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Posts Tagged ‘obedience’

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“…[And now, Job, who are you who dares not arouse the unmastered crocodile, yet who dares resist Me, the beast’s Creator, to My face? Everything under the heavens is Mine; therefore, who can have a claim against God?” Amp Job 41:34

“And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance].” Amp Acts 9:5

“In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the curse and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes God].” Amp Eph 2:2

“Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?” Amp Rom 6:16

Your life as a believer is made up of choices. You chose to hear the word, you chose to receive the life of Christ, you chose and still choose to walk it out daily and deny yourself.

The Lord never takes away your choice. Just like King David chose to stay home when kings were out fighting, and he brought himself into the choice of taking Bathsheba…choices matter greatly. Some of them will change the course of your life, eternally.

If as a believer you consistently make choices that run counter to the will and purposes of God … then even though you might call yourself a believer, the principle operating in you is more like sin and rebellion than the principle of obedience.

Thus, what you have continued to surrender to (sin) becomes the defacto ruler over you, even if you have confessed Jesus as Savior.

This is the truth behind the Scripture in Mt 7:21-23. If you have truly surrendered your life to Jesus (Who is the Emblem of Obedience), then His nature will have victory within you, and that victory will foster obedience.

The struggle between your natural life (call it gravity) and your supernatural life from the Spirit (Aerodynamics) are continuously in a struggle. They are adversarial forces which will always be diametrically opposed to each other, but one of them is going to win.

Which one wins is your choice. You get to choose! You choose whether gravity happens and you crash and burn, or whether you overcome gravity with the principles of flight!

Here is the hard part. Choices are not always easy. Sometimes they cost you greatly, and in surrendering again to Christ, you are called to die to your self, die to your rights, die to what seems fair, die to your own opinions and emotions.  This is hard. But it is necessary. And the Lord has given us everything necessary to make the hard choices. We just don’t like it, but it will yield a harvest of righteousness that will bring peace that is freedom from every agitating passion and moral conflict.

Right now my heart aches for many people I know who are locked into a difficult struggle, where the cost of victory in Christ seems too high. They find themselves falling again and again, captive to their natural emotions, to old habits and patterns of behavior that have only yielded wounds so deep they appear like gullies in the terrain of their soul.

These people are choosing comfort and safety. They think they are choosing freedom, when by their choice they abort the conflict in preference to peace. But it is not a true peace, for it is only the quieting of the struggle, but with it comes a loss of perception, of insight, of holiness in the character of God – for they have actually chosen sin, something that conflicts with God’s will and purpose (the comfort and ease of the flesh).

But I would tell you that in Christ all efforts are worthwhile and profitable, and will yield an eternal reward. You have everything given to you that you need to choose to please God rather than yourself. Choose to please Him!

1Peter 4:1-2 speaks to this directly…

“So since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God]. So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills.” Amp

The choice is before us daily to live for Christ. It never leaves us. It is never taken away. Rather, it is like while seeing gravity before us, we choose instead to mount up with wings of eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint.

Remember, the Lord doesn’t lay a standard before us to walk out on our own. He is God with us… Emmanuel, and He provides all that we need to stand up under the trial (1Cor 13:10).

Rest in Him even as you fight the great fight!

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“A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].” Gal 5:9 Amp

“Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, nor have You delight in them; You have given me the capacity to hear and obey [Your law, a more valuable service than] burnt offerings and sin offerings [which] You do not require. Then said I, Behold, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart.” Ps 40:6-8 Amp

“For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.” Rom 8:29 Amp

 

If I believe that one of the pivotal traits that Jesus brought to earth as the Word made flesh is the capacity to hear and obey the Father and to do His will, then to depart from that same likeness would be to entertain deception, rebellion, lawlessness, and even the spirit of antichrist…

If pursued without repentance, this course of rebellion ends in destruction. It resists truth, embraces error, and attempts to defeat in this age the very testimony of the Kingdom of God that is to come as the body of Christ walks in submission and obedience that is of Christ. It is this very same obedience and submission of the church that will defeat the enemy, Satan.

This then is the difficulty at hand…

A teaching is circulating in the Body of Christ as Biblical truth that actually has no Biblical grounds or legitimacy.  In fact, it is leaven: rebellious overreach disguised as passionate zeal, with a nature much closer to that of the “five I wills” of Isaiah 14, than “here I am, coming to do Your will, O God.”

What is this teaching? It is the concept of Activating Angels – that somehow, since Angels are ministering servants (to those who are to inherit salvation) that the Body of Christ has command authority to direct them in their tasks.

This is a leap of error, incited by those who foster false teaching – leaven which misleads the whole church!

Here are some pivotal Scriptures which directly contest and contradict this teaching:

1. Mt 26:53  Jesus Himself says He can appeal to His Father to provide Him with more than 12 legions of angels – but He would not command them Himself directly. Jesus relegated all His actions and words under the authority of the Father. Yet do we as His body have authority vested in us to command angels which Jesus Himself would not exercise? I think not.

2. Gal 5:5-6  These Scriptures emphasize anticipating and waiting for the blessing and good which our righteousness and right standing with God cause us to hope. What IS TO BE ACTIVATED is our faith, which is energized and expressed and works through love. No where in the Word is there an example, a description, or demonstration of saints activating Angels or directing them in any manner. We instead look to God, without fretting or being anxious, and in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make our wants known to God (Phil 4:6)  This is the walking out of the same nature as Christ Jesus, Who looked to the Father with faith for everything, constrained Himself to that, and demonstrated that to us!

3. Luke 10:19-20  The authority that is given to us through Christ is to stand against the enemy, it is not to dispatch angelic forces of God. We see in this passage that we can rejoice because our names are written in heaven, not because we command heavenly assets.

4. Jn 1:53  We indeed shall see heaven opened with the angels of God (note of God – they are His) ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.  We are called to be witnesses of Jesus, and to manifest His Name through the Holy Spirit. To witness of Jesus I must be conformed to His image – not an independent operator trying to command angels – which even Jesus deferred to the Father.

The greatest witness to the power of God in my life is a changed life. It is an inside job (that reflects a changed heart and mind and an enlivened spirit with the Holy Spirit dwelling in me), and the Word of God dwelling in me richly. It is in fact a life of obedience, even unto death.

If I operate in an external demonstration of power that is not mine, not legitimately given to me by God, and seems to contradict the very nature of Christ (here I am to do Your will Oh God) there is difficulty in that witnessing to Jesus Christ in any manner.

That is perhaps the greatest disparity with this particular teaching. With a zeal for acclaim and demonstration it seeks power displays that carry none of the love of Christ that remain as His hallmark. On the contrary, how can power and authority usurped achieve anything except the furtherance of rebellion that Christ died on the Cross to put down.

It is in obedience that worship offered to God is accepted. We see in the word no place where the rebellious offerings of King Saul find any acceptance with the Lord.

Likewise, I find no obedience to Scripture, to Jesus, or the Father in this teaching concerning Activating Angels. To quote Watchman Nee: “Satan is not afraid of our work so long as we act on the principle of rebellion. He only laughs in secret when we do things according to our own thoughts.” (Spiritual Authority 1972)

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Day Forty-Two

 

Why We Lack Power!

 

“But to those that are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.”  1Cor 1:24 Amp

 

          There is a question that moves through every fellowship of Jesus Christ at one point or another.  Inevitably the question arises, “Why do we not see the same kind of power operating in the Church today as at the time of Acts?  Why do we not see as many signs and wonders as happened back then?”  I believe there is a direct answer to that question – but it is not an answer that will make any of God’s saints feel good, myself included.  But it important not to stay fixated on this answer, but rather to move on to the solution.

          THE ANSWER:  We have not died to ourselves as required by the Word of God, thus the power of God cannot be manifested in us.

          THE EXPLANATION:  Jesus Christ Himself is the very power of God and the wisdom of God.  But just having Him as our Savior does not immediately follow that we will walk in His power as He did.  While the Word of God provides for that very thing: “As He is – so are we in the world”… etc., the fact is, you and I have to follow Christ more fully, more deliberately, and deny ourselves to be able to manifest the power of God.  We must die to ourselves.

          In the Garden of Eden, Jesus is personified as the Tree of Eternal Life.  But there was another tree there as well – one that was forbidden:  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Very simply stated, whichever one of these trees we “eat” from – we will grow in and manifest its fruit.  Matthew 3:10 says that every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  All the fruit that is born from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – is from the power of our own works of the soul – it is therefore fruit of the flesh.  It cannot inherit the Kingdom of God according to 1Cor 15:50.  Thus, the fruit and even this tree will be thrown into the fire.  But see this clearly now – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is like our soul which Satan stirred into operation in the Garden.  When we are soul-ish, or in our old nature (which is flesh) – this is the Tree which is operating.  All of our fruit (good works) done in the flesh comes from this tree.

          However if we have the Life of Christ dwelling in us, then we have the nature of the Tree of Eternal life within our spirit.  The difficulty is that both these trees cannot operate simultaneously for they are adversarial – just as the flesh is adversarial to the spirit (Romans 8:4-9).  Our two natures: the first of flesh and the second born of the spirit – will not and cannot coexist well.  They cannot be both allowed to live and exert control.  To try and make that happen creates a person that is double-minded and unstable in all his ways (Jam 1:6-8).  So we must see the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as comparable to the flesh life, our old nature, and the Tree of Eternal Life as comparable to our New Life in Christ according to the Spirit.  We are called as believers to live and move, not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit – with our lives governed and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

          You can begin to see then – why the Church lacks power….  We have lived lives where the flesh has predominated – not the Spirit.  We have not reckoned ourselves as being dead to sin and alive to God.  (Rom 6:11)  We have not yielded our members and faculties as instruments of righteousness to God.  (Rom 6:13)  In fact, we have more often catered to the appetites and impulses of our carnal natures, and in that regard we are not pleasing or acceptable to God.  This is a picture of the end-times church, which 2Timothy warns against, which holds a form of piety, but denies and rejects the power of it!

It is for this reason – we lack power.  We lack the predominance of the life of the Spirit/the life of Christ/the Tree of Eternal Life and the subsequent need to live and move and have our being in Him.  We have continually fed our soulish life/our natural flesh life, and allowed the Life of the Son to languish and starve within us.  When we obey the Spirit and surrender to the Spirit to do His will, we are His slaves leading to righteousness.  But when we obey the flesh and surrender to the flesh to do its will, we are its slaves leading to sin and death.

THE SOLUTION:  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil must be made inoperative and ineffective for use.  Like putting a “red-tag” on a dashboard signifying it is broken and useless – this tree must be cut down, up-rooted and laid waste in our lives.  We do this when we deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Christ.  We do this when we make a decisive dedication of our bodies, presenting all of our members as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1), and we must do this daily!  Only as we do this will we fulfill what is said in 1Cor 15:49:  “And just as we have borne the image [of the man] of dust, so shall we and so let us also bear the image of the [Man] of heaven.”  

Because of the Cross — may the Tree of Eternal Life flourish in His saints!  May we be obedient with all our hearts!  May we be be-loved, _His_, more than our own.  To His glory and Praise!

           

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Day Thirty-Three

 

But Then Face to Face…

 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  ESV 1Cor 13:12

 

            Every time we are blessed with a revelation from the Lord, perfection has come to us.  Yes there is a day when we will be before total Perfection forever, and while that day is perhaps not today – Perfection does draw near us even now to dispel darkness, to remove the haze of obscurity, and to usher in crystal clarity into our hearts.  It is important to see how we are fully known – in His eyes.

            I had such a moment a few days ago – where the Lord brought understanding within the context of something that I have been teaching on Sunday Nights.  In this group I have been teaching from Watchmen Nee’s, Spiritual Authority.  Without any fanfare the Lord suddenly juxtaposed all that I have been learning about spiritual authority – in particular rebellion – and placed it directly beside the time in my life when He was consolidating an experience that would bring me to Him in crisis.

            It all has to do with me (not) – and my best thinking.  Let me tell you in advance, our best thinking is one of the very things the Lord would have us continually surrender as we surrender our faculties and members to Him as a living sacrifice.  While my perception of this crisis previously did not lack understanding – it did however lack the fullness of insight that He wanted in my own heart.

            So – here’s what happened.  Back in February 1991 I was called to active duty from a reserve status to support Operation Desert Storm.  I was an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force – a Captain to be exact.  I was being sent to a unit I knew very well (at Langley AFB, VA) as it had been my very first active duty assignment, plus I had continued to serve there as both a reservist (after leaving active duty) and also as a civilian Government Service (GS) employee.

            My husband (who was active duty) had been deployed early in Operation Desert Shield (Aug 1990) to the United Arab Emirates.  We had two small children at that time and I had been dividing my time between caring for them, maintaining our household, augmenting force assets at Hill AFB, UT, and running a spouse support group for AF member spouses of those who had deployed. 

            It seemed an amazing intersection of God’s timing and provision (although I was unaware of that and Him at the time).  I was already trained as a Counselor, was the wife of a Commander of a large maintenance squadron (over a thousand people), and had access to unclassified information, people, and other resources to be of help to approximately 350 squadron wives whose husbands had deployed.  We commenced the support group as of 12Sep1990 – just one week after our troops had left.  We met weekly and our meetings coincided with several crucial campaign events.  As part of the overall support I also worked with other base assets and non-deployed squadron personnel to provide support.  We had a team of thirty wives who would monthly call ten other wives for a morale check.  The squadron executive officer would also send out a bi-monthly email of things going on with the service members overseas.

            You must understand this was in the 1990’s — when deployments were more rare than regular (as compared to the last ten years) – so these efforts were all unprecedented support for a deployment. We were one of three units to have the Air Staff interview us afterwards to see all that had been done.  I was awarded the highest volunteer award the base had as a result of this effort (the Angel Award).

  Meanwhile, for me and my family a great change ensued the day I got the call that I was being deployed.  Everything was about to change – but that was not as crucial as the fact that I had just spent the previous six months providing incredible levels of support to 350 spouses of every unimaginable nature.  The result was – I was totally depleted.  Used up.  I had nothing.  I had expended all this effort in my flesh.  I did not (technically) know the Lord at this time, although I would have told you I was a believer.  If I was saved it was by the skin of my teeth like the thief on the cross.

I am deployed on verbal orders.  It could be for up to a year.  All I know is that I am going to Langley, but on the way I will be dropping my children off at my mother’s home to be looked after.  They will be eight hours away from me.  I close up our home, my mom flies out to us to help us make the drive from Utah to Pennsylvania across a wintry interstate system in February 1991.  While we are making the trip an interesting thing occurs that shapes all future decisions.  A cease-fire is called.  Before I even make it to my mom’s house – the conflict is in a draw-down mode.

Cell phones were not common at this time either – so I wait to call my contacts until I get to my mom’s home to verify if I should still report.  Since there is no order other than the one calling me to active duty I am told to report, although I am told that it will be for a period probably shorter than a month –most likely just a couple of weeks.

The day I leave Pennsylvania to drive to Virginia is icy and snowing.  But it is not nearly as cold and barren as the state of my heart as I drive away from my children.  They haven’t seen their dad since August.  Now their mom is leaving as well.  They are 3 and 21 months old – too little to understand much.

I arrive at Langley AFB late in the evening, check into my room and prepare for active duty the next day.  As I report I am in for a surprise – although truly I shouldn’t have been.  Remember forces being called to active duty in this magnitude haven’t happened for a long time.  Desert Storm was a very large-scale call up.  Because it was unusual — bases hadn’t modified their reporting system to provide for one-day in-processing.  Also, my assignment was to work in a sensitive environment which required Top Secret clearances to be in place.  That also takes time.  The result was, for the roughly two-weeks that I could estimate I would be on active duty before the deactivation order would come down, I was going to be in-processing.  Right!  I would be going through in-processing like a normal asset coming to Langley.  That means: social actions; drug/alcohol/abuse training; driver’s safety, etc.  For all this upheaval with my family, dislocation, emotional trauma – there would be nothing to show.  I would just get in-processed in time to be out-processed.

I thus made a command decision – and a wrong one.  I chose to do limited in-processing.  On my own, without anyone else’s approval – I chose to do the minimum – only what was absolutely necessary.  I signed in for pay, for emergency data, got clearances issued and went to work.  I knew this unit extremely well.  That fact plus my state of mind justified my thinking to myself.  I assured myself it would be a travesty to not have something to show for all the upheaval.  I likened it to requiring a congressional investigation for misuse of funds.  It didn’t matter that this decision was truly not mine to make.  Somewhere – my thinking stopped tracking with reality.  I was full of pride over what I had just walked through and what I had gutted out.  I was primed for a major fall.

When we walk in massive pride – we can’t always tell how we are being received.  But I know I immediately rubbed a young first lieutenant in the wrong way.  She was coordinating reservists coming onto active duty.  It is quite possible that she was performing duties based on ground-work I had laid as a civilian in that same office some four years before.  I don’t know what I looked like then on the character spectrum, but I am pretty sure my tail feathers were raised high and flashing as I paraded around the squadron getting updates on how everything was, bragging on my husband the Colonel.  Whatever it was, something in me ignited a ferocious dislike in her!

This formed the crucible for the first breaking of me and my pride that the Lord had in store.  Because I refused to in-process correctly, when the time came to out-process – it was a nightmare to say the least.  Armed with information that my husband was due home in two weeks and was diverting from traveling with his unit to meet me in Pennsylvania – I was determined to make that happen no matter what.  I am sure I was all hair, teeth, and nails as I scraped and scrapped my way off active duty.  As a result of my actions, an investigation ensued which I had to reply to.  It was a humbling, and difficult time. Out of it the Lord spoke His first words to me that I could hear:  “You can do nothing without me.”

In the following months – I was brought to even greater humility and repentance, but more importantly – a lasting relationship with the Lord.  As I came before Him, He virtually dispelled all charges against me which would have cashiered me out of the reserves.  Even more astounding – He got me promoted to Major.  He is an Awesome God!

The capstone on this – some twenty years later is this:  my failure was based on operating in my own best natural thinking which led to my total disobedience towards authority.  In my natural self, it seemed horrid to have nothing to show for all of the upheaval in my family.  What I didn’t understand was that the Lord wasn’t interested in my production efforts – I was His production effort!  He established this crisis (the intersection of my depletion and work in the flesh, great pride and inflexibility, and Him, His authority and His example of complete and perfect obedience).  Though the in-processing requirements were entirely inefficient – they were not wrong.  I had no basis to violate them.  What was being shaken in me (although I initially would have called it the breaking of pride) was confidence in my independence and thinking removed from God.  What I understand now more fully is that he was setting up things then that would take 20 years plus to come to full understanding.  In the moment that He made the juxtaposition of that old event with the new understanding – I was meeting Him — again.  Twenty years ago – I knew in part.  But now, because I know Him in His authority and in His obedience – I see Him face to face – to His glory!  Who would believe He would patiently invest and wait for a full-yield understanding that took twenty years?  He is indeed our long-suffering Lord and King!  To Him be the glory and praise!

Be-loved! Be obedient!

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Chapter Seven

“The Bride says… ‘Yes Lord!’”

“For as many are the promises of God, they all find their Yes

in Him [Christ]….”

Amp 2Cor 1:20

What Does It Mean To Say… “Yes”?

          Saying “Yes” to the Lord is more than merely an emotional response to a prompting or request from the Lord.  Rather, it has as its core both a level of subjection and trust in the Lord – such that the respondent is able and willing to fully obey.  It is also an utterance of praise for the Lord that will soon be followed by obedient action.  Like living faith – it has wheels – it will take action.  But this coming to “Yes” is very dependent on the heart and mind of Christ first being fully formed in us.  Just like Paul describes in Gal 4:19, His life is growing in us.  Where this life rules in us (where His Kingdom is truly ruling) – we become obedient just like Christ was obedient – because it is His life and His Spirit that then compel us.  This is what makes this saying “Yes” a manifestation of the miraculous!  Now it is no longer our old natural self life that we are living by, but it is the redemptive nature and life of Christ that are being lived and walked out in us (Gal 2:20).  To be obedient – requires our subjection to Christ and the Father.  This necessarily rules out self.  Where self has not been overturned by the Cross, we will not obey.  To be obedient, we are often called to do or say, or bear things that without His life and Spirit leading us – we would never begin to agree with let alone perform.  Saying “Yes” therefore is not only miraculous and supernatural, but it is our highest level of praise to God – “for if the heart of worship is obedience, then the greatest vocalization of praise is ‘Yes, Lord.’” (Word from the Lord – 15Oct11 @ Seville Baptist Camp, Cloudcroft, NM)  Let us explore this notion of saying “Yes” to the Lord more fully.  To do so means we must look at Christ’s obedience.  For if Christ was fully obedient, and it is His life formed in us that brings us to such obedience, than saying “Yes” must have its origin – in Christ Jesus.

                                                                                                   

Obedience of the Highest Degree

          There is a place, beyond what we can know by our natural senses, but a place that exists, in Christ, where every promise and every word of the Lord is yes and amen.  From Scripture we know that this place is a place where Christ reigns.  Psalm 103:22 refers to this as a place of His dominion.  “Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!”  It is important to notice the worship that is evoked in this passage – He is blessed and praised here – not for His works – but as The Lord!  It is an acknowledgment of Who He is: His authority; His worthiness; His deity!

Yet before the foundation of the world, Jesus the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, was scheduled to come to earth to open a way for us to be restored in relationship to the Father.  He was crucified from the foundation of the world because in no other way could the quality of perfect obedience required to honor the Father’s perfect authority – be manifested except through God Himself.  On earth Jesus revealed to us the Father.  He manifested the Father to us.  Ultimately – He revealed the Father in the highest degree of His authority by becoming the sin offering that was needed.  Jesus became the personification of complete and total obedience in subjection to God the Father who is the pinnacle of all authority.  What we may tend to miss – is this.  Out of all requirements which Jesus walked out on this earth, the highest of them all was His subjection to the Father and His obedience to Him, even unto death.  Remember, subjection always requires the death of self to be able to obey.  So in this He not only overturned the works of the enemy (which promoted the introduction of self and rebellion), but in His perfect obedience Christ made a way now realized in His redemptive nature – that you and I can also obey.   So Jesus not only revealed through His death the supremacy of the authority of God, by Himself becoming the picture of obedience, but He made a way for you and me to also walk that way – in Him.  Jesus is … the perfect emblem of obedience!

The Beginning of “Yes Lord”

          In the Son — was the very first place where “yes Lord,” was uttered.  His “yes” was solidified “in Christ” — in Himself :), and manifested as He went to the Cross and fulfilled every term of the contractual agreement (Covenant) between He and the Father.  Because of Christ Jesus’ obedience — we can now receive every blessing prepared for us.  You and I receive these blessings when we abide and have our very being framed within Christ Jesus.  This is because:  where as many are the promises of God they all find their Yes answer in Him!   He said “Yes,” to the Father.  Now He is the very place of “Yes” for us!

The reality of this may be more complicated than we think.  However, our Lord Jesus Christ has made a way for us – where there was no way.  In His perfect obedience He has made a way for us to become obedient.  In His perfect love, worship, and honoring of the Father, He has created a redemptive life where we can “know Him in the power of His resurrection, in the fellowship of His suffering, and even in obedience unto death.” (Phil 3:10)  The entrance to that place “in Christ” is found through our surrender, with faith as the rail system for transit.  But paramount to abiding in this place of blessing – is having a heart of worship for the Lord where obedience forms its central core. The deepest and most Christ-like expression of any worship we may engage in is one where our heart vocalizes, “Yes Lord” and it then flows out of our mouth and out of our lives!

Again, beware less you think this is some ethereal, emotional, transcendent worship of the Lord – that has no practical application.  Indeed, application is both mandated and required.  We will walk out this worship of the Lord, in total obedience, every time we say in our heart and then with our lips: “Yes, Lord.”

Obedience to Also be Manifested Through the Church/Bride

          Before we begin to look more closely at the Bride, we must first understand this point.  That as Christ revealed the Father (and the Father’s Authority) through His obedience/subjection, so the Bride is charged with manifesting the authority of Christ, through her own obedience and subjection.  Christ is the Head of His Church which is His Body, His Promised Bride.  The Word says in 1Jn 4:17, “…as He is, so are we in this world.” So as He perfectly showcased the Father’s authority, so we are to do for Him, by our obedience.  However, there are issues with the Bride’s obedience (that of the Church) that must yet become captive to the obedience of Christ.

The Bride’s Readiness

          The Bride that is the Body of Christ is currently in varied states of readiness to say “yes” to her Lord.  Widely divergent beliefs, levels of faith, and most importantly obedience (or rather the lack of) within the body cause her to not yet be at the place of entering into all that the Lord has for her.  Let’s start our examination here – briefly, with divergent beliefs.

Divergent Beliefs

It’s not my goal to present a matrix cataloging all the differences in doctrines between denominations or in anyway really to discuss the differences between believers.  That is actually not the problem.  The real problem arises when, no matter what our denomination or profession, our belief or system of beliefs departs from the express truth of the word of God.  Where there is variance and actually “error” because of that departure – we block our ability to inherit the word and the promises of God.  You cannot receive what you do not believe or have faith for.  When you do not have faith – you cannot even begin to please God (Rom 8:8, Heb 11:6).  Faith is the mechanism for receiving our inheritance from God.  Romans 4:16 clearly outlines this process of inheriting.  Paul says:

“Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants – not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all.”

So to inherit what God has for us – our faith must be right, but also our truth must line up with what God says.  This is foundational, because God’s truth is our bedrock to cling to.  It is the written counterpart to the One Who is all Truth, and Whose Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.  As we cling in faith to the Word of Truth – so we cling to Jesus, because our first and greatest inheritance – is the life of Christ in us which forms the “Yes” to even greater inheritance!

Levels of Faith

          Again just a brief word about levels of faith – these comments are simply preambles to what is the main point, so I don’t want to bog down in an exhaustive discussion.

Abraham had a level of faith which from the very beginning was able to compel him and move him.  He had living faith.  It caused him to so trust God that he was obedient and left his homeland of Haran under the direction of the Lord.  It later caused him to again move out under God’s injunction to offer Isaac, the son of promise, as a sacrifice upon the Mount Mariah.  It is here that we are given the very first use of worship – as Abraham tells his servants, “I and the young man will go yonder and worship and come again back to you.” (Gen 22:5)  His faith in God is fully operative – He is trusting in God and His promise that Isaac is the son through which the promise will be realized of being the father of many nations.

We look at Abraham in this situation and we might be tempted to insert ourselves – our perspective, our feelings about God’s request. Everything within us perhaps balks at such a request from God – to offer a beloved son.  How can one make sense of such a request?  We will see that one cannot.  But to stay to the point, this was not the first time that Abraham had gone through this process of obedience.  By this time he has already interceded with Jesus for the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. He has already seen the result of remaining in faith to receive the inheritance concerning Isaac’s miraculous conception and birth – where his “human reason for hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised,…”. (Amp Rom 4:18)  Hoping in faith… is not like hoping in reason at all.  One looks at things unseen, one look at what is seen.  One trusts in God.  One trusts in our own ability to reason and think.  Hoping in faith was not a new process to Abraham, though His final testing of its strength was to come through this offering of Isaac (Heb 11:17-19).

Yet even more important, it is here out of his heart of worship that Abraham is fully obedient to the instruction of the Lord.  This is not mere external obedience – but Abraham is fully vested and united in faith – in spirit, soul, and body. His highest expression of worship is seen from his spiritual posture which has said “Yes, Lord – I will do as You say.”  From the moment he was given the instruction from God, to three days later at the place of Moriah, he moved constantly towards the place of “Yes, Lord.”

Don’t miss this point!  Obedience presupposes subjection to God’s authority, just as Christ was entirely subject.  But there can be no subjection when self is still ruling.  This is one of the things Jesus came to overturn.  So we know Abraham was in that place of subjection and obedience.  We know this because he arrived and did all that the Lord required.  If at any time he had moved into, “no Lord,” he would not have arrived at Moriah – nor would he have inherited the promise given to him by God.  But he was completely obedient – and while the rest is history – it shows us that before our heart can truly worship it must first be framed in obedience.  Again, the highest utterance of that worship framed in obedience is: “Yes Lord!”

A final comment – not only was Abraham fully vested in his obedience, but he actually gained “dunamis” strength and power in his worship of God.  In his prior experience of receiving God’s promise (Isaac) as his inheritance it says Abraham “… grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” (Amp Rom 4:20)  The rendering on this word “strong” is derivative from dunamis which is the Holy Spirit’s wonder working power.

What is the point in all of this?  When faith is fully resting on God – believing (like Abraham) that God is willing and able to do all that He has promised, we will obey Him and our obedience will walk out robed as worship.  This is the place of entry for receiving the promises and inheritance already purchased for us by Christ, which is only available “in Christ”.

“Yes” Believes and Obeys Despite Trouble

Even Unto Death

Think back to Joseph and all his troubles.  He didn’t know he was on the fast track to promotion in Egypt to the second highest position in the realm.  It didn’t look like that at all!  Through betrayal, and beatings, persecution, imprisonment, being overlooked and forgotten by men – he was never overlooked or forgotten by God – though it looked like that for a long time.  But the Lord was securing in Joseph a heart of obedience that was constantly expressed in the worship of his heart – a “Yes Lord” response to every adversity.  As I write this, I know it sounds easy.  But I know it was anything but easy – for it involved continual death in Joseph, just like it involved a death in Abraham and even Isaac.  It involved their dying to themselves: their own desires, plans, agendas, dreams, you name it – it all had to be laid down just like Isaac, a living sacrifice – and it had to stay down.

Think of this.  Joseph – having every “right” to hold grievance and hatred toward his brothers – yet continually surrendering that right and dying to it.  Joseph – having every “reason” to be offended by what God has apparently allowed in his life – continually choosing subjection and right relationship with the Lord.  Were there days when he was upset and angry, crying out to God – fearing with despair?  Most assuredly!  But in the final outcome – Joseph’s heart of obedience prevails.  Joseph – having every “reason” to doubt God and become embittered (as the chief butler in prison is restored and fails to remember Joseph to Pharaoh as one who interprets dreams) – instead chooses to remain in faith before God, though the days draw out and his captivity seems unending.  But again, Joseph remains in faith – the rails of his faith a solid and sure vehicle for operating in obedience – but his obedience to God is so profound that he is held qualified by God to be God’s platform to display God’s grace and power (Authority) to the Egyptians and the entire world at the time.  Joseph’s heart – every fiber of his being had to be aligned with “Yes Lord.”  Thus, not only does he inherit the promises of God (presented in his earliest dreams and visions), but the prominence of these promises is such that he is a type and shadow of the very nature of the Savior of the world yet to come as Zaphenath-paneah.

Quality of Our Obedience

          If you have ever worked with furniture restoration you understand that different types of wood have different hardness qualities.  Hence, the stain you use on the wood will penetrate deeply if it’s a soft wood like pine.  But a hard wood will allow less stain to penetrate because of the cell density and hardness of the wood.  Hardwoods have to be buffed sometimes with steel wool to get the level of intensity you want in the stain.

People are similar to wood in this regard – especially concerning the quality and depth of obedience.  This has a direct bearing on our walk in Christ and inheriting His promises.  When we are hard and resistant we have not surrendered.  We are not subject.  Jesus Himself recognizes our love for Him through the lens of obedience. (Jn 21:14)  In fact He disputes love where there is no obedience. (Lk 6:46)

Jesus relates a story of two sons in Matthew 21:28-31.  The father asks each of the sons to go and work in the vineyard that day.  The first son said that he would not, but afterward changed his mind and went.  The second son was asked the same thing by the father, but after replying that he would go – he did not.  Jesus asks the people – “Which of the two did the will of the father?”  When the chief priests and elders say to him the first son did the will of the father, He tells them tax collectors and harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before them.  This was a revealing test for the elders and chief priests.  You see, they could recognize in the story which of the sons was obedient.  Thus, they condemned themselves as disobedient – because they would not obey.

Jesus was speaking about the priests’ and elders’ hardness of heart.  They would not change their minds nor subject themselves– but rather they resisted Him and the will of the Father, just like hardwoods that have not been roughed up.  The first son changed his mind and went.  His capacity to be moved and turned by the Lord was greater than the second son.  The same question can be posed to us.  Are we able to have our heart and mind changed by the Lord?  Can He move on us in our thinking to bring a different perspective – one that is obedient to the will of God?  Is our thinking able to be brought captive to the obedience of Christ?

This question in itself is like a litmus test to our hardness or to our lack of subjection and obedience to Christ.  2Cor 10:5 instructs us to actually refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God.  Many times such arguments come from outside our own thinking.  Sometimes they are aspects of our own thinking which have not been worked on by the Cross.  These things are introduced and retained by our fleshly, soulish reasoning, and by the enemy.  But they give us insight to where our perspectives are not aligned with truth.  Thus where our thinking is adversarial to the true knowledge of God, our obedience cannot be otherwise.  We will follow what we think until our thinking is overturned by truth!  May that happen with us all!

Say, “Yes” to Whatever He Says

(The Power of Agreement)

 

          Before Jesus could minister the Gospel to the Gentiles He was required to present it fully to the Jews.  It was the order of things given to Him by the Father as part of the Covenant obligations.

In Matthew 15:25 we have an amazing story of the Canaanite woman who runs after Jesus and His disciples, crying out to Him, begging for the healing of her demon possessed daughter.  When the Lord did not answer her, the disciples asked to be able to send her away.  He says to her that He is sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.  But she kneels before Him, worships, calls Him Lord and continually implores Him to help.  It is then that He speaks to her.  Jesus says, “It is not right (proper, becoming or fair) to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  (Amp Mt 15:26)  Now something incredible happens.  Where the door on the matter seems to be closing, the faith of the women (in agreement with the Lord’s words) finds a way to squeak in her toe of faith to block that closing door.  She says to Him. “Yes Lord, yet even the little pups eat the crumbs that fall down from their master’s table.”  Jesus turns to her, commends the greatness of her faith, and concludes, “Be it done to you as you wish.”  Her daughter was healed from that moment.

This passage reveals a number of really important things.  At the moment she was petitioning the Lord – she was tacitly outside the sphere of His ministry.  Do you see this?  Anyone –has the power to turn the Lord’s Head! She was Canaanite. But it was her faith and worship which gave her access to the benefits of His Kingdom.  How could He refuse her – when her faith and worship had declared her heart as being His?  Her faith and worship gave her entrance where natural birth would have disqualified her.

This next point may be more difficult, but it concerns the power of agreement.  She did not attempt to vindicate herself, or to deny His association of her as a little dog. What is really interesting is that as I researched the usage of worship in different Scriptures, in this text, Mt 15:25, the word used for worship is Strongs# 4352.  The word is “proskuneo.” It means to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (lit or fig) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): — worship.  Here is this Canaanite woman – worshiping the Lord in just this way, and as she is engaged in worship like a little dog kissing His hand – the conversation turns to the little dogs eating the crumbs from the master’s table! Amazing – but not coincidence! May we all have such faith, and such worship springing from the posture of obedience, and such devotion which causes us to not only be completely Christ-focused, but free from any worry or issue of offense as well.

In her subjection, she leapt over the Lord’s hurdle (of her ineligibility) on the springboard of “Yes Lord.”  In Matthew 18:19-20 we see the truth of this event depicted in the word.  It says, “if two or more of you on earth (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as my followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them.”  Here the Canaanite woman was completely in agreement with the Lord.  She was drawn in as more than a casual follower – for she pursued Him as her very life depended on him. Dead to the potential insult put before her, she instead used it as a stepping stone to reach Him. Many times we quote this verse but still do not receive what we are asking for.  If we are His followers, our first order of agreement is always with Him, His Word and His nature.  It is not agreement just between two believers.  It is two believers coming to the place of agreement — in the Lord.  These are very different things.  The reason is this: every word and promise is yes and amen in Christ Jesus!  So our agreement must be founded in Him believing like Abraham, that He is willing and able to do what we ask. The Canaanite woman found her agreement in Christ – she said “Yes Lord,” I am a little dog – but I am Your little dog Lord.

When my thinking and believing are framed in agreement with truth and the fullness of Christ is formed in me – I will find entrance, and the granting of my petition, just as the Canaanite women did.  But like her, our heart must rest in faith in Him, knowing He is Lord. However, it is our faith which remains steadfast in a heart of worship — walked out as obedience which secures the promise. Before we can ever receive what the Lord says, we must meet Him in subjection with a heart of worship that says, “Yes Lord!”

So must the Bride become — so she must do!

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Day Eighteen

 

More on Habitation

Those Who Seek Honor for Themselves

 

“He who speaks on his own authority seeks to win honor for himself. …”

Jn 7:18a (AMP)

 

 

          On Day Sixteen we first began looking at the habitation of the Lord.  Today we continue that topic with a look at something that can block the Lord’s habitation in our lives: having a wrong motivation – which is a motivation not from the Lord.

          The Body of Christ has allowed waters of disobedience to muddy and cloud truth in our hearts by retaining motivations from ourselves — yet believing they are from the Lord.  This passage in John 7:18 deserves much focus and meditation.  Jesus clarifies that if we speak according to our own authority (what I believe I know/understand/trust in my own soul) I speak to win honor for myself. 

          Have I sent myself to a task?  Have I taken up a cause or obligation where the Lord has not sent me?  Have I pursued action and busy-ness — racing to do things for the Kingdom that appear good from every logic angle I inspect, but have not been requested or sanctioned by the Lord? If I do not have His yes – His Amen – in me, if I have not made a “practice” of surrendering to Him my life and my works and motivations, then I am quite probably operating on my own authority for my own honor.

          Many would quickly say to this, “Well God gave me a brain to use – to decide things.  He would not have me be just sitting around not using it!”  And indeed God did give us a great brain – a wondrous computer to compute with.  But He wants it to be brought under submission to Him in every way.  The Lord does not want us to operate as loose canons working independently of Him!

          Does a musical conductor allow you to play any note you want at any time you desire?  Does your own body allow your hand to go off seeking its own plan and fulfillment?  No – of course not!  Yet the Body of Christ consistently presses against the constraint of God’s love to do exactly what it believes is the correct thing to do – without waiting for the leading of the Lord.  It was this same independence that got us into trouble in the Garden.

          Listen to the second part of John 7:18:  “…But He Who seeks the glory and is eager for the honor of Him Who sent Him, He is true; and there is no unrighteousness or falsehood or deception in Him.”  You might see that and say it’s ok because it’s talking about Jesus – He was supposed to do only and all that the Father said to do…, and you would be correct!  But you see – Jesus is the Head of His body.  And that same body (His Church) should be constrained just “as He is” … by His rule, His authority, His leading, and His instruction.  1Jn 4:17 says that “…as He is so are we in the world.” To be otherwise – is acting independent of His authority, is seeking our own honor, and is in fact rebellious and resistant towards Him.  This simple independence will preclude and interfere with the Lord entering habitation with us – everytime.

          Be-loved.

 

 

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