“And all things are of God… and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”
2 Corinthians 5:18
What is torn can be mended. What is separated can be blended. That which is broken can find repair, And joy can fill the life in despair.
To seek reconciliation with others is the revelation of a heart which has and is being reconciled to Christ.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift”
“Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you”
The gift of sight to see the splendor of Him in His Word, to be able to sense the stirrings of His Love within, to be aware of the slumbering of the church in this hour, to grieve over the physical and spiritual malaise of others, to have the humility to receive His corrections, are all a result of His grace. Paul prayed for the Church at Ephesus:
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know…”
Spiritual Vision is the result of His Grace granting us the ability to see the unseeable, to touch the untouchable and to walk above and beyond the resources of self. Faith is the faculty to see and understand heavenly truths and purposes.
“Through faith we understand…”
Faith is the matrix from which He reveals and illuminates Himself to His children. It brings us into His World to see with our eyes, and to do with our hands, His works. Faith is the dynamic of Christ living within.
In God’s purposes the Faith to see is to bring us into the Faith to do.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare…”
Discernment by its very nature demands objectivity. The effect of the workings of the cross in one’s walk will determine the measure of our discernment. Objectivity is the fruit of our dying to self. Wherever agendas, self-promotion and personal advantage are present, clear vision becomes impaired. Discernment is a very costly commodity within the heart of a believer. To see aright a heart must be rightin the “fear of the Lord”. To fear God is to be free from the fear of man.
When there is fear and undue concern regarding the opinion of another the ability to see clearly is compromised. Fear of a single individual or submission to group-think causes people to remain in a clique, sect or cult. These are critical days. It is of vital importance that men and women become free to live and walk in the fear of the Lord. The true ministry of God will always lead His Own to fear God and walk accordingly.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”
A desire to garner the acceptance of others, speaking the right things to maintain a relationship, or a semblance of conformity to the dictates of a group, are the shackles of religion. The power of truth brings freedom; a freedom to live, speak and walk in the liberty of His Spirit to please and honour Him alone. It is from this freedom that men and women are liberated to assess and evaluate the subtler issues of life. This is the only means by which the true unity of the Spirit can be known; each member discerning all things by their own witness through the Living Christ in whom they abide.
Religion ever exerts a pressure to conform to the directives of men; truth is the means by which we are transformed.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”
It is in the transforming work of God whereby His Own are freed from the blinding influences of sects and ingrown heresies. Discernment is a gift and developed by the power of the cross. Many in this hour will freely use the Name of Jesus to hold sway over the lives of others; some may even perform outward signs and wonders in His Name (Matthew 7:21-23). They may appear spiritual but, in the end, they serve themselves and their own ambitions. They create divisions in order to have the pre-eminence. They distinguish themselves and their followers from others through the subtly of influence and fear. God’s promise to those who allow the washing and the fire of the Word of God is the divine ability to discern between those who serve God and those who serve themselves.
“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not”
Malachi 3:18 (read the context)
Those who serve God ever seek to minister unto others the pursuit of the “unity of the Spirit” through the development of each individual’s own walk in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
“…it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith”
During these days of uncertainty and chaos it would be tempting to retreat into our own isolated worlds. The confines of “social distancing” and the fear of reaching out to those around us make it easy to excuse ourselves from life. Now more than ever it is imperative that we remain alive in Christ; to walk in the eternal truth of the Word of God. That Word is fulfilled by His Spirit moving through us by the Love of God. Love casts out all fear and in Him we find the resources to walk as He walked.
There has never been a time when sharing the love and mercies of God was convenient in this world.Every generation has had its battles. Every generation has had to contend for the faith of God in their time. May we be faithful in our day to minister unto Him in the faces of those around us.
“Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred,
or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick,
or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?” Matthew 25:44.
“Forget yourself and live for others, for It is more blessed to give than to receive”
– A.B. Simpson
“Let us know, let us press on to know Yahweh…”
Hosea 6:3 (LEB)
Within the recesses of the hearts of His own there is a passion to know the unknowable One. There is a mystery that our limited vocabularies and minds cannot explain. This pressing of heart and soul is simply the love of Him within desiring to express the Love of Him without. It is a cry which cannot be articulated; it reaches the heart, not the intellect. but the heart. It is the power of faith uniting the seeker with the ever Seeking One.
We seek Him because He first sought us. His love ever seeks to fill the human heart, His grace seeks to overcome weakness, and His Holy Spirit seeks to fill us with the breath of His Divine Nature. The pressings of which Hosea speaks is reiterated by Paul the Apostle in the Book of Philippians:
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”
The pressing is the result of the grace of God moving upon the tender hearts of those whom He has called unto Himself. No man takes this honour upon himself. No fleshly work or religious exercise can produce the cry of the spirit of adoption “whereby we cry, Abba, Father”.
Pursuit is the means by which He is found, hunger is the means by which we are fed, and thirst is the precursor to the drinking of the Living Water. The promises of God are found by asking, seeking and knocking.
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”
Let us read and grasp the words of this promise. Everyone that asks – receives! He that seeks – – finds! Those who knock – shall enter in! While many choose confined and safe places, God beckons His Own into an active pursuit of Him. He is far too vast for us to ever become satisfied with a small portion. The greater our faith, the more fervent the pressing. The greater our love, the more obedience is required to see Him in a fuller and deeper way.
The cross of the disciple, if carried long enough, becomes a source of joy and of power. There is within its bitter workings a freedom to live in the fellowship of His sufferings. It is a fellowship which dims the offerings of former things and brings us into His courts of fire where He alone is magnified.
“As for me… I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness”
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren”
1 John 3:14
The evidence of Christ’s resurrection life in our hearts is love. Love is more than an emotion, more than a sentiment, it is the very essence of God. The vastness of the love of God is an ocean one can never pass over. It is a love that transcends knowledge. Paul in his prayer for The Church at Ephesus prayed that they would be strengthened by grace in order
“…to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”
The way to be filled with God is to grow into the Love of Christ. Love is the power and the faculty by which He unveils Himself to the human heart. Love sees humanity clearly. When Christ hung on the cross amidst the jeers and the mocking of the crowd He saw beyond the animosity of the moment into the deep pain of their condition.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”
That same love gives us the capacity to see past the injuries of relationships with His people; it empowers us to see past the rejections and disputes of our brothers and sisters and into the causes of them. In Love’s sway we first begin to all deal with the unholy and carnal roots within our own hearts. Love is never blind. Christ on the cross was the eternal proof of the depth and horror of our sin. God’s love sees all and responds. So it is in our lives: love is to become the springboard for our responses to the situations around us. The Love of God being formed in us is the power to live in Him; from this perspective we find the overwhelming need to abide in Him.
To actually love “in deed and in truth” is the revelation of the extent of Christ’s life in us.
“My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
It is incumbent upon us to weigh our life in the light of His truth.
“Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am”
Jesus took on our frailty that we might live in the power of God; our poverty becomes the portal for His strength.
“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” Exodus 33:18
No depth of human depravity, no sickness, no hopeless condition to which the human race can descend, is beyond rectification by His Glory. The Glory of God is the hope of the human race. Seeing Him is the cry of His Own. Moses had already witnessed some of the most powerful demonstrations of the power of God. He had been involved in the judgments upon Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the constant care of God in sustaining over a million people in a barren wilderness for forty years. Yet his prayer was:
“…I beseech thee, shew me thy glory”
It is possible to see His power and the manifestation of His movings in the earth and yet be ignorant of His Glory. The true glory of God is His character, His heart, His love, and the unspeakable Holiness of His Presence. The true in heart seek Him for Himself. They do not seek things or giftings for the sake of their own cause, benefit or advancement. They seek Him alone.
In my own limited experience, I have seen someone healed who had but months to live, but still fall into wickedness. Of the ten lepers who were healed, only one returned to give thanks unto Him who alone is worthy. I have seen those who were mightily used of God in miraculous ways fall into the horror of greed and the pride of the riches of this world. We also see many content with unremarkable living; Christians who are satisfied with having little or no impact upon the world around them. They placate themselves with a declaration of being His but remain unchanged by the piercing gaze of His Holiness and the power of His Glory. It is impossible to gaze upon Him without being drawn into the relentless pursuit of His person.
“shew me thy glory”
This is the eternal cry of every heart afforded glimpses of Him! His Glory is infinite; it stretches beyond the horizons of thought, imagination or doctrines. Its call to redeemed heart spans time and eternity itself. The pressings of Paul the Apostle, the response of John upon seeing Jesus as He is, the spontaneous worship and bowing down of all heavenly hosts at the Name of Jesus, should birth the same cry from the core of our being. Oh Father, show me YOUR Glory; may this be our pure prayer!
“Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!”
“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
2 Kings 5:12
There are endless strategies and so-called resources to treat the ills of the human heart. Many seem right and sound right to a heart desperate for change and deliverance. Yet there is only ONE river that can bring the cleansing and healing power of God to the soul of man. Many will take a sip of it; they may even dip their toes into its life-giving flow and feel temporary relief; but few dare to immerse themselves into its depths and embrace the import of its full power.
By definition the River Jordan means to descend, to be humbled and brought low. It speaks of freedom from the pride, arrogance and self-seeking of the human condition. The horror of this pride is rampant within the Body of Christ with all of its associated vices: competition, rivalry, division and strife. These are clothed in spiritual garments of deceit and guile that keep His people suspicious, restless and out-of-sync with the character of God. These ones seek relief in confessions, exclusive cliques, and the pre-eminence in religious circles in an effort to appease the emptiness within. When invited into an immersion of a true “baptism” of humility they become angry at the audacity of such a notion. The God of all grace offers no other solution for any of us. We must do it His way or stubbornly refuse the waters of His Life and remain unchanged.
“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant…”
God has a provision. It is stepping into this river of humiliation and rejection, in concert with Him who deliberately “made Himself of no reputation”, wherein we find the wholesome life promised to all who would obey Him.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”
The call of Christ is to Himself. In coming to Him, in taking upon us His yoke of obedience, we will discover this “rest” for our souls. It cannot be learned or experienced apart from obedience. The proud seek the accolades and approval of men, while inwardly they are excluded from the “learning of Him”. The River Jordan is deep and costly. It is filled with sufferings and humiliations, denunciation by friends and foes, but only by immersing ourselves in it are His graces formed within the depths of our being.
“Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place”
The wealthy place of His ways in us is a land of broad streams, where His mercy flows freely. Forgiveness has been learned in the furnace of affliction and the Character of Christ has been formed in the inner recesses of our hearts. How good and wise are His ways in the lives of His own!
Can we not hear His Call?
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…”
The wisdom of Naaman’s servant applies to us regardless of our situation in life.
“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?”
2 Kings 5:13
Humility frees the heart from its own poison. It is the Balm of Gilead alone which can bind up the wounds of relationships from the rivalry, envy and jealously which are the offspring of pride and the source of so much division in His Body. This is the River of Life of which the inspired Psalmist declares:
“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God…”
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…”
The “elect of God” reveal their call and election through their expression of Christ-like character. They bear unfeigned aspects of His heart and passion. In spiritual things, we are revealed by what we are and what we are is expressed by what we do. In religious things, it is not necessary to have a connection between being and doing.
David breathed a prayer which was “after the heart of God”.
“Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name”
A united heart is an authentic heart; a heart full of the fear and wonder of the Lord. The inconsistencies of our being become united by the singularity of His rule within. Growth in Christ is revealed in the spontaneous flow of His nature into the world around us. The desire for a united heart is the affirmation of His Spirit at work within us.
The purpose of truth is to make us true. True to Him, true to one another and true to the world around us.
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure…”
2 Peter 1:10
The school of Christ is the privilege of discipleship. It is a life of instruction filled with the ministration of powerful truths whereby our life in this natural world becomes subject to the realities of the Kingdom of God. Paul, writing from a Roman prison, lived and dwelt in dark and damp quarters, yet referred to himself as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”. His view was heavenly. The intense lessons of the school of Christ had brought him to the place of sowing and reaping in all circumstances of life. He was not a prisoner of Rome; he was in fact the emissary of Christ!
The known world at that time was largely under a one world government and for the most part ruled by the iron fist of Roman decrees. Many of our brothers and sisters today live under the oppression of tyrannical regimes and savage Christian persecution. I have had the privilege of meeting with the underground church in a couple of countries and it was both humbling and inspirational. There is a feeling of oppression in our land of “freedom” which does not seem to exist for them. There is a liberty of the Spirit of God of which we have much to learn. These precious ones go forth each day with a boldness to declare the love of God in Christ which is both refreshing and convicting. Many of the things we call freedom here are based on our “legal rights” and reveal themselves in a spirit of entitlement and arrogancy rather than the humility of Christ. This so called religious freedom is founded in worldly declarations instead of the true liberty arising from a grace wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit. In those persecuted countries the true freedom of spirit is garmented in meekness in contrast to our demands to maintain our legal rights. The freedom in which they walk is that of the Spirit and not of man. It is one which has at its foundation the truth of our heavenly rights*. This freedom is only known to the extent to which we are freed from the life and the dominion of self. The truth of the Sovereignty of God can only become real in those who are in truth dead to self and alive in Christ.
True freedom is only known in our submission to Him. Wherever self reigns, there can be no freedom of the Spirit. The natural life will always reflect its natural surroundings, so also in the spirit. Those who live in the Spirit cannot but reflect the graces of the Spirit regardless of their natural surroundings. Bitterness, envy and anger are expressions of the carnal natural life. The school of God brings us to dark and trying circumstances that we might learn how to live in heavenly places. In our oppressive situations there are opportunities for us to discover hidden treasures of great value.
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord…”
The school of Christ is a difficult and arduous journey. It is the “way of the cross” and blessed are those who follow the Lamb through obedience. There is a grace which quietly works within those who choose His way above their own, and a freedom which comes from His bonds at work in our lives. We will know the power of true fellowship as we walk in His growing light and develop in obedience and submission to Christ.
The life of Paul abounded in this rigorous school of Christ. His heart was set upon learning and growing in God. These lessons are reserved for the true disciples of Christ. The graces learned result in a life of victory in all circumstances.
“Not that I speak as to need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. And I know to be humbled, and I know to abound; in everything, and in all things, I am taught both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound, and to lack. I have strength for all things in Christ the One strengthening me”
Philippians 4:11-14 (LITV)
Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father let the confines and the circumstances of the moment become the Secret Place of your indwelling. Let the fragrance of your Spirit bring its healing balm to our hearts. May our limited surroundings give way to vistas of your Glory. Bring to us the clarity of your wisdom by which you are weaving your graces into the very fabric of our lives. Let us learn that in all things you are working out the mystery of your Sovereign Will for our good.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever”
Freedom from self
brings us into the
liberty of His Spirit.
*Note: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake”