Break Up Your Fallow Ground
” Sow to yourselves in righteousness,
reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground:
for it is time to seek the Lord,
till he come and rain righteousness upon you”
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
(1 Cor. 4:15)
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“One forgives to the degree that one loves”
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The quality of love can only be known by the deeds it produces.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk
but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
Love without deeds is the fiction of religion.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God;
for God is love”
1 John 4:8
The Measure of a Life
is easily known.
By the life lived,
and the seeds sown.
See: Love One Another
“…the soul of the people was much discouraged
because of the way”
The purpose of the Way of God is to bring purity and freedom. By design it shatters our self-seeking and self-realization. It is not an easy way. Our concepts and aspirations will be crushed in the wilderness. It is there our presumptions must die in order to prepare us for the Land of Promise. The Land of Promise is where “we live, move and have our being” in Him. It is where resurrection Life arises out of the grave of self. That carnal self ever seeks to have the pre-eminence; it is the antithesis of all that God has purposed in Christ. Unity in Him is the result of a people who have laid aside their carnal selves for the joy of relationship in Him. They understand and feel the cords of Life binding them to one another. Humility is a necessity for those who seek the reality of being “hid with Christ in God”.
The Way will dry up the springs of self. Obedience is the Way into the provisions of Christ. The life of obedience is what gives us access to the “Tree of Life” and the abundance of all Christ is.
“Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city”
The Tree of Life gives its fruit in every season. It is rooted deeply in the River of Life and in fact the River runs through this living Tree.
“…on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month…”
Let us be not discouraged by the Way of Christ. Let us not fall victim to self-pity, murmuring, blaming others, and the bitterness that can so easily contaminate our being. The Way of Christ is sure. His end is glorious and His Wisdom beyond our own. Blessed are we if we continue to “do Truth” in spite of the hardness of the way. The Passover was eaten with “bitter herbs”; a reminder that the bitter way brings us to sweet waters and the “oil of Joy for mourning”.
Faithfulness is revealed in our obedience to Him regardless of our feelings and disillusionment. It is here the mettle of our faith is tried, the reigns of our hearts tested, and the power of His Life is increased within us.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation”
He is worthy of a faith life which continues to do of His good pleasure regardless of the situations in which we find ourselves.
“And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet”
May we be of such a disposition that when He comes to our tree He may find fruit even in the time when by “nature” the season has not yet arrived. Save us oh Lord from a life of fig leaves (the religious garments of Adam) and cause us Lord to bear fruit in every season!
“I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.
I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.
I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.
I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails and thorns. I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.
And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good.
Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hardship will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.
So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I’m asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I’m asking Him how I can best love you, and be a help to you. I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.”
– Kimberley Henderson (Published on Being Created in His Image)
“For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. 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”
For the true child of God there is no darkness where He does not intend to bring us to the greater light. There is no trial too great that the Great Shepherd will not watch over the soul of His Own. There is no sorrow His comfort cannot fill and no separation too great that He will not compensate with Himself. Let us face this coming year with the true knowledge of His sovereign Wisdom at work on our eternal benefit.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion”
“Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord,
and find the knowledge of God.”
It is in our understanding the “fear of the Lord” where we discover the true “knowledge of God”. Wisdom is not the summation of learning nor is it a commodity gained by the efforts of men. Wisdom is the matrix by which truth is revealed. It is the wise in heart who grow in understanding.
“When wisdom entereth into thine heart,
and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul
Discretion shall preserve thee,
understanding shall keep thee:”
The true knowledge of God comes to us as His wisdom enters our hearts. By it the knowledge of God is revered and held in awe.
“The first thing is wisdom—get wisdom,
And with all thy getting get understanding”
There are many in this day who hold a knowledge of His word apart from the fear of Him; without wisdom all knowledge is perverted. Only the wise in heart walk and keep themselves in the fear of the Lord. They hold themselves accountable to Him who weighs all the words, actions and the motives of our hearts.
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding”
The scribes and the Pharisees held a knowledge of God apart from the fear of God. The result was a religion based on the words of God without the wonder of God. There is no greater darkness, no greater delusion, than that of men who hold knowledge apart from wisdom.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who hold the truth in unrighteousness…”
It is a fearful thing to hold the truth of God in an unrighteous manner! Let us not assume that by claiming a promise of God yet living in unrighteousness that He will acquit you in the Day of Judgment! Let us not presume that we can hold unforgiveness and yet be forgiven. Do not think that we can walk contrary to His Word and still grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“…to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
To grow in the depths and power of our salvation requires us to walk in the wisdom of God. He shows His salvation to those who order their steps aright. He unveils Himself to those who align their hearts to His Word.
“Then laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil words, as newborn babes desire the pure soul-nourishing milk, that you may grow by it…”
2 Peter 2:1-2
The wise in heart put away from themselves all malice, hypocrisies, envies and evil words because they know, at least in some measure, the fear of the Lord. The recompense of walking in His righteous ways is the divine enablement to grow into Him in all things.
Christians may hold on to evil things while comforting themselves with the promises of God; this they do to their own sorrow. They may cover themselves with the fig leaves of religion even as they “hold the truth in unrighteousness” sealing to themselves a life void of the power of God. They may speak of grace, and can expound upon the mercies of God, yet never touch the true depths of either; only the fear of the Lord can reveal the power of these realities. It is by the enlightenment of His wisdom entering our hearts that we know the awe and the joy of obedience to Him who first loved us.
Without the fear of the Lord there can be no true wisdom or knowledge of Him. Only by the understanding that these bring are we able to depart from our evil ways.
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding”
“But wisdom is justified of all her children”
The wisdom of God is vindicated by the conduct of those who are held by its wonder.
Excerpt from Coming Book
“Have This Mind in You”
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not…”
3 John 1:9
Self-promotion is the curse and the damnation of the Church of Jesus Christ. The wickedness of a self-seeking, self-promoting serpent nature is alive and very prominent in the Body of Christ today. Men pretend to be walking in the Spirit of God yet by their works reveal the factious ways of the world (the Greek word relates such works to the political factions of the world). The result is division and strife. We see these secular and isolated groups throughout the history of the Church inflicting great pain and sorrow on the people of God while bringing damnation and eternal judgments upon themselves.
“Because of this, if I come, I will recall his works which he does, ranting against us with evil words. And not being satisfied with these, neither does he receive the brothers; and those intending it he prevents, and thrusts them out from the assembly”
3 John 1:10
John goes on to say:
“Beloved, do not imitate the bad, but the good. The one doing good is of God; but the one doing bad has not seen God”
3 John 1:11
It is what people DO that reveals the spirit in which they walk, not their profession!
“They profess that they know God, but by their deeds they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work”
In order for this infection to stop God’s people need to grow in discernment. It is not what men say but what they do that reveals the spirit in which they walk. We see much of the spirit of Diotrephes across our land. The cry for people to join an organization or sect, follow a teacher or a movement, is heard far more prominently than the true Call of God to “Come unto Christ”. The waning influence of the Church is partially a result of the horror of calling people to something other than Jesus.
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto me”
The Gospel today is one of setting forth the ambitions of men to “grow” our churches, our fellowships, our teachers (or teachings) in competition with the other “churches” who also promote themselves in the same spirit of rivalry. Somehow, we convince ourselves (in spite of our carnality) that we are representing the Spirit of Christ and the work of His Salvation in the earth.
“Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment”
1 Corinthians 1:10
This Word from Paul is aimed forcefully at those in the Church at Corinth because of their carnality:
“For concerning you, my brothers, it was shown to me by those of Chloe that there are strifes among you. But I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ”. (Or in our day – Pentecostal, Baptist, Alliance plus thousands of other names or no names – the little sects that meet in closed cliques which mingle not with others nor reach out with the love of God to the world around them are all an affront to heart and mind of Christ.)
1 Corinthians 1:11-12
“Have this mind among yourselves,
which is yours in Christ Jesus”
Philippians 2:5 (ESV)
The very nature of this mind being formed in us through the ministration of His Word and our abiding in Him is the very essence of our unity. Any heart which “feels” not the call of God in Christ to this is one which is out of touch with Him. The holy bonds of His Spirit are the actual bonds of those who are His. There is a spiritual joining, a joint-communication of the life and power of the Christ which flows between those who live in Him. The Day of the wheat and tares are being revealed in our day, they who cling to a joining which is carnal and based on something other than Christ Himself will become more evident as we see the bones of Ezekiel’s Vision comes to pass (Ezekiel 37)… The phrase “bone to His bone” is the verity of the New Wine Skin. Only those whose lives are becoming His can partake of this glorious thing. It is the power of His Life which joins us to one another and it is here where the depth of God’s wisdom will reveal the unfathomable truth of His Word… “members one of another”. This is a truth which the natural mind cannot comprehend, its power, its wonder is so Divine in its origin that only those who feel the draw and the call of God to this Holy place can be affected within the core of their being. Few there be in our Day who feel the pulse and the power of all God is preparing in this Day.
“That they all may be one; AS thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”
May God re-establish the truth within us, that we are here for His Glory, we are here to fulfill HIS purposes for us and they who are growing in their relationship with Him know that we are here to please and honor Him who is worthy of all that we are. Having the “mind of Christ” formed within us necessitates a fervency to live out His nature with our brothers and sisters. A nature which speaks truth, lives truth and walks in the desire to please Him.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created“
As Christ came to Glorify the Father may we so allow our hearts to be transformed to “order our steps aright” to glorify His Glorious Name by how we live.
“…to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
To the heart of those who direct their steps in the Way of Christ there is a unveiling of Himself concerning the wonders and glories of His Salvation.
These truths are hid from the wise, the proud, the seekers of pre-eminence and those who are satisfied with something less than the fulness of Christ Himself.
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight”
It requires the “mind of Christ” to see Him unveiled in His Word and it takes the heart of Christ feel the bonds of His Spirit.
The spirit of Diotrephes is alive and present in the community where I live, and the place where you live. Its dark and sinister work is deeply felt within the Body of Christ world-wide by the schisms and discord sown by its proud and haughty ways. It covers itself with garments of falsehood and hypocrisy. It pretends to follow Christ and usually appeals to its adherents on the basis of being deeper, more spiritual and may even express itself concerned for others while yet by its works reveals the true nature of its spirit by its isolation and spiritual stagnation. The spirit of such refuse others from the Body of Christ liberty to minister to "its own", it receives only from those who hold to its ideology and secretly must acknowledge its leaders to gain access. It is an malignant evil which will be judged severely in the Day of the Lord. It is by their works the spirit of such are revealed. It is important that God's people read and meditate carefully upon this writing of Third John for in it is the dark spirit of such revealed. Honesty of heart and pureness of motive will be the safeguard of all those who desire to see the One Body of Christ.
“Have this in your mind,
which was also in Christ Jesus,”
Truth became incarnate in Jesus Christ. We are told many times in the scriptures that Truth is a person; He is the embodiment of the heart and character of God Himself. Jesus boldly declared to His disciples “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”. Things buried within the Gospel of John are significant and to the human intellect often cryptic and obscure. Only by the gracious illumination of the Holy Spirit do we begin to see the veiled wonders of God. At this particular juncture Jesus chose the words “he that hath seen me” while in other places Jesus would declare “they who are of the truth, hear my voice”. On this occasion the aspect of “seeing” was the vital truth Jesus sought to convey to His disciples.
The life of Christ was lived before His disciples to an extent that others were not privy to. They beheld Him in His private moments, and they knew that He spent time alone with His Father. They witnessed the power of God flow into the lives of countless multitudes in healings, in deliverances and in the demonstration of God’s character such as in the case of the woman taken in adultery. Their exposure to Him in all facets of His life was a comprehensive revelation of the Father.
The response of Jesus to Philip’s seemingly innocent request (John 14:8) was/is heart rending and filled with a piercing truth for us as well; Truth is more than a teaching; more than something learned by the accumulation of knowledge. It is beyond the reach of human thought!
“He that hath seen me
hath seen the Father”
This powerful truth ought to revolutionize our seeking of Him. Truth cannot be contained or held within the precepts of men, for truth must be seen by the same Spirit which initiated His very conception in Mary. Truth is a person. To see Him correctly we must walk, live and abide in that same Spirit who alone can make Him known to us.
He that hath seen me
hath seen the Father.
In other words, Philip, when you beheld me feeding the five thousand by the power of compassion, when you heard me confronting the blindness of the Scribes and the Pharisees, when you saw the lepers healed, the gift of sight given to the blind, me washing the disciple’s feet, and the demonstration of power when I rebuked the storm, all of these things were the revelation of my Father. Truth is more than words; it is expressed in character and works. It is shown in our ability to minister Him to our children, it is revealed in the concourse of everyday life. It is not only the Sunday sermon; it is the Life Christ Himself shining through the medium of our humanity in our every day life. In His life as a man, within the frailty and the humanness of Christ, the glory of God was evident to such an extent that Jesus declared unequivocally: “he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father”.
“It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher,
and the servant like his lord”
The Call of God is much more than becoming familiar with His Word, more than the formation of correct doctrines and promises believed. His call to His disciples is to bear His likeness, His character, and His heart in this world!
“But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit”
2 Corinthians 3:18
It is in our “seeing” of Him that transformation occurs. While it is good to read the promises of God, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to cause us to WALK in the promises of God. The contrast between these two is as vast as the gulf between life and death. May we allow the power of the Testimony of Jesus to impact us to the core of our beings with the enormity of His Call.
He that hath seen me
hath seen the Father
Where there is no beholding of Him there can be no change.
Let us consider the words of faithful Job:
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:
but NOW mine eye seeth Thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself,
and repent in dust and ashes”
Repentance is the fruit of seeing Him. Only in the seeing of Him are we freed from the limitations and confines of our fallen natures to experience the power of His Resurrection Life within.
May our hearts echo the desire of those who came to Philip:
Hearing Him brings us to obedience
Seeing Him brings us to His Likeness
“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness”
Genesis 9:22 – 23
The sanctified heart is disciplined in its seeing and its speaking. There is within its development a constraint to walk carefully and circumspectly in the ways of God. It is freed from the lust of seeking and spreading the salacious things of others. The issue presented here was not the sin of Noah, but the response of his son Ham. There is something deep and wretched within the core of the unsanctified heart. There is a secret delight found in the exposure of the condition and misery of another. We see the news media today profiting from the exposure and publicizing of the lives of others. We see the gossip mongers spewing forth their tantalizing tidbits to a world anxious to hear, read and watch the sordid “news”. Millions of dollars are spent in the pursuit of “knowing” the facts of peoples’ most intimate things.
“And he said, Cursed be Canaan (Ham); a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant”
Nowhere is this more pronounced than within the confines of religious circles where it is cloaked in a garment of religious “concern” about another and passed on quickly like wild fire through a “grape vine” of eager ears. Not only is the retelling of it shameful but in doing so the facts are further distorted and magnified. I have heard far too much about others while simply sitting in a prayer meeting.
“I hear that there be divisions among you;
and I partly believe it”
1 Corinthians 11:18
People who walk and live in the fear of the Lord are not carried away with the rumors of the Christian community. How we need discipline to walk circumspectly in this hour, to have sanctified hearts that become a shelter for the confidence of our brothers and sisters; a place of refuge where we can stop the “firebrands” of the tongue and walk in the wisdom and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is interesting to me that Shem and Japheth walked backwards in response to the situation at hand. This is not a natural walk, but one compelled by love and compassion for their father! Upon further reading of this incident we discover that the posterity of Ham was cursed and Shem and Japheth were blessed. May the Lord bring forth in us a walk that is the result of His heart of love and compassion.
“A talebearer revealeth secrets:
but he that is of a faithful spirit
concealeth the matter”
Brian Troxel (updated from a previous post)