Faithful Is He Who Calls You, HE Will Do It!

He is Faithful

Few realize the vast difference between the Old Covenant with its 613 Mosaic laws and the New Covenant which is free of such things. The old one was based on human effort, “Thou shalt and thou shalt not…” There were 365 commands on what NOT to do and 248 commands on what Israel had to do to keep this covenant with God. It was all on man’s shoulders and human abilities to keep them. All of them had to be kept perfectly or “Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of this law to do them” (Deu. 27:26). You cannot pick and chose when it comes to law keeping.

The New covenant is not based on the works of man at all, but on the work that Jesus has done for us.

But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10 KJ2000)

We who belong to Jesus were reconciled to God by His death, but we are saved by His life! “Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

Jeremiah and Ezekiel both saw this change coming—the change that is based only on the works of God in our behalf through His Son, not on our own works.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I WILL make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I WILL make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I WILL put my law within them, and I WILL write it upon their hearts; and I WILL be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I WILL forgive their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 RSVA – emphasis added)

For I WILL take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I WILL sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I WILL cleanse you. A new heart I WILL give you, and a new spirit I WILL put within you; and I WILL take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I WILL put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27 RSVA – emphasis added)

God announced even back then, hundreds of years before Christ began His earthly ministry, that Israel broke that covenant and that He was about to replace it with a covenant that cannot be broken because it was no longer based on the obedience of men to a set of laws, but rather on the power and the grace of God Himself. God swears that:

  • He will be our God and we will be His people
  • He will give us new hearts
  • He will put His law within us and write it upon our new hearts
  • We will not need human teachers
  • He will forgive us our sins, cleanse us and remember them no more
  • He will put His Spirit within us
  • He will make us obedient to Him
  • He will gather us from all nations into HIS land, His kingdom and give us a singular common identity, Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:2-29)

From 613 “thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s” to eight New Covenant changes that God makes by the power of His might and Spirit for us who believe in the completed work of His Son. These eight acts cover everything we need in Christ to become citizens of God’s eternal kingdom and conformed to the image of His Beloved Son. They are all internalized by the power of our heavenly Father; none are external commands written on stone for stony hearts that are too weak to keep them. This is what Zachariah saw in his vision (see http://awildernessvoice.com/Grace.html) in chapter four and it was summed up with the words, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”

Peter said that the law was a yoke and a burden that no man could carry (see Acts 15:10). Paul called it a yoke of bondage (see Galatians 5:1). Paul went on to write in Romans:

For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]. (Romans 8:2-3 AMP)

Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJ2000).

He described those who enforced the O. T. law this way:

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23:4 KJ2000)

So what is the goal of this New Covenant? Is it so we can live lawless lives? Not at all, but rather that we would be empowered by God to live lives that reflect His Son here on earth. John wrote,

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does 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. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 KJ2000)

Paul wrote, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

“The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.” `~ Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”

Mere religious observations are considered “good” by men, but do not require a changed heart, and often end in pride that isolates us from God. He requires a complete transformation that makes those who are His into new creatures, no longer dependant on the outward observations of religion. Seeing Jesus as He is is the key.

Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 KJ2000)

As we behold Him with all our hearts, the Spirit changes us into the same image. It is a matter of beholding Him and then the Spirit does the rest. When the eye is single the whole body will be filled with His light. The New Covenant is never about outward observations and conformity to rules, but rather an internal change wrought by the power of God as we yield to Him.

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Out of the Same Mouth!

Exposed_tree_rootsFor every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With this bless we God, even the Father; and with this curse we men, who are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (James 3:7-11 KJ2000)

Today, I had something happen that my heart is still smiting over many hours later. I got too comfortable in a conversation with this dear sister in Christ and the next thing I knew I offended her with the words of my mouth and if she had not felt the freedom to tell me so, I would still be ignorant of it! Well, after I saw what I had done and asked her forgiveness (which she did grant) I turned right around about 15 minutes later and did it again! God only knows how often I have wounded my own wife over the years!

There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. I was not trying to hurt this sister, but I just got too comfortable with our relationship and forgot that she is a tender child of our Father and that I needed to respect that and be sensitive to her for this reason. Out of my mouth was coming both sweet water and bitter. In one moment I was blessing her and unwittingly in the next I was hurting her. “My brethren, these things ought not to be so!” The conversation ended on a positive note with tears shed, but these things aren’t easily forgotten even by the best of hearts.

As I later prayed about it the Lord showed me that at the root of what I said was a reaction to things I had suffered as a young man… rejection by the young ladies I grew up with, especially the pretty ones. I had not forgiven them and that bitter root was still down in there putting forth its fruit even with one who has never rejected me in any way! Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). But we know that God looks upon the hearts of men, and HE knows them! He just wants us to see our hearts as HE sees them and times like these happen for a reason.

In Hebrews we read,

And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:13-15)

“Lord show us our bitter root judgments that we still harbor in our hearts from old wounds, that we may truly repent and be healed before many become defiled by them. Father, make straight paths for our feet and let us follow after peace and holiness (wholeness) with all men and women, least out of our fleshly ways the weak and the lame become offended and are turned away from You by our words and deeds. My Father, continue to do a deep work in my heart and let your Son’s ax be laid to the root of everything that is still down in me that is not of you. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

The Greatest in God’s Kingdom

Washing feet

 

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded… When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:3-17 RSVA)

I just read a blog posted by a sister that has been learning what true greatness is in the kingdom of Heaven… Not what you might think! It is cleaning toilets and scrubbing floors. Yes, learning that the greatest in the Father’s kingdom will be the slave of all (Mark 10:43-46 RSV), THIS is true leadership… leading by Christ’s example, not that of Church hierarchy today. God has done the same thing in my life, made me a willing servant to all, but where it really shows up (or not) is in my own home, serving the one who knows me best, my wife.

God started me out serving my brothers and sister by fixing broken toilets and replacing the old nasty ones with new ones and roto-rooting out sewer pipes for months on end as part of a street ministry to hippie kids that got saved and were being put-up in old broken down houses that needed a lot of fixing (my job). I was not paid a thing other than the wonderful experience of being around God’s kids and being loved by them. Mind you, before God changed my heart I was a red-neck hippie hater, but He chose THIS way to work Christ deep into me (he chooses the foolish things to confound the wise and the week to confound the mighty. I did this kind work among these people for over six years in the early ’70′s).

Many years later my wife and I were serving in a church as the janitors and during a crowded “worship conference” they put on, some guy went in the men’s room and did a big nasty in the toilet and plugged it up and then flushed it twice more for good measure so that the brown chunks were floating over the bowl and out of the bathroom and down the hall toward the auditorium. The pastor came and grabbed me and said, “Here! Clean that up!” Well, I started in on mopping it up and wringing the mop out by hand in a bucket and got it beat back into the bathroom when I stopped, heart broken, and said to my wife who was standing guard to keep people from walking in it, “Dot, I was doing this same thing over twenty years ago! Nothing has changed!” To this she replied, “Oh, yes it has! YOU have changed!” Right then the presence of the Lord came down over me like I was standing under a waterfall of love! It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Revelation and Spiritual Growth

Doe & Fawn 6-2013

Christians in the western world tend to go at their Christianity like they do everything else they want to excel in, by research, study and attending lectures at “church.” The following two paragraphs are the most concise description I have ever read on how God grows us up in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I hope you will read it and take it to heart. ~ Michael

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:17)

God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. You and I can never get revelation other than in connection with some necessity. We cannot get it simply as a matter of information. That is information, that is not revelation. We cannot get it by studying. When the Lord gave the manna in the wilderness (a type of Christ as the Bread from heaven), He stipulated very strongly that not one fragment more than the day’s need was to be gathered, and that if they went beyond the measure of immediate need, disease and death would break out and overtake them. The principle, the law, of the manna, is that God keeps revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations of necessity, and we are not going to have revelation as mere teaching, doctrine, interpretation, theory, or anything as a thing, which means that God is going to put you and me into situations where only the revelation of Christ can help us and save us….

Now then, that is why the Lord would keep us in situations which are acute, real. The Lord is against our getting out on theoretical lines with truth, out on technical lines. Oh, let us shun technique as a thing in itself and recognize this, that, although the New Testament has in it a technique, we cannot merely extract the technique and apply it. We have to come into New Testament situations to get a revelation of Christ to meet that situation. So that the Holy Spirit’s way with us is to bring us into living, actual conditions and situations, and needs, in which only some fresh knowledge of the Lord Jesus can be our deliverance, our salvation, our life, and then to give us, not a revelation of truth, but a revelation of the Person, new knowledge of the Person, that we come to see Christ in some way that just meets our need. We are not drawing upon an “it,” but upon a “Him.”

T. Austin-Sparks – The School of Christ – http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001035.html

The Heart of God – A NEW Creation

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How does one begin to claim that he knows the heart of God? Only by drawing close enough to Him that you can feel both what pleases Him and what disappoints His great loving heart. We can read the sacred writings and expostulate about them until the cows come home and still miss what our Father is saying (see John 5:39-40) unless we have become like David. God said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22 RSVA). I had to go through a heart change to see the things I share with you in this article. I used to study the Bible to justify myself and to get “ammunition” to condemn others. I soon found that Jesus was right—with the same measure of judgment I was doling out to others, I was getting the same judgment heaped back on me. That heart had to go.

Just what has been on the heart of God from the beginning of time? We see a hint of what He wanted in the earliest writings of the Bible narrative. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.’” (Genesis 2:18 NLT). God had made Adam in His image and likeness right down to making him a lonely man, lonely like Himself. “He [Adam] gave names to all the livestock, birds, and wild animals. But still there was no companion suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:20 NLT).

God created man to be His companion. He walked and fellowshipped with Adam in the Garden of Eden. As we read further in the Old Testament, we find Him speaking of a wonderful intimacy that He desired with man:

Go and shout in Jerusalem’s streets: `This is what the LORD says: I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. (Jeremiah 2:2 NLT)

But Israel, the nation He chose to manifest His love for man, was unfaithful to Him and so, undaunted by their coldness toward Him (for Israel had become a harlot chasing after other lovers (see Deu. 31:16, Ezek. 6:9 and Hosea 2:1), He started speaking of a New Covenant with a new people.

 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:32 NLT)

Where the people of the Old Covenant were a people with stony hearts toward Him (thus their commandments were also written on tablets of stone), He would now create a new people and give them new hearts that would be faithful to Him as their Husband.

 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27 RSVA)

Yes, this people would be given a new heart and a new Spirit, His Spirit, and be gathered out of all the nations unto Him as His faithful Bride. God proved that all the law keeping efforts of man were futile. Unless God does a miracle, puts a new heart in each one of us, and puts His Spirit within us, there will be no lasting change. We will continue on as bankrupt lovers, unable to keep our hearts fixed on our heavenly Husband.

This, my friends, is the message of the New Covenant. Our Father has made for Himself a new people with new hearts that long to be with their Bridegroom, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We who are His are caught up unto Him and devoted to Christ as our loving husband, not some religious counterfeit.

 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:2-5 RSVA)

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:9-10 RSVA)

So many Christians today still have not seen that God makes all things new! We have been given a New Covenant unlike the old one based on the works of the law. His righteousness dwells within us, not our own. We are made perfect in Christ. Why? Because we who believe have put on Christ and He is our only identity!

 …for ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were immersed into Christ, did put on Christ. There exists neither Jew nor Greek, there exists neither bond nor free, there exists neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 WAS)

As Paul quoted, “it is in Him we live and move and have our being.” There are no longer any walls of separation among us after the manner of this fallen world or men’s religions (see Eph 2:14-15). In Christ we no longer look on one another and think of ourselves in divided terms like Jews, Gentiles (or any other form nationalism or religion). We no longer think of ourselves in class distinctions and social stratum (bond nor free). And here is a big one, men! We no longer think of ourselves as better than our sisters in Christ, because in Christ God has made all things new and all the old divisions and curses that are a result of the fall of man are passed away and all things have become new (notice I said in Christ, not in ourselves).

How does this new found unity in the New Covenant work? What is the life transforming power that makes us not only see one another as new creations (see 2 Cor. 5:17), but that binds us together as a cohesive unit? What makes us the very Body of Christ in unity with Him as our only Head here on earth? In Hebrews we read:

 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:11-12 RSVA – see also Hebrews 8:1-7)

Jesus told us what this new commandment that goes with the New Covenant is. As we see in the above passage, with Christ as our Great High Priest after the order of Melchiz’edek, a new law came. What is that new commandment that Jesus has given us? He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35 KJ2000)

So now, dear saints, we have come right back to where we started. God requires and also provides us with new hearts and fills them with His love, first for Him and then for one another. This is the love of the Bride of Christ. It is a love for Him and as a result a love for everyone He loves.

If you still cling to the Old covenant law, read Paul wrote:

 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 RSVA)

If you can’t believe Paul, then believe Jesus:

And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 RSVA)

Love! It is a heart issue that God is concerned with in man and always has been, not about the legalistic enforcing of rules and regulations. Jesus warned the judgmental law keepers of 2000 years ago who judged His disciples, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7-8 RSVA).

It keeps coming back to love and mercy, not law keeping and condemnation. God is gathering a bride for His Son out of all nations, and she will be madly in love with Him, not focused on her own righteousness. His love is in her heart because her heart is His heart. Her spirit is His Spirit. His commandment to love one another as He loves His bride is her commandment. In this the world will know that we are a New Covenant people, that we have His love for one another. Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly… in us.

The Prisoner of the Lord

paul-in-chains

The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him. (1 John 2:27 NIV)

I often sit at my keyboard waiting for the unction to write something from the Lord on our blog. Each time He makes me wait and as time drags on I wonder if He is through with me. This morning I read two quotes back to back, one on the blog of a dear sister in Germany (http://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/on-receiving-more-of-the-holy-spirit/) and the other a quote from T. Austin-Sparks from a sister in New Zealand in my daily devotional, “Open Windows.” http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/openwindows/003437.html. I hope you don’t mind me quoting from them here.

Seeing the unction to write in terms of a beggar waiting at the door of the rich man’s house for a scrap of bread helped me a lot…

“That our watching and waiting may be of a proper kind, and be successful, we must turn entirely away from all created things, and appear in the presence of God, with a heart entirely empty, and hungering and thirsting after grace, so that we may boldly say, ‘Lord, here is my vessel, here I wait, here I continue lying on the brink of the waters; here, O my God! I expect the promised power from on high, with perfect resignation and in child-like confidence, that thou wilt, in due time, fulfill thy promise! Thou hast promised thy Holy Spirit to me; and thou wilt also perform. Do not look at my poverty and wretchedness, my nakedness and destitution; for it is for this very reason I need thy grace the most; on this very account I am worthy of compassion.’

It is thus that a soul, which is entirely turned away from the world, and directed to God, and which hungers and thirsts after God, waits in a right and proper manner, and therefore shall be filled with the blessings of salvation, and most assuredly made partaker of the Holy Spirit.
When the beggar, at the door, has said, ‘Give me a morsel of bread!’ he does not immediately go away, but waits; and if he is left to stand long, he repeats his request, again and again, until he has really received what he desires. And although he be refused, yet he continues to beg, and does not move until he be attended to. So ought we also to act. We must stand at the door of God’s grace, and wait, until we have received what we ask for. (Gerhard Tersteegen, Spiritual Crumbs from the Master’s Table, pp. 250, 251)

And this timely word from T. Austin-Sparks…

“Do you ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Why do you ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Is the anointing something that you crave? To what end? That you may be used, may have power, may have influence, may be able to do a lot of wonderful things? The first and preeminent thing the anointing means is that we can do nothing but what the anointing teaches and leads to do. The anointing takes everything out of our hands. The anointing takes charge of the reputation. The anointing takes charge of the very purpose of God. The anointing takes complete control of everything and all is from that moment in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and we must remember that if we are going to learn Christ, that learning Christ is by the Holy Spirit’s dealing with us, and that means that we have to go exactly the same way as Christ went in principle and in law… ‘The Son can do nothing out from Himself.’”

(How much is our own reputation worth? Are we willing to give it over to God for Him to deal with? For most Christians I have met, that is a bit too much. Most want to at least salvage that much from their own lives and they fight to save it “so they can be more useful for the Lord.” But even that has to go if we are to be yielded totally to God. Remember, even Jesus made Himself of no reputation when He came down to earth in the form of a lowly servant).

As we yield to God are we then “controlled” by the Holy Spirit? Demons possess people and take control, but the Spirit of the Lord leads. Paul wrote, “I Paul, the prisoner of the Jesus Christ…” To be yielded to the Holy Spirit is being controlled like prisoners are controlled, the guards open and close doors in their cell block from remote that either allows or denies them access to other areas (See Acts 16:6-9). They still have a modicum of freedom, but it is orchestrated freedom. Jesus said to Peter, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, When you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall dress you, and carry you where you would not.”(John 21:18 KJ2000). The more we pursue the Lord and the anointing of His Spirit, the less freedom we have to do things the way we used to, yet the more unction we experience as we yield to the will of our Father and part of that is the continuous working of the cross of Christ in our lives. It takes us from being “when you were young” and self-willed into “when you shall be old,” becoming yielded vessels of the Spirit.

So our sister in Germany I mentioned above has remarked often how she felt “empty headed.” She is an intelligent and educated woman, but as she has yielded to the working of God in her life He has taken control of that intelligence more and more and has been governing it with the mind of Christ. So, she has to wait on Him to give her what she is to write. This can be very unnerving at first for those of us who are used to depending on our own minds and abilities to get things done (I was the “go to guy” for my bosses in the world), but that is what the cross of the Lord in our lives does as we yield to the Spirit of God. Using our prison analogy above, sometimes He even puts us in a time of solitary confinement to break that self-seeking will in us! But the fruit of all His wonderful work in us is good. We have a promise…

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt [the world and its ways]: open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalms 81:10 KJ2000)

God bless each of you as you seek His will to be done in your lives and my fellow bloggers as you write.

Vindication, Will It Happen In Our Lifetime?

lady justice

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? The LORD’S voice cries unto the city, and wisdom shall see your name: Hear the rod, and who has appointed it. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the short measure that is abominable? (Micah 6:8-10 KJ2000)

This morning I was led by a dear sister in Christ to read a blog of another sister who had been raped and had gone through all the mental and spiritual trauma that goes with it. She came out the other side even closer to our loving Father in heaven. Both these dear women had gone through rape and abusive relationships in their lifetimes and have been healed over a period of years as they cried out to Jesus for help. I am finding that there are many women like these two out there who want to have their story heard, be free of the stigma of those horrible events, and be vindicated. With the help of our loving Father, many of them are being healed and are reaching out to other abuse victims.

Vindication is tricky business. I have never been raped physically, but I have suffered much abuse from power hungry men in many church circles we have been part of over the years. It seemed like it would never end. No matter what church we became part of, it happened again! Then one day I was sharing my latest church abuse story with a sister in the Lord, and she said something very profound. “When you go into a yard and start up the front steps, and a big mean dog comes out from under the steps and bites you on the leg… maybe you should get the message that you don’t belong in that yard!” That was it for me. I knew that I had heard from God (not the first time) about this issue of trying to make Sunday church work. Now, I just keep walking down the street and no longer try to go to front door of any of the “houses” I encounter. I finally found out that Jesus does not live in houses made with hands (see Acts 7:47-51 and Heb. 13:11-14).

Now about this issue of seeking vindication. One of the many churches we tried was taken over by a cult with the pastor’s permission. At first I was taken with their message about living lives of holiness to the Lord, but then it became evident that only they had the right to determine who were living “holy lives” and who weren’t. One of these leaders wanted to come over and spend an evening in our home, and we were honored at the thought. We found out later that he wanted to come over to do a critical inspection of my wife’s housekeeping (not always totally orderly with four growing kids in the house) and anything else he could find fault with. He was not there for a loving time of fellowship as we had hoped. Only these two leaders had the right to determine who was “holy” and who wasn’t. If you knuckled under to them and did all their wishes, you were “holy,” but if you failed to do this in some way, you weren’t! They were heavily into the subjugation of women as well. After we left that group (and the town), we heard that they went as far as renting an isolated house and using it for a women’s prison for those poor sisters who needed “extra attention.”

The final outcome of trying to make this church continue to work for us and submit to the pastor, was to come under fire for not submitting to their heavy handed authority over us. We finally saw it for what it was, another damned cult! What started out with the promise of being a fast track to God’s holiness turned into a living hell.

After we “got out of Dodge,” we found out that a baby of a couple in the group had come down with rapid onset child diabetes. They treated the crying child as rebellious with spankings, and they deprived him of medical attention until he slipped into a coma and finally died. It was then the authorities investigated the group and it was all down hill from there.

Meanwhile, I had been “scape-goated” by the leadership and sent out into the wilderness to die with their sins on me (see Lev. 16:8-22). I was told later that they put out the word for no one to have anything to do with me because I had “seven demons.” It was almost ten years before we went back to that town and tried to make contact with various former members of that church. The trouble was that none of them wanted to be restored to us in any way. The group had fallen apart, yet despite my warnings while we were with them, somehow in their minds I just represented a bad memory. There was no real restoration with any of them. These were the same people I had been close to before the cult split us up–people who had been like family to me.

After we left I spent months, maybe years, praying, “God, vindicate my name! Show these people that I was right and correctly warned them not to follow these men!” I never got any vindication from men. That was not what God had in mind. But I was to eventually find out that HE knows how to vindicate the abused in His own way. But first He gave me this promise that I would be vindicated… but not by people.

 “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication is from me, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17 RSVA – emphasis added)

We have a saying in America that goes, “Pay-backs are hell.” With God this is not always literal, because He wants all men come to repentance and call out to Him for healing. But in some cases these molesters, rapists and murderers (both physically and spiritually) have to “pay the piper.” Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 RSVA). There is a sowing and reaping principle. God notices the things we do to others in our lives. If we sow judgment and cruelty, we will eventually experience the same in this life.

The same is true of sowing seeds of love and forgiveness in the lives of others. Eventually we will reap the same into our own lives. Paul goes on to say, “And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10 RSVA). Sowing and reaping is a spiritual law in this world. It took me a long time after this church wounding to come to the place where I was determined to pray for the grace to do what 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.” (Matthew 5:44-45 KJ2000).

When I finally quit back biting people who did me wrong, started praying for them and praying that Father would put His love for them in me, things started to change in my life. I found that all the critical people that attacked me started to disappear, too. After planting seeds in your garden, you can’t go out and start pulling up carrots the next day, but in due season you get back what you planted, and not just weeds.

So what happened to the two cult leaders who tore apart our church, and what happened to the pastor? It was not pretty. One of them died of cancer less than six months after the church split up. The other one went to prison for his part in the death of that child. And what happened to the pastor? The cult leaders won his wife from him. She divorced him and took their kids with her into the cult as the groups’ “prophetess.” I have since been restored to this brother. He has suffered much over the years, but is remarried to a widow. His kids have finally started to make contact with him now that they are adults. His heart has been broken and changed by God for the better, and he is a wonderful brother in Christ.

The one thing I hope to leave with you is that God is the one who vindicates us, but we first have to give all our pain over to Him. If we cling to our anger and bitterness, it binds us where we are. Do we have to trust those who wounded us and submit to them once again, even though we forgive them? No. Unless they have proven themselves to have been changed by God’s power and filled with His love, it would be wise to stay clear of them, knowing that they are capable of abusing us again and again. As for abusive husbands? I cannot tell a woman to hang in there when she and her kids’ lives are constantly under threat. Sometimes it takes a wife leaving the abusive spouse to finally get his attention and seek help from God. God is always in the business of restoring sinners to Himself and to wholeness, but not all will repent. I have also observed that most abusers were abused in their own childhoods, and they are only acting out what they have suffered. This is why Jesus was able to truthfully pray on the cross, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

 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. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)