Quote for Today
“Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow.”
– J.C. Ryle
“Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow.”
– J.C. Ryle
“One cause of spiritual death is self-satisfaction. A traveler lost on the prairie, with the snow falling fast and thick, with his blood coursing slowly, feels that sense of ease which the opium-eater knows. He lies down in the soft white drifts. They make an easy bed. His friends find him and try to arouse him. He would rather be left undisturbed. His self-satisfaction works his death. King George III. was satisfied with his government of the American colonies; he therefore refused to remedy its abuses, and his satisfaction cost him these colonies. Upon all who are satisfied with their standing before God the chill of spiritual death has begun to rest. They can no more draw spiritual life from themselves, than one can feed his body by sucking blood from its veins. Therefore, satisfied with their relation to God, they do not strive to gain life from Him who is the source of the life spiritual, as He is of the life physical. Their self-satisfaction works the ruin of their souls
But more frequently than by self-satisfaction is the spiritual life killed by the indulgence of some sin. Many a man has felt he could surrender his entire property to God; but when the temptation arose of making a hundred dollars by a trick of the trade, he has chosen to be dishonest. But the sin may not be one of commission. It may consist in the omission of some duty. It may consist in the refusal of some means of grace. It may consist in the preference of doing nothing to advance God’s cause. Such sins of omission deaden the spiritual life. But in general the sin consists in the choice of some other good than the good which the Christian life affords.”
“I remember the time when I was afraid to die…. But on coming to Christ and being saved by him, I passed from that state to another, that of being afraid to live, for I feared that if I lived I might do something that would dishonor the Lord, and I would rather die a hundred times than do such a thing. But thanks be to God, I did not remain long in this state, for I saw clearly that it was possible to live in the world without dishonoring God”
– Robert Chapman
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Slumber and the Spirit of God
“And he awoke out of his sleep, and said,
I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself.
And he knew not that the LORD was departed from him”
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference”
“For WE must all appear
before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done,
whether it be good or bad”
2 Corinthians 5:10
Contrary to much of the teaching of our day we are to live righteously and to admonish one another to keep His Fire burning in our hearts. If we succumb to the world and its ways we will not desire nor seek out the fellowship of others who will hold us accountable. It is in our hearts knowing that we must all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ whereby we desire the true fellowship in order to grow and walk in righteousness. They who are of the night have no inclination for these things.
The revelation of the life of those who claim to be His is known by the environment and the relationships they choose.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:
but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness
without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline,
Communion without confession,
absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross,
grace without Jesus Christ”
“…for now I know that thou fearest God”
In the context of this scripture Abraham’s obedience was offered to God in the spirit of faith and wonder. It was in the doing that God acknowledged the validity of Abraham’s Faith. Many hold faith in the intellect but it is in the crucible of doing that God acknowledges the weight of our fear of Him, love of Him and trust in Him.
A faith that does not give birth to works is a faith not worth the words in which it is spoken.
“My little children, let us not love in word,
neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
The deeds are the verification of the substance of the love/faith that birthed them.
God’s declaration of “now I know…” is His testimony, His speaking of divine favor upon Abraham’s faith. The God who never changes is ever ready to give His witness to the reality of our offerings to Him when they proceed from honest and willing hearts.
“And these all,
having obtained a good report through faith”
“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will,
and prepared not himself,
neither did according to his will,
shall be beaten with many stripes”
A Word to those who feel secure in being part of the remnant. The remnant are they who prepare themselves for the DAY that is upon us. The remnant are they whose obedience is full; for Obedience is the revelation of our submission to Him! God is not interested in what we know or think we know; HE covers those who hide themselves in HIM.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
2 Corinthians 5:17
The depth of our being in Him is correspondingly expressed by the new life which is exhibited in our daily living*. This is a word to God’s people. This is a word concerning today. Somehow we have to come to think that being born again is like a “get out of jail free” card; we no longer have responsibility or accountability for how we live our daily lives. The context of this scripture is one that should cause us to radically consider our ways and our concept of what it means to be His own.
“But and if that servant say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” LUKE 12:45-48
From these very words we can clearly see that HE REQUIRES MORE of His people than of the world. The more we know of HIS Kingdom the more shall be required of us. Greater understanding brings greater accountability. Rather than being puffed up with knowledge we need to be sober and filled with fear and trembling as we walk before Him. The “fear of the Lord is the beginning (chief part) of wisdom”. Men who do not fear Him do not know Him. Men who seek and desire preeminent places of standing, who seek recognition and favor from others, know not God. It is a day to walk lowly and humbly before our God. It is a day to prepare ourselves for the fury of that which is about to break forth in our land.
The Greek word used here for prepare** is the same Greek word translated in the Gospels when speaking of John the Baptist’s ministration as a fore runner to prepare the way of the Lord. It is a warning to us that we are to be prepared. In the Greek it is an active verb which means it is incumbent upon us to be ACTIVE in the fulfilling of this word. The judgment comes to those who do not PREPARE themselves and they who know and do not are in greater judgment than those who knew not. Let us take heed to this. Let us know that our boldness in the day of Judgment is determined by our likeness to 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”
How we are in this world determines our day of Judgment. The Day of preparation is all about the heart. It is about right motives and intentions; for it is the PURE IN HEART who shall SEE GOD. Our greatest need in this hour is to SEE HIM for that is the only hope we have of becoming like HIM (2 Corinthians 3:18). Malachi prophesying of our day speaks of Him coming to His people as a refiner’s fire…
“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: And he shall sit
as a refiner and purifier of silver…”
The DAY of HIS appearing is unfolding before our eyes. The distress of nations is upon us. Fear is beginning to grip men’s hearts. The very foundations of society are being removed and men do not know where to put their trust. It is for this Day that the scriptures warn us to be a people who ARE preparing ourselves and are warning those around us as to the day and the hour in which we are living. It is not the Day for business as usual. This is no time for routine Sunday sermons and fire-less prayer meetings; casual Biblical discussions that do not bring conviction, the fear of the Lord and a stirring of the heart unto love and devotion to Jesus.
Many will say in that day “Lord, Lord…” to which Jesus will respond “I never knew you…”
May God stir our hearts afresh to be vigilant and sober that we be not overtaken by the slumber and apathy of this hour.
“Prepare ye the Way of the Lord”
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”
It is in view of these truths that I am sending this out to anyone anywhere who desires to meet together, seek His face and cry out unto Him for change, purity of heart and to be found completely HID in Him. Many are seeing the apathy all around us but somewhere we MUST come to a new abiding place in Him. A knowing of a fresh new faith which brings His resources to us in order that we may live beyond our own abilities. There is a call going forth to gather ourselves unto Him even as Anna and Simeon who spent their days in prayer for they KNEW HE was coming; and they saw HIM!
God’s Word to me the other day…
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”
This was Noah’s portion BEFORE the Flood.
“Come together, make everyone come together, O nation without shame; Before the Lord sends you violently away in flight like the waste from the grain; before the burning wrath of the Lord comes on you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes on you. Make search for the Lord, all you quiet ones of the earth, who have done what is right in his eyes; make search for righteousness and a quiet heart: it may be that you will be safely covered in the day of the Lord’s wrath”
Zephaniah 2:1-3 (BBE)
1. To make ready, prepare
2. To make the necessary preparations,
get everything ready
3 Metaphorically drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before Kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable (Isaiah 40:3-4)
To prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings.
BLB Greek Lexicon
“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher,
and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles”
2 Timothy 1:11
Those appointed of God know definitively His divine call upon their lives. The “Christian” experience is not to be one of aimless wandering in some religious wilderness. Those who know their God feel the weight of His call; they are not left to their own ways and choices. There is a sense of accountability deep within their being. While others may go and do, seemingly at will, such is not the life of the called.
Paul in his Epistles declares over and over that his apostolic expression is “not by the will of men”. It is a call that requires separation and obedience. It is a call to God Himself and not to an organization, ministry or selfish motives. God’s call leaves room for no one but Himself. Without hearing and responding to His call we will wander in a barren land without a sense of purpose.
It takes little effort, even in casual conversation, to recognize one who knows the Call of God. There is a fire, a passion and a desire for an apprehension of those things to be accomplished in their lives. There is an intensity that transcends the status quo of attending meetings, hearing messages and having casual religious conversations. Paul cries out with this intensity that he might “…apprehend that for which he had been apprehended”. This cry is not the result of a teaching. The cry is the result of the call. Without the call there is no drive to apprehend; no sense of being held accountable to fulfill His call. Meetings, conferences and sermons will easily satisfy those to whom the call has become distant and dim. The fire fades and the need to obtain and fulfill His purpose loses its hold upon the reins of their life. Retirement and comfort becomes more important than fulfilling the call. Those in whom the fire has gone out distance themselves from those who challenge them to rise up and press into their call.
How good and precious is the fear of the Lord! It holds us to our course. It keeps us attentive to the things of Him in our life. We are constantly stirred by the keeping power of His Spirit to stay on task concerning our portion in Him. It is here, as we seek out others with this fire and intensity, that we discover the real purpose of fellowship. The glory of knowing the call of God brings a sense of walking in an appointed way. This brings a certainty of purpose in the challenges of life.
“And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God,
to them who are THE CALLED
according to HIS PURPOSE”
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery,
even the hidden wisdom, which God
ordained before the world unto our glory”
1 Corinthians 2:7
Salvation and the Entrance into the Kingdom
Is a Journey and a Life,
Not an Event
The subtlety of religion is to start out well but not finish well; to begin in the good and perfect way but become relaxed and satisfied or consumed with the concerns and affairs of this life. We need to read often the parable of the sower and the various soils into which the life of Christ was sown. Paul, speaking of himself, declares…
“But I keep under my body,
and bring it into subjection:
lest that by any means,
when I have preached to others,
I myself should be a castaway”
1 Corinthians 9:27
We are reminded throughout the New Testament that salvation is the on-going work of the Spirit of God in our lives. Paul speaking to the Church of God at Phillipi says,
“Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure…”
The working out of our salvation is the result of God working in. A life that has become inactive and lukewarm ceases to work out His working in. It becomes slothful and complacent and in the end unfaithful and impotent. It is to such that God speaks judgment and sorrow as to the unfaithful servant who was given the one talent…
“His lord answered and said unto him,
Thou wicked and slothful servant…
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
The Fear of the Lord
The Secret of True and Vital Prayer
The entrance into the Kingdom of God requires much diligence and above all a healthy fear of the Lord. His Spirit calls and beckons every man to the fear and awe of Him.
“For that they hated knowledge,
and did not choose the fear of the LORD”
The religious man cloaks himself in religious phrases, religious activities, prayer meetings, out reaches, church activities and other such “works” all the while ignoring the inward working of faith which would bring him to obedience and the way of the Lord. The prayer of the Pharisee…
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess”
Notice that this man “prayed thus with himself “! His prayers never left his lips; God was not listening. Prayer without obedience, prayer without the brokenness of heart that comes from knowing to Whom we speak, and the infusion of faith whereby we touch the substance and reality of His heart, are merely the echoes of a vain and impotent religion.
Here Jesus is praying to the Father:
“Who in the days of his flesh,
when he had offered up prayers and supplications
with strong crying and tears unto him
that was able to save him from death,
and was heard in that he feared;
Though he were a Son,
yet learned he obedience…”
The very prayers of Jesus were offered in the fear of the Lord and in a life of obedience! Such things are too deep for me but these are the truths of the life of the Son. If they are true in Him, then it must become the reality within my own life. For He who became my sin did so that I may become His righteousness and a living participant within the great mystery of God.
THE PURSUIT OF THE MARK
This life of becoming is the sum and substance of the Kingdom of God. The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares emphatically…
“Let us therefore fear,
lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest,
any of you should seem to come short of it”
This is the attitude of heart of those who would enter into the fullness of God. It is a heart which is so in love with Him that to fall short of His purposes, to displease Him, to miss Him in the full purpose and desire for our life is an unthinkable tragedy. Not because of judgement but because of love and the great desire to please and honour Him. This is the heart with which Paul wrote to the Philippians…
“Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow after,
if that I may apprehend that
for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded,
God shall reveal even this unto you”
Any one in Christ who is not pursuing this one thing the Spirit declares that “God shall reveal even this unto you”. To be otherwise minded is to miss the mark in our walk with God. It is to this end we are called and in the seeing of this we are overwhelmed with the enormity of His Call and the greatness of our need for Him and one another. We recognize the need to meet with one another, to participate in the working out of that mystery through the means of fellowship and the ministration of truth. Men who are satisfied with meetings and Bible studies in which the fire and the presence of God is missing reveal a lack of truth and honesty. The ministration of encouragement and exhortation is for those who desire truth within the inward man; a desire for transparency and authenticity over a mere appearance of righteousness.
Paul’s Specific Purpose
“TO MAKE MEN SEE”
The Building Up of the One Body in Christ
Paul in describing the purpose for which the grace of God was given to him declares…
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,
is THIS grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And to make all men see
what is the fellowship of the mystery,
which from the beginning of the world
hath been hid in God,
who created all things by Jesus Christ”
The cry of Paul’s heart was to make all men see what is their participation (Greek word for fellowship) in the mystery! Men without a sense of the mystery have no desire to fellowship in this manner. They see no purpose in meeting and functioning with others in the power and wonder of His Holy Spirit. This mystery is the Christ in me, interacting with the Christ in you, each member functioning within the call and the expression given by God whereby we grow into the very fullness and stature of the risen Christ! How can we settle for a gathering of His people if this functioning and ministration of His life between members of the Body is not a reality? Paul goes on in his epistle to say…
“But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together
and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,
maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love”
This coming together in the power of His Life begins with “speaking the Truth in Love”. The fullness and increase of this corporate expression will be “according to” (in proportion to) the effectual working (functioning) of every part (member). We can preach, teach, pray and strategize all we want; this living reality will only come by the functioning of every part. Any ministry, whether an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher that does not have this beating within his heart is failing the call of God. The true heart of Christ within a man desires to see the Body of Christ arise in His fullness. Men who seek to hold the pre-eminent place within a gathering of God’s people have missed the mind and heart of Jesus. We are called to present unto Christ a chaste virgin, a spotless bride, a people who are fully attentive unto Him. How dare the ministries of God seek the attention and love of His sheep! “He must increase; I must decrease” was the heart of John the Baptist; so should it be with all who minister Him. We must function in such a way as to so present the living Christ to men that their obedience and affections are fully centered upon Jesus not a man.
The Means By Which The Body of Christ Is Realized
A picture of true ministry is revealed by an incident recorded in John’s Gospel…
“Again the next day after John stood,
and two of his disciples;
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith,
Behold the Lamb of God!
And the two disciples heard him speak,
and they followed Jesus”
Do men really want this? Do the ministers of God and the multitudes of church organizations across the land really desire this one thing; for men to rise up and follow Jesus? Our part is to declare “Behold the Lamb of God” and to do it in such a way that men actually rise up to follow Him. We are here to make Him known. Those to whom we minister should hear us speak and then rise up and follow Jesus! How simple and pure ministry is to be! The sad part is that men, their organizations, and their own desire of recognition corrupt this simple truth and lead men to follow them and to “support” their ministry rather than the development of others in their own ministrations.
The other issue in our day is that men want to follow others and support other people; for growing into their own functioning ministry is fraught with personal accountability, obedience and faith. It is much easier to simply sit in a pew and absolve themselves of this responsibility. In gatherings where there are no ministrations of life, the power and presence of God is lacking and men remain undeveloped and immature.
The mystery of God will never be known and realized without this ministry one to another. Paul, as great and powerful as his ministry was, declared “That we with all saints might know…” He understood that his knowing of the depths, the power and fullness of God would only be realized with all saints. Those who have seen and touched the hem of His Glory know that His fullness can only be revealed in a Body, not an individual. It will take the full functioning of every member to embrace and contain the glory of the new wine. There is no room for elite little groups any more than there is for mega churches to think they can contain this Mystery. Peter and his fellow believers were meeting together and there began a religious segregation of the Jews withdrawing from the Gentiles to form a little clique. A young newcomer rebuked Peter for straying from the truth. Peter was faced with repenting and acknowledging his error or citing his position as “chief apostle” to ignore the rebuke. Peter, to his credit, repented at the rebuke of Paul. The fivefold ministry (Ephesians 4:13) is to bring the people of God unto “the unity of the faith” not to separate His people unto themselves! The fivefold ministry will remain in the church until this is accomplished.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the (their) work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Any ministry that has not this one goal in mind has missed the purpose and the call of God. Any ministration that is content with the status quo of a divided church, drawn unto men and organizations and the kingdom building of those who seek honour for themselves, will be subject to the judgments of God. All things are unto the Son, and it is He alone who is to have the pre-eminence in our midst. The scriptures declare prophetically “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” and it is the responsibility of all the people of God to see this come to pass!
Our understanding of the Mystery of God is revealed by what we do not by what we say. Jesus said those who “speak of themselves or from themselves, seek their own glory” but those who labour by the Spirit of Christ glorify and honour Him. It is the day of the Revelation of Christ; an hour when men will declare by their actions whether they are His or mere hirelings who seek out their own glory. This house will be finished.
This Mystery of God will be accomplished!
“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel,
when he shall begin to sound,
the mystery of God should be finished,
as he hath declared to his servants the prophets”
“Then, indeed, the churches
throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace,
having been built up and having gone on in the fear of the Lord.
And they were increased in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”
ACTS 9:31 (LITV)
The prospering and growth of the early Church was characterized by peace, being built up (edified) and a going on in the fear of the Lord; because of that they were increased in the comfort (<παράκλησις> a calling near) of the Holy Spirit. The stark difference between then and now of the Body of Christ is revealed in the contrast between the ways of men and the WAY of the Holy Spirit.
• 1. There was peace. The striving of men to build their own kingdom, ministry and influence was not prevalent. The environment of the Early Church was the unity of Spirit being revealed in oneness of heart and Spirit. The ministration of life through each individual was always for the building up of the Ekklesia, not one’s self.
• 2. The building up of the Body was the purpose of each member. In the atmosphere of the functioning of the individual members there was a ministration of the heart of the Son to see each member grow in God.
• 3. The reason that the above characteristics were true and real is because they “were going on in the fear of the Lord”. The true fear of the Lord creates an indelible and powerful ministration of a Holy Accountability unto the King of kings! It destroys apathy, disobedience, faithless inactivity and self seeking. It causes men to OBEY Him from the very depths of their being. It judges the false and pretentious works of men’s religion (Ananias and Sapphira). These judgments are those that make known the righteousness of God and reveal the truth of His Holiness.
• 4. The fruit of such an environment was an increase and multiplication of the Church through the calling near of the Holy Spirit drawing men and women to a greater relationship with their God.
The enormity of the contrast between then and now should convict us of the need for heartfelt repentance, a changing of our ways, and a fresh seeking of our God. (Ephesians 4:14)
The “Fear of the Lord” was the atmosphere of the Early Church. It was the air they breathed and the governing power of every man’s life. This begs the question…how long can we continue in the apathy and religion of our day? How can we continue in this contradiction of the knowledge that our God is a consuming fire while listening to endless sermons that never mention our sin or need for accountability to a Holy God? Where are the cries of “SEND THE FIRE, SEND THE FIRE”?
SEND THE FIRE
Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
-William Booth –