“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.” (Psa 84:5-7)
Eldership begins in the home. It begins in earnest with the birth of children and the opportunity they present for us to learn the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. The challenge for us is to instill in them a desire to discover the great mystery of Christ for themselves. We cannot unravel the mystery for them but we can minister to them their need to find God for themselves.
If we are unable to present the glories and the wonders of God to our own children, how will we ever be equipped to present Him to the household of faith? Pat answers will not produce the intrigue of the adventure of walking with God. Often Jesus would answer a question with a question. It was hunger and quest He sought to instill rather than mere answers. Hunger of heart will take one further in God than information with no spirit of awe or wonder.
Home is the canvas upon which we can learn to paint. An artist works in shades, splashes and hues, each one reflecting a thought, a wisp of truth. Over time an image appears and each brush of color is hidden within the wonder of the whole. Eldership is but a reflection of the wisdom of our Heavenly Father; the work of His grace and longsuffering to present such a one to the Body of Christ.
“For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report”
“There are no artists more divine than those who know how to fashion a child’s soul within themselves. Such artists know how to draw forth the greatest divine radiance into their souls”
– St. John Chrysostom
Obviously having children is not a prerequisite for being an elder in God's House. For those who do, let God's wisdom in His dealings with you be an example of how you are to deal with your children.
“No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please Him who enrolled him as a soldier”
2 Timothy 2:4
Active duty is the posture of those who are alive in Christ. It is a Call which holds us to our posts ever watchful and ever engaged in the affairs of our hearts and in His Church. Their lives are governed by the full knowledge of the deceitful nature of their own hearts and the propensity of the church to slip into the darkness of slumber and lethargy.
It is ever the slumbering church which becomes the fearful church, for in her slumber she eventually awakes to discover that the enemies are at the gate and that she is ill prepared.
The Day is now dawning upon us, division and lawlessness is arising. Stay in the Spirit and we will not fall into fleshly carnal warfare. It is those who are not standing their posts, who are not on duty in Christ who get subverted to carnal issues.
“My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…”
Jesus said IF His Kingdom was of this world then His servants would fight… but it is not of this world. If His people get caught up in the affairs of this dark world they cannot be active in His. It is a day to prepare ourselves to be at His disposal and to come to the place of grace and sacrifice. Suffering and glory cannot be separated.
May we encourage one another to stay in His Spirit and find grace to walk above the issue of this life. The rise of evil is upon us and blessed are they who find in Christ the grace to overcome evil with good.
Blessings to all my brothers and sisters; may we begin to feel the drawings of His Spirit into the union of His Life within us that we may be active in preparing one another to “stand in the evil Day”.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”
“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to wise, and to foolish, so as far as lies in me, I am eager to preach the gospel to you in Rome also”
The secret of the power of Christ at work within the human heart lies in grasping our total indebtedness unto Him. The same God that saw the need to send His only begotten Son to the earth, desires that we in turn see the necessity to preach the Gospel of God to all who would hear. Notice the secret of Paul: “so far as lies in me”! The power of Christ is pressing and empowering us to make known the wonder of this salvation; expending ourselves in order to make the living Christ known. The power of the Gospel lies not in words but in the unction and the impression of His heart.
The Kingdom of God is not in word. It is not in the multitude of the words we speak amongst ourselves. It is in the dynamic of His Love launching us into “fields” ripe unto harvest. Only by the Love of God have men and women through the ages spent themselves for the sheer honour of declaring Him wherever they were sent.
The preaching of the Gospel has more to do with the power that lies within an individual than in the knowledge of words and religious phrases. Love is the power of the Gospel – it is the Gospel!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son”
That same Love burning within our hearts is the epicenter from which we reach the world. Without the breath of the Love of God, the New Covenant becomes nothing more than something to discuss and dissect with others of like disposition. It is a thing rather than a life; a mere idea which produces no wonder of empowerment, no horizons to pursue and no sense of the overwhelming purposes of God in Christ. The result is dimness of soul and a life bereft of participation in the declaration of Christ.
What is the power which is at work within us?
This does not put in question the power of the Almighty God. It does ask if we have allowed Him to empower us within.
“Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power”
The evidence of the gift of Grace within His own is men and women who are able ministers of Christ. Grace received produces an effectual ministry of grace to others. A genuine receiving of grace leaves us with a deep sense of our unworthiness and an awareness of a Love beyond comprehension. Love by its very nature is sacrificial and selfless. As we grow into the heart and mind of Him, we cannot remain untouched by the human condition within and without the family of believers. There is an abandonment to the will and passion of Christ to make known the Salvation He has provided to all.
Paul was “Made a minister, according to the gift of the grace”. Grace received cannot be held in fireless hearts.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”
1 Corinthians 15:10
The evidence of grace received is the labour of the spirit within a life, just as the evidence of conception is the labour it ultimately produces.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called”
“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
“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.
“Grace is not only the divine act by which God initiates our spiritual life, but also the very power by which we are sustained in, nourished, and proceeds through that life. The energizing and sanctifying work of the indwelling Spirit is the grace of God. After Paul had prayed three times for God to deliver him from his thorn in the flesh, he received this answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Although Paul undoubtedly derived encouragement and strength to face his daily trials by reflecting on the magnificence of God’s unmerited favor, in this text he appears to speak rather of an experiential reality of a more dynamic nature. It is the operative power of the indwelling Spirit to which Paul refers. That is the grace of God”
– Sam Storms
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Phil 2:1-5)