Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized

A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress – Becoming What We Are in Christ

1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV. “… For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 Corinthians 5:14, 16 NKJV. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; … Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.”

Is this to say that we need not espouse the directive to become holy, that our sanctification is not to be manifest, that we never encourage or exhort or pray for one another, or that the life of Christ within us remains some sort of hidden candle that never brings its light to the world, or that it is OK to sin that grace may abound?

By no means!

What it does mean is that we do not judge according to our own standards of what we see on the outside of a person, as indicating what God is doing on the inside of a person, as to their spiritual progress. We are to regard them as someone for whom Christ shed His blood and thus they are His claim. What He works in them, or the time it takes is not up to us.

So often our regard for one another is according to the flesh. We need to “see” a different way. Paul points to a “mystery” here: that is, if One (Jesus Christ) died for all, then all died. 

This is the feature of proclaiming the Gospel, so that all who died in Christ may hear and also join Him in His resurrection, as having been made new creatures in Him.

Let’s consider that in light of Ephesians 2:4-10.  I’ll let you look that up rather than writing it here. Have you taken this reality to heart? It means to live according to the “vision” of already having died and made love in the death and resurrection of Jesus! It is in this reality that we live, move, and have our being – becoming what we have been made already – ever being cleansed and made whole by grace through faith, and that the Holy Spirit is ever cleansing us and making us whole – wholly – holy more like Jesus all the time.

We become what we are. Paradoxically. Choose into it and live out from it. That is the expectation of the Gospel!

Pick up an acorn from the ground, and say, “This is an oak tree!” And so it will be – when it is planted into the ground, subjected to being diminished and to dying to its current form. That must happen, if the “life codes” put in it by our Creator are to be awakened, and thus it may gradually become something other than a little nut. It involves a process to become what it is, that great big tree that we cannot see, except with the eyes of faith in God’s intention for the acorn.

Like the acorn, we are to become what we are, not just remain little nuts. That is the expectation of the Gospel! But, as Jesus makes clear, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:24 NKJV. That is applicable to any seed, pit, or nut.

Here’s another way to see it. 

As I write this, I can see a very large painting I finished some months ago, yet it was started over 25 years ago! There were clearly long periods of dormancy. Other priorities seemed to prohibit finishing it. It sat in the basement gathering dust for years after only the background had been painted. It had to be lifted out of its space in the dark, and put back on the easel. Cleaned up before the rest of the paint could be applied to it. Then recently, something prompted me to get working on it again, and it seemed urgent to complete it. So a work in progress, even though with many delays, had finally become what it was intended to be – after it became clear in my mind what the subject was really all about.

As I finished it, I realized that this is how the Christian life works. It’s always a work in progress. We are its recipients, thanks be to the Holy Spirit.

We should never give up on anyone, especially our fellow believers, as confused or problematic as they may seem to us! Jesus does not give up on us! 

This is why we do not cease to give thanks and to make mention of one another in our prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and Father of glory, may give to us all the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. This is a paraphrase from Ephesians 5 beginning at verse 15-23. It was how Paul prayed for believers!

This prayer is well worth adapting, to be prayed over all who name the name of Christ Jesus. We can include our sometimes discouraged selves! We cannot see what we are to be without the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it, and the “vision” will encourage and spur you on.

It’s important to get rid of the reductionistic, “linear” thinking that has beset the definitions of the Gospel. We have to see all that He has made available to us, in order to be all that He desires us to become according to His will – comprehending no one according to the flesh. In other words according to our human, finite opinions about where this one or that one ought to be by now.

The Holy Spirit used my painting to illustrate this to me. The chief Creator and Master Artist! He reinforced – with the encouragement of this project – an understanding about His work in me, and especially in others. It just doesn’t happen all at once. His grace is all sufficient! And He is patient beyond our imagining.

I have also noticed that some of the great classic hymns were not brought forth to completion overnight. Lyrics, for example, might have been penned by a Reformer from the 16th century, but the words were known only to a few of perhaps his contemporaries. Or the words may have been written by someone anonymous, yet having a good sense of being able to combine good theology with poetry. Yet a century later, someone else comes up with a melody. And a century after that someone translates it, and it is published and put into a hymnal – which you have the honor of holding in your hands. The truly worthwhile works seldom happen in the blink of an eye.

(And just an aside – this is also why I advocate for the use of hymnals: They put you in a prayerful posture, with your head bowed and your hands in a receptive position, filled with the word of God in poetic rendition.) 

Nature and creative processes are works of God that don’t happen overnight. And so it is with those to whom God gives the right to become His sons and daughters, those who believe on His name. We are His workmanship, cast in the earth forge of affliction and trial, to bring forth beings of eternal glory and beauty and fitting us for the heavenly kingdom. This is an amazing gift!

Consequently we must be patient in prayer, even for those who may resist the Gospel as they live according to the world and the flesh. Prayer and patience will prevail. We see them and call upon God on their behalf, always remembering that the purchase price of their soul has been paid by the blood of the Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world. 

There’s also a time and a place for a truthful admonition, rebuke, or some encouragement, by the way.

We should also be ever prepared to present the precious foundational Gospel with this understanding: that which has been provided in and through the work of Christ Jesus must be entered into and lived, in repentance and faith, ever turning to Him Who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

Let’s never take for granted the “Great Commission.” “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ ” Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV. Pray, ponder, proclaim!

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8,9 NKJV.

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Posted in Christianity

A Time to be Sheepish and Follow the Lamb

One of the prime characteristic of our time is deception. It comes politically, socially, philosophically, scientifically, medically, and especially religiously. And every other imaginable way. But especially in spiritual “pursuits.”

Entities have long been masquerading as the departed, as saints, as angels, pretending to “bring a word” from God … Complete with FALSE signs, wonders, miracles. Now it’s escalating, and many are enticed and lured into what seems so good and so right. They look for phenomena, for “secrets,” for power, for a way to beat the future. Or it may be a boredom with “ordinary” church, and a yearning for an indescribable “something more.” A higher consciousness and a new way to get there. Maybe even a desire to be “more spiritual” than the next person. Or might it even be an unacknowledged lack of trust in the all sufficiency of the finished work of Jesus Christ?

There are a lot of motives that can take a soul off the Narrow Way in Christ and into the woods of enchantment.

Where’s the “First Love,” Jesus Christ, in all this?

These stirrings and attractions and allurements can happen even to faithful Christians. They just slide away in the hum drum, little by little. Tired. Dry. Thirsty. Impatient. Curious. Hurt. Any state of vulnerability. The arch predator knows your weak spot. It will be where he aims to set his hook! He has something for everyone.

It can happen to the very diligent. Watch out!

Consider Revelation 2:3-5 BSB. “Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

Beware.

There’s an adversary. Make no mistake about it, and it’s time for game on – according to this.

The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and FALSE wonder, and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9,10. BSB

Consider to whom this is directed and why…

Do you really love the Truth? What’s your weak spot?

Beware of what you seek, what you open yourself up to… It’s playing with fire if you’re naive about this, and it will take you down a black hole where you will not want to be.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and Satan loves one – especially an emptied mind given over to Eastern practices and occult pursuits, and he will send lots of his willing associates of an incorporeal sort into it to deceive. This has no place in the Christian’s life, even when it’s “Christianized” with so called “Christian Contemplative” practices.

Ask yourself, why would Christians need pagan practices to connect with God? This was always what got the ancient people of God into trouble – pulling the practices of the peoples around them into their life and worship: idolatry, necromancy, human sacrifice, and eventual judgement. It always escalates.

And there’s nothing new under the sun, is there?

Yea, hath God said … ?” Genesis 3:1

He has provided all that’s needed, by His grace, to be received through faith, and lived out in love and good works. He has provided His will through His Word, the Holy Bible. He has opened the way to His throne of grace through prayer.

There are those pesky Ten Commandments, which some seem to think are only ten suggestions, to be “interpreted” as needed.

Pray regularly and in all circumstances. Study Scripture. Learn from Jesus. The “metaphysical appearances” are unnecessary. Jesus mentioned this in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus – that if people will not heed the law and the prophets, then neither will they listen if someone should come back to them from the dead.

Be on the alert, be vigilant – circumspect, watchful. Your adversary the devil walks about seeking those who are naive and vulnerable whom he may devour. He is a hungry lion! Pray for the Holy Spirit continually. Stop making excuses and give the boot to whatever rises up in you that wants to pull you in the direction of “deeper spiritual experiences.” They will be deeper alright. So deep you will wind up in over your head in at best some very dark spiritual oppression, if not out and out possession.

If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him! Surrender yourself in full to Jesus Christ. That’s what’s needful. Stay there. Come back if you have left the simple and pure devotion to Him!

I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.” 2 Corinthians 11:3,4. BSB

Please consider and ponder the many warnings from God’s word:

Most importantly, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” 2 Peter 3:3. BSB

There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12:48. BSB

Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1. BSB

But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.” Hebrews 1:2. BSB

But because you are not My sheep, you refuse to believe. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:26-28. BSB

This is the one really important time when it’s good to be His sheep.

Posted in Christianity

The Narrow Way – Surrender To The Cross

Psalm 85:8,9. NKJV. “I will hear what God the Lord will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.”

A Lot of people want to make America great again. This cannot be done by politics or social movements. If America is to be “great” again (if she ever was, in terms of what “great” actually means in terms of what Jesus taught), she must be filled with the glory of God. In that light alone America may be great “again”. And if she is ever to be great and glorious, then she must become godly, living in full surrender to the redemption and salvation won for her in Jesus Christ. This is true for any nation! 

For not all paths lead to God, or are in God, contrary to the popular thought of the times. I realize that is a very unpopular claim in an “I’m OK, you’re OK” kind of world which despises Jesus Christ. Or even among churchy people who lean toward an implied universalist mindset.

Lost in the woods and off the path, morally and ethically and without godly wisdom and understanding to guide us, we need a compass to come back to the path – the Way of the Cross.

There is no other Way. Only one. That is through the One Redeemer and Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is given all authority in heaven and on earth, Who by His cross and resurrection has purchased and won us from sin and eternal death, Satan, and self. The One Who is the Way, Truth, and Life. This is the premise of any “glory” to which we would lay claim. This is His authority.

And oh, how sophisticated 21st Century man hates the idea of divine authority!

In this Psalm of the sons of Korah, we find a prayer that the Lord will restore favor to the land. While it is true that God is love and mercy, desiring to bestow favor to the land, we cannot see this on our own terms and definitions – which, more than likely, is some sort of emotional fascination with unmitigated tolerance and softness toward what we want or think will make us feel good. Much of this comes from decades of conditioning by the ideas that come out of the entertainment industry, with idolizes hedonism, sin, and rebellion toward God.

Rather, the love and mercy of God make it imperative for Him to communicate to us how things actually work. God’s love has a “tough love” component. After all, He is bringing many sons to glory! (Hebrews 2:10) What we are now is not what we are to be! As the best Parent, He speaks to us – outwardly – by way of His word, the Bible, and by way – inwardly – through a conscience informed by His truth. He pours out His Spirit, Who writes His truth on our hearts.

Are we listening? Can we say with the psalmist, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak”?

He is calling us back onto the path of repentance, of turning toward Him – hearing, heeding, and following the Lord Jesus on His path of holiness and righteousness. This is the Way of the Cross, described in an old fashioned word seldom heard in the church anymore: it is a way of “mortification.” Death to the world, the devil, and the flesh. Here is where He provides blessing, good, and protection for those who follow Him.

Yes, there are the “influences” – corporeal and incorporeal – calling us off the path and back into the woods, where they would rob us of our Lord’s blessing and goodness. So if we follow those voices which would lure us into selfish, sinful lifestyles, we are lured into that which has as its goal the destruction of both soul and body. Eternally.

This brings to mind an old hymn which makes a good prayer for help in hearing what the Lord will speak to help stay on the path of everlasting life. There are 4 verses, but I will offer only the first one and then the third later: 

Let us ever walk with Jesus, 

Follow His example pure; 

Flee the world which would deceive us 

And to sin our souls allure. 

Ever in His footsteps treading, 

Body here yet soul above, 

Full of faith and hope and love, 

Let us do our Father’s bidding; 

Faithful Lord, abide with me; 

Savior, lead, I follow Thee.” 

(Tune: Sigismund von Birken 1652. Lyrics: Georg G. Boltze 1788. Translation: J. Adam Rimbach 1900.)

The basis of this old hymn is one of those mostly overlooked little verses, John 11:16. “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’” They are on the way to the grave of Lazarus, who has just passed away, but he is not referring to dying with Lazarus.

What a treasure is in this little verse, but in a sense it addresses the Gospel in our co-death with Jesus. (Read Ephesians 2:4-10) So, we go on to verse 3 of the hymn:

Let us also die with Jesus,

His death from the second death

From our soul’s destruction frees us,

Quickens us with life’s glad breath.

Let us mortify while living,

Flesh and blood and die to sin,

And the grave that shuts us in

Shall but prove the gate to heaven.

Jesus, here I die to Thee,

There to live eternally.” 

Why this Thomas was called the Twin has many interpretations. So I’d like to offer my take on it. Spiritually he “twins” with Jesus. He chooses to be inseparable from Him, to be as He is. Where Jesus goes, he goes, and he encourages the others likewise to follow.

The Cross is always the narrow way that leads to life. It is the only way, in fact, of eternal life. It is foolishness to those who are perishing, as they seek to find eternal life by other spiritual paths, or they seek to preserve and improve this temporal existence. But to all who are being saved, the Cross is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Are you going with Him?

Posted in Christianity, Observations

God’s Goodness Is In All Circumstances

Ponderings… I may have posted something similar previously, but the thought, the concept of this truth, stays with me…

In praying the Psalms, patterns reveal themselves about God being ever present. Perhaps at some point I may do a series on all of them.

Psalm 31:19. Oh how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men.

Psalm 23:5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup overflows.

When reading through this Psalm 31, it becomes evident that King David is experiencing a great amount of adversity. The accounts of his life reveal unimaginable strife, turmoil, conflict, war, affliction, sin, and rebellion. All of these conspired against the right to reign over God’s people tasked to him by the Lord, for which He was anointed. He is a rough type or shadow of Christ, and called a man after God’s own heart.

What becomes clear is that his attention is set above these challenges. The progression of his prayer shows first how he brings his lament over circumstances to the Lord, and he moves into profession of faith :14 – “But as for me, I trust in You. You are my God. My times are in Your hands.”

He then asks for deliverance from his enemies and persecutors, and to be saved out of the circumstances. It was time for the wicked to have their day of shame, even to be silenced in the grave! He boldly calls on the power of God to put down the bullies (my word) who lie and speak insolent things with pride and contempt against the righteous. This seems to be the pivotal point for turning things around – where the prayer changes direction.

What follows is essentially a chorus of praise of God, Who in spite of circumstances works miraculous things, bringing the light of awareness of it into very dark times. Right in front of a world in conflict and opposition with the Lord and His people.

Verses 23 and 24 are strong encouragement to love the Lord and hope in Him. This is for all us saints – those set apart for His plans and specific purposes for each one.

Be of good courage! (A good time to check out Romans 8:18-30) The promise follows, based upon his experiences and knowledge , “He shall strengthen your heart!”

There’s a little meme out there which keeps popping up: “Stay calm and pray a psalm.” You can also sing, chant, read reflectively, or meditate on one as well. This one covers the bases of how prayer can flow, going from a lament over how things are perceived circumstantially, through laying down that view and burden at the Lord’s feet, and then accelerating up into a place of transcending our view of circumstances, by way of declaring and praising God’s goodness and blessing for those who put their trust in Him – in the presence of the sons of men, who will either be full of hatred and envy, or there may be some who will see it who will come to Him in surrender.

This is why the Psalms are often called the prayer book or the hymn book of the Church. Over and over the pattern is made clear, by David and the other very artful inspired sacred song writers who contributed to the Psalms, that our Lord is very interactive in the affairs of those whom He has claimed in Christ Jesus.

The Psalms show us how to make prayer practical and applicable to life.

If our “religion” is not that, making us aware of what a relationship with God looks like, then of what use is it? The cross is the path, and it is not the easy and broad way.

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

“Off world” and out into the blue!

Blaise

Posted in Christianity

Grace: Justice and Mercy Bringing Purity of Heart

Ezekiel 36: 25-37 NKJV. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

We all love to “claim” certain promises of God, often as means to deny what we’d rather not experience, due to the misunderstanding of grace as only what feels good. But there are a lot of promises for divine dealing with sin. 2 Peter 1:2-4, which reveals that God has given to us “… exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

But, full stop! There’s more! There are some “conditions” to be met – not aside from grace, but that we need to see grace in a fuller way, in all the Lord’s dealings with us. What is perceived as a threat or “negative” can actually be part of His promises.

But have we made idols out of emotional highs and feeling good?

The entirety of Ezekiel 36 gives us a rundown on all aspects of God’s grace, as He brings it into our lives in an up close and personal way. Let’s recall that those Old Testament events were given for examples to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. (See 1 Corinthians 10:10-12.)

So, what may be a little difficult to swallow and digest is that grace is not just about those Holy Ghost hallelujahs, highs, and happiness, what we call “positive” experiences. It’s about the “negative” aspects of life that we often find ourselves praying will be taken away.

But consider Job. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Ezekiel 36 more than hints that it is often through the oppression God allows by the disagreeable nations of the world to whom God gives political, social, and religious hegemony – that the prosperity and privileges enjoyed as one aspect of God’s grace disappear from what we perceive as our right, what we think we “deserve.” 

God uses what works to cleanse hearts. He does not need our opinions as an advisory capacity. This can be said of personal circumstances as well as political and social forces.

We have to let that sink in, acknowledging that it is all allowed by God’s hand.

His people go into captivity, or are overtaken, because their hearts are turned away from Him and become filled with impurities – of the ways, religions, and priorities of the world, of the nations surrounding them. This can happen on a personal to political scale!

And then, when those nations – those adversarial forces – become joyful, of a spiteful mind, plundering and pillaging, God begins to deal with them also, for overstepping their bounds. He pours out His fury on them, when they go beyond what He sent them to do (which is to cause His people to turn toward Him when in captivity, to surrender themselves to Him in full). Then He sets the captives free. 

Thus Ezekiel 36 is well worth contemplating in its entirety, so as to notice the pattern of God’s modus operandi.

It is because we do not acknowledge this pattern, that we are prone to stumble, wrongfully concluding – because of “negative” experiences – that our prayers are not being answered according to His will. The truth is, we do not see what time it is, according to His dealings with humanity generally and His own people specifically. Our prayers are being answered, but do we have the eyes to see that His ways are not our ways?

God’s grace governs all, for God IS love! If a nation is in the midst of tribulation, it is by God’s grace, expressed as the “tough love” aspect of the Father of all things.  It is expressed in judgment, as the human children step out of bounds with sins of omission and commission of thought, word, and deed. of not being of one mind with our Lord.

If we experience blessing and abundance, it is likewise because of His love. If we can look at our “good” times and our “bad” times as coming from the all powerful hand of a righteous, loving Father, life makes much more sense, and all things carry meaning, not hopelessness.

Thus we are to encourage one another according to His wisdom, not according to what we “feel.” This is perhaps one of the hardest things to learn in a culture that is soft with good times and prosperity. But learn it we will. When it’s not soft and to our liking.

It is not because of resting on the laurels of the past, regarding ourselves as a “Christian” nation, or even a “true” church, that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called by His name. Our Father’s business is the business of creating clean hearts and steadfast spirits, according to His truth and wisdom. He is bringing many sons in Christ Jesus to glory.

It may also disrupt our me centered self absorption somewhat to begin to comprehend that He does all things for the sake of His name! (See Ezekiel 36:21-23). That name is above every name – the name of Jesus! – and stands for what has been given to Him: all authority in heaven and on earth. 

So often His name has been profaned by His own people in the midst of the nations! Could this be why we are instructed to pray, in the first words of the prayer He taught us, “Hallowed be Thy name”?

He does not exist for our glory, but we exist for His. Yet He is always bringing about our good for His glory. Not according to our understanding or our timetable. The entire prayer He taught is about the “process” of His grace, as it works both divine justice and mercy, which purify the heart and bring glory to His name. All of that is grace. All of it is good.

May we view life through the lens of His understanding, acknowledging our Lord as omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient – in all events of life. This will not happen without a pure heart which is fully His and holding back nothing. And it is He Who creates this through all His dealings with us.

We do not get to pick and choose which of His promises apply to us. They all do. Sometimes – as needed – we are promised judgment and justice. At other times we will find ourselves in a place of blessing and mercy. Or moving from one to the other. Ezekiel 36 gives us the picture of this process.

The key is to be of one mind with Him, so that we know “what time it is,” and to comprehend Him in the midst of all of it! 

“All to Jesus I surrender; I surrender all.” This is expressed in prayer, the sacrifice of praise, and the giving of thanks in all times and places – the expressions of faith.

We do well to come to a place where we can see that being filled with the Holy Spirit is not always about feeling good and jumping up and down with a Holy Ghost happy dance. Often it is about the strength – in His power – to endure to the end and be saved. In everyday life as it unfolds.

It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven. See Acts 14:22.

Soli Deo Gloria! Amen.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality

The Missing Ingredients

The Missing Ingredients –

Here is the much needed message of the day. Spirituality ought to be very practical in terms of servanthood and humility in Christ. This puts a different and more accurate spin on the verse here, often “interpreted” in some sort of bombastic way about doing a lot of accomplishments for the sake of notoriety, even “for” the Lord. (There’s nothing like spiritual ego / pride!) Everybody wants to “be somebody.” But is this the Lord’s way for most of us??? See Mr. Sparks’ thoughts below…

From January 14, 2023
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Risen Lord and the Things Which Cannot be Shaken – Chapter 10

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Christ’s spirituality was not that He was remote from what was practical in everyday life. It was that He was bringing heavenly forces and resources to bear upon the practical matters of everyday life. You can wash doors, or clothes, or floors, or do any of these ordinary domestic things, in spirituality. People seem to think that spiritual work and ordinary work, household work for example, are two different things. They talk about the spiritual work and the other work. Now, you can bring heavenly resources in to do anything that is legitimate, and the doing of those things may be a testimony.

The majority of people have no occasion to draw upon heavenly resources for a platform ministry. For the most part their work is of some regular, daily kind, and very often they feel utterly unable for it, and they are tempted to think that if they had some spiritual ministry to fulfill, if they had to go and take a meeting, or speak to some souls about spiritual matters, they could make a claim upon the Lord for help and He would carry them through. For the trivial round and common task such a thought is all too often wholly absent from the mind. Now, exactly the same resources have to come into the ordinary work as into what we call spiritual work. It has all to be done on a spiritual basis, and therefore to be a testimony. To get through an ordinary day’s work often requires something more than ordinary human resources. Spirituality consists in our doing everything as out from heaven. Let us be careful how we draw a line, lest we make a distinction between the spiritual and “the rest.”

This email is from the Austin-Sparks.Net Daily Open Windows message list. Daily Open Windows messages have been selected and compiled by Austin-Sparks.Net from the works of T. Austin-Sparks. In some cases they appear in abridged form. The introductory verse and its associated Bible version have been selected by the editor and did not always appear within the original message.

We encourage you to print, share, and forward (by clicking on the link below) this message with others. In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.

Posted in Christianity, Observations

Rambling Thoughts on a World at War

There is so much good, beauty, and creativity which our Creator Heavenly Father has brought us into in this life. It is here to enjoy and to bless and to strengthen. All anyone has to do is look out the window or step outside to see it. Or look at the face of someone near and dear, and say, here is the image of God right in front of me.

The electronic devices have us instead peering into the oblong icon of technocracy and its allurements. It becomes more and more difficult for parents to exercise their God given authority to monitor what their children are being exposed to. And certainly the public schools – another “trusted authority” – add to this defilement of children through some teachers and officials who are absolutely unworthy of any sort of trust.

Although it’s clear that there are things that will take place before our Lord returns, there’s a part of me that still cannot, in some ways, fathom that we’re in a space where so many love only the darkness, and want to bring others – especially children – into it and literally work to defile and demoralize them.

A “culture” that also seeks to murder its unborn and infants, to legitimize assisted suicide, to rid itself of the old or infirm, or anyone it regards as “useless” or inconvenient or too expensive, and also continues on its path of (its old favorite) war (asymmetric and eventually kinetic) and destruction in plundering and possessing other people’s stuff, so they can play god and “redistribute” the wealth according to that culture’s atheist ideology, is headed for destruction itself. Whether it can even be regarded as a culture is debatable.

Is it any wonder that John the Apostle makes clear that the whole world (system) is under the power of the evil one?

Go and read the little Book of Jude in the Bible, and see if it is not a depiction of our times. Many will say, Oh, there have always been times such as these. Yet… those times were somewhat regional. Currently these attitudes and afflictions are on a global scale.

As Christ makes clear, “And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It will be hot,’ and it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky. Why don’t you know how to interpret the present time? And why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:55-57. (Berean Study Bible)

The world has been at war for longer than most imagine. That began in Genesis 3.

But still the blessed and the beautiful are present. Because God is present everywhere.

Seek Him with all your heart; seek Him in all you find before you each day; seek Him in His Word which reveals His Son. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. It is vital to walk with Him now.

Posted in Christianity

The Needed Vision

Keep it simple, SAINTS!

Every believer is a saint! Did you ever think of it this way?

Saintliness… It’s not a matter of “attaining” some lofty spiritual place but a matter of living by faith “out from” having already been made a new creation in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

We live here below what we are already above, having been made that through Christ alone. Seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Huh?

Consider. And also recall Ephesians 2:4-10. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Being Christian is not a space of “linear thinking” and struggle to “ascend,” so to speak. It is instead the realization, one might say, of being “quantum entangled” with Jesus and living out from that realization / vision / revelation. “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. A servant cannot be corrected by words alone; though he understands, he will not respond.” Proverbs 29:18,19. The vision is needed. Greatly needed!

Once you see it, you cannot unsee it.

Per Colossians 3:1-4, it is a matter of “if then you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind in things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ WHO IS YOUR LIFE appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Then he describes what that life in heaven looks like as it is fleshed out on earth in the “practical” aspects of this change of address.

Then read what the attached link of passages identify as “saints” per God’s word, considering why they are already called that, addressed that by the Apostles writing to them – although they are still on earth in a physical body. They are learning to become what they already are, having been made that in Christ.

https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/All-Believers-Are-Saints

I took this further than I wanted and will probably be given the snake eye and some flack for this from a number of directions.

Well. So be it. It amounts to surrender to what is, not struggle in the flesh with what one desires to become. Great news! “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.

Much more could be elaborated, but for now – keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking for the Holy Spirit. I’ll let you look up Luke 11:5-13 and ponder how it fits with this discussion.

Keep it simple, SAINTS!

Peace IN Christ be with you.

Blaiseintotheblue out.

Posted in Christianity

In Christ Above the Circumstances

Psalm 31:19. NASB “How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have performed for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of mankind!”

When reading through this psalm, it becomes evident that King David is experiencing a great amount of adversity. The accounts of his life reveal unimaginable strife, turmoil, conflict, war, affliction, sin, and rebellion. All of these conspired against the reign over God’s people tasked to him by the Lord.

Yet in reading this Psalm, what becomes clear is that his attention is set above these problems. The progression of his prayer shows first how he brings his lament over circumstances to the Lord, and he moves into confession of faith :14 and following – “But as for me, I trust in You. You are my God. My times are in Your hands.”

He then asks for deliverance from his enemies and persecutors, and to be saved out of the circumstances. It was also time for the wicked to have their day of shame, even to be silenced in the grave! He boldly calls on the power of God to put down the bullies (my word) who lie and speak insolent things with pride and contempt against the righteous. This seems to be the pivotal point for turning things around – where the prayer itself changes direction.

What follows is essentially a chorus of praise of God, Who in spite of circumstances works miraculous things, bringing the light of awareness of it into very dark times. Right in front of a world in conflict and opposition with the Lord and His people.

Verses 23 and 24 are strong encouragement to love the Lord and hope in Him. This is for all us saints – those set apart for His plans and purposes. Be of good courage! (A good time to check out Romans 8:18-30) The promise follows, based upon his experiences and knowledge , “He shall strengthen your heart!”

There’s a little meme out there which keeps popping up: “Stay calm and pray a psalm.” You can also sing, chant, read reflectively, or meditate on one as well. Keep God’s truth central!

This one covers the bases of how prayer can flow, going from a lament over how things are perceived circumstantially, through laying down that view and burden at the Lord’s feet, and then accelerating up into a place of transcending our view of circumstances, by way of declaring and praising God’s goodness and blessing, which is for those who put their trust in Him. This is in the presence of the sons of men, who will either be full of hatred and envy, or there may be some who will see it who will come to Him in surrender.

This is why the Psalms are often called the prayer book or the hymn book of the Church. Over and over the pattern is made clear, by David and the other very artful inspired sacred song writers who contributed to the Psalms, that our Lord is very interactive in the affairs of those whom He has claimed in Christ Jesus. The Psalms make prayer practical and applicable.

If our “religion” is not that, making us aware of what a relationship with God looks like, then of what use is it?

Thoughts in Christ winging toward you, dear reader.

Celestial Nomad out.