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. 

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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

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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

Maturity: The Result of Repentance

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As we continue on our journey in the Lord, and in order for us to grow out of spiritual infancy and progress into spiritual maturity, the Holy Spirit must have an ever-increasing rule in our lives and our flesh an ever-decreasing influence in and over us.  This is nothing we conjure up ourselves! It is always the work of God! However, when yielded to His will, we are willing participants.

In John chapter 16 when Jesus was telling His disciples that it was good for them that He go away for then would the Spirit come; when He expressed that He still had many things to say to them, but that they were not able to bear them; this, too, can be said of any one of us who have ever entered through the Door which is Christ. There are still many things He would say to us! The longer we remain babes and are unwilling to yield to the Holy Spirit, the less we are capable of bearing what He would say and continue on as carnal babes. This cycle goes on and on until we repent.

Repentance is not just for the sinner who is seeking forgiveness and Life from Christ initially. How often in our faith walk have we had to repent; to change our minds about some particular thing the Lord was revealing to us. Of course we do not have to. We can stay on the same track for decades; our flesh having the upper hand in our thoughts and actions. We may be very busy in religious activities, others may think highly of us for our work and our faith. But the everlasting fruit of our lives with heavenly benefits stems only from that which the Spirit enables, not our human strength. What a challenge this is to us. What a painful  recognition it is. But the result of our repentance, from beginning to end (the end of our life here), in whatever loss it may be to our flesh, is always unto what God is and has. Look at the story in Luke 15: the son who had gone to a faraway country and wasted his inheritance. He ends up slinging slop for the pigs and when he came to himself decided to go home in hopes that his father would make him like a hired servant. We all know how the story ends. This boy’s father would not let him finish his well thought out speech before he was seeking the servant’s help in gathering all that was his to give to his son who was lost but now is found, was dead but now is alive.

Of course that is a popular story for the lost, but it continues to have depth of meaning for us as well. The god of this age deceives the flesh into thinking that repentance is costly, for to give up our long-standing traditions or our deep-seated beliefs is too much. I mean, what would people think? But we know all too well that not changing our minds to what the Spirit is revealing to us is what is ultimately costly.

It will be our whole life long, beloved. We never arrive here. This life on earth is our pilgrimage to that heavenly city which has a fixed and firm foundation, Whose Architect and Builder is God, and whereby right now we are citizens by faith.

May we have very real dealings with the Lord regarding our stubbornness.  He is faithful and He is true. This is not condemnation, but for edification.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

Philippians 3:13-16

I am your sister,

Becky

Boasting In My Weakness, Glorying In His Strength

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Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities…for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10b (TLB)

By the time this week closes out, the years the Lord has given me will add up to fifty. Reflecting back upon this life, most of which was spent in rebellion towards God, there are a few things my heart must share aloud, if you will; things that, given His redemptive perspective, changes the past and how I look at it. May the reader see Christ in the following words and not the author.

For every sin, He has become my righteousness.

For every disappointment, He has become my contentment.

For every life-long friendship lacking, He has become my Friend.

For every path I have tried, He has become my Way.

For every failure, He has become my Mercy.

For every season of darkness, He has become my Light.

For every season of loneliness, He has become my Companion.

For every chaos, He has become my Rest.

For every line item I could list as to my failure to learn and understand, He has become my Wisdom.

For every degree of hate lodged in this heart, He has become my Love.

For every illness, He has become my Healer.

For every form of bondage, He has become my Deliverer.

For every label of identity ever worn in an attempt to hide behind and be somebody, He has become my identity. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ in me.

For every lie I have believed, He has become my Truth.

For the physical community of saints I have never known, He has become my Fellowship.

For every mentor who never crossed my path, He has become my Shepherd.

For every addiction, He has become my Freedom-Giver.

For every hurt, He has become my Healer.

For every resentment, He has become my Grace.

For every question, He has become my Answer.

For every memory that haunts, He has become my Redeemer.

For every wage that sin has paid over these years, He has become my Life.

There are some of these that have been absolutely and finally resolved, made real and tangible in my experience. And there are others that are still being walked out, worked in; yet to be revealed, if you will.

The road is inexplicably narrow, and the path is without a doubt difficult! This to our flesh, not to His Life. He is full of abundance, ever-flowing, always fresh, alive in resurrection power. Though I know very little about prayer, my heart longs that others would know Him in personal and up-close ways that could not possibly be taken from them; an inward revelation and knowledge that though the heavens and the earth be shaken, they are settled in Christ who is seated in the heavenlies, and we right along with Him. This is progressive and it is slow, in order that we could survive the transformation! Can you imagine being immediately brought to where you are now when your journey began? I cannot!! But He is faithful, oh yes He is! And He is true, oh yes He is! He may not ever be safe but He is always good, working all things, yes, ALL THINGS, not according to our fleshly will or feelings or mind, but according to HIS PURPOSE. Thank You, Father! For Your long-suffering towards us, Your compassion and being slow to anger; for Your kindness that leads us to repentance in changing our mind not only about who we are, but Who You are as revealed in Christ. That we may, each and every one of us, cooperate with Your myriad of work used in conforming us to the image of Your Son, Christ Jesus. Thank You. Amen.

I am your sister,

Becky

 

 

A Spirit of Wisdom & Revelation

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Beloved,

Many of us walk through this life weighed down with religious misconceptions that have long lost their luster, and religious opinions that no longer have the power to hold us fast (Psst, they never did have that power! It just takes us a while, some times a long while, to learn this). We live in an age with so much available that, with the touch of a finger or the verbal asking of a question, we can have Google or Alexa answer us in seconds flat. It is fast, easy and convenient to the busy 21st century adult. We are satisfied with what we find, feel that we now know, and off we run to the next thing on our to-do list.

In our spiritual walk it is easy to fall prey to the internet culture of fast and easy, our unrested hearts go searching for the one pastor, the one video, the one blog article, the one Facebook group, to settle and ground us.  Maybe we’re looking for that which is the exact opposite from whence we come: less legalism, more grace. Less this, more something else. Less that, more the other thing.  It goes on and on.  In our attempt to find peace and rest, and landing on that which is so different from what we were taught or believed, we think we’ve found the peace and rest which had eluded us. But then we come across something other than that, being presented with chapter and verse, and we’re thrown into a tail spin of worry and doubt. Sound familiar at all, or is it just me?

The journey is progressive, to be sure! As in the natural life, so it is in our spiritual life, we begin as babes. But He would not have stay as mere babies. Wouldn’t it be startling if a baby was born and 5 years later was still a baby; 18 years later was still a baby? In the natural we are not meant to stay where we began, we are meant to grow up. So it is in the spiritual, the Lord does not desire us to stay where we began, He desires that we grow up in Him. Stagnancy is normal, I believe. Maturing in Christ is a shock to the fleshly system we were born into, and with which much of the religious world consists of. Beloved, it often takes a crisis, a deep hunger for that which is largely not presented, for us to seek to go onto higher ground, and that higher ground is Christ! This is not about taking on an air of pious self-righteousness where we look down our noses at those who are behind us. This is about taking on the life of Christ, and He is the universal example of humility.

So what DO we need? Let’s go to the written Word and see what the Lord would have us see:

Colossians 2:2-4 [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ.

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

I say this in order that no one may mislead and delude you by plausible and persuasive and attractive arguments and beguiling speech.

Ephesians 4:12-14 His (Christ’s in verse 11 listing out the God-appointed gifts) intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church),

[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.

So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.

Ephesians 1: 17-18 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

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

Beloved, what an absolute treasure the written Word is when the indwelling Spirit brings the Living Word to life in its pages!

What we need is to ask the Father for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to have the Son revealed in us. For it is the knowledge of Christ Jesus that settles and grounds us; that matures us; that keeps us from being thrown into those tailspins of worry and doubt.

Christ is our peace.

Christ is our rest.

Christ is our Life.

So be it.

Trusting Words From a Changed Heart

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

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

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

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

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