A River Runs Through Us!

RiverLife

Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5 KJ2000)

 

This is a sobering warning from the Lord Jesus to His church at the end of the first century. This church was doing everything that He wanted of them, but one thing. In their zeal for the Lord, the “things” of “doing church” had replaced their love for Him and for one another. Sound familiar?

But, God is doing something to remedy that problem. How many of you have felt this special move of God in your hearts, lately? It is like a river flowing out of your belly… a river of His great love that seems to have no end and who’s intensity just keeps growing! God seems to have sent His Spirit into us to restore the love we once had in those early days when Jesus first came into and made His abode in us. I have been totally taken by the love of the Lord over the last few weeks! It is so strong and it is flowing out of me for all who He puts me in touch with, even on the internet!

Well, as I have shared this experience with a few others that He put me in touch with in a special way, it turns out that they are also feeling this within them– an artesian force that can’t be contained. Jesus told the woman at the well, “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”(John 4:14 RSVA – emphasis added). In John chapter seven we read,

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39 KJ2000).

Yes, this flow is of the Spirit of God and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… I have been experiencing all of these aspects of His fruit flowing out of me and it is exciting, but the most intense of them is His love and with it the joy of the Lord springs up in me as well. This river is His healing power for dry and thirsty souls.

In Psalms we read, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.”(Psalms 46:4-5 RSVA). You see, with this river of love comes great joy that makes us so glad to be in the City of God and among His people! Now couple this last passage with what David says here, “How precious is thy steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of thy wings. They feast on the abundance of thy house, and thou givest them drink from the river of thy delights. For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light do we see light.”(Psalms 36:7-9 RSVA). Here we see the love of God, the river of God, and His fountain of living water which brings Light and Life! It is all the same flow coming down from the throne of God and flowing out from we who are IN the flow of His Spirit as His individual streams that make up the river.

Ezekiel saw this river (see chapter 47) and John saw this river in his vision of heaven,

 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 RSVA)

So, as I contemplated how this love of God flowed from me to those who were also in the river it was like it was a continuum that replenished itself. The more I let his love flow through me the more I got! My stream of love flowed into them and theirs flowed into me and the love has just kept building and increasing! It has been like Jesus said in Luke, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall be given into your bosom: for with the same measure with which ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”(Luke 6:38 Darby). Sometimes my “bosom,” my breast, feels like it is about to explode if I try to hold it all in!!!

For the first time I am starting to understand the depth of what Jesus was saying here in John…

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 KJ2000)

Where the love of the Father abides in us, His fullness of joy will also be there with it. What is His commandment that we are to keep? “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” We abide in Him… by abiding in His great flow of love for each other!

While meditating on all these things, I got this picture of a flow that was circular… there are these rivers that flow in a circle in water parks in our area. They flow in a circle and are moved along by large pumps and underwater jets from the pumps. I saw this as the flow of love as I have been experiencing it. The love flows from me to the next person down stream. Did it originate from me? Yes and no. The flow originated from the Father and the Son and the love that they have for one another and it spills forth onto us and then through us to others and then back to them again from our love filled hearts. John in his first letter wrote,

 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect… because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love… He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.(1 John 4:16-19 KJ2000)

So we see here that the “pump” that makes this river of love flow is the love of the Father and the Son and as WE dwell in the flow of their love we dwell IN THEM and are made perfect in their love. As His body we become like Jesus to this thirsty world by letting the love of the Father and the Son flow to them through us.

The next is one of my most favorite passages in the Bible… Jesus final prayer to the Father,

“… that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”(John 17:21-23 RSVA – emphasis added)

We just read above that we are made perfect in the love of the Father and the Son. Now we see Jesus saying the same thing calling it being ONE. If a pitcher or a cistern is broken it is no longer perfect and good for nothing for it can hold no water (see Jer. 2:12-13). Through God’s love for us, we are being made into perfect vessels of His love from which He can pour us out on the thirsty and loveless world around us. It is in this same love as we abide in it that we are made perfectly ONE. We as the Bride of Christ are making ourselves ready for His soon return by fellowshipping and abiding IN His Love!

Do you want to evangelize the world?

Only as we are in the unity of the love of the Father and the Son will the world know that the Father has sent the Son and how much HE loves them. When our evangelism is just so many empty platitudes and throwing scriptures at people without the love of the Father flowing through us to then, they will never see the Son for who He is and love Him because He first loves them.

So, dear saints of God, pray that God might open up your hearts and heal you of anything in you that blocks the flow of His great grace and love for your fellow members of Christ’s body and for all who are starving for a touch from the Father’s loving heart. And as He heals you of your wounds you will be amazed at the love He pours through you for people that you once hated and disliked.

 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… (Matt. 5:44-45)

 

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Will We Choose Jesus Christ or a System?

The Bride of ChristDear saints, how many of us are still clinging to the traditions of men in our hearts instead of being stripped of all that and clinging to Jesus Christ and being adorned only in the wedding garment HE has provided? God will have His heavenly temple made from living stones purified in the fire and Jesus Christ will have his perfect bride who only has a heart for Him and no other. There HAS to be a terrible shaking to get us to let go of all that is not of His heavenly order and I believe it has begun.

I used to think that church splits, abusive church leadership, ministers who fall into sin and delusion, and ministries that go off after obvious heresy were something terrible, but now I can see that all these things are part of God’s purifying process that drives the true believer out of that whorish system and into the arms of the One who loves them, Jesus Christ. On the one hand people are being seduced by those who appeal to their flesh and on the other we are being offered a path of rejection and suffering in this world as we seek the One who can not be shaken who is our Rock. This is the dividing of soul from spirit spoken of in Hebrews ch. 4:12.

The following was written by T. Austin-Sparks in 1952 and how much more is it a warning for we who serve Christ in this late hour?

 

The words quoted from the prophet seem yet to be capable of a fuller-ranged fulfillment than even the above-mentioned ‘shaking’. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens”. (Hebrews 12:26,27).

There is no doubt that the Letter to the Hebrews was a supreme effort to get Christian believers detached from an earthly form of Christianity, and attached to Christ in heaven. That effort had as one of its strong reasons the fact that a great shaking was foretold, foreseen, and imminent. That shaking was to be in two parts, an earlier and a latter; an entirely earthly, and later an earthly and heavenly combined. The effect of the shaking, and, indeed, the purpose of it, would be to test everything as to abiding values. The former and earthly shaking was Jewish, but it had all the elements in principle and type of the latter.

In the destruction of Jerusalem – toward which the Letter pointed – the whole earth was shaken so far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood, as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrated and unified people.

These were things capable of being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worth while. The means to the end was not immediate, that is, there was far too big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate touch with the real Divine requirement, and there was far too much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than preserve it, God Himself shook it.

What remained after the shaking was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God’s house here a purely spiritual and heavenly one – not formal, arranged, imposed, imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that life is Divine, and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous.

The amazing thing is how blind and unbelieving Christian people are, and therefore how unwilling to seek to know the way of the ‘unshakable’. In a very small part of our lifetime the phrase ‘world evangelization’ (from one part to another) has been rendered unusable, and all that mighty machine is having to be revised. Countries which were until quite recently the greatest spheres of ‘missionary’ activity are now closed as such. There is a feverish race to try to move ahead of the flood in other countries which are already encircled and undermined. In those overrun countries nothing but a true and living knowledge of the Lord is stemming the tide. The framework and organized structure of Christianity is gone. Deeply, stealthily, and irresistibly this sinister work is paving the way for swift and paralysing movements in all the rest of the world, as much in the West as in the East. The result will be the same everywhere, little as it may seem possible because of long traditions and strong establishments. It seems a terrible thing, even to think, but as we have touched so very much of what is called ‘Christianity’ we are bound to believe that, because vast numbers who call themselves Christian are in an utterly false position, and the system itself has become so largely an earthly, traditional, formal, and unspiritual thing, this world-wide shaking is quite necessary and will be eventually justified. If we were writing a treatise, we could show that what is called ‘Christianity’ is really the greatest enemy of Christ.

It will be seen that it is not a matter of substituting another and better system for an old and poor or bad one. Some people seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we returned to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterized the New Testament churches, the New Testament does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be set up or formed! There is no blue-print for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.

This brings us to our particular point. What is the pressing imperative in view of this oncoming flood of testing, which has already carried away very many of those who were called Christian, and even evangelical Christians?

Surely there is only one answer:- On the one hand, a ministry which has as its substance and object the “rooting and grounding”, the establishing, the building up, of believers, the real increase of “the measure of Christ”. This must get behind evangelism, so that the work is deep, not superficial; enduring, not transient; intrinsic, not general! On the other hand, believers must really take stock of their Christianity. Is it just a tradition, an assumption, an external system, the thing which is common acceptance – more or less? Or is it really “by revelation of Jesus Christ” in the heart? A real walk with God, and a growing knowledge of Christ, a life in the Spirit? God has said it: the things which can be shaken will be. What have we got that, being unshakable, will remain?

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002091.html

 

Unshakeable Ground in Christ

ChristChurch cathedral during a media tour
As some of you know, I have been pondering this passage for some time, the more so as we watch this world coming unraveled more and more…
See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29 KJ2000)
This is a picture of the quake damage at Cathedral Square in Christchurch, N.Z  in 2011. What is it that is Unshakable? Surely it is NOT temples made by men to “house God.” As it was with the temple in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago, so will it be with the last vestiges of Christendom, that artificial thing that is NOT made from LIVING stones who have only Christ as their true Foundation.  So our salvation is to abide where HE is our king, in His kingdom and not the kingdoms of men.
I got a better picture of this principle as I read the following from T. Austin-Sparks this morning…

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:1,2 NIV)

Mountains? And the Lord like the mountains? What is that? It is fortification, it is strength, it is protection. And what is the point of fortification if there is nothing against which to be fortified? Away back in Old Testament times, when the people came into the land, the remarkable thing is that they occupied the higher places more than the lower. You will find that their towns, cities and villages are almost all of them upon some high place; the reason being that their enemies, who had chariots and horses, had their strength on the level, in the plain, but they could do nothing with chariots and horses against mountains. And therefore the safety, security and fortification of the Lord’s people was by being on high places.

That is a parable. If the enemy can get you on to his level he has beaten you. So he must pull you down, he must get you down, he must get you to accept something less than God’s full place and mind for you, and then he will undo you. That is what he has done with the church, speaking of the church now in very general terms. He has pulled it down to this world level; he has reduced it to the level of things here, and he has absolutely disintegrated it, broken it up and divided it and robbed it of its power. The church which is revealed to us in the New Testament is always on high ground…. In Ephesians, it is “in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” It is a great power to be on high ground, it is a great defensive, protective factor; the enemy can do little with you if you keep up there and refuse to come down. Nehemiah found that to be so, when they said, “Come down and let us confer”; and he said, “I am doing a great work so that I cannot come down” (Neh. 6:3). It is a principle operating.
http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/003266.html

It’s a NEW Covenant!

A New Day

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)

I was on the phone with a brother in eastern Montana, USA, a while back and the Lord had me key-in on one statement he had made, “Most Christians don’t know what the New Covenant REALLY IS!” I immediately asked myself, “Just WHAT IS the New Covenant anyway?” I know that I had gone to many churches and sat through years in time of accumulated sermons and Sunday school classes, but had I ever heard about the nature of the New Covenant and just what makes it NEW??? So, I admitted to my friend and brother in Montana that I did not know what the New Covenant was! I new that what we see, calling itself “the church” was NOT it for sure, for it in its present day form is not found in the Bible! I wanted to KNOW!

Bud started me on my search by referring me to a little known (at least in Christendom) passage in one of the prophet’s books in the Old Testament which was quoted again in the Book of Hebrews (a book that is ALL about the difference between the New and Old Covenants, by the way)…

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, ‘Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,’ says the Lord. ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’ In that he says, A NEW COVENANT, he has made the first OLD. NOW THAT WHICH DECAYS AND GROWS OLD IS READY TO VANISH AWAY.” (Hebrews 8:7-13 KJ2000- emphasis added)

Ezekiel saw the nature of this NEW thing that God put in place 2000 years ago and said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 KJ2000)

The Old Covenant was all hinged on man doing what pleased God, but NOT the New! In this NEW Covenant it is all about what GOD is doing IN US for it is “NOT by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

HE takes out of us our stone cold hearts!
HE gives us a NEW heart!
HE writes His law (His will) upon our hearts
HE puts His Spirit in us!
HE removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west!
HE will be the only Teacher we will need (see also 1 John 2:26-27)!

You see, it is NOT about US any longer (not a single “Thou shalt…” or “Thou shalt not…” to be found here), but it is ALL about HIM and what He is doing in our lives. Jesus said, “Apart from ME you can do NOTHING!” What part of “NOTHING” don’t we understand???

So, what is our part in this NEW and lasting Covenant that Jesus inaugurated with His own death and resurrection and the infilling of His Spirit that took place on the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago? Our part is to only rest by faith IN HIM! In Hebrews we ALSO read,

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV)

Did you get it? There is a rest in the here and now for those who walk by faith where we cease from all our striving, fretting and doubts, but rather we rest confidently in the finished work of Jesus Christ and enjoy HIS presence as we abide TOTALLY IN HIM and no longer in or of ourselves. This IS what grace really is, my friends. You see, once we are resting IN Christ; grace, peace, rest, obedience to God, abiding IN the Vine, following the voice of THE Shepherd… ALL these things become one and the same and part of what it means to be true members of this NEW and LASTING covenant. If you are NOT there, then pray that God kills that old sinful, striving religious nature in you that finds HIS GRACE to be such an insult to that Old Adam that still has possession of your heart.

Pray, “Father, whatever it takes! Do what you must to get your new heart within me which really believes that you love me and have made all provision for me IN your Son. Father, kill this old striving person that I have been and put the faith of your Son in me. Amen”

Then hang on, for NOTHING is going to be the same once He sets out to make you HIS NEW CREATION!

Note: this post was inspired by another blog that I read by a sister in Germany. Check it out:
https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/lets-get-real-friends/