Quote for Today
“Some folks mistake all they see for all there is.”
Kate Douglas Wiggin
“Some folks mistake all they see for all there is.”
Kate Douglas Wiggin
“And Abraham said unto God,
O that Ishmael might live before thee!”
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.”
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…”
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.”
“The Gentiles shall SEE your righteousness”
We live in a time of great religious activity within the landscape of a secularized Christian “church”. Within this environment “righteousness” has taken on a profession of a faith that is to be stated and debated rather than a life that is actually to be lived. To the normal Christian “righteousness” is a term and a legal standing that we have because of the incredible sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross; a powerful truth and the STARTING PLACE for all of God’s people. However we are exhorted to LIVE and GROW in this righteousness because of the LIFE of the Risen Christ who is the power and the source for us to LIVE in righteousness by the New Law made available to us; “The Law of Life that is in Christ Jesus”!
We see here in Isaiah that the real prophetic purpose of the New Covenant is to bring forth a righteousness that is real, true and actual in our daily lives. The “Gentiles shall SEE” this righteousness for it is not based on a teaching; it is revealed in the everyday life of EVERY believer! Righteousness first and foremost is CHARACTER. It must become the essence of what we are to such an extent we reveal HIM unconsciously in how we conduct the affairs of our life. Fruit is the expression that flows from character, from what a thing IS. An apple tree brings forth apples because that is the revelation and the offspring of what it is in itself. Apples are the RESULT for fruit is simply the expression of the latent life of any organism. Love, Joy, Peace… are the EXPRESSIONS of a righteous life and godly character. The futility of trying to “do” or “express” the fruit of the Spirit without being connected as a branch to the vine is the horror and angst of a powerless religious life.
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river,
was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits,
each tree yielding its fruit every month.
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”
This “TREE OF LIFE” is the revelation of all that HE had purposed in the Creation of the World. We see it in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and we see it standing teeming with LIFE and FRUITFULNESS in the City of God! HIS purposes have not altered and HIS provision for this to BE the reality in our own lives is rich and full because of the Resurrection Life of the SON. This TREE is nourished by the RIVER of LIFE and so must our lives ever move more and more to that end. Trees grow from tiny seeds to a majestic stature, and so must we. The provisions we have and the wisdom of our great Shepherd in HIS dealings with us as we travel through this dark world on the path that ever leads onward and upward is for us to BECOME SONS of God by a new and living WAY!
“…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified”
It is in receiving HIS BEAUTY for our ashes, partaking of the Oil of HIS Joy that comes from mourning and lamenting our selfish carnal ways, that we are garmented in the PRAISES of HIM who is ABLE and WILLING to cause this to BE the substance of our lives. This life of BECOMING is one of trial, temptation, failure, victory and joy. It is a journey that must eclipse that which we now walk in… for a man’s vision must always surpass that which he currently knows.
I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…”
Philippians 3:13 – 15
“O Lord GOD, thou hast BEGUN to show thy servant thy greatness,
and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth,
that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?”
Moses prays this after nearly 120 years of seeing the mighty hand of God in Egypt and the Wilderness. Moses prays this after a life of speaking with God, at times face to face, seeing His Glory in all of the various ways throughout all of those years and yet he prays thus… “Thou hast BEGUN to show Thy servant Thy greatness”! Can we not see, can we not catch a glimpse of the infinite Glory of our God? Is there not the infinite call of God to our hearts to come up higher, to go deeper, to KNOW HIM AS HE IS? Is there not a realization of the little that we settle for; the CRY for relationship that goes beyond teachings, meetings and the common course of the present day “Christian Life”? Is there not within the deep recesses of our hearts the Cry of the Son to know and please the Father? Do we not feel the Cry of all creation longing for the “manifestation of the sons of God…?” (Romans 8:19) While men debate what the “manifestations” should be of those who have the infilling of the Holy Spirit Paul states in Romans…
“For we know that the whole creation
groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
eagerly waiting for the adoption,
the redemption of our body”
ROMANS 8:22 – 23
The manifestations of the firstfruits of the Spirit are revealed in a people who know this groaning and the longing for the full expression of the redemption that was purchased at Calvary! Where is that longing to see, to know and to be fully alive in CHRIST JESUS our Lord? To be satisfied with the status quo of today is an unthinkable state of existence. We see all around us those who are satisfied with state of the Church, who are content to walk within the confines of a doctrinal statement concerning righteousness; content with the impotence and benign expression of the Gospel of the Kingdom because of the lack of vision and the purpose to which the ONE CHURCH has been called. We read in Paul’s Epistle to the Church at Corinth that an unbeliever would walk into their midst and one would stand up and prophesy and the unbeliever would fall on his face because the very secrets of his heart would be revealed. Paul called that Church carnal because of the emulation of the different ministries and the setting of one ministry above another. WHAT WOULD HE SAY TO US IN OUR DAY?
Let us consider Gideon who was living in a time when the people of God were defeated . He was gathering a bit of grain hoping that the enemy would not come and take even that from him. Do we not see the same today where we are no longer affecting those around us but are in more of a survival mode hoping we do not lose the few that are left? In the midst of this God appears to a man; a man who has been gripped by the haunting burden of the cry of God within his own heart…
“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?
And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying,
‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’
God is not afraid of men who question the present day experience… HE LOVES THEM and He comes with an answer. HE comes because of them! He comes because they have the cry for something greater, something real, vital and true. Is it not time for us to read the scriptures anew? Is it not time to stop reading them as some historical novel and begin to compare WHAT WAS to WHAT IS? Is it not time to begin to question what all of our “ways” and our “wisdom” has produced? Is it not a DAY to turn from the deadness of the programs, the teachings and the building up of men’s organizations and men’s ministries and return again to the seeking, knowing, and walking in the ways of God? If we do not see the contrast between the present day expression and His purposes it is time to “consider our ways”. Jesus told us to pray… “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, ON EARTH as it is in Heaven…” Should not that be more than some religious prayer but rather the CRY within our hearts and the purpose of our lives to see it be so?
It is a DAY to question; a DAY to seek afresh HIS FACE. For in the asking, the seeking and the knocking we HAVE A PROMISE THAT THE DOOR SHALL BE OPENED; a door that leads us into new places and reveals HIM in a fuller, deeper and richer way. That door will transform the present day Church into a precious bride that is pure, holy and righteous.
“I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel,
to do it for them”
“I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision”
Vision requires obedience. This is not an earthly vision, for earthly visions may simply be ideals, goals or lofty things for which we strive. Not so a heavenly one. A heavenly vision originates in heaven. It is not the product of men and therefore it is not simply an ideal or a religious concept; it is GOD’S CALL.
Here we see Paul nearing the end of his journey and the vision had not faded. It had not been compromised but it beat with a fiery passion as he communicates to everyone the one thing that has produced this expression within his heart. Without obedience the heavenly vision fades. It not only becomes just a teaching, but the beauty of it no longer births a life of pursuit. It is reduced to something that men discuss and debate in theological rhetoric without the “CRY” for its reality.
Obedience is the lamp that illumines our vision. Without it our world becomes small and our view of the size and scope of God’s salvation withers as well. “I” becomes the center from which everything else is viewed. Things are measured by how it relates to “my” wellbeing and we are no longer affected by the needs of those around us. We are unable even to see that “the fields are white unto harvest” for we must have HIS VISION of the world to truly care. Without obedience and participation in the costly exercise of our lives as it relates to GOD’s purpose the vision fades. We are ultimately left with a life that is barren, unexercised in the dynamic of faith, and out of touch with the reality of God’s heart.
The nature of anything is known by its fruit.
“The days are at hand, and the EFFECT of every vision.
For there shall be no more any vain vision…”
”And I arose in the night”
The test of faith is not only what we do in the times of light and blessing but how we respond in those times when we cannot see our way. Here we see a dark time for the people of God; the City of God was burned with fire, the gates destroyed, and rubble filled the streets. The enemy was strong in the Land and the oppressors kept diligent watch that there should be no rising up of the people of God.
Nehemiah had a call from God to see the City arise from the rubble. There was a cry in his heart for the City not for himself. The burden caused him to arise, the vision was strong upon him, his purpose was clear and his God was Great. He did not wait for others to “catch the vision”; he did not wait for the “conditions” to improve. He arose to fulfill the cry of God in his heart.
True Vision produces DEEDS of FAITH. True vision brings us into the reality that our God is willing, able and faithful to provide substance and strength for the purpose for which we have been apprehended. While men linger in the night the tares are planted…
“But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat”
While men sleep the enemy sows deception and error; thoughts that sound right but destroy the truth of the seed that was planted. Excuses and reasons why we cannot arise, why the people of God should be content to just maintain the status quo while the City of God remains divided, weak and barren, are all tares sown in the night.
“The slothful man saith, there is a lion in the way…”
LET US ARISE even in the night to see HIS Glory once again covering, filling and empowering the Church of JESUS CHRIST. Let us arise, lay aside the seeking of our own prosperity, and find HIS heart to seek the welfare of the Children of God!
“God’s program for reviving His people is definite and clear. First Elijah repaired the altar of Jehovah that was thrown down. That is the place to begin. All the ruin that sin has wrought must be cleared away by confession. Things must be made right with God; restitution must be made where it is due. Unless this is done definitely and thoroughly, prayer for reviving is vain. Too many are praying today without repairing the altar by confession of sin, without digging a trench of separation from the world and without a surrender that is even unto death. No wonder such prayer is fruitless”