Thursday, March 31, 2011

YOU ARE GOD'S FEW. HIS TREASURED POSSESSION.

"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God had chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His People, His treasured possession.  The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples."  Deut. 7:6,7


Today you may be thinking how insignificant you are in this crazy world.  You may be feeling like nobody, and so small that God could never find you among the anthills of humans that surround us.  With the noise, the lights, the rush, the constant roar of traffic, the media blast, the music, the constant activity of the peoples, and their chasing after worldly things, where do we fit in?  Where does the man or woman of God fit in?

God knows His own.  He hears and sees us without distraction.  He is focused on His few, those who follow Jesus Christ in a depraved and maddened world.  He has never lost us, though we may lose Him, and not see Him in the glare of modern life.

If you love Christ today, you are God's treasured possession.  He has chosen you, out of all the peoples of the earth that rush around you like a massive daily tsunami.  You may feel like a piece of driftwood on the tide, but there is One who controls the tide, and He is looking after you.

We are the few, the humble, the disciples of Christ.  We may be ignored and belittled and forgotten by the world, but the One and Only of the Father, Christ Jesus Himself, will keep every one of us who trusts in Him until the final day.  He will finish what He started.

Be strong in your faith today.  Love and trust Christ alone, and live in His strength.

Blessings,
A. Brother

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TRUE REVIVAL IS WITHIN US

Just as the Kingdom of God is within us (per Jesus' own Word), so true "revival", which means returning to the Lord, is within us.  Many today look for outward signs of revival.  Many want signs and wonders and visions and dreams, and new prophecies, and great movements.  But, just as God is in the soft whisper of wind in the mountains, so the Holy Spirit brings true revival when there is true repentance and quiet acquiescence to the will of God.

"Rend your hearts, and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God..." Joel 2:13

It is the tearing of our hearts, the broken and contrite heart, that brings the Spirit of God in fresh ways into our lives and churches.  It is not a show of outward contrition, or loud prayers, or beating of the breast.  It is our true, inward turning to the Lord in repentance that brings about revival.

It has nothing to do with outward show.

Do we want revival?  Then we will fall to our knees with broken hearts over our own sins and over the sins of God's people around us.  Then we will begin to see God work.

He is waiting for our heart condition to manifest itself.  Then He will heal it, and we will find the joy of our salvation restored.

Monday, March 28, 2011

CHRISTIANS WHO DEVOUR AND DESTROY

CHRISTIANS WHO DEVOUR AND DESTROY
A. Brother

“You, my brothers, were called to be free…
The entire law is summed up in a single command:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
Watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Gal. 5:13-15

As I read through many websites and forums on the internet, it is obvious today that we have great battles raging among so-called believers in Christ.  There is confusion such as I’ve never seen in my lifetime.  Much of this stems from the ignorance and immaturity of great masses of people as to what Christ calls us to, and what the faith we’re to hold to really is.

This ignorance is an ignorance of Scripture.  It is an ignorance (same root word as the word ‘ignore’) that comes from ignoring what the Word of God says, and spending more time talking and reading the words and opinions of men than we do on reading and studying and understanding the Word of God by the illumination of the Spirit of God.

Many people just want to be heard.  They have opinions on matters that are already settled in Scripture, and they want to debate issues that are absolutely not up for debate.  These people are disruptive, arrogant, often abusive of others, and most often are bringing in some “new” approach or “new” teaching.  They revile those who cling to the simplicity of faith in Christ, and dying to self, and living in love.  These people want religion, and lists, and strong new methodologies that give them solid footing and a “new” slant on whatever they believe Christianity is.

It is the “job” of every true teacher and leader and prophet in the Body of Christ to bring us back to the faith as handed down to us by the Lord Jesus, through His apostles and prophets.  This message has never changed.

From Genesis to Revelation we are given one Way, one Truth, one Life.  His Name is above all Names.  He is Christ, and He is all.  He fulfills all of God’s purposes in us, and in the universe.

Many today are crying out that we should adhere to this new movement, or that new ideology within the “Christian” subcultures of our world.  Many leaders pound out their versions of the gospel from their bully pulpits, and many write books about their brilliant ideas of how Christianity needs to be worked out in the world.  It is sheer madness out there.  It is no wonder the world looks at us like we are a circus, or a parade, full of noise and distraction, yet without substance.

Brothers and sisters, our great danger today lies in listening to all this, and being led away by all this, and distracted from our simple faith in Christ.

Jesus calls us to be like little children in our faith.  Every time I’m around little ones, I am refreshed by their hearts, so satisfied at the simplest joys, so glad just to be able to have another day to play, to learn, to be loved.  These children know what’s important.  It’s love, and being kind, and doing things with others they love.  They have no problem loving God, and it’s a natural thing once they’ve been told about Him.  Their hearts, unless men of sin have already broken them, are open to God and His Ways.  They always tell the truth, always show their true feelings, and are spontaneously sad or joyful, because they can’t hide it.  This is how we are to be toward God and others.  Open, loving, kind, truthful.

We are to be mature men and women in faith, as well.  Though our hearts are still tender and full with Christ’s love, yet we are to be warriors for the faith.  We are to know Scripture, and be able to stand on its truth.  We are to hold to the simplicity of discipleship in Christ handed down to us in Scripture, without being blown about by “every wind of doctrine” that comes along.

Men, we must stand like men and contend for the faith, and for God’s simple and straightforward Word to us as revealed in Christ.  Like Him we are to love, to preach and teach the Word, to live lives full of righteousness in Christ, and holiness, “without which nobody will see the Lord.”

And especially, in this day, we are to hold fast to our freedom in Christ.  The most popular theologies being brought into the churches today bring in “extrabiblical” ideas of men, and mostly revolve around new law, or old law.  By new law I mean new rules, new lists, new religious answers as to why the churches are not righteous and holy as they should be.
By old law, I mean the Mosaic law, or portions of it, which they try to use for the same purpose.  They often say we must hold to “all the Scripture”, and by that they mean we must keep Christ and the law.  This is the oldest heresy in Christendom, and must be resisted at every turn, without compromise.

From the pulpits of every church, from the mouths and the pens of every true believer, must flow constant reminders that the man or woman of God lives absolutely and simply by grace through faith, and not by works.  We cannot be made perfect by law, no matter who tells you we can.

The problems we have now stem from the ignorance of Scripture by our teachers and leaders over the past several generations.  They have forgotten what it means to be in Christ, and have His power in us to live holy lives.  They have given us a 10% religion, instead of a 100% faith.  They have been content to collect tithes, and a portion, when we must understand that Christ alone is our portion, and that we must give up everything we count as profit to us for His sake.

We don’t need law.  We need the power of the death and resurrection of Christ in us.  We must wait upon Him for the power to be righteous, and that power comes through His Spirit indwelling us.

Resist the devil, and his attempts to sidetrack you from this “one thing” you do.  You and I must hold to Christ alone, and let Him change us.  No amount of “new law” or “Christian lists” or adhering to some “new movement” will do this.

Paul in his day was persecuted unmercifully by those who constantly tried to bring law back into Christianity.  By those who wanted to complicate the simplicity of the gospel with their great ideas and new standards.  These people who led believers astray.  Read every one of his letters, and you’ll find stern rebuke of those who want to add to or take away from the simple gospel of Christ.

So today, many of us will face terrible retribution at the hands of the same type of people.  Those who claim Christ, yet follow their own man-made traditions and doctrines.

Yet in the end, it will be for one thing we will be judged, as Paul reminds us.  Not for how we adhered to some “basic principle of this world”, but for whether we lived in the love of Christ for God and others.

“For in Christ Jesus
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision
has any value.  The only thing that counts
is faith expressing itself through love.”
Gal. 5:6

It is faith expressing itself through love that will change the world.  It is Christ in us, the most powerful force in the universe, overcoming death and hell, and bringing His Kingdom to the sons of men.  This is the simple faith of the gospel and it has never changed, and no matter who preaches otherwise, never will.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

EVIL IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

EVIL IN THE NAME OF CHRIST
A. Brother

ONE SISTER HAD A CONCERN ABOUT MY POST: “HE WHO SEEKS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT.”  Her concerns were valid, and I want to address them here:

Let's make clear that we are talking here to those who claim to be Christians.  The name itself has come to mean nothing, as it is used for any who sit in a "Christian church", or who list Christianity as their "religion of choice".

I am speaking to those who claim Christ, yet have not become His bondservants, wholly given to Him.  His servants and true followers do not mount religious crusades to win lands and fortunes.  His true disciples give their lives for others!

The truth is this:  paganism means godlessness.  However, Scripture teaches us that when men don’t know Christ, yet love, show kindness, and give themselves to others, show that they know God to a certain extent.  John says this in his first letter.  Paul says it in Romans, when he says that those who've never heard the gospel, but who follow the laws of God in their hearts show that these commands (Love God and love your neighbor) have been written in all mankind's hearts in some ways.  God is love, and if we know Him, we have love for others.

It is our privilege to live lives full of the love and purity of Christ, so that those many pagans who live around us can see Him, and be drawn to Him.

True disciples never look down upon those who don't know Christ.  They are humble, and consider others better than themselves.

The very real problem is the name Christianity has been linked to various terrible acts by some evil men who used the name of Christ to justify their evil.  They were not of Christ. 

No self-righteousness here.  Only Christ, and His humility, and His love for this sad, lonely, broken, pagan world.  Look at the suffering around us, and the lack of hope in the world.
When the pagans revile us, and hate us for the name of Christ, what should we do?  We should love, as Christ commanded us.  His love for the world, laying down his life for us when we were godless sinners, is our example.  So should we lay down our lives for the world.

Thank you for your passionate comments.  May the Lord Jesus Christ guide us into His truth, and may we not compromise our walk with the watered-down half-truths being thrown around out there in the name of Christ today in many places.

A. Brother

Saturday, March 26, 2011

ANOTHER LIST. ANOTHER RELIGION.

ANOTHER LIST. ANOTHER RELIGION.
A. Brother

There are some among us who would tell us that we need to compile all the lists of Jesus’ commands, and then follow them.  Now we have 77 commands to follow.  We have become what Jesus stood against, practitioners of religion, who must have a list in order not to sin.  I stand against this, as it has misled many through the centuries, and kept people out of the Kingdom of God.

I wrote the following letter to a Christian forum in response to another useless thread that was being posted regarding the “Commands of Jesus” list.

To everyone:

Why didn't the apostles compile a "commands of Jesus" list to replace the "commands of Moses" list?  They were with Jesus, and they heard Him every day.

Beware of adding to the truth of Scripture with your own ideas about how to compile our Christian duties.  Another list.  Just what Christ ordered?

Have none of you investigated the source of the Commands of Jesus list cited here by one brother?  Have none of you gone in and read the websites done by John McConnell and his heirs?  Do you not realize this man who founded Earth Day, and Earth Trustees, is a pan-religious earth-worshipper?  He claims Christ, yet embraces all religions, and places a healthy, peaceful earth as the goal of mankind.  He may say he believes in Christ, but he exhibits the marks of a worldly man--worried about caring for the earth more than for the souls of men.

I am amazed at how so many are so flippant about embracing ideas of men and "new" theologies here.  Don't we know that the gospel of Christ is laid out clearly in the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation?  Why are we not preaching and teaching the same gospel handed down to us by Peter, Paul, James, John, and the others given the charge by Christ Himself?

You say, now we need a list of the commands of Jesus?  Well, take a look at where that religious "thread" has taken some.  Read John McConnell's vision for earth.  Go to his Earthlink website.  Read his aims and goals.  Do you find these in Scripture anywhere?
He is like so many others who have strayed from Christ.  He believes that man is the key.  That man can save himself and his planet.  He doesn't believe in a Sovereign God who is accomplishing His purposes on the earth.  He believes that it is up to us to accomplish God's purposes on the earth, and thus to save this planet and establish an earthly kingdom full of peace and tranquility for mankind.

That is where your lists lead us, brothers.  Another list, another religion.

Christ is all, and in all who seek Him.  He will empower us to live His life in this dark and sinful world, thereby bringing Light and Life to men.  And yes, He summed up all His commands in the simple phrase, "Love God and love your neighbor as yourself."

Paul said it.  I put it before you.  Are you greater than the Lord Jesus and greater than Scripture?  This was said by Paul, and either you believe it or you deny it.

"...he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 
The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery',
'Do not murder', 'Do not steal', 'Do not covet',
and WHATEVER OTHER COMMANDMENT THERE MAY BE,
are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 
Love does not harm to its neighbor,
THEREFORE LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW."
(Romans 13:8-10)

Please, brothers, can we simply encourage one another to seek Christ as the central focus?  Do we have to gravitate toward these supposedly deep and detailed discussions of men's thoughts on everything?  I am an educated man, yet I seek, like Paul, to count everything that was profit to me as loss for the sake of knowing Christ.  Some here seem to find too much joy in debating and throwing lofty arguments back and forth about this or that fine-point issue. 

What this can lead to is evident in Scripture also.  We should not seek the controversial. Paul exhorted Timothy about those who were always fomenting controversy by their words.

"These promote controversies rather than God's work—
which is by faith.
 The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart,
and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 
Some have wandered away from these
and turned to meaningless talk. 
They want to be teachers of the law,
but they do not know what they are talking about
 or what they so confidently affirm."
1 Timothy 1:4-7

For an example, go to this John McConnell's websites and learn the tragic consequences of a man who started out wanting to do something new for Christ, and ended up as part of the current worldwide deception Satan is promoting.

Let's talk about a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith in Christ, as Paul says.  Let's talk about urging one another on toward love and good works, which we are called to do.  Let's stop debating every new idea somebody has about how to package up the gospel, or how we need to read this or study that, and then we'll be on the right track. 

Blessings on all who seek Christ above all,
A. Brother

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY REVIVAL?

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY REVIVAL?
T. Austin-Sparks


I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:12 ESV)

Those of us who have tasted of this world's springs have recognized the kinship between what is there and what is in religion so far as that soul-nature is concerned. It is only a matter of difference of realm, not of nature. What the music and drama of the world produce in one way—the soul-stirring, rousing, craving: the pathos, tears, contempt, hatred, anger, melancholy, pleasure, etc.—are all the same, only under different auspices and in a different setting, and the fact is that it passes and we are really no further on. A little better music, a change of preacher, a less familiar place, a few more thrills, will perhaps stimulate our souls, but where are we, after all? How Satan must laugh behind his mask! Oh, for reality, the reality of the eternal! Oh, that men might see that, while a highly cultured soul with a keen sense of the beautiful and sublime is immeasurably preferable to a sordid one so far as this world is concerned, it is not necessarily a criterion that such has a personal living knowledge of God—of God as a Person—and has really been born anew!

When we pray for "Revival" let us be careful as to what we are after and as to what means we use to promote it, or carry it on.... The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the secret of everything in his life and service was the fact that he received his gospel "by revelation." We may even know the Bible most perfectly as a book, and yet be spiritually dead and ineffective. When the Scriptures say so much about the knowledge of God and of the truth as the basis of eternal life, resulting in being set free, doing exploits, etc., they also affirm that man cannot by searching find out God, and they make it abundantly clear that it is knowledge in the spirit, not in the natural mind. Thus, a rich knowledge of the Scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of men's natural wisdom or ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men, and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, "emotioned," willed, enthused, impassioned, into the kingdom of the heavens; they can only be born; and that is by spiritual quickening.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: All Things in Christ - Chapter 10

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

HE WHO FINDS HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Jesus Christ in Matt. 10:39


We have many who are finding their lives now.  Christians who have decided that NOW is more important to them than a future with Christ.  Many chase after security in the guise of preparedness.  Many chase after religious ecstasies in the guise of spiritual power.  Many chase after material blessings in the guise of God's will.

However, Christ is not fooled by this trickery.  He calls His true ones to a willing daily death.  Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  We do not worry about this life, nor do we chase after the things of this world and love them and covet them.  We do not place our treasures in earthly vaults, or build to our own vanities.

Brothers and sisters, it is time to come out from among the pagans and be separate.  We may work with the lost, and eat with the lost, and love the lost, yet we may not be "of them" in the sense that our lives are with Christ, and His life is in us, and we cannot live in their world.  They may abuse you and make fun of you, yet you must stay with Jesus.

He who seeks to save what he is and has in this world will lose it.  He who gives up his striving after worldly things and seeks only to do the will of the Father will save His life.

Simple truth today, and great comfort to those who truly seek Christ.

Your brother,
A. Brother

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THE NEW/OLD PAGANISM

THE NEW/OLD PAGANISM
A. Brother


"For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.  They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you."  1 Peter 4:3,4


Mankind has always waged war on God.  Man by himself is a terrible, egotistical, selfish, and evil race, bent upon its own destruction.  This is the world we live in, and it's the world the early believers lived in.  Nothing has changed.


In our modern educated societies we've been taught lies.  These lies consist of a worldview that contradicts Scripture.  


The reality is in God's Word--that we live in a fallen world, full of evil and wicked men, who run after pleasure and sin with all their strength.  This is why many Christians are confused today, and act as if they've been caught by surprise at how sinful the world is.  


We have been lulled into sleep by the world, thinking that it's really a pretty good place, and that mankind is working hard to get himself into a better situation, and that basically people are good and kind, and that if we only have enough education, and eradicate poverty, and have social equality, and if we treat the earth well, etc, that all will be fine.  This is our modern, and post-modern, mantra.  Even the churches who claim Christ have bought into these lies.


The reality is what we see.  What Peter called out in his day.  The world is a place full of Satan's deception, full of man's foolishness, full of his evil desires acted out on a daily basis.  


And we are aliens and strangers here, called out by Christ into His Kingdom, which is not of this world.  We are to live holy lives, full of good deeds, standing opposed to the evil, not because we carry placards in a protest demonstration, but because we bring glory to God by our actions.  The entire book of 1st Peter is full of this call to be separate, and to live powerfully different lives.  It is Christ in us that makes us different.


Today do not be frightened by the behavior of the world.  Expect it.  Understand it.  There are only two peoples on the earth.  There are pagans, and there are those elect of Christ, called into His Kingdom, and living as aliens and strangers in this world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SUCCUMBING TO FEAR: THE OLD PAGANISM

SUCCUMBING TO FEAR: THE OLD PAGANISM
A. Brother

There are some among us who teach that we should be watching the daily headlines, and preparing ourselves for a grim future by stocking up on food and essentials.  They insist, and use isolated Scriptures to prove their point, that like Noah, God wants us to build an ark to carry us through the coming last days.  They are what I would call Christian Survivalists, who claim Christ while relying on the arm of flesh.  I wrote the following in answer to a forum on another website, because I know what Scripture tells us, and our Lord Jesus was clear:  FEAR IS NOT AN OPTION, AND GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF HIS OWN.

Fear is not an acceptable motivation for any believer. We are to fear nothing and nobody but our Lord God, who says to us:

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, 
because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love...
and whoever loves God must also love his brother." 
1 John 4:18-21

I say to you who are storing up for your own futures, what brother down the street from you needs what you store up NOW?  What person is hurting alongside you that could use your help NOW? Look into James, into Corinthians, into Christ's Words about helping others. It's all about NOW. Your excess is to be used NOW for others.

Fear of the future that drives us to "preparation" is just such forbidden fear. Does that mean we don't keep enough food on hand for the next week or the next month? Of course not, that's prudence and simple planning for now.

Does it mean we are NOT to store up for future calamities?  That's correct.

All day long on talk radio in America, we are urged by pagan and Christian speakers alike to stock up, to invest in gold, to build shelters, to prepare for disaster. All day long in America we have wealth-building experts telling us how to invest to protect ourselves and our retirements. All day long in America we are succumbing to the old paganism Christ taught against, when He said, 

"...For the pagans run after all these things, 
and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
But seek first His Kingdom and its righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself."
(Matt 6:31-34)

Christ came to destroy that fear, and to bring us into His Kingdom of love without fear and faith without worry, for His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

We are to come to Christ as little children. Does your 3-year old child or grandchild worry about tomorrow? They have true faith in their fathers, and in their grandfathers. They believe. Faith is knowing our Father will take care of us today and tomorrow.

Shortly after teaching all his disciples about not worrying over food and clothing and shelter, Jesus sent out the twelve to preach and teach. (Matt 10:5-42) Before they went He gave them strict instructions about NOT preparing. He told them to eat what was offered them, to stay in the homes that were open to them, to take no extra clothes, and to be prepared for great opposition and persecution, and again and again He said, "DO NOT FEAR".

This teaching is very unpopular today, especially among the churches. Some say we are to be "wise" and "mature" and that "God helps those who help themselves". As if God measures our faith by how smart we are in the money markets.

Beware of such false teachings. Cling to your Lord Jesus Christ alone. He will take care of you as He has promised.

Peace and Love in Christ to Childlike Hearts:
A. Brother

Sunday, March 13, 2011

THREE CATEGORIES OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS

 Three Categories of Believers

By Zac Poonen

There are three categories of 'believers' in the world:

(1) Those who have confidence in themselves.

Such believers can be identified by the fact that they pray very little or not at all. And they usually never ever fast and pray. Although they don't say so in as many words, by their prayerlessness they testify that they can handle every situation. Such believers can never do an eternal work for God.

(2) Those who have no confidence in themselves and who have no confidence in God.

They confess that they have no strength or wisdom. But they do not believe that God will work on their behalf. Such believers are usually prayerless too. Even if they do pray, their prayers are invariably without faith. Such can never do an eternal work for God either.

(3) Those who have no confidence in themselves, BUT who have total confidence in God.

They are aware of their lack of strength and wisdom, but they also believe that God will help them mightily, and do a work in them and through them. Such believers alone are truly spiritual, and only such can do an eternal work for God.

Comments on all three:

It is good for us to recognize that those in Category 2 above are just as useless to God as those in Category 1. Those in Category 2 may look more broken, but they are not - for unbelief can never be found alongside genuine Christ-like humility. Without faith it is impossible to please God, no matter how broken we may appear to be. Merely acknowledging our inability will not solve our problems. We must trust God too.

To confess that we are rotten, good for nothing, useless and foolish, is not humility, but unbelief!! If we keep on confessing that, we will remain useless forever. False humility like that is often mistaken for the genuine thing by undiscerning believers!

But Jesus told us to learn humility from Him (Matt.11:29). And where do we find Jesus ever confessing that He was useless and good for nothing? Never.

True humility is taking the place of entire nothingness before God, so that God might be all in all. This is the place that Jesus took as a man. This is what we must do, too. In that lowly place, we can trust God to do a mighty work in us and through us, and to crush Satan under our feet.
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For more information write to: wftw@cfcindia.com
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

CHASING AFTER THE THORNBUSH

CHASING AFTER THE THORNBUSH
A. BROTHER


TEXT:  Judges 9


Here Jotham, the son of Gideon, tells a story.  He is seeing Gideon's tribe chasing after leadership, frantically searching for the one who will lead them against their foes.  Gideon had been the vessel God used to deliver Israel from its enemies by His grace.  Now, the people, after Gideon's death, had gone back immediately to serving the Baals.  They were surrounded by enemies again, and so needed help, but instead of rooting down deep into God, they went looking for human leadership.  A warrior of great stature who would lead them into battle.


God's leaders are like the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine.  They are busy producing fruit, and can't leave their labors for Christ to head up some new movement.  They are the true leaders, who lead by example.


Today we have a repeat of this story.  Those who claim to follow Jesus are chasing after leaders, and the ones they pick tend to be like the thornbush in the story, which is fiery, and sharp, and burns brightly with a great crackling for a time.  However, when you attempt to sit in its shade, you find thorns.  And it burns out quickly, producing charred ashes.


Christ is our leader.  Put your roots down deep into Him.  He will produce the fruit of righteousness through you, it is not of your own doing.  His Spirit will do the work of the Father, and you will bear "much fruit", the fruit of the Spirit that comes through Christ alone.  


We can do nothing of ourselves.  Choose for yourself examples from the fruit-bearing among God's people, and emulate and follow them.  They are our leaders in Christ, who lead by their lives and their love.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

OUR TRIALS DECLARE GOD'S WISDOM

OUR TRIALS DECLARE GOD’S WISDOM
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS


Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great... (1 Timothy 3:16 NIV)


Very often it may seem but poor comfort to us in times of suffering, times of trial, times of adversity, times when Satan is pressing hard, to be told that, while we can see nothing of the meaning of all this, God is instructing angels, and that principalities and powers are deriving the benefit of it all.

We do not draw a great deal of comfort from that, but if we understood I think we would realize that, while we may not at such times be fulfilling a very big ministry on the earth, there is a big ministry going on towards principalities and powers through our instrumentality.


Do not think that running about taking meetings, and doing work for the Lord, is the only kind of ministry that members of the Church can fulfill. Ministry may be equally being fulfilled when these things have been brought to a standstill, and all earthly activities for the Lord stopped, and we are in one of these painful periods of inaction.


Do not conclude that because of such inaction no ministry is being rendered, or that everything of that kind is cut off at such a time.


Here is the word: "...that NOW unto the principalities and the powers in heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God" - not in the coming age, but now.


They are learning from the Lord, by reason of those very difficult and trying experiences through which the Lord is taking us, what He is doing in the Church.


By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Battle for Life - Chapter 4

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SADNESS IN MY HEART AT AMERICA'S DESCENT INTO DARKNESS

Where is the love of Christ?


In America, it is hard to discern anywhere.  In America, the churches have forsaken seeking the Lord, except in gloriously self-absorbed worship that is more about our ability to make great music and preach great sermons than about the lowly Christ who walks among us.


There is more love in one little child of 3 years old for his parents, than in most mega-churches of 10,000 people for their Lord Jesus.


We know nothing of sacrifice and service on the altar of God.  We think that volunteering a couple of hours a month in a community service activity qualifies us for sainthood.  We think bringing a casserole dish to church potluck gives us brownie points in heaven.  We think that our faithful attendance, our faithful tithing, our "just showing up" all the time for church puts our name in the Lamb's Book of Life.


But Christ is not stupid, nor is He a man, that we should fool Him with our lip-service and our religious fakery.  He knows our hearts.  He knows every last thought, and what our hearts covet and fight for.  He knows our lust and our greed, and our pride.  He knows our love for ourselves, and our position, our affluence, our lifestyle.  


We build temples and idols of stone and brick and glass to our own religious wonderfulness.  We schedule and meet, and plan and plan and raise money for this or that project, in small towns and large cities, and off-handedly ask for the blessing of God on it.  We give to ourselves, so that we can have comfortable surroundings in which to practice our "devotion" to Christ.


He says He is tired of it all.  He has tried to get our attention for many years now--decades and decades--yet we persist in running off after every new invention, and spread our legs for worldly idols under every green tree.  Our American society has more churches and ministries than at any time in  history, yet less spiritual power among so-called believers.  We have told Christ we will marry Him, and be bound to Him alone, and then we have run off like unfaithful Israel and prostituted ourselves to worldly ideas and ambitions on every streetcorner, in every office, in every home, in every church.


Christ will act.  He is taking action now.  He is Lord, and no power can stand against Him or His will.  This will is that we know Him, and that the "one thing" we possess is our love for Him.  He will strip away all else we cling to if necessary, because of His great love for us.  He has called and called, and we have ignored His cries of love for His lost Bride.


Now comes a grinding, and a sifting, which Satan has been asking for of Christ.  Our Lord is saying, "Yes, Satan, you have my permission to sift them like wheat, and I will pray for them that they will hold to Me alone."  Like Peter, some of us will deny Him, but know His forgiveness in that denial.  We will discover that we were weak and cowardly, and we will be faced with our own sinfulness as never before.


Some of us will stand.  


Like the boys as young as 5 years old, and up through their teens, who, when rebel forces told them to recant their faith in Christ, sang and held hands while the men took machetes and rifles and cut them and beat them to death.  This happened a few years ago in Africa, and has been repeated countless times in these past decades there.


Like the North Korean Christians who are not allowed to meet or own Bibles, upon penalty of death.  Yet who wallpaper a country shack with an old Bible they find, and meet there secretly to grow together in Christ at risk of their lives, so they can read the walls and learn Scripture.


So many others.  And we in America will eventually join them, if not now in death, at least in suffering outlaw status to come.  Christ is working, and we must obey Him.  


He never intended our luxury.  We chose it over Him.  We ignored His Word, and honored ourselves.  We boast of so many things other than Christ alone.


Christ acts now on our behalf.  Please stay strong, and comfort and encourage one another to stay firm in Him.


Pray for us in America, brethren in other countries.  Unlike some of you, who've been raised and found Christ in a hostile environment, American Christians are fat and lazy, and have not suffered and become lean, hardened soldiers of the cross.  We need your prayers and support to learn these lessons.


To all who seek Christ, and whom are chosen in Him,
Your Brother,
A. Brother

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