“Change is the revelation of the power of God”
The unfolding of Christ to His Own is revealed in the consistency of our seeing of Him. No one may see Him and remained unchanged. Grace is the agency from which we arise from the deadness of the Old Adam into the living wonder of Christ.
“As HE IS, so are we in this world“
1 John 4:17
The impact of this powerful statement leaves one with no other alternative than to feel the Spirit of Christ yearning for it to be true in every respect concerning our lives in Him. Too much power is given by many who preach the gospel today to give us excuses and teachings which deny the ability of the Holy Spirit to make it true in us. Too many proclaim that the “old Adam” is of greater influence than the Living Christ within. The Power of Christ IS greater than the grave clothes of the natural man with its associated malignancy. Let us lay aside the unbelief of the “gospel” of men and lets us seek to see and yield our lives unto the ONE who is ABLE to raise us up in the “newness” of His eternal life!
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater…”
1 John 5:9
Change is the revelation of the living Christ within our hearts, where there is no on-going change faith has ceased to touch the resurrected ONE.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…”
2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
The renewal and re-genesis of our minds and spirits is a constant need of God’s children. The stains from living in an unholy world, the accumulation of wrongs which remain unforgiven, the disillusionment of unfulfilled hopes and aspirations, can all cloud our seeing of the truth and perfection of Christ. The need for His renewal is essential to eviscerate the weights of bitterness, envy and unbelief which encumber our souls. Cynicism and hardness of heart are the result of seeing the world through the dark lenses of unbelief. God’s answer is always Himself. His work of preserving His own is through the agency of His Spirit revitalizing us through a fresh ministration of His Son.
Without this vital work of God, we would become casualties of our own wrongness. We would spend years in vanity and disillusionment walking in a wilderness of futility. The years would pass, the best of our days consumed in the emptiness of vain imaginations and deceptive reasonings. David knew well these dark valleys and left us glimpses of God’s mercy to keep the steps of His own.
2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency…
In the mire of his own thoughts David descended into unbelief and envy. We can see the digression as his thoughts become more cynical and despairing. He states that his “feet almost slipped” in the abyss of unbelief. His salvation was God’s Presence which lifted him from the dregs of this world into the marvelous realms of the light and glory of God.
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; now I understood their end
Clarity and understanding come from Him. The eyes of our spirit are renewed in the seeing of Him. We are enabled to mount up with wings as eagles in the beholding of His Glory. Let us ever draw near to the only one who can keep our eyes lifted up, our hope alive and our spirits refreshed — the One who is making all things new!
Let Him lift us out of our own dark reasonings into the blessed hope of His appearing. Find fellowship and communion with those who speak truth, love truth and have the fire of the Living Christ within that we may be found faithful in the coming days. Paul spoke highly of those who refreshed the hearts of God’s people, including his own.
“For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, acknowledge those who are like that.”
1 Corinthians 16:18
“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…”
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”
Omission is the fruit of apathy. It is the result of a false gospel which demotivates us to act. Our personal involvement is the shining forth of His Life through us. The non-involved life is a life centered on self, one that withdraws from an active life of faith, of reaching out into the world around. It leads a sequestered existence, safe and insulated from the personal ventures of faith.
“That the communication of thy faith may become effectual…”
Paul’s prayer for Philemon was that his faith would be communicated to others with an effect. The communication of an effectual faith leaves an effect on the lives of others because it carries the life and power of the Author. Those active in the ministrations of His Life feel the immensity of the responsibility to walk in such a way that there be an actual communication or impartation of the living Christ through their words, their works and their very lives. The impotency and indifference of many people today regarding their “faith” reveals an appalling attitude that they are “increased with goods and have need of nothing”. This “comfort zone” is a gospel of grace with no sense of laying down their lives for the uplifting of Him. It is easier to give money and resources to someone else to do that. It is easy to labour for the unrighteous money of this world yet be careless with heavenly treasures. We are too prone to ignore the promptings of the Spirit of God to involve ourselves in the lives of others. It is easier to “pray” about things than to pour ourselves out for others. There is a cost to obedience. We have invented an insulation from this dilemma of accountability; a gospel woven with the falsity of a devilish reasoning: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”
Religion often has the correct understanding yet is powerlessness in the realm of doing. Many know right things and understand the words of Life. Yet their faith is one of words without the power and motivation of Love. They believe the tenets of faith with no valid expression of the LIFE of faith.
“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh* by love”
(a faith which produces the works of love)
John in his epistles constantly prods the people of God in his day unto love and good works. The Book of Revelation declares to each location of the One-Church that God is beholding “their works”. It is the works of a life that show evidence of faith in that life. “I know thy works” is the Word of God to every Church.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
One deed that springs forth from the Love of God is worth far more than the confessions and proclamations of a thousand sterile lives. Jesus saw the “two mites” of the one who gave of her living rather than the rich offerings of those who appeased their conscience by words and platitudes. A life uninvolved with the lost, the wayward and the stagnant, is a life uninvolved with God.
Omission is the revelation of a inert and lethargic life. It is the one sin which is easily ignored but which paves the road to spiritual bankruptcy.
“Thou wicked and slothful servant…”
The sin of the one to whom the one talent had been given was the great sin of omission; the sin of doing nothing with the great and unmerited gift placed in his trust. The resulting eternal judgment was one of loss and sorrow. Those faithful to the gifts given to them were rewarded with ruling and reigning in God’s coming Kingdom. The truths of His gifts given to each of us are eternal issues. Faithfulness now brings great reward in the unveiling of His Kingdom then.
“Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work.”
Revelation 22:20 (ESV)
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”
“And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.”
The Life of Samson is a SIGN to the Downtrodden
Round and round the unseen track trod this prisoner bound in brass. Round and round, his broken soul weighed down with the pain of having failed his God. The once proud and arrogant Samson, with God-given strength, who feared little and did as he pleased, was now reduced to an object of worldly sport and the jeering of his enemies. Round and round the defeated one walked, his hopeless and pitiful existence spent in this daily, endless grind. Ridiculed by his foes, and apparently abandoned by his God, his end seemed near.
Many children of God have lost hope and thus assume that these are their last days with no seeming purpose. Others cling to promises which seem farther away today than they did the day before. The evening shadows fall heavily upon their souls. The light which burned bright in former days gives way to obscurity and growing doubt. Round and round the monotony of the daily path slowly drains their joy and passion for God. Just like Samson lives are beaten down with defeat, broken dreams, and shattered hopes in the midst of failures and circumstances too great to overcome. The way seems barred, the doors shut. Such would be the case – except for GOD!
The once powerful Samson was reduced to slavery and ridicule because of his foolish love of Delilah (representing the world and its ways). He fell under her seduction and gave up the secret of his strength. Bound and fettered by her beguiling ways, his eyes were put out (his spiritual vision) and he became the slave and merchandise of the Harlot. Time passed in worldliness and selfish pursuits until at last the realization begin to dawn upon him as to the dire place to which he had fallen. The careless life he lived, the reckless abandon to his selfish ways and pursuits, brought him to a place of utter bondage and hopelessness.
“But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved”
May God remind us that His promises hold true and His mercies never cease. The enemy, your enemy, does not know the hidden ways of the Lord. The Devil sees not the secret council of the wisdom and the purposes of God. God will surely “renew their strength” and in due time “they will mount up with wings as eagles”. It is time to lift up your eyes which have been blinded by your enemy; a day to lift up the hands which hang down and to once again sing the song of the Lord with joy. It is of the Lord’s mercies to work in our Day; to cause His servants to arise and, as Samson, strike a greater blow in our weakness than we ever did in the days of our strength.
“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…”
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
“They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together”
The unseen world is filled with confrontations between Light and Darkness. Temptations and persecutions assail the righteous as flooding waters; a battle that is waged daily. Many of these battles are far from sight but are fought in the thoughts and imaginations of our inner life. It is here where victories are won and we are afforded greater vistas of the Grace of God.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5
Often our victory in casting down these thoughts will come as we lift Him up. The Holy Spirit has one mandate in this world and that is to bring all things into the obedience of Christ. It is in our thoughts that life is defined, victory known and our confidence in Christ arises. Authority in the inner life will culminate in victory in our daily life.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…”
2 Peter 1:5
The persistence of the temptations of the world and the weakness of the human heart require a diligent and continual drawing of grace from Him. In our victories we find ourselves “hid with Christ in God”. He is to become our dwelling place with the intent that He will be at home in the sanctuary of our hearts.
Purity is the path to seeing Him, Faith is the hand which holds Him, Humility is the grace which draws Him.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death”
And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Eze 2:7-10)
Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. (Eze 3:1-3)
“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals”
He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 3:5-6)
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:5-6)