Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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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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God’s Storehouses in Famine

God has been showing me that right now we are entering a new season. Right now we are leaving behind the years of “plenty” and entering into the years of “famine”.

In Amos 8:11 we read:grain

““Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord.”

I believe He wants me to share with you that whilst there is coming a wide-spread famine of the Word of God, He has a plan – a plan of mercy. And this plan is already well underway.

In Genesis 41 we read about another famine. One that spread throughout the whole world too. But of course back then God also had a plan.

God gave Pharoah two dreams. When no one could interpret their meaning, Joseph was summoned:

“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: 26 

The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. 28

 This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.

29 Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; 30 but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. 31 So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.” (verses 25-31)

The first seven years were years of plenty. The second seven years were years of famine.

We know that seven in the Bible is used for perfection, divine completion. I believe God is saying now the first season of plenty is complete, it is over. Now we are entering the second phase: famine.

A famine of the Word of God.

However:

  • Just as God had a plan of mercy for the famine in Egypt, so too God has a plan for this famine. Just as God sent a man, Joseph, ahead to Egypt to prepare for the coming famine, so too has God sent a Man to prepare for this one.
  • Just as Joseph went out from the presence of Pharoah to prepare for the coming famine, so too has Jesus Christ gone out from the presence of the Father to prepare for this coming famine.

If we look at Joseph’s plan, we see that it was quite simple. In the first season of the seven years of plenty, he stored up one-fifth of the food that was grown in local storehouses all across Egypt.

Kashan_granary_Barry_Kent

Kashan_granary_Barry_Kent

“So (Joseph) gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them” Genesis 41:48

In His sovereignty God knew this famine was coming. In His sovereignty God had sent ahead of it a man to bring about His plan of mercy, so that the: “food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” Genesis 41:36

Likewise Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, has been gathering and building into God’s storehouses during this past season, in preparation for this coming famine.

Whilst Joseph used Pharoah’s stone or clay buildings to store away the grain, God has a very different type of building in which to store up His food.

It is us.

We are God’s storehouses. We are His plan for the coming famine. Into each of us He has been building day by day, year by year. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.

“…we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Whilst Pharoah used earthen buildings, God uses earthen vessels.potter

Whilst Joseph used the local storehouses to hold the grain, God uses the local Body of Jesus Christ to store up His divine Life.   Every time we pray, we hear from God, we read the Word, we worship Him, we talk to Him, we spend time with Him He is building into us the bread of Life. He is storing away the grain in us of the Bread of God.

“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33

Remember: God always has a plan. He is in control. He is Sovereign.

When the second season began – the season of famine, the “famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.” Genesis 41:54

There is a time coming soon where there will be no bread for this world apart from what Jesus Christ has stored up in His own storehouses – in us, His people.

At that time Jesus will open up all of His storehouses and “all that is in them” (Genesis 41:56) will be given out to the starving masses.

Notice that it is the work of God to prepare for the coming famine. He is the one who gathers, who stores and puts away the food in us. All that is required of us is that we are there, receiving from Him.

Like Pharoah’s buildings we just need to allow the food to be stored up in us, and when the time comes, we need to allow our Lord Jesus to open us up and to use us.

grain-pouringWe will be emptied for the sake of others. But it is when we give out, that He is able to pour more of His life into us again.

I want to encourage you brothers and sisters that the years past of your time with Christ, of pain, of suffering, of being built into… it is not in vain. It is for a purpose. God has been preparing His storehouses for such a time as this. Take heart, God sees you, He loves you, He is about to use you.

Building in, building in….in order to give out, give out.

 

God bless you!


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God’s Vision for You

Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18

If God has given you a vision of something He wants to do through you, then He wants to encourage you to keep going.   Don’t be distracted or discouraged by the voices around you.  When God births something through His Spirit and gives us a vision of what He wants to do, then no matter what comes against us, we must hold onto that vision and keep pushing through by faith.

If you do not yet know God’s will for your life or if you feel that God wants to bring you into your calling, then I would like to share with you what I have learnt:

1.  Get into God’s presence and seek His face until you know FOR SURE that this vision He is calling you to is from Him and is for you.  Do not speak to other people or seek human opinion.  Speak to God and seek Him only. Ask Him to confirm it to you through scripture and the Holy Spirit and then wait.  He may not show you immediately, but if you are patient and truly seeking His will for your life, then He will show you at the right time.

“Indeed, let no one who waits on you be ashamed…Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:3-5

(Important note: to “wait” on God is not passive – rather it is active, keep seeking Him.)

2.  Once God reveals to you His vision for your life and confirms it through the Word, then ask Him for any specific instructions or guidance.  It may be His will for you to hold on to the vision for a bit and wait till He tells you to move.  We should never advance before God tells us to.  Conversely we should never hold back when He tells us to move.

In 2 Samuel 5:17-25 the Lord not only gave King David instructions on how to defeat the Philistines, but also when to carry out His instructions, ie “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly.  For then the Lord will got out before you….” (verse 24)  In battle strategy, when is just as important as how.

3.  Only speak to other people about the vision God has given you when it is absolutely settled within your own heart.  And even then only speak to the ones He directs you to speak about it with.  When Jesus revealed Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus He immediately showed Saul the vision and calling He had for his life “…For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness….” (Acts 26:16). Paul did not speak to other men about it.  He didn’t even speak to the apostles about it. Instead, Paul says “But when it pleased God….to reveal His son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galations 1:16).  Paul instead went to Arabia for an extended period. He needed time alone with God to establish this vision within his heart.  God also need to prepare Paul for his life’s work, by learning dependence on God, rather than man or on himself.

You need to settle the vision with God and within your own heart before you bring it out into the open.  This is because, unfortunately, as soon as other people know what God has spoken to you, inevitably it becomes subject to human opinion, discussion and negativity.  Even the well-meaning and godly can be used by our enemy to bring discouragement and doubt.

I have had the below image in my mind all morning and felt I should create it.  Here are some potential obstacles that the enemy will put in the path of God’s vision for your life in order to prevent its occurrence :

IMG_2556

(I hope you can see it, I’m still new to blogging!!)

Never forget that God chooses “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God (chooses) the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He (chooses) the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)  Therefore do not be surprised if the vision He gives you:

  • seems impossible to you or others
  • is contrary to your personality and nature
  • seems to go against common sense

4.  The final point is – to keep going.  Keep your eye on God, not yourself or others. Keep praying. Like Paul, do not be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).  No matter what the enemy throws at you, regardless of what doubts and fears you may have, or what other people say, if something has been birthed of God and by His Spirit, if we keep going on by faith, then nothing can stop it.  If a door has been opened by God, then no man can shut it (Revelation 3:8).  Let’s not shrink back, let’s move forward in faith – despite the outward circumstances, despite our weaknesses and inadequacies, and despite what others may think.

“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9


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Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past

Poem by CT Studd

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”


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What’s it all about?

It’s not about me.

Its not even about my ministry.

It’s not actually about being right.

It’s not about my perfection,

Nor my “self-improvement”

It’s about one, only One…

It’s about Him,

Jesus

The Word made flesh

When all else is gone,

when nothing remains,

when our work is over

and our time complete,

He is eternal,

He remains

and will always be

Oh how I love Jesus,

Because He first loved me

AW Tozer said it best:

“Wherever we turn in the church of God, there is Jesus. He is the beginning, middle and end of everything to us…. There is nothing good, nothing holy, nothing beautiful, nothing joyous which He is not to His servants. No one need be poor, because, if he chooses, he can have Jesus for his own property and possession. No one need be downcast, for Jesus is the joy of heaven, and it is His joy to enter into sorrowful hearts. We can exaggerate about many things; but we can never exaggerate our obligation to Jesus, or the compassionate abundance of the love of Jesus to us. All our lives long we might talk of Jesus, and yet we should never come to an end of the sweet things that might be said of Him.  Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or to praise Him for all He has done, but then, that matters not; for we shall be always with Him, and we desire nothing more.”