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Posts Tagged ‘obedience’

Thought for Today

The Crucible and the Crown

“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ”
Philemon 1:1

Paul though bound in prison by order of the Roman government never saw Himself as such. His life and all that pertained to it had been fully given to God and His purposes therefore the circumstances were seen as attendant to God’s will.

Absolute surrender is the means to Godly Contentment

It is the surrendered life which is the victorious life. Paul could have called on lawyers and had petitions signed on his behalf to extricate himself from his situation; but it was his surrender to God that freed him from the bitterness of the moment. This victory in Christ can only be realized in the validity of our transaction with God. The rest of God comes with the surrender to God.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things:
nevertheless I am not ashamed:
for I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that he is able to keep
that which I have committed unto him against that day
2 Timothy 1:12

God’s keeping power comes from the persuasion that we know in Whom we have placed our trust. It enables His Own to see that the crucible is the means to the crown.

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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Called with Purpose

“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
Romans 8:28

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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Walking in the Spirit

THE WAY INTO THE CALL

Part Two

“Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
Galatians 5:16

In the previous article (See Part One) we introduced the standard of what it means to walk and live in the Holy Spirit. At the thought of the enormity of such a call men and women tend to close their hearts to this reality. The power to live up to this standard is far beyond the capacity of our own resources. This seems an unattainable “ideal” rather than the call of God to all who are in Christ Jesus. We have been tainted by the presentation of a “gospel” today that declares the only difference between a saved and an unsaved individual is that one has been forgiven. This is a repulsive and derogatory declaration of all that God has purposed in Christ.

“Therefore, Christ having suffered for us in the flesh, also you arm yourselves with the same thought, that he suffering in the flesh has been made to rest from sin, for him no longer to live in the lusts of men, but to live the remaining time in the flesh in the will of God. For the time of life having passed is sufficient for us to have worked out the will of the nations, having gone on in wantonness, lusts…”
1 Peter 4:1-3 (LITV)

God has called us out of darkness with the intent we may live and walk righteously. He has also made the provision for us to do so. The New Covenant reveals a “new law” by which this walk is now attainable. To be called to a high and holy walk without the resources of the living Christ would be the same dispensation (only more impossible) as the Old Covenant! The New Covenant is one of provision and substance; He who calls is the same One who fulfills the call within those who hear His voice and obey Him. The provision is always bound up within the call. As we obey His power is given to rise up and walk in a manner beyond our own resources. We see clear pictures of this in both the Old and the New Testaments. When the feet of the priests stepped into the flooding river it parted. When Peter stepped out of the boat he walked upon the water. When the disciples distributed the five loaves and two fishes the multitudes were fed. The examples go on and on. In Christ we have the full provision to live godly lives, to grow, develop and become, in reality, His expression in the earth.

“For the saving grace of God has appeared to all men,
instructing us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live discreetly and righteously
and godly in the present age”
Titus 2:11-12

The “saving grace of God” instructs us to deny ungodly living and worldly lusts to the end that we should live righteously in this world! Righteousness is the product of God’s grace within our lives. It is His grace at work in our hearts to live above and beyond our own pitiful resources. It is not by the works of the law but by the power of His grace in us through the medium of faith.

In Romans, chapter 7, we are presented with the agony of anyone who tries to walk a life of righteousness by their own resources. It is the struggle of one who desires to walk uprightly but lacks the power and might to do so. Paul ends this sordid description with the cry “who shall deliver me…”. The encouraging part of this question is “who” not “what”. Those on the verge of true deliverance come to the realization that their hope of deliverance is no longer in something; inherently there is the recognition of a need for someone. So many today look for answers from the medical field, counsellors, self-help strategies and other things to deliver them from their plight. Jesus is our salvation, our deliverer and our only hope of living uprightly.

Paul in his discourse continues from Romans 7 into the beauty and power of Romans 8! He moves on from the anguish of human inability into the very power and life of the Son. He takes us from the “Law of sin and death” into the “Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”! The Law of sin and death is one of desiring to live right but utterly failing due to the weakness of the flesh to live spiritually. Earlier Paul had stated that the “Law” was spiritual (Romans 7:14). The flesh being of a fallen nature had no capacity or ability to fulfill a spiritual law. Hence the New Covenant was introduced.

“For the law being powerless,
in that it was weak through the flesh,
God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,
and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh”
Romans 8:3

The powerlessness of the Law was revealed in our inability to walk in it. God has never abandoned the righteousness of the Law! His end remains unchanged; however his means to that end has changed. His answer to us is a “New Law” which now becomes our provision so that the “righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in US”! What is that New Law? (It is better to ask, Who is that New Law?) His Name is Jesus! Paul continues from Romans 8:3 to the next verse…

“So that the righteous demand of the law
might be fulfilled in us,
those not walking according to flesh,
but according to Spirit”
Romans 8:4 (LITV)

This fulfillment of the righteousness of the Law as a reality in our life requires us to live and walk in the Spirit of God! Paul could not have presented to us a clearer message of the power of salvation to which we have access by Christ Jesus our Lord. The provision has been made. The issue of sin has been eradicated and the way forward is offered to all who would plunge themselves into the reality of being hid with Christ in God.

“Whereunto he called you by our gospel,
to the obtaining of the glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ”
2 Thessalonians 2:14

“Obtaining” means the acquiring and laying hold of something. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians describes his life of intense pursuit as the “one thing”.

“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”
Philippians 3:12-14

Paul follows this with this admonition to God’s people…

“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect,
be thus minded: and if in any thing
you be otherwise minded,
God shall reveal even this unto you
Philippians 3:15

Those who are open to the voice and the teaching of God’s Spirit will be of this mind. It is the very premise and purpose of the New Covenant.

“For the law made nothing perfect,
but the bringing in of a better hope did;
by the which we draw nigh unto God”
Hebrews 7:19

This “better hope” allows us to “draw nigh” unto our God. The Word is clear and the means is sure because God who cannot lie has promised us with an oath that these things are true.

“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things,
be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace,
without spot, and blameless”
2 Peter 3:14

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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SERVING JESUS

“If any man serve me, let him follow me;
and where I am, there shall also my servant be:
if any man serve me, him will my Father honour”
John 12:26

The central theme to which Jesus kept directing His disciples was relationship to Him. The great deception of religion is that men and women serve an organization, a doctrine, a teacher or even worse themselves. Here Jesus points to the essential cornerstone of true service unto Him: “let him follow me”. It is in following Him that we become separated unto Him. The “cross” of the individual believer is simply defined by a life of following Him. While many are willing to do strenuous religious observances, fasting, long prayer meetings, conferences and seemingly good works the issue remains one of following Him. The cross of Christ was in doing the will of the Father. In this place of true servitude the Son glorified the Father. It is in our being “yoked” with Him that our lives will in truth glorify the Son. Knowledge of the scriptures must give way to relationship with the Son. Knowledge alone of the Son will never make a person free nor bring about the true experiential knowing of Him within the human heart.

Throughout the scriptures we see that many stopped following Him because of the cost of the Way. The Scribes and Pharisees had no problem with long prayers, religious observances and the rites and rituals of the religious system but they failed to follow Him. In following Him they would have come to the crossroad of serving self or serving God. It is here that the truth of one’s heart is revealed. In this day of the great Apostasy the hearts of many are growing cold and unresponsive to Him and His Word. The forms of truth are retained but the active daily following of Him is replaced by the love of this world, by the busyness of religious programs, and in living a life of self-interest; this culminates in a life that no longer follows Him. Freedom from self with all of its wretched ways and miserable ends can only be found in the following of Him. To truly follow Him requires a forsaking of self. Religion is the “opiate of the masses”; it offers the appearance of a thing without the substance of the thing. It offers the sayings of Jesus without the required obedience to His words. It calls Him Lord but affords its adherents the means to escape actual obedience to Him by the soothing of the conscience with the very words of scripture. Early in Jesus’ life Satan came with great power and temptation by quoting the scriptures so that Jesus might seek to “save” His life supernaturally for all to see (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus refuted such temptation as He was not here to fulfill His will. His purpose was to fulfill the will of the Father.

There can be no true serving of Jesus without a life of actively following Him. It is evident that we are in the time of the great falling away. It is a very subtle and deadly affair of the heart when men and women cling to the words of Jesus without the following of Him. The subtlety of such a life is called deception and it is the way of spiritual decay and death. We remain static while He moves on in the will and the glory of the Father. We hear many say that God does not answer prayer. The wonder of His presence is lacking and in most places not even expected. We have become accustomed to the forms of religion without His presence and power. It is not because He has forsaken us; it is that we have ceased as a people to “follow Him”. He declares to the Church at Ephesus:

“But I have against you
that you left your first love…”
Revelation 2:4

The verse preceding this one states “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience…” The works continued but the love faded. The forsaking of their “first love” (pre-eminent love) was so critical to their place in God that His judgement upon such a people was the removal of His presence from their midst. The reason for the cooling of the heart of His people is the result of iniquity abounding.

“And because iniquity shall abound,
the love of many shall wax cold”
Matthew 24:12

The Greek word translated iniquity here does not fully imply gross sin. It speaks of lawlessness in that instead of obeying the commandments of Jesus we subtly set them aside declaring that we are now under grace. It is through the horror of this deceptive teaching that we are seeing the fervent love of many growing cold and indifferent. It is we who have forsaken the good and right way. The church has embraced teachers who bring in damnable heresies that turn His people from following Him to the serving of self and other things. We call Him Lord yet we set aside His commandments to obey the traditions and teachings of men. WE HAVE MADE THE WORD OF GOD OF NON-EFFECT! It is our own doing and God’s remedy is repentance and the return to our primary love.

“”This people honors Me with the lips,
but their heart is far away from Me; and in vain they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Isa. 29:13 8)
For forsaking the commandment of God,
you hold the tradition of men”
Mark 7:7-8

God has a simple answer for this generation and this time. It is the simplicity of obeying His commandments and following Him.

“If ye keep my commandments,
ye shall abide in my love”
John 15:10

The teaching of a grace that absolves His people from obedience to the commands of Jesus is a lie and deception of the devil himself! If we do not repent we will stand in the judgement of God as they who once knew the truth and turned away. This is the picture presented to us in the Parable of the Sower where the soil which grew weeds of the cares of self and this life and choked out the precious seed. This truth is presented throughout the New Testament to those who started out well yet grew cold and indifferent to Him in the end.

“For if by a full knowledge of the Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ, they have escaped the defilements of the world,
and again being entangled they have been overcome by these,
then their last things have become worse than the first.
For it was better for them not to have fully known
the way of righteousness, than fully knowing to turn from
the holy commandment delivered to them”
2 Peter 2:20-21 (LITV)

Let us find Grace in this day to finish the race which is set before us. Let us not grow weary in our following of Him for we shall surely reap if we faint not.

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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The Sanctified Ear

“Moses took of the blood of it,
and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear…”
Leviticus 8:23

“Take heed therefore how ye hear:
for whosoever hath, to him shall be given;
and whosoever hath not,
from him shall be taken even
that which he seemeth to have
Luke 8:18

The sanctified ear brings one to the place of not only hearing His voice but of hearing it correctly. This hearing is coupled with obedience. In religious circles there is much information and often good and right teachings. The subtle challenge of our day is not so much what we hear, it is how we hear. True hearing must be accompanied with the corresponding act of obedience. It keeps the individual in a habitat of movement and change. A static Christian experience is not possible for the very call of Christ is for us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Following denotes movement and keeps us in an active state of attending unto Him in everyday life. No matter how demanding the business world, our home life or our secret life, there is watchfulness required that transcends all of these other things. The sanctified ear is set apart for Him, above all the noise and demands of this life, alert to His Call and His Will.

The authentic Christian life is one of being ”on call” and active in response to Him. Sensitivity to His voice grows as we hear and obey Him in even the little things of life. Integrity in business, selflessness in responding to the needs of others, going out of our way to bring a word of encouragement or exhortation to another even in the face of opposition, are all indicators of a healthy Christian walk. The phrase “take heed how ye hear” contains a warning that we can lose what we seem to have. Hearing without obedience brings a deception of thinking that because we know something we have something.

“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer,
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was”
James 1:23-24

The hearing of a good thing without the corresponding action leaves one in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty. It causes men and women to be tentative and filled with perplexity in their walk as Christians.

“Take heed how you hear” is the warning of Jesus to every one of us. It is a phrase intentionally set at the end of the Parable of the Sower. Time has a way of passing quickly and “take heed how you hear” is His exhortation to all of us to be watchful that we do not fall into the subtlety of routine and religion. The sanctified ear is God’s answer to the deception of our hearts. It is His way of keeping us from the narrowness and comfort of our own tendencies. This error (implied in the Greek for the word deception in James) is insidious in its workings. Not only we as individuals are susceptible but even more so in any type of corporate Christian gatherings. There is a blindness that can creep in of such delusion that without a strong prophetic ministration (often times from the outside) it may become ingrown and closed to others who do not “see the truth” as they do.

In Luke’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus’ parents going up to Jerusalem for the yearly feasts and then returning home.

“But they, supposing him (Jesus)
to have been in the company…”

Luke 2:44

They assumed He was with them. After all He was with them as they went to the feast and He had been with them since. They took for granted he was still with them. This is a warning to His people, especially those who have been gathering for a long time. There is an assumption that He is with us, for we are meeting and doing what we have been doing for a long time; God was with us in the past so surely He must still be with us. This is especially true for groups and organizations that in the past have had moves or stirrings of the Spirit. Yet over time the Son has moved on and they are unaware that anything has changed. The Son does not abide in a certain place. He is ever about His Father’s business. It is incumbent upon us to follow Him and not to presume He is with us! The difference between the two has eternal consequences. Obedience is a journey filled with movement, change and growth. He is ever calling us out of the “boat”; out from the other disciples to walk upon the water unto Him* (Matthew 14:25-32). It is here where we reveal whether we are His disciples or mere adherents to a teaching, doctrine or religious association. The beauty of this story in Luke is that when they discovered He was not with them they forsook their “company”* and sought Him out. He will always be found doing his Father’s business. We must be willing to do the same regardless of our relationships and understandings with others with whom we have fellowship.

“Take heed how you hear” is the living truth which must abide in our hearts continually. For He is our Way, He is our Truth and in the knowing of Him in these things He will also Become our LIFE which is what we have been called to.

“Take heed to how ye hear”
Luke 8:18

*Note: Obedience to Jesus is paramount in our walk; all true relationships with our brothers and sisters are to be based upon Him being our head. When Peter rose up out of the boat he was not forsaking the others in terms of relationship but he was stepping out in a living response to Jesus. True relationships that are the result of a vital connection with Jesus are never interrupted by such obedience. Relationships built upon a teaching or a religious affiliation will always be in opposition to the ways and the will of God. The essential thing in the life of the true disciple is our obedience unto Him. Religion brings conformity but the living way of God brings transformation; one is static the other is living.

“So David went on his way,
and Saul returned to his place
1 Samuel 26:25

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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The Mystery of God

Part Two

“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…”
Philippians 2:12

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”
Matthew 25:24-30

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”
Proverbs 1:29

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”
Luke 18:11

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…”
Hebrews 5:7-8

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”
Hebrews 4:1

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”
Philippians 3:12-15

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”
Ephesians 3:8-9

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”
Ephesians 4:15-16

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.

TRUE MINISTRY
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”
John 1:35-37

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”
Ephesians 4:11-13

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”
Revelation 10:7

Brian Troxel

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Discovering God’s Ways

THE SEALED BOOK AND OUR BOAZ

“…and she came softly,
and uncovered his feet,
and laid her down”
Ruth 3:7

We live in a day of information overload with data available at the click of a finger. This data, transferable at incredible speeds, can be accessed from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. A whole Bible translation can be downloaded in less than a minute. One would think if ever there was a day where men could know God surely this is would be that day. Yet there has never been a day of greater darkness upon the world. The Word itself testifies of this day…

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words,
and seal the book, even to the time of the end:
many shall run to and fro,
and knowledge shall be increased”
Daniel 12:4

We read here that “even to the time of the end” Daniel’s words are shut up and the book sealed (ready to be revealed in these days Ephesians 3:5) while men run from place to place and knowledge is increased. Knowledge will never pry open the mysteries of God. Men in their pursuit of knowledge will never access those Holy places of Divine Revelation and Understanding. We have seen endless books written about such things but with the passage of time they are often found futile and obsolete. Time itself is the verification of all truth. Men peering into the pages of the sacred scriptures (without an eternal view) will always seek to bend truth to the moment in which they live to support their agendas. God will not reveal His ways to such. The Greeks sought God by wisdom and the Jews through religious works and miraculous signs (1 Corinthians 1:22). Our world is now filled with a multitude of religions and Christian sects comprised to varying degrees of the mixture of these two carnal ways; an effort to conciliate the unfulfilled cry within their hearts and the search for value and meaning.

“…the world by wisdom knew not God”
1 Corinthians 1:21

The discovery of God’s ways is out of reach to the carnal man. It is not to be found in the accumulation of data, nor in the religious works of men, nor in the “running to and fro” of men to conferences, teachers and sages. For Truth is a person (Jesus said “I am the Truth”) not a teaching or doctrine (John 14:6). He is the living TRUTH, (1Timothy 2:5) Eternal, Just and True and His ways are past finding out. Truth is, in all reality, the life of Jesus living within man. The measure of truth within a man is revealed in the life that he lives!

“Ye shall know the truth
and the truth will make you free”
John 8:32

No amount of teaching or the accumulation of data will set a man free from himself and the world around Him. No more than a man by jumping with all of his strength can free himself from the law of gravity. It takes a power and a life to so invade a man as to effect such a radical change from within that men are able to know this freedom of which Jesus spoke. This power is found in only One and His name is Jesus. It is in Him that men “move and have their being” (the Greek here is literally “are”). It is to this end “that all creation is groaning and travailing” (Romans 8:19-23). Through man’s disobedience, enticed by the promise of eating of the tree of knowledge, the Book of Life was sealed and man became subject to the “law of sin and death”. The sealing of this Book was in accordance to the law of Righteousness just as a man who disobeys earthly laws is subject to imprisonment and loss of liberty. This Book of Life was sealed in heavenly places out of the reach of fallen man.

The Sealed Book
Revelation 5:1-14

When John saw the “sealed book” in heaven he wept for there was no man who was worthy to open it!

“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne
a book written within and on the backside,
sealed with seven seals

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
Who is worthy to open the book,
and to loose the seals thereof?

And no man in heaven, nor in earth,
neither under the earth, was able to open the book,
neither to look thereon

And I wept much,
because no man was found worthy
to open and to read the book,
neither to look thereon”
Revelation 5:1-4

This Book of Life was sealed through man’s disobedience and the only way for it to be opened was by a Man whose obedience was perfect and complete. While John wept over the “sealed book” an Elder spoke to him…

“Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book,
and to loose the seven seals thereof.

And I beheld, and, lo,
in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts,
and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb
as it had been slain,
having seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven Spirits of God
sent forth into all the earth.

And he came
and took the book
out of the right hand of Him
that sat upon the throne”
Revelation 5:5-7

We must pause here and give all Glory to Jesus for He has prevailed! He came and took the Book out of the Hand of God Almighty and opened it on our behalf! The reason we have life is because He overcame and in the ministration of His Life into us we are also to overcome. His desire is to bring forth a people who will rule and reign with Him; not on the basis of a teaching but because of the operation of His Life within us producing and bringing forth His Victory in our own experience.

“And when he had taken the book,
the four beasts and four and twenty elders
fell down before the Lamb,
having every one of them harps,
and golden vials full of odours,
which are the prayers of saints.

And they sung a new song, saying,
Thou art worthy to take the book,
and to open the seals thereof:
for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us
to God by thy blood
out of every kindred, and tongue,
and people, and nation”
Revelation 5:8-9

The drama of this transaction being played out in the heavens resulted in all of heaven worshipping and glorifying Jesus, the Lamb of God! The scriptures declare “Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” We see here the fruit and reward of His Obedience and Suffering. Shall we not in this hour find in Him the strength, virtue and ability to overcome the trials in our day? Knowing this on a doctrinal level is not sufficient to impart the ability to abide in these living truths. Jesus said that the “words He speaks are Spirit and Life”. As such they can only be received by a heart which is compliant to His Will and abiding in His Spirit.

“And we are his witnesses of these things;
and so is also the Holy Ghost,
whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
Acts 5:32

The depth of our receiving of His Holy Spirit is determined by our obedience and the yielding of our lives to His Will. The reason for the Holy Spirit being sent into this world is to guide us into all truth. He has come to lead us into the very life of Jesus by a new and living way. It is by way of relationship; taking His Yoke upon us, learning of Him and following and abiding within Him. These are not intellectual concepts but a discipline and a surrender of our will to His. The discovery of His Ways will not be by the efforts of men trampling through His Word with carnal wisdom but rather by a heart which has been broken and acknowledges its own condition.

“…but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word”
Isaiah 66:2

We live in a day in which few “tremble” at His Word. To believe His Word and obey it is not only unpopular but scorned in those who would uphold it in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation”. Men who do not tremble at His word treat it as a historical document, a book of instructions and good sayings, a source of religious sermons and quotations. Men who see His Word as Holy, walk carefully through its sacred pages with a desire to be instructed, comforted, reproved and made right by its ministration. The heart that finds its sole source of hope and salvation in His Word seeks to grow into a life of yielding to it. It is to such that the Word becomes living and vibrant. It is they who see the face of God in His glory and hear the voices of the prophets in its substance (Acts 13:27).

Our Boaz

Those who tremble at His word gaze upon it with awe and wonder. They approach it in prayer and with reverence.

“…and she came softly,
and uncovered his feet,
and laid her down”
Ruth 3:7

What a beautiful picture this is of Ruth who, though not belonging to the House of Israel, an outcast by the Law, her husband dead and therefore in need of someone to redeem her portion in the earth, came in to Boaz (who had the right of redemption by virtue of marriage to an Israelite) softly (not upon the grounds of a right but upon the grounds of mercy); uncovered His feet (desiring to learn of His Way); and laid herself down (resting from her own works) to rest in His. Boaz means “In Him who is strength” (in the Hebrew) rises upon her behalf to redeem her inheritance. This same Moabite woman became a part of the very lineage of Christ. So it is that those who walk softly, and with contrite hearts, seek to lay themselves down in His presence and uncover His ways will so find themselves with a redeemed inheritance in Him!

”I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
till he please”
Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5

Brian Troxel
http://www.aword.info

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