IN DEBT to the Believer and the Unbeliever
"Both to Greeks and to barbarians
(to the cultured and the uncultured), both to the wise and to the foolish,
I have an obligation to discharge and a duty to perform and a debt to pay."
Romans 1:14 (Amp

30 June 2010

"Being Made Conformable to His Death" (Devotional)

This is one of my favorite chapters in "The Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ" because it starts off with my favorite scripture, "That I may know Him...." That is my passion and my pursuit through my prayer, writing and life's challenges. In this life pursuit the cross is so precious to me, because it's there that I know that my self-life in all its subtleties will be put to death allowing His resurrected life to live out of me, and allowing me to know Jesus more intimately in all His power and His glory. I want that intimacy of our relationship to manifest in blessing others, that as I know my Lord more personally and intimately and bring the needs of others to Him, that He responds and answers their needs, making me His life partner to spread and manifest His love here on earth.

"Being Made Conformable to His Death"
Andrew Murray

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made
conformable unto his death"
Phil 3:10

     We know that the death of Christ was the death of the cross. We know that the death of the cross is the chief glory. The one mark by which He is separated from all other persons, both in the divine Being and in God's universe, is this one: He is the crucified Son of God. Of all the articles of conformity, this must necessarily be the chief and most glorious one--conformity to His death.
     This is what made it so attractive to Paul. Christ's glory and blessedness must become his glory too: he knows that the most intimate likeness to Christ is conformity to His death. What that death had been to Christ it would be to him, as he was conformed to it.
     Christ's death on the cross had been the end of sin. During His life it could tempt Him: when He died on the cross, He died to sin; it could no more reach Him. Conformity to Christ's death is the power to keep us from the power of sin. By the grace of the Holy Spirit I am kept in my position as crucified with Christ, and live out my crucifixion life as the crucified One lives it in me. I am kept from sinning.
     Christ's death on the cross was infinitely pleasing to the Father. If I want to dwell in the favor and love of the Father, I am sure there is nothing that gives such deep and perfect access to it as being conformed to Christ's death. There is nothing in the universe to the Father so beautiful, so holy, so wonderful, as the crucified Jesus. The closer I am to Him the more conformed to His death I can become, and the more I enter into the very bosom of His love.
     Christ's death on the cross was the entrance to the power of the resurrection life, the unchanging life of eternity. In our spiritual life we often have to mourn the failures and sins that prove there is still something that prevents the resurrection life from asserting its full power. The secret is: there is still some subtle self-life that has not yet been brought into the perfect conformity of Christ's death. We can be sure that nothing is needed but a fuller entrance into the fellowship of the cross to make us to be full partakers of the resurrection joy.
     Above all, it was Christ's death on the cross that made Him the life of the world, gave Him the power to bless and to save (John 12:24,25). In the conformity to Christ's death there is an end of self: we give ourselves to live and die for others; we are full of the faith that our surrender of ourselves is accepted by the Father. Out of this death we rise, with the power to love and to bless.
      But, what is this conformity to the death of the cross? We see it in Jesus. The cross means the death of self--the utter surrender of our own will and our life to be lost in the will of God, to let God's will do with us what it pleases. This was what the cross meant to Jesus. It cost Him a terrible struggle before He could give himself to it.  When He was sore amazed and very heavy, and His soul exceedingly sorrowful unto death, it was because His whole being shrank back from that cross and its curse. Three times He had prayed before He could fully say, "Not my will, but thine be done." But He did say it. And His giving himself up to the cross is to say: Let me do anything rather than that God's will should not be done. I give up everything--only God's will must be done.
     And this is being made conformable to Christ's death: we so yield our lives to God that we learn to be and to work nothing but what God reveals to us as His will. Such a life is called conformity to the death of Christ, because it is himself by His Holy Spirit living in us the life animated Him in His crucifixion. Were it not for this, the very thought and such conformity would be unthinkable.
     In the power of the Holy Spirit, the believer knows that the resurrection life has its power and its glory from its being a crucifixion life, begotten from the cross. He yields himself to it, he believes that it has possession of him. Realizing his failures of the past and that the flesh will assert itself if he allows it to, he yields every power of his being to the place of crucifixion and condemnation. In doing so he is yielding every power of his being, every faculty of body, soul, and spirit to the disposal of Jesus. The distrust and denial of self in everything, the trust of Jesus in everything, mark his life. The very spirit of the cross breathes through his personality.
     It is surely not a matter of painful strain and effort to maintain the crucifixion position. It is rest and strength and victory. It is not the dead cross, not self's self-denial, not a work in his own strength that he works with, but the living Jesus, in whom the crucifixion is already passed into the life of resurrection. "I have been crucified with Christ: Christ liveth in me"; this gives the courage and the desire for an ever-growing, ever-deeper entrance into conformity with His death.
     And how is this blessed conformity to be attained? Paul gives the answer: "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord....that I may know him....being made conformable unto his death" (Phil 3:7-10). The pearl of great price; but oh! it is worth the purchase. Let us give up all, yes all, to be admitted by Jesus to a place with Him on the cross.
     And if it appears hard to give up all and to choose a whole life-time on the cross, let us listen to Paul as he tells us what made him so willing. It was Jesus--Christ Jesus, his Lord. The cross was the place where he found the fullest union with his Lord. To know Him, to win Him, to be found in Him, to be made like to Him--this was the burning passion that made it easy to cast away all, that gave the cross such mighty attractive power. Anything to come nearer to Jesus. All for Jesus was his motto. It contains the twofold answer to the question, How can one attain this conformity to Christ's death: The one is, cast out all: the other, let Jesus be all.
     Yes, it is only knowing Jesus that can make the conformity to His death possible at all. But let the soul win Him, and be found in Him, and know Him in the power of the resurrection, and it becomes more than possible. Therefore, look to Him, the crucified One. Gaze on Him until your soul can say, "Oh my Lord, I must be like you." Gaze until you see how He, the crucified One, in His ever-present power draws close to live and breathe through your being His crucifixion life.  It was through the eternal Spirit that He offered himself to God; that Spirit brings and imparts all that the death on the cross is and effected in you as your life. By the Holy Spirit Jesus maintains in each trusting soul the power of the cross as an abiding death to sin and self, and a never-ceasing source of resurrection life and power. Therefore, look to Him, the living crucified Jesus.
     But remember above all, that while you seek the best and the highest with all your might, the full blessing comes not as fruit of your efforts, but as a free gift from above.  It is as the Lord Jesus reveals himself that we are made conformable to His death. Therefore, seek and get it from Him.

     Lord, such knowledge is to wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attian it. To know You in the power of Your resurrection, and to be made conformable to Your death--these are things hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to babes.
     O my Lord, I see what utter folly it is to think of likeness to You as an attainment through my effort! I cast myself on Your mercy: look upon me according to the greatness of Your loving-kindness; and of Your free favor reveal Yourself to me. Lord, if I will live and die for You, and the souls You have died to save, then You will draw near to me and take me up into the full fellowship of Your life and death.
     Blessed Savior! I know You are willing. Your love towards us is infinite. Draw me to Yourself and take eternal possession of me. And let some measure of conformity to Your death, in its self-sacrifice for the perishing, be the mark of my life. Amen

29 June 2010

"In the Likeness of His Resurrection" (Devotional)

As followers of Jesus, when we turn our back on the things of this world to be our focus and pursuit, and we're willing to "count all things as loss" (Phil 3:8) for the sake of Christ, then we can receive and experience the power of Christ's resurrected life in us to overcome and conquer all that the world and the devil throws at us. Oh, we will always have the enticements of the world, all it's material and glitter to tempt us back into its hold again, but when we continue to stay close to the cross, determined to keep our flesh and old man nailed to it, the power of Christ's resurrected life in us will keep us and propel us away from its stonghold and into the victorious life of Christ in us the hope of glory, a life that can be used in power and in blessing to the lost.
I share this chapter of the "Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ" to encourage and plant more of that passionate seed in you and in me to be and live like Jesus. With His Spirit living in us we are able. Jesus said, "those things that I did, you will do also, and greater things will you do because I go to the Father." Through His Holy Spirit He has given us His power to live and operate, to conquer and defeat, and to lead others to the Father through Him. Praise the Lord!

"In the Likeness of His Resurrection"

"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death,
we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection...that like as
Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,
 even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Rom 6:5,4

     Following the likeness of His death is the likenss of His resurrection. To speak only of the likenss of His death of bearing the cross, and of self-denial gives a one-sided view of following Christ. It is only the power of His resurrection that gives us strength to go on to the conformity to His death which comes as the growth of the inner life. Being dead with Christ refers to the death of the old life and to sin and the world; risen with Christ refers to the new life through which the Holy Spirit expels the old. To those who earnestly desire to walk as Christ did, the knowledge of this likeness of His resurrection is indispensable.
     We have already seen how the disciples' life before Christ's death was a life of weakness. Sin had power over the disciples, so that Christ could not give them the Holy Spirit, or do for them what He desired. Raised by the almighty power of God, His resurrection life was full of power of the Spirit. He had conquered sin and death not only for himself but for His disciples, so that He could from the first day make them partakers of His Spirit, of His joy, and of His heavenly power.
     When the Lord Jesus makes us partakers of His life, it is not the life that He had before His death but the resurrected life that He won through death. A life in which sin is already ended and put away, a life that has already conquered hell and the devil, the world and the flesh. This is the life that likeness to His resurrectioin gives us. "In that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 6:10, 11). Oh, that the Holy Spirit might reveal to us the glory of the life in the likeness of Christ's resurrection! In it we find the power for a life of conformity to Him.
     To most believers this is a mystery, and therefore their life is full of sin and weakness and defeat. They believe in Christ's resurrection as the sufficient proof of their justification. They think that He rose simply to continue His work in heaven as mediator. But that He rose that His resurrection life might now be the very power of their daily  life, they have no idea. they despair upon hearing of following Jesus fully and being conformed to His image. They cannot imagine how it can be required that they should always live like Christ. They do not know Christ in the power of His resurrection, or the mighty power with which His life now works in those who are willing to count all things but loss for His sake (Phil 3:8; Eph 1:19,20). For all who are weary of a life unlike Jesus and who desire to walk in His footsteps, there is in the Scriptures a better life than has been known. This unspeakable treasure of likeness to Christ in His resurrection is yours. Let me ask three questions.
     The first is: Are you ready to surrender your life to the rule of Jesus and His resurrection life? No doubt the contemplation of Christ's example has convinced you of sin in more than one point! In seeking your own will and glory instead of God's, in ambition and pride and selfishness and lack of love toward man, you have seen how far you are from ther obedience and humility and love of Jesus. The question is whether you will say: "If Jesus will take possession of my life, then I resign all rights or desire to have or to do my own will. I give Him my entire life with all I have to always do what He through His Word and Spirit shows me. If He will life and rule in me, I promise unbounded and hearty obedience."
     For such a surrender faith is needed: therefore the second question is: Are you prepared to believe that Jesus will take possession of the life committed to Him, and that He will rule and keep it? When the believer commits his entire spiritual and temporal life to Christ, then he learns to understand Paul's words: "I am dead; I live no more: Christ liveth in me." Dead with Christ and risen again, the living Christ in His resurrection life takes possession of and rules my life. The resurrection life is not for me to maintain. But blessed be God! Jesus Christ himself is the resurrection and the life. He himself will daily and hourly see to it and insure that I live as one who is risen with Him. He does it through that Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of His risen life. The Holy Spirit is in us and will, if we trust Jesus for it, maintain within us the presence and power of the risen Lord. We need not fear that we never can succeed in leading such a holy life. We are indeed not able. But it is not required of us. The living Jesus, who is the resurrection, has shown His power over all our enemies. He who so loves us will work it in us. He gives the Holy Spirit as our power, and He will perform His work in us with divine faithfulness if we will only trust Him. Christ himself is our life.
     And now comes the third question: Are you ready to use this resurrected life for the same purpose that God gave it to Christ, as a power and blessing to the lost? If we are only seeking our own perfection and happiness, it will fail. God raised up and exalted Jesus to give repentance and remission of sins. He ever lives to pray for sinners. Yield yourself to receive His resurrection life with the same aim. Give yourself wholly to working and praying for the perishing, then you will become an instrument in which the resurrection life can dwell and work out its glorious purposes.
     Your calling is to live like Christ. To this end you have been made one with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. Are you willing to surrender your whole life that He may manifest that resurrection power in every part of it? I pray you do not draw back. Offer yourself unreservedly to Him, with all your weakness and unfaithfulness. Believe that as His resurrection was a wonder above all thought and expectation, so He as the risen One will work in you exceeding abundantly above all you could think or desire.
     What a difference there was in the life of the disciples before Jesus death and after His resurrection.! Then all was weakness and fear, self and sin: with the resurrection all was power and joy, life and love, and glory. Just as great a change will come when a believer discovers how the risen One will himself be his life and take on himself the responsibility for the whole of that life. If you are troubles and weary because of a lack of power to walk like Christ, come and taste the blessedness of giving your whole life to the risen Savior in the assurance that He will live it in you.

     O Lord, my soul adores You as the prince of Life! On the cross You conquered each of my enemies: the devil, the flesh, the world, and sin. As conqueror, You rose to manifest and maintain the power of Your risen life in Your people. You made them one with Yourself in the likeness of Your resurrection; now You will live in them, and show forth in their earthly life the power of Your heavenly life.
     Praise to Your name for this wonderful grace. Blessed Lord, I come at Your invitation to offer and surrender my life, with all it implies. I have striven in my own strength to live like You, and not succeeded. The more I sought to walk like You, the deeper was my disappointment. I have heard of how blessed it is to cast all care and responsibility for my life on You. Lord, I am risen with You, one with You in the likeness of Your resurrection. Come and take me entirely and be my life.
     Above all, O risen Lord, reveal Yourself to me as You did to Your first disciples in the power of Your resurrection. It was not enough that after Your resurrection You appreared to Your disciples; they did not know You until You made Yourself known to them. Lord Jesus, I believe in You; be pleased to make Yourself known to me as my life. It is Your work; You alone can do it. I trust You for it. And so my resurrection life shall be a continual source of light and blessing to all who are needing You. Amen

26 June 2010

"In His Humility" (Devotional)

As I've been meditating on this most recent chapter "In His Humility" in the 31 day devotional, "The Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ", I continue to be caught on the words "He emptied himself", and it causes me to reflect on myself. And when I do this, I see so much in me that needs to be "emptied", parts of the old man and old nature that continues to peak its head out at times, and I see how necessary it is for me to bring that old man and that flesh to the cross, to keep it nailed there. (I call it cross-time)
I love the part in this chapter that says that its not sin that makes and keeps us humble, but it's grace that we need to do this, that the "heaviest laden branches always bow the lowest". Now surely sin will bring us to that place of brokenness and repentance, humbling us, and causing grace to flow through us, but what we need more everyday is not sin but grace alone. We need His grace that pours through us in the goodness of His love that causes our branch to bow low when we are walking in obedience, knowing that it's all Him and nothing in us that is giving us life, knowing that we are nothing without His grace and His life giving Spirit flowing through us.

I want to be that river that God flows through, that river of life and love that brings healing and restoration to others. I want His grace flowing so heavily through me that the river in me flows deep and wide and freely, where there is no blockage to hinder or stop it. I want that grace flowing, Lord, Your grace that abounds and is sufficient for all my needs. I draw upon Your grace, Lord, for myself and for Your house, and for my church family. Let Your grace flow down into us in such a measure that we walk and live in the humility of Your manifested life in us. Let us be those "heavily laden branches" that bow low in the self-abasement that knows that there is nothing in us that has earned this grace, but it is Your love alone that has found its entrance into our hearts and the freedom to flow through our lives. Make us Your instruments of grace, Lord. Flow through us and bring life and healing to our city and to the land. Amen and amen

"In His Humility"
Andrew Murray

"In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.....Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God......made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Phil 2:3-8

     This wonderful passage includes a summary of the most precious truths that surround the person of Christ.  There is first, His adorable divinity: "in the form of God." "equal with God".  Then comes the mystery of His incarnation, in that word of deep and inexhaustible meaning.  "He emptied himself--made himself of no reputation."  The atonement follows, with the humiliation, and obedience, and suffering, and death from which it derives its worth.  "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."  And all is crowned by His glorious exaltation: "God hath highly exalted him."  Christ as God, Christ becoming man, Christ as man in humiliation working out our redemption, and Christ in glory as Lord of all: such are the treasures of wisdom this passage contains.
     Volumns have been written on the words this passage contains.  And yet insufficient attention has been given to the context in which the Holy Spirit gives this wonderous teaching.  It is not a statement of truth for the refutation of error, or the strengthening of faith.  The object is a very different one.  It was primarily to deal with any pride and lack of love--the setting of Christ's example before them so they would humble themselves as He did.  "In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself. Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus."  He who does not study this portion of God's Word with the desire to become humble as Christ was has never used it for the one great purpose for which God gave it.   Christ's descent from the throne of God and the humiliation of the cross reveals the only way by which we can ever reach that throne.  The faith which, with His atonement, accepts His example too, is alone true faith.  Each soul that would truly belong to Him must in union with Him have His Spirit, His disposition, and His image.
     "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God made himself of no reputation....and as a  man humbled himself."  We must be like Christ in His self-empting and self-humiliation.  In this first great act He emptied himself of His divine glory and power and laid it aside; this was followed up by the no less wonderous humbling of himself as man to the death of the cross.  In this amazing twofold humiliation, the astonishment of the universe and the delight of the Father, Holy Scripture with the utmost simplicity tells us how we must be like Christ.
     And does God really expect this of us? Why not? or rather, how can He expect anything else:  He fully knows the power of human pride.  But He also knows that Christ has redeemed us from the power of sin, and that He gives us His resurrection life and power to enable us to live as He did on earth.  It is as our example that we not only live through Him but like Him.  And further, as our head, He lives in us, and continues in us the life He once led on earth.  With such a Christ, and such a plan of redemption, can it be otherwise?  The follower of Christ must have the same mind as was in Christ; he must be like Him especially in His humility.
     Christ's example teaches us that it is not sin that must humble us.  That is what many believers think.  They consider sin as necessary to keep us humble.  This is not so.  There is a true humility that is the beginning of something more, consisting in the acknowledgment of transgression and shortcomings.  But there is a humility which is more heavenly still, even like Christ, which consists in the self-abasement that can only wonder that God should bless us, and delights to be as nothing before him to whom we owe all.  It is grace we need, and not sin, to make and keep us humble.  The heaviest laden branches always bow the lowest.  The greatest flow of water makes the deepest riverbed.  The nearer the soul comes to God, the more His majestic presence makes it feel is littleness.  It is this alone that makes it possible for each to count others better than himself.  Jesus Christ, the holy One of God, is our example of humility; it was knowing that the Father had given all thing into His hands, and that He was come from God and went to God, that He washed the disciples' feet.  It is the divine presence, the consciousness of the divine life and the divine love in us, that will make us humble.
     It appears to many as impossibility to say: "I will not think self.  I will esteem others better than myself."  They ask grace to overcome the worst outbreaks of pride and vainglory, but an entire self-renunciation, such as Christ's is too difficult and to high for them.  If they only understood the deep truth:
He who humbles himself shall be exalted." " he who loses his life shall find it," they would not be satisfied with anything less than entire conformity to their Lord.  And they would find that there is a way to overcome self and self-exaltation: to see it nailed to Christ's cross, and there keep it crucified continually through the Spirit (Gal 4:24; Rom 8:13). Only he who heartily yields himself to live in the fellowship of Christ's death can grow to such humility.
     To attain this, two things are necessary.  The first is a fixed purpose and surrender to be nothing and seek nothing for oneself, to live only for God and our neighbor.  The other is faith to appropriate the power of Christ's death as our death to sin and our deliverance from its power.  The fellowship of Christ's death brings an end to the life where sin is too strong for us; it is the commencement of a life in us where Christ is too strong for sin.
     It is only under the teaching and powerful working of the Holy Spirit that one can understand and receive this truth.  But God be thanked, we have the Holy Spirit. Oh, that we may trust ourselves fully to His guidance! He will guide us, it is His work. He will glorify Christ in us. He will teach us to understand that we are dead to sin and the old self, but Christ's life and humility are ours.
     Thus Christ's humility is appropriated by faith.  This may take place at once.  But the appropriation in experience is gradual.  Our thoughts and feelings, our very manners and conversation, have been so long under the dominion of the old self that it takes time to permeate and transfigure them with the heavenly light of Christ's humility.  At first the conscience is not perfectly enlightened, the spiritutal power of discernment has not yet been excercised. But with each believing renewal of the consecration in the depth of the soul, "I have surrendered myself to be humble like Jesus." power will go out from him to fill the whole personality--until in face, and voice, and action the sanctification of the Spirit will be observable, and the believer will truly be clothed with humility.
     The blessedness of a Christlike humility is unspeakable.  It is of great worth in the sight of God: "He giveth grace to the humble."  In the spiritual life it is the source of rest and joy. To the humble all that God does is right and good.  Humility is always ready to praise God for the least of His mercies. Humility does not find it difficult to trust.  It submits unconditionally to all that God says.  The two whom Jesus praised for their great faith were those who thought the least of themselves.  The centurion had said, "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof"; the Syrophoenician woman was content to be numbered with the dogs. The humble man does not take offense and is very careful not to give it. He is ever ready to serve his neighbor, because he has learned from Jesus the divine beauty of being a servant. He finds favor with God and with man.
     Oh, what a glorious calling for the followers of Christ! To be sent into the world by God to prove that there is nothing more divine than self-humiliation. The humble glorifies God, he leads others to glorify Him, he will at last be glorified with Him. Who would not be humble like Jesus!

You who descent from heaven and humbled Yourself to death of the cross have called me to take Your humility as the law of my life.
Lord, teach me to understand the absolute need of this.  A proud follower of the humble Jesus; this I cannot be. In the secrecy of my heart, in my house, in presence of friends or enemies, in prosperity or adversity, I would be filled with Your humility.
My beloved Lord, I sense the need of a new, a deeper insight into Your crucifixion and my part in it. Reveal to me how my old proud self is crucified with You. Show me in the light of Your Spirit how I am dead to sin and its power, and how in communion with You sin is powerless.  Lord Jesus, strengthen in me the faith that You are my life, and that You will fill me with Your humility if I will submit to be filled with Your Holy Spirit.
Lord, my hope is in You alone.  In faith I go into the world to show how the same mind that was in You is also in Your children, and teaches us in lowliness of mind each to esteem others better than himself. May God help us. Amen

22 June 2010

Into His Glory!

Reading and meditating on this most recent chapter "In Beholding His Glory", the Holy Spirit let me feel God's love as I thought on and was amazed that He emptied Himself and left all His glory and comfort in heaven to come down and become a man, and then still humble Himself yet even more to serve man and even die for him. But even more than that, I began to feel the depth of that love as He identified with our pain and suffering, seeing and knowing the curse that we were living under, the curse of sickness and poverty, the curse of sin and death, and He took that curse upon Himself and went to the cross with it, breaking it's power over us and disarming it, along with all the powers and principalities that stood behind it.  He not only took that curse upon Himself, but He BECAME that curse. That just amazed me. He died with that curse upon Him, becoming the payment for it, redeeming us back to our Father in good graces and good standing, and all because He loved us. He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to leave all His glory and come down to this earth and live as a mere man, but He did. And just because He loved us. But then He went even further. He took on Himself the thing, the curse, that brought sickness, poverty and death  upon us, and He died for it, gave His life for it as payment. Amazing. Truly amazing.

And then after all that His love propelled Him even further, and He "took captivity captive". That's you and me, and He took us and redeemed us back to be with Him at the right hand of the Father, the place of His glory again. So this is where I was, what I was thinking on when that wave of the Holy Spirit came through the house of Destiny Sunday morning. I was just gazing at Jesus, amazed at His love and humility, and all that He did for me, drawing upon His love, and it was like He came and scooped me up and carried me into His glory. The worship of the saints created that wave that let me just get caught up. I loved it! His presence and glory was indescribable. I didn't want to move or let anything distract me from this place of His glory. Words just can't describe it. But please, Lord, let me experience that again! Take me into Your glory!  Take US in. Take Your house and family into Your glory again. We want to go! 

21 June 2010

"In Beholding Him" (Devotional)

The Lord has me reading and meditating on this 31 day devotional book by Andrew Murray called "The Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ".  It's a book that I've used for years to learn and grow from and to see Jesus from different aspects of His life and habits.  Though I haven't spent time in the book in quite a while, it has been refreshing and enriching to once again read these pages and let the Holy Spirit bring new truths to life again in my spirit.  Reading and meditating on the words in this chapter "In Beholding Him" set me up for the morning service yesterday as I was caught up in the wind of His Spirit that blew through the house and was taken up into His glory.  Oh it was glorious!  Thank You, Lord, for that glorious experience! It was so rich. More Lord, more!

                                     "In Beholding Him"
"But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory
of the Lord are changed into the same image, from glory to glory
even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2 Cor 3:18
     Moses had been forty days on the mount in communion with God. When he came down, his face shone with divine glory.  He did not know it himself, but Aaron and the people saw it (Ex 34:30). It was so evidently God's glory that Aaron and the people feared to approach him.
     In this we have an image of what takes place in the New Testament.  The privilege that Moses alone enjoyed is now the portion of every believer.  When we behold the glory of God in Christ, in the glass of the Holy Scriptures, His glory shines upon us and into us and fills us until it shines out from us.  By gazing on His glory, the believer is changed through the Spirit into the same image.  Beholding Jesus makes us like Him.
     It is a law of nature that the eye excercises a profound influence on mind and character.  The education of a child is carried on greatly through the eye; he is molded very much by the manners and habits of those he sees.  To form and mold our character the heavenly Father shows us His divine glory in the face of Jesus.  He does it in the expectation that it will give us great joy to gaze upon it, and because He knows that, gazing on it we shall be conformed to the image. Let everyone who desires to be like Jesus note how he can attain it.
     Look continually to the divine glory as seen in Christ. What is the special characteristic of the glory?  It is the manifestation of divine perfection in human form.  The chief marks of the image of the divine glory in Christ are these two: His humilitation and His love.
     There is the glory of His humiliation.  When you see how the eternal Son emptied himself and became man, and how as man He humbled himself as a servant and was obedient even unto the death of the cross, you have seen the highest glory of God.  The glory of God's omnipotence as Creator and the glory of grace which humbled itself as a servant to serve God and man.  We must learn to look upon this humiliation as real glory.  To be humbled like Christ must be to us the only thing worthy of the name of glory on earth.  It must become in our eyes the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most desirable thing that can be imagined--a very joy to look upon or think of.  The effect of gazing upon it and admiring it will be that you will not be able to conceive of any glory greater than to be and act like Jesus, and will long to humble yourself even as He did.  Gazing on Jesus, admiring and adoring Him, will work in us the same mind that there was in Him, and so we shall be changed into Him image.
     Inseparable from this is the glory of His love.  The humiliation leads you back to the love as its origin and power.  It is from love that the humiliation has its beauty.  Love is the highest glory of God.  But this love was a hidden mystery until it was manifest in Christ Jesus.  It is only in His humanity, in His gentle, compassionate, and loving relationships with foolish, sinful, hostile men that the glory of divine love was fully seen.  The soul that gets a glimpse of this glory, that understands that to love like Christ is alone worthy of the name of glory, will long to become like Christ in this.  Beholding this glory of the love of God in Christ, he is changed into the same image.
     Would you be like Christ? Here is the path.  Gaze on the glory of God in Him.  In Him, that is to say; do not look only to the words and the thoughts and the graces in which His glory is seen, but look to Him, the living, loving Christ. Behold Him, look into His eyes, look into His face, as a loving friend, as the living God.
     Look to Him in adoration.  Bow before Hiim as God.  His glory has an almighty living power to impart itself to us, to pass over into us and to fill us.
     Look to Him in faith.  Exercise the blessed trust that He is yours, that He has given Himself to you, and that you have a claim to all that is in Him.   It is His purpose to work His image in you.  Behold Him with the joyful and certain expectation; the glory that I behold in Him is destined for me.  He will give it to me; as I gaze and trust, I become like Christ.
     Look to Him with strong desire.  Do not yield to the slothfulness of the flesh that is satisified without the full blessing of conformity to the Lord.  Pray the Lord will free you from all carnal contentment with present attainments, and to fill you with the unquenchable longing for His glory.  Pray most fervently the prayer of Moses, "Show me Your glory."  Let nothing discourage you, not even the apparently slow progress you make, but press on with an ever-growing desire for the blessed prospect that God's Word holds out to you: "We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory."
     And as you behold Him, above all, let the look of love not be lacking. Tell Him continually how He has won your heart, how you do love Him, how entirely you belong to Him.  Tell Him that to please Him, the beloved One, is your highest, your only joy.  Let the bond of love between you and him be drawn continually closer.  Love unites.
     Like Christ!  We can be it, we shall be it, each in our measure.  The Holy Spirit is the pledge that it shall be.  God's Word has said, "We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."  This is the Spirit that was in Jesus, and through whom the divine glory lived and shone. This Spirit is called "The Spirit of glory."  This Spirit is in us as in the Lord Jesus, and it is His work to bring into us and work within us what we see in our Lord Jesus.  Through this Spirit we have already Christ's life in  us, with all the gifts of His grace.  But that life must be stirred up and developed; it must grow, penetrate into our whole being, take possession of our entire personality.  We can count on the Spirit to work this in us if we but yield ourselves to Him and obey Him. As we gaze on Jesus in the Word.  He opens our eyes to see the glory of all that Jesus does and is.  He makes us willing to be like Him.  He strengthens our faith.  He works in us unceasingly the life of abiding in Christ, a wholehearted union and communion with Him.  He does according to the promise; "The Spirit shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you."  We are changed into the image on which we gaze from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.  Let us only understand that the fullness of the Spirit is freely given to us.  He who surrenders himself to be filled with the Spirit will experience how gloriously He accomplishes His work of stamping on our souls and lives the image and likeness of Christ.
     Beholding Jesus and His glory, you can confidently expect to become like Him: only trust yourself in quietness and rest of soul to the leading of the Spirit.  "The Spirit of glory rests upon you."  Gaze on and adore the glory of God in Christ; you will be changed with divine power from glory to glory; in the power of the Holy Spirit the mighty tranformation will be accomplished, and "like Christ" will be the God-given experience of your life.

My Lord, I do thank You for the glorious assurance that while I behold Your glory, the Holy Spirit is changing me into that image of Your glory.
Lord, grant me to truly behold Your glory.  Moses had been forty days with You when Your glory shone upon him.  I acknowledge that my communion with You has been too short and passing, that I have taken too little time to come under the full impression of what Your image is.  Lord, teach me this.  Draw me in my meditation to surrender myself to contemplate and adore until my soul at every line of that image may exclaim: This is glorious~ this is the glory of God! O my God, show me Your glory!
And strengthebn my faith, blessed Lord, that, even when I am not conscious of any special experience, the Holy Spirit will do His work.  Moses knew not that his face shown.  Lord, keep me from looking at self.  May I be so taken up with You as to forget and lose myself in You.  Lord, it is he who is dead to self who lives in You.
O my Lord, as often as I gaze upon Your image and your example, I would do it in the faith that the Holy Spirit will fill me, will take entire possession of me, and so work Your likeness in me that the world may see in me something of Your glory.  In this faith I will venture to take Your precious word, "from glory to glory," as my watchword, to be to me the promise of a grace that grows richer every day.  Your blessing is ever ready to surpass itself and to make what has been given only the pledge of the better that is to come.  Precious Savior! gazing on you it shall indeed be so, "from glory to glory." Amen

19 June 2010

"In His Use of Scripture" (Devotional)

Here is part of a devotional called "The Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ". It is a 31 day devotional by Andrew Murray that has so fed and impacted my life throughout the years. This chapter on the use of scripture just needed to be shared to encourage and inspire you to read, feed and meditate on His Word daily.

                                "In His Use of Scripture"
"That all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me."
Luke 24:44

What the Lord Jesus accompished here on earth as a man He owed greatly to His use of the Scriptures.  He found in them the way marked in which He was to walk, the food and the strength by which He could work, the weapon by which He overcame every enemy.  The Scriptures were indeed indispensible to Him throughout His life and passion: from beginning to end His life was the fulfillment of what had been written of Him in the volume of the Book.

It is hardly necessary to attempt proving this.  In the temptation in the wilderness it was by His "It is written" that He conquered Satan.  In His conflicts with the Pharisees He continually appealed to the Word: "What saith the Scripture!" "Have ye not read!" "It is written!" With His disciples it was always from the Scriptures that He proved the certainty and necessity of His sufferings and resurrection: "How otherwise can the Scriptures be fulfilled?" And, with His Father in His last sufferings, it is in the words of Scripture that He pours out the complaint of being forsaken, and then again commends His spirit into the Father's hands.  All this has a very deep meaning.  He Himself was the living Word.  He had the Spirit without measure.  If anyone could ever have done without the written Word, it was Jesus.  And yet we see that it was everything to Him.  He demonstrated that the life of God in human flesh and the Word of God in human speech are inseparably connected.  Jesus would not have been what He was, could not have done what He did, had He not yielded Himself step by step to be led and sustained by the Word of God.

The Word of God is called seed; it is the seed of the divine life.  We know what seed is.  It is that wonderful organism in which the life, the invisible essence of a plant or tree, is so concentrated and embodied that it can be taken away and made available to impart the life of the tree elsewhere.  This use may be twofold.  As fruit we eat it, for instance, in the corn that gives us bread; and the life of the plant becomes our nourishment and our life.  Or we plant it, and the life of the plant reproduces and multiplies itself.  In both aspects the Word of God is seed.

True life is found only in God.  But that life must have a means to be imparted to us.  It is in the Word of God that the divine life takes shape, and brings itself within our reach, and becomes communicable. The life, the thoughts, the feelings, the power of God are embodied in His words.  And it is only through His Word that the life of God can really enter into us.  His Word is the seed of the heavenly life.

As the bread of life we eat it, we feed upon it.  In eating our daily bread, the body takes in the nourishment which nature prepared for us in the seed corn.  We assimilate it, and it becomes our very own, part of ourselves, it is our life.  In feeding upon the Word of God, the powers of the heavenly life enter into us and become our very own--the life our our life.

Or we use the seed to plant.  The words of God are sown in our heart.  They have a divine power of reproduction and multiplication.  The very life that is in them, the divine thought, or disposition, or powers that each of them contains, takes root in the believing heart and grows up; and the very thing of which the Word was the expression is produced within us.  The words of God are the seeds of the fullness of the divine life.

The Lord Jesus was entirely dependent upon the Word of God and submitted himself wholly to it.  His mother taught Him. The teachers of Nazareth instructed Him in it.  In meditation and prayer, in the exercise of obedience and faith, He was led, during His years of preparation, to understand and appropriate it.  The Word of the Father was to the Son the life of His soul.  What He said in the wilderness was spoken from His inmost personal experience.  "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4) He felt He cold not live unless the Word brought Him the life of the Father.  The Word was to Him not instead of the Father, but the vehicle for the living fellowship with the living God, and He had His whole mind and heart so filled with it that the Holy Spirit could at each moment find within Him the right word to suggest just as He needed it.

If you would become a man of God, strong in faith, full of blessing, rich in fruit to the glory of God, be full of the Word of God.  Like Christ, make the Word your bread.  Let it dwell richly in you.  Have your heart full of it.  Feed on it.  Believe it.  Obey it.  It is only by believing and obeying that the Word can enter into our inward parts, into our very being. Take it daily as the Word that is proceeding out of the mouth of God, as the Word of the living God, who in it holds living fellowship with His children and speaks to them in living power.  Take your thoughts of God's will, and God's work, and God's purpose with you.  The Word taught you by the Father will enable you to fulfill all that is written in the Scriptures concerning  you.

In Christ's use of Scripture the most remarkable thing is this: He found Himself there; He saw His own image and likeness.  And He gave Himself to the fulfillment of what He found written there.  It was this that encouraged Him under the bitterest sufferings, and strengthened Him for the most difficult work.  Everywhere He saw traced by God's own hand the divine way; through suffering to glory.  He had but one thought to be what the Father had said He should be, to have His life correspond exactly to the image of what He should be as He found in the Word of God.

In the Scriptures our likeness too is to be found, a picture of what the Father means us to be.  Seek to have a deep and clearer impression of what the Father says in His Word that you should be.  If this is fully understood, it is inconceivable what courage it will give to conquer every difficulty.  To know: it is ordained of God, I have seen what has been written concerning me in God's book; I have seen the image of what I am called in God's counsel to be.  This thought inspires the soul with a faith that conquers the world.

The Lord Jesus found His own image not only in the institutions, but especially in the believers of the Old Testiment.  Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David and the prophets were types.  And so He Himself is the image of believers in the New Testament.  It is in Him and His example that we find our own image in the Scriptures.  "To be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord" we must in the Scripture-glass gaze on that image as our own.  The Spirit teaches us to take Christ as our example and to gaze on every feature as the promise of what can be.

Blessed is the believer who has not only found Jesus in the Scriptures but also in His image the promise and example of what he is to become.  Blessed is the believer who yields himself to be taught by the Holy Spirit to not dilute the Scriptures but in simplicity to accept what it reveals of God's thoughts about His children.

It was "according to the Scriptures" that Jesus Christ lived and died; it was "according to the Scriptures: that He was raised again, all that the Sriptures said He must do or suffer He was able to accomplish because He knew and obeyed them.  All that the Scriptures had promised that the Father should do for Him, the Father did.  Give yourself with an undivided heart to learn in the Scriptures what God says concerning you.  Let the Scriptures in which Jesus found the food for His daily life be your daily food and meditation.  Go to God's Word with the joyful expectation that through the blessed Spirit, the Word of God is full of divine purpose in you.  Every Word of God is full of divine life and power.  Be assured that when you use the Scriptures as Christ used them, they will do for you what they did for Him.  God has marked out the plan for your life in His Word; each day you will find some portion of it there.  Nothing makes a man more strong and courageous than the assurance that he is obeying the will of God.

O Lord, my God! Thank you for your precious Word, the divine glass of all unseen and eternal realities.  I thank You that I have in it the image of Your Son, who is Your image, and also my image.  I thank You that as I gaze on Him I may also see what I can be.
O my Father, teach me to understand what a blessing Your Word can bring to me.  To Your Son, it was the manifestation of Your will, the communication of Your life and strength, the fellowship with Yourself.  In the acceptance and the surrender of Your Word, He was able to fulfill all Your counsel.  May Your Word be all this to me too. Make it to me, daily through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word proceeding from Your mouth, the voice of Your living presence speaking to me.  May I feel with each Word that it is God coming to impart to me something of His own life.  Teach me to keep it hidden in my heart as a divine seed, which in its own time will spring up and produce in me in divine reality the very life that was hid in it, the very thing which I at first saw only as a thought.  Teach me above all to find in it Him who is its center and substance the eternal Word.  Finding Him, and myself in Him, I shall learn like Him to count Your Word my food and my life.
I ask this, O my God, in the name of our blessed Christ Jesus.  Amen.

13 June 2010

Mercy Seat Revelation & Empowerment

And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”
Exodus 25:22

"Meet Me at the mercy seat, and there I will meet with you and speak to you between the wings at the mercy seat."

It is these words that I obeyed and followed and met with the Lord yesterday. With a heaviness in my heart and not able to wait till I got home, I parked my car in a vacant parking lot to seek the Lord at the mercy seat, I began to call on His mercy and grace for my family and the people, desperate for a breakthrough. I heard Him say, "I did it all already. I paid the price. I shed my blood. I gave my life. I broke the curse. It's all been done, now YOU go and appropriate it."
I began to thank Him for all that He had done, for His blood, for His sacrifice, for His love, for the payment of His life for our life. I began to apply and appropriate the blood of Jesus to my family, and to the different people that the Lord brought to my mind, over each family member, their house and their minds, their property and their finances. I began to declare the truth that the blood had broken the power of the curse, the power of the enemy, and that the devil had no power over them. I began to declare them purchased, redeemed, and brought back into right graces with the Father again and declare that they are blessed, redeemed and prospering, that the blessing of God was upon them. 
I began to speak life over them, that the spirit of death had been broken and rendered powerless, that poverty and lack had been broken, fear and doubt had been broken, chains and bondages of addictions broken. I began to declare that life, health and prosperity was theirs because of what the blood had purchased for them. The Holy Spirit filled that car. It was a powerful time of prayer and thanksgiving for all that was ours for the receiving. I felt the power, presence and anointing of God as I prayed and was encouraged in my spirit when just minutes before I was so heavy and weighted down. God had lifted me up out of the pit and set my feet upon the Rock of Jesus Christ and made my eyes and my head to be high above my enemies. I praise God for His Holy Spirit and this place of grace at the mercy seat that He has promised to meet with us. It's here that He reveals His heart and releases His mercy and grace and wisdom to the passionate and desperate one that will seek Him with their whole heart.
I thank You, Lord, for this fresh revelation and power in prayer. I thank You for empowering me to declare the truth of what has been purchased for us and to speak these things into the atmosphere. I thank You that as I declare and speak these things in faith that they create what they say. Like You, Father, I create with my spoken words. Thank You for bringing me back to this truth again. Your Word says, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony."

We overcome by the power of the blood, our acceptance and appropriation of the blood of Jesus, and our declaration and testimony of the truth of what it's purchased. We declare it in the midst of the adverse circumstances. We change the circumstances by the power of our words. It's in our God given DNA. We declare Kingdom reality to change and create and bring forth those Kingdom manifestations.
Help me Lord to establish this foundational truth and principle in my life and to stay in continual praise for all these things You have done. Help me to faithfully seek You here at the mercy seat, to practice these truths and to see the fruit of them so that I may teach them to others. Amen