Quote for Today
“The attractive power of sin increases as we approach it”
J. B. Marsden
“The attractive power of sin increases as we approach it”
J. B. Marsden
The resurrection of the dead is simply the revelation of the seed which was sown. If the life was evil, filled with self-seeking, self-loving and self-dependence so will it be in the resurrection. If we plant the seed of a noxious plant that will be its resurrection.
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain”
1 Corinthians 15:34-37
In the Resurrection, God gives a corresponding body to the seed sown. What we become through the outworking of the cross of Christ and the power of His Grace determines the wonder of our resurrection. Paul prefaces this word on the resurrection with “Awake to righteousness and sin not”.
It is critical that we begin to correlate our walk here with our resurrection there!
“But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him,
and to every seed his own body…”
1 Corinthians 15:38
“To every seed its own body…” May God open our eyes to the power and truth of this, that we may not live in the slumber of religion but that we would in fact “Awake to Righteousness”. Let us re-examine the truths we hold and the clear teaching of Christ. Paul wrote concerning his own life:
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:8
Why could Paul state this?
“I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith”
2 Timothy 4:9
The confidence of his resurrection was based upon his life here on earth. He had fought the good fight, he had finished his course and purpose in God, and he had kept the faith of Christ alive and relevant in his heart.
We cannot slumber in our walk here and expect the rewards of righteousness there. His reward is with Him and He will reward every man according to their works. May the light shine and may we seek fellowship with others that will exhort and encourage us to live “godly in Christ Jesus”.
“Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God”
“And, behold, I come quickly;
and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be”
Our resurrection will be according to the life we live not because of some religious confession we make. May God awaken us to live righteously, truthfully and confidently in the power of His Grace.
The gift of eternal life is not by works but by grace through faith. However, the manner of our resurrection will be proportional to our faithfulness to the talents received, His commandments kept and obstacles overcome.
“To him that overcometh will I give…”
If there be no overcoming there will be no receiving
of the promises of God in that day
(Read the message of Christ to the seven churches
for insight. Revelation 2:1-3:22)
God’s Word to us, “Awake to righteousness and sin not”, is clear. Any teaching which contradicts the clear truth of this is deception and error.
“It costs something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a person in an arm-chair and taking them easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory.”
– J.C. Ryle
“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil,
and let us see what we are made of”
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood*,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Wrestling is the reality of a life in Christ. The life of a healthy Christian is one of standing and contending for the faith. We must continually and intentionally withstand the world, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life and the subtlety of compromise and collusion. Warfare is the natural response of those who are alive in Christ. Many who call themselves by His name have no sense of the nature and intensity of this warfare. Paul is speaking from his own experience. To be alive unto Christ is to be an antagonism to the world, principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. To claim to be alive and yet not engaged in this battle makes us dead to the reality of a life in the spirit.
“I know your works.
You have the reputation of being alive,
but you are dead”
This is the Word of the Lord to His Church located in Sardis. How few realize the enormity of this Word. This is a church where His name is used freely and there is much activity with people who are eager to build up “their” church organization or fellowship. Wherever the motive is to be popular and relevant in the eyes of the world the preaching of righteousness is forsaken. This is the environment of a dead and impotent church; it has a reputation of being alive and “current” but it has ceased to contend for the faith. The “knowledge of the holy” is so lacking that people see no reason to wrestle with the unholy alliances of flesh, spiritual powers, spiritual wickedness and the resulting compromise. They have become insensitive to the contagion of the world and are unaware of what the “normal Christian Life” is. It is a situation that brings the very judgements of God! Consider the judgement pronounced on the Church at Sardis (unless they repented) and the greatness of His promise to those who overcome the apostasy and lethargy of their condition (Revelation 3:3-5).
A modern day “gospel” which declares that God loves His church and would never bring judgement upon His people is the LIE of the Devil himself. “You shall not die” were his words to Eve to deceive her into disobedience and judgment. Those who are ignorant of the warfare are unaware of the reality of walking in the Spirit. Deception is anything that keeps us from walking in the truth.
“The reason why men do not look to the Church today
is that she has destroyed her own influence
G. Campbell Morgan
“No one serving as a soldier
entangles himself in the affairs of this life,
that he might please the One having enlisted him”
2 Timothy 2:4
“Let your loins be girded about,
and your lights burning;
And ye yourselves like unto men
that wait for their lord”
This is the posture of those in whom the fire of God is burning. They are not inactive and their faith is not passive; the anticipation of His coming has caused them to walk circumspectly. Their light is burning with the intensity of those who live with the expectancy of His return for this is the faith of the Bride who is making herself ready for Him. The slumber of a faithless church has not invaded their hearts. They are watchful and wide awake even in the twilight hours of a world that is passing its time in willing ignorance.
“For this they willingly are ignorant of…”
2 Peter 3:5
It is not an ignorance in which they are born. This is an ignorance that is the product of a stubborn refusal to acknowledge God. Men choose to darken their understanding by a determination to ignore the conscience within their own hearts.
The attitude of those who have their loins girded with truth speaks of a self-discipline to remove themselves from the passions and lusts of this world. There is an active living faith which is pursuing the victory over self and the world. There is a constant discovery of the sufficiency of His grace to rise above the fallen Adamic nature in the reality of life. It is through faith we can enter into this grace (Romans 5:2) which will give an ability to escape the desires of this world in order to be prepared for the One to come.
“Whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust”
2 Peter 1:4
“Be ye therefore ready also:
for the Son of man cometh
at an hour when ye think not”
“And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men
who are settled* in complacency, who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil.”
In this time of silence preceding the conclusion of all that God began in Christ, there is a searching and a measuring of men’s hearts where eternal destinies are being determined. It is a subtle hour and a most critical time as the lamps of some begin to grow dim as the Bridegroom tarries. The Hebrew word used here for settled* (see below) means to become thick, slow and curdled. It speaks of people who start out well but who, as time passes, become set in their ways and are no longer flexible. They are no longer able to flow in the purposes of their God. Their waiting has turned into stagnation; the brightness of their hope has become dim. The vision has turned from a quest and a pursuit into a doctrinal concept that no longer energizes their hearts and minds. This is a slow and certain death; it is the enemy of us all! Slowly the obscurity falls like a veil over the heart and the whispers of the enemy speak with great cunning and craftiness, “what difference does it make, nothing seems to make a difference, I will just “settle” here and live comfortably…” In other words, “The Lord will not do good, nor evil” I will just pass the time here as other men. If calamity comes I will “then” be ok..
It is in this time throughout the history of God’s dealings with men that there is a marking and a sealing; a determining and a measuring of the hearts of His people. In the silence there are great things at work as God prepares for the unveiling of all that He has purposed. May we consider a couple of examples….
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city,
through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads
of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be
done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing,
Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare,
neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids,
and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon
whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary…”
EZEKIEL 9:4 – 6
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice
to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”
REVELATION 7:2 – 3
It is a Day for seeking out those who “cry and sigh” over the state of His House; to dig deep and hide ourselves within the secret place of the Most High. It is a Day to speak, encourage and admonish the people of God to fight off the slumber of this hour, to pray and build up our lives on “our most Holy Faith”. It is a Day to seek out that fellowship that will challenge and provoke us unto the ardent pursuit of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a Day to know in the reality of our hearts the setting aside of all that this world can offer to purchase that Pearl of great price. This is a costly thing, more than just a casual walk, more than just a religious concept; it is the Battle for Life…HIS LIFE.
“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES…”
Can we not hear the Word to us, “TODAY”? May the Lord press upon our hearts that we are brothers and sisters of one great family, and BECAUSE of that we speak, we cry out and we plead with one another that we may assemble ourselves together in fear of the Lord and in the awareness of the hour in which we live!
*Note: קָפָא qāpāʼ: A verb meaning to curdle, to congeal; to become settled, stagnant. It refers to something standing still or slowing down its movement, becoming thick (Ex. 15:8). It is used figuratively of a person in great suffering being curdled, tossed about like hardening cream (Job 10:10). It depicts a dead or stagnant spirit in a person (Zeph. 1:12). It means, used with reference to the heavenly bodies, to shrink, to lose brightness (Zech. 14:6). (S. Zodhiates)
“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”
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…”
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”
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”
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”
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.
“Then Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you”
We cannot eat of Him and drink of His Blood yet walk in unforgiveness. It is impossible to drink of that blood which “speaks of better things than that of Abel” and walk contrary to what it speaks. The blood is the power and life to forgive others. In order to remain in a relationship with Him, and for us to receive His forgiveness into our lives, we must forgive others. If we withhold forgiveness from others our ability to drink of Him is cut off. Many Christians become stagnant in their life with the Living Vine because of envy, unforgiveness and bitterness. The flow of His life will always be to the degree by which we live in harmony with His life.
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”
How little we realize that the New Covenant is a law of life and its ministration is to bring us into a vital and living relationship with the risen Christ. My ability to partake of its ministration will be to the degree to which I have co-operated with the law of His life. If I hold on to bitterness, envy and strife, how can I expect to grow in my relationship with Him? I cannot hold onto these things and expect my relationship with Him to develop.
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies,
and envies, and all evil speakings,
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby”
1 Peter 2:1-2
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”
Forgiveness is a quality of the Divine Nature; it is only ours by abiding in Him. On a human level we can forgive to varying degrees depending on the level of hurt and the circumstances involved. The forgiveness that God would bring us into leaves no lingering scar, no lasting memory or reliving of the event; for the forgiveness which He desires to bring us into is nothing short of the same forgiveness that we receive from Him. These things are impossible without His Blood flowing through our own lives enabling us to live and walk in a dynamic beyond the resources of self.
We see all around us the broken wings of men and women who will never know the freedom of the released bird without the blood of the slain bird (Leviticus 14:5-7) being applied to their lives. The blood not only works in us to set us free, it must also work through us to experience the true freedom we have in Jesus. Truth received is never really ours until we can give it to others in the power of God Himself.
“On account of this, brothers,
rather be diligent to make sure of your calling and election;
for doing these things, you will not ever fall into sin.
For so will be richly furnished to you
the entrance into the everlasting kingdom
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”
2 Peter 1:10-11
Forgiveness is not just a nice teaching; it is a truth which only has value through the medium of doing. It is in the operation of it we are free from the sin which always accompanies unforgiveness. It is a part of the very armor of God. It frees us from bitterness, sorrow and anger for in the holding of unforgiveness the stain of sin cannot be removed. It is in the doing of truth that we are set free. In releasing others we ourselves will partake of the freedom we give.
“But he that doeth truth
cometh to the light…”
It is heartbreaking to see the divisions and strife that currently exist in the true Body of Christ. It is through the flowing of the Blood of Jesus into each of our lives, and its life becoming the life of each member, that the healing and wonder of God’s Love will transform her into the beauty of all that He has purposed. Failure by any member to be exercised in this grace will result in stagnation not only in this life but will have eternal consequences.
Note: It is here that God’s people reveal the degree to which they know and walk in the Fear of the Lord. The Fear of the Lord is a necessary component to walking in the life and vitality of the Son. They who refuse to forgive know not of the Fear of the Lord.
“Then had the churches rest
throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified;
and walking in the fear of the Lord,
and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied”
When the Church walks in the fear of the Lord we see the fruit and the power of God revealed in corresponding measure.
“And he spake of trees,
from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon
even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall”
1 Kings 4:33
Several times the Cedar and Hyssop are connected in things pertaining to God. Solomon in his God-given wisdom spoke of these two contrasting extremes in God’s creation. The stately Cedars of Lebanon refer to Godly stature and character as does the lowly Hyssop that “springeth out of the wall” speaks of a living faith. In God’s wisdom they are related for the one is the means to the other.
The hyssop speaks of the living faith of the believer; it is the means by which the truths of God are apprehended and applied to our own hearts.
“And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop,
and dip it in the blood that is in the basin,
and strike the lintel and the two side posts
with the blood that is in the basin…”
During the night of the judgment of God upon Egypt the Israelites were to take the hyssop and apply the blood of the lamb to the door posts of their dwelling. In the transactions of the Law of the Leper we see that the hyssop was also dipped in the blood of the slain bird and then sprinkled seven times upon the leper. (This speaks of a continuous and ongoing operation of the Spirit). We see this same application of the hyssop in the book of Numbers…
“And a clean person shall take hyssop,
and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent,
and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there,
and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain,
or one dead, or a grave”
It is essential for the people of God to see and understand that truth, in itself, does not impact a heart apart from faith. If the hyssop were not used to apply the blood to their door the firstborn of the Israelites would have perished along with the Egyptians; the efficacy of the blood was released by the faith/obedience in the application of it by the hyssop. The things of God are only real to us in proportion to the faith by which they are applied into our lives.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)…”
While many in our day may claim to be Christians, without faith there can be no effective experiencing of the power and life of the blood of the Lamb. To the world the hyssop plant is of little consideration; it typically grows to be just over a half meter high. It tastes bitter but its fragrance is pleasant and readily available to any who would lay hold of it. It grows plentifully in Egypt and in the rocky places of the wilderness. This also speaks to us of the faith of God in our lives. It grows in harsh places and is not out of reach to the world (Egypt). It is available to you and me in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.
This is the truth of the hyssop; it is the means by which the truth of God is applied to my own heart. It is incumbent upon us to know of this vital truth for faith without expression is dead (James 2:20). The fundamental truth concerning the hyssop as revealed in the Passover is this: the blood in the basin will not save the Israelite. Truth held in the intellect, truth professed by the lips without the application of faith, will not save a man from himself or the judgements of God. It is in the beauty, the lowliness and the simplicity of the truth of the hyssop that the efficacy of the blood is released in our lives.
One of the most broken and beautiful Psalms that King David wrote is Psalm 51 concerning his affair with Bathsheba and the death of Uriah. It has ministered to the people of God throughout the ages of faith and hope in the face of our own failures in our walk with God. The Psalmist cries out to God to “purge” him with hyssop; he knows this is where his hope lies. It is in the application of the blood of the Lamb, by a true and living faith, that men are enabled to rise from the ashes of their own failures and walk in newness of life. The truth of the hyssop is ever within our grasp, always available to those who are in Christ Jesus. It is by the blood of the risen Christ wherein we are made overcomers…
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…”
The wisdom of Solomon concerning the connection of the stately Cedars of Lebanon and the lowly hyssop is easily seen. The character and stature of Christ within our lives can only become a reality by stooping low and discovering the wonder and simplicity of the Hyssop!