Letters to the Church – The Call

Letters to the Church – The Call

“And he that taketh not his cross,
and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”
Matthew 10:38

It is important for us to reacquaint ourselves often with the words of Jesus during his earthly walk. Let those words reverberate within our hearts and pierce through the rhetoric. There is something so uncompromising about His Call. May we meditate upon these words of His and allow them the full and undivided attention of our hearts. The solemnity of His Call to us is not to a mere forgiveness of sins (as overwhelming and precious as that is). His Call is to Himself. Our redemption is for His glory and the following of Him. His whole design is to bring forth a people who are no longer their own, but rather “As He is, so ARE WE in this world” (1 John 4:17).

Look at the depth of His conversations with those who heard His Call:

“He said to another, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”
Luk 9:59

Jesus responds:

“But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”
Luke 9:60

Again:

“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house”
Luke 9:61

Jesus responds:

“And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
Luke 9:62

There is power in the Call of Christ that defies logic. There is a stark contrast between then and now; between the perception of Jesus in our day and the Jesus presented to us in the Gospels. The Call of Christ is to the “whole” of us, not just a portion. Our response is not to be a casual one where we fit His Call into our daily life as if it were a part-time occupation. The Call is to Him; to sacrifice and to a determined relinquishment of all that we are.

Paul reiterates this in his plea to the Church at Rome.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”
Romans 12:1

There is a pleading in the ministration of the Call of God that this becomes an experiential truth. The things we allow in ourselves, and in the lives of those who claim to know Him, reveal our ignorance of His claim upon us. Sin no longer disturbs the majority. We look lightly upon the issues of others because we look lightly upon the issues within our own hearts. Lethargy is contagious; as contagious as any pandemic with eternal implications far beyond the loss of life here on earth.

Paul left no doubt with the Church at Colosse as to the purpose of the true ministry of God.

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus
Colossians 1:28

What did this intensity of heart look like?

“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily”
Colossians 1:29

The mighty working of Christ within is revealed in a life of labour without; it is the exposé of His claim upon us. There is no place for the lethargy and indifference men and women display to the Call of God.

We Are Not Our Own

We may declare such things, we may present our claims of following God, but the reality of the life we live may reveal something different. The works of a life reveal the faith of the life. In Revelation God declared unto every location of the Church in that day, “I KNOW THY Works”. God is ever beholding our works for by them He knows our faith.

The validity of our love for Him and the power of Him working within us is readily expressed in our interaction with our brothers and sisters. Paul sums up his expression of the workings of Christ within: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom…”. If mere confessions of faith were sufficient (as is commonly taught today), why did Paul express warnings, admonitions, and exhortations to the people of God? To the church at Ephesus, one of the crown jewels of the early church, Paul declared:

“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears
Acts 20:31

The deception and lethargy of a confession-based gospel has produced the slumbering church of our day! It produces a blindness to the magnificence, grandeur, and enormity of His Holiness. We have reduced Him to professions which require nothing more than a mental assent which consequently requires nothing, costs nothing, and correspondingly produces nothing. A confession without sacrifice leaves people without resources to face what lies ahead. Ministries must heed the Call of God to build up His Church and to prepare His people for the storm which is about to engulf our land. He is coming first of all to judge His church to the intent that in righteousness He may then be free to judge the world.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
1 Peter 4:17-18

The time IS COME upon us! Let those who have ears to hear tremble and seek Him afresh that we may be found “doing” when our Master returns. Take no comfort in confessions and doctrines which do not produce the Fear of the Lord, that do not bring forth a growing holiness and purity of heart. Forsake the delusion of heart which enjoys hearing the word, discussing the word, while yet refusing to obey the word.

A New Ministration of Mercy

It is a day to seek a new ministration of His Mercy; a mercy which produces sacrificial living and bringing forth of a new worship which is costly, pure and holy.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…”
Romans 12:1

The true mercy of God enables men and women to give themselves wholly unto God, not to comfort them in their sins and rebellion.

May we as His redeemed rise up to respond wholly to the Call of God in Christ!

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power
2 Thessalonians 1:11

Brian Troxel

Faithfulness and the Open Door

Faithfulness and The Open Door

I know thy works:
behold, I have set before thee an open door,
and no man can shut it…”
Revelation 3:8

Faithfulness to the present truth we know will always culminate in greater things in God. The Church at Philadelphia, even in their weakness and poverty, were faithful to do the works of God and were given an open door. Doing the will of God inevitably leads us into greater avenues of service unto Him. Those who are faithful in the little things will always receive more.

The stagnation of a faith without works perpetuates its own lethargy and barrenness. Within the true disciple lies an eagerness to do that which is before them without hesitation or delay. We must always bear in our hearts the verdict of God upon a “faith” which is void of works.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?”
James 2:14-20

The “Open Door” is set before those who are faithful to yield themselves to the promptings of God within and respond accordingly. There are those who feel hemmed in by circumstances when in fact they may have not been faithful to the things at hand. Joseph, bound within Pharaoh’s prison, remained faithful to the gifts which God had given him, and, in the end, he was given great authority!

“For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has”
Matthew 13:12

The path to enlarged places in God is found within our faithfulness to Him in the little things; hidden things, often only known to God. In the end they will bring us to the open door of His grace.

Just a couple of examples are David who, while tending the sheep of his father, overcame the lion and the bear. Rebekah at the well, in her willingness and faithfulness to serve, was brought into the lineage of Christ!! (read Genesis 24:12-27) May we see the importance God places on those who reveal their heart by the work of their hands. He sees and measures out greater faith in proportion to their faithfulness in everyday life.

Let us seek His “open door” through faithfulness in our commonplace lives. Let our determination to honour Him “in all things” be an entrance into the greater things of Him. May we find joy each day in ever looking for ways to glorify Him, even in the secret thoughts of our hearts.

“I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service…”
1 Timothy 1:12

Obedience will open doors that no amount of praying alone can.

“The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.
Matthew 24:45-47

May His exhortations permeate our hearts, and may we seek to be faithful to Him in all things.

Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
Matthew 25:23

The one who was unfaithful lost what he had been given and the eternal consequences were even greater.

“But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Matthew 25:26-30

Faithfulness determines eternal destinies.

“…they that are with Him
are called, and chosen, and faithful
Revelation 17:14

Brian Troxel

The True Strength

Strength Out of Weakness!

“…for when I am weak, then am I strong”
2 Corinthians 12:10

“To trust in the strength of God in our weakness; to say, “I am weak; so let me be. God is strong”; to seek from Him who is our life, as the natural, simple cure of all that is amiss with us, power to do and be and live, even when we are weary–this is the victory that overcomes the world…

“I am weak,” says the true soul, “but not so weak that I would not be strong, not so sleepy that I would not see the sun rise, not so lame but that I would walk! Thanks be to Him who perfects strength in weakness and gives to His beloved of His very life even while they sleep!”
– George MacDonald

To God Alone Be the Glory!

Brian Troxel

The River of God

The River of God

“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…”
Philippians 2:7

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”
Matthew 11:29

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”
Psalm 66:11-12

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…”
Matthew 11:28

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…”
Psalm 46:4

Brian Troxel

PODCAST – Prevailing Faith

Prevailing Faith

the promises of revelation 2
are to those WHO OVERCOME

 

John Piper

Quote for Today

“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world”
– John Piper