Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Preaching the Kingdom and a Stolen iPhone

While I was preaching at the homeless mission on Saturday night my mobile phone was stolen.

It was an iPhone and contained my life on it – emails, access to this blog, photos, contacts etc. I saw the young lady touch my phone and I knew in my spirit that she was going to take it, but while I preached it didn’t even concern me, it simply left my mind.

But when I had finished it hit me that she had disappeared and so had my phone. And then I got annoyed, frustrated and concerned. Identity-theft, violation of privacy, indignation at her audacity all these thoughts and emotions were swirling around in my mind while I searched for her within the building and outside, all in vain.

And the other thing in my mind: that I was already being tested on the very thing I had just finished preaching about. I had spoken about broken-ness being the qualification in God’s kingdom for ministry. God’s breaking of the power of the flesh, the crucifixion of it. How He wants us to no longer react from the soulish realm, the realm of emotion and intellect, but instead to walk in the Spirit and live in His kingdom of love, forgiveness and mercy.

So we traced my phone by GPS and saw that she had walked down the road about 10 minutes and got onto a train. After that we lost trace of her.

I was mad, I won’t deny it. How dare she steal my phone? I was also mad at myself. Why didn’t I retrieve my phone when I saw her touching it?

I tried to call my stolen phone three times and she ignored it. She sent a message to one of my contacts telling them to tell me that I am not getting my phone back. I began to imagine all sorts of revenge scenarios.  What I would say to her had I the chance! Thank God He didn’t let me talk to her then.

One of the things I had just preached about was how the natural man wants revenge and to “get his own back”.

I went home and changed all my passwords on everything. Then I sent her a message. A message to my own phone which was now hers. I knew her name because we had chatted before she stole my phone.

I told her that I forgave her for breaking my trust and stealing my phone. I told her I prayed she would find peace and blessed her and I shared the gospel with her over text. I prayed that God would convict her and bring her into His kingdom.

The next day we disabled the stolen phone and I got a new phone. Because the old phone was disabled I was now able to re-use my old number. That’s when the phone calls began.

A blocked number rang the first time and I answered. It was a guy asking who I am? I wouldn’t tell him but asked who he was. Then cursing and obscenities down the phone from him and a female in the background. I hung up. They rang back, my husband answered this time.

“Tell Belinda she’s not getting her phone back….” Then he told me husband all sorts of lies about me. Cursing and obscenities again.

They proceeded to ring all through the evening and even through the night. We obviously stopped answering the phone and rang the police. They advised me to change my number, which I have now done.

All I can say is that the devil was obviously very stirred up and was trying to provoke a fleshly reaction from me. If I had given in to it surely it would have been a defeat. But if we react in the kingdom way, of love and forgiveness, of blessing those who curse us, of praying for those who spitefully use us, then we will always have the victory over the works of darkness!

Blessings! 🙂

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From Confinement to Enlargement

John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

For Christ to increase, I must decrease. This is the whole point of the Christian life.  It is

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27

We saw in God’s Victories Look Like Defeats that the human Self is a powerful force.  The Adamic nature is thOMIW120Astrong and naturally Self-ish and self- absorbed.  Followers of Christ contain His righteous nature in our mortal bodies by the Holy Spirit. Simultaneously we still have the Adamic nature, or the Flesh, within.

The cross dealt with our sins once and for all through Christ’s substitutionary atonement, and once we have repented of our sins and put our faith in Christ, we are justified before God.

However God deals differently with our sin than with our Self.

Positionally we are crucified with Christ.  The believer is now to “reckon (them)selves dead to sin and alive unto Christ”.  It is now no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me. This is a spiritual fact and something we need to receive by faith. But at the same time God is dealing with our flesh over the course of our lives by working His Son in us experientially. This is the process of sanctification.

It is not God’s desire after we are born-again that we would stay spiritual babes, stunted in growth. Rather it is His design to bring us to a place of enlargement.  Or, to put it another way, it is His will to enlarge His Son in us and to bring us to maturity. It is only through the impartation of the divine life of Christ that we are enlarged and there is no enduring enlargement apart from Him.

However, in preparation to receive the impartation of the divine life of Christ our flesh needs to be “straitened”. (I have previously written on this subject here).  Every time God wants to bring us to a new place of enlargement we first go through a straitening or confining process.  Primarily the means God uses to straitening our flesh is the cross – affliction, suffering and trial.  We probably all know the metaphor of the empty vessel.  The emptier the vessel, the more of Christ that can fill it.  But how is the vessel emptied of Self?

I love this old-fashioned word “straitening”. The KJV uses this word and I don’t think any other translation can beat it. It means to constrict, pinch, restrict, squeeze, confine, distress, compress. A “strait-jacket” in its purpose to confine and restrict gives a good picture of this word.

Jesus said: “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Luke 12:50

We see that Jesus Christ Himself went through a straitening process in His sufferings and ultimately His death on the cross.   He was straitened. He was God wrapped in human flesh yet His eternal divinity was compressed into the limitation of humanity.

This limitation could be removed only by the baptism of dying on the cross. Then the unlimited divine eternal life within the Lord Jesus could be released.” The Experience of Christ, Witness Lee

source:brokenbelievers.com

source:brokenbelievers.com

So why did the Lord of Life have to be straitened?

He was straitened so that we could be brought to the place of enlargement.

It was through His death that His divine Life was able to be released and imparted to us limited human beings.   He interceded for us by becoming a human-being like us. He was confined, restricted, distressed and squeezed for us so that we could be brought to the place of enlargement by partaking of His divine life.

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24

It is only through the impartation of the divine life of Christ that we are enlarged and there is no enduring enlargement apart from Him. This is God’s purpose and He is working in us every day to bring this to pass. Afflictions, trials and suffering have a divine purpose – to straiten our flesh.  Not to repress our flesh, but to deal with the stubborn, wilful Self that resists the Holy Spirit.

Christ was straitened so that the Divine Life could be released and imparted to us.  We are straitened in order to empty the vessel of the Self-life so that we are able to receive the impartation of the Divine Life.

If you are going through a period of straitening, restriction or confinement don’t despair.  Rather be encouraged: Know that God is preparing you, His vessel, at this time to receive a greater impartation of the life of His Son.  Simply allow the Potter to work with His clay, He knows His art.

God bless!

More on this subject in the Next post…. The Way to Bear Fruit


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Being Fed

Continued from Hunger

breadWhen once a hunger had been born in me for God’s presence then, naturally, I sought to be fed.  The revelation of our own spiritual bankruptcy, whether by food shortage or some sort of crisis, is the catalyst for the formation of a hunger for God.  When we are able to see our spiritual bankruptcy it is then that we can truly seek God in the way He should be sought.  Not as a means to an end, or to fulfill an agenda of our own but by loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  It is because we have seen that without Him we are starving and dying, and in the desperation of soul-hunger we begin to seek after the Bread of Life.  And that’s what I did.  Suddenly the temporal, physical things that used to bring me some degree of satisfaction became empty and vain.  I began to crave Jesus and His presence.  My prayer time was in the evening, and all day long I would look forward to the evening when I could be with Him again.

Jesus said “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)

God sees our need of Him.   He knows that without Him we are starving.  And He knew that man would reject Him in the Garden of Eden, in order to pursue his own way.  That is why God prepared a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  Because of His infinite mercy, God had already prepared a way to repair the breach between man and God and to bring us back into fellowship with Him.   That way was by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the cross to bear the dreadful curse for our souls.  Before He was crucified Jesus said:

“I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.   The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?   Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoso eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day.   For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me.”  (John 6:53-57)

Jesus said this to the very people whom, the day before, had been miraculously fed with the loaves and the fish.  He wasn’t referring to cannibalism, He was telling them to look beyond the physical miracle of the multiplied loaves and fish and to see the greater miracle standing before them – God’s own Son.  His life was about to be given for them so that they may have life.  He was going to be crucified, His body broken and His blood poured out for their sin so that they would no longer have to be separated from God by those very sins.  There was no longer any need to starve spiritually.   Here was the provision right in front of them.  In verses 48 and 58 He says “I am the bread of life…This is the bread that came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead.  He who eats this bread will live forever.”

So here is God’s provision for our spiritual starvation right in front of us.  It is Christ’s Himself.  When we turn away from our sin of independence and pride and put our faith in the Bread of Life then we are filled with His life, by His Holy Spirit.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Jesus2He is the source of our life and He is the sustainer of our life.  We need to be full of Him.  Nothing else can satisfy, no religious duty or practice, neither anything in this world – only Him.  We need to be in His presence regularly, feasting on the Word every day, allowing His Spirit to convict us, speak to us, minister to us and we need fellowship with others who are full of Him too.  As David, we need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord.  We need to know how to feed on Him.

We also need to maintain a hunger for Him. I find that that is more difficult when life is going well.  Although I actually still need Him now as much as I did when I suffered the depressive episode, it’s easier for me to forget that need of Him now that I am free of depression.  That’s why I need to read the Word because it convicts me, washes me and changes me.  I also need to pray regularly because I find that the more time I spend with Him the more time I want to spend with Him and feed on the Bread of Life.

To the Laodiceans, who could not see their own poverty and need of Him, Jesus said, “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.”

 

Next part 3 – Feeding Others