Vision and Quest – Part Two

Vision and Quest

Part Two

“And Abraham said unto God,
O that Ishmael might live before thee!”
Genesis 17:18

It is the nature of man to settle for less than God’s purpose. God’s call is never static but always moving His own to higher ground. John was on the Isle of Patmos for the testimony of Jesus. He was in the Spirit, walking in the present truth (the Lord’s Day), when he heard a voice behind him calling to come up higher to see the things of God! How we need fresh stirrings of His Spirit to see greater things than what we currently see and walk in. Men and women of vision are never content with the status quo, never at rest until God’s will is accomplished in fullness. Jesus said He came to do the will of the Father and to FINISH His work. Those who live in the Spirit of Christ hold within their hearts a flame and an intense desire to see God’s will and work completed in this earth where we live. There is a passion for the Body of Christ to arise out of the quagmire of man’s ways, man’s wisdom and man’s complacency.

“Jesus saith unto them,
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me,
and to finish his work.
John 4:34

Whenever Christ dwells and reigns within a heart there is a sense of divine purpose which transcends the call of the world and the religious ways of men. There is an impelling force of the Life of the Son to press and draw us to the greater thing. For thirteen years Abraham thought that Ishmael was the promise. God had a higher call for Abraham than Ishmael. God’s promise came to Abraham long after his own inherent ability to bring forth the promised seed was gone; a pure and blessed son “born of the free woman” (Gal. 4:22). So we too are grateful that He is able to bring forth true fruitfulness in our lives in spite of the Ishmaels of our own making.

In this day of lethargy God calls His own to higher and deeper places in Himself; places that stagger the natural mind and are far beyond our own abilities. He calls us to live out of HIS resources and to flee the reservoirs of carnal reckonings and low expectations of our God. It is a day to lift up our eyes unto the hills and behold the crucified One beckoning us to live in the power and the wonder of His Life. We must let go of the idea that “the Ishmael at hand is God’s doing” that we might see new and wondrous things which we have not considered.

Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth…
Psalm 86:8-11

It is a day to reconsider our ways and to draw near to Him who is able to make the desert bloom and the hearts of all to burn with the Holy Fire of God. There is a life waiting for those who hunger and thirst for more of God. It will turn ordinary men and women into blazing beacons of hope and righteousness. Let us allow His vision to lift us up out of the drudgery of this world to where we can see that the fields are ripe unto harvest. It is to this life we have been summoned by the King of kings. May we be renewed and energized by the power of His Life! God reserves His greatest Light for when the world grows dark.

The present Ishmael must give way to the Son of the promise; the two cannot abide together. It is not possible for the son of the bond woman to share in the inheritance of the Son of Promise.

“Nevertheless, what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”
Galatians 4:30

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today – Let us Run

Thought for Today

Let us Run!

“Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run”
Habakkuk 2:2

The purpose of the Word of God is to communicate His thoughts and His purpose. They are not to convey a doctrine as it were but to define a “mark”*; Paul the Apostle abandoned his life to this. His Word is to portray vision and exhort quest. The Lord spoke to Habakkuk to make plain the vision of God to the intent that men and women would be empowered, encouraged and set aflame to pursue its fulfillment. While many have knowledge few understand they are to “run the race” set before them. “Run” is a New Testament word; it describes the posture we are to have in life. Paul exhorted the Church at Corinth to run. To what end? That ye may attain!

“So run, that ye may obtain”
1 Corinthians 9:24

In other words, there is no obtaining without the running and pursuit of Him. In the minds of many of God’s people “running” is not even a concept. The ministers of the Word of God have failed to set before His people a goal to be reached. The general message is often one of encouragement to support the church, witness when you can and try and be a good person. The true ministration of the Word of God should be one of exhortation and encouragement to “know Him” and to be “found in Him”. The pursuit of Him is that we might attain His likeness.

Make the Vision Plain
to the intent
That they who have eyes to see
ears to hear may Run…
with endurance the race set before them

Where there is no true and living vision the people of God will compromise with the goals and temptations of the world. They lose the motivation to run and the empowerment of the Spirit to live a life of passion and single-hearted devotion unto Him.

“Where there is no vision (purpose),
the people cast off restraint…”
Proverbs 29:18

Let us run the race* which has been so graciously set before us with endurance. Let us seek Him alone who can spark the fire and wonder of a fresh vision of God and His purposes. May we be the very flame of God to one another that we might run this race with a new fervor and determination to obtain the prize which is Christ Jesus!


* Philippians 3:14
“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…”

* Hebrews 12:1
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us…”

Brian Troxel

THE NATURE OF TRUE VISION

THE NATURE OF TRUE VISION

“Except a man be born again,
he cannot SEE the kingdom of God”
JOHN 3:3

This verse has become in some ways the message of the modern church. It presents a vital and eternal truth; a man MUST be born again. The word “except” precludes any other way. Yet within the confines of man’s relationship with God it is the matrix into eternity but not the Kingdom of God. It is by being born again that man is awakened and enabled to SEE the Kingdom, not enter it. Entering the Kingdom is vastly different than the mere seeing of it. How sad it is that men are satisfied with seeing rather than entering. The nature of Vision is that by stepping into the one, it always offers glimpses of another. Being born again is the beginning of our walk not the end. Most of Christendom is satisfied with seeing, a good and wholesome start, yet only the beginning of the wonder of eternal life. Some venture into the truths of the ceremony of baptism in water and even into the baptism and birth of the Holy Spirit where giftings become an experiential reality. Jesus goes on to say…

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”
JOHN 3:5

Jesus begins to speak of the higher things of God. Now instead of SEEING the Kingdom He speaks of ENTERING the Kingdom. He speaks of being BORN of water and of the Spirit. This is a new call to ASK and SEEK for these things to become real in the lives of His disciples. Jesus told His disciples that He had many more things to share with them but that they were not ready to bear them. Their development of character was not sufficient (in the original language) but he said that when the Holy Spirit came HE would lead and guide them into ALL TRUTH. If being born again was to be the sum total of His Truth to us why would Jesus speak of greater things to come by the ministration of the Holy Spirit? Our failure to seek and hunger for the greater things makes us settle for seeing rather than apprehending. Paul cried out in Philippians that he was on a quest to “apprehend” something and that in the pursuit of the ONE THING he counted the loss of all things as dung in order to lay hold of it. This should be our cry as well. We settle for far less than what God has for us because the pursuit of that call involves a cost. It is a cost that few men are willing to pay. As a result of faithless inactivity their eyes grow dim, their hearts wither and they settle for the comfort of a teaching that will soothe and often even quench the fire for more of Him.

Let us consider the Call to Abraham the “Father of our faith”.

“Lift up now thine eyes,
and look from the place where thou art northward,
and southward, and eastward, and westward”
GENESIS 13:14

Abraham’s faith had brought him thus far. He had obeyed the call and left the UR of the Chaldees. He had passed through many places and built several altars unto his God. Men and women of faith cannot settle and abide in the Land of their Birth for faith is an active thing; a living thing that is filled with purpose and quest. Abraham had obeyed, had followed his God, and remained a sojourner in his day. The original call was to Abraham alone, yet Abraham brought Lot with him on his journey contrary to the call to leave all. Finally, in the dealings of God Lot and Abraham separate, Lot choosing the land that was compatible with his heart and Abraham remaining in the land of his promise (Genesis 12:7).

“And the Lord said unto Abram,
AFTER that Lot was separated from him,
Lift up NOW thine eyes…”
GENESIS 13:14

It was AFTER Lot had finally departed, after the separation that God came to him and spoke that word of wonder… “Lift up NOW thine eyes and look…” Obedience is the key to VISION. It was after Abraham and Lot were separated that the word of God came. For many years Abraham kept Lot in his company. Lot in the original means “veiled one” and we see the result of Lot’s faith in choosing the cities of Sodom to dwell in. This walk of separation is the price paid by those who walk in the faith and the obedience of The Call. It is costly and at times lonely; yet a small price to pay in comparison to hearing God say “Lift up NOW thine eyes…”

Vision lifts the beholder out of the “present world” and shows the promises of God. The danger of any vision is that it becomes stagnant and remains undeveloped. Men are prone to letting vision be the end rather than the womb of something greater. Every vision is only the beginning of a new journey, a new impetus into the deeper and higher things of God. Had Abraham been content with the seeing of the earthly land of promise he would not have become the father of our faith.

Vision in our language means to see; vision in God’s language means to enter into, walk in and possess. The great tragedy is that men become content with seeing. They enjoy discussions, teachings and even prayers concerning what they see. People gather together on the basis of a vision but with the passing of time the vision fades from a pursuit to an ideal. Faith once passionate and living now becomes a doctrinal statement and a forlorn distant concept. Those to whom the promise was once given, (through unbelief fail to enter in) their bones bleach white in the wilderness of disobedience. The vision remains and it waits for a new generation who will rise up out of the failures of the former and enter into a fresh aspect of God’s purposes.

The entering in to the new land of promise requires a greater vision to obtain it. It is one thing to cross over the river. It is quite another to have the vision of seeing God afresh, for that new land is filled with powerful enemies that must be conquered. There is no end to a new seeing of Him in our walk. One victory leads us to new battles and new victories for those who are gripped by the power of a living faith. The Call is not a High Call. It is an UPWARD CALL, one that is filled with an ever-increasing discovery of the Eternal Riches of Christ in God. There is no point of arrival for the unsearchable riches of Christ are eternally unveiling new vistas, new wonders and new dimensions of Grace and Glory!

“After this I looked, and, behold,
a door was opened in heaven:
and the first voice which I heard
was as it were of a trumpet talking with me;
which said, Come up hither,
and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter”
REVELATION 4:1

Brian Troxel

Vision and Quest

Vision and Quest

”Many shall be purified,
and made white, and tried;
but the wicked shall do wickedly:
and none of the wicked shall understand;
but the wise shall understand”
DANIEL 12:10

Understanding comes to the wise. The wicked pass through life void of the understanding of the Almighty God. Though trials, testings and temptations are the common lot of those who seek first His Kingdom, there comes to us the consolation of true understanding that more than compensates for the hardness of the way. With true understanding comes Vision. In the purposes of God, vision must give way to reality. Joseph’s dream must become substance. For a vision to remain something visionary only is the danger of religion; where the impulse of the desire of God becomes a teaching and a doctrine, a thing instead of a life. Men linger in the realm of words and creeds. A living vision must create a life of pursuit and quest where obedience is not optional.

“Whereupon, O king Agrippa,
I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision”
Acts 26:19

True vision communicates a need for obedience for it births a burden for the thing to come to pass. All true visions concerning God and His purposes must impart a burden for the thing to be made real. Vision is the womb of a quest. It is the conception that enables a birthing of that which was promised. People with a teaching are content with words; people with a  burden cannot linger. During a great storm the disciples were besieged in a small boat. In the midst of this they saw Jesus walking on the water and they were terrified. Only Peter saw Jesus in a way that communicated a longing to walk as Jesus. The vision imparted the desire to walk. The vision birthed the impulse to launch himself from the security of the boat into the violent sea. Men and women throughout the ages have launched themselves into the purposes of God. They have left the safety of their “boat” for the great sea of God’s will. Abraham went out…not knowing where he was going. The launch precedes the knowledge of the destination; the impulse is in itself the very compass which will unerringly bring us to His End. To ignore the impulse is to miss the launch.

The launching of our lives into the purposes of God is a series of definitive acts not just a one time occurrence. It is a life of yielding to Him. There are many opportunities along the way for compromise and failure. Our one hope is found in His Faithfulness. Faithfulness to lead us from the good to the better, from the better to His highest. We see Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration saying it was good to be there and “let us build” only to be rebuked from God Himself. While many settle for the good those whose vision transcends the status quo can never be satisfied with the building of human hands regardless of how “good” the experience or motive. The heavenly call is upward not just higher. Upward communicates a direction not a destination; higher is just another step in the stairway.

SPIRITUAL HABITAT

Men declare their heart by their “abode”. The demoniac dwelt in the graveyard, Lot in Sodom, and Abraham in Mamre. In all of God’s creation every organism has a habitat that is in harmony with its inner life; so also in the spirit. Where people dwell is the revelation of the life within.

“And Jesus saith unto him,
The foxes have holes,
and the birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of man
hath not where to lay his head”
Matthew 8:20

The scriptures are full of such illustrations. May we find within our hearts the call to follow, the call to forget the past and the call to apprehend that for which we have been apprehended.

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

Saul’s vision was for himself, his concern was for his house (legacy), while David’s was for God and His House. Such is the contrast between the static and the dynamic.

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Identity

SPIRITUAL IDENTITY

“But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves”
James 1:22

Spiritual identity is the fruit of obedience. Those who hear the word without doing it will spend their entire Christian experience void of any sense of spiritual identity. They will remain undeveloped children of God without a sense of knowing their call or expression. This state of many of the people of God in our land is the result of an empty gospel that does not call men and women to radical faith; faith that is not in word and doctrinal statements but a faith that is characterized by obedience. James goes on to say…

“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

It is in the doing that we grow into the knowing of who our God is and in the discovery of this we begin to lay hold of who HE is in US. Many go from meetings every Sunday, to reading the latest teaching on the internet, going to conferences, and accessing all manner of books and resources. Yet they remain undefined and lost in terms of a real knowing of who they are in God. This dearth of understanding within the household of faith cannot be remedied by more teaching and more sermons. One act of obedience will bring greater clarity to an individual’s heart than twenty sermons; the things of God become clear when we hear His Word and OBEY it.

“But whoso looketh
into the perfect law of liberty,
and continueth therein,
he being not a forgetful hearer,
but a doer of the work,
this man shall be blessed in his deed”
JAMES 1:25

We do not see this expression in the New Testament. Men and women were of such stature that they knew their call and their identity. It is those who have come to know God via obedience that grow into confident expressions of His glory and power. Those who obey not know not. Forgetful hearing will never produce an expression that is able to articulate God with precision and power. Consider Peter as he interacted with the crippled man at the temple gate… “Then Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk”. There was no prayer meeting just the simplicity of a man who knew that he was in God and that God was in him. The same Jesus whom he declared is alive in our hearts today to produce living epistles known and read of all men. The impotent gospel preached in our land is incapable of producing these expressions. The power and authenticity of a thing is revealed by its fruit. We need not look very hard to see what the “churchianity” of today has produced; an environment where many have become insensitive and unaware to the call of God.

God has called us unto GLORY AND VIRTUE not an impotent religious life.

“According as his divine power
hath given unto us all things
that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him
that hath called us to
GLORY and VIRTUE”
2 PETER 1:3

Brian Troxel

An Open Heaven Part One

An Open Heaven?

PART ONE

FAITH

“Truly, truly, I say to you,
you will see the heavens opened*
JOHN 1:51

How wonderful is the spontaneous response of Jesus to Nathanael’s heartfelt declaration “Rabbi, You are the Son of God!” An “open heaven” is really the ability of an individual to see and understand the things of God; to see past the appearance of a thing and to see the substance and reality of that which is real, eternal and true. The open heaven is not available based on our intellect, cleverness or schooling. It is open to all on the basis of Faith, Obedience and Purity of heart.

FAITH

“By faith we understand…”
HEBREWS 11:3

Without the faculty of FAITH the word remains sealed and uninviting. It holds facts and doctrinal statements that we may use to form a religious guideline by which we navigate this world with an understanding of its precepts. While there is great benefit to be garnered by these we are merely sailing upon the surface of the waters of life that he has for us. We can study the scriptures and put together sermons based upon a topical analysis of them with some profit to the hearers. There remains however that hidden dynamic pulsating with the breath and life of the Son. It is the precious function of FAITH to enable us to see THE SON in the reading of the WORD. While some see facts, concepts and precepts others see and hear the Living God and because of this they are pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. They feel the futility of man’s ways and efforts and the absolute necessity of why Christ was crucified. They know that without the branch abiding in the vine they will wither and die. They are no longer content to dwell and gather in temples made with hands for they have heard and seen a LIVING TEMPLE “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. The Word is no longer a historical document, no longer an ethereal book that tells us of things to come after we die. For those who by FAITH survey its sacred pages it is THE TRUTH that is LIVING and RELEVANT TODAY. As it states in the Book of Hebrews “TODAY if you will HEAR HIS VOICE…” Those who are content with the status quo, the division and sectarianism and the powerlessness of the religion of today, have not touched the heart and cry of the SON. Those who are not broken over the carnality, strife, emulations, and the spiritual poverty of the North American Church have not felt the heart of the Son; that same Son who wept over Jerusalem and the fate that awaited her. They could not see HIM of whom the scriptures spoke for they had not the faith of Abraham. Jesus said that “Abraham SAW HIS DAY and was glad”. Faith ever sees and beholds the Living Christ. An OPEN HEAVEN is the fruit and the recompense of the wonder of HIS FAITH living and breathing within our hearts.

Ω

“The Bible without the Holy Spirit
is a sundial by moonlight
DL Moody

*Spoken of the heavens, to open the heavens or to have the heavens opened or divided so that celestial things become manifest (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; 10:11; Rev. 19:11) SPIROS ZODHIATES (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament)

Brian Troxel