Break Up Your Fallow Ground
” Sow to yourselves in righteousness,
reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground:
for it is time to seek the Lord,
till he come and rain righteousness upon you”
“Let your garments be always white.
Let not oil be lacking on your head”
Ecclesiastes 9:8 (ESV)
The great gift afforded us of the garments of salvation require our attention to keep them white and clean. We walk in a world filled with contamination, temptation and sin at every turn. Uncleanness in conversation, things which would corrupt our thought life and offenses from which bitterness and unforgiveness may arise all threaten to stain our garments. Our exposure to all of these things in their varied forms require His grace and power to cleanse us from “all unrighteousness”; otherwise the residue can poison our minds and spirits. There is an aggregate effect upon us. John encourages us to deal faithfully with the sins and offenses in our life.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’
1 John 1:9
His dealings with sin in our life are not only to forgive but His power is released to also cleanse us from any residue. Many who deal lightly with sin never go deep enough in their transactions with God to the point of knowing and experiencing the cleansing which should accompany the regenerating work of grace. Bitterness, anger, sins of the flesh, anything which impairs our newness of Life in Him, needs to be fully worked out until we are clean and pure again in His sight.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
Bitterness that is not dealt with will always spring up defiling not only ourselves but others. Its rancor and poison cannot be kept from the tongue unto the spreading of malicious gossip often accompanied with unwholesome deeds that bring damnation and judgment upon many. May we be instructed in the way of the Lord by the simplicity of His words:
“Let your garments be always white”
(to be continued)
“…But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink;
and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not”
The road to apostasy is paved with carelessness, the watering down of true discipleship, and a refusal to hear the Word of the Lord. The calamities and judgments that followed such a prescription of “religion” are devastating and inevitable. Where the fear of the Lord no longer enters the mind of the people of God, His Holiness and Majesty is watered down to a God who no longer is concerned about righteousness and truth. Truth becomes a teaching rather than a life and righteousness is reduced to doctrinal position in the stead of a heart where the fire of God burns the dross of fallen humanity. Where the majority of the preaching today in its essence declares ‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil”.
“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”
The result of the religion of men is to reduce God to an idea and a concept which portrays Him as one that neither rewards righteousness nor judges evil. While this is not said in so many words it is the premise of much of the presentation of the gospel in this hour. We tell the world that they need to repent but after having “accepted Him” there is a carelessness about how one lives. The complacency and apathy of the people of God in this hour is evident when we no longer expect from ourselves a life of true righteousness and those who are pursuing this life are told to “drink wine (compromise)” and in effect “don’t take this stuff too seriously”. We hear the expression that a man is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good; in fact it should be stated that unless we become heavenly minded our lives are no earthly good!
May the Lord stir up the prophetic word in this hour to show the error, apostasy and the carelessness of His people. Let there be a WORD going forth in the FIRE of His love and jealously that this is the DAY OF THE LORD. THIS IS THE DAY TO TURN FROM OUR WAYS. It is not a day to live carelessly and walk in the love of the things of this world for the WORD OF THE LORD IS…
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”
I John 2:15
The focus of our life is the revelation of the love of our life. Our prayer life reveals the things that are dear to us. If all we pray for is our needs, wants and troubles, if the only things we hold up in prayer are those things that concern US and OUR little circle then we NEED to find Him afresh. We are here for the “building up of the Body of Christ”; to see the “Unity of the Faith” revealed IN THE EARTH! If the Risen Christ is ever “making intercession for US” that expression of love for others should also be a reality in our hearts.
“If the clouds be full of rain,
they empty themselves upon the earth”
How simple is the wise man’s observation? Those who are full of Christ must empty themselves upon the earth. Such is God’s heavenly purpose! Jude and Peter speak to those who have deviated from the well of Life: those who are “carried about by winds” (lifeless teachings and the “methods of men”; Ephesians 4:14); “carried about with every wind of doctrine and the methods of men” whereby they become “wells without water…” (2 Peter 2:17) and “clouds without water…” (Jude 1:12).
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots…”
These ones are comfortable in our midst and to a large degree the present day ministry is satisfied with “wells without water”. There is a contentment with the complacency of a dry and barren people in whom there is no water. A people who are unaware of their accountability to BE springs of living water to the world around us is the indictment and fruit of a ministry that knows not God. The reason Jude and Peter addressed these things is because we will all give an account…
“…each man’s work will be revealed.
For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire;
and the fire itself will test
what sort of work each man’s work is”
1 Corinthians 3:13
Paul pleads with the believers in Corinth.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be IN the faith;
prove your own selves…”
2 Corinthians 13:5
Wherever true faith is living and beating within the life of an individual, the ministration of the life and works of its Author will be evident. The flowing of the living waters is the fruit of those who thirst and drink from the well of Christ.
“If ANY man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his (own) belly shall flow rivers of living water”
There is "no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". The Word of God is given to bring change and transformation. The Call of God is to come higher and to go deeper into this ONE of whom the scripture declares..."unto us a son is given". He has been graciously given unto us... without reserve, without merit and without measure. The Call of God is for us to come and drink deeply of His provisions... from which the flow of His wonder becomes our own experience. The call goes out even now "If ANY man truly thirst for this life", may we respond and come afresh to Him!
The above graph shows the frequency per million words that the word “repent” is used from 1540 AD to now.
“And saying, Repent ye:
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”
It is interesting to note that the high usage of this word occurred when the Bible was made available to the common people and during the subsequent awakenings of the Church. Contrast this with the powerless preaching of the Gospel in our day.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation,
which brings no regret.
But the sorrow of the world produces death”
2 Corinthians 7:10
A Gospel which does not lead to godly sorrow cannot produce repentance. This is necessary for change and the restorative work of God within a redeemed soul. Repentance is the conduit through which the power of God is released. It is by repentance unto salvation that the lost are brought into life and liberty.
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise,
as some count slowness; but is patient with us,
not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance“
2 Peter 3:9
The power and life of the church is known by the gospel it presents and the corresponding depth of the transforming work of God within His people.
God’s word to the Church in Asia, in six of the seven letters, was to repent of their ways, their teachings and their spiritual condition. This is the last written communication in the Holy Scriptures. It is to His people that the word “repent” goes forth. Let us not marginalize the need for repentance in sharing the purity of the Gospel with one another.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
be zealous therefore, and repent”
“Most recently, it was discovered that a comatose patient at a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, gave birth, despite having been in a vegetative state for 14 years. The staff at the 24-hour care facility said they were unaware of her pregnancy until late December 2018, when she went into labor. She delivered a healthy boy…. After hearing about this horrific act, I felt filled with disgust and could not make sense of it. I buried myself in books by the great moral philosophers and spiritual leaders — Socrates, David Hume, C.S. Lewis, Pastor A.R. Bernard, Adam Smith and, of course, the Holy Bible — to try to understand, and hopefully make sense of, our broken moral and spiritual code. Make no mistake, “the system” is more than just flawed; it is broken on many levels. No one can deny that increasing levels of moral relativism have resulted in tragic outcomes that we never thought possible.”
– Armstrong Williams – (read article)
The above article was written by a secular man in response to a current news story. I was struck by the passion and clarity with which he wrote in calling out the depraved society in which we live; a passion that is seldom seen even within the people of God. It begs the question; why is there not a united voice from within God’s people decrying the wickedness in our land resulting in intercession unto our God? How is it that we have become so desensitized to the horror surrounding us in North America? How is it we hear little, speak little and spend little time concerning these things? It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit moving and reigning within the lives of His own where sin and disobedience is addressed…
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me…”
We, the Church as a whole, are becoming as desensitized to sin as the world in which we live. The spiritual decay is almost complete. A gospel which does not speak to sin in its own ranks will have no force or power to stem the rising tide of debauchery without.
Can we not feel the growing tide of dissipation, depravity and wantonness filling our land? Is there no comprehension of the day we are in and the implications of what our children are being subjected to every day? Can we not see the stain of the world pervading the Church of Jesus Christ? The invasion of sin robs God’s people of the fervency of heart and the fire of God.
“Because of the increase of wickedness,
the love of most will grow cold”
When pornography, divorce, strife with one another, greed and power mongering is rampant within how can the Church of Jesus Christ be a light to those without? It is a Day to “consider our ways” to repent of the flippancy of a “seeker friendly” gospel, to repent from men’s desires to build magnificent buildings and ministries, and increase their appetites for worldly wealth all the while neglecting the condition of God’s House. The day of seeking to fill the pews rather than the hearts of God’s people with Godly living is bringing the Judgment of God to our land first and foremost upon His Own Church!
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
1 Peter 4:17
“And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience,
when your obedience is fulfilled“
2 Corinthians 10:6
It is hypocrisy to speak to the sin without while we hold to the same within our own hearts. God’s answer to this dilemma is simple…
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
be zealous therefore, and repent”
“A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the Church. Backslidden professors cannot wake up and begin right away in the service of God, without deep searchings of heart. The fountains of sin need to be broken up. In a true revival, Christians are always brought under such conviction; they see their sins in such a light that often they find it impossible to maintain a hope of their acceptance with God. It does not always go to that extent, but there are always, in a genuine revival, deep convictions of sin, and often cases of abandoning all hope.”
– Charles Finney
It is in the conviction of sin, it is in the knowing deeply within our hearts that sin is abounding which enables the Grace of God to exceed our hearts expectation! Where conviction is lacking so will be the measure of God’s grace. It is the acknowledgement of our sin which releases the wonder of God’s grace.
“But where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound…”
“Why could not we cast him out?
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief”
God’s movings and the shining forth of His salvation are proportional to our faith. It is in the crucible of the realities of life that the true condition of the church is revealed. Truth is the vehicle and the means whereby His thoughts concerning us are expressed. We often speak of truth in terms of His love for us, in terms of His promises and His plans and purposes; but Jesus is always “laying the axe to the root” of our lives. His words can be sharp and to the point. We must see that these words in truth are also the proof of His love.
“Because of our unbelief”
This child would have gone on in the condition in which he came. The agony of his father would have remained unchanged, the situation unaffected by the prayers of the unbelieving disciples. It is here that Jesus presented the truth of the matter. It was not a word given to condemn; it was given to them to arise from where they were into where He had called them to be.
Unbelief is not something about which we should feel condemned. It is His desire that we face our unbelief with the certainty that He has something better, fuller and more blessed concerning our walk in Him. His sharp word spoken to our unbelief is filled with the heart of One who is calling us to better things. It is our response to His word wherein lies the crisis. Do we turn a deaf ear to this reproof or do we acknowledge it. The truth is that the our powerlessness is in the condition of our heart and not in His power? Are we offended by this word or do we feel the promise pulsating within it?
There is always a cure for unbelief, but there is no cure for a heart that refuses the verdict of Jesus. His exhortations are always given to us in order that we may lay these things to heart and not make excuses; to let His words cut asunder our hardness of heart and turn to Him for the fuller measure of all that He is.
“Ye have sown much, and bring in little…
Thus saith the Lord of hosts;
Consider your ways”
We must consider our ways for unbelief is the fruit of how we walk, how we think and how we live. Let us hear these words of exhortation and count them as promises of greater things. His heart is full and His call goes out to any who would hear.
“Unto you first God,
having raised up his Son Jesus,
sent him to bless you,
in turning away every one of you from his iniquities”
It is called the Good News for in turning from our ways we will find His!
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness
and forbearance and long-suffering;
not knowing that the goodness of God
leadeth thee to repentance?”
“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Paul on his way persecuting the church was confronted on the road by Jesus Christ. His way was interrupted with God’s way and his surrender was immediate and complete. He understood Jesus to be the Lord of His life; not a part time occupation or a Sunday morning exception to his schedule; not Someone to run to when everything else failed. “Lord” was his heart-felt response. Much of the gospel presented today is of a Saviour who is ever willing to help us cope with life, to assist us on our journey while we chose the way and manner in which we live. Such was not the case in the early church nor in the presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit His people presented Jesus as Lord; a living Saviour who is to be Lord of our hearts, our thoughts, purpose and conduct of our lives.
The church today considers the life of Paul as something out of the ordinary and an anomaly in the average Christian experience. Our expectations of Him determines our experience. Expectations are really the evidence of our faith. A faith that expects little, receives little. There must be a radical change in the perception of whom He is and who He is to be in us. The nominal Christian life is one of low expectations, contentment with the status quo and a vague concept of who Christ is. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared…
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
1 Timothy 1:16
Paul’s life was the “norm” not the exception! How long will we be content with reading the sacred scriptures which speak of one thing while our lives experience something else? When will the contradiction spark a longing within our hearts to know Him as Lord and Master? We must acknowledge the issue is not with Him but with our own dismal expectations. Paul was no different than any of us. He was a man subject to the tendencies and frailties of us all with one distinguishing characteristic: “Lord, what would YOU have me to do…” The Lordship of Christ is the pivot which transforms ordinary lives into extraordinary expressions of His grace and power.
This is the evidence, the nature and the desire of those who are filled with His Spirit and Life.
The disciples who were being persecuted for their zeal to declare Christ to the world replied to the religious leaders of their day:
“For we cannot but speak the things
which we have seen and heard”
A people who see little have little to declare. When the church is full of uninspired teachers presenting principles rather than His Life and when the people of God are content with hearing from the pulpit rather than hearing God within their own hearts; then we must acknowledge we are living in the Day of Apostasy!
The life of faith in the individual believer is revealed in their everyday experience. Their expectations, the company they keep and the fire which burns within their hearts is the public disclosure of their faith.
This is the testimony of the ministration of Christ in early Church:
“These that have turned the world upside down
are come hither also”
“If you here stop and ask yourselves why you are not as pious as the early Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor through inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.”
– William Law
“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.”