Relationship with Christ is the spring from which His Life flows. This flow of Life is the essential element of ministry.
The Womb of Ministry
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 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 4:16-17)
“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 through which He does not intend to bring us to greater light. There is no trial so great that the Great Shepherd does not watch over the soul of His Own. There is no sorrow and no separation so great that it cannot be compensated with Himself. Let us face this coming year with an understanding that His sovereign Wisdom is at work for 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”
It is needful that we prepare our hearts for the things which lie ahead. Things are changing quickly as God is allowing a time of suffering and counting the cost. A cost-less gospel is about to become a precious Gospel. Religious liberties as we have known them will give way to intimidation, prison and even death. Yet in the midst of all this a new-found liberty will be born in those who have followed Him with a full heart; it is called the liberty of the Spirit. It is the same liberty that Paul had in prison, the same liberty the disciples had in the Macedonian prison to sing and worship God, the same liberty of Peter and other disciples who rejoiced in being found worthy to suffer for His Name. A new day is dawning upon the North American Church; which for the most part it is still fighting for a way of life that has failed to produce an overcoming church. God in His wisdom will bring a purging of the filth and the infiltration of the world from His House. Just as Jesus with great vehemence drove the money changers out of the Temple in His Day, He will once again purge the haughtiness from His House of whom we are. The divisions, the strife, the competition and the contagion of pride gives testimony that the liberty we have enjoyed thus far has not furthered His Glory in our midst.
Let us receive from Him this chastening that in the purging of all worldly contaminants He may reveal to the world a broken, pure and holy people. May we turn to Him in the secret places of our hearts with repentance and sorrow knowing that from such God will not turn away.
God’s Word to the Church OF the Laodiceans…
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent“
This is the Word of the Lord to His Church. It has grown lukewarm, its pursuits are worldly, it is rich in the things of the world, and there is no end of teachings, sermons and programs. It is not the content which is lacking; it is the spirit in which it hears the things of God. Works without faith and Faith without works are the hallmarks of a lukewarm and lethargic people. Let us prepare ourselves for His coming; a coming which is contrary to many of the teachings of our Day!
“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap…”
He is coming to cleanse and purify His Church, to purify His people that He may receive unto Himself a worthy Bride – pure and spotless free from the corruption of the world and fully alive unto Him.
Peter declared emphatically:
“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?”
1 Peter 4:17
Before God judges the world, He must first cleanse and purify His house. It is to this end that HE IS COMING TO NORTH AMERICA!
He cares much more about the issues of our hearts than He does about our lifestyle and “freedom”. A Bondman in the Lord is freer than the richest man in the world. The true servant of the Lord is Free regardless of his circumstances and manner of living. There is only ONE place to hide in the storm which is about to break – His Name is Jesus!
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”
While many quote this scripture, we must comprehend what it is saying. The place of safety is where the “shadow of the Almighty” falls. It falls upon those who abide in the “secret place” of Christ Himself.
John declares how we can know that we are abiding in that “secret place”:
“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us”
1 John 3:24
Do we keep His commandments? Do we walk unstained from this world? Do we love our brothers and sisters deeply and freely? Do we seek forgiveness from others, and in turn forgive others freely? Are we in truth “living epistles, known and read by all men”? Do we live our faith and is our life consistent with the words we speak?
The Spirit of God tells us emphatically that the evidence that He abides in us is the Divine enablement to Do His Commandments!
Let these words penetrate our hearts: “Hereby we know that HE abides in us”!! How? We honor, keep and do His Will! We deceive ourselves if we walk in disobedience to His Word yet comfort ourselves with His Word.
This is a time to reconsider our “location” in Him. Do not let tomorrow pass without considering the verity of your life in Him and His Life in YOU. Those who have the Son living and dwelling within declare the truth of it by their walk.
I share these things because of my own need for fellowship which challenges, confirms and stirs my heart to love and follow Him more deeply. We are here corporately to “present every man perfect in Christ”.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus“
Let us in godly fear turn again to Him who alone can be our hiding place in the storm which is about to break!
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”
His Second Coming Characterized to this Generation
“And it shall be in that time, I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men being settled on their lees; who say in their heart, Jehovah will not do good, nor will He do evil. And their goods shall become a prize, and their houses a waste. They shall also build houses, but not live there. And they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine. The great day of Jehovah is near; it is near and rushing greatly, the sound of the day of Jehovah. The mighty man shall cry out bitterly there. That day is a day of wrath, a day of distress and pressure, a day of waste and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the ram’s horn and alarm against the fortified cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress to men, and they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against Jehovah. And their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh like dung. Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Jehovah. But all the earth shall be consumed by the fire of His jealousy. For He shall make a complete, yea, a speedy end of all those living in the land” Zephaniah 1:12-18
God is searching the hearts of who lay claim to His Name in this hour. He who spared eight people in the days of Noah is no respecter of persons. He is Holy and He is coming back for* something not just to something. He is coming back for a Bride who has made herself ready because of the expectation and hope in her heart. Her love is genuine and intense; she honors His word because she honors Him. At the end of the Book of Revelation she is saying the same thing as the Holy Spirit for she has become One with Him.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come”
Throughout the scriptures we are exhorted to search our own hearts, to take account of our lives unto Him and to evaluate the state of our hearts in relationship to our keeping His Word.
“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord”
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…”
2 Corinthians 13:5
“And he that keepeth* His commandments dwelleth in him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us”
1 John 3:24
*Note: τηρέω (tēreō) “Figuratively, to obey, observe, keep, fulfill a duty, precept, law, custom, or custom meaning to perform watchfully, vigilantly, with the acc. (Mat 19:17; Joh 14:15, Joh 14:21; Joh 15:10; 1Ti 6:14; 1Jn 2:3-4; 1Jn 3:22, 1Jn 3:24; 1Jn 5:2-3; Rev 12:17; Rev 14:12)…” Dr. Spiros Zodhiates
*Note: God’s return is predicated upon His purposes in the Church and He is coming back FOR a Bride who has made herself ready, He is returning for the “precious fruit” of the earth and has long patience for its harvest. For a glimpse of this magnificent truth please read His Appearing
“Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head”
Ecclesiastes 9:8 (ESV)
The great gift afforded us of the garments of salvation require our attention to keep them white and clean. We walk in a world filled with contamination, temptation and sin at every turn. Uncleanness in conversation, things which would corrupt our thought life and offenses from which bitterness and unforgiveness may arise all threaten to stain our garments. Our exposure to all of these things in their varied forms require His grace and power to cleanse us from “all unrighteousness”; otherwise the residue can poison our minds and spirits. There is an aggregate effect upon us. John encourages us to deal faithfully with the sins and offenses in our life.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’
1 John 1:9
His dealings with sin in our life are not only to forgive but His power is released to also cleanse us from any residue. Many who deal lightly with sin never go deep enough in their transactions with God to the point of knowing and experiencing the cleansing which should accompany the regenerating work of grace. Bitterness, anger, sins of the flesh, anything which impairs our newness of Life in Him, needs to be fully worked out until we are clean and pure again in His sight.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
Bitterness that is not dealt with will always spring up defiling not only ourselves but others. Its rancor and poison cannot be kept from the tongue unto the spreading of malicious gossip often accompanied with unwholesome deeds that bring damnation and judgment upon many. May we be instructed in the way of the Lord by the simplicity of His words:
“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”
“We are told of three degrees of spiritual knowledge which for us, are the true content of the Divine Wisdom.
There is the knowledge of God Himself in Christ, thus Paul prays ‘that I may know Him’. For Paul this is the excellency of knowledge, compared with which all else is as the refuse of the field.
There is the knowledge of God’s Will; thus Paul says ‘We do not cease to pray for you that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His Will.’
There is the knowledge of His Gifts; thus Paul writes ‘We have received the Spirit which is of God, that ye might know the things that are freely given us of God.’
It is in this knowledge that Christ Jesus is made unto us Wisdom. It will make fools of us before the world, but we can be quiet in the assurance that the wisdom of God shall at the last be justified in all of her children. – Geoffrey T. Bull
“That I might know Him”
This is the cry of every true believer. May we grow in the full knowledge of Himself, His Will and to be faithful stewards of His unmerited gifts.
Alone with God. God’s greatest work within an individual is often done in secret, away from the sight of others. God takes aside those upon whom His call rests, to achieve His end within their hearts. Wrestlings, breakings and spiritual insights are common to those who are “the called according to His purpose”. It is the broken vessel which most easily pours forth the fragrance and living waters of Christ. A vessel broken in the hands of God can never be broken by the circumstances of life. Broken ones are strong in God; they know that their weakness is the place of God’s power. They have learned of the One broken for them, from Whom springs joy and delight. In the secret places of God, they have discovered their call, their purpose and their destiny. Many circumvent this sanctified place of the preparation and dealings of God. They choose instead to fill their time with activities, entertainment, shallow relationships and even religious exercises in order to avoid the mystery of this alone time with God. The narrative of Lot (Hebrew meaning: veiled one) is an accurate portrayal of many today. Though righteous (2 Peter 2:7-9), he clung to the vestiges of the world while simultaneously being vexed by it. It is the conundrum of His own: loving God but also hanging on to the ways and wisdom of this world. Loved of God but lacking the intimacy and deep knowledge of Him reserved for those who come to that secret place with God.
The Faith of Lot
“And when the dawn rose, then the angels urged Lot, saying, Rise up, take your wife and your two daughters who are found, lest you be cut off in the depravity of the city. And he lingered. And the men lay hold of his hand and his wife’s hand, and on the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah having mercy on him. And they caused him to go out, and they put him down outside the city. And it happened as they led them outside, he said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay in all the plain. Escape to the mountain, lest you be swept away. And Lot said to them, Please, no, Lord! Behold, now, Your servant has found grace in Your sight, and You have magnified Your mercy which You have done to me in saving my life. And I am not able to escape to the mountain lest some evil overtake me and I die. Please, now, this city is near, to flee there, and it is a little one. Please let me escape there! Is it not a little thing, that my soul may live?”
God’s call was to the mountain but, because of his undeveloped faith, Lot was fearful. He refused and asked God to change His call (on the basis of mercy) and deliver him to a small city! How sad is such a request; how dismal a faith that would forebear the call to be alone with God and choose a smaller inheritance in this world and the one to come. Interestingly, this is the first use of the world “mercy” in scripture. Calling upon God, on the basis of mercy, to deviate from God’s original purpose is a compromise that leaves one, though still righteous, stunted in faith and growth.
“And Jacob was left alone”
It was when he was all alone that Jacob, the conniver, schemer and manipulator, met HIS GOD! It is here that the natural man is crippled, and the inward man begins to rise by God’s grace. It is here Jacob receives the New Name. It is here that the God of Abraham and Isaac now becomes the God of Jacob! Such glory awaits those who embrace the secret of being alone with God. In this place we discover who we truly are and are forced to face the flaws and horror of our true condition. In his wrestling with God, Jacob must respond to this penetrating question:
“What is thy name?”
In other words, what is your nature and motivation?
“And he said, Jacob*”
God well knew his name. This rhetorical question was for Jacob to admit and confess the truth of himself. This is an essential requirement for those whom God uses. Jesus told the woman at the well to go get her husband. At that moment she had the choice to be authentic, honest and open with God or remain unchanged and miserable. Her choice determined whether she would receive the revelation of the One who spoke with her or remain a lost and wandering soul. So it is with us. Does our encounter with God bring us to the brink of the truth of ourselves, or do we hide behind a confession of faith, a doctrine or a religious cover? Do we avoid the call to come to Him in truth and instead find a “little one” in which to hide from the penetrating eyes of God?
Alone with God
Do we dare draw near to Him? Do we dare venture alone to tread this holy ground of piercing and revelation? Do we have the stamina of heart to cast aside the offerings of a religion more concerned with covering our sin than to find in Christ the power to be free from our sin. The one leaves us bereft of any sense of spiritual identity; the other brings us to the place of “becoming” like Him in truth!
Alone with God has ever been the experience of those used mightily of God regardless of covenant (New or Old Testament).
We read of John the Baptist:
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel”
“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus”
We read of John on the Isle of Patmos, Daniel, Moses, and many others who by faith drew near to the One who can take “worms” and make them “sharp threshing instruments having teeth” Isaiah 41:14-15
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff”
Do not be fearful or tempted to compromise your walk with God in order to fit in with the consensus of many; either the cloistered ones who walk in their own counsel, nor with the multitude who frequent the broad paths. Let the lonely times, when friends, brothers and sisters reject you, be a blessing. Only as we are alone with Him can He truly purge us from the uncleanness of our own ways. Never be afraid to be Alone with God.
“Therefore, I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words…”
*Note: Jacob - “Adjective עקב ('aqeb) means overreacher; adjective עקב ('aqob), insidious or deceitful; adjective עקב ('aqob), tricky or treacherous (of terrain). Noun עקבה ('aqeba) means deceitfulness and noun עקב ('eqeb), consequence..” Abiram Publications
“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart”
A true heart does not seek to cover sin; it seeks the Lord to expose every wrong and crooked way. Exposure is the path to purity and the hope of salvation and freedom. The Light of Christ penetrates the heart and His eyes burn through the very soul of man. The burning consumes pride, self-seeking and the desire for pre-eminence. It removes the religious fig leaves of those who cloak themselves in garments of piety and false humility.
May our God, as a consuming fire, burn within our hearts until there be no shadows or pretense. Let there be no hidden chambers for sin to hide. He alone can heal the broken and restore righteousness and holiness. He beckons us to the fellowship of the fire; the fellowship of His Light.
The prison of pretense is deep, dark and rooted in sin and hypocrisy. The foundation of this prison is built one lie at a time. Mercy was never meant by God to excuse sin; its purpose is to cause men to come to the Light, to free them from the misery of sin. Mercy’s true triumph is in men and women finding the courage to face the light and allowing it to shine into the hidden areas of their hearts, set free by the “spirit of burning”.
“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil”
Purity of hearts brings us freedom and the liberty to express Him through the vessel of our redeemed self. As the gem, polished and cut, shines with the luster of its own being, so Christ has called each of us to be a distinct expression of His handiwork. Come to Him, present yourself to the light and fire of all that He is that you may know true liberty.
“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”
2 Corinthians 3:17
An individual’s liberty will be in proportion to their surrender to the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
This is an excerpt of my own heart’s internal desire to remain current and alive unto my God and Saviour.
Spiritual Ignorance is the result of disobedience.
“But he that doeth truth cometh to the light”
Spiritual Stagnation is the result of fruitless living.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away”
Spiritual Apathy is the result of not abiding in Him.
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered”
Spiritual Poverty is the result of robbing God of the gift of ourselves to Him.
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me”
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”
Repentance and godly sorrow is the great gift of God’s mercy to us. In turning we shall be turned, and in godly sorrow is found the wonder of His Joy. Humbling ourselves is the precursor to Him being magnified in our lives.
” I now rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you were made sorry to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, which brings no regret”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith”
2 Corinthians 13:5