The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?”
Matthew 18:12

His response in finding the one…

“And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.”
Matthew 18:13

There is something deep and precious here. He rejoices more over finding the lost one than He does over the others who have stayed true! May all those who have wandered from His care and His ways take note of His heart. Let not the shame, and the self-castigation keep you from returning. Run to Him and let Him hold out the “everlasting arms” of love and consolation to wrap you in the security of a love that is as endless as the universe itself.

“O let not the oppressed return ashamed:
let the poor and needy praise thy name.”
Psalm 74:21

Let not the voice of the enemy taint your vision of the Love He holds for His own. His searching, His Spirit whispering the words of love and comfort to return to the One from whom the fountains of grace flow readily and unreservedly into the broken, the lost, and the wayward ones. His beacon ever shines to guide the lost home into the harbor of quiet waters.

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling—
Calling for you and for me;
Patiently Jesus is waiting and watching—
Watching for you and for me!

Brian Troxel

The Shelter

The Shelter

“For thou hast been a shelter for me…”
Psalm 61:3

A shelter must be larger than the one who finds refuge within its walls. His grace is always greater than the reach of our needs. The shelter of Him extends beyond our comprehension. In every circumstance of life, the anchor holds, and His mercies are renewed each morning for the true pilgrim of faith.

He holds us in our failures, our disappointments, and in our night seasons. He holds us in broken relationships, wounding experiences, and failed adventures. When all else fails He remains faithful.

In lonely and desperate times there are resources for us to face the emerging new day. The darkness of night must give way to the dawn’s growing light. Despair will flee in the Light of His countenance. His word beckons the weary one to arise and shine for He will not fail His own (Isaiah 60:1).

“…for a just one falls seven times
and rises up again…”
Proverbs 24:16 (LITV)

The night seasons are given to bring us to greater illumination. In our dependency, upon Him, we are far more intent to learn and be taught of Him. His shelter covers us and unfolds to us a deeper understanding of Him.

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me…”
Psalm 16:7 (ESV)

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“And we know that all things work together
for good to them, that love God…”
Romans 8:28

Brian Troxel

The Master’s Use

The Master’s Use

Used of the Master

“If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:21

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“When a man is right with God,
God will freely use him.
F.B. Meyer

See: The Sanctified Walk

BT

The Hidden Life

The Hidden Life

 The Hidden Life

“And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”
2 Kings 4:4

Deep transactions with God are often secret. Elijah instructed the widow to shut the doors; the grand thing the Lord would do was to be done within her own family. No one else would touch the sacredness of God moving on her behalf. Contrast that with the fanfare and emotion in many gatherings today, where often glib and empty works are “staged” to garner the praise of men. Worship often becomes a performance upon a stage where talent is extolled rather than the hidden beauty of brokenness, with true praise arising unto Him alone who is worthy.

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly”
Matthew 6:6

It is difficult for the carnal man to pray in secret, to have works hidden from the eyes of others.  We must walk uprightly before God knowing that He who regards all things will, in due season, cause us to know of His good pleasure.

The harvest of a true disciple may take many years to come to fruition, yet those who trust Him leave the reaping unto Him who judges the motives of every heart. Our sowing is in secret, our prayers for others to see, touch, and feel the wonder of God are known to Him alone. The true Christian Life is one of those secret things that the disciple lives unto his/her Master. If He is pleased it matters little what others think.

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
Psalm 51:6

External things may be noticed by many, but God’s desire is that our words, our actions, and the overriding intentions of our hearts, be true. Those who are pure within are free from the yoke of self. They are free from selfish agendas, jealously, envy and ambition. To live unto Him is the highest call. It requires a daily grace to live in the simplicity of Christ.

See: “The Days are Come”

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“The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.”
– Oswald Chambers

Brian Troxel

 

The Family of God

The Family of God

Family of God

“The beginning of love for the brethren
is learning to listen to them”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Listening to our brothers and sisters in Christ comes from the mutual respect and recognition borne of His Spirit. Whenever and wherever we see the evidential testimony of Christ within another life we are bound by the wonder of His Life to them.

“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Matthew 12:50

It is not by confessions that we are bound to one another; it is His life moving, enabling, and willing to will in us to “DO of His good pleasure”. Brotherhood/sisterhood is the result of His Life not of some verbal religious confession.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”
Matthews 7:21

It is also much deeper than signs and wonders and words of confession:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”
Matthew 7:22-23

There are many who believe differently, who see things differently but within their lives, there is an unmistakable sense they are His; not on the basis of confession but by the evidence of His Life being in them.

Jesus prefaced this powerful discerning truth by declaring:

“Wherefore by their fruits,
ye shall know them…”
Matthew 7:20

How wide and how narrow is the Body of Christ! The attributes of His Spirit are the evidence of His Life. Doing His Will is the summation of the Life of Christ. He came to DO the Will of the Father and to whatever measure His heart is ruling in our own, will be the evidence of His Life within. There is a wideness and a mercy which wells up within all who have been baptized by that One Spirit into the One Body for one another.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many”
1 Corinthians 12:13-14

It is my prayer that we all would drink in of this ONE truth… we are One because of His Spirit inhabiting, moving, and breaking down the walls of the division made by the teachings of men. There are many with whom we may converse concerning Christ but that is not fellowship, that is not what comprises the family of God. The Body of Christ is where each member is joined BY and IN His Spirit fusing us into a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) where we flow together in the unifying Spirit of His growing Lordship. It is only living stones that are capable of being a part of this spiritual house.

“They profess to know God,
but they deny him by their works”
Titus 1:16

Brian Troxel

 

 

Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems Testimony

What I remember most
is the joy of God’s words on our lips
and in our hearts.
That good news bubbling out,
freely shared with any person we met,
old categories of friend and foe forgotten.
I remember the power of God changing us,
from empty Christians
to disciples full of fire.
I confessed my faith
and chose baptism, freely, consciously,
my prayer as the water trickled over me,
“O my Lord, my God!”
My family and friends,
my neighbors near and far,
they flocked to my house to hear that story.
We read from the Bible,
we prayed together.
And always every meeting,
their words echoing in my ears,
“Can I too be baptized?”

Yes, there was danger.
It was a crime for us to baptize
since we weren’t priests,
and the authorities were out to find us.
But we Brethren were quick,
our feet given godspeed.
So often we escaped
even when escape seemed impossible:
ducking out windows,
fleeing to the fields in the dark,
our pursuers’ lanterns bobbing behind us.
So often God protected us from evil.

The persecution became more severe.
First one brother, and then a sister,
another and another,
arrested, tortured, brought to trial,
made an example.
They were an example to us,
so many, so faithful,
freely bearing their cross, like Jesus.
A witness to God’s glory even in death.

And then it was my turn to be arrested.
They were there waiting for us
hidden in the darkness as we gathered,
no time to run, just a quick whispered prayer,
“O my Lord, my God!”

Into the prison, and there I had time
to sit and think and pray,
to prepare myself for the ordeal to come.
I was more surprised than anyone
when the opportunity arose
for me to escape.
God works in mysterious ways,
and like Paul before me,
the way was open and I took it.
I ran like the wind;
I could hear shouts behind me
and I knew I was being pursued.
Over that wintry river I fled,
the ice creaking ominously below me.
Even as I ran I prayed,
“O my Lord, my God,
let me run on water this day,”
Cracks formed with every step I took,
and like Peter I doubted.
I pictured them fishing
my frozen body with a hook
out of the cold river.

But God be praised,
my feet reached solid land
and running still, I spared a glance behind me.
I saw my pursuer stepping on the ice,
one of the guards sent to catch me.
I doubled my pace along the river
but my eyes were drawn to him
lumbering, lumbering along.
Suddenly there was no figure at all.
My legs kept running
but my whole attention shifted.
I saw the arms and head appear in the watery pit
bobbing and grasping, ice breaking, splashing.
I could hear his frantic call for help.
I stopped and looked to his friends.
They all hugged the shore,
afraid to venture to him on the ice.
They were not going to help him.

Having just crossed that wide white river,
having feared that icy grave,
my heart went to him.
I turned around.
It was I who would be a fisher of men this day.
Running toward my pursuer this time,
I reached that treacherous surface,
and when the cracks seemed louder than my heartbeats,
I dropped gently down on my stomach, sliding sideways,
arms spread wide, reaching for him.
Him reaching for me with freezing fingers,
and then our hands locked,
and the slow, slow, pull to safety.
We did it. I saved him.

We both lay on the ice for a long moment.
Me totally spent from the chase and the rescue,
he totally spent from being immersed in fear,
dazed at returning to the land of the living.

The voice of the burgomeister shattered the silence,
calling from the safety of the shore:
“Arrest that man.
Arrest that man right now!
Do your duty.”
I looked at him,
my companion on the ice.
Our eyes held each other,
frozen there on that hard river.
We both watched transfixed
as his hand slowly reached out
and grasped my elbow.
I closed my eyes,
“Oh my Lord, my God.”

And so I am here in the prison again.
They have convicted me,
and today I am to be burned.
In the icy river or in flames of fire,
I am not alone.
Jesus is with me as I take up my cross.
Be with me now,
Oh my Lord, my God.

Reposted from Deep calls to Deep Blog

A true story that I personally have read from Foxes Book of Martrys.

The Eclipse

The Eclipse

“Let not the earth of me eclipse the power of You”.

This phrase ran through my heart the other morning.  The fact that the moon can eclipse the sun, flimsy clouds can impede its warmth, and the rotations of the earth completely hide it, are all pictures to me of the importance of keeping my heart fixed upon Him.

God in His infinite wisdom has placed within us, a will; the ability to choose, to make decisions, and to set our affections on things to which we are inclined. It is in this crucible that salvation’s power is most evident. Outward storms of life can affect us, they can bring affliction and distress, but it is ultimately our attitude and will that determine the outcome of life. A religion that does not move the will, does not capture, and harness its choices, does not affect it with a Love that overrules our base desires, would be a dismal experience.

It is within the mystery of His Will subduing our own, causing us to make heavenly choices, that Grace is most revealed. To stay the course, to fix our affections upon Him who walked purposefully to Calvary’s despicable death by His own unshakeable Will, is the true hope of our salvation. That indomitable Love that shaped His decision is the same Love that will fulfill His redemptive work in fallen man.

“Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high,
He led captivity captive…”
Ephesians 4:8

May our love of Him fully captivate our hearts, may His grace bind our hearts to the altar, may His strength fill our weakness, that we stay true to the course set before us.

“He must increase, but I must decrease”
John 3:30

Brian Troxel

 

Simplicity of Faith

Simplicity of Faith

“Even a child makes himself known by his doings,
whether his work is pure, and whether it is right”
Proverbs 20:11

The simple child-like faith given by God is pure, easy, and void of hypocrisy. It requires religion to cloud its pure waters, to contaminate its simplicity, and make that which is true into something obscure and false.

Doing is the simple outflow of believing.

“Little children, let no one lead you astray;
he who is doing righteousness is righteous”
1 John 3:7

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“I have always thought the actions of men
the best interpreters of their thoughts.
John Locke

BT

Prayer the Breath of Life

Prayer the Breath of Life

“O Lord; in the morning
will I direct my prayer...”
Psalm 5:3

Prayer especially in the morning is to be the inspiration and the very place wherein we touch His presence and receive the breath of life to face the day before us. Unlike the material creation, the spiritual life requires the breath of life continuously. We are exhorted in John 15 to abide in the vine in order to live and bear fruit.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
Genesis 2:7

Our inherent weakness requires something far more than fleeting moments of inspiration. There is within God’s wisdom a need (on our part) and a provision (on His part) for our life to become grafted in by the continuous operation of Faith. It is from this live connection where the flow of Grace sustains us, transforms us, and brings us into the resources to live beyond the limitations of this earthly existence.

The One great aspect of prayer is not so much in our asking for things but in simplicity communing with Him who is our breath of life.

“To be a Christian without prayer
is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
Martin Luther

See: Prayer and Communion

BT

Instructed of the Lord

Instructed of the Lord

Instructed

Excerpt from New Book
(Unedited)

“…every where and in all things I am instructed”
Philippians 4:12

There was an intensity in Paul to garner the wisdom of God in all things. He was alive and active in his walk with God. He learned because he wanted to learn from every situation. God speaks to us within our own hearts, He speaks through others who care about our progress in the Lord and also in the situations we encounter if we apply our hearts unto wisdom. A wise heart hears the words of others; they consider all things before God because they know that there is so much more in God than they presently see.

The mark of a true disciple is the intensity of heart to learn of their master.

See: PODCAST – Learning the way of the Lord

BT