“For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”
2 Corinthians 5:4
Life, whether earthly or heavenly, is by nature filled with longings, desires and pursuits. As the natural life is filled with unholy lusts and affections so the heavenly life is filled with holy pursuits and desires.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other”
The nature of the life of an individual is known by the thing it covets and pursues. Just as the lust for the things of this world is the expression of the worldly man so is the desire in the life of the believer to be “swallowed up” in the LIFE of the SON.
Where there is no cry for heavenly things There is no heavenly life
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son,”
Love is the essence of the Christian Life. It is from Love’s dominion within a heart that true gifts are given. Many give from their abundance of various means, but it profits little. An individual may give without love; but one cannot hold the Love of God within and not give.
“And if I give out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I be burned, but I do not have love, I am not profited anything”
1 Corinthians 13:3
Wherever and whenever there is giving, with Love as the origin, there will be a corresponding touch of God upon the giver. When we give out of God’s heart there is a sense of fellowship in God; the source of the thing we are doing is God Himself. In these transactions we become participants in the very wonder of heaven. We are dispensing His grace into the life of another. How blessed is the economy of His Kingdom!
“It is more blessed to give than to receive”
Love seeks no remuneration. Love gives because that is the very nature of God. He is the fountain and source of all good things. His fullness is never depleted, and His riches are infinite. He invites us to participate in the glory and wonder of His life.
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”
Ephesians 3:20 (WEB)
Faith is not belief. Faith is not a commodity or the product of a self-generated religious philosophy. Faith is the “substance” of things hoped for. It is the actual “evidence” of spiritual realities. It is not empty, make believe or unsubstantial. Faith is rooted in God Himself. It is the divine enablement to reach into the very heavens where God dwells and appropriate divine realities. The ability to expect the greater things of God is proportional to the “power that is at work in us”. Within the life of every believer there is to be a power at work; a power received and held within the heart of His own. Obedience is the revelation of that power at work within our lives. It is God moving within us to fulfill His purposes for us.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear”
Noah was moved by faith; the impetus to do was the offspring of that faith. Faith is the mover. There is a relentless press of faith to do God’s work in those in whom that power is at work. The degree of its expression in our lives is revealed by obedience and the works which faith alone can produce. Where there is no living faith, the works of faith will be missing. Faith is the power of God at work within the life of the believer. The life which one lives is their true statement of faith. It is not merely something we believe; it is revealed in the life we live and the things we do.
In our day the faith of many rests in the words and wisdom of men and not in the power of God.
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”
1 Corinthians 2:5
Faith in the wisdom of men is powerless and lifeless; it leaves its adherents looking to someone or something outside of themselves. It is a faith which lacks the reality of present day living. The faith that stands in the power of God knows that the secret of its fulfillment lies in our obedience to His Will.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed…”
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”
Time is one of the most precious commodities given to humankind. The experience of every moment becomes the very fabric of our human existence. Every day, every moment, and every breath are God’s gift to us. Each minute that passes is one less left in our journey here on earth. We are exhorted by God to see these gifts of time as opportunities in our walk with Him.
“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
In Jesus’ life here on earth, no time was squandered. Each moment was filled with purpose and design. He was here to reveal the Father; to please His Father. He came that we might live our life with the same intensity of heart. His Life was active, yet ever at rest. His hands were busy in destroying the works of the devil. His words were filled with power and wisdom. His thoughts towards God’s fallen creation were pure. His feet took Him from the darkness of the synagogues to the lost woman at the well. In each situation men and women were struck with the very light of God. In short, His Life was not His own. John declared:
“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”
The Son of God was always engaged in the “now” of life. His heart was and is ever attentive to the will of His Father. Nothing was arbitrary or lost in His short 33 years. The secret of our life is to discover this same perspective. It is the surrendered life, free from our own pursuits, wherein we discover the divine enablement to be sensitive to the opportunities around us. It is here we “redeem the time” allocated to each of us. Discipleship is a journey of following in the Way of the Master; a life of cultivating and developing a sensitivity to His Spirit in our daily lives. The opportunities to extend His Love into the world are all around us.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest”
Life is to be lived in the moment. The deception of religion is that it concerns and consoles itself with either past or future concepts and ideas; Christ was always in the “now” of His Father. While people were and are looking toward an event, Jesus told His disciples to lift up their eyes to see that now, in the present, the fields are white unto harvest.
The secret to redeeming the time is discovered in the “now” life we live.
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
– C.T. Stud
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness”
God does not keep His own from the dark places, but He does keep His own in the dark places. There are treasures to be discovered in the fearful and gloomy paths we must sometimes walk. As we hold on and walk uprightly even in the darkness, we can trust that the God of all grace will cause His Light to arise in those circumstances.
The Christ of our hope and our strength, the Christ who cannot fail will come to us in unexpected ways. There will be an unveiling of Himself which could not have been appropriated in the light. There are graces to be formed within our hearts which require dark and foreboding places. Courage and tenacity find their roots in the testings of life. In these perilous experiences we learn our weakness and discover His strength.
This is how character is built within the hearts of the upright. It is in these places that the disciple sees and hears of the greatness and mercy of our God. As the metal of a heart is forged and the reliance on other things purged, God’s work of preparation is accomplished.
“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him…”
Has God spoken a word to you? Has that word been a trial and a source of consternation? Have you felt the fetters of confinement, the rejection of friends and family? Have you sat in darkness alone and seemingly barren? Rejoice in the ways of God! Let His light arise in the darkness. Trust in Christ alone and walk uprightly before Him. Do not let despair rule; stay strong and purposed in God. The Word whereby He has caused you to hope will surely come. As the night must give way to the dawn, so will He surely arise in thee.
“O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful”
“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.”
2 Chronicles 34:3
Whenever and wherever a soul begins to seek God in truth, the result will be a purging of unclean things both within and without. Those who declare they are earnestly seeking God but have not this heart, have not yet found God. It is one thing to seek Him; it is another thing to find Him.
“For in the eighth year… he began to seek God and in the twelfth year he began to purge…”
God is not found overnight. He is not found in a few days of seeking. The true in heart set their lives apart to seek Him. It is not a quick and easy process; it takes learning, discovering and an earnest cry within the human heart for Him alone. He is unfathomable, eternal and infinite. The is no end to His Glory nor His purposes for us. One cannot touch Him and remain the same. The life that constantly seeks Him shall surely be filled with the constant finding of Him.
The promise stands sure to all who would find Him.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”
The secret to finding Him lies in the persistency of seeking.
It is a lifelong pursuit which intensifies in passion because of the beauty that beckons the hungry heart onward. Faith will not be deterred. The human element which seeks for other purposes grows weary in its search; the faithful heart expends itself all the more. The Syrophenician woman would not be dismayed by the seeming rebuffs of Jesus, crying out “even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28). Jesus responded with great delight at the display of her great faith.
It is incumbent upon us to set our hearts afresh to seek Him and to remain faithful in our pursuit of Him. His promises are sure and those who find Him will speak to the world around them of righteousness and purity of heart. The anointing falls on the life of those who love righteousness and hate iniquity.
“Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness…”
“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before Jehovah. It is most holy…”
The expressions of Christ revealed in the Old Testament are breath-taking, heart-breaking and life-making.
“In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before Jehovah”
Here we catch a glimpse of the fact that the True Sin Offering arises out of the Burnt Offering. Christ, our Burnt Offering, is seen as the perfectly obedient Son offering Himself to the Father. The obedience of Christ also made Him the Sin Offering. His walk as a living sacrifice to the Will of the Father is what validated Him as our Sin Offering. We can only stand in holy awe of His perfection as both our Burnt Offering and our Sin Offering. The one gives power to the other. The truth of the Burnt Offering results in the full acceptance of Him as our Sin offering. They were killed as our sacrifice in the same “place”. Calvary is the Holy Ground upon which these offerings took place. All praise and honour unto Him!
We need to meditate upon these wonders of Christ as revealed in the Old Testament. We must see Him as the fulfillment of all that was spoken of Him. May the power of this perfect sacrifice cause us to desire His reign within our own hearts; to find the divine enablement to obey our heavenly Father because of the Life of the Son in us. He has come to make us pure in thought, word and deed. Only in Him are such things made possible. May we not grow weary in our pursuit of His fulness.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
To have boldness in the Day of Judgment is the fruit of being like Him in this world! Only the perfection of the Love of God in us is can give us the boldness and the assurance of our standing in that Day. It is not in what we know but what we have become because of Christ being our Lord and Saviour.
“And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter”
Love is the fountain from which true service unto the Lord flows. It is to be the inspiration for all of our actions. A river flows regardless of external things. When love is the source, service unto God is the natural flow of life. The work of God can only be accomplished by the love of God. Love robs the flesh of boasting of its accomplishments. It brings all things unto the worship of God rather than the promotion of self. Our service becomes an offering unto Him; our reward is His Joy welling up within. It is the feast of life to love and serve our God.
“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
The above graph shows the frequency per million words that the word “repent” is used from 1540 AD to now.
“And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”
It is interesting to note that the high usage of this word occurred when the Bible was made available to the common people and during the subsequent awakenings of the Church. Contrast this with the powerless preaching of the Gospel in our day.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world produces death”
2 Corinthians 7:10
A Gospel which does not lead to godly sorrow cannot produce repentance. This is necessary for change and the restorative work of God within a redeemed soul. Repentance is the conduit through which the power of God is released. It is by repentance unto salvation that the lost are brought into life and liberty.
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance“
2 Peter 3:9
The power and life of the church is known by the gospel it presents and the corresponding depth of the transforming work of God within His people.
God’s word to the Church in Asia, in six of the seven letters, was to repent of their ways, their teachings and their spiritual condition. This is the last written communication in the Holy Scriptures. It is to His people that the word “repent” goes forth. Let us not marginalize the need for repentance in sharing the purity of the Gospel with one another.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”
“And he died for all, in order that those who live should no longer live for themselves”
2 Corinthians 5:15
The proof that we are living for Him and not ourselves is revealed in our daily life. The risen Christ becomes the purpose and the intent of our everyday existence. Only those who are truly alive in Him know the fire and the intensity of this pressing to spend themselves for Him.
Many may claim such a purpose but within the confines of daily living there is a discernable lack of that unrelenting determination to please Him in all that they do. Life is to no longer be lived within the tedious rote of religious endeavors; it is to be filled with the adventure of His joy welling up from within as we discover the riches of His will in the now of our today. There is much taught about the “now” life but there must be the works to support our confessions of faith. The real need of His people is not an understanding and acknowledgment of a teaching but the pressing into good works to show our faith.
“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
True life is one whereby the faith and works of Christ are realized. It is the divine life flowing through the fragile earthen vessel which honors and glorifies the Father. A life devoid of works is a life devoid of love and faith. Neither of these can remain static or inactive within the heart of “those who live”.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”
The Son ever lives to glorify and please His Father. If He is alive and ruling within, we will know this power and grace at work in us.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit…”