“Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey; and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.”
“The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.”
Benedict of Nursia
Only a humble heart can obey God. The proud and the stiff necked cannot obey Him. Obedience is the revelation of our growth into a purity of heart.
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, untoobedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied”
1 Peter 1:2
The validity of our election through the power of His sanctifying grace will correspondingly be revealed in our growth “unto obedience”.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Jesus did not come to annihilate the soul of man; He came to save it. The crucified life is one that chooses to reveal His resurrection in a fragile clay vessel that His power might be seen. Many speak of the cross in a future tense, but such is not the language of the New Covenant.
“I die daily…”
1 Corinthians 15:31
The folly of words that speak of future things while ignoring the call of Christ “Today” is the bane of religion. We are called to live His Life NOW, to walk daily in the wonder of this flesh and bone existence. Those who speak of things in some distant future while they allow the sands of time and the opportunities of today to slip through their fingers live in the danger and peril of a religious faith.
“…but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”
The way of the cross is not a doctrine, a teaching, or a concept; it is the doorway into His life, present tense. Jesus did not come to share a new teaching; He came that WE may have life and have that life abundantly!
The life that you and I NOW live
is the revelation of our
daily participation in the Cross of Christ.
“Consecrate yourselves (today), for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
Our depth of consecration today will determine God’s work in and through us tomorrow.
The Daily Offering
“Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord”
The Old Covenant speaks of New Testament truths in Christ. We are called to participate in the “daily burnt offering”. The offering is one of ourselves, daily, unto Him alone who is worthy. Do we not hear the voice of His Spirit calling out to us in the “now” of our life?
“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”
This is not some future truth or call; it is the heart and desire of all true disciples. It is the way of life, His Life, in us. The religious adherent talks about the cross in abstract and rhetorical words of philosophical wisdom. The disciple embraces it with the full knowledge that the Life of Christ cannot be apprehended by any other means.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win*(see note below) Christ”
Paul counted the cost in His pursuit for the full apprehension of Christ. His life was spent in the “loss of all things” to the end that he would “win” Christ. Few understand this pursuit to “win” *(see note below) Christ. It is in large part an unknown quest, a mystery which few have looked into. It is however the mystery of the call of Christ unto each of us.
“That I may win Christ”
Paul’s pursuit was to “win” or “gain” the fullness of the majesty and wonder of Christ. He was “reaching” unto something beyond the perspectives of man’s concepts and teachings. He was stretching, reaching, pressing unto the fullness. There existed in him a passion for the “One Thing”. In light of this “prize” he could not and would not rest in his current knowledge of Him. Oh, may we see afresh the vast horizons of glory reserved for those who feel the fire and call of God in Christ Jesus!
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”
“Metaphorically used of persons meaning to gain or win someone, i.e., as a friend or patron, referring to Christ (Php 3:8); a brother (Mat 18:15). To gain over to one’s side, meaning to win over to Christ and thus bring to salvation (1Co 9:19-22, where it is equivalent to sṓzō [G4982], to save or to deliver in 1Co 9:22; see 1Co 7:16, where sṓzō is used; 1Pe 3:1).”
“The Complete Word Study New Testament” (Word Study Series) Dr. Spiros Zodhiates
May your Fire within, ignite the fire in others. May your Fragrance draw others to worship You. May your Light shine in my actions and motives. May your Holiness be revealed in the choices I make. May your Love permeate my relationships. May Your Fatherhood produce a father’s heart with wisdom for your people. May Your Sacrifice bring me to self-less living. May Your Life work in me that death by which Your resurrection is known. May Your Grace produce a will-ing-ness to do of your good pleasure. May Your Lordship free me from the bondages of self and make me fully yours. May Your Offering birth the offering of myself unto You.
May You be my Amen.
“Not as though I had already attained…”
Hence the prayer. The cry for Him and the Fire of Him burns within the unfinished life. The desire to bear His image will be in proportion to our seeing of Him. The desire for His fulness is the womb from which true prayers are birthed (John 15:7). “Praying in the Holy Spirit” arises from those who know of a call far greater than the life they now live.
“Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head”
Ecclesiastes 9:8 (ESV)
The free and precious gift of God in Christ is revealed in the garments of joy and salvation; unspeakable mercies of the One who died that we may live. Not only did He take upon Himself the shame, the filth and the degradation of all humanity, but he “became sin”. He who knew no sin “became sin” in order to condemn it thereby enabling us to become the very righteousness of God Himself. His intent was that by the deep operations of His Spirit upon willing hearts there would be a manifestation of His righteousness as He subdues our hearts unto Himself.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh…”
To what end was the pure manifestation of the Grace and Glory of God?
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
God in Christ crucified the weakness of our sinful flesh in order to “fulfill the righteousness of the Law” in people who walk and live in His Spirit. The precious blood of the Lamb has made a new and living way whereby we have access to the Throne of Grace. In Him alone is the power to live and grow into His likeness!
How long will we linger in the throes of unbelief; thinking His righteousness is in word only with no actual power by which we may overcome all sin? How long will we declare that the disobedience of Adam has greater authority than the perfect obedience of our Living Christ! We are here to overcome by Grace. We are here to reveal His Power by our growth into His Righteousness, not by trying to live up to the dictates of the law in the power of our own flesh. Rather as we yield our lives to Him, we will naturally walk and live by the Law of His Life within.
Growth and development into this wonder requires the tenacity of a life ever learning how to Live within the sphere of His enabling grace so “that as He IS so ARE WE in this world”. (1 John 4:17) Let us take a holy Selah here and let the wonder and the power of this glorious Word of God enter our hearts with the enormity of its “breadth, and length, and depth, and height”. (Ephesians 3:18)
Such a walk is not entered into lightly nor is it known by the confessions of the heart or the aptitude of our minds. It is entered into by faith; a living faith, which will not let us rest, compromise or settle for religious platitudes or doctrinal statements. True faith will press a heart ever onward, ever upward and will not rest until our hearts are in full submission unto Him. True faith embraces and rejoices in Christ as our Saviour, in Christ our Justifier, but its passion is to know Him as our Lord and Master.
“Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
How is it that we are content with a salvation compromised with sin and failure? How do we settle for forgiveness of our sin without growing in the power of His Life to be free from its power and dominion? Why is it we sympathize with sin rather than contend with it? It is no wonder the world mocks the sad state of much of the church today. It is time to turn again unto Him who is able to present us faultless before His unutterable glory!
“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…”
Wherever the heartbeat of a living faith resides there is a quest for victory, a pursuit for the righteousness of Christ. This can only be known by those who live under His Lordship. Where He reigns, sin flees.
As we take our place as humble disciples in the school of Christ He will direct and teach us to live by His resources, free from our internal struggles and bitterness. It is in this school that we learn His way to keep our garments white even while we walk amidst the corruptions of this world. We learn through failure and repentance. We walk on, trusting and giving heed to the Living Word which cuts and heals, breaks and mends, until we live free in Christ.
Sadly, many would rather live a “declared righteousness” and see little need to keep their garments clean. They are content with compromise, sporadic and inconsistent living, and a faith lacking in the wonder of Him.
“Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy”
Revelation 3:4 (ESV)
God Himself laments that there were only a few who kept their garments white. It is to such that overcome God gives the promise of walking with Him in the whiteness of His Spirit. May we hear His call to keep our garments clean, looking “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” Revelation 16:15
“Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better”
– Jonathan Edward
The earnest Christian is intent upon the growth and the development of our walk and life in Him. It is Him we seek to please, glorify and honour. We were created for His pleasure and it is to such an end that we seek to walk circumspectly. His love in us is the only means by which we live right and walk right. Love is the only motive which is capable of pleasing Him.
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God…”
2 Corinthians 6:4
“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light…”
There are deep truths and graces which can only be known and understood in the night seasons. God has purposed specific lessons, along with dispensations of mercy, for each of us which are discovered as we walk through dark places. It is in those trying and desperate times that we are weaned from the distraction of other things. Our sight is limited, and the silence is disconcerting. God seems distant and we are left with little but our own thoughts and perplexities. It is then that God draws near to unveil Himself and reveal His greatness and purposes to us.
David had learned of this when he declared in Psalm 139 this magnificent truth:
“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee”
Scriptures are full of the visitations of God in the night seasons. They testify of the wrestling within whereby Jacobs become Israels. They speak of strength and hope being ministered to His own in their pilgrimages and wanderings in lonely and desolate places. Foundations are established, callings confirmed, and hearts renewed in the faithfulness of our God. Who cannot but praise the One who visits us in such places!
“And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night… Saying fear not…”
It was during the night that God called Samuel to be a light in the desolation of Israel because of a backslidden and adulterous priesthood. It was in the night that Jesus came walking upon the stormy seas to call His disciples unto Himself.
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea… And he said (to Peter), Come”
As David’s history with God developed over the years he began to speak of his own personal “night watches” where he meditated upon God. He remembered his God and listened for Him to speak and comfort him within the depths of his soul.
“When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches”
Do not fear the night seasons for hidden within are the personal and private disclosures of His purposes for you. Out of these times men and women of faith emerge with renewed strength to meet the New Day and declare in the light the truths received in their own night season.
“And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan… ” Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord…”
2 Samuel 7:4
“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 he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”
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.”
“But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house”
“And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
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”
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”
What did this intensity of heart look like?
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily”
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”
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…”
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
“Think for a moment how Jesus was at home among the things of His Father.
What was His place of prayer? Not the Temple, but the mountaintop.
Where does He find symbols whereby to speak of what goes on in the mind and before the face of His Father in heaven? Not in the Temple. Not in its rites, not on its altars, not in its Holy of Holies. Rather He finds them in the world and its lovely, lowly facts–on the roadside, in the field, in the vineyard, in the garden, in the house, in the family, and in the commonest of affairs: the lighting of the lamp, the leavening of the meal, the neighbors borrowing, the losing of a coin, the straying of a sheep.
See how He drives the devils from the souls and bodies of men, as we the wolves from our sheepfolds!
The World has for Him no chamber of terror. He walks to the door of the sepulcher, the sealed cellar of His Father’s house, and calls forth its four days dead. The roughest of the world’s servants do not make Him wince; none of them is so arrogant as to disobey Him. He falls asleep in the midst of the storm that threatens to swallow His boat. Hear how, on that same occasion, He rebukes His disciples! What, the children to tremble at a gust of wind in the house! God’s little ones afraid of a storm! Hear Him tell the watery floor to be still! See how the wandering creatures under it come at His call! See how the world’s water turns to wine! How its bread grows more bread at His word! See how He goes from the house for a while, and returning with fresh power, takes what shape He pleases, walks through its closed doors, and goes up and down its invisible stairs!
All His life He was among His Father’s things, either in heaven or in the world–not only when His parents found Him in the Temple at Jerusalem.
He is still among His Father’s things, everywhere about in the world, everywhere throughout the wide universe. Whatever He laid aside to come to us, to whatever limitations He stooped, He dealt with the things about Him in such a lordly, childlike manner as made it clear they were not strange to Him, but the things of His Father.
He claimed none of them as His own, would not have had one of them His except through His Father. Only as His Father’s could He enjoy them–only as coming forth from the Father, and full of the Father’s thought and nature. That the things were His Father’s made them precious things to Him. He had no care for having, as men count having.
All His having was in the Father.
To be lord of space, a man must be free from bonds to place. To be heir of all things, His heart must have no things in it. He must be like Him who makes things, not like one who would put everything in his pocket. He must stand on the upper, not the lower side of them. He must be as the man who makes poems, not the man who gathers books of verse…
Oh, for His liberty among the things of the Father! Only by knowing them as the things of our Father can we escape enslaving ourselves to them. Through the false, the infernal idea of having, of possessing them, make we them our tyrants, make the relation between them and us an evil thing.”
– George MacDonald from an article titled: “Jesus, Son in His Father’s House”
“As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;
as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things“
2 Corinthians 6:10
In losing we gain, in giving we receive and in dying we live. In having Him we are free to let go of all other things. We are to be faithful to things He gives us as stewards and yet entirely free from their hold on us.