Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Man Who Forgot to Remember

(The Saving Life of Christ – Ian Thomas)

God was at war with Amalek from generation to generation. There was no good thing in Amalek! In effect, there is absolutely no salvageable content in the flesh! That was God’s mind, God’s will, and God’s all-knowing judgment concerning Amalek. But Saul forgot to remember!

Even though Saul agreed to destroy every gross thing of the Amalekites, he “…took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive.” Saul spared the king – “self” – that ruled Amalek, and the best things that belonged to the self-life. He spared what he thought was good, even though God had totally condemned everything that comes from Amalek as bad.

This was the sin of Saul. He kept what God hated – the basic nature that wanted to rule the body, and the best of its heart idols. Since he was unwilling to give up the flesh-life, he was unable to enter the promised Sabbath-rest where “the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you” who can afflict the spiritual life. The people of this world, even the ones who claim to be following Christ, but instead are following Saul’s example, would rather keep self alive than to be set free from the spiritual bondage they naturally experience while clinging to their flesh-life.

This is the subtle temptation with which you will be confronted. For the devil will come to you again and again and whisper in your ear that you are not as bad as the Bible makes you out to be. There is surely something good to salvage from your flesh-life.

It seemed to Saul that God was taking things too far. God’s judgment on Amalek seemed to be unwarranted, a fanatical exaggeration of the issues; and so, in defiance of God’s word, God’s mind, God’s will, and God’s perfect judgment, Saul made up his own mind about right and wrong. Like Adam and Eve, Saul ate of the tree of “good and evil” – the personal opinion tree – thus making himself into his own god. (Gen. 3: 4-5)

It was this life of self-will that caused the Spirit to depart from both Adam and Saul. Are you still living by your own opinions and deciding what is right and wrong in your life? If you are, you are living by the flesh. God will not permit this evil to enter into His presence within His undivided kingdom. “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8: 8)

It is comparatively easy to be sorry for our sinful past, and even to recognize and dislike some of the sinful things we may still stumble into {such as selfish anger, some other temper, or saying some unkind words}, but we are by nature loathe to concede the natural depravity and wickedness of our willful nature. We think there is something good in ourselves, and so we want to keep Agag alive in order to control our own life and have our own glory.

Like Saul, we even plan to use the “good things” of Amalek in our worship to God. Many people save their self-life so they are able to build themselves up in the eyes of the people through their worship services. However, it is easy to recognize “the pride of life” in man, even when it claims to be worshipping God.

In other words, the fact that you are a preacher, the fact that you are a missionary, the fact that you are a minister of music, the fact that you are a Christian educator, the fact that you are a Christian worker, the fact that you are a witnessing Christian, does not make you spiritual, nor your activity a righteous work coming from the life of Jesus Christ – no matter how deep your sense of dedication or the sacrifices involved.

Are you still doing your Christian work with some hope of receiving honor and recognition? (John 5: 44) If you are, Agag is still alive and active. You are still acting like “mere men.” (1 Cor. 3: 3) This is why you become worried and upset when things don’t go the way you have planned them to. You have not yet sacrificed your fallen nature so that your body may become the temple of Christ’s life. This is the “one thing needful.” (Luke 10: 42)

The flesh does not take kindly to an exposure of the unholy nature of its own self-righteousness. It will be hurt, offended, indignant, and resentful. Like Saul, it will even try to justify itself by claiming to be obedient to the word of God. But the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen did little to vindicate Saul’s claim that he had performed as God had commanded. The noise that flows out of a carnal nature, such as boasting, quarreling, bickering, fretting and irritability, is the bad fruit that will demonstrate how an individual is still living under the power of the flesh like a “mere man” of the world. (1 Cor. 3: 3)

Of course, Saul assumed an air of offended innocence and insisted that he had not only performed the commandment of the Lord, but had done so with superior human judgment. After all, he had spared the best part of Amalek to be offered to the Lord in his worship to God. In effect, he planned to serve the Lord with his very best efforts! Saul said in so many words, “Don’t get me wrong! Don’t do the injustice of misjudging my heart or my motives! The good that I have found in Amalek, I have kept to dedicate to God.”

Saul was saying the same thing that we hear from so many people in the church today. Even though they refuse to die to self so they may live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit and manifest the life and nature of Jesus Christ, they say their motives are right, even when they are still serving God in the power of the flesh. This heart deception is a stroke of satanic genius and one of Satan’s most ancient devices, to persuade us to piously dedicate our fleshly human works to God.

We think that the works we are doing for the Lord with our “right heart” will make our proud and willful way of life acceptable to God. And so we presume to find good in the flesh-life – a life that God has condemned. But it is nothing more than an attempt to build the Tower of Babel up to God through human works.

This is the curse of Christendom! This is what paralyzes the Spirit’s work in the church today! In defiance of God’s word, men everywhere are prepared to dedicate to God the human plans that God condemns – the works of the flesh. No wonder God’s life and glory are not being seen from the lives of Christians today.

God had effectively said, “Do not forget the innate evil in Amalek.” But Saul forgot to remember. Saul, in his own willfulness, had rejected God’s verdict on Amalek. He therefore had to learn in a bitter way how God’s verdict is always right and unchangeable. Though you may show mercy to Agag, this self-life will never show mercy to you!

“I am in great distress,” said Saul. “The Philistines {who represent the sins of a carnal nature} are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and has become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me…Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines {which is a life of suffering under the bondage of a carnal nature}…

(1 Sam. 28: 15-19)

You compromise with Amalek at your peril. No good thing dwells in your self-life, nor can anything good come out of the wisdom of this world. Spare it if you will, but it will never spare you! Presume to find something good in it to offer to the Lord, when God has wholly condemned it, and the day will come when it will destroy you and rob you of your crown.

God says that no flesh will ever glory in His presence. It can only make your body the devil’s plaything so that his evil pride and self-seeking desires will become incarnate in all that you say and do.

Are you still offering to God the best of what God has condemned? Are you still living under law by human effort while offering tokens to the Lord from your treasures? Be careful; God cannot be mocked. You need to come out from the ways of the flesh and stop touching the unclean things of this world before you can enter into the divine life and nature of the Lord. (2 Cor. 6: 17) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world {with its self-sufficient, self-willed and self-seeking ways}…” (Rom. 12: 1-2)

Think about this: With an entrance into the Promised Land only a twelve day journey from spiritual regeneration at the Red Sea, “then came Amalek.” Because they would not destroy Amalek, for forty years the called out people of God wandered around the wilderness, grieving God in their self-imposed poverty, robbed of all the blessings for which they had been redeemed!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Heaven Touches Earth

From "Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit" by George Warnock

"O that our God would the heavens rend,"
So we cry with the prophet of old...
"Let the mountains melt and the hills dissolve,
And make Your Name known to men.
When our resources are gone and our strength is small
And we patiently do His will,
And we give Him our all, and cancel our plans
And lay it all before Him.
When we come to the end of out own resources,
And have learned to wait and be still,
He has gone on ahead and will meet with us there,
And Heaven will touch the earth.
For eye hath not seen, nor ear has heard
The wonders that He will do,
In vessels that are prepared of God
And have learned to wait for Him.

But waiting for God let us never suppose,
Is sitting around in ease;
For all the while we are waiting for Him,
We must faithfully do what He says...
Laboring in the menial tasks,
In shop, or in the mill,
Or gathering fruit from the sycamore trees,
Or walking behind the plow,
Or preaching to crowds in the forums of earth
And traveling far and wide,
Or sitting at home with no words to say,
Dumb--when He says to be still.
All the time I am doing His will,
I am waiting for God to work.
And I want to be there in the pathway of God,
When Heaven draws nigh to earth.

I thought my part was to do great things,
Lest I stand at His throne undone.
But now I have learned my part is to wait,
His workmanship to become.
And while I am waiting I trust I am learning
That His ways, not mine, are the best;
That His ways and my ways are one and the same,
When I learn to enter His rest.
That His part is my part, and His burden mine,
When I walk in the yoke with Him.
So working for God is no longer my quest,
But working together with Him.
I can no longer say, "I have done my part,
Now come on the scene and do Yours";
But abiding in Him as the branch in the Vine,
The fruit is entirely His.

And so men of all ages who walked by faith,
Were men who waited for God.
And as they waited they did what He said,
In patience, longsuffering and trial.
Dwelling in caves and holes of the earth,
Refusing to run and go free--
Preferring to die by flame or by sword,
Than to have the approval of men.
And as they walked in the ways of the Lord
They earnestly longed for the day
When God would come down and mountains would melt,
As the heavens responded to men.

So now I have learned that walking by faith
Is walking with God in His way;
That doing His will is all He requires,
And to leave all the planning with Him.
Whether it be to shepherd the sheep,
On Horeb's barren slopes,
Or tending the children with loving care,
And washing the pots and pans,
Or gathering fruit from the sycamore trees,
Like Amos the prophet of old;
Or hammering nails, or bending the tin,
Or walking behind the plow,
Or filling my days with meaningless deeds
In shop or assembly line...
If this be His will, to learn how to serve,
In faithfulness, honor and trust--
Then this I must do, and be faithful and true,
If I hope to hear His "Well done!"

If I rush to the front, when God says to stand,
If I build, when God wants to tear down;
If I seek to enlarge, when God says "Decrease"
Or run, when God says to be still;
If I want to expand because needs are so great,
When God wants to keep me small--
For He seeks to refine the ore that I bring,
Till nothing is left but the gold--
And I stand all aghast at the havoc I see,
Scarce anything left but the ash--
Then He is so faithful to show me His Word,
And whisper assurance so clear:
"Your thoughts are not Mine and My ways are not yours,
Behold the great work that I do,
When men lose their strength and I clothe them in Mine,
And they walk in a way that is new."

Then the Word becomes real as it settles within,
And knowledge gives way to the Truth,
And hope rises fresh from the ash of despair,
When I know what the Potter would do.
He tells me of Joseph and how he was trained
In prison cell lonely and bare,
To sit on a throne and minister bread
To a people who lived in despair.
He reminds me of Moses and the vision he had,
How his failure was turned into strength,
How in walking with God he grew gentle and meek,
Approved in the Furnace of Time.
How his meeting with God had all been arranged
In the secret councils of Heaven.
And how God remembered the cry of the slave,
As He spoke from the burning bush.

O how we would try to make Heaven respond
To our needs, to our prayers, to our woes;
And we plan and connive and arrange and promote,
Like Jacob a man full of guile.
Yet we long for Him, and He patiently waits
Till we come to the end of the road,
And all of our loves and our treasures and flocks
Have been driven beyond the ford.
And we stand all alone in the dark of the night,
To be smitten and crippled of God:
No longer to walk in the wisdom of men,
No longer to get, but to give--
For here was a man that was chosen of God
Even from birth--but defiled;
And God would now change him, and make him anew,
As He challenged him there at Peniel.

Again and again the heavens were moved
To respond to the cries of the earth.
He came to reprove and He came to bless,
And to sift the hearts of men.
He came to convict the couple who sinned,
And were hiding among the trees,
And atoned for them by the blood that was shed,
And clothed them with coats of skins.
He came down at Babel to deal with the crowd
Who builded the City and Tower.
And when Abraham walked up Moriah's slopes
To give his son back to God--
God was already there and waiting for him,
His patience and faith to reward.
He appeared to Moses in a wilderness shrub,
And to Joshua as a Captain strong.
He came to Samuel while yet a young child,
And stood at the foot of his bed,
To make Himself known to a chosen man
Who would nurture the people of God.
But He came again in the fullness of time,
To a world in the darkness of sin
To show a great light, to be a great Light
That would lighten the hearts of men.
The earth did not quake, nor the heavens shake
As He lay in a cradle of hay,
But when Jesus our Lord hung on Calvary's hill
To atone for the sins of men,
The last words He spoke made the earth to shake,
And the heavens to darken their face.
"It is finished" He cried, and with that He died,
With the work of redemption complete.
Then after three days He arose from the dead,
And the hopes of His people revived.
"Will You stay and be King?" is what they implied,
As their broken dreams sprang into life--
But No! He must go to a heavenly throne,
And from there He must rule and reign,
Till the earth is subdued, and the heavens are purged,
And He scatters the kingdoms of men...

And so there He now reigns, not from temple or throne
That men have erected on earth,
But from Heaven itself, with power and with love
To transform the hearts of men,
To minister grace by the Spirit of Truth,
Through men in the earth who are true,
And who walk with Him, and abide in the Vine,
That their words might be His--not their own,
To birth a new race, through mercy and grace,
To beget His own kind in the earth.
And He comes again, and for this we must wait
Till His work at the throne is complete.
He comes for a Church that is cleansed and made pure,
For a Bride--adorned and made clean;
When the precious fruit of the earth is ripe,
And the tares are ready to burn...
To gather the harvest for which He is waiting,
And to trample the grapes of His wrath.

"Fear not, little flock" is the Word that He speaks
To those who would suffer with Him,
Who go forth from the camp to walk by His side,
Rejected and hated of men.
Once again as of old, the prisoners groan,
And creation still longs to be free,
And God is preparing a people of Truth,
Who are humble and meek as He,
To minister life as they walk in the earth,
As they hear a pure Word from the throne--
To create a new nation, a new generation,
Joined by one Spirit to Him...
To send forth a light that will lighten the earth,
As they walk in the shoes of peace.

When God spake on earth old Sinai quaked,
Midst the thunder, the fire, and the smoke.
When He spoke from the Cross the earth again shook,
And darkness covered the land...
Yet once more saith the Lord, His voice shall go forth
Not speaking from earth, but from Heaven,
That the things that are shakeable might be removed
With earthquakes and heaven-quakes strong,
That the kingdoms of men might be brought to an end,
And the heavens rolled back like a scroll;
For He comes again, on a white horse of power,
Not riding the ass with its foal:
Still meek and lowly, but strong and almighty,
For the Lion of Judah is the Lamb.
That the earth once destroyed with water and flood
Might then be destroyed by fire,
As the elements melt, and the heavens dissolve,
Consumed by the breath of His mouth;
And a new world is birthed from the ash of the old,
Holy and righteous and pure.

No eye hath seen, nor ear has heard
What God has prepared for him
Whose heart has been stilled to wait for God
When the light of the way grows dim;
When he cries for Heaven and Earth to meet,
And for mountains and hills to flow,
And he feels so sure that the time is ripe
For God to come down and show
His might and His power and make bare His arm
To a people oppressed and made low.
"You have done it before. please do it again"
Is the cry of the bleeding heart,
"O why do You wait, when the need is so great,
Why do You tarry so long?"

But the cries and the prayers of the anguished soul
Are all stored in the vials of Heaven,
Preserved for the day that He has prepared,
To make Himself known to men;
When vessels of clay who have waited for Him
Shall arise in the strength of their Lord,
And go forth in the splendor and power of His Name,
And clothed with the armor of God:
With the helmet of salvation upon their head,
And their loins girt about with Truth,
Guarding their hearts with a breastplate pure,
And carrying the shield of faith;
With beautiful feet, prepared of the Lord,
With the shoes of the Gospel of Peace,
And a two-edged sword going forth from their mouth,
With a piercing, consuming Word.
For the hearts of men are only changed
When the Master comes on the scene,
And the heavens respond to the cries of the earth,
And His servants have learned to be still.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Then Came Amalek! - Ian Thomas

(The Saving Life of Christ – Ian Thomas)

Returning to Exodus 17, we see that no sooner had God given His people water in the desert to temporarily satisfy their spiritual thirst, “then came Amalek and fought with Israel…” Amalek here is the picture of the flesh-life.

Under the influence of Satan, the flesh will do everything it can to prevent God’s “called out” people from entering into God’s Sabbath-rest. The flesh will assert its willful nature and attempt to maintain its dominion over the body, the mind, the will, and the emotions. Truly, many are called out of Egypt, but few are chosen to be taken into the promised land.

Amalek still has its strength in the early border areas of the wilderness. Remaining close to spiritual Egypt is not a safe place to live for long periods of time. You will surely be beaten if you remain this close to those worldly influences where Amalek, as the flesh-life, has all of its strength. The carnal nature will remain alive and active as it continues to feed itself on the things of the world.

Amalek presents us with a most fascinating study and illustrates the consistency of the Holy Spirit in the language which He uses in His revelation of truth throughout the whole of the Bible. He may use several spiritual types or symbols to illustrate the same spiritual principle, but such types or symbols will be used with complete consistency throughout the whole of Scripture.

This is one of the most remarkable evidences of the miraculous inspiration of the Bible. You will discover that the Bible will come to life in a new way, and the Old Testament in particular will become much richer, a Book charged with spiritual significance, if you will allow the Holy Spirit to teach you the meaning of His spiritual types according to the language that He uses.

We have already seen that just as soon as the Holy Spirit is breathed into your human spirit (John 20: 22) as a forgiven sinner who has agreed to stop directing your own life, His office is to re-invade your soul and to reestablish the temple of God. It must be properly prepared before the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ can fill the temple of your body with the glory of His divine nature and then rule in the areas of your mind, your emotions and your will.

The undivided kingdom of God is not established in the heart when we first believe in Jesus. Desert preaching, which teaches repentance, is intended to prepare God’s “called out” people to enter His undivided kingdom. (Matt. 3: 1-12) “ From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matt. 4: 17) Only after the temple is wholly consecrated for Christ’s exclusive use is the Lord able to re-inhabit your redeemed humanity with His divine life and glory from heaven.

There is, however, immediate resistance on the part of the flesh, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.” (Gal. 5: 17) The flesh-life, while it remains alive and active, will naturally resist giving up its control over you. It will continue to resist until God is able to establish His undivided kingdom in your heart.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of
God, that He may exalt you in due time… But may the God
of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ
Jesus, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the
flesh-life}, perfect, establish, and settle you {in His undivided
(1 Pet. 5: 6, 10)

The flesh will fight against your attempts to enter the promised land. Since everyone who has entered into God’s undivided kingdom has died to the independent and self-sufficient ways of the world, a great battle will first have to take place within the soul. Let us simply say – the flesh-life does not die easily. Standing across your pathway from the very outset of your Christian life is Amalek!

The flesh does not have the power to overcome the flesh. When Joshua went out to fight Amalek, the outcome of the battle did not rest with his own might: “…when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” (Ex. 17: 11) The principle is plain. Victory over Amalek will be given to us when we are looking to God in faith; it cannot be won by human strength {with all of its resolutions}.

Not by {human} might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says the Lord of hosts. (Zech. 4: 6)
For if you live according to the flesh {the self-willed and
self-centered nature}you will die {have a dying spiritual life};
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you
will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are
sons of God.
(Rom. 8: 13-14)

There is nothing quite so nauseating or pathetic as the flesh trying to be holy! The flesh has a perverted bent for being righteous. But all it can produce is a pride that is innately looking for praise. This way of self-produced righteousness needs to be noticed, recognized, consulted, and applauded. It also has an evil inclination to make judgmental comparisons and then look down on those who have not yet achieved the kind of righteousness and holiness that it has achieved through its own efforts.

It is easy to determine when people are still attempting to be holy and righteous through the works of human effort. Self remains the primary focus of their actions. They will have a natural tendency to talk about their own life and what they have been accomplishing through their own works. And it is from this self-elevated position that they make their judgmental opinions about others.

God says of you that in your flesh dwells no good thing. (Rom. 7: 18) He also says that no flesh will ever glory in His presence. (1 Cor. 1: 29) This inwardly focused life found its first expression at the fall of Satan when he said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High.” (Isa. 14: 13-14)

Satan wanted to have something, to do something, and to be something through his own works {and resources} so that he might receive the glory. It is this satanic ambition that the flesh seeks to perpetuate in you. The flesh is all that you become by seeking to have and to do and to be through your own human strength. And therefore, it will naturally seek to have its own recognition and glory, even in its service to God.

The flesh wars against becoming like Jesus Christ because He became “nothing” in Himself in order to walk as God had originally planned for man. (Phil. 2: 5-8) After laying down His own glory, He was sent into this world with only a mortal body and faith, to demonstrate how believers in this New Testament age of fulfillment are to live. (1 John 2: 6; 3: 16) He did nothing through the works of human effort. Jesus lived by dependent faith and waited for the Father to work out the divine life and will through Him.

The desire to exalt self is what separates you from the heavenly life of Jesus Christ. No flesh can be permitted to glory in His presence. And so God is at war from generation to generation with this satanic principle which makes you want to elevate yourself.

Given the opportunity, God can take the most evil element of humanity and make a prince out of this fallen life. Did you ever get down on your knees and tell God what you know yourself to be? “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 7: 24-25; 8: 2)

Compromise with the flesh and you make an unholy alliance with that which is, and always will be, at enmity with God. Never forget, this flesh-life has already been condemned to perish. And this, God says, is something to remember!

Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were
coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked
your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were
tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be,
when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies
all around {all those inward enemies that rise up and afflict your
spiritual life}, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you
to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance
of Amalek {the flesh-life} from under heaven. You shall not forget.
(Deut. 25: 17-19)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Church in the Wilderness - Ian Thomas

(The Saving Life of Christ – Ian Thomas)

While God was feeding His people with manna in the desert wilderness – He was causing them to hunger. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna…” (Deut. 8: 2-3)

Throughout their time in the desert, God did not plan for His called out people to be satisfied. While the believer remains in the desert wilderness, God will cause the seeker to hunger and thirst after the heavenly fruit of Christ’s life. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” The filling with Christ’s “Spirit of life” occurs when we have come to the end of human effort and have entered into His promised rest. This is how we are enabled to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4: 24)

The manna was given only to sustain life, never to fill and satisfy the soul. The desert is a time of removing the heart’s idols from God’s temple and separating your soul from worldliness – to be used for God’s exclusive use. While God will continue sustaining your soul with His grace while He is testing you to find out if you will permit the Spirit to strip away your flesh-life, it will be necessary to enter into a union with Christ’s divine nature before it is possible to know the firstfruits of His heavenly life.

The Lord will lead you with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit through the desert testing period “to humble you and to test you in order to know what {is} in your hearts.” Will you respond to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit or will you rebel against God?

God must work out the very delicate matter of separating His called out people from their worldly way of life. He does it by bringing them to an end of their willful pride and self-sufficiency. This process will inevitably entail much suffering within the soul.

During this stripping away process, He will also be leading His people to wells of refreshment on occasions so they do not fall away and return to the ways of the world. But these periods of refreshing joy cannot be compared to the river of life that flows without ceasing in the promised land. Only those who enter the land and begin to drink from Christ’s Living Water of divine life will know what it means to “never thirst.” (John 4: 14) Unfortunately, only “the few” are ever willing to enter in.

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns {by
turning to the things and self-sufficient ways of this world},
broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2: 13)

Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…Why spend
money…and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen
to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the
richest of fare. (Isa. 55: 1-2)

As we are being stripped of our self-life in the desert wilderness, God must permit long dry spells between the wells of refreshment. He would like to speed up the process as much as possible because He needs Christians “filled” with Christ’s life of righteousness. He wants to manifest His divine light in this world. However, He cannot go too fast in this delicate process of separating people from the ways of the world. The Lord does not want anyone to fall away. If He were expose us to all the evil in our fallen nature all at once, it would be more than we could bear.

When Jesus went into the desert as our example, He fasted in the physical realm to demonstrate how we are to fast in the spiritual realm. We must stop feeding our spiritual life with the things of this world. God will not fill the temple of our body with His divine life until we are willing to accept His life as our only food and drink. Jesus said, “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me…he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 57-58)

By the time we have given up all of our outside sources of spiritual sustenance through this spiritual fast, we will be as weak as Jesus was at the end of His physical fast. It is in this weakness that we will be able to perfect the power of God within our inner being. (2 Cor. 12: 9) The Spirit will manifest His divine power by clothing our soul with the life and nature of Jesus Christ.

There will be a real change in the way we live when we come out of the desert clothed with power from on high. Once we are through with the worldly way of human effort, God is able to manifest His life and work through the temple of our body. Like Jesus, we cannot truly begin a ministry that brings all glory to the Father in heaven until this event has taken place. “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole country.” (Luke 4: 15)

Where did God intend to satisfy His people? In the land {of promise}! Since God was stripping the people of their flesh-life in the desert, He refused to fill their soul with heavenly fruit while they remained there. Never forget, He has spread the table with good things in Canaan!

Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of
God…A certain man was preparing a great banquet and inviting
many guests. At the time of the banquet {in this New Testament
age of fulfillment} he sent his servant to tell those {called out
people} who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.”
But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, “I have
just bought a field {as a new property owner}, and I must go and
see it. Please excuse me {because my concerns are for the property}.”

Another said, “I have just bought five yoke of oxen {as a new
business owner}, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse
me {because my business must come first}.”
Still another said, “I just got married, so I can’t come {because
my spouse doesn’t like the Lord’s will}.”
Then the master told his servant,…“I tell you, not one of those
men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” (Luke 14: 15-24)

Therefore…repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine
with him, and he with Me. (Rev. 3: 19-20)

Have you entered into the banquet feast and begun to eat from the Tree of Life in the Sabbath-rest of God? Maybe you are still feeding your flesh-life on the things of this world. If anyone or anything is more important to you than the good, pleasing and perfect will of the Father, you will not be permitted to feast on Christ’s divine life and nature.

God cannot fully satisfy you in the wilderness because He is attempting to bring an end to your old life in the flesh. He must weaken you to the point where you give up all hope in self, and all hope of finding fulfillment from the things of this world. Out of love, He permits suffering to come into your life in order to bring about your willingness to die to self.

Of course, it is not natural for the flesh-life to like what God must do. The flesh, in its natural desire to assert itself, fights against becoming nothing in itself so that God may become all in all. It has a natural enmity against Christ’s selfless nature.

This is why God must bring about a weakness in the flesh. The desert is a place of soul suffering. The intent of this work of the Spirit is to make us weaker in self so we will become more dependent on the Lord. We will not perfect the power of God within our inner being until we have been driven into an absolute dependence on God to direct and empower our every step.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves
also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his
body {which is intended to bring about an end to the self-life}
is done with sin {or self-will}. As a result, he does not live the
rest of his earthly life for evil {self-willed} human desires, but
rather for the will of God. (1 Pet. 4: 1-2)

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish
His work.” (John 4: 34)

When the Spirit is breathed into a new believer as the Dove of peace and reconciliation with God, He immediately drives the new seeker into the desert to separate him from the willful ways of the world. But there is a natural tendency to look back at the worldly things and methods that we once used to sustain our old spiritual life.

However, you need to be very concerned about turning your eyes back to the world, because if you are not careful, God will give you the things that you want! The people “lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Ps. 106: 14-15) The quail God gave them rotted in their mouths, and they lived in self-imposed spiritual poverty – carnally fat and spiritually lean!

Your soul will feel miserable if you are feeding on worldly things while the Spirit is attempting to lead you through the desert with a hunger and thirst to be like Jesus Christ. The wretched feeling that occurs when you are feeding your soul on the temporal things of this world originates from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

Many who are in the church today have not experienced spiritual regeneration and so they have not been blessed with a hunger to be like Jesus Christ. These people have never left spiritual Egypt {the world}. They naturally sustain their spiritual life by feeding their flesh with the things of this world. They do not experience a true sense of conviction over their spiritual adultery because they remain spiritually dead.

The Spirit does not drive an individual into the desert testing period until after spiritual regeneration. They will know when this occurs because the Spirit provides them with an inner desire to become like Jesus Christ. And of course, the carnal desires that continue to flow out of their sinful nature will make them feel miserable. (See Romans 7)

Since it is a true blessing to have our independent spirit broken (Matt. 5: 3), the breaking down of our self-sufficient pride becomes an essential part in God’s plan of redemption. God must separate us from the self-life. This is why Christians all over the world will go through a period of suffering to break their self-sufficient spirit.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you
are suffering, as though something strange were happening
to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of
Christ {as you die to self}, so that you may be overjoyed when
his glory is revealed {within your soul}. (1 Pet. 4: 12-13}

Casting all your care upon Him…Be sober, be vigilant…
steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are
experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the
God of all grace…after you have suffered a while, perfect,
establish, strengthen, and settle you {in His undivided kingdom}.
(1 Peter 5: 7-10)

Life in the wilderness was not a happy place to be. But what a transformation took place on the day they entered into the land {of God’s Sabbath rest}! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled {or fully met} in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8: 2, 4 KJV) There is deliverance from the bondage of the sinful nature when we enter into the promised land and receive the long awaited Promise of the Father – an undivided heart. The glory of the Lord is revealed within our soul so we are enabled to manifest His spiritual image.

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them
{because of the way they responded to the convicting work
of the Holy Spirit} by giving the Holy Spirit to them {as an
inner manifestation of Christ’s divine life}…for he purified
their hearts by faith. (Acts 15: 8-9)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt. 5: 8)

“The manna stopped the day after they ate this {divine} food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.” (Josh. 5: 12) Christ wants to become the food of our life – and the heavenly fruit of His Spirit flowing through our inner being will begin to satisfy our soul as with the richest of fare. (Isa. 55: 2; Eph. 1: 3)

The riches of this divine food bears witness to the Spirit-filled life. “The fruit of the Spirit is {Christ’s heavenly} love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5: 22-23) The Spirit makes Christ’s divine nature known as an experiential reality within our eternal soul. (John 16: 14)

In the land {of promise} they enjoyed the fullness of the Spirit, not just sustained – now their soul could delight in the bountiful fruit of the land. No longer were they forced to eat the monotonous and leaning diet of the desert. They had entered the land flowing with spiritual milk and honey and had all the abundance of Canaan! It is here, in the promised Sabbath-rest, that we are enabled to participate with Christ in His heavenly blessings.

Are you bored? Are you suffering from leanness of soul? Have even the things you are doing for God become monotonous? Are you tempted to grumble about the circumstances

of life rather than to constantly rejoice because of a fullness experienced within your soul? Perhaps you are still living on manna! Maybe you got out of Egypt {the world}, but you have not yet entered into the promised land. You probably still belong to the church of the wilderness!

Yes, you may know about the baptism of repentance that results in spiritual regeneration. But this was the message of a desert preacher. (Luke 3: 3) John the Baptist provided his message from the wilderness to “prepare” the people to enter God’s undivided kingdom here on earth. (Matt. 3: 2) If this repentance is real, it will result in a Spirit-produced “hunger and thirst” to be like Jesus. But this is only a sign of life in the desert wilderness, and not yet the “life of promise.”

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism
of repentance for the remission of sins {reconciliation}. (Mark 1: 4)
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert
of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the {undivided} kingdom of
heaven is near…

I will baptize you with water for repentance {to reconcile you
to God}. But after me will come one who is more powerful than
I…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit {to provide you with
divine life}… (Matt. 3: 1-2, 11)

So there is still a question to be asked: Do you know about the more powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit that immerses you into the life and nature of Jesus Christ? Our Lord expects us to go forward in our faith so we may enter into His undivided kingdom through a union with His life and will.

The Messiah has come to establish His undivided kingdom in our heart. We are to become filled with His life of righteousness. “For the kingdom of God is…{Christ’s} righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14: 17) “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5: 17-18)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

God's Peculiar Treasure

"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:4-6).

Israel could not attain to this; but it has been reserved for the New Covenant people: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9).

Who are these people who are God's special treasure, His peculiar people?

"Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name. AND THEY SHALL BE MINE, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels [or, 'my special treasure']..." (Mal. 3:16-17).

They are the ones who have a wholesome, godly fear of the Lord of all creation... a fear that inspires love and devotion and commitment, even unto death. When God speaks they listen. But they do more--they obey. They seek to walk in His ways. They tremble at His Word. They speak often one to another, not in idle chitchat, but in fellowship, thinking upon His Name, meditating of His wondrous works, encouraging and edifying one another--teaching, exhorting, admonishing one another in the fear of the LORD. They are wholly occupied with Him, and therefore He is wholly occupied with them:

"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23).

The "peculiar people" are not "peculiar" because they do foolish things or unseemly things. The word has the sense of a "hidden treasure"... something so precious it is concealed, and hidden from the eyes of men... something special, something superlative. They are people that are unknown, and yet "well known." For they may pass their days in this life in obscurity, scarcely known or recognized in the affairs of men. But they are "well known" in heavenly places, the subject of conversation and wonder among the celestial hosts. They are weak and insignificant in themselves... can boast of no special endowments in the natural... very ordinary and unassuming. Yet somehow without great natural ability and with no claims to any particular achievements, they love God with an intensity that sets them apart in a special place in His heart... a special habitation for the abode of Father and Son.

by George H. Warnock