What It Means to Be Captivated by Christ

Jan28_ABQuote2

For three and a half years people were captivated by the words that Jesus spoke. Crowds seemed to follow Him everywhere He went. When I first started following Jesus, this was all the deeper the meaning went in my mind of what it meant to be captivated by Him. After I was saved, I went to every Christian meeting I could. I couldn’t get enough of hearing about Jesus. But as time went by a greater revelation came to me. I started to see a deeper meaning of what it means to be His captive. Jesus spoke to Peter about this process.

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.” This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said unto him, “Follow me. (John 21:18-19, KJ2000)

Death? Yes, the price we must pay if we dare to follow Him! After the newness of my experience wore off, I started to go to Christian meetings just because that was the thing to do on that day of the week. Then the time came when I had to ask God for permission before I went to a meeting. Slowly over time, going to meetings became less and less important to me and a deeper personal and obedient walk with Christ came to mean more, even when He had me stay home.

The more time I spent in obedience to His leading, the more He showed me the deeper meaning of the scriptures that I never heard come from a pulpit or conference podium. At the end of an isolation of many years in His spiritual wilderness, He had me start writing these things down. Eventually the wilderness and isolation ended and I was encouraged by others to put the things I had written into articles on a website and books so the saints of God could have access to them. (Did you know that Paul spent many years in isolation between His Damascus road experience with Jesus and when he was sent by the Spirit on his first “missionary journey”?) God eventually put me together with another brother on a similar journey, and we fellowshipped and wrote together and even took in some meetings for a season. Then he started showing us the depths of another scripture:

He must increase, but I must decrease. He that comes from above is above all… (John 3:30-31, KJ2000)

It seems that those glorious days of writing with that brother have come to an end. He has also been coming into a deeper meaning of what it means to be the Lord’s captive, learning the depths of what Jesus said, “you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall dress you, and carry you where you would not.”

Yes, I have been writing this blog for the last three or four years, but slowly even that seems to be winding down as He increases in my life and I decrease. “He that comes from above is above all.” Christ and the will of Christ and the Father must be above all. His life must become our only life. Paul had a highly visible ministry among the Gentiles in Asia Minor, yet that was coming to a close as he wrote to the Ephesians about this same process in His life and called himself “the prisoner of Jesus Christ.” It is oh so easy for our flesh to ride the wave of what the Spirit is doing through us and get some of the glory for ourselves along the way, but all glory belongs to the One who died and rose again and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He must increase and we (that old Adam in man) must decrease. We can only share His glory to the extent that Christ is our ALL in all. All the rest, the adulation and attention that comes to us from men–even the saints of God–only provides a temptation for us to think we are something without Him.

The life of Paul, how he decreased as a mere human, and how God increased His effectiveness in life (and death) is a spiritual principle that must work in any true disciple of Jesus.  He said, “If any man would be my disciple let him take up his cross and follow me.” T. Austin-Sparks wrote about this very thing from his own experience.

I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you…. (Ephesians 3:1)

The measure of approximation to the fullness of the revelation has always been accompanied by a relative cost. Every instrument of the testimony has been laid under suspicion and reproach in a measure commensurate with the degree of value to the Lord, and this has meant that, humanly, they were limited to that extent. Many have withdrawn, fallen away, held aloof, doubted, feared, and questioned. But as Paul could say “My tribulations for you, which are your glory” (Eph. 3:13), or “The prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1), so the measure of limitation in the Lord is the measure of enrichment in His people. The fuller the revelation, the fewer those who apprehend, or the greater the number of those who stand aloof. Revelation only comes through suffering and limitation, and to have it experimentally means sharing the cost in some way. But this is God’s way of securing for Himself a spiritual seed plot….

All this may apply to individual lives in relation to the Lord’s testimony. There may often be a chafing against limitation, confinement, and a restless hankering after what we would call something wider or less restricted. If the Lord has willed us to the place where we are, our acceptance of it in faith may prove that it becomes a far bigger thing than any human reckoning can judge. I wonder if Paul had any idea that his prison meant his continuous expansion of value to the Lord Jesus through nineteen hundred years? What applies to individuals also applies to corporate bodies, assemblies, or companies of the Lord’s people scattered in the earth but one in their fellowship in relation to the Lord’s full testimony. May the Lord be graciously pleased to cause the merely human aspect of prison walls to fall away, and give the realization that, far from being limited by men and circumstances, it is imprisonment in the Lord, and this means that all ages and all realms are entered through that prison. (http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000689.html)

Dear saints, may we each look beyond the limitations of our natural lives and situations to see that God is doing something far greater for HIS glory that is beyond our sight and our reach at this present time. Love to you all.

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20 comments on “What It Means to Be Captivated by Christ

  1. Michael, you wrote: “It is oh so easy for our flesh to ride the wave of what the Spirit is doing through us and get some of the glory for ourselves along the way, but all glory belongs to the One who died and rose again and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.” Yes!

    And then this: “We can only share His glory to the extent that Christ is our ALL in all. All the rest, the adulation and attention that comes to us from men–even the saints of God–only provides a temptation for us to think we are something without Him.” Another resounding yes from my spirit.

    Thank you. It is good to “hear” from you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Michael for this blog. I read the same thing you did this morning from TAS. I am finally beginning to understand what it means for Christ to increase and I am to decrease. Amen.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Elle says:

    Beautiful. I still feel I need to decrease a lot more!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Elle, that is a good feeling to have, for when we think we have arrived and we are able to stand just fine, it is then we find out just how easy it is to fall. It keeps us constantly throwing ourselves at Jesus’ feet and crying out for His Life to be the power in us. Like He said to His disciples, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. That was a very honest blog post, dear Michael. You know that I fully relate to this dying and decreasing process of our old nature. Losing our old life is indeed VERY painful! But it is the ONLY way to receive new life from God. Up and down, up and down… a spiritual rollercoaster at times, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. gbhalford says:

    Thanks for sharing this Michael. Here are a couple bullets that I happened to write in my journal this week (28/8):
    – At the bottom of it all, Father is only after two things, 1) He (Christ) must increase, and 2) I must decrease.
    – Everything that happens in this world is fundamentally related to these two.
    – Everything comes down to us being enabled to see the truth about ourselves… the inability for anything good to come out from our selves – all that is good is in the mind of God. (and we are always getting in the way of that)
    – Every thing is bringing us to an end in our selves, and a place of reliance upon Him.
    – It is a big problem when we join ourselves to some thing of man’s – because they will always ask us to do something for them, and this always leads to some form of self (pride, arrogance, judgement… etc.) rearing up in our selves.

    Blessings in Him, Gordon H.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well said, Gordon. This sounds like wisdom that has been hard learned along the rocky road called Christendom to me. Thanks for sharing your insights. I agree completely, my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gbhalford says:

        Hi Michael, Yes its been an ‘interesting’ journey. My family left the ‘institutional’ church (the system) 11 years ago. For the first 2-3 years we had some very good fellowship with local people who appeared to be like-minded, but gradually that was revealed to not be the case, and all those people have either returned to the system, or in one or two cases, walked away entirely. The last 6 years have been somewhat lonely from a human fellowship point of view, BUT Father has been at work, all along the way ! I understand completely what you have been sharing in relation to your blogging, and I trust that Father will work out His good purpose with all of us. More of Him, and less of us !

        Blessings in Him, Gordon H.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Gordon. At one point many years ago I told God that I would rather never do another work for Him at all than to put my energy and resources into another dead work created by men. There are so many saints like us that He is bringing to the end of ourselves so that we only lean on Him for everything, but that is what He wants from His bride. She is His beloved, not His servant girl. It is the difference between Sarah and Hagar as is their fruit.

      Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?… (Song 8:5a, ESV2011)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It breaks my heart to think you would stop writing, Michael. It has deepened my faith knowing you. But you must, of course, go where God leads you. Please, keep in touch, even if your blogging days are at an end. I would miss you too sorely otherwise.

    Your sister in Christ,

    A. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Anna,

      Thank you for your loving comment. All I can do is take it one day at a time and wait for His leading on what He would have me write or not write. It is good to hear that what I have been sharing and your knowing me has deepened your faith, dear sister. Yes, I will keep in touch with you if the blog goes down.

      Michael ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good morning Michael.

    I think part of the reason I am able to live in regular obscurity is due to the many things I once thought were God’s will for my life. There were so many things He could have allowed but didn’t- things I was so sure He wanted for me that would in some way make me more useful to Him and His service. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and am I glad he didn’t provide what I thought was right!

    There is always this wrestling inside…..I always want to be more useful, but there is a tempering today along those lines that wasn’t there before. I used to just run right out in the street as a child, fearless and carefree but I’m much more reserved than that today. As you know and have stated, there are a thousand things “Christian” calling for our attention every day and yet none of them can possibly compare or even begin to equate to the ONE good thing.

    It does me good to be reminded of what Jesus is after above all things- I think you’ve written about this yourself. A simple place to lay His head, a place where He can be center stage, a place where He can be worshipped, adored and preeminent. This may at times and seasons be through some regional conference, a local company of saints, an online community or even in a single heart during a morning devotion. We must learn that one is no different or better than another, and provided we’re obeying His voice we hardly can go wrong.

    I continue as you to count the cost of both knowing and living in the manner He requires. I may regret some of the choices I’ve made in this life, but never once my desire to have all He could make of me for His name’s sake. That’s His choice and business to decide, and I’ve learned to be content with this.

    Thanks for this season of writing among us Michael. I’m confident it has and does much more than those prior experiences ever could or did, necessary as they were.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Michael, thanks for your openhearted comment. I am glad the we are going through the same lessons in what it means to decrease so that Christ might be our all, my brother. No, it is not fun, but it is worth it. Like the Word says, “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but when He appears we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” The more the old Michael is out of the picture, the more I can see spiritual things the way He does. Part of His increasing in us is that He once appeared as a great mountain on the horizon far off, but as He has drawn us closer to Him He fills our whole vision. Who knows what wonderful things lie ahead of us, yet.

      Hugs,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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