Tag: Brokenness

A Circumcised Heart – T. Austin-Sparks

Now we come to this matter of circumcision. I can only touch it very lightly, for it is a very delicate matter.

We have seen that in the Old Testament circumcision is a type, or symbol, for in the New Testament it is stated that circumcision of the heart – not in the flesh, but in the spirit – and it just means this: a heart that is wholly devoted to the Lord. By that symbol the seed of Abraham became God’s exclusive people for the time being, and everything that we have in the Old Testament about God’s wish for this people shows us how jealous He was over those people. God called Himself their husband (Jeremiah 31:32), and there was never a more jealous husband than He! Let Israel have anything to do with any other husband and you will hear the thunder, and the weeping, of the Prophets, God was so jealous for Israel.

Now see what Paul says about the covenant seed of Abraham. He heads this whole thing up into Christ: “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew (or an Israelite), which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit.” So Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham, and Paul speaks of the circumcision of Christ.

Let me ask you a question: Has there ever lived on this earth a person more utterly committed to God than the Lord Jesus? He was indeed separated unto God, and different from all others. No one has ever borne the marks of spiritual circumcision more than the Lord Jesus. He was the Man of the undivided heart.

Let us go back into the Old Testament to that great Messianic chapter, Isaiah 53: “He shall see his seed… He shall see of the travail of his soul.” Well, we know more than the Prophet Isaiah knew about that! We have been with Him in Gethsemane in the time of the travail of His soul, and we are with Him, on the other side of the travail. How many are the seed of Christ since then! Dear friends, if ever you are tempted to think that Christians are few, and that we are only a very small people in the millions of this world – open the windows! Look into the book of the Revelation: “A great multitude, which no man could number… ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The number cannot be expressed in human language – and they have been gathered since the travail of the Lord Jesus. He is indeed seeing His seed! Gethsemane has been the most fruitful garden in all history – and you and I are of His seed! We are born out of His travail and are in the covenant made with the new Israel.

But do remember that the meaning and the value of the covenant depend upon our devotion to the Lord! This is a thing which is so evident: the greatest fruitfulness has always come from the lives most devoted to the Lord, the people of the undivided heart. This covenant has two sides. As we have already said, the New Testament takes many warnings from the history of Israel, and we may fail of all that that covenant means if our hearts are divided and we try to live life in two worlds. Let us look at a little incident in the life of Abraham.

It is in chapter 15, when God came to make His covenant with Abraham and his seed, and something happened which many people have not been able to understand. The Lord commanded Abraham to bring certain things for a sacrifice either to a large altar, or to two altars, for the Lord told him to divide the sacrifices in two and to put one half on one side and the other half on the other side. Now notice that these are two sides of the covenant. On the one side is Abraham and his seed and on the other side is God. God is about to enter into a covenant with Abraham and his seed, but the covenant has two sides. Now notice what happens! The vultures came down to try and steal the sacrifices. How greatly significant this is! All the powers of darkness are against this covenant, and all those evil fowls of the air are out to rob God and His people of this covenant. It says that Abraham beat them off. His rod was busy that day, and the vultures said: ‘It is no good. We had better give up and get away from here.’ Then Abraham went to sleep and “an horror of great darkness fell upon him”. My point, and, I believe, the point of the Scripture is this: there is always a terrible battle with hell to secure a life utterly committed to God. No one who is going to be utterly for Him is easily won.

It may be that battle is going on in this very room. If the devil can prevent you from being utterly for God he is going to make a great big fight for it. Is that battle going on? The battle of the very covenant, the covenant in heart circumcision, a heart wholly for the Lord, a heart that is right out for God. If Satan can prevent that he will put up a good fight. What is your attitude to this? Are you careless about it? God alone knows how much is involved in it. Oh, take the rod of God and lay about these evil forces! Stand for the covenant! And when you have made that stand the evil forces will withdraw, the darkness will go.

There is a change of atmosphere in this story. At first the atmosphere is full of conflict and fear, for it is “an horror of great darkness”. There is a battle in the very atmosphere over this matter, but when Abraham has fought the battle for the covenant the whole atmosphere changes and becomes one of victory. If we put the history of many consecrated believers into this story, there would be many testimonies like this: ‘My, there was a tremendous battle over this matter! I was full of fears, but I took a stand, and with God’s help I came to a decision. I stepped over on to God’s side of the covenant and said: “Lord, I am Yours! I am with You!” then peace came, the peace of His victory. I went to bed that night feeling as though I had come out of a great battle, but it was into great peace.’

That is all in this little story in Genesis 15. It may be your story! This is something of what it means to have a heart that is circumcised, for the circumcised heart is a heart set free from all self-interest. Was that true of Abraham? After many years what had seemed impossible came to pass and God gave him a son; and that son was God’s miracle. You would expect Abraham to say: ‘God gave me that son and I am going to hold on to him. I will never let him go, because God gave him to me.’ There was a little boy once, and a baby came into the home. One day the mother said to the little boy: ‘We are going to take Baby to the meeting and give him to the Lord.’ The little boy’s face fell, and he said: ‘Mummy, you can lend him to the Lord, but we must have him back again.’ You know, that is the kind of consecration that a lot of Christians make; they have some personal interest in their consecration. But about that God-given gift to Abraham God said: ‘Take him and offer him!’ Friends, learn this lesson! Do not think that because God has given you something by a miracle you can take it for yourself. I will not try to say what it might be. It might be your very ministry, for there is always a peril of taking our ministry and using it for ourselves. But Abraham was truly circumcised in heart, and the same was true of Hannah. How long she waited for that child Samuel, and how much she suffered! How earnestly she prayed! And then, at last, God gave her the child. What did she say? ‘Thank you, Lord. I will never let this child go now!’? No, she said: ‘For this child I prayed and the Lord has given me my request. Therefore I have given him to the Lord for as long as he lives.’ She, too, was circumcised in heart.

From some of his Psalms we know that the one great ambition of David’s life was to build the temple, and he worked and sacrificed for that temple. He said: “I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:3-5). He was collecting private money, as well as materials for the temple, for he said: “I have a treasure of mine own of gold and silver” (1 Chronicles 29:3). Then he received the pattern of the temple from the Lord, and said: ‘The time has come, and my life’s ambition is about to be realized. The one thing for which I have lived is now going to be mine – but what is that? Someone is at the door. Come in! Oh, it is a Prophet. Yes, my friend, what have you come to say?’ ‘I have come to tell you from the Lord, David, that you shall not build the house. Thy son shall build it.’ What did David do? What would you do? Well, what did David do? He said: ‘It does not matter about my disappointment! The thing is that the Lord must have what He wants. My interests are nothing beside His interests.’ So he gave everything to Solomon. Perhaps he had seen something more: “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6), and that is better than any earthly house!

We never lose anything when the Lord has everything, and that is what it means to have a circumcised heart. May that be true of everyone!

Excerpted from God’s New Israel.

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Flaming Arrows – W.E. Smith

Precious saints of the Lord, I send out this message, by the Master’s love and patience, that by it you might find grace, encouragement and consolation in this dark hour. Rest assured, all those who find themselves in this lonely wilderness, among His faithful remnant, that you are not alone. I am discovering most painfully actually, as did Jacob, that to enter His Kingdom is to enter as one wounded and bruised. There is no other way, and yet one cannot overestimate the difficulty of this path. If we are to endure at all, then the Lord must be our strength and victory, and He alone can protect us from all of the deadly challenges along the way.

Our theme scripture for this message is found in Ephesians 6, and it should be familiar to all of us –

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17, emphasis added)

When I read this recently, I was instantly reminded of the Master, as He was tested in the wilderness through great travail and weakness. There He was, barely alive, in absolute submission to His Father’s hand, and then who conveniently appears on the scene?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;

and

‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,

SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” (Matt. 4:1-11)

The enemy is so crafty isn’t he? Always lurking, always skulking in the shadows looking for some juicy opportunity to put a wedge between us and our God. And then at the moment when we are the most weakest, the most vulnerable, the most confused and perplexed by what is happening to us; by what our God is doing –  the adversary lights his dart and empties his quiver. So not only are we under the heavy weight of the Master’s sore discipline and testing, the whispering starts, the subtle questioning begins – “If you are the Son of God…”

If you are really a Christian how could this be happening? If God really loved you how could He allow this? If He really cared for you then why is everything collapsing all around you; why is life becoming so hard? If He promised you abundant life then why does it feel like you are dying? If He said I will never leave you nor forsake you, then why doesn’t He respond when you cry out to Him? If He promised that He would never let anything come upon you that you couldn’t bear, then why does it seem like you are collapsing under the weight of your trials. If He really loves you, then would He really let this happen to you?”

Now perhaps you have heard such whisperings, there in the midst of bitter trials and seemingly impossible burdens. Perhaps you have been struck by these “flaming arrows” that the evil one has targeted directly at your heart, and at your faith, and at everything you think you know about this Christian life, and your God, and all that He has promised. As if the trial wasn’t hard enough, there he is with all of these nagging questions trying to plant seeds of doubt and unbelief.

You know deep down, where spirit-touches bone, that your Heavenly Father and your Savior love you, and that a great part of this love is expressed in discipline and preparation. Yet the fiery darts keep coming; and so often they find us weak or unaware, or just plain fatigued by the conditions or duration of our trial. Often they come in the form of a simple thought, a suggestion, a seemingly honest and innocent consideration of your present situation. Sometimes they come from the lips of the ones you love; a spouse (remember Job’s wife), a friend (remember Job’s friends), a brother or sister  in the Lord even (who mean well but ultimately serve as agents of the enemy instead).

Now you are fairly confident that you know God’s Word even; that you are well acquainted with His promises and assurances. You have read them and claimed them many times; things like –

I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU. (Heb. 13:5)

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matt. 21:22)

For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 1 Cor 2:20)

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Heb. 6:17-18; with emphasis)

Yes we know them so well, yet the darts keep flying don’t they? Most of them fly over our heads or fall at our feet. Still others penetrate through our defenses and find their mark.

“If this is really true, then why can’t you find work; why can’t you ever seem to get a break in this world? If all this be true then why is nothing working in your favor? If all this is true why such extreme and prolonged suffering?  If this is really true then why is cancer eating away at your body? If this is true then why doesn’t He answer your cries for help; would not any loving father do everything He can to help the children he loves? If all this be true, then why does it seem that He is your enemy, that He is against you?”

Dear friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, I dare say that lately I have felt an all out assault on my faith and I have been fighting almost every day to stay the course and press on. I am not exaggerating when I say that if I do not survive this and gain the victory over this present test then I will probably not recover spiritually. What started out as a simple test of faith and obedience close to two years ago, has developed and persisted to the point where there truly is not much left in me. Part of me wants so much for all of this to end, whatever that means, and I have been so very much tempted to try to end it myself even if I could (I cannot actually; like Peter who merely wanted to “go fishing” –  to return to the way things were). My confidence in myself has been shattered. I second-guess everything I do now. When I look in the mirror all I see is so much failure and poverty. I see dust and ashes and not a man. When I look at my son I feel like a failure, like I have nothing to give him. I feel numb actually, without interest or passion for anything. As I have written very much and shared it with you as openly as I can, I feel like a hypocrite and I don’t want to share anything else ever again.

You see, I am dying and as very unchristian as it sounds, a part of me doesn’t want to die, and something very deep in me is fighting it every step of the way. My soul (self-life) is fighting tooth and nail against forfeiting any ground or dominion to the spirit. Beyond that I am not really sure what is happening. The Lord is so often silent. Everything is just so hard – to pray, to wait, to study, to hope in my God – everything.

Please pray that I will endure despite the constant whisperings and urgings of the enemy and the utter weakness in myself. I need mercy and grace and patience more than ever. Though it feels like it, my Lord is not my enemy; He is not against me. Though I have no definite answers, His wisdom and love cannot fail. Though He bruises and breaks us will He not bind us up again in His Beloved Son?

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” – (Job 13:15, KJV)

This, I believe, is what is inferred by Paul when he exhorts us to take  “up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. Oh what kind of faith this is, that though He has laid this test on us, that though He has permitted it – that it seems by all evidence that He is indeed destroying us, that we will trust Him; we will hold on to Him for He is all we have. Oh indeed, what a special kind of faith this is dear brethren, and how we need this faith in this hour!

I then remembered Jeremiah. Oh how can we ever forget this man, this amazing man, this deeply bruised and battered servant of the Lord. How brutally the Lord tested and afflicted him. How low he was taken and how so very much he was asked to lose. How so unimaginably difficult it must have been. Notice how he expresses this in his lamentations –

I am the man who has seen affliction

Because of the rod of His wrath.

He has driven me and made me walk

In darkness and not in light.

Surely against me He has turned His hand

Repeatedly all the day.

He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away,

He has broken my bones.

He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.

In dark places He has made me dwell,

Like those who have long been dead.

He has walled me in so that I cannot go out;

He has made my chain heavy.

Even when I cry out and call for help,

He shuts out my prayer.

He has blocked my ways with hewn stone;

He has made my paths crooked.

He is to me like a bear lying in wait,

Like a lion in secret places.

He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces;

He has made me desolate.

He bent His bow

And set me as a target for the arrow.

He made the arrows of His quiver

To enter into my inward parts.

I have become a laughingstock to all my people,

Their mocking song all the day.

He has filled me with bitterness,

He has made me drunk with wormwood.

He has broken my teeth with gravel;

He has made me cower in the dust.

My soul has been rejected from peace;

I have forgotten happiness.

So I say, “My strength has perished,

And so has my hope from the LORD.” (Lam. 3)

And yes, lest we misunderstand, the “He” here is none other than the Lord His God. Do we ever feel this way my brethren, like the Lord is against us, that He is like a bear or a lion tearing us to pieces, and stripping the very flesh from our bones? That He has shut out our prayers? That He has broken our teeth? That He has walled us in so that we cannot move or find relief? Oh, brethren, I dare say that if we are honest in the spirit with ourselves, we do.

And all the while Jeremiah was wrestling with all of his concepts and assumptions about His God, one can only imagine the fiery arrows flying at him from the real enemy of his soul. Oh dear brethren, this story is played out all throughout the Scriptures, with so many of the Lord’s people – Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, etc. To wrestle with the Lord, to struggle with and against Him at times; this is the way of the cross and the path of true faith.

Oh but make no mistake – it is so unimaginably hard at times, so awful, so heavy, so bitter. There is nothing glamorous or easy about death, even the death of the soul for those who are to live anew in the spirit. Death, in any of its forms and applications, is awful and terrible and bitter! Yet it is so necessary that we might enter into life. Life and blessing and renewal is only ever found on the other side of the Jordan, through the depth of the river, through baptism, through the cross, through the fiery darts of the enemy. But yet again we must acknowledge and emphasize just how hard and painful and bitter this actually is. Please don’t let anyone ever try to convince you otherwise, my friends. The Lord has called this the narrow way for good reason –

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

And lest we leave Jeremiah there on the other side of his God, we are encouraged that he indeed take up this shield of faith at the end of his confession –

Surely my soul remembers

And is bowed down within me.

This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,

To the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently

For the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man that he should bear

The yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone and be silent

Since He has laid it on him.

Let him put his mouth in the dust,

Perhaps there is hope.

Let him give his cheek to the smiter,

Let him be filled with reproach.

For the Lord will not reject forever,For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lam. 3)

Dear end-time saints, all those who find themselves under the grievous training and discipline of the Lord in this time, I hope and pray that these words might help and encourage you even in some small way. I know, brethren, how hard it is, and how even a word such as this may seem empty and abstract. Yet we are all in this together, as his precious and faithful remnant at the close of this age. We need each other, and I for one am so grateful for all of you who have offered encouragement and prayer on our behalf. This truly is the grace and love of the Lord as it flows though the hearts of his people. If one member of the body is suffering, then we are all afflicted, for we are one in Him. And although our stories and testimonies may be unique, the general pattern will always be the same – from death to life.

That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Cor 15:36)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

I also know that there is an instinctive tendency on the part of many (usually those who are not going through severe testing at the time) to  offer good-natured counsel to those who are suffering and confused. I have done this far too often myself. And although we mean well, this counsel can at times do more harm than good. Remember Job’s well-intentioned friends. You see, although we are one in the body, our struggles are very personal, and we each wrestle with our God in very personal and intimate ways. He is testing our love and devotion to Him, as with Peter (“Do you love me” He asked three times), and this is a very personal thing. He is refining our love in the fire, such that all dross will be burned away. He is trying to determine if we will take Him at His word, even when all of our circumstance, experience and reality cry out against it; when the devil himself tries to convince us otherwise. For only a tested love will endure. Rest assured, brethren, that if you are indeed among the saved in this age, He will test this love to the uttermost.

My only encouragement therefore, is that you will seek the Lord for this shield of faith; this faith that trusts Him even when it appears that He has forsaken us; that He has turned His back on the sufferings of His people. Oh dear friends, please pray the same for the one sharing these words, for lately more of these fiery darts are finding their mark than ever before it seems. Now this faith that acts as a shield against the flaming arrows of the destroyer is not merely that faith brought us to the Lord in the beginning. It is not merely that ‘saving faith‘ – it is rather a ‘staying faith‘. It is not the faith that comes; it is the faith that remains and holds on no matter what. It is the faith that is accounted to us as righteousness by our God (Gen. 15:6). And without it, here in the midst of our trials and suffering, we will certainly not endure the strange discipline of the Lord or the attacks of of the evil one.

May the Lord be our Strength and Patience and Victory. Amen.

For the Lord will not reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lam. 3)

Please feel free to review the following related messages on “Brokenness” – Here

Note to All the Saints –

Dear brethren, as you see and become aware of your fellow saints in the midst of sore trials, loss, confusion and want in this hour, I encourage all of you to pour out not only your thoughts and prayers, but also your provision, as the Spirit and the love of our Lord inspires. We will need each other increasingly as the material conditions around us become more desperate, and as so many of our beloved brothers and sisters lose their livelihoods, their health and their property in this world. Open your hearts, your homes, your businesses, your storehouses, open them wide and let the Lord care for His own in the midst of what, by all accounts, seems to be a looming and great depression coming on  this and so many other formerly rich nations. Give directly where possible, not through agencies or ministries, but give where the Lord can look through your eyes at the needs of His people. If you have a business, consider hiring your fellow saints. If you have work to be done, ask the Lord to make the connection, and He will.

Please consider this very serious word from the Master on this matter –

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:41-46)

But if it Dies – W.E. Smith

acorn2Folks, take a good long look at this image (it’s an acorn in case you were wondering). Not too pretty is it? Nothing you might frame and hang on your wall. Well, as we will see, that might not be such a bad idea.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)

You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; (1 Cor. 15:36)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa. 23:4)

It is an awe-inspiring truth (as we shall see) that this shadow of death, spoken of throughout the Scriptures, promises the hope and potential of deeper, more abundant life. Although this is undoubtedly man’s greatest threat and fear, it is also where God does His finest and most heart-quickening work.

Death, decay, then life – a natural process every tiller of the soil or naturalist knows only too well. From mighty trees fallen and eroding on the forest bed flow all of the ingredients for even greater life and vitality. Here death and life, caught up in a dance only the Creator could have conceived, form a vital connection, the one perpetuating the other in a mysterious and magnanimous circle. Death, decay and decomposition promote a frenzy of micro-organic activity that perpetuates and promotes the continuing life and vitality of the ecosystem.

This is true also of the realm within the human heart where spirit and soul intersect. It is also one of the preeminent themes of the Bible.

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55)

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Heb. 2:14-15)

Death – sin, the devil, the way of man.

Life – righteousness, Christ, the way of God.

“…but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:3-5)

Here we find the first, and in many respects, the only lie – “You shall not die”. Indeed, we will and we must. For it is from the death and loss of the self-life (or the soul life as Watchman Nee terms it) that we gain the life of He who is God’s precious Seed – Jesus Christ.

My friends, the Kingdom of God does not grow in numbers and vitality through sophisticated and worldly marketing campaigns, fancy facilities or ear-tickling sermons. Nor can the individual Christian life increase in fruitfulness by the preservation of the life of the soul and flesh. God is abundantly clear on this – that life flows only out of death; that unless a seed falls to the ground broken, there can be no promise of fruitfulness and life. Here is one answer to that age-old question of why the devil is among us.

Indeed, we must die (and in fact welcome the death of the self; the old man) and fall to the ground such that the living dynamic of Jesus Christ can be born and developed within us. He is God’s precious seed that was planted on the earth such that the life of God would grow and multiply throughout His creation. He was bruised and broken open on the cross only that life might spill out to the many who claim Him by faith alone. Here is how death is swallowed up in victory and the designs of the devil are universally confounded.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

The mortal flesh is merely the shell that contains the promise of life. Yet look at the expense and excess to which human beings go to perpetuate and promote what is essentially only packaging. Look again at how we Christians go to such great lengths to prevent the seed from falling and being broken. Until we love God more than our own life; unless we are willing, as so many saints and martyrs of old, to lay down our lives and risk being broken open and exposed, then the fruitfulness and vitality we preach about and desire will never actually happen.

Why then brethren is the contemporary church still falling for this first and most vicious lie and living for the life of the world in the pursuit of earthly things? We curry its favor rather than boldly preach the truth and risk being persecuted or worse. We look for easy ways of advancing the kingdom that don’t require provoking the animosity of the world and its god. We have perverted the Christian message to such a degree that many see it as a means of worldly gain and not loss. Yet the clear testimony of God’s word, affirmed by example and the Holy Spirit Himself, is that only those who do not love their lives unto death will truly grow and live and impart life to others. Here again is the power of the cross of Christ on the individual soul, performing the work of reducing that which must be brought to death.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8: 34-35)

Dear saints, it should be in no manner offensive to say that to preserve, promote and perpetuate our life is opposed to all things taught in the Bible. Jesus rebuked Peter as Satan’s mouthpiece for opposing the purposes of God in allowing His beloved Son to advance towards the cross. Here was the same spirit found in the serpent in the garden when he told the first woman she shall not die. True saints follow their Lord in not loving their lives unto death, and in possessing a perpetual willingness to lay it down. Recall that Paul, writing to the Philippians, expresses his desire –

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Phil. 3:10)

Paul knew most pointedly that, until we are conformed to the death of Christ, He could not be raised in us; that death and life were constantly working together to promote the creative and transformative purposes of the Father.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are  afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

The sheer wonder of it all is that the Father’s way demands a devil here among those whom He would claim and refashion in His Son. Although the devil, by his very nature, intends our harm and loss, the Creator uses it to build up His little ones in His eternal kingdom. This theme is found over and over again throughout both Testaments of the Bible; that from the laying down and brokenness of one, flows life and abundance to the many. We see this from the garden of Eden onward to that quintessential act of God’s precious Son pouring out His life for the life of the world.

Only by leaving his homeland and following his God blindly and vicariously through the wilderness, could Abraham prove himself faithful and become the father of many nations.

Only through tremendous loss and pain, could Job experience the fruitfulness of his Creator’s encouraging word and the restoration and increase of all things.

Only by losing his freedom and dignity, could Jacob come to see that with God all things are possible, including reconciliation with his brother.

Only by being debased, broken and stripped of his pride, could Joseph bring life to His family in Egypt during the drought.

Only by being dispatched to the wilderness, and stripped of all of his princely ambitions and attachments, could Moses be prepared as the instrument of salvation to so many.

Only through being maligned, misunderstood and martyred would the testimony and message of the prophets offer hope, comfort and life to those who would come after them.

Only by being reduced and poured out from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, could Paul and the apostles advance the gospel and the kingdom, saying – “So death works in us, but life in you”.

Dear brethren, the Bible is replete with examples where Satan or his agents intended evil and destruction, but God used it for good and life. Many new Christians are often confused by the question of why the devil or why pain and death? Yet here is the answer from Genesis to Revelation – that life would emanate from His Son alone – bruised and broken open; that life would spill out to all those who would believe on Him, being conformed to His death, and raised up in His life.

Praise God for this mystery of life and godliness too often kept hidden from the saints. Yet it is the theme of all the Scriptures is it not? In so many types and examples and allusions, all pointing to He who is the ultimate fulfillment and hope of all things.

All so that the “excellency of the power” would be of God and not ourselves, lest we might boast. Always death (the cross) and life (the resurrection life of Christ) interacting within us to produce this new man in the image of the Lord of all life, He alone who is worthy before the Heavenly Father. Oh the mystery and majesty of it all, such that even a devil and death itself has a role in the creative workings of God.

Addressing the reason why there is so little fruitfulness and fullness of Christ in the lives of believers, Watchman Nee (who spent many years of His life imprisoned for his faith) wrote –

“There is new life in us, if we have received Christ. We all have that precious possession, the treasure in the vessel. Praise the Lord for the reality of His life within us! But why is there so little expression of that life? Why is there an ‘abiding alone’? Why is it not overflowing and imparting life to others? Why is it scarcely making itself apparent even in our own lives? The reason why there is so little sign of life where life is present is that the soul in us is enveloping and confining that life (as the husk envelops the grain of wheat) so that it cannot find outlet. We are living in the soul; we are working and serving in our own natural strength; we are not drawing from God. It is the soul that stands in the way of the springing up of life. Lose it; for that way lies fullness.”

Oh, but to lose is not popular in our modern churches. To be reduced or side-lined, perhaps split open and poured out; this is more often than not seen as a sign of infidelity or spiritual weakness, surely not the intimate workings of a loving and heavenly Father with His hand on our lives. In His infinite wisdom, He has ordained that in order for us to live again and anew in His Son, we are to die to sin and the world and indeed all that opposes the life and nature of God and His Son. Paul clearly draws this out for us throughout his epistles –

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:3-11)

Here we see that death is used by the Father to foster even greater life (the life of the spirit) and that by being identified with the death of His Son (as illustrated through the rite of baptism), we also share in the power and dynamic of His resurrected life.

Elsewhere, Paul incorporates the law and sin into the equation, providing even deeper insight into how death is bound up in the plan of God –

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal. 2:19-20)

And further –

… and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col. 2:11-14)

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Col. 2:20-23)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

To Timothy, Paul declares –

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; (2 Tim. 2:11)

Dear brethren, saints of the Most High; clearly the Lord’s eternal wisdom and ways are nothing like our own. That which we fear and dread more than anything is precisely what He employs to generate life – real life, His life. And this is no empty mysticism or allegory here. That true spiritual life – the very life of God – can be conferred to mortal beings, who start out life in the material world and the flesh, is a mystery and wonder that only the Spirit can discern.

Death will most certainly be swallowed up in life and victory –

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isa. 25:8)

And so stripped down to bare facts, the Christian reality is essentially about a new (spiritual) life being raised up out of an old (natural) life that has been willingly laid down and broken open. Nothing happens or indeed can happen until this happens. Until each and every one of us come to the point where the life of Christ is more important than our own, then nothing else matters. Not rules, or self-discipline, or the flesh dressed up in church clothes. None of these or anything else can produce the fruit that only life can generate.

Think seriously on this brethren, for so much of what passes for Christianity in this world has little to do with the life of Christ being born out of the death of the fallen Christian. Many are baptized each and every day not really comprehending what it represents: death and resurrection life. The power and ability is in the life, and there is only one life that matters to the Father, and that is the life of His Son. The law only has the power to legislate and condemn; it changes nothing. The existential nature and life of Adamic man has the power only to sin and offend God.

ONLY THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST ABIDING IN THE BELIEVER MAKES THE LIVING POSSIBLE!

Everything else is a pretense, and denies the power, as Paul has said. “But if it dies”, then the promise of life advances. And oh what a life it is, brethren, for nothing in all creation is as awesome and beautiful and worthy as the life of the Son of God. It is a life that is destined by the Father to subsume all the universe, filling every space and soul, bringing the hope of the transcendent glory of God to all created things.

My sense in this hour is that those who would be His witnesses at the close of this age must carry forth that testimony that started with righteous Abel and all who followed him, all those who were martyred for their faithful service to the Lord. We must all be prepared and willing to surrender all that the Lord would require so that the life of His Son would be fully formed and manifested in us.

The first generation church did not grow, either in number or spiritual maturity, because of slick marketing campaigns or big buildings, but rather it grew up out of the blood and broken bodies of the apostles and saints; those who lovingly poured themselves out that the life of Jesus Christ would rise up throughout the Roman Empire.

Let’s consider this again, recognizing that its meaning is for every single one of us seeking to advance the Lord Jesus and His Eternal Kingdom –

–unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)

Oh Heavenly and Glorious Father – we have been taught many things, and we have believed many lies about how You as the Author of Life perpetuates life. We know that in our fleshly hearts we would prefer an easier, less intrusive way. Yet from the life of one, poured out in love, as a willing sacrifice, flows life to the many. And we pray for just such a heart and spirit, that for You and Your loved ones, we would be ready and willing to lay down our lives, our place or position, or anything else so that much fruit would be formed in us. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen..

The Beauty of Brokenness – W.E. Smith

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. (Ecc. 3:3)

Dear brethren, children of the day (1 Thess. 5:5), there is a profound and inexplicable beauty in brokenness; that process whereby we are in some manner reduced by our Lord’s loving and artful hand. By failure perhaps, or persistent, nagging sickness or disrepute, or even poverty – all of course working to lead us to that ultimate state of nothingness, that He alone can be the All in our lives and the Substance in our hearts. Consider what Watchman Nee has shared on the need for brokenness –

The breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way. No one is equipped to work simply because he has learned some teachings. The basic question is still: what kind of man is he? Can one whose inner workings are wrong, but whose teaching is right, supply the need of the Church? The basic lesson we must learn is to be transformed into a vessel fit for the Master’s use. This can only be done by the breaking of the outward man. (Watchman Nee, The Release of the Spirit)

How can this be we wonder. What good can possibly come from such humiliation; from such painful denial; from such a debasing of our stature and station in the world of men?

Yet the beauty, my friends, rests in the loving wisdom of a heavenly Father who wishes to bless us to all abounding with the lasting riches of His fullest and abiding presence. It is in the stripping away of all that inhibits or corrupts this potential gift (the life of Christ in us), where the truest splendor shines. For brick upon rotting brick must be chiseled away until the foundation is exposed. Only then can our blessed Advocate secure Himself as our sure and solid foundation.

The beauty ultimately lies in the purification of our hearts that results from being exposed to the Refiner’s fire. Here is where all the dross of self-exalting pride, temporal ambition and love of the world is burned away from our lives, leaving a pure and refined saint where a sinner and rebel once stood.

“He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3)

The beauty also shines forth through the dynamic and living testimony that results, as our wise Counselor and Teacher permits us to prove what He is revealing to us, whether it is a test of our faith in His love, or His trustworthiness. When the devil or his darkness comes at us head on, to tempt or corrupt us, our Lord must know that our light (again the life of Jesus Christ; see John 1:4) will remain, that we will stand firm as His faithful lamp stand.

And always resisting and grinding under it all is the swollen, festering pride of humanity, the ‘oh that I were a king’ presumption that surfaced first in that ancient and sordid heart of the archangel Lucifer. How it loathes failure, defeat, demotion and loss of any kind. How it despises dependence on anyone and submission to circumstance. Watch as it writhes and coils under the weight of so many painful setbacks and assaults on our idolatrous self-sufficiency.

I remember vividly when my wife and I relocated to the Midwestern United States from Canada some years ago. Here I was, with a number of university degrees, a growing career and business, a heart full of my own esteem and importance, unable to find a decent job; to support my family as the scriptures enjoin. Despite numerous attempts, every door seemed to close abruptly on me, as if God Himself and all His angels were pitted against me.

I guess I knew intellectually that we are tested as Christians, but somehow this was different, infinitely more real, and more painful. I was forced, for a number of years to take some menial jobs that I felt were far below my credentials and ability. As a husband my self-worth started to sink as I was unable to adequately provide for even my wife. I grew increasingly languid and depressed, with seemingly no way to escape. I would pray, sure, but gradually all that was coming out was “Why Lord why?” and “When Lord when?”

You must also understand, that all of this was happening in the mid-nineties at the height of the health-wealth gospel. Every Christian television station seemed to be littered with sharp-dressed showmen pulling out proof text after proof text to convince us that our material success was indicative of our spiritual condition and faith in God. Here I was, ready to go under, and this was effectively like someone throwing me an anchor.

Other Christians meant well too, but after a while I couldn’t bear to hear another Bible verse used to convince me that God chastened the children He loved, or the pastor telling me that there was some unrepented sin or idol somewhere in my life, that I might not even be saved.

I attempted not to lose heart, too hang on, but it was so terribly hard. The universe seemed to be advancing ahead of me and I just couldn’t keep up. I was angry and bitter and alone. I felt like something was dying inside me, like I was losing my grip on reality.

And you know what, my friends, that is exactly what was happening – and I have since come to realize that all that I experienced, all of the deep down hurt and abandonment was securely in the hands of a loving Father who was breaking me down in order to build me back up again in His Son.

This is the part that is beautiful, if we have eyes to see and wisdom to accept the Lord’s ways. Believe me, I know it is not easy, nor does it appear beautiful while we are right in the middle of it. Yet it shows us vividly how deep our roots run into this world and its self-worshiping spirit. Consider how James describes the posture of a child of God neck deep in the midst of trials and tests –

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-44)

Recently I have been revisiting Watchman Nee’s small but powerful book, The Release of the Spirit. The theme of the book is the Lord’s wise and wondrous work of breaking the individual, such that the life of God might flow forth. Here is an excerpt –

“God is at work in our lives unceasingly. Many years of sufferings, trials, hindrances-this is the hand of God, daily seeking to carry on His work of breaking us. Don’t you see what God is doing in this endless round of difficulties? If not, you should ask Him, “Oh God, open my eyes that I may see Thy hand.” How often the eyes of an ass are sharper than those of a self-styled prophet.

Though the ass had already seen the Angel of the Lord, his master had not. The ass recognized the forbidding hand of God, but the self-styled prophet did not. We should be aware that brokenness is God’s way in our lives. How sad that some still imagine that if they could only absorb more teaching, accumulate more preaching material, and assimilate more Bible exposition, they would be profitable to God. This is absolutely wrong. God’s hand is upon you to break you-not according to your will, but His ; not according to your thoughts, but His; not according to your decision, but His. Our difficulty is that as God withstands us, we blame others. We react like that prophet who, blind to God’s hand, blamed the ass for refusing to budge.

All that comes to us is ordered by God. To a Christian, nothing is accidental. We should ask God to open our eyes that we may see He is striking us in all things and in all areas of our life. One day, when by the grace of God upon us we are able to accept the ordering of God in our environment, our spirit is released and ready to function.”

So often in the Christian walk, our Lord needs to know that, stripped right down to nothing (as the world measures things anyway), we won’t abandon Him. He needs to know that if all else has been lost, that He is our sufficiency; that He will be increased while we are being decreased. Hear this, my friends, for it most essential –

You and I are only on this earth as disciples of Christ for one reason, and one reason only – to represent a true and living witness to the Kingdom of God that is coming soon.

And just as this is true, so it is also true that this testimony; the entire sum of our lives as God’s witnesses on earth; must be forged in the furnace of His refining fire. There can be no exceptions. You can survey all the pages of the Bible and you will not find one. Wherever there is light, there is soon darkness coming against it with all of its hellish fury.

Perhaps this is why the physical birth of a human child is such a violent affair. Where there is newness of life, there is pain, upheaval and tumult – yet look at the exquisite result.

From such crushing and at times bloody denial, the brash heart within us is brought patiently or perhaps abruptly to the point of need. Here is the moment of truth; here is the place where the inner man (spirit) and the outer man (soul and flesh) collide; here is that divine pathway to contriteness and true biblical humility; here is where all things beautiful in the soul of a redeemed human being have their genesis. Truly the grain cannot grow until the seed is made to fall to the ground and die.

Notice how Watchman Nee conveys this –

“Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance to his work is not others but himself. He will discover that his outward man and his inward man are not in harmony, for both are tending toward opposite directions. He will also sense the inability of his outward man to submit to the spirit’s control, thus rendering him incapable of obeying God’s highest commands. He will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty lies in his outward man, for it hinders him from using his spirit.

Many of God’s servants are not able to do even the most elementary works. Ordinarily they should be enabled by the exercise of their spirit to know God’s Word, to discern the spiritual condition of another, to send forth God’s messages under anointing and to receive God’s revelations. Yet due to the distractions of the outward man, their spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason revival, zeal, pleading and activity are but a waste of time. As we shall see, there is just one basic dealing which can enable man to be useful before God : brokenness.”

The man who would follow the Christ too must be loosed from the self, oftentimes painfully, in order that Christ might prevail and assume His rightful pre-eminence. And just as a broken stallion is both a splendid and useful creature, so the man of God has to be brought by his assorted ordeals to be something better and higher; to assume his proper station beneath the Most High.

Here is some further insight from Watchman Nee –

“There is no one more beautiful than one who is broken! Stubbornness and self-love give way to beauty in one who has been broken by God. We see Jacob in the Old Testament, how even in his mother’s womb he struggled with his brother. He was subtle, tricky, deceitful. Yet his life was full of sorrows and grief. When a youth, he fled from home. For twenty years he was cheated by Laban. The wife of his heart’s love, Rachel, died prematurely. The son of his love, Joseph, was sold. Years later Benjamin was detained in Egypt. He was successively dealt with by God, meeting misfortune after misfortune. He was stricken by God once, twice; indeed, his whole history could be said to be a history of being stricken by God. Finally after many such dealings, the man Jacob was transformed. In his last few years, he was quite transparent. How dignified was his answer to Pharaoh! How beautiful was his end, when he worshipped God on his staff! How clear were his blessings to his descendants! After reading the last page of his history, we want to bow our heads and worship God. Here is one who is matured, who knows God. Several decades of dealings have resulted in Jacob’s outward man being destroyed. In his old age, the picture is a beautiful one.

Each one of us has much of the same Jacob nature in us. Our only hope is that the Lord may blaze a way out, destroying the outward man to such a degree that the inward man may come out and be seen. This is precious, and this is the way of those who serve the Lord. Only thus can we serve; only thus can we lead men to the Lord. All else is limited in its value. Doctrine does not have much use, nor does theology. What is the use of mere mental knowledge of the Bible if the outward man remains unbroken? Only the person through whom God can come forth is useful.”

My friends, as we attempt to understand the harsh trials coming upon us, consider the perfect beauty and power of brokenness; how our bruises are working to purify and refine us for an eternal purpose; how our faith and trust in our God is being established and emboldened from the testing; and how our love for Him is being purged of all devotion to self and any lesser thing. Consider what James wrote after the passage quoted above (James 1:2-4) –

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Now given the context of this exhortation; this wisdom can only be pertaining to the wisdom associated with coming to see and receive the Lord’s perfect and loving ways when He is disciplining and breaking us. For wisdom is always looking out ahead, to the eternal purpose of the Lord, and can never be appreciated in the present moment.

We understand from the Book of Job and other places in the Word how intimately our Loving Father loves us, and is involved in our development and sanctification, and how He was even willing to release His own perfect Son to the same suffering and death that we could be redeemed and made whole. What a wonderful thing when we see it in the eternal context of His plan for our lives as His children.

Is it easy? No. Is it often painful and humiliating? Definitely. But is it profoundly beautiful when seen through heavenly eyes? Absolutely!

Oh gracious Father, and Lord Jesus, please grant us by Your boundless grace and mercy, eyes wide open in the spirit that we might behold the eternal beauty of brokenness. Lord, we pray for all of your children who are presently neck-deep in times of trial and testing, of loss and demotion, of confusion and discouragement, that You would bring us through, and make us complete in Christ Jesus, as we participate in His rejection and suffering. Oh Lord, we are forever in Your loving care, and we proclaim with Your beloved servant James –

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Brethren, to pursue this important topic further, I strongly recommend Watchman Nee’s book, The Release of the Spirit.

I also have another piece, “But if it Dies” that may be a blessing to you!

Please pray for us here at Livingwalk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Kindly in Christ Jesus,

Wayne