The Process of Faith – from Thorns to Sons

fower among thorns

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from which they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16 KJ2000)

As some of you might have observed, there has been a great struggle of gaining true faith in Christ and His kingdom within me. How many of us are truly “strangers and exiles” on this earth? We Christians, especially here in America, still have our hopes in a land where we can find our city. We still hope to get a secure place here on earth and this delusion is probably greatest in “the land of the free.” Our founding fathers thought that they had finally found that secure place on this earth. Many of them had fled Europe because of persecution for their faith. They worked hard to make America secure, not only for them, but for us. But in this present hour we are watching all their hard work and all our “securities” evaporate before out eyes; our 401k retirement plans, our property values, our family ties, world peace and safety, even our so-called Constitutional rights they fought so hard to secure! All that we relate to as “security” in this world is evaporating before our eyes and there is panic in the air.

The above passage is from the great “faith chapter” in Hebrews. There we find a list of people who put their trust in God. All these saints of old had one thing in common… not one of them ever found a secure place in this world, but their hopes were in something far off, “a heavenly.” Is that where we have our only hope? Is God “not ashamed to be called our God”?

Americans are about the richest people on earth, but our riches have deceived us. They have made us put our hopes in things that are temporary and transient. In His parable of the sower, Jesus warned, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Mat 13:22 KJ2000). We American Christians hear the words of Christ and His gospel and we think that we are thus “saved,” because we once made a “decision” for Christ. But what happens after that? How many of us go out and get all wrapped up with the cares and concerns of this world after Jesus sets us free? Jesus said that where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. The hearts of many are waxing cold for fear of what is coming upon this country and the world. Many Christians are even taking up arms and are willing to kill to save themselves and what is theirs. Have we not learned from the example of Peter with his sword? Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Thorns – the cares of this world, choke out faith and can kill our relationship with God.

In Romans we read,

For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:19-23 KJ2000)

Glorious liberty! Are we truly the Sons of Liberty? Our founding fathers thought they were. I think we are in the process of being freed in the truest spiritual since. We have been born into vanity and futility as sons of Adam. We are in bondage because we think that our continuing city, our “peace of the rock” is to be found on this earth. I can see why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” They have a lot less “thorns” in their lives to be released of.

We give lip service that Jesus is our Rock, the Rock of our salvation, but are all our hopes and dreams founded on that Rock alone? So, as we watch all our earthly securities being vaporized, God is hoping we get the picture! HE has subjected us to lives of vanity here on earth in hope that we will finally see that being totally IN Christ is our only hope. HE alone is that which can not be shaken while everything else is shaking and falling apart (see Hebrews 12:26-29). Our hope and our lives must be IN Him or we will suffer great loss as the waves of tribulation come crashing in upon us.

Paul wrote, “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” He is talking about the labor pains of a woman. You see, the earth is the womb we are in. It is rumbling and pushing and being stressed to its limits. Why? So we who are Christ’s would dig in and hold on for all that we are worth? So we would fight to hold this existence together to our dying breaths?

Jesus defined some of these “birth pains” as wars, earthquakes, natural disasters, famines, pestilence, and such. Men cry “Peace! Peace! And there is no peace.” This age is coming to an end and the whole creation is giving birth, actually pushing us out of this world and all that pertains to it. Is it any wonder that everything we cling to as “security” in this life is failing?

I think a baby must feel a great deal of rejection in the birthing process. All of a sudden the walls of his world are closing in on that once warm and comfortable place that was its whole life and reality. Its whole known world is pushing it out as if it is unwanted! Then that blast of cold air and the bright lights. Oh, the trauma! No wonder they come out crying. But what is next? The mother takes the child, wraps it in a blanket and puts him on her breast. The crying is over. There is no more of a peaceful sight than a baby nursing at its mother’s breast. This is all a parable from God. We should take hope in what is ahead, dear saints. “Travail lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Paul continues, “We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body.” The redemption of our body… what does that mean? He is speaking of our being caught up into that eternal city whose builder and maker is God whose Foundation is Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. For here we have no continuing city. There is a groaning within us, those who are His, to get out of here and get on with REAL Life… that eternal life we have had a foretaste of in Christ!

Paul wrote,

“For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that has made us for the same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2Co 5:4-6 KJ2000).

Our redemption has been sealed by the Holy Spirit within. He is the “earnest money” of the agreement we have made with God when we first surrendered to Jesus. Next came the “down payment.” We gave all we had to get that house. We surrender ALL to Him in this life process. Then comes the closing and we finally get the keys to our house and we get to move in. And guess what? Once we are moved in we find a note on the kitchen counter that the rest of the loan is paid off! The house is totally ours because Jesus paid the full price after all.

Lord, open our eyes to what a great salvation you have given us. Free us of the thorns that seek to choke out our faith in your Son. Raise us up as joint heirs with Christ and let us see that we NOW live in heavenly places as we put our trust in Him alone. Amen.

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The Letter of the Law or the Spirit?

pharisee

To answer this question correctly is to understand the nature of the New Covenant under Christ as its Head.

Apostle Paul was once a Pharisee who taught the law. He knew everything there was to know about God and he persecuted the church (and Jesus), but after he had an encounter with the living Christ he wrote,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. (1Co 2:7-9 KJ2000)

The wisdom of the New Covenant is hidden from those who are of the world  and its way of thinking. But it is given to those who love God. Love is the key. Not love of religion, one’s denomination or even a love for the Bible, but His wisdom is given to those who truly love God! These other things can be good, but the worst enemy of the best is not evil, but what is merely “good” for they make us settle for a near miss. Many want to be seen as those who love God, but few are willing to pay the price for what it means to be a follower of His only Begotten Son whom God sent. We would much rather follow the world’s princes and leaders… kings, presidents, heads of denominations, popes, generals, etc., the very ones who lead us away from Christ and to themselves (see Acts 20: 29-31).

In the world there is a saying, “Rex Lex,” The law is king. The letter of the law must be observed! “To hell with mercy. Enforce the law!” they say.  The Jews lived by this mindset. As I read the Bible, it seems that they spent their whole day searching for someone that broke their law so they could kill them. There is in Christendom a form of legalism that clings to the letter of the law, the Bible as well. The people of this mindset are loyal to God and hate everyone that is not as “loyal” as they are. Just as it was with the scribes and Pharisees of 2000 years ago, it is all about power and control to this day among the self-righteous religionists. But is this what Jesus, the Son of God, came to portray to all men regarding His Father? I think not.

Let’s look at a comparison of the letter of the law to the Spirit of Christ.

The letter of the Old Covenant says, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But Jesus came saying,

“But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not away.” (Mat 5:39-42 KJ2000)

The letter of the Jews’ law says, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But Jesus said,

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them who love you, what reward have you? do not even the tax collectors the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the tax collectors so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:44-48 KJV2000)

The letter said that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned. But Jesus when confronted by the Jews over an adulterous woman said,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing before him. When Jesus had lifted himself up, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, “Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?” She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” (Joh 8:7-11 KJV2000)

The law kills, but Jesus gave life and came that we might have life more abundantly (see 2 Cor. 3:6).

The letter of the law said that Jews were not to talk to Samaritans, especially their women! But Jesus spoke words to an adulterous Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that no legalistic Jew ever heard – words of healing and words of life…

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said unto him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from where then have you that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his sons, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said unto him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw.” …The woman said unto him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said unto her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (Joh 4:10-24 KJV2000)

He spoke to her of her need of the Spirit to dwell within who would become an artesian force of life flowing out of her. There was not a single word of condemnation, though He could see her whole life clearly.  In this conversation Jesus also went up against the law of the Jews by saying that their temple was no longer needed to worship God, but that REAL worshipers of God do so in the Spirit out of lives lived in the Truth. Tell that one to your pastor or priest and see how far it will get you!

The letter of the law said that hands had to be washed before one could eat, yet the disciples who were with Jesus ate with unwashed hands. The self-righteous Jews were all about looking good on the outside and being seen of men as they did their religious duties, but Jesus taught that God looks not on the outward, but rather on the heart from where comes the real issues and motivations of our lives (read Matt. ch. 23). What an ugly sight that must be!

The Jews’ law said that it was okay to circumcise a man on the Sabbath, but they sought to kill Jesus because he healed a lame man on the Sabbath and made him whole. Does anyone see the irony in this? It is okay under the law to maim but not to heal? It is okay to loose one’s donkey or ox on the Sabbath and take them to water, but it is a sin to loose a woman of the demon that possessed her? To these hypocrites Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Mat 12:6-8 KJ2000 – emphasis added).

If Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, then it was impossible for Him to break the Sabbath. And the Lord of the Sabbath said, “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man.” It was meant to be day of rest, not a day of condemnation and judgment.

We Need a New Mind!

Why is everything so twisted up in the religious minds of men? Jesus came to set all men free and religion comes to bind them up again! It is simple. The carnal mind is enmity against God and the religious mind is carnal. Paul wrote,

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:6-8 KJ2000)

Jesus made it clear that we have to be born of the Spirit or we will never understand God (see John ch. 3), in fact we will end up being His enemies! Paul went on to say,

But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Rom 8:9-10 KJ2000)

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but few want to die that they might truly live. The Spirit of Christ must be in us if we are true Christians. That which is born of the flesh only is only flesh! But that which is born from above of the Spirit of God is spirit. Sorry all you who pursue Bible teaching with the power of your intellects only, you are out of luck. Is it any wonder that the first Christian seminary was not built until well into the fourth century when the church had already fallen under Roman control?

The mind when used properly is a good thing, but it has to be submitted to God and tuned to the Holy Spirit and not just used for intellectual pursuits or the Truth will never be fully apprehended by it. But we have an alternative to our carnal minds with which to explore and respond to God. Paul wrote,

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phi 2:5 KJ2000).

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1Co 2:12-16 KJ2000).

Peter wrote the same saying, “Since therefore Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1Pe 4:1-2 KJ2000). The real battle is to LET this mind be in us, the mind of Christ, that we might fully comprehend the kingdom of God and His Son with the help of the Spirit who is our Teacher (See 1 John 2:26-27). The letter of the Bible is not enough. Without the Spirit of God we are blind to the things of God and will use them to do damage to others just as the Jews used them to justify the murder of Christ. Because they did not know the day of their visitation from God, their house has been left to them desolate. The temple is no more, but God still has His true worshipers and they worship and live IN the Spirit and IN the Truth, even Jesus Christ.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, you shall not see me again, till you shall say, Blessed is he who comes IN the name of the Lord. (Mat 23:37-39 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

“My Kingdom Is Not of This World”

Church & State

Pilate answered [Jesus], Am I a Jew? your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you unto me: what have you done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here. Pilate therefore said unto him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
(Joh 18:35-37 KJ2000)

Pilate asked Jesus what He had done to be delivered to be delivered by the Jewish authority for execution. Jesus answered him succinctly, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

If we are of this world (kosmos – world system) we will support the governments of men on one side or the other, putting our hopes in them and not the Prince of Peace. We will stand and fight and the world will love us. Our actions will always lead to murder and war (see James 4:1-6). The “peace movement” of the sixties turned violent very quickly because they were ignorant of this fact. Satan had them in his hand in a heartbeat.

Jesus was killed by the religious and governmental systems of men because he was NOT of this world so were Stephen and the rest of the early church martyrs. It was not until Christianity became a religious system under Emperor Constantine’s control that it became murderous. “God and country” whether it is Allah and country under sheriah law or the American version “Moral Majority” is still the same murderous delusion. When religion gets punitive power it becomes bloody every time, even killing the Christ and His messengers who come to save them from themselves.

Much of Christianity today appeals to the Old Covenant to justify governmental power and even murder. They use it to justify hatred for minorities, homosexuals and other religions of the world, but Jesus brought an end to that covenant and filled up the just requirements of its law as He died on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We are not under that covenant, but rather one that is NEW in every way with Christ, the Prince of Peace, as our only Head. If we had known what this means, “I shall have mercy, not sacrifice,” we would have not condemned the guiltless. Jesus came to tear down the wall of separation between all men, not establish a new one. His mercy triumphs over judgement and HIS kingdom will triumph over the fallen kingdoms of men.

Choices are being made in this hour as to who is our King and in which kingdom we will be found taking our stand. Guns stores are being emptied of weapons and ammunition here in America. There will be another bloody revolution as King Obama or is ilk continues to strip away our civil rights with increasing centralized governmental power. To many Christians in America this is a severe test. May we who belong to Jesus all be found standing with the Prince of Peace in the days ahead no matter the cost.

Metamorphosis

Monarch butterfly

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1Jo 3:2 KJV)

A few years ago I prayed, “Father, make me like your Son, only doing those things I see you doing and speaking those things I hear you saying.” I had just enough time to think to myself, “Man! That was sure a righteous prayer!” To this He replied, “No, my son, that is only the starting point!”

So many of us want to walk as Jesus walked on this earth, doing good, healing the sick and speaking great words of wisdom from God. But this is where success is found… only doing and saying what He desires to do and say through us. BUT here is the test… are we willing to learn obedience the way Jesus had to learn it? Jesus learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Many want to be spiritual, but few want to pay the price that is attached to true spirituality in Christ. After praying this prayer I went into a time of suffering and isolation. I learned that I had to suffer many of the same things Jesus did and often at the hand of religious Christians! Isaiah 53 became my life story; a root out of dry ground with nothing about me that men would desired, despised, rejected, cut off from fellowship and friends and judged by others as being under the judgment of God. Yes, “to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Who, indeed? Just how bad do any of us want to have Christ revealed in us?

You see, to get to this point of being totally tuned into and obedient to our Father takes a total transformation. The flesh profits nothing. We first have to come to realize that there is no good thing in us and seek HIS resolution to the problem. This word, transformation is packed with meaning. Have you seen the movie, “Metamorphosis”? I recently watched it with a brother in Christ from Canada who came to our home and he brought it with him. It is a documentary about what takes place in a the life-cycle of a butterfly and part of what I am writing here, he shared with me. It was a special time together in Christ.

For years it has been a mystery how that lowly worm, the caterpillar, was transformed (Greek – metamorpho) into a butterfly in that hard, ugly chrysalis. Then some scientists did an MRI of one of them while it went through this process. It seems that the worm, while in the chrysalis, completely dissolves and none of the original legs, organs, digestive track, etc. remains. Then there are some small cell packages in what’s left that take that “worm soup” and reform it into the organs that are common only to the butterfly. The worm does not change himself but rather he gives up his life so that a new and more glorious life might spring forth from what was once the old. He has to lose his old identity completely for this to happen. The whole thing is a miracle and it is a living parable of what God desires to do with each of us. Paul wrote about this process saying,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed [metamorpho] by the renewing of your mind [literally, a whole new mind], that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:1-2 KJ2000).

There is no comparison of the caterpillar to the butterfly. Once, the worm had a gut that digested leaves, but the butterfly now eats and digests nectar from flowers with a new digestive track. Once the worm had stubby little legs that were made to grasp leaves, now the butterfly has long articulated legs made to grasp flowers. Once the worm had no eyes, but now the butterfly has compound eyes that see everything around it. Once the worm had no proboscis, but now the butterfly has a long one that can reach the bottom of the deepest flower. Once the worm was confined to the branch it was hatched on, now the butterfly, like the Monarch, can fly for thousands of miles and with his new mind and know exactly how to get to where he is supposed to be. And who can deny the beauty of the butterfly? There is no comparison of its form to the former worm.

As we progress in Christ we, like the butterfly larva, become a “living sacrifice” that goes into a total dormant state for a season (some call it a time of deep trials, darkness or wilderness) while we trade one life form for another. We are being transformed from lowly worms into beautiful spiritual butterflies that we might “mount up with wings as eagles” and rest on and move with the winds of the Spirit. This is what obedience is — resting in the Spirit in our new lives not striving as a worm to do what only a butterfly can do. Paul described this process this way,

 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2Co 4:11 KJ2000)

Did you know that even Jesus went through a metamorphosis right before the eyes of his disciples?

And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart, And was transfigured [metamorpho] before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light. (Mat 17:1-2 KJ2000)

You see, Jesus is the pattern Son. God sent Him into the world to show us the path of true righteousness and then to empower us by the gift of His Spirit abiding in us to carry it out. ALL things necessary for salvation, justification, righteousness and our glorification are ours as we abide IN Christ and submit ourselves to this process. This revelation should give scope to what Paul wrote in Romans chapter eight…

 For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God… but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body… Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness… 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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom 8:19-32 KJ2000)

Remember how I wrote above that the worm was dissolved inside the chrysalis? Now look at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians…

 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven… Now he that has made us for the same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (2Co 5:1-5 KJ2000)

This transformation process that the saints of God must go through was a mystery down through the ages. It was hidden though the prophets desired to understand what God would do to change us. How would God ever get sinful men and women to become His sons and daughters? It was not done through the keeping of the law because the law was weak because of our sinful flesh (See Romans 8:3). No, it was done by the cross of Christ and the imparting into us of His resurrection life.

 Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col 1:26-27 KJ2000)

Just as our suffering starts in this lifetime, so does our transformation, our metamorphosis, and herein is the glory of God seen among His sons and daughters for he submits us to this process in hope. Jesus Christ, the First-born Son of God,  is our hope and our glory in all things pertaining to life as we abide IN Him.

Amen. Even so, Come Lord Jesus… in us all.

That You Might Be Children of Your Father – Part 1

David&Saul

One time I was praying, “Father, why can’t I perceive you as my Father? Why do you seem distant to me?” He answered me with this passage.

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

You see, I had spent my life NOT loving my enemies, despising all who despised me, speaking evil of those who did me wrong, etc. The verbiage is interesting here, “Your reward will be great. You will be sons of the Most High… if you are merciful just as your Father is merciful.”  Only as we abide IN the Son, Jesus Christ, will we do this, because it is HIM in us doing it… making us truly sons of the Most High. Peter wrote:

“For even to this were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously” (1Pe 2:21-23 KJ2000).

We “follow in His steps” by walking IN Christ and not in our old adamic nature. The cross, always the cross is the door from one life to the other. We must embrace His cross in our lives. Only as we walk IN the Son, in His sufferings and rejections, yet in His love do we know God as our Father. “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Part 2 can be read at https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/that-you-might-be-children-of-your-father-2/

On Freedom

torn US flag

A new study by different sources has just come out showing New Zealand is the freest nation in the world with the United States tied in seventh position with Denmark. http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/news/display.aspx?id=19171

The thing that allows freedom and makes it work is moral individual responsibility. If an individual refuses to be guided by moral responsibility towards his neighbors he is usually put in jail to protect the freedoms of those who do. Only when each individual is guided by a moral standard (which has been made clear in the Bible) does he love his neighbor as himself. And the greatest moral agent which the Bible speaks of is the one that comes into a person who has given his life to Christ and has been given a new heart, spirit and mind from heaven (the heart, Spirit and mind of Christ) which is over-written with the law of love. And against God’s love there is no law. If you love someone unselfishly you will not kill them, steal from them, covet what is theirs, etc. and in general you will show them kindness and honor.

The Constitution of the United States gives forth a “Bill of Rights” to its citizens, but these “rights” only work in a positive way when they are given to a moral people. Because of the lack of moral fiber in our country we are watching these “rights” become instruments of abuse to the freedoms of others. For instance the first amendment or freedom of speech is being used to disseminate pornography and all manner of movies and video games showing graphic sex and murder to the young formative minds of children. Sex education in our schools is not allowed to be taught with the admonition that sex is meant to happen in the framework of a marriage between a man and a woman where the resultant children are nurtured, loved and cared for. And what is the result of this abuse of our “freedom of speech”? Young people that are consumed with thoughts of sex and violence who act these things out. Another example of this is the second amendment  which protects “the right to keep and bear arms” in America. Yet what do we find in an amoral society? Guns are being used not only for purposes of sporting and self-defence, but to make it easier for warped minds and criminals to steal and kill. The end result is that as morality declines in this country there will be a total camp-down on all rights as it is turned into a totalitarian police state and the whole country becomes a prison.

With all this in mind and New Zealand  being listed as number one for freedoms granted to its citizens and the U.S. tied for seventh,  I have to wonder if New Zealand is basically a moral country with a low crime rate that has not yet been corrupted to the extent that we have in the U. S.

“We know that the Law is spiritual. But [if] I am merely a human, and I have been sold as a slave to sin.”(Rom 7:14 CEV)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1 NIV)

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1Pe 2:15-16 KJ2000)

You see only those filled with Christ, the true servants of Christ, can truly be free.

The Presence of the Lord

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (Joh 1:12-13 KJ2000)

“So I say to you, that tJesus with Childhe fundamental thing is always the Presence of the Lord. It is not any one of the thousand things that make up Christianity. The ultimate criterion is, ‘Is the Lord there?’ and ‘Is the Lord in all things there?’ ‘Is the Lord in what they do?’ and ‘Is the Lord in how they do it?’ Because with the Lord how things are done is as important as doing the things. Is the Lord in the people individually there? And are their lives marked by this supreme thing? THE LORD IN THEM.

“I have no doubt that you love the Lord. I am not raising any question about that. But, I do say again, we are involved in a great system which is a very complicated thing, and a great deal of it is not of the Lord. It is something that man has brought in. Man has put his hand upon the things of the Lord, and man has made things according to his own mind, and therefore a great deal has come in which is of man and not of the Lord. And when we say that, we are not only thinking of Christianity in general, we are thinking of ourselves. This is true of ourselves. We have all come into something called Christianity, and we have all taken on something of Christianity, and there may be a great deal that we have to get rid of, and come back to the simple fundamental reality. And the fundamental reality of all realities is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. We have got to know that the Lord is with us, and that the Lord is with us in all that we do, that this did not originate in our mind. It did not originate in our will, it did not originate in our emotion. It did not come from our soul, this thing has come from the Lord in every detail like the tabernacle. Just like Jesus Christ, in every detail it has to come to us from God.” ~ T. Austin Sparks 1964

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001082.html