When We Fellowship Together

Two bucks sparring

Two bucks sparring in the fall. Photo by Michael Clark

Paul admonished the Corinthian church saying,

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. (1Cor 11:17, ESV2011)

Often we take our coming together as members of Christ’s body for granted. Recently when I needed fellowship, the time was spent talking about the things of this world (weather calamities, mass murders, terrorism, politics, etc.) instead of lifting one another up in Christ. I have been as guilty of this as anyone else. I woke up to this fact when I saw the fruit of my words pulling another dear saint down. She was brave enough to tell me about the effect these words were having on her. As I prayed about this, I came across the following excerpt by T. Austin-Sparks, which I later shared with her and apologized.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers” [Acts 2:42]. There is a tremendous means of grace, a tremendous enrichment of Christ in the fellowship of the Lord’s people. I believe the enemy will get believers, when they are together, to talk about anything under the sun rather than about the Lord. It is easy when you meet together with the Lord’s people to be carried off with all kinds of matters of interest and not to begin to talk about the Lord; but if you do there is always an enrichment, always a strengthening, always a building up; it is the Divine way. Fellowship is a means of imparting Christ to the believer. And wherever spiritual fellowship is possible, you and I ought to seek it, look after it, cherish it. There are all too many of the Lord’s children today, who have no chance of spiritual fellowship, and who would give anything to have it. The Lord would have us at least two together. That is His order, and there is something in ministering Christ to one another. There will be something lost unless that is so. These are ways in which we feed upon the Lord. (1)

Fellowship in Christ is necessary–even if it is just two or three gathered together in His name–if we are to grow and prosper in Him. Our times of fellowship should be sought out, nurtured and cherished. We should start out our days in prayer instead of being pulled down into the affairs of this world. Satan will do whatever he can to weaken us so that we are not effective to lift others up and encourage them in the Spirit, and we should not be ignorant of his devices.

I often find that the Spirit can use me to speak to others through a scripture He brings to my mind while we fellowship, but like Peter I can be speaking the very words of God and later in an unguarded moment be speaking for the devil (see Mark 8:27-33). James addressed this very thing.

Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing [Grk. katara – literally “downward prayer” or communications]. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (Jas 3:10-11, KJ2000)

I always thought of this word cursing as something more overtly done with words of anger toward a fellow saint. But as we look at the root meaning of this Greek word, it means any communication that pulls us or others down. How often does both bitter and sweet water come from the fountain in our hearts? This should not be so. Jesus said this to the woman at the well in Samaria:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV2011)

If we have the Spirit of Christ abiding in us we should always be speaking word of life to one another. As for prayer and how necessary it is to get us on the right track in the Spirit, Sparks went on to explain.

We do feed upon Christ in prayer. To put that in another way, there is an imparting of Himself to His Own in prayer. We may go to prayer in weariness, and rise in freshness; we may go to prayer exhausted, and rise renewed… really seeking the Lord, reaching out, taking hold of the Lord, giving ourselves up to the Lord in prayer, never fails to have renewing, uplifting, strengthening results. You say prayer may wear you out? Yes, but there is a wonderful strength that comes by wearing out prayer. There is vitality given to the spiritual life even in prayer that tires us physically, and we go in the strength of it. Yes, prayer is a way in which Christ is ministered to us by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a way in which we feed upon Christ; He becomes our life. (1)

Prayer, time spent meditating on the scriptures and fellowshipping in the Spirit is what made the early church such a powerful force in spreading the gospel and lifting each other up. Dear saints, may we all do the same.

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001510.html

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Worth the Fight… Extending Inner Quietness

Very good, Susanne. To know quietness within as only Christ can give in the midst of chaos, THAT is a miracle. “Peace I give unto you…peace that surpasses all understanding.” Again it is the refining in less than ideal circumstances that God uses to work His Son’s life in us.

Entering the Promised Land

Last week I felt a strong nudge to get closer to God and to let go of more and more, partly self-imposed, duties. As a woman, you might know how difficult it is to get rid of old habits and of letting go to care for others (more than they really need it) in order to meet EVERY expectation perfectly. I have also been used to care for my body daily and I sensed that my exhausting workouts tend to make my life more and more burdened. However, I could not get rid of swimming ‘the English Channel’, so to speak. 😉 I do know that I am no longer twenty or thirty and therefore I had begun to take at least one break during the day some years ago. Mostly after dinner I spend time in bed praying. Admittedly, sometimes I fall asleep because of exhaustion. 😉

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Susanne Schuberth’s Spiritual Diary (Part 4) – “A Dream Come True…”

Recently God fulfilled a seven year old prophetic dream for Susanne Schuberth through a conversation we had about her daughter by a Bible verse I spoke to her. She tells about it here on her blog.

Entering the Promised Land

“GRACE behind the fence…” (number five represents GRACE)
Photo by Susanne Schuberth

Well, seven years ago, as I was still all alone in my walk with Daddy and Jesus, I was plagued by several fears. At that time, it was not that clear to me what the root of these fears was. As I know today, it was the fear of death, not of my own death since I had a wonderful NDE (near death experience) in 1998, but of losing my loved ones (parents, daughter, husband… you get the picture). After having already lost our only son through a miscarriage in 2009, these fears kept coming back much stronger than before, again and again. I have been pretty anxious all my life, however, during the Dark Night of the Spirit (see John of the Cross’ same-titled book) that began in 2010, it got worse and worse, i.e., God began…

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That Was Then, but What Is Our Now?

blaze-interactive-riding-horse-lifestyle-model-381

Watchman Nee wrote:

“Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on.” Philippians 3:13, 14

Because God acts in history, the flow of the Spirit is ever onward. We who are on earth today have inherited vast wealth through servants of Jesus Christ who have already made their contribution to the Church. We cannot overestimate the greatness of our heritage, nor can we be sufficiently grateful to God for it. But if today you try to be a Luther or a Wesley, you will miss your destiny. You will fall short of the purpose of God for this generation, for you will be moving backwards while the tide of the Spirit is flowing on. (1)

The last two days God spoke the same thing to me through my dear wife Dorothy, our sister Susanne Schuberth and my brother Bob N. (with the unpronounceable Polish last name). Dorothy had said to me, “If it wasn’t for T. Austin-Sparks what would you have to write?” Wow! That stung! Susanne spoke to me about the authority of the Spirit. If God is speaking through us and that should be enough. And as I talked with Bob this morning about most the things I have written in the past in books and articles as to the fact that they do not speak from where God has taken me since, Bob simply said to me, “That was then, but this is now!” The message to me from God through these three was, “What is God saying to you now, Michael? Do you have faith to believe it is Him?” These three rebukes came after I had taken the words from a T. Austin-Sparks chapter, re-arranged them, put them in my own words and written a blog, completely without any new inspiration from God. The teaching was good, but the Spirit did not inspire me to share it. Thank God that He sovereignly spoke to me through these dear saints before I published it. The body of Christ is a wonderful thing to be part of when we allow its proper functioning in our lives.

First off let me say that sometimes (most of the time) when God teaches us something, we hear it through His megaphone so loudly (because we tend to be spiritually deaf) that we want to apply it to everyone and not just as His personal word to us. A partial truth, compared to the whole scope of Christ our Truth, can become our ALL for a season and we set about to speak and write from that new perspective before it has totally changed us from within. Paul wrote:

Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1Cor 13:8-12, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Did you see it? There is a then and there is a now when we are growing in Christ. We now see dimly, but then we get to see Him face to face. I am not talking about “pie in the sky by and by,” but God wants us to grow up beyond spiritual childhood into full grown spiritual sons and daughters in this life so that we might know even as we are known by Him!

Jesus has been speaking to me about how important it is to speak and write by what the Spirit is saying to me now and not repeating what I read in the writings of others or even sharing scriptures that were not spoken into my heart by Him. It is okay to quote others when it expounds on what God is saying to us, but it should never be the source of what we share.There is so much scope of meaning here in the above passage from Corinthians in light of what the Spirit has been saying to me. I hope I can share it in His light and leading with you.

In our spiritual immaturity we tend to be like a child who got a new toy that he really wanted for Christmas. We tear the wrappers off of it in great expectation and climb on our new “Hobby Horse” and ride it and ride it until we get our eyes on the next thing that God has for us to grow into. As a child, the next thing I wanted was a tricycle once I saw that a whole new world of mobility would open up to me that was not given to me by this stationary rocking horse. The important thing for us to learn from all this is that the current thing that touches our minds and hearts is not the whole thing that God has for us and it especially is not the whole thing that God has for everyone else!

We at best only prophesy and know in part! God is immense and He has given us His perfect Son tofully grow into as the First Born of many brethren. But when His perfect love has found its home in our hearts, the fleshly edge that we put on our prophesy, our words of knowledge, our teaching, our speaking and so on, wanting to force others to get, hear and receive what GOD HAS GIVEN US… that edge will be done away with. We will speak only what is motivated by His love for others. Will this always be warm and fuzzy feeling for them? No, but it will be timely and the word of the Spirit for them. God will have prepared their hearts to receive it. If not in that moment, He will haunt them with that word until they can receive it by His Spirit and not because we were forceful in our argument. We eventually put away away our childish ways as His personal words to us have sunk into our hearts and we quit playing with them in our minds, wanting to make them stick on everyone but us! “Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am known,” by Him.

Having Spiritual Eyes to See

Paul wrote,

…That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (Eph 1:16-19, KJ2000)

The second thing that the Spirit has been telling me is that we need the eyes of the Spirit to get beyond where we are in our spiritual growth. For us to understand the deeper things the Spirit of Christ has for us, we have to stop looking for references in others’ writings to back us up on what we are seeing. A time comes in our spiritual growth that He can speak deep into our hearts and through us without appealing to others to be our authority. Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian church for doing this very thing…

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food: for until now you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able. For you are yet carnal: for while there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? (1Cor 3:1-4, KJ2000)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1Cor 3:18-23, ESV2011)

Did you see the connotation here of us being carnal in having to constantly be of Paul, Apollos or Peter or even the myriad of contemporary Christian writers instead of listening to the voice of God in our hearts as they did? ALL things are ours in Christ! The very thought of this freaks-out most church bound Christians and their church leaders, sad to say, for fear that they cannot trust the Holy Spirit to lead them. So the church remains infantile and plateaus-out, never to move beyond the maturity of a handful of Christian reformers, founders and writers. Let us not remain carnal and childish by boasting in and putting our confidence in men, but in the Spirit of Christ He has given us to lead us into ALL truth.

John saw that spiritual children were to grow beyond their need for milk, being on the breast of their human teachers, and even warned of this danger.

These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1John 2:26-28, KJ2000)

If we hold ourselves in check as to what we can believe by constantly going to human teachers (even if their teachings were inspired by the Spirit), we will eventually become deceived because we will never grow beyond the revelation that they have received. The question is, “Will we grow up into the fullness that Christ has for us to walk in or will be remain on the breasts of men and be ashamed when we stand before Christ with milk dripping down our chins?”

God has spoken many wonderful things to me through the writings of Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, A. W. Tozer , T. Austin-Sparks and others over the years. He has spoken to me through pastors and teachers, too, but if that is the only way we can hear Him, then our growth will be limited by what they know and teach and we will not grow any further into the fullness of Christ. If we continue to grow in Christ the time comes when His Spirit is the only authority that we need and we will be able to speak and write from that authority just as Paul or Peter or John did. They wrote things in the New Testament that they did not read in the Old Testament scriptures or received from any of the world’s philosophers or Judaism’s teachers because they were inspired by the Spirit of Christ.

I know what many of you are thinking as you read this. “That’s it! Michael has gone off the deep end!” Well, the amazing thing about revelation that comes from the Spirit is that He also gives us scriptures to back up what He has shown us, though they are often scriptures that we have never seen in this new light! Literally, the eyes of our hearts are being enlightened and made to see in ways that we have never seen before. This happened to Paul, Peter and John all the time and they prayed that those who walked in the Light of Christ would grow up into Him as they did. Part of growing up into the fullness of Christ as sons and daughters of God is coming to the place where we walk by the revelation of the Spirit and not by what we only can receive from others in books and sermons and such.

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. (Rev 19:14, ESV2011)

May we each continue to grow and see “what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” Amen

(1) http://joyfulheart-watchmannee.blogspot.com/2012/01/january-1.html

Prayerlessness profits nothing

I wanted to share this article about the importance of prayer by Susanne Schuberth because without prayer I would have never come into this wonderful enlarging of my heart filled with the love of God for all (see my previous blog article) without first spending time with our Father and Jesus in meaningful prayer. Thank you Susanne for your wonderful insights that have come from pursuing our Father in your life. mdc

After midnight and just before going to bed I often read T. Austin Sparks’ daily devotional. Sometimes his words strike me so that I need to copy and paste them, knowing that might turn out another…

Source: Prayerlessness profits nothing