Saturday, September 29, 2018

Christ in You - The Hope of Glory - Part 9

The Father’s Work

Yahweh has designed this present world in such a way that His sons might know His ways, and walk in an understanding manner before Him. One thing that has been common to all men is having a vocation or occupation. Although there have been some very affluent and decadent societies where men have received entitlements and given themselves to a pursuit of leisure activity, such has been an exception and not the norm.

Throughout the Scriptures, and particularly in the Old Testament, we find that almost without deviation sons were trained in the same vocation as their father. This was necessary in many instances, for the sons stood to inherit all that their father possessed. If a man was the owner of flocks and herds, then it was necessary that his sons be trained in animal husbandry. This pattern is readily seen in the life of Jacob (Israel) and his sons.

Genesis 37:2
Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.

Genesis 37:12-14
Then his brothers went to pasture their father's flock in Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go." Then he said to him, "Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock; and bring word back to me."

We see in these verses that not only were Jacob’s sons trained to perform the work that Jacob formerly did in his youth, but they were called to give an accounting of their performance. Jacob’s sons were not faithful in their duties, and Joseph brought back an evil report of their conduct. This caused Joseph to be hated of his brothers.

As sons of God, we are similarly called to share in our Father’s work. We will also have to give an account of our performance.

II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Much will be required of those who have been made partakers of the Spirit of Christ and who have received the word of God.

Luke 12:48
And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

The message of having to give an account of the stewardship of the things entrusted to the sons of God is found profusely throughout the Bible. Many Christians are deceived in thinking that they are not called as ministers of the Gospel of Christ. They have been deluded by the lie of the clergy/laity doctrine. The Scriptures plainly reveal that the work of ministers is to prepare the body of Christ to do the work of God.

Ephesians 4:11-12
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service...

If you are not called to function in one of the ministries named above, then you are called to perform “the work of service.” What is the work of service? It is doing whatever God has appointed as your particular work, for He has formed all of His children to fit into the body of Christ as a functioning part of the whole, each one providing what is lacking in the other members of the body.

Ephesians 4:15-16
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

God did not place any of His children in the body to simply consume those things that others supply. There is a job assignment, a proper functioning of each individual member. Will not God be right to judge severely the vast number of idle members of the body who are paying no regard to that which they have been called to supply to the rest of the body? Please read the following parable of Yahshua carefully. He is speaking of the day of His return, and the recompense of all those who are in His household. If you are a child of God, then you are pictured somewhere in this story.

Matthew 25:13-30
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour [of the Lord’s return]. For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.' The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

There are no members of God’s household who have not been entrusted with a deposit by which they can bring increase to the kingdom of God. All who have been born of the Spirit of Christ have received the Spirit of God to indwell them. They have each been allotted a measure of faith.

Romans 12:3-8
God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

You may discern that you are not gifted to the same degree as another. This may be true enough, for each is granted a measure of faith and grace. You may have the equivalent of one talent of gold, while another has five talents. You as surely have the Spirit of Christ indwelling you as every other member of the body of Christ. Will you be as the wicked servant and take this treasure and bury it in the earth of your flesh, bringing forth no return for the King? You should tremble at Christ’s parable. He calls such members of His household “wicked” and “lazy.” Heed the advice that Paul gave to Timothy.

I Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you...

II Timothy 1:6
For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you...

In other words, employ that which God has given you. Stir yourself up. Arouse yourself from slumber. Do you not know that you will give an account of your stewardship of the gift of God? Do not allow yourself to be lulled to lethargy by the dullness of others. God will bring you to account for that which has been entrusted to you. Do not allow yourself to be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Your Father in heaven is set about a work at this time. He is seeking to bring His sons and daughters to maturity, to the perfect image of His firstborn Son. He has called all in His family to enter into this work. Perhaps your part in this work is not a front line ministry. Will you say because you are not an eye that you are not a part of the body? All parts of the body are vital, and the body suffers when a part does not perform its allotted task.

One of the biggest killers among mankind is cancer. There are a wide variety of cancers. There is breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, cancer of the brain, of the lymph nodes of the prostate. There are so many types of cancer that I would weary you naming them all. Do you know what causes cancer? Cancer occurs when a cell ceases to perform the function it was intended for, and it begins to draw away the body’s resources for other purposes. One cancer cell begins to replicate other cancer cells just like it. They are not performing any helpful bodily function, but begin to disrupt the bodies proper functioning. These independent cells continue to replicate until they spread so far throughout the body that sickness and death occurs.

Cancer is a spiritual parable of what is occurring in the body of Christ. There are multitudes of God’s children who are living independent of the purpose for which God created them. They demonstrate no concern for the rest of the body. They are focused only upon self. They are not submitted to the design of the One who created them. Each day they arise and go about whatever activities they have chosen for themselves. They are without concern that their independent actions are acting as a drag on the rest of the body of Christ. Perhaps they are surrounded by other Christians who are living identically, and like a cancer cell in the midst of many others, they compare themselves among themselves and judge that they must be alright for all others appear just as they do.

What will the Great Physician do when He comes and finds this sickness in the body of Christ? He will cast out these worthless members of His body into outer darkness.

As a Christian there is a specific work appointed to you. You have been given a deposit of the Spirit of Christ, a measure of faith and grace. You have been entrusted with some gift whereby you can supply what is lacking in another part. Yahshua understood from a very young age that as a son He was called to be about His Father’s business.

Luke 2:49
And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary as a duty for Me to be in My Father's house and occupied about My Father's business?[Amplified Bible]

Yahshua revealed through His words that He recognized that it was His duty to be doing the work of His Father.

John 4:34
“My food is to do the pleasure of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

John 5:17-18
But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."

John 6:38-39
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

John 17:4
"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”

John 5:36
"But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 9:4-5
"We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.”

It is certain that our heavenly Father has a specific work for each of His sons. As disciples of Yahshua we are to be as focused upon apprehending exactly what that work is, and accomplishing that work, as was He. The Scriptures reveal that Yahweh has a very specific work for each son. None are to decide for themselves what this work will be. The Spirit of God will reveal it.

Acts 13:2
And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Yahshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Consider the natural example of a son who is being trained by his father to perform a job with skill, integrity and mature responsibility. A young boy may enter into his father’s workshop to learn the trade of cabinet making. At first he is enthused by all the equipment and the thought of creating a masterful work that others will admire. He may want to jump right in and get to work, but there is much he must learn first. There are foundational principles to be learned, such as understanding the mathematics of cabinet work. He must learn how to measure all things precisely, and to calculate angles and understand basic geometry. He must learn the proper operation of all the tools in the cabinet maker’s workshop. He must understand proper safety procedures, and know how to cut and sand and shape wood without damaging it, or creating unnecessary waste.

The young man must also learn the discipline of patience, for a professional job cannot be rushed. A piece of wood must be sanded and stained. It must be varnished and sanded again, and then more varnish applied. All things must  done at a proper time, in the right sequence, or the work will be marred. If the second coat of varnish is applied before the first has had time to dry, the finish will suffer in quality and appearance.

A young boy will not naturally be willing to exercise the patience necessary to do a job correctly, nor does he yet have the skill which comes only from experience. Should his father let him enter the work too soon, he will produce a flawed piece of work, and will inevitably meet with disappointment. If the son doesn’t share the same spirit as his father who is a master craftsman valuing quality, beauty and integrity, he will not be willing to submit to the discipline required to acquire the skill manifested by the father.

Many of God’s sons today do not value things as He does. Their hearts are filled with another spirit. They are seeking pleasure and ease and comfort and things for self. Accomplishing the work of the Father is not something that grips their heart. Due to this, they are unwilling to submit to the preparation which is necessary for their equipping. There is much that seems tedious, difficult, and dreary to them. They reason, why should I make my life a drudgery when others are enjoying many pleasant pursuits?

Whatever the Spirit would direct us to do now in this age is merely preparatory for the greater works to come. Do you think any who walk in careless disregard for the Father’s will in this age will be automatically transformed by the process of death and resurrection and be counted among the faithful in the ages to come. I tell you they will not. Those who resist the discipline of sons now in this age, will disqualify themselves for the crown that could have been their in the age to come.

Revelation 3:11
“I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown.”

Several decades ago Bill Britton related a vision he had that brings forth the truths in focus here, making them easily understood.

The Harness of the Lord (Bill Britton)

There is a terrific operation of the Spirit going on today to bring the Sons of God into an absolute confinement to the perfect will of God. This is the Day of His Preparation, the day in which He is preparing the channel through which He shall pour forth His Glory for all the world to see. This channel is His Body in the earth, that glorious company of people who are being conformed through much tribulation and fiery tests to the Image of the Son of God. This is His "battle axe and weapons of war" with which He shall subdue kingdoms and overcome all His enemies. This is His "mighty and strong One" to whom He shall commit the work of judging this world. This is His Overcomer, His "great army" with which He shall bring the nations into submission. The weapons of their warfare are not carnal, natural weapons, but they are mighty weapons, mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. These are those who shall "be strong and do exploits."

But before God can commit this great and tremendous ministry into their hands, they must submit themselves to the discipline of the Lord, letting Him truly be the Lord of their entire lives. We have long since dealt with the question of open sin, but now God is dealing with the inward rebellion of our own wills. Some good Christians are not now being so dealt with, for they are not in this Firstfruits Company, but nevertheless there is a real dealing of God going on within those who are called into the High Calling of God. This is a very real thing, and is the work of the Refiner’s Fire. To those who are going through it, some of its aspects are horrible, but very necessary, and the end result thereof is glorious as we are brought into absolute and complete submission to the will of our Lord.
It was in a minister’s conference and convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma that God gave me a vision which I want to share with you concerning this harnessing of our own wills. There were more than 30 ministers present in this particular Thursday morning service, and God, the Father of spirits, was present to deal with His sons, to correct them and discipline them to absolute obedience to His will. There was such a stern dealing in the Spirit that no one could go to the pulpit and minister, there was a reluctance among the ministers to say anything except that which was directly ordered by the Spirit. And as those men of God sat there in the awesome presence of Almighty God, some of them having many years of ministry, some missionaries, all of them capable of getting up and preaching a powerful sermon, I was impressed by the way they responded to the discipline of the Spirit. And in the midst of this terrific dealing of God with our spirits, the Holy Ghost gave me a vision……

I Saw the King’s Carriage

On a dirt road in the middle of a wide field stood a beautiful carriage, something on the order of a stagecoach, but all edged in gold, and with beautiful carvings. It was pulled by six large chestnut horses, two in the lead, two in the middle and two in the rear. But they were not moving, they were not pulling the carriage, and I wondered why. Then I saw the driver underneath the carriage, on the ground on his back, just behind the last two horses’ heels, working on something between the front wheels of the carriage. I thought, "My, he is in a dangerous place; for if one of those horses kicked or stepped back, they could kill him, or if they decided to go forward, or got frightened somehow, they would pull the carriage right over him." But he didn’t seem afraid, for he knew that those horses were disciplined and would not move till he told them to move. The horses were not stamping their feet nor acting restless, and though there were bells on their feet, the bells were not tinkling. There were pom-poms on their harness over their heads, but the pom-poms were not moving. They were simply standing still and quiet, waiting for the voice of the Master.

There were Two Young Colts in the Field

As I watched the harnessed horses, I noticed two young colts coming out of the open field, and they approached the carriage and seemed to say to the horses: "Come and play with us, we have many fine games, we will race with you, come catch us……" And with that the colts kicked up their heels, flicked their tails and raced across the open field. But when they looked back and saw the horses were not following, they were puzzled. They knew nothing of harnesses, and could not understand why the horses did not want to play. So they called to them: "Why do you not race with us? Are you tired? Are you too weak? Do you not have strength to run? You are much too solemn, you need more joy in life." But the horses answered not a word, nor did they stamp their feet or toss their heads. But they stood, quiet and still, waiting for the voice of the Master.

Again the colts called to them: "Why do you stand so in the hot sun? Come over here in the shade of this nice tree. See how green the grass is? You must be hungry, come and feed with us, it is so green and so good. You look thirsty, come drink of one of our many streams of cool clear water." But the horses answered them with not so much as a glance, but stood still, waiting for the command to go forward with the King.

Colts in the Master’s Corral

And then the scene changed, and I saw lariat nooses fall around the necks of the two colts, and they were led off to the Master’s corral for training and discipline. How sad they were as the lovely green fields disappeared, and they were put into the confinement of the Corral with its brown dirt and high fence. The colts ran from fence to fence, seeking freedom, but found that they were confined to this place of training. And then the Trainer began to work on them, with his Whip and His Bridle. What a death for those who had been all their lives accustomed to such a freedom! They could not understand the reason for this torture, this terrible discipline. What great crime had they done to deserve this? Little did they know of the responsibility that was to be theirs when they had submitted to the discipline, learned to perfectly obey the Master, and finished their training. All they knew was that this processing was the most horrible thing they had ever known.

Submission and Rebellion

One of the colts rebelled under the training, and said, "This is not for me. I like my freedom, my green hills, my flowing streams of fresh water. I will not take any more of this confinement, this terrible training." So he found a way out, jumped the fence and ran happily back to the meadows of grass. And I was astonished that the Master let him go, and went not after him. But He devoted His attention to the remaining colt. This colt, though he had the same opportunity to escape, decided to submit his own will, and learn the ways of the Master. And the training got harder than ever, but he was rapidly learning more and more how to obey the slightest wish of the Master, and to respond to even the quietness of His voice. And I saw that had there been no training, no testing, there would have been neither submission nor rebellion from either of the colts. For in the field they did not have the choice to rebel or submit, they were sinless in their innocence. But when brought to the place of testing and training and discipline, then was made manifest the obedience of one and the rebellion that lay hidden in the heart of the other. And though it seemed safer not to come to the place of discipline because of the risk of being found rebellious, yet I saw that without this there could be no sharing of His glory, no Sonship.

Into the Harness

Finally this period of training was over. Was he now rewarded with his freedom, and sent back to the fields? Oh no. But a greater confinement than ever now took place, as a harness dropped about his shoulders. Now he found there was not even the freedom to run about the small corral, for in the harness he could only move where and when his Master spoke.  And unless the Master spoke, he stood still.

The scene changed, and I saw the other colt standing on the side of a hill, nibbling at some grass. Then across the fields, down the road came the King’s carriage, drawn by six horses. With amazement he saw that in the lead, on the right side, was his brother colt, now made strong and mature on the good corn in the Master’s stable. He saw the lovely pom-poms shaking in the wind, noticed the glittering gold bordered harness about his brother, heard the beautiful tinkling of the bells on his feet…… and envy came into his heart. Thus he complained to himself: "Why has my brother been so honored, and I am neglected? They have not put bells on my feet, nor pom-poms on my head. The Master has not given me the wonderful responsibility of pulling His carriage, nor put about me the golden harness. Why have they chosen my brother instead of me?" And by the Spirit the answer came back to me as I watched. "Because one submitted to the will and discipline of the Master, and one rebelled, thus has one been chosen and the other set aside."

A Famine in the Land 

Then I saw a great drought sweep across the countryside, and the green grass became dead, dry, brown and brittle. The little streams of water dried up, stopped flowing, and there was only a small muddy puddle here and there. I saw the little colt (I was amazed that it never seemed to grow or mature) as he ran here and there, across the fields looking for fresh streams and green pastures, finding none. Still he ran, seemingly in circles, always looking for something to feed his famished spirit. But there was a famine in the land, and the rich green pastures and flowing streams of yesterday were not to be had. And one day the colt stood on the hillside on weak and wobbly legs, wondering where to go next to find food, and how to get strength to go. It seemed like there was no use, for good food and flowing streams were a thing of the past, and all the efforts to find more only taxed his waning strength. Suddenly he saw the King’s carriage coming down the road, pulled by six great horses. And he saw his brother, fat and strong, muscles rippling, sleek and beautiful with much grooming. His heart was amazed and perplexed, and he cried out: "My brother, where do you find the food to keep you strong and fat in these days of famine? I have run everywhere in my freedom, searching for food, and I find none. Where do you, in your awful confinement, find food in this time of drought? Tell me, please, for I must know!" And then the answer came back from a voice filled with victory and praise: "In my Master’s House, there is a secret place in the confining limitations of His stables where He feeds me by His own hand, and His granaries never run empty, and His well never runs dry." And with this the Lord made me to know that in the day when people are weak and famished in their spirits in the time of spiritual famine, that those who have lost their own wills, and have come into the secret place of the most High, into the utter confinement of His perfect will, shall have plenty of the corn of Heaven, and a never ending flow of fresh streams of revelation by His Spirit. Thus the vision ended.

Interpretation of the Vision

"Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." (Habakkuk 2:2) "Harness the horses: and get up, ye horsemen" (Jeremiah 46:4). I’m sure that many of you who can hear what the Spirit saith to the Church, have already seen what God was showing in the vision. But let me make it plain. Being born into the Family of God, feeding in the green pastures and drinking of the many streams of the unfolding revelation of His purposes is fine and wonderful. But it is not enough. While we were children, young, undisciplined, limited only by the outer fence of the Law that ran around the limits of the pastures, (that kept us from getting into the dark pastures of poison weeds), He was content to watch us develop and grow into young manhood, spiritually speaking. But the time came to those who fed in His pastures, and drank at His streams, when they were to be brought into discipline or "child-training" for the purpose of making them mature Sons.

Many of the children today cannot understand why some of those who have put on the harness of God cannot get excited by the many religious games and the playful antics of the immature. They wonder why the disciplined ones run not after every new revelation or feed on every opportunity to engage in seemingly "good and profitable" religious activities. They wonder why some will not race with them in their frantic efforts to build great works and great and notable ministries. They cannot understand the simple fact that this Company of saints is waiting for the voice of the Master, and they do not hear God in all this outward activity. They will move in their time, when the Master speaks. But not before, though many temptations come from the playful colts. And the colts cannot understand why those who seemingly appear to have great abilities and strength are not putting it to good use. "Get the carriage on the road," they say, but the disciplined ones, those in God’s harness, know better than to move before they hear the voice of the Master. They will move in their time, with great purpose, and great responsibility.

And the Lord made me to know that there were many whom He had brought into training who had rebelled against the discipline, the chastising of the Father. And they could not be trusted with the great responsibility of mature Sonship, so he let them go back to their freedom, back to their religious activities and revelations and gifts. They are still His people, still feeding in His pastures, but He has set them aside from the great purposes for the end of the age. So they revel in their freedom, feeling that they are the Chosen ones with the many streams of living water, not knowing that they have been set aside as unfit for His great work in this end of the Age.

And He showed me that though the chastising seemeth grievous for the time, and the discipline hard to endure, yet the result with all the glory of Sonship is worth it all, and the glory to follow far exceeds the suffering we endure. And though some lose even their lives in this training, yet they will share alike in the glory of His eternal purposes. So faint not, saints of God, for it is the Lord that doth bring thee into confinement, and not thine enemy. It is for thy good, and for His glory, so endure all things with praises and thanksgiving that He hath counted thee worthy to share His glory! Fear thou not the whip in His hand, for it is not to punish thee, but to correct and train thee, that thou mightest come into submission to His will, and be found in His likeness in that Hour. Rejoice thou in thy trials, in all thy tribulations, and glory thou in His cross, and in the confining limitations of His harness, for He hath chosen thee, and He hath taken upon Himself the responsibility of keeping thee strong and well fed, so lean thou upon Him, and trust not in thine own ability and thine own understanding. So shalt thou be fed, and His hand shall be upon thee, and His glory shall overshadow thee and shall flow through thee as it goes forth to cover the earth. Glory to God! Bless the Lord, He’s wonderful! Let Him be Lord of your life, friends, and complain not at that which He bringeth to pass in your life.

Plenty in the Time of Famine

For in the hour when famine sweeps the land, He shall feed by His own hand those who are submitted to His perfect will, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. When terror stalks the land, those in His harness shall not be afraid, for they shall feel His bit and bridle and know the guidance of His Spirit. When others are weak and frail and fearful, there shall be those who shall be strong in the power of His might, and shall lack for no good thing. In the hour when the traditions of the religious systems have proven false, and their streams have dried up, then His Chosen ones shall speak forth with the true Word of the Lord. So rejoice, Sons of God, that you have been chosen by His grace for this great work in this last hour.

The fence which kept the colts in their own meadows and their own pastures mean nothing to the team in the harness, for the gates open to them, and they go forth pulling the king’s carriage into many strange and wonderful places. They do not stop to eat the poison weeds of sin, for they feed only in the Master’s stable. These fields they trample under their feet as they go forth on the King’s business. And so to those who are brought into absolute subjection to His will, there is no Law. For they move in the Grace of God, led only by His Spirit where all things are lawful but not all things are expedient. This is a dangerous realm for the undisciplined, and many have perished in sin as they leaped over the fence without His harness and His bridle. Some have thought of themselves as being completely harnessed and submissive to Him, only to find that in some avenue of their life there dwelled rebellion and self-will. Let us wait before Him until He puts His noose around us and draws us to His place of training. And let us learn of the dealings of God and the movings of His Spirit until at last we feel His harness drop about us, and hear His voice guiding us. Then there is safety from the traps and pitfalls of sin, and then shall we abide in His house forever!
[End of Vision by Bill Britton]

Our Father has a work for each one of His sons in the age to come. We are prepared for this work as we submit that work He has entrusted to us in this present age. We must submit to the discipline necessary to perform our assigned task with a spirit of excellence and maturity. Those who choose personal liberty over the confinement of a Spirit led life will find themselves disqualified and shut out of the mighty works of God which He has prepared beforehand for His sons. Let us apply all diligence to follow hard on the heels of our Savior, not turning aside to the left or to the right. Let us heed the voice of the Spirit who declares, “This is the way. Walk in it.” Then at the end of this journey we can declare with the apostle Paul:

II Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Christ in You - The Hope of Glory - Part 8

Heart of a Son

I want to draw your attention to the last two verses of Malachi. They are the final verses of the Old Testament. Placement is significant in Scriptures. First occurrences and last occurrences alike hold a particular meaning. That which is last speaks of the goal, or the end result of a matter. So it is with these words. The Old Testament concludes with that which is most upon the heart of God, Who is the Father of mankind. His heart is turned toward His sons, and He wants His sons hearts to be turned toward Him.

Malachi 4:5-6
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons, and the hearts of the sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

Malachi prophesied that Elijah the prophet would come prior to the great and terrible day of Yahweh. Elijah’s entire ministry would be focused upon restoring fathers and sons. Although there is certainly an earthly application of this verse, it also stands as a parable of the ultimate relationship between Father and sons, between Yahweh and His offspring.

For too long the hearts of Yahweh’s children have been turned away from Him. Mankind has occupied himself with many vain pursuits. Even in his religious pursuits man has seldom manifested a heart after God’s own. The Davids have been far outnumbered by the Sauls.

The Old Testament opens with God creating man with the express intent of providing God with sons in His own image and likeness. The Old Testament ends with the thought uppermost on Yahweh’s mind. He wants His sons’ hearts to be turned toward Him.

Next we find the New Testament opening with the story of Yahshua, the firstborn Son of God. He was the first son born of woman and born of God. He set the pattern for the sons who would follow, for His heart was always set upon His Father. He lived to do the Father’s pleasure. His very meat, that which sustained Him and gave Him life, was the opportunity to do His Father’s will.

John 4:34
“My food is to do the pleasure of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

Hebrews 10:7
“Then I said, 'Behold, I have come - in the volume of the book it is written of Me - to do Your pleasure, O God.'”

Yahshua revealed the kind of heart that endears a son to the Father. Of this firstborn Son, the Father declared:

Matthew 3:17
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

This relationship of the Father’s heart turned to the Son, and the Son’s heart turned to the Father, both in perfect devotion to one another, is a pattern for that which Yahweh desires with all of His sons. He wants sons who live for one purpose alone: to do the pleasure of the Father who created them.

Revelation 4:11
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Consider the implications of the following words of the apostle Paul:

I Corinthians 7:32-35
But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Forget for a moment that Paul is speaking of whether one should marry or not marry. The underlying theme of his words is “to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” The word seemly in the Greek means “well formed, attractive.” Who is the judge of what is attractive? God is the judge. What does He esteem to be attractive in His sight? It is to have sons who have an undivided devotion to their Father in heaven.

Yahweh’s sons, even in this late hour, are not undivided in their devotion. They have many other concerns in this world. This is not His desire and will. The harvest is at hand. It is time to loose oneself from all entanglements; to be free from all that competes for our devotion to Christ.

II Timothy 2:4
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

II Corinthians 11:2-3
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

The apostle evokes an image of the saints being espoused to Christ as a pure virgin. The church is to have eyes for no other loves or lovers. Her heart should be manifesting a singleness of devotion for the One who gave all to purchase her.

This message of Yahweh desiring sons whose hearts are totally devoted to His will and pleasure is everywhere throughout Scriptures. Yet how divided have been the hearts of God’s sons. If things remain as they are Yahweh will have to come and strike the earth with a curse. To prevent this, Yahweh will send Elijah before the great and terrible day of His judgment. Elijah will turn the hearts of God’s sons back to Him. Elijah came before the firstborn Son of God was revealed to the world, and Elijah will come again before the end when the full number of the firstborn sons of God are revealed.

The Elijah ministry will be one of casting down all idolatry in the hearts of God’s saints. Even as Elijah confronted the children of God at Mount Carmel, telling them to choose who they would be devoted unto, Yahweh or Baal, he will come again and demand that the people of God choose. It is unacceptable unto Yahweh that His sons should have divided hearts. He will not allow any son to enter into the glory of the firstborn who has a divided heart.

I Kings 18:21
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."

Today the Holy Spirit would declare, “If Yahweh is truly your Father, then present to Him an undivided heart. Have no other ambition than to do Yahweh’s pleasure.”

Matthew 22:37-38
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”

Yahweh is seeking sons with fiery hearts that yearn to do His will and bring Him pleasure. He wants sons who esteem all the allure of the world as refuse; its possessions, its pastimes, its entertainment, its idols. He wants sons who will not be sucked into the pursuit of things which will perish, but who will jealously guard against any thing that would distract them from a pure devotion to their Father.

The churches are filled today with Christians who call God “Father.” Yet these ones do not have undivided hearts of devotion toward Him. They give themselves to a life chasing after houses and lands and cars and entertainment. They spend their hours in front of the television. They go to ball games and car races and spend endless time and money shopping for things they think will bring them happiness. All the while the Father waits for them to turn their hearts toward Him.

If you would attain to the first resurrection and the glory of the firstborn sons of God, then you must have a single eye, a focus upon satisfying the heart of the Father who created you. The Spirit is present within the sons of God, crying out “Abba, Father,” yet the voice of the Spirit has been quenched and grieved as God’s children have been turned aside to other pursuits.

Yahshua is the model, the standard, and pattern for all other sons to emulate. Observe the depth of devotion to the Father in His words:

John 5:30
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

John 8:28-29
"When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.

John 14:31
“But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.

John 17:4
"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”

Yahshua did not come to earth to serve himself or to pander to the desires of men. He came to fully satisfy the desire of the Father. As much as Yahshua loves mankind, He does not have a man-centric viewpoint. Yahshua lives to do the will of the Father. In another place He said, “I was always beholding the Father.” In declaring this, Yahshua was letting His disciples know where He placed His focus. He was not living for man. He was not living for self. He was living for the Father.
If we would be conformed to the image of Christ then we must also adopt such a view. This is not usually how the saints are presented with the gospel. The gospel presentation today is predominantly man-centered, and in order to grow to maturity the saint must lay aside this selfish perspective and begin to seek the will of the Father above all other things.

To become God-centered in our thinking we must have our minds completely overturned. No longer can we judge all matters by what is in it for us. We must discern what Yahweh’s desire is concerning every event. This is true of salvation and the gospel of Christ as well. Salvation is almost always viewed from a man-centered perspective, but we must realize that Yahshua went to the cross out of obedience to the Father. Although Yahshua loved mankind, He loved His Father more. The Father had a desire that He longed to see fulfilled. He had a work for His Son to accomplish, and out of love for the Father, Yahshua went to the cross. Though salvation touches man deeply, it primarily exists to fulfill a desire of the Father. Yahweh wanted sons after His own image and likeness.

If we are to “put on Christ,” then we must have the same attitude that was in Christ. We must seek the pleasure of the Father above all else. As we already read in Scripture, all things were created for Yahweh’s pleasure, man included. The New Testament is filled with verses that reveal the call to bring pleasure to God as the chief duty of man. This message of the sons of God having a focus on the pleasure of their Father is everywhere, but it has been obscured by poor translation of certain Greek words.

The word for pleasure in the Greek is ‘thelema.’ The King James Version of the Bible has translated this Greek word three different ways, as ‘desire,’ ‘pleasure,’ and ‘will.’  ‘Pleasure’ is the most appropriate rendering in the majority of occurrences. Sadly, the popular English translations have most often chosen to translate this word as ‘will.’ Doing so changes the entire complexion of what is being spoken. It is one thing to say man is called to do God’s will. It is quite another to say He is created to do God’s pleasure.

Consider the following verses and how the entire complexion of the verse is changed by translating this word correctly.

Matthew 6:9-10
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Now let’s substitute the word pleasure:

Matthew 6:9-10
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy pleasure be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Is it not accurate to say that Yahweh’s pleasure is done in heaven? The Son does not simply live to do the will of the Father, but He lives to do the pleasure of the Father. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, and He ever seeks the Father’s pleasure. We read where Christ said, “I always do those things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). Yahshua was not merely a dutiful servant of the Father. He was a loving Son who longed to bring pleasure to His Father.
Let us look at another verse:

Matthew 12:50
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

By using the word “will” in many of these Scriptures, we often form an image of something that is done as an act of the will alone. It is easy to form a picture of some slavish subservience that is done merely as an act of obedience. But let us view this same Scripture using the word “pleasure.”

Matthew 12:50
For whosoever shall do the pleasure of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

When we use the word pleasure, this verse now takes on a more emotional meaning. No longer do we picture something that is simply an act of the will, but now it is a matter of delight and privilege. When we consistently render this word “thelema” as pleasure throughout the New Testament, many Scriptures take on a new vitality. Now we are able to see the satisfaction of the Father in the word of God, and it becomes more apparent that man has been called to not merely bring a dutiful obedience to God, but to provide Him great pleasure. This is the role of sons, to bring pleasure to their Father.

I am going to list more Scriptures that contain this Greek word for pleasure. As you read them consider the desire the Father has toward you as His Son. We are to live for His pleasure, for our love for Him is to be undivided.

Matthew 7:21
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the pleasure of My Father in heaven.”

John 4:34-35
Yahshua said to them, "My food is to do the pleasure of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

John 5:30
I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own pleasure but the pleasure of the Father who sent Me.

John 9:30-31
Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His pleasure, He hears him.

Acts 13:22-23
He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My pleasure.'

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect pleasure of God.

I Corinthians 1:1
Paul, called to be an apostle of Yahshua the Messiah through the pleasure of God...

Ephesians 1:5
Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Yahshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the delight of His pleasure...

Ephesians 5:17-18
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the pleasure of the Lord is.

Ephesians 6:5-6
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters..., not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the pleasure of God from the heart...

I Thessaalonians 4:3
For this is the pleasure of God, your sanctification...

Hebrews 13:21-22
Now may the God of peace... make you complete in every good work to do His pleasure, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Yahshua the Messiah, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I Peter 4:1-2
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the pleasure of God.

I John 2:17
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the pleasure of God abides forever.

The witness of the Scriptures are clear. As sons, we are called to seek the pleasure of our Father. What are you seeking in your life. Are you living for the pursuit of your own happiness, satisfaction and pleasure?

I Timothy 5:6
She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

Have you become entangled in the affairs of this life? Are you spending time, energy and money on things which have no bearing on your relationship to the Father and your call to accomplish the work He has appointed unto you? If so, then now is the time to disentangle yourself. Now is the time to wrest yourself free from all that has divided you from a pure devotion to your heavenly Father.

James 4:8
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

As the offspring of Yahshua, we have the opportunity to be like Him, a son devoted to the pleasure of the Father. What an awesome thought! Consider how men love to bring delight to some honored person, an employer or supervisor, some wealthy acquaintance, someone who is famous or admired. Men and women are often beside themselves with a sense of their accomplishment when they have brought delight to such a one. Some person may spend the rest of their life re-telling a story of how they were of service to the Queen of England, or how they once impressed some admired individual. But we have an opportunity to bring delight to the God of the Universe. We can bring joy to the heart of the One who spoke and the worlds were framed. Before us is set the possibility of satisfying the inner longing of the One who is the great I AM.

This is the magnificent opportunity set before the sons of God. We have been created for God’s pleasure!

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Christ in You - The Hope of Glory - Part 7

Death of Initiative

The first chapter of this book declared the value of taking a wider view of the work of God, for as we observe the end Yahweh has in mind for His sons we can better comprehend those things which are to be our present experience. Yahweh is looking for sons to whom He can impart His own omnipotent power and authority. In order to entrust the powers of the age to come to sons, these sons must be fully formed in Yahweh’s own image. To fall short in any measure in attaining to the character of God would result in incalculable harm to the creation.

Consider the message of the following passage from the gospels:

Luke 9:52-56
And they went, and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him. And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.”

Suppose Yahweh had granted James and John the power and authority to do whatever came into their heart BEFORE they learned the nature of the Spirit of Christ. These “sons of thunder” would have left smoking ruins all around in their misguided zeal for their Lord. Yahweh will bequeath an even greater power to His sons in the age to come, and therefore it is an absolute necessity that they come into a strict conformity to the Spirit of Christ.

The sons of God must learn a deep humility. They must not consider that any thought or ambition arising from the soul of man is of value. Walking humbly before God requires that a man move only at the command of God, doing nothing that arises out from self. It is an acknowledgment that only Yahweh is the source of righteous judgment and all goodness. Man can only act in righteousness and goodness when he has perfectly comprehended the mind and will of the Father.

Isaiah 11:3-4
He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge...

Righteous judgment is not arrived at by a rational examination of the facts. Even if we have a moral code to guide us and we apply all diligence to understand all the facts of a matter, our rational mind will not lead us to righteous judgment. The prophet Isaiah testified that the coming Messiah would not judge after the manner of men. The Son of God would not evaluate situations as He received input through His natural senses and then weighed the matter in His soul. The Messiah would judge with righteousness.

The majority in Christendom today overwhelmingly form their judgments according to the report of their senses as they weigh the facts in their soul. Many know of no other way to judge a matter. Little do they realize that they are operating out of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they have not begun to judge things in righteousness. How often have unrighteous actions been upheld by Christian men, and righteous actions condemned? All the while those making the judgments think their thoughts are right and in keeping with the mind of Christ.

John 16:2-3
“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me.”

If we do not know Christ or the Father, even as James and John did not know the Spirit they were of, we will make judgments that are antagonistic to the judgments of God. You may believe you would never misjudge things so badly, yet if you judge any matter by the seeing of the eye or the hearing of the ear, you are already on the wrong track and operating contrary to the example of the firstborn Son of God.

Suppose you saw a man confessing the name of Christ and he was casting out a demon, speaking forth the word of God, or even performing a miracle. Would you not conclude that such an one must be walking in righteousness? Would you not judge that this person must certainly be one of God’s favorite sons, and walking in the pleasure of Yahweh? Yahshua did not judge in this way.

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”

I scarcely believe there is a Christian today who would judge things as Yahshua did in this Scripture. Most would stand up alongside these and say, “But Lord, they were confessing Your name and doing many good works. They were casting out Satan. How can you condemn these as lawless?” If we judge events by what our eyes see and ears hear we will stumble badly. We will end up approving that which Christ condemns and condemning that which He approves.

It is pride to think that we can judge matters ourselves and come to a righteous understanding of a matter. The soul of man, no matter how educated in the things of God, is inadequate for the task of making righteous judgments. There is one unfailing source of righteous judgment in all of creation, and that is Yahweh. We only know righteousness, and we only judge a matter fairly, as we receive His mind and thoughts. This is how Yahshua judged all things. He looked to the Father and received His judgment.

John 5:30
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

It was not the hearing of the ear that Yahshua referred to in these words. It was hearing by the Spirit. Yahshua never did anything of His own initiative. He did not even speak a word of His own initiative, but only spoke the words the Father commanded Him to speak. Yahshua was at perfect rest in His soul. Yahshua did not allow His soul to direct His activities, or even to influence His actions. He stilled His soul and at every decision He looked to the mind of the Father and did only what He observed the Father doing.

John 4:34
Yahshua said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”

With these words Yahshua was declaring that the very thing that sustained Him and gave Him life was knowing the Father’s will and doing it. Anything less than this was a work of death. We ONLY know the will of the Father in any instance, we only comprehend His mind and thoughts, as they are imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 2:10-16
The Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The apostle Paul declares, “we have received... the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.” Many Christians will say, “Yes, this is true. Therefore my judgments are right.” DO NOT BE DECEIVED! Do you not understand that the soul of man has received the ability to judge right and wrong, good and evil, by eating of the forbidden fruit in the garden? This soulish sense of judgment is ALWAYS with us, and it is distorted and twisted, arising from our fallen humanity. The vast majority of Christians examine the facts as they are apprehended by the seeing of the eye and the hearing of the ear, and they look inside to discern what is the good path and what is the evil path. They think they have arrived at the mind of God when they have only consulted with their own soul.

Are you able to discern between the voice of your soul and the voice of the Spirit of God? Most Christians are failing to divide between them.

Hebrews 4:10-12
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The apostle is declaring that there is a Sabbath rest for all of God’s sons to enter. Yet like the Israelites in the wilderness, the vast majority fail to enter in. The Sabbath rest before the sons of God today is defined as coming to an end of our own works; “the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” Walking in Sabbath rest is manifested by doing nothing unless we have received it from the Father. This is what Christ was saying when He declared, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” You can call Christ “Lord” all day long, but if the works you are doing originated in your own soul then you have not begun to do the will of the Father.

Most Christians have almost no concept of the peril of being directed by their own soul. They consider that it is enough that they try to live a moral life, and that they devote some of their time to good works. Such a life is detestable to the Father. Yahweh does not want man to offer Him the fruit of his own soul. He wants man to die to self (soul) and begin to be directed and empowered in all things by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate... even his own life (psuche, soul), he cannot be My disciple.”

If you still live the life of your soul, being led of your own natural mind, willing things from your Adamic soul, pursuing the pleasures and desires of the natural man, then you cannot be Christ’s disciple. The reason one must hate their own soul is that they dare not be directed by it if they would follow Christ, for He never was directed by His soul. He did only those things the Father showed Him to do. The disciple of Christ must do the same.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Yahshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This was Christ’s meaning when He said many would come to Him on the day of judgment saying they did many good works in His name, but He would declare them lawless. These Christians were lawless because they did not submit to the leading of the Spirit in their works. They chose works according to the direction of their own soul. To do so is to be lawless, for a lawless man or woman has removed themselves out from under the rightful authority and have usurped this position. As disciples of Christ we must walk as Christ walked. He only did those things He saw the Father doing, and He was so perfect in this that He did not even speak a word of His own initiative. He only spoke that which the Father gave Him a command to speak.

John 12:49
“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.

John 14:10
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”

How was the Father abiding in Yahshua? It was by the indwelling Spirit. Yahshua yielded to the indwelling Spirit in all things, and so must all who would be a disciple of Christ. Many who confess Christ as Lord are in great peril of being cast away as lawless.

The Scriptures provide numerous types and shadows to teach us this vital truth, and to instruct us in the path that all the sons of God must take. As we have seen, the Israelites in the wilderness serve as one profound type that has been cited by the author of the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:1
Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.

How does one fall short of entering into His rest? By failing to cease from their own works, those works that their soul would declare to them as being worthy and honorable. We must die to the voice of the soul of man and be led by the by the indwelling Spirit after the pattern of the firstborn Son of God. We have also seen that Joseph serves as a type of those who attain to the number of the firstborn. Joseph’s slavery in the house of one of Pharaoh’s ministers, and his later imprisonment in Pharaoh’s jail, is a type and shadow of those whose natural choices and activities are ended, and they now live to do the will of another. Only those who have been so trained to cease from their own works in order to do the works God has prepared for them will be qualified to rule and reign after the similitude of Joseph.

Another type and shadow of this same truth is observed in the words of Christ to Peter.

John 21:18-19
"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go..." And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"

Although Yahshua was prophesying of the type of death Peter would die, His words were also a spiritual parable. When a Christian is young and immature spiritually, they go wherever they wish and do as they please. They are led of their own soul. In order to become spiritually mature a believer must no longer do so. They must surrender to the will of God in all things. They must yield to the Spirit and go where their own soul would not choose to go.

Yahshua established the pattern. His soul did not choose the cross. God chose it for Him. In Gethsemane Christ’s soul was brought to a place of death, and He fully surrendered to the will of the Father.

Matthew 26:38-39
Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

Christ accepted the cross before Him, and there is a cross appointed to every disciple. It may not be a literal cross such as Yahshua and Peter faced, but there is a Gethsemane appointed to every disciple where the desire of their soul must die in order that we might live only for the will of the Father.

Matthew 26:39-40
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

Gethsemane is where the initiative of man dies. It is where we trade our will, for the will of God. It is the place where every longing, desire, thought, ambition, and will arising from the soul of man is crucified until only the will of the Father remains.

This is an exceedingly difficult matter to bring the saints to understand. We will never be fitted to receive the power and authority of the ages to come until we humble ourselves and become as little children before our Father in heaven. Little children expect their father to instruct them in all things. Little children are taught to obey without argument, and we must become as little children before our Father. We must hear from Him and do as He instructs us in all things. As we grow older we must never abandon the attitude of seeking to do exactly those things that are pleasing to our Father. He has given to us His Spirit to indwell us that we might know His will in every instance.

How did Yahshua know what to do, and what not to do, in each circumstance? He was led of the Spirit in all things. He observed what His Father was doing, and He did precisely what He saw.

John 5:19-20
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.”

My heart is grieved as I observe among Christians an independence from the Spirit of God. I deplore the church’s doctrines which suggest the saints need not be led of the Spirit in the particular circumstances of their lives. Our training as sons after the image of Christ mandates that it is the Spirit that lead us in all things.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Yahweh has not called His sons in training to be led of their own intellect. He has not told them to develop a code of Scriptural precepts and principles which they can use to evaluate all of life’s decisions. He wants His sons to be children of the Spirit.

II Corinthians 3:6
It is He Who has qualified us, making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant of salvation through Christ, not ministers of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code of the Law kills, but the Holy Spirit makes alive. 
[Amplified Bible]

This present life serves as a training ground for the sons of God. Yahweh must bring His sons to an end of independent living. He must break them of making decisions that arise from the soul. He seeks sons who are intent upon His will and desire only. He does not want any man to presume that he knows what God would do in a particular situation. Yahweh wants all His sons to look to Him in all things. We are to see what works He is doing, and we are to do them in like manner. We are to hear His judgment in every matter, and then judge the same. We must not seek our will, but live for our Father’s will and pleasure.

A large part of our problem in arriving at God’s mind is that our priorities and goals are not the same as His. When we encounter great trials our immediate thought is to be delivered from the distress, sorrow, or injury. When we are brought to a Gethsemane, our soul will say, “Father, let this cup of suffering pass from me.” It is at this point that we must yield to the Spirit and declare, “Yet not my will, but Your will be done.” Yahweh is looking to what we will one day be, and He chooses our circumstances, trials and cross to best promote our growth as sons.

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Some have adopted a mindset where they believe they are to study the Scriptures that they might become adequate in themselves to make life decisions. Some have become so arrogant in this that they begin to demand of God that He do their bidding. They think this attitude is pleasing to the Father, yet such an attitude is foreign to the life of Christ. Yahshua was meek and humble, and He only did those things the Father commanded Him to do. He made no demands Himself.

We are not to do any works arising out from self. We are to allow the indwelling Spirit of Christ to reveal to us God’s will, and provide the power to do that will.

John 14:10
The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

As sons of God in training to share the glory, power and authority of our Father in heaven, we must die to our own soul’s leadership and direction. We must become sons in whom the Father abides and performs His works. This He seeks to do through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Galatians 2:20
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...

This verse has been quoted often in Christendom, but it is rarely experienced. At the end of this age there must come forth a firstfruits group of sons who make it a living reality. Their declaration and experience must become “it is no longer I who live.” The Spirit of Christ within must guide in all their works and activities, and it must be the strength which God supplies that accomplishes all things. The sons of God must no longer be directed by their soul. They must live for the pleasure of the Father.

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Christ in You - The Hope of Glory - Part 6

The Afflicted Way

I have but poorly described what awaits the glorified sons of God who attain to the number of the firstborn, and have dimly portrayed the distinctions between the three resurrections of man. I am hindered from providing a clearer picture of the glories of the ages to come by my own limited sight. I have seen these things as through a glass darkly (I Corinthians 13:12).

The best I can urge upon any child of God is simply to believe the witness Yahweh has provided for us in His word. He has said that the first resurrection is worthy of our utmost striving.

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

I cannot describe the glory to be revealed in us, for I have not seen it. The apostle John confessed that “it has not yet appeared what we shall be,” but he said we would be like the firstborn Son of God in His glory. Such a state is beyond present comprehension.

I Corinthians 2:9
"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."

What awaits the overcoming sons of God will be awesome beyond anything in this present age. God has prepared amazing things for those who have toiled and wept and suffered in this time of formation of His sons.

Matthew 25:34-35
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

I know I must bring some balance to this teaching, for although the future is glorious beyond description for all who attain to that age to come, there is a cost to be borne at this time. In order to enter into the glory of a resurrected son of God one must be conformed first to the image and likeness of God. This image and likeness is one of character. Christ must be fully formed in us before we can reign as members of Christ over the kingdoms of the earth.

This conforming process is difficult. Yahshua described it in the following way:

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

The most common English translations of the Scriptures say “the way is narrow.” The word rendered “narrow” is the Greek word thlibo, which the KJV has rendered in the following ways: afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble. The most common rendering of this Greek word is “afflicted,” and it is fitting to translate it this way in the verse quoted above. The way to life is an afflicted path.

II Timothy 3:12
And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.

There is no other way to mature a child of God than to subject them to distresses and difficulties. Much sin is bound up in this flesh, and it is with the utmost difficulty that the spiritual creation formed within us by the power of the Holy Spirit comes to a place of ascendancy over the clamoring passions and desires of the flesh. Pride must be humbled. Selfishness must be replaced with a total selflessness. Lust must be crucified. Hatred must give way to love. Irritability must yield to patience. Fear must be conquered by faith and peace.

We can only make the transformation from fleshly beings to spiritual as we are placed in situations where our character is tried. We must be brought into a variety of circumstances where the natural man will always respond with lust, fear, anger, and a host of other unrighteous thoughts and actions. In each instance our Father, by His Holy Spirit, urges us to arise as spiritual beings in His own image and put down the flesh in order to manifest the glory of God’s character within us.

Some years ago I was brought to a particularly difficult trial. I was perplexed, and grieved and discouraged, causing me to cry out to the Lord for some encouragement. At that very moment He had a family member stick a prophetic word in my hand that they had just received in their e-mail. It was a direct and explicit answer to my cry of anguish. This prophetic word contained the following sentence.

And no matter what the circumstances look like, I am able to work My glory  in them, and to make you come forth into the calling and anointing that I have for you.

As I looked at my trial I wondered very much how God’s glory could be manifest in it. There was nothing that appeared glorious to me, for my trial was leading to my being subjected to false accusations and unrighteous judgments resulting in condemnation. In my shortsightedness, the only glory I could envision was for God to end the trial and vindicate me before my detractors.

Since then I have come to understand that God is glorified whenever we manifest His holy and righteous character in the midst of our trials. Although outwardly we may be subjected to shame, God is glorified if we bear up under the trial patiently, crucifying the flesh with its evil passions. When we are slandered and seek to conciliate, when we are reviled and do not revile in return, when we are insulted and speak forth a blessing, then Yahweh is glorified. The greatest glory we can bring to the Father is found in the moments of our most extreme trials.

John 12:27-28
"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

Yahshua was faced with two choices when He saw the cross before Him. He could say, “Father, save me from this hour,” or He could say, “Father, glorify Thy name.” Yahshua chose to glorify His Father’s name by going through the trial and manifesting the meek, humble and loving character of God as He was being subjected to terrible abuse and scorn. The Father was glorified beyond measure as His Son was being crucified and He declared, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” This single act was a triumph over the rebellious and self-centered attitude of Satan. By the righteousness, humility, and love of the Son of God all sin was shown to be exceedingly sinful. The nature and character of God was revealed to be infinitely higher and worthy of praise than the fallen nature of man.

In order for you and I to be made ready to receive the glory, power and authority reserved for the glorified sons of God, we must first become mature sons in the image and likeness of our Father. This conformity is proven through many trials that seem grievous at the moment, but they yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:3-12
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. " It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Our Father will always subject us to the optimum circumstances to produce in us His righteous character. He rarely chooses to subject His sons in training to ease and comfort, riches or worldly acclaim. When life is comfortable, the sons of God tend to be at ease. When men and women have plenty, their tendency is toward pride and careless living. Yahweh knows our frame, and the waywardness of the flesh. He therefore chooses circumstances that are humble and which keep us focused on Him.

In 1999 I surrendered to the Lord to follow Him wherever He would lead me. This was a departure from the manner of my Christian walk prior to that time. I had previously lived according to the manner of all the other Christians with whom I was familiar. I remained in control of many of the decisions of my life, fearing that a total surrender to His will might lead me to experiences my flesh and soul dreaded.

When I crossed through the narrow gate of surrender to His will in all things, I found myself entering an afflicted path. I had known afflictions in earlier days, but they were much less, for I was still directing my way in many decisions. My growth in Christ was also much slower during those former days. When I entered into the path of affliction of God’s choosing, my spiritual growth entered into a greatly accelerated state.

Yahweh directed me to quit my job as a computer professional at a hospital and begin ministering full-time. I had no savings, and I had a wife and two children. I actually anticipated that the Lord would honor my faith and obedience by supplying me with an on-time abundance of provision and allowing me to maintain my former manner and standard of living. This was not to be the case.

Over the course of the next six years I lived day by day in dependence upon my heavenly Father. He supplied our every need, but our provision was very meager in comparison to what we had known when I was working as a computer professional. There were many days when there was no food in the house and we were dependent upon God sending provision that very day or we would not eat. He always sent a provision! We never went hungry, but we did not eat steak either. We were blessed to have a simple meal, a sandwich, or something very basic to fill our bellies. (In hindsight, we could have eaten a much better diet if we had educated ourselves in the preparation of inexpensive wholesome foods such as dried beans and whole grains and vegetables.)

We never suffered hunger, but I felt a kind of suffering in these experiences. I knew I could go out and get a job and buy whatever my heart desired to feed myself and my family. Yet the Spirit of Christ constrained me from doing so. He showed me that He wanted me to write books, minister to others, and trust Him for all things during these years. I knew that taking a job would be a violation of the Father’s will for me, for He was testing me and seeking to teach me many things by keeping me dependent upon Him.

It was not the Father’s will that I have an abundance of money at that time. He could easily have provided it had He chosen to do so. He can open up the windows of heaven and pour forth a blessing at any time. The best environment for my spiritual growth was not one of material prosperity. It was an environment of daily dependence for that day’s need.

I learned something through this experience. I discovered that when I had been making decisions for myself that I was consistently choosing a path that was much more comfortable to the flesh. I didn’t realize how much this was true until I gave the direction of my entire life into the hands of my Father. His choices for my family and I were not nearly as comfortable as what my own soul would have led us unto. This truth is certainly a major portion of what Yahshua was indicating in His words in Matthew chapter 7. Wide is the gate and broad is the way to destruction, and many are on that path. What path does the natural man choose for himself? With little exception, man chooses the easiest way. Few would choose to walk through a thorny hedge if there was a clear way around it. Yet God will lead His sons and daughters through the thorny hedge that rips and tears at their flesh.

This tendency to choose for ourselves a comfortable path, determining what sacrifices we will make, and which ones we will avoid, is a pathway to destruction. The Lord has given us clear examples of people whose lives were ones of ease and comfort, and rather than producing righteous men and women after His image and likeness, the abundance of their situation led them to careless living and sin.

Ezekiel 16:49-50
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.

God knows that it requires a path of affliction to provide an environment for spiritual growth and righteousness. The majority of Christians, failing to allow God to choose their path and to lead them in all decisions, are also failing to gain in conformity to Christ. At best they have greatly slowed their growth to spiritual maturity.

The disciples of Christ were amazed when Yahshua spoke the following words:

Matthew 19:23-24
"Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Many have misunderstood the message of Christ in these words, for they have mistakenly equated “the eye of a needle” with a sewing needle. Camels do not go through the eye of a sewing needle, so this makes little sense. In the days of Christ cities were surrounded by walls for protection against invading enemies. Gates were set in the walls to allow people and materials to come and go. These gates were closed at night and in times of danger, but it was still necessary to allow a limited flow of people in and out. Therefore, built into the large gates was a small door which could be opened to let a man in or out. This small door was called “the eye of the needle.”

Camels at the time were used for transport of goods. They would be piled high with merchandise and goods to be traded. If a man came to the gates after they had been closed and needed to enter, it was possible to go through and take his camel along, but it was very difficult. The master of the camel would have to take all the merchandise off of the camel, and the camel would have to go through the gate on his knees.

This is a picture of how a rich man must enter the kingdom of heaven. Getting on one’s knees speaks of humility, and removing all the goods from the camel’s back speaks of the necessity of a rich man giving up all his possessions.

Matthew 19:21-22
Yahshua said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."  But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

The word rendered as “perfect” in this Scripture is the Greek word teleios. This Greek word means “perfect, mature, of full age.” What Yahshua was telling this rich young ruler of the Jews is that if he wanted to come to maturity as a son of God, then he needed to free himself from all his wealth which was making his life very comfortable and easy, and then come follow Christ. Christ would lead this young man down an afflicted path, but it would lead to spiritual maturity. Holding onto his possessions, and clinging to his comfortable lifestyle, would hinder this man from coming to a perfect conformity to the image of Christ.

Most Christians think that the Lord’s words to this young ruler were exceptional. They have been convinced by preachers of prosperity that this young man had an inordinate affection for the world’s goods and therefore he was required to give them up, but not all Christians need do so. What the saints have not understood is that the Lord is revealing a very general principle through these words, a principle with application to the lives of all Yahweh’s sons and daughters. A life of material ease and comfort will hinder all men from coming to maturity in Christ. “The way is afflicted” which leads to life. Comfort and affliction are opposites. We cannot choose to live comfortable lives and expect to find the mature image of Christ formed in us at the end of our journey. It will not happen.

I am convinced that a life of very humble circumstances provides the optimal environment for the maturing of almost all of the children of God. God wants us to be dependent upon Him. He will not lead all men to quit their jobs, as He instructed me to do. I was a minister of the gospel and the Scriptures declare:

I Corinthians 9:14
So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

Yet, God does have a specific plan for every son and daughter. He would have them submit their every decision to Him. Yahweh wants to be the One to choose where you work, where you live, and what you spend your money and time doing. If all saints submitted all these decisions to God I believe that most would find themselves living in daily dependence upon God. When the Lord taught His disciples to pray, He began this way:

Matthew 6:9-11
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.

When people came up to Yahshua saying they wanted to be His disciple, it was not unheard of for Him to counsel them to sell all they had, give it to the poor, and then come follow Him. To do so placed a person in a position of complete daily dependence upon the Father. Manifesting a willingness to dispose of one’s possessions and live the life the Lord chose for them was not the requirement of a select few. A willingness to surrender all was required of all who would be Christ’s disciple.

Luke 14:33
So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Luke 5:11
And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

Luke 18:29-30
And He said to them, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life. "

In this last passage we see a parallel to the afflicted path that leads to life. Yahshua tells His disciples that all who have left the comforts of house and possessions and relatives behind will receive “eternal life.” Because they accepted the afflicted path, these will receive life.

There are few Christians today who have given up all their possessions to God. I am convinced that God would have everyone who would be a disciple of Christ to surrender all things to Him that He might direct them in all their worldly possessions, the choice of where they live, and how they spend their time and money. He may not tell you to dispose of all things, yet if Scriptures provide any pattern at all in God’s dealings with those who would be sons of God, He will require this of many. He laid this requirement on me. He reduced my worldly possessions down to nothing. For a time He led my family and I to live and travel in a 20 year old motorhome, and I am convinced that had the rest of my family stayed the course, this would be our manner of living in this hour.

If we make our life choices for ourselves, we will inevitably choose circumstances and conditions that are comfortable to our flesh. This comfort stands as a hindrance to spiritual growth. Having a home can afford so much comfort and insulation from the trials we need to mature that Yahshua will call us to surrender even this which many find to be an absolute requirement, and non-negotiable with the Lord. Yahshua spoke to a Scribe who wanted to follow Him as a disciple. Scribes in Israel had comfortable lives, and nice homes. He told the Scribe:

Matthew 8:20
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Yahshua, although being the Son of God, was content to live far below the standard of living of the people He dwelt among. Most Jews had a home of some kind, but Yahshua lived as a homeless man. God could have provided a house and a nice ministry center for His Son. Yet He chose that which was optimal to teach Him obedience, and to perfect Him.

Hebrews 5:8-9
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation...

In order to enter by the narrow gate, and to travel the afflicted way which leads to life, it is mandatory that we allow our Father in heaven to direct our steps. The vast majority of mankind seek to direct their own steps. They have certain desires and requirements that they feel this life should provide for them. Yahshua said that this path of self-direction is wide and it leads to destruction.

I know that to Western Christians, this message is very radical. It was radical in the day of Christ. The rich young ruler went away grieved, probably reasoning that what Christ demanded of him could not possibly be the will of God. Most Scribes in Christ’s day would also have balked at giving up the requirement of having their own home, thinking such a sacrifice was totally unnecessary. The apostle Paul very plainly affirmed the words of Christ, revealing that he was not only willing to accept this afflicted path, but he instructed others that it was right and necessary.

I Timothy 6:6-11
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God...

All the body needs to survive is food and covering. These are the necessities. All beyond this are comforts. A man doesn’t need a house filled with furniture. He doesn’t need televisions, stereos, game consoles, a swimming pool or jacuzzi, a pool table, or other forms of entertainment, two cars in the garage, or walls adorned with decorations, and closets filled with the merchandise of this world. I once had many of these things, back when I lived as most Christians do today, making my own choices concerning the path I would walk. I did not understand that choosing for myself a comfortable life was hindering the maturation of the spiritual man.

Yahweh may provide all of these things to you at some point in your path. At other times He may reduce you to nothing. The key to growth in Christ is being content with whatever Yahweh chooses for us. The apostle Paul did not always know lean times. There were seasons of plenty.

Philippians 4:11-13
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I have found that the Lord will lead us to experience seasons of material blessing and comfort. These often serve as intermissions in much longer seasons of leanness and difficulty. There are seasons where He places us in the fire of refining, and times when He takes us out of the fire for a period of refreshing. What is certain is that He will not choose for us the uninterrupted comfort and ease that the majority of Christians have chosen for themselves.

II Corinthians 11:27
I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

II Timothy 2:9
I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal...

II Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Yahshua.

II Timothy
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Lest some should argue that the apostle Paul was giving these instructions to a fellow minister, and they don’t apply to all Christians, I will provide a couple examples of similar instructions to the churches.

Philippians 1:29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

The apostle makes it quite plain to the saints that being an heir with Christ is inextricably tied together with their willingness to suffer with Christ. There is an afflicted path that leads to life for all the sons of God. It is a sobering truth that the Lord declared when He uttered the words, “and few there are that find it.”

If we fail in conformity to Christ, a conformity that only comes by walking an afflicted path, then we will not attain to the number of the firstborn sons of God. Consider again, the story of Joseph. When all of Joseph’s brothers were living as free men, living as they pleased, Joseph was a slave and a prisoner. Joseph could not choose anything for himself, and he serves as a type of those who are overcomers in Christ.

For the past four years I have lived alone. My children are grown and my wife has chosen to not allow the Lord to order her steps, for there are certain things she desires, even requires in this life. I do not condemn her for this. I know, however, that I must not choose my lifestyle and activities for myself. I must surrender to the Father in all things. After my wife left me, Yahweh chose for me to live at a homeless shelter for a year, then to work as an employee of the homeless shelter for a further two years. I was not paid much, and though I have no debt and live a simple life, I found myself living constantly in dependence upon the Father to meet all of my needs.

Several months ago He directed me to leave the employment of the rescue mission, and to enter into full-time ministry again, trusting Him for every provision. He has been faithful to meet my every need. I am lacking for nothing, but by most American’s standards my life would be appalling. I have no home. I live out of a small camper/van. I have very few possessions. And I am dependent upon the Father for all of my needs.

Though many would not choose to live as the Father has directed me, I am content with what He has chosen. I know it is the optimal environment for me. In times past I have wondered why the Father didn’t pour out a great financial blessing upon me. I now know the answer. Financial wealth leads to independence. If I had much money in times past I would have made decisions that would have led me away from what was best for me. I would have sought to ease my way and make my flesh more comfortable. Comfort was not what I needed to grow, therefore God withheld His abundance.

Having an abundance tends to make men and women less sensitive to God’s leading and direction. They begin to make decisions influenced by the desires of their soul, rather than seeking to know the mind of Yahweh in everything. Perhaps the day will come when I have matured enough spiritually so that the Father can trust me with an abundance, knowing that I have learned the discipline of waiting on Him before I move in any direction. This maturity has to be gained by much discipline at the hands of our Father.

Let me end this chapter by inviting you to look at the Scripture which serves as its basis once more. Consider what the Spirit of Christ is speaking to you, through these words. Ask Him to reveal the application to your own walk.

A day is close at hand when judgment is coming to the church. Many who have had an abundance will be reduced to great poverty. Is it not much better to freely surrender to the Lord’s direction in your life, than to have Him take what you have by force? There is great reward for those who release their possessions of a free will, for as the Lord told the rich young ruler, “and you will have treasure in heaven.” There is no reward if you cling to that which your flesh cries out for until it is suddenly snatched out of your hands.

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063