Month: May 2012

Jealousy for God – T. Austin-Sparks

“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Is it thou, thou troubler of Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house” (1 Kings 18:17,18).

“And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:10).

When we bring together those two fragments – “I have been very jealous for the Lord”; “Is it thou, thou troubler of Israel?” – we find two strangely contrasting and conflicting points of view. On the one side, the claim – truly supported, and undoubtedly true – to have been very jealous for the Lord. And on the other side, this term, this description, used of that same person: “thou troubler of Israel”. But the juxtaposition brings out something very significant. To be very jealous for the Lord may inevitably mean that you are a troubler of Israel. Indeed, it usually works out like that. You will give nobody any trouble – I mean spiritual trouble – if you are not jealous for the Lord. But if you are, make no mistake about it, this is how it will come back at you: ‘Thou troubler of Israel!’

THE PROPHET AS ‘TROUBLE MAKER’

Now, although Elijah seems to have repudiated the charge, and there was truth and right in his so doing, nevertheless the charge was true. Ahab, for once in his life, was telling the truth, but telling the truth in a way of which he was not aware. It is essentially a part of the ministry of a prophetic instrument, to cause trouble. It is inevitable; it is in the very nature of things. For the very function of the prophet came into view when things were not right. If things had never gone wrong, had never needed adjusting, correcting, or bringing to some greater measure of spiritual fullness, there would have been no need of prophets. We should know very very little about prophets, if things had gone right on as they should have done. The function of the prophets was to keep and hold before the people of God, God’s full thought concerning them, especially in the face of certain things that worked very definitely against it. And it is just because of that clash and conflict that the trouble arises.

Elijah’s charge against Ahab was a real one; but the ‘trouble’ to which Ahab referred was not in Elijah – it was deeply inherent in the spiritual condition of the time. Its real root and cause lay there. There would have been no ‘trouble’, but for people like Elijah; everything would have remained quiescent. When Elijah was there in the country, Ahab knew of it, and searched for him high and low. He was the great irritating, aggravating factor. Though for a long time hidden, nevertheless his very presence in the country was having the effect of dragging this thing out – this spiritual apostasy and corruption, which was, after all, the root of the trouble. It could not go on unchallenged, while such people as Elijah were there. I am not at this moment so much concerned with Elijah himself, as with what he represents: the presence of some living spiritual testimony, embodied; an annoying, inconvenient, aggravating thing, always somewhere about. As you notice in the chapter, Ahab sent throughout the length and breadth of the land, to try to discover Elijah. If only he could get hold of THIS, and destroy THIS, he thought, he could get rid of the ‘trouble’.

This leads us to some very definite conclusions. If there is a clash, a collision, between two irreconcilables, there will always be trouble. Given the incorrigible downgrade trend of human nature, and, wherever that is challenged, you will have trouble. That there is such a thing in human nature needs no argument. We know quite well that any kind of turning of that trend upward, no matter in what realm, is always fraught with hard work, with conflict. It is the nature of things to decline. Leave anything in this creation to itself, and it degenerates; we know that to be true. Every attempt, every effort to improve things, in every realm, is fraught with conflict. That is clearly true of human nature. It hates to be bothered, troubled or disturbed; it wants to have its own way. Morally and spiritually, the trend is always downward; if that is challenged, there is going to be trouble.

ISRAEL EXEMPLIFIES THE DOWNGRADE TREND IN MAN

How terribly true is the working of that principle and law in Israel! Never in the history of mankind has such an experiment been carried out, as that which God carried out with Israel. God did everything that could be done to make possible an upward trend in the life of a nation. He gave it the very best system of laws and regulations, for every department of its life – physical, moral, spiritual. He gave it the very best conditions, in a land flowing with milk and honey; a land that simply leapt to respond to any little effort to make it fruitful. God showed infinite patience and longsuffering with that people. Never was such an experiment carried out in human history, as was carried out with Israel.

They had only to answer to God in any little way, and immediately He blessed. If they did this, in the temporal realm, at once they received blessing for it; at once they were rewarded. They had only got to ask, and He gave. They had only to do, and He came out to them. We often wish (secretly) that we lived in those days, when the temporal responses of God were so wonderful! Yes, even when they were not right with Him, if, in the midst of their criminal attitude toward God, they humbled themselves and prayed, God seemed to forget it all, and to come right out to them. God was carrying out an experiment. Right at the centre of His universe, He was giving an object lesson for all ages, for all intelligences to observe, to read. He put this people there under the most favourable conditions – physically, geographically, morally and spiritually – that He could provide. His attitude was: If you will, I will, and there will be no delay about it.

What is the sum of the whole thing? What is the story when you read it? An amazing story! It is that, in spite of everything, the course is always downgrade, downgrade, downgrade. This is something

incorrigible, inveterate. God has shown for all time, for all times, that there is something in man, IN man, that is deeper and stronger than all the upward advantages that God can give him. Put him in a paradise, and he will turn it into a slum! Give him all the best conditions, and, in the long run, the condition will be one of disgrace. And, somehow, strangely enough, man loves to have it so. If you try to interfere with it, you see what you meet. The dentist and the doctor can be the most hated persons in the world! Is it because they are so evil? Oh, no; there is something irrational about it, utterly irrational. The value is altogether overlooked – simply because it goes against the grain! And what is the ‘grain’? How many people would sooner suffer, suffer, suffer, than endure perhaps a few moments’ pain, to have the suffering cleared up! You see what I mean – it is a strange thing, this human nature. But that is really at the root of this whole thing.

Is it not strange, that that which can be, or could be, the answer to all need, the solving of every problem, the clearing up of every evil situation, the bringing in of conditions so much more favourable, can become the most hated thing? Is it not strange? Look at the Lord Jesus: look at all that God has given in Him; look at all that He was, all that He came to bring, all that He came to do! He is a challenge, an abiding challenge. Can you find evil in Him? “What evil hath this man done?”, asked another man once – a man who knew something about evil, wrong and sin; perhaps few knew more about it than Pilate did. Yet, knowing it all, he had to say: ‘I find no fault in this Man’ (Luke 23:22,14). And yet this One is the object of malice and hatred, unto murder. Strange, isn’t it? He could clear up all the situations, solve all the problems, meet all the needs; and yet – and yet – ‘Away with Him!’ Anything that stands in the way of man’s own disposition, or predisposition, or predilection, having its own way, will be a ‘trouble maker’.

Now that touches a principle. You and I, on the broadest basis of the Christian life, are here in this world in this very capacity, to straddle the path of iniquity, of sin – of the very course of man – and to represent a check; and because we are here for that, we shall be called ‘trouble makers’. In a very real sense we shall BE trouble makers. The trouble will focus itself upon us, and we shall have to suffer for it. The very fact that you are jealous for the Lord will bring you into conflict with that trend that there is in this world, in man. It is going to be a really gruelling business for any testimony for God in this world, because, in the very nature of things, it counters the whole course of this world, which is downhill.

THE SPIRITUAL VERSUS THE ‘NATURAL’

That is, as I have said, the broad line of the principle. Let us get nearer to the heart of things, so far as what is represented by this chapter is concerned. When the SPIRITUAL stands to confront the merely formal, traditional, nominal and ‘natural’, then there is going to be trouble. This is not now merely the reaction from the world: it is the reaction from religion. I would go further, and say it may be the reaction from Christianity. There is a very great difference between formal, traditional, nominal, ‘natural’ Christianity, on the one side, and spiritual Christianity, on the other; a great deal of difference. So much so, that this also becomes a battlefield – the battlefield of a lot of trouble.

Leave formalism alone, and everything will go on quite quietly. Leave traditionalism alone – that is, the set order of things as it has always been; that framework of things as it has been constituted and set up and established by man; that Christianity which is the fixed, accepted system of things – and you will escape a great deal of trouble. But seek to bring in a truly spiritual order of things, and trouble arises at once. And YOU are the trouble maker! The truth is that the trouble lies in the existing condition, the situation, the state; but it is only brought out by your action. And so spiritual men and women, and spiritual ministry, are called ‘trouble makers’, because the two things cannot go on together.

That is where Israel was. They had the traditions, they had the oracles, they had the ordinances, they had the testimonies; they had the forms, they had the system – they had it all; BUT, in the days of the prophets, there was ever this vast gap between the ‘externals’ and ‘internals’ of life in relation with God. The heart is far removed from the lips. The spiritual reality is not found in the formal. You may have it all – but then bring in the truly spiritual meaning of things, and trouble begins in that very realm. It is the trouble which arises when what is external and traditional comes into conflict with something which is truly spiritual.

I used the word ‘natural’ a few moments ago – of course in quotation marks, taking it out of the New Testament: it means, literally, that which is merely ‘soulish’, ‘of the soul’. It is important to realise how very soulish a thing can be, even in Christianity. There can be tremendous passion, tremendous earnestness, tremendous enthusiasm, tremendous arguments and conviction; and yet the thing may be far, far removed from what is spiritual. It may be another world altogether. The conflict arises between those two things. When the natural mind is manipulating Divine things; when the natural reason has taken hold of the Word of God and the things of God; when man’s own passions and interests are being served through the work and service of God: that can become the ground of a great deal of spiritual conflict and trouble.

Trouble will arise in the realm of religion, and in ‘Christian religion’, as such, when what is purely spiritual comes up against the fixed system and tradition of men. It can happen as truly within Christianity, as it did between Christ and Paul, and Judaism. There was the tradition, and, in itself, there was nothing wrong with it; there was nothing wrong with what God had given, with the oracles and the testimony, nothing spiritually or morally wrong. But they had become ends in themselves, things in themselves; and the real meaning, significance and interpretation of them was lost; THEY were the things. The temple was the thing: with God it was not the thing; it was only a sign of something else. With them the sacrifices were the things: with God they were not the thing at all; there was only one Sacrifice that was true with God. And so we might go over the whole gamut. The THINGS – the forms and the means – were everything, and it was criminal in their eyes to say otherwise, to give any other interpretation than the historical and traditional. That is where they fell out with Paul. He had come to see the meaning of things, he had advanced from the things to the meaning; and they had not. Therein lay the conflict and the trouble.

‘SOUL’ IS THE GROUND OF SATAN’S KINGDOM

But now, let us come to the very heart of it. There is the wide circle of the world, of mankind and of human nature; and, within that, the smaller circle of religion, whatever the religion may be. These are realms of conflict when God’s full mind is present. But right at the heart of both of those, there is something else, something that is easily discernible right through the Bible: there is the Satanic. Now, if Satan is alive to anything, sensitive to anything, touchy about anything, it is on this matter of the place that the Lord Jesus is to have – and to have, not formally, but vitally; not just historically, but spiritually: so that the Lord Jesus becomes not merely a name in history, not merely a figure in history, not merely a teacher in history, not merely a historic factor, but a vital, potent force in this universe, right up to date. That is the point upon which Satan and his kingdom are most sensitive. They are alive to any little thing that points in that direction, and they recognise immediately a potential menace to their kingdom.

Human nature is a good playground for that. Hence the story of missionary martyrs: those who have touched the raw material of human nature with the testimony of Jesus, with all the terrible conflict, suffering and cost. The natural man – the natural mind, the natural will; that which is merely the soul of man – in moving and working, exercising itself, asserting itself and drawing to itself, in the realm of the things of God, is a splendid playground for the evil forces. You assert any little bit of your soul life, and see what the Devil will do with it! You uncover any little bit of your soul life, and see what a wreck Satan will make of you! It is the whole story of the devastation that results when self-occupation, introspection and self-pity – all the forms of self-life – assert themselves and become accentuated. Does not the evil one just play havoc with people like that! They have opened the door, and he is not slow to present himself there for access.

Now, set over against all that – the natural man brought into the spiritual world (if that is a possibility), or into the realm of God’s things – is that which is purely and truly spiritual, that which is of the Spirit. And when those two things come into collision, there is trouble – for they are both great systems – simply because, in the realm which is truly of the Spirit, Satan has no place at all! ‘The prince of this world cometh’, said Jesus, ‘and hath nothing in Me’ – the Man who lived in and walked by the Spirit. In all things, in ALL things, He referred and deferred to the Spirit of the Anointing which was upon Him. The prince of this world had NOTHING in Him.

Poor Peter was just at the mercy of the Devil, because, with all his sincerity, with all his well-meaning enthusiasm, he moved in his own soul. His relationship to Christ was one purely of the soul. When Peter came to be a man under the government of the Holy Spirit, that matter underwent immediate adjustment, and you can almost watch the process of that soul-life of his being brought more and more under control.

Perhaps I should pause to safeguard this, by saying very emphatically that it is not wrong to have a soul. No, God has given us a soul, and it is our soul which has got to be saved. But the point is – what is the base upon which and from which we operate, the instrument that we are using, the ground of our living? Either it is the soul, which is the seat of our SELF-life, in every sense; or it is the spirit, which is the seat of the DIVINE life.

Here, then, is the explanation of the conflict. Satan works hard to get hold of ‘soul’. He can lead everything out on to a false stream in that way. A thing that may start in the Spirit, can at some point, without sufficient watchfulness and prayerfulness, be led right out on to a false trail, and end up as something altogether different from what it was at the beginning.

But, to return to this eighteenth chapter of First Kings – Baal and all the rest of it – the heart of the thing is this. It is not Baal, it is not Ahab, it is not Jezebel: it is the evil powers; and THEY are after this man Elijah. Behind Jezebel, there are evil forces set upon the destruction of this man, because his very presence means a breach in their kingdom. He is the man in touch with God, in touch with the Throne. In him and by him, THAT throne becomes imminent – that throne is present. And these two thrones, these two kingdoms, are against one another.

‘TROUBLE’ INEVITABLE WITH SPIRITUAL SIGHT

When, therefore, there is the purest testimony, the fullest expression of what is of God, the heavenly over against the earthly, the spiritual over against the carnal or the natural, the enemy gives a turn to things, a twist to things, and lays the responsibility at the door of a spiritual and a heavenly ministry. He says: ‘You are the cause of all the trouble – you are the troubler!’ But no. The trouble lies deeper than that, and in another realm. The truth is, there is something here that, in its very nature, MUST create trouble, MUST be a source of trouble, so long as God’s known will, His revealed mind, is being violated; while the full expression of God’s purpose is being withstood. To bring in something that stands for that, there is going to be trouble.

It is a costly thing to have seen God’s full purpose and thought concerning His people. It is always a costly thing. The Lord Jesus set a very vivid example and object lesson of this truth right in the foreground, in the incident of the man born blind (John 9). There is no doubt that the Lord intended that man to represent Israel and Israel’s condition at the time. He gave that man sight – and what happened to the man? “They cast him out”, that is all; they cast him out, they excommunicated him (v. 34). That is an object lesson, an instance of this very thing.

If eyes have been opened; if, in any sense – not officially – you have become a ‘seer’ – one who sees: it is going to cost you a lot, it will involve you in a lot of trouble. This matter of ‘seeing’ does that. It was Elijah the SEER, over against the BLINDNESS of Israel. It is a costly thing to be a spiritual man or a spiritual woman in this universe. It is a costly thing, yes, very costly, to hold to a heavenly and spiritual position. It is a costly thing to hold for Christ’s full place; it involves you in trouble. It is a costly thing to have light – if it is true light, God-given light. It is a costly thing to have life.

But remember, it is here, in this, that the power is resident. It is with this that God is found ultimately to be committed. You know the story again. God will have no compromise with the thing that lies behind. ‘Take the prophets of Baal!’ They were all slain. There is no compromise with that spiritual thing. But God is shown as to where He stands, to what He is committed, and where the power is.

For I suppose that, if Elijah represents one thing more than another, he does represent spiritual power. When we think of spiritual power we always refer to Elijah – ‘in the power of Elijah’. It is proverbial. Why? Not because of anything that he was in himself; no, not because of the man. He was a man in touch with the Throne; he was a man who had seen; a man who was committed, of whom it was true that he was “very jealous for the Lord”. God was with Elijah.

John came ‘in the power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17); he was the Elijah of his time. The Lord Jesus said of him: “If ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah” (Matt. 11:14), though John himself denied this (John 1:21). Elijah is a sort of phantom in a certain realm. Poor Herod was scared of his life – he began to see things, to get strange ideas – when he heard about Jesus: some suggested to him that this was Elijah returned to life, but he thought it was John the Baptist risen from the dead (Matt. 14:2; Mark 6:14-16). The fellow just lost his mental grasp of things. This Elijah man counts for something. Power is with him; the verdict is with him.

And – let there be no mistake about it – in the end it will be found that God IS committed to that which is utterly committed to Him for His full purposes. It is costly; it causes much trouble; BUT – the issue is with Him, and He will look after His own interests.

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He is Coming – W.E. Smith

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Dear ones – hear me please, lean into the Spirit for just a moment, and hear what He is saying to us here, in these profound and precious words. Our Lord has not left us unprotected and unloved in this cruel world, as orphans; He has left us in the care of the Father who is greater than He is, and under the provision and protection of the Holy Spirit that is filling all things with Himself and preparing a place for both He and the Father to dwell.

All is thick darkness in this hour, and the darkness is increasing and subsuming all light. It is manifest on the surface of things yes, but it is a spiritual darkness anticipating the very emergence of the false one, the seed of the serpent who will (unlike our Lord) accept everything his father offers him. He is coming dear ones, and everything is being staged and prepared for this very thing. This is why the words above, from the heart of our Lord, are so very timely for us all, those who love Him, and live by every word that He is breathing into our hearts and lives.

Evil, cruelty, sodomy, violence, deception, seduction, narcissism, spiritual adultery and fornication, demonism, despotism – all is increasing and intensifying. The nations, indeed, the nations are being dragged to a place and position where they will literally scream out for a savior, a deliverer, a messiah.

Then he will surface – the Assyrian, the Beast from the sea, the Anti-Christ who comes up out of the abyss to deceive the nations and indeed everyone who does not believe or appropriate the Lord’s words above.

“for the ruler of this world is coming” – yet was not Satan already there when the Master spoke these words? It seems to me (and I could be mistaken) that this is not referring to Satan exclusively, but to another king also, another ruler, and my brethren – he is coming. Man’s ultimate prince, full of the very pride of his father and the corrupted ambition, and the power of hell – he is coming!

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17)

In this high-priestly prayer, the Lord asks three things on our behalf, three things that are more urgent and pressing in this time than ever before – that the Father would keep us in His name, that the Father would keep us from the evil one, and that the Father would sanctify us in truth.

I have been praying with Him in agreement and amen to all these lately (moreso in fact as I see the Day approaching), that He would keep us (hold fast to us, grip us tightly not letting this world or its spirit claim us), that He would protect us spiritually from the spirit of anti-christ that is rising and growing and penetrating all things (yes even the testimony of Christ on this earth), and that He would secure us in purity and holiness, close to his heart, in amongst this adulterous and corrupted generation.

Dear ones, all those who name the name of the Lord, who love Him with a first love, who have rejected the adulterous path of the many – the time of reckoning, of separation and identification, of fierce shaking is upon us. Whose side, I ask all of you – are you on? Whose mark will you receive? Whose name will you claim? Who holds the keys to your very heart and life?

ANTI-CHRIST IS COMING! THE RULER OF THIS WORLD IS COMING! THE SEED OF THE DRAGON IS ABOUT TO SURFACE!

And I dare say with the full heart of the Lord, that this small-c, low-calorie, saccharin, christianity-lite that so falsely and insidiously represents the Father’s Beloved Son will not stand in that hour. They will cry out for their Saul to be king, just like all the others. They will reject the Lord as their King for their own.

And so what are you, yes you reading these very words, doing about all of this? Are you ready? Are you awake? Are you watching on the wall? Are you praying intensely with the Lord that the Father would keep you in His name, keep you from the false one, keep you in truth and holiness, separated unto Himself alone? Are you interceding for all of His people, with the heart of a prophet, of a Daniel, of a Nehemiah? Are you devastated that the testimony of the Lord has fallen, that the walls and gates are broken down and burned by an enemy? That His beloved, blood-bought and redeemed people would rather suckle at the tit of Babylon and Sodom, than be fed by the bread from heaven? That they are sacrificing their own little ones for Baal, for the good and easy life, for the American dream?

Will you go forward with Him, or do you need to go back and say goodbye to all your loved ones and your earthly treasures, your stock portfolio, and career, and place in this tangled garden of a world?

Have you even died to all of this? Do you even know what that means? Do you die daily to this festering dung heap called a world? Has your flesh gone up to that cursed tree, has it been pierced and splintered, has it cried out “nevertheless Thy will be done Lord?” Why are you still residing within the city when He has already judged it and called His own outside the wall? Take the angels hand and go! Just go! Damn it all and go! And don’t look back!

Dear ones, redeemed by the very blood of the Lamb, your little christian psychology books and 12-step bible courses won’t help you when the seas separate and the beast rises up to consume this world and all things  in it, to deceive and destroy! What alone matters is that you are identified and claimed by the Lord – NOT YOUR CHURCH, NOT YOUR GROUP, NOT YOUR TEACHER OR PASTOR, NOT YOUR THEOLOGY – These won’t keep you, only the Father can do that. And He will if we go to Him with tender and undivided hearts, agreeing with the Lord in His prayer.

Oh Lord, open our eyes, our ears, our hearts, press down upon us in all Thy weight of reality and glory, surround us and encompass us in this dark and desperate hour? Keep Thy little ones in Thy Name oh Lord! Keep us, Hold fast to us, even and especially when we let go of Thee! Insert Thyself into our very spirit, that every idol, every hidden idol and adulterous love be banished forever from our hearts. Breathe on us Lord, breathe Thy Living Word on each and every one of us who claim Thee as our portion. Separate us from all of this mixture, this corruption, this baalism among Thy people – separate us unto Thyself oh Lord! Mark us with Thy spirit! Build a fence around us to keep the Lie from penetrating our hearts.

Oh Lord – Thy Kingdom come, and Thy will be Done in all Thy Creation!

Make all the world Thy footstool, O’ Mighty King! Thee and Thy Bride Made Ready! Put all Thy enemies under Thy feet of Gold!

Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Are We Offended in Him?

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me. (Matthew 11:6 ESV)

The Word of God does take account of the possibility of our being offended with Him. It does not say anywhere that that possibility should never arise and will never arise. The Lord has no where said that we shall never have any occasion for being offended with Him. He HAS indicated that there will be PLENTY of opportunity for so stumbling at Him, falling over Him, coming down because of Him – if you like: crashing because of Him. There will be plenty of occasion or opportunity for doing so. He has never said that it will never be so. It is as well for us to recognize that.

The Lord sent no word of rebuke to poor John the Baptist in the prison when he was perilously near to being offended with the Lord because of his situation. The Lord was not hard on John because of his question. He might, had He been another, have said, “But John, did you not point Me out as the Lamb of God? Did you not proclaim Me as the One, the Messiah? Haven’t you preached about Me to multitudes? Have you not made the strongest declarations and affirmations as to what you believed about Me? And here you’re asking a fundamental question about Me. John, what’s gone wrong with you?” No, nothing like that. The Lord knows our frame, that we are dust. And the Lord, I’m saying, takes account of this ever present possibility, in our weakness, of being offended with Him. But He does attach to this matter a particular blessedness if we don’t crash over the Stumbling Block of His ways with us, “AND blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (TAS)

Dear ones – the Lord never minces words does He? He never pretends things are different than they really are? There is a spirit-scraping-bone honesty about everything He did and said while on this earth. He desires truth in the inner-most being, deep down, and unlike religious men and the church by and large today, He is satisfied with nothing less.

In this age of hyphenated, small “c” Christianity, the deep, purposeful, emptying work of the cross, has not only been lost, it have become somewhat of an offense to so many who name His name. Paul travailed for these babes, until “Christ be formed in them.” We have made the gospel so much about self-affirmation (humanism in short), not what the Word reveals it to be –  self-negation. We have turned sanctification largely into a work of renovation rather what it truly is – demolition and the building up (the filling up unto fullness) of Christ in the empty shell that remains.He emptied Himself to come down and then He went willingly up to the cross of death to pour Himself out for us unto life, and He is the way; the pattern – so why is it different for us I wonder?

“Oh He did everything for us so that we wouldn’t have to – praise the Lord!”

Oh really?

So then how does He deal with this “body of death” that Paul spoke of, that he wrestled with constantly, with the sin and self-life that remained? What does baptism picture? Cleansing? Washing your hands? No, it pictures death, being covered over, subsumed, buried, finished.

“I have died for you my friends, no need to take up your cross daily and follow me – all is done” – is this what the Master gave us? I dare say I wish it was.

To become something new, to receive a new name, a new identity in the Father’s House, we must receive a new life, the very life of the Final Adam, the Father’s Beloved Son. He alone is the basis of the New Creation, the fount and breath of life that sustains it. We are to become a new creature that lives and moves and exists solely in Him and out of Him and for His Father’s glory. This is all true, yet something stands in the way of all this, and we all know what it is –

THE OLD MAN!

It is you and I in all of our inherent fullness and self-life. It is everything in us and of us, not just the bad but even the good (especially the good as this is the wellspring of the pride of life). We in and of ourselves are not like most cities with good and bad neighborhoods, and the Holy Spirit is revitalizing the sundry parts. No, that is not what Paul taught in Romans and elsewhere. “In me there is no good thing”. The cross offered us isn’t like chemo-therapy that kills off only the bad cells – it destroys everything. It is also not like modern psychology that treats selective or destructive areas of your behavior and personality –

IT CUTS YOU DOWN. ALL OF YOU!

Such that you change from Moses the prince, to Moses the sheep-hand, from Jacob to an Israel, from Jeremiah the priest’s son, to Jeremiah the prophet, from Nehemiah the cup-bearer to Nehemiah the wall-builder, from Simon to Cephas, from Saul to Paul.

Oh dear beloved, truly it is a strange and terrible work the Lord is doing with those few willing to venture down this narrow path. Yet we are not to think it strange that so many fiery trails and afflictions and losses are working in painful ways to separate us from ourselves, to break us down, to bring us to death daily. Praise God that He employs the very curse of sin to slay it. “You will not die” – hissed the serpent under his foul breath, but indeed we must, we have to, it is the only way to truly live in the image of God.

Yet in the midst of it, He will refresh and encourage us, He will give a cup of water to those little ones who are fellow-shipping in His sufferings, and He will bless heartily all others who do so as well.

And may we each be encouraging one another as we see the day approaching. You do see it don’t you? May your eyes be opened, may He spit on the earth, rub your eyes and command them to be opened, and your ears to be opened too that you might hear what He is saying (in the spirit) to the churches at this very moment. We are Daniels in Babylon saints, and yet are we weeping over His fallen city, His fallen testimony, His captive people once redeemed and betrothed unto Himself? What are we concerned with or consumed with – this Sodom in which live?

Here take this hand and come out. Go ahead and take it -leave everything behind and come out! Don’t look back for this Sodom has nothing for you – leave it all – your place, your home, your citizenship, your affiliations, your painted treasures, even the loved ones who refuse to leave – Come out! And be counted with the Lord! Come out to stand on the mount with your father Abraham, for the time and the call is coming quickly to an end.

I dare say we should be wary of any follower of His who never struggles with the Lord, never grapples with Him and His violent move on their life and heart. All is song and happiness, in other words. All is buttoned-up pretense. Then where, I dare say, is the offense of the cross; where is the blood and sweat pouring out from their old man, where is the authentic disciple experience of life rising up out of death in them? Where is the dislocated hip from such a violent encounter with the Lord? Are we offended when we come across a saint who walks with a limp because he has contended heartfully and violently with the Lord? Why is this? Why has this faith become incapable of dealing with things on such a deeper level, such an honest level? Can we grow from milk to meat, from childhood to maturity with anything less I ask? Why are we so quick to judge, when the Word exhorts us against such things?

Why no hard and bitter questions for Him? Like John, we are only men, only so much like Jacob, yes becoming sons of God, but still mostly just men. “Are you really the promised Christ?” “Why do you sleep Lord when the storm rages all around us and we are consumed?”

It is the cross that is so offensive to the flesh in man, and to this modern testimony of the Lord on this earth. They will have none of it it seems. No self-denial, no loss, no affliction, no self-emptying, no bruising, no narrow way, no sore affliction, no rejection, no betrayal, no false accusations, no hatred from this world and its god. “GET AWAY FROM ME SATAN!” is how our Lord thinks of such a cross-less pursuit of Him. It is offensive to Him and His Father and so it should be to us.

Yet this is the path to the increase of Christ is it not? This is where His life comes from and how it increases in us. “Unless it dies…” says the Word. Not by more study, more church, more religion, more fellowship with always-happy, water-spider christians, dancing on the surface of life but never plunging into the depths. Does even this word offend you? Does it sound wrong or twisted to you? Perhaps we can go around the Red Sea rather than through it. Perhaps we can build a golden bridge across the Jordan, rather than get our ankles wet. Perhaps we can take up a sword or do anything else in our power to keep death and hell from knocking at the door. Perhaps we can slay Saul so that he will stop hunting us down. Perhaps the baker or the butler will put in a good word for us to get us out of this pit.

I know my friends, how hard this is, how deep these things must go. I know how lonely is this path into His very heart, once so many others have abandoned this narrow way back to the Father’s love. I know what it is like to want to sing His praises when only hard questions will come out. I know what it is like to be so blinded by tears that you cant see Him in the storm.

The Lord minced no words in such matters and so how can we? Will He find (the) faith on the earth among His own when He returns? No, because the true faith, the true call has become so offensive to so many in this pleasure-loving generation, who associate Him with the “good life”, and the affirmation of everything this world has to offer. The modern church has become little more than a country club serving up psycho-social milk and pabulum to babes who are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The milk goes down easy and it is warm in their mouths, no chewing required, no effort, nothing to really digest and become flesh in them.

No, no our Lord in His great love never soft-balled anything to us. He never floated any pitches, or sugar-coated just how serious these matters of life and death really are. Modern-day come as you are, stay as you are, leave as you are preachers do certainly, but our Great Teacher never need, and never will.

My encouragement to all those presently striving with the Lord is don’t let go of Him until He blesses (wounds) you. Don’t let go. Cling to Him out of a tenacious love. Don’t lose heart. Don’t listen to those who try to convince you that you are “of little faith”, or somehow outside of His will and blessing. Real faith, the faith that will endure until the end, is a faith that is forged in these private struggles with Him and His way. Don’t give up on Him, don’t relinquish your grip on his heart. Love so often, if it is really a love that has gone down deep into a man – it must be tried and tested. It must yearn for Him, it must strive to know Him, all of Him, all that He is and has gone through for us. It is a love than knows death and silence and confusion – yet it clings to Him, to even a piece of His clothing if that is all you can get hold of.

And stop pretending with one another. Stop holding back your questions and difficulties. The only real fellowship in the spirit we can hope to have is the fellowship in His sufferings. As you see the day approaching (and my friends, it is approaching) encourage others to endure, those who are dying daily to the things of the old man and this world. Hold one another, embrace each others pain and confusion, weep with one another, and let your tears run down together to wash the feet of our Lord. As you watch painfully as beloved brothers and sisters are being emptied and poured out to all the things of the flesh and the world, weep with them, pray with them, ache with them, join with them, minister strength to them as another member of the body. Don’t preach! Don’t judge! Don’t try to explain it all away! Don’t be like Job’s well-meaning but useless friends!  It is, after all, just the Cross doing what it is intended to do. It is the Word becoming flesh in that man before your very eyes. It is newness of life rising up out of death, it is, in the end – the only way home.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!

If this way, and truth and life offends you, then turn back now – stop pretending with yourself, God and everyone else! For when the final shaking comes, all that is false, all that is loosely attached, will fall away.

I encourage all of you, and love you and I do understand, truly I do.

The Sin of the World – T. Austin-Sparks

Dear ones – this word is not spoken or shared much these days, where saccharin sermons and ear-tickling affirmation of the flesh sells millions of books and fills gigantic stadiums. No, not the “sins” of the world, but the SIN – singular, for there is truly only one. “Till sin was found in you” – it was said of the arch-angel Lucifer. “I will ascend…” and then he himself advanced the lie further – “You will be as god…” – oh how so many blood-bought believers have heard this lie and nursed it to their lips, surrendering to the pride of life and the first lie that fans its flame. “You are not your own” – but they cannot bear such words, for the dragon’s poison has puffed them up, and stopped their ears. The Lord Jesus, the Blessed Savior is little more to them than some divine means to a carnal end!

Lord help us!

The Lord Jesus, the Christ, the Lamb, there was absolutely no self-interest found in Him, for He was wholly and utterly abandoned to His Father’s business, His Father’s work, His Father’s will, His Father’s joy and pleasure. Nothing rising up out of Himself or the natural man, nothing whatsoever, all flowing outward from a place and posture of pure, perfect and humble obedience. “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” A perfectly consecrated sacrifice, a bond-slave, an empty and willing vessel, an instrument of the Father”s testimony and glory.

A Pruning and Chastening Word from TAS –

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NIV).

What is the sin of the world? It is pride. You may not think so; you may not see it: but I would ask you to consider again and see if all that is called sin cannot be traced to this, if it is not this in some form of expression. For what is the root of pride? What is pride? It is self hood come to life, risen up, active – that is the root of pride; and the branches and the fruit – how many they are! – jealousy, covetousness, wrath, and all the rest. How is wrath pride? Well, wrath, if it is not holy, purified, blood-purged wrath like the wrath of the Lamb, if it is wrath which is actuated by ourselves and our interests, is the wrath of self hood. So often our anger is our self-preservation, our reaction to some threat to our interests or our likes. Rebellion, stubbornness, prejudice, and much of our fear, are all traceable to pride. What are we afraid of? What are we fearing? If we examined our fears, why are we afraid? If we were utterly severed from the personal interest – that is, if we could hand entirely over to the Lord and get out of the picture ourselves – would not a lot of our fear go? And so we might go on: but we do not want to indulge in a wholesale analysis of human nature or of pride. We have mentioned enough to show that pride is the root and that there are countless fruits traceable to that root….

So may this be a word of interpretation as to why the Lord is dealing with us as He has and does – on the one hand, overcoming this evil thing, breaking, emptying, grinding to powder, until there is nothing of us left in the matter of self-sufficiency; on the other hand, giving Himself, increasing Himself. Now this is not a word, perhaps, of great inspiration, but I feel it to be a word of very great importance. This must be true of us individually. There must also be a corporate humility. This is the way along which the Lord will commit Himself. He will never give us anything to feed our flesh, to enlarge and strengthen our natural life. He will hold us to the way that keeps us safe where that is concerned. How wonderfully the Bible becomes alive when you look at it in this way!


By T. Austin-Sparks from: Pride and Its Undoing

The Second is Like it – W. E. Smith

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind‘” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Dear children of God – the above verse, a familiar one, is not what the Lord has given us. Now I may be splitting hairs but I don’t think so. May the Spirit be the judge.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:37-39).

We are to love the Lord with all of our being. We are not to love other human beings with all of our being; we are to love them as “yourself.” We are not to love ourselves with all of our heart and soul and mind (or strength). Do you see that?

Further, we cannot even hope to love others as ourselves unless and until we come to the place of loving the Lord with everything we are and everything He gives us, and becomes in us. Yes the “second is like it”. It is similar – but it is not the same. It flows from the first. It is a consequence of the first. It is not even possible without the first. There can be no good Samaritan without first the faithful son and servant.

Until we love the Lord, and have laid down our lives for him, we cannot hope to have a love for others that is safe and sanctified. The Lord Jesus loved His disciples but He never ever put them above the Father. He never let their well-being or needs or anything come before doing the Father’s will. Remember, love is further defined as faithful obedience –

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

The first and greatest commandment. Why? Because everything begins here. Our relationship with our Eternal Father is the genesis of everything else. Everything in our new lives is defined here. Nothing else matters without this. Our relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – an obedience flowing out of love and grace – is the reason we were created, and it is the reason we were redeemed from the cruel overlord of this world.

“You shall love others as yourself. This is the first and greatest commandment.” God’s heart will be fulfilled if you only love other people more. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – this is the beating heart of the Christian faith.” It sounds right doesn’t it? So quaint, so selfless. We have heard it before from many drive-by professors of the faith.

No, He created us to inhabit our hearts, our human spirit, to live and dwell and be the animating principle within us. We are to love our God and fear Him above all else, even the loved ones He gives us. Love like this answers once and for all the sin question. The idol question. The law question. The curse question. All of the why questions. Any other love that occupies the first and central place in our hearts is a dangerous one – IT IS IDOLATRY pure and simple; and the Lord will test us on it, rest assured.

Do we love Him then? Really? With a pure and undivided heart? Do we obey and abide in Him? Do we trust Him totally? And in the end, do we really want Him, deep down in our hearts of hearts? Do we miss Him, and want nothing more than for Him to return? Does this life of faith, of waiting, of promise and hope – do we get so tired of it sometimes, because we just want the Lord Himself, as He is? Or are the distractions of this world and the pleasures of Sodom so appealing to us?

Let us be honest in the spirit and stop trying so hard to be religious. This love is not, I repeat, not a religious, sentimental, swooning love at all, like so much of CCM. It is a love that loses itself in everything He is and says and desires. The more we love Him, the more we become like Him, and in Him, and part of Him. He is increased and we are decreased because we love Him, He is our first and highest and deepest love.

If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! (1 Cor. 16:22)

Come Lord Jesus Come! Send Him Father, Send Him, Send Him to His Beloved!

He Who Has an Ear… (The Letters to the Churches)

Message to Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

‘ I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

Message to Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Message to Pergamum

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

Message to Thyatira

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:

‘ I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘ I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

‘ I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Laodicea

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “ I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and 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 will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

The Gateway to Life – W.E. Smith

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning —the first day. (Genesis 1)

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