguard against the colossal delusion by which MULTITUDES will be carried away in the latter days, and that is a CLEAR APPREHENSION of the teaching of the Holy Spirit concerning soul & spirit and the CONTINUAL OPERATION OF THE CROSS in the realm of the natural man.”

Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness and goodness to us. We receive Your preparation of our hearts and lives unto the fullness and manifestation of Your Son in His fullness. Amen. 

 

 

The Full Measure of Christ

May

Now if perfection (a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper) had been attainable by the Levitical priesthood—for under it the people were given the Law—why was it further necessary that there should arise another and different kind of Priest, one after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed after the order and rank of Aaron?…But He (Christ) holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever. Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. Hebrews 7:11;24-25

See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah)….And not holding fast to the Head, from Whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. Colossians 2:8;19

He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]. Ephesians 1:22-23

For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power]. Colossians 2:9-10

…you have come to Mount Zion, even to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless multitudes of angels in festal gathering, And to the church (assembly) of the Firstborn who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, Hebrews 12:22-23a

“When you dwell upon the idea of the church in the New Testament and these great designations, these great titles such as the church have become obscured in their pure truth and their divine meaning by many false attachments and associations and wrong ideas as to what the church is, and the word “church” has been brought down to a very low level indeed and the title given to things which God would never own as His church. When you seek to discover God’s thought as to what the word “church” really means, you find that the governing thought of God concerning the church is that it shall be to Him the vessel for the display of His fulness: “the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

When you turn to the Colossian letter, again the same thought is there: “In Him dwells all the fulness… and ye are made full in Him” (Col. 2:9,10). And in that same chapter in verse 19 we read: “holding fast the head“. In Ephesians the church is shown to be His body, and all the body increases with the increase of God, and the concluding thought and idea is God’s fulness by Christ in and through the church to be ultimately universally displayed. So that when you use the very word “church”, if you use it according to God’s mind, you think of that vehicle and vessel which is called into being, constituted by God Himself, according to His eternal counsels for the manifestation of His fulness in Christ. Membership of the church implies that, involves that. It means that you and I as members of Christ are called into association with His fulness. God’s dealings with us are all with a view to that fulness of Christ being found, as far as it is possible, in individuals, growingly manifested now, and eventually to the utmost bound possible. But it will take all the members making one body to display the entire fulness.

Our thought here at the moment is that the Levites, being in type the church of the firstborn, embody this thought of “the church”, which itself is a thought, an idea from God relative to fulness.

(c) Heavenliness

Now a third thing connected with fulness in the Levites is that they stood essentially for what was heavenly in the life of God’s people. Indeed, we can put that more strongly, and more definitely, and say that they existed to hold the people of God to the truth that they were a heavenly people. They had no inheritance on the earth; they were immediately linked with God, and all that which characterized them and was a part of their function, was entirely heavenly in its nature and its order, so that in the letter to the Hebrews, in referring to the Levitical order of things, the Holy Spirit through the apostle says that these were a pattern of things in heaven. Thus the Levites held everything in the life of God’s people in relation to heaven. They set forth in object-forms (by object-lessons, types and symbols) heavenly realities. The letter to the Hebrews was written to show believers in Christ that those symbols and types in the Levitical order were only intended to be like mirrors in which heavenly and spiritual things could be seen reflected. They were intended to be like a glass through which you would look at heavenly things. They were only representations and they have passed; the true heavenly things continue, they abide. The thought is that the Levites represented the heavenliness of God’s people.

Now come back to Ephesians, and what have you there? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ; according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…” (Verses 3-4).

Now remember that is addressed to the church (or, those of whom have been born of the Spirit – italics mine) . Literally it says, has blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. That which has been chosen before the foundation of the world and which has been foreordained unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. That is the fulness of God’s thought for His own, as a full, comprehensive, utter thought. We have not yet come into all those blessings, not because God has not given them, but because we have not grown up into them. We have not grown up into Him in all things. That is the point of our word, the urge to come to God’s thought, the measure of Christ.

What is God’s thought? The full measure of Christ, the fulness of the stature of Christ. That is God’s thought for us. Let us lay hold of God’s thoughts; let us by faith appropriate those thoughts, let us believe in God’s thoughts, let us seek to get into line with those thoughts, and take the Holy Spirit and His energies to form us, and constitute us, that God’s thoughts may become living expressions in us. That is His purpose: to bring us to the full measure of Christ.”

T. Austin-Sparks (the entirety of this article can be found by clicking here <—-

A Word For This Present Hour

In 1966 T. Austin-Sparks spoke at a conference in Switzerland. Near the beginning of these messages he is recorded as saying:

I do want to say a very serious word about the purpose of these meditations. I want to say to you that this is not just a subject for a conference, nor just some Bible study for a series of meetings. My own strong conviction is that this is a word from God in this serious time in which we are living, and we are living in the most serious time in the history of this world. If we knew what was happening in the nations of this whole world today, one question would fill our minds: How much longer can it go on? Things are happening which make it very possible that many alive today will see the great change in this whole world. We are not exaggerating if we say that it is quite possible that within the next twenty or twenty-five years the end of this present world order could come. That would mean that this could happen in the lifetime of the middle-aged people, and certainly of younger people. It is not my desire to be an alarmist, but what I have just said is very possible, and so many things are happening in the world as to make the time very short.

I am not prophesying, so no one will be able to say that I was a false prophet if it does not happen! I am only saying that it is very possible, and if this is true, then we might expect that God would send a message to His people to prepare them. So I repeat: this is not just some bit of Bible teaching for a week. This could be a message from the Lord to prepare us for what is coming very soon.” For the entirety of that conference’s transcription, click here <—–

“We are not exaggerating if we say that it is quite possible that within the next twenty or twenty-five years the end of this present world order could come.”

Twenty or twenty-five years from 1966 has passed two times over. At the present writing of this it is the year 2019: 53 years later.

“…so many things are happening in the world as to make the time very short.”

When I happened across these words just a few days ago it was shocking to me. Why? Because of where we are presently. For all that which was happening in Sparks’ time to make him say these words, even now there are many more things happening to believe the time is very short. Just this week alone there is political upset in America, and across the globe there are weather extremes that seem to be more commonplace than extreme; fires and tornadoes and exceptional snowfall, as well as horrific stories of crimes & murder. It is not my desire to spend any additional time on that.

It is easy to be passive about time being short, especially since so many have thought the Lord’s return was imminent in each generation since the day He ascended. But it would be foolish not to believe that the time is drawing ever closer, more now than in Paul’s day, more now than even in Sparks’ day. And, yes, it is true that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. But we do not pass this off as unimportant, we are to be prepared. What comes to my heart as I type these words is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13):

Verses 5-13: While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep.

But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!

Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order.

And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.

But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves.

But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.

Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us!

But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].

Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.

So, how then do we prepare? What is the necessity for us presently? I asked the Lord this morning for a word from Him. What is it that You would have us to know, Father? There is so much available today, there is so much chatter and banter and argument and division. How do we know what is what? How do we hold onto our hope as the love of many grow cold because of the lawlessness and iniquity, even more so now than ever before in history?  Do we need a political revolution? Do we need less abortions? Do we need more traditional family values? Do we need better arguments for or against these things? And in the morning hours these things have sprung forth. (This also comes on the heels of the last article posted here on Occupied with Christ, which you can find by clicking here <—-)

In 70 AD the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed, just as Jesus had said that it would (Matthew 24:2) In 67 AD the letter to the Hebrews was written. How imperative in preparation for what was to come that these believers were given this glorious letter of the preeminence of Christ to all things, even religious things, even that which for a time was God-given. In this letter it is written in chapter 3:

Verse3b-8a:  “…we are members of the Father’s house, IF WE HOLD FAST AND FIRM TO THE END our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope in Christ. THEREFORE, as the Holy Spirit says, TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”  (Reading onward through verse 14 is quote good as well.)

In 1 Corinthians 2, after Paul explains that he resolved to know nothing among these Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, he goes on to tell them that the message he brought was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but was in demonstration of the Holy Spirit, sot that their faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Beloved, let us have a very real seeking of the Lord as to what our faith is resting in. Is our faith resting in the wisdom of men, for the multitudes that have brought their message in persuasive words of wisdom? Or is our faith resting in the power of God? There is no third option here. Our faith is either in the one or it is in the other. Father, that You would give us transparency to know where our faith lies, and if it is not in You, that You would work by Your Spirit to bring such faith about.

This wisdom of God, Paul tells us further in chapter two, is for our glorification; or, as the Amplified Classic translates it: TO LIFT US INTO THE GLORY OF HIS PRESENCE. This is what the letter to the Hebrews is pointing towards all the time. For all that has been earthly, we are now, by the grace and mercy and wisdom of God, and by the blood and death and resurrection of our Great High Priest, we are now BY FAITH, lifted into the glory of His presence! Happylujah!

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 it is written:

“…we beg and admonish you, in virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus, that you follow the instructions which you learned from us about how you ought to walk so as to please and gratify God, as indeed you are doing; that you do so even more and more abundantly ATTAINING GREATER PERFECTION IN LIVING THIS LIFE.”

Do we presume that this walking so as to please and gratify God is an religious or earthly demonstration alone? Do we take what the wisdom of men speak and what their traditions teach, and make that be this pleasing and gratifying walk unto God? There are too many Scriptures to list as to why that is not so. We are to be a heavenly people, sojourners on this earth, living here on this earth but not being of it, and it is Christ alone by way of His Cross and His resurrection and the Spirit given from and by and through Him that we come to that. We may pretend many things, but being a heavenly people cannot be one of them.

Fast forward with me. The temple was destroyed. For the religious their very way of life was taken from them. Imagine the uproar, the fear. It’s been nearly 30 years and John is approaching the end of his life, writing his gospel and his letters to the believers in Christ Jesus. In my bible on the page where the gospel of John begins I have written a quote by Sparks: “John’s gospel was written when the New Testament church had lost its original form and power and spiritual life, its heavenly character.” It is important to keep that in mind as I wrap this up. So John’s letters were written after the gospel, and he pens chapter 2 verses 24 through 27:

As for you, keep in your hearts what you have heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the first dwells and remains in you, then you will dwell in the Son and in the Father [always].

And this is what He Himself has promised us—the life, the eternal [life].

I write this to you with reference to those who would deceive you [seduce and lead you astray].

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].

He writes this with reference to those who would deceive and lead astray. In that present time there may have been little to no one who would speak or write to them as John would, but would instead deceive them, leading them astray to what?

Something other than the preeminence of Christ.

What was he encouraging them with? As long as you’re in a Bible believing church or sitting under the teaching of a popular or wealthy or good looking or well educated by the religious institutions of the day preacher or teacher, and are giving your tithes, you will be safe from this deception? No. It was nothing of the sort. John wrote to them, and by way of the Spirit also to us in this present hour:

The Holy Spirit, which you received from Christ abides permanently within you. Since that is the case you have NO NEED THAT ANYONE SHOULD INSTRUCT YOU, especially if what is available will deceive you, seduce you by way of the wisdom of men and their traditions. John continues: But (but, but, but) just as the Holy Spirit’s anointing teaches us concerning EVERYTHING and is true with NO FALSEHOOD, so we must abide in Him.

Gill’s exposition says that this “‘having heard from the beginning’ was not externally only, but internally; they had hearkened to it, and from the heart obeyed it; they had mixed it with faith, and received the love of it…”

May it be so with us. Amen!

[Scriptures for meditating: John 16:12-12; 1 Corinthians 2:2,4-7; Colossians 2:5b-6; Hebrews 3:6b-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 John 2:24-27; Matthew 24 and 25.]

Let Us Go On To Perfection

John 16 12 13

Readings: 1 John 2:24-27; Ephesians 4:11-14

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:11-13

Due to an inquiry of my own heart as of late, coupled with two different readings I have come across in as many days, it was too good not to share.

It was God who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to His Ekklesia, to encourage, edify, and establish all of us deeper into Christ. Can the Holy Spirit in John contradict the Holy Spirit in Paul? By no means.

What then? John was the sole survivor of the first twelve apostles, and now he is very old. Naturally he is concerned with the welfare of the Ekklesia after his death. So God comforts John, and then John comforts us, with this truth: even if we do not have access to the apostle, or prophet, or evangelist, or pastor and teacher, we are still instructed inwardly. The Ekklesia that Jesus is building is not dependent upon the great men or women of God. We are grateful to the ministry gifts when we have them, but we are not dependent upon them for our Life. The Life is greater than the ministers through which it may be ministered.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

That which has been chosen before the foundation of the world and which has been foreordained unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. That is the fullness of God’s thought for His own, as a full, comprehensive, utter thought. We have not yet come into all those blessings, not because God has not given them, but because we have not grown up into them. We have not grown up into Him in all things. That is the point of our word, the urge to come to God’s thought, the measure of Christ.

What is God’s thought? The full measure of Christ, the fullness of the stature of Christ. That is God’s thought for us. Let us lay hold of God’s thoughts; let us by faith appropriate those thoughts, let us believe in God’s thoughts, let us seek to get into line with those thoughts, and take the Holy Spirit and His energies to form us, and constitute us, that God’s thoughts may become living expressions in us. That is His purpose: to bring us to the full measure of Christ. All that we need to do is to state that as a definite fact, but, mark you, it represents a tremendous responsibility. We cannot talk, and hear about things like that without coming under tremendous responsibility. If this is the revelation of God from heaven in Christ through His Word and to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, then it involves us in very great responsibility. Is it necessary to speak about responsibility? Ought not God’s thought for us really draw out our hearts in unspeakable gratitude and worship? Ought we not to recognize these other words here associated with the calling: “according to the good pleasure of His will,” the Lord’s delight? You remember what Joshua and Caleb said when they reported on the land: “If the Lord delight in us He will bring us in.” That is only what we have here. Christ is the Land of God’s fullness, and it is according to the good pleasure of His will that we should come into that fullness.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Church of the Firstborn – Chapter 4

This is the urgent call throughout the letter to the Hebrews, which is quite instructional for us today as well. Let us go on to perfection.
The Lord is not concerned with our brick & mortar attendance if this going on is not the result. The Lord alone is more than capable of bringing us into the knowledge of the Son of God and to perfection. We are not to be persuaded by the title alone, if the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher that you are listening to, following, involved with, is not pointing towards Christ in a manner that is equipping you to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and ONLY if you are sensing a dissatisfaction or hunger by way of the guidance of the indwelling Spirit to walk away, then by all means…walk away!
Be encouraged! He is faithful and can be trusted!

Meditations in the Word: Strength in Difficulty

Ranger Lakes evening after a storm

There He was in the garden, hours from His death, but first there would be the mocking and the beating, the rejection by the masses, as well as those close to Him, and He kneels to pray: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) It is hard to imagine the humanity of Jesus in this moment. The deep ache in His heart to skip the whole thing, if at all possible. We only know the smallest fraction of this plea by way of our own unwanted sufferings & difficulties. We often request the first half of this prayer only:

Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me. I don’t want it. I don’t like it. It makes me hurt or uncomfortable or poor or unpopular or misunderstood or lonely or rejected or afraid or, or, or. And it makes You look bad. Don’t You want to save Your reputation by delivering me from this pain and discomfort and poverty and misery?

Then think of the mockery flung at Him in the hours that would follow. Talk about making God look bad. You can almost hear their sarcastic tone: Hey, if You are who You say You are, come down from there, save Yourself. The heckles of laughter echo on this holy ground as He breathes His last.

In reading this Scripture a few days ago it was with both shock & relief to take in the reality of what followed; immediately upon praying it is written:  

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

How wonderful!

But that’s not all:

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. 

Wait.

What?

I thought an angel had appeared to Him from heaven and strengthened Him, yet He is still in agony, praying more earnestly?

Beloved, let this be an encouragement to us in whatever we are facing presently. For we surely know where that angelic strengthening took Him. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising and ignoring its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God. Which Jesus told those plotting to kill Him: But hereafter, the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69).

To be seated at the right hand of God was our Lord’s joy! In Paul’s prayer for the born-from-above-one’s in Ephesians 1:17-21, he asks the Father to give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ, so that we, with our hearts flooded with light, could understand this hope to which we have been called, and so that we would understand the surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21).

Joy! (And it says in the very next chapter that, because of God’s great mercy, even when we were dead in our sins, He made us ALIVE TOGETHER in fellowship with Christ and He RAISED US TOGETHER WITH HIM and made us sit down together, giving us JOINT SEATING WITH HIM IN HEAVENLY PLACES! Happylujah!)

It is written that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Jesus was living by faith that, though He had asked His Father to let the suffering pass from Him, yet not His will, but God’s be done. In and through the strengthening He received, and knowing He was going to the cross, He tells His soon-to-be-killers: but hereafter the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God. 

Friends, friends, friends! Let our hearts be encouraged! This faith of the Son of God is what we, having reckoned ourselves crucified with Christ, now live by, as Paul wrote: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Let us keep in mind also what is written in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.

Father, that You would grant to us out of the rich treasury of Your glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit. That we would accept this strengthening even amidst our present unchanged agony, and by Your mighty power that we would choose not our will, Father, but Yours be done…on earth as it is in heaven. To You be the glory forever!

We thank You and we praise You, amen.