Let Us Go On Unto Maturity!

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Anyone who has followed the leading of the Lord for any length of time can look back and see that He gave them people to fellowship with, learn from and even spiritual gifts from which a “ministry” in the church rose around, only to discover that He asked them to walk away from it and move on. This often causes great confusion and consternation and results in an emotional struggle. We cry out, “But God, didn’t you give this fellowship/gift to me? Hasn’t it been wonderfully used by you in my life and in the lives of others? What is going on?! Is this really you?” What’s worse, once we start to accept it as Him, well-meaning saints see this change coming and try to persuade us to not follow the Lord’s leading.

There is a principle well established in the Bible of God taking His saints out of their comfort zones, stretching them and getting them to grow up further into Him and all that He has for them Look at the lives of Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and all the disciples. Most of these saints had a wilderness period that separated the earlier part of their walk from the last. Its like a spiritual circumcision.

Jesus didn’t teach His disciples to be static in their obedience to Him. They had to leave their nets, their tax business, their parents, their politics, and even their religious traditions to follow Him. To a Pharisee who was stuck in his traditions, Jesus compared being led by the Spirit to being blown around by the wind, not knowing where it is taking you next. Because of his adherence to a temple worship system Nicodemus could only say, “How could this be?”

As one dear older saint pointed out, “the opposite of the Wind of God is bricks.” Like Peter who was always being stretched by the Lord, God does something wonderful in our lives and we want to enshrine and fix it in place saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let us build…” (see Matt. 17:1-5). God’s answer to this is always the same, “This is my beloved Son… hear [and follow] Him!” Remember, we serve a God who makes all things new as the old things in our lives pass away. Consider these two passages from Hebrews:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto maturity; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Heb 6:1-2, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Heb 13:10-14, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

I recently encountered a man with “a recognized prophetic ministry” who has been suffering from a bad back that has sidelined him for a while. He saw this as three years in his own personal wilderness. The problem is that his ministry has become fixed, a tradition in his life that must be continued and served. He is struggling to keep doing what he had been doing before this period with his weakened back. The doctors wanted to do surgery that would have fixed it but incapacitated him for two years while it healed and he refused saying, “This won’t do!” Has he even considered that God’s hand was in it to get him to stop and take a new and better direction in his life? This is so typical of ministers today. They get a name and surround themselves with a ministry machine they create that must be constantly fed or it will die. Soon Jesus challenges them with a new direction that precludes the former work and most of them refuse to answer the wilderness call that they might have something much better. It is like Peter who went back to fishing after Jesus rose again. Jesus appeared to Him while fishing and said, “Peter, do you love me more than these (a net full of fish)? Feed my sheep!”

I can tell you that when God put me into my 14 year wilderness, all that I had at the beginning (ministry, church, fellowship, friends, job, neighbors, local, money, etc.) was soon gone. As I struggled with this void in my life I wondered how long it would last. The more I pushed against it seeking a way out, longing for the good old days, the stronger His chains on me became. It all started when I gave Him permission to kill the pride in me (from moving in spiritual gifts) and make me like His Son — only doing the works I see Him doing and speaking the words that I heard Him saying. To do that He had to wipe my spiritual slate clean!

Toward the end of this wilderness period He let me know that the things that fell into the ground and died (what He took away) was not what He would cause to spring forth when the stripping was over. I was thinking that the former little prophetic ministry would emerge as a GREAT prophetic ministry! As I was coming out at the other end of this dark night experience He said, “You have not been this way before!” This would be a whole new ballgame. What has happened since end of it in1994 has proven this to be true and I am so glad I obeyed.

Once again as I was reading my Open Windows daily devotion, T. Austin-Sparks spoke right to what was happened and is happening in my life as I continue to pursue that for which God has apprehended me.

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head. (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)

Things may be taking a new and different shape, but the purpose of God is the same. We may be presented with His vision in new and further-on aspects, but it is only what He originally meant. Can we adjust? Can we leave “the things that are behind”? Without raising any questions as to the right or wrong of what has been, can we “go on” and “grow up,” “attain”? God-given vision makes men of prayer. This is almost too obvious when we remember the men of the Bible. It was vision that got them away from the trivial and petty. It requires vision to get prayer on to the major lines and to make it real travail. What a bound and range those prophets had in prayer! But what immense issues were precipitated. It is not our vision for God, but His vision in us that will be dynamic, and that will determine value.

I cannot conclude without pointing out that what could be voluntary with much gain has often to be made compulsory with much loss. This is because we do not stand back from time to time and in detachment and waiting upon the Lord give Him an opportunity of enlarging vision. Many a work which has mightily served the Lord and been a great spiritual testimony has lost its former glory, purity, and impact because it has become a “Work,” a “Movement,” an Organization, and its ramifications and responsibilities have become such as to completely rule out any such “retreat” with God, where that work is put back and a real openness to the Lord for anything else, more or other, is enquired after. The Lord might send prophetic vision by ministry to lead into His fuller meanings if there was a way for it, but we are too busy. What tragedy is related to such preoccupation! (emphasis added by me)

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/002082.html

22 comments on “Let Us Go On Unto Maturity!

  1. Lynette says:

    YES, yes, and yes!!! 🙂 Love all that Father is saying to you and through you Michael, thank you so much for being a channel in sharing it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the encouragement to go on to maturity. I want that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Judi says:

    *Like 🙂
    I have been reading the blog and am chewing on the last few posts…

    Today’s “Open Windows” had impacted me as well and the same emphasis was pointed out to me BEFORE your post showed up in my email AND before I read TAS.
    I had been communing with the Lord regarding some “stuff” I just could not put my finger on as the problem but I considered “it” to be hindering me. I have asked the question many times over the years what this “thing” is and thought I found an answer before – a few times – but there was no confirmation or change though I confessed it to Him. The issue centers around “LOVE” and the presence of a “Root of Bitterness”.
    (It is a very dark place so do not wish to say further-sorry to need to be vague…)
    Also, very honestly, I do not think I had a “first love” experience with the Lord – and what I did “know” regarding “LOVE” was not what He means by it.
    So this morning (my morning off from the farm) I began just following His leading and it is amazing to me what showed up!

    To attempt to keep this “short” today (LOL – I have 3 pages in my journal of what I saw of a past that still had some of its claws in me) I saw that I could choose to leave some more “dead stuff” behind – it is confessed and under the blood – and move forward.
    I sensed the Lord say, “This is behind you – move forward”. No fluff, just leave it, let the past go and move forward and then you confirm it for the second time today.

    Philippians 3:12-16 (KJV)

    “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
    Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
    I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

    OK!!! and the word “apprehended” in Strong’s Concordance means “to lay hold of, seize”
    (- not a passive word at all. I think it is the same as “the Hand of God”-IMO)
    Also in Strong’s for attain “to come down to,reach” and attained “to come before another, anticipate, arrive”

    May I also emphasize from today’s TAS devotional:
    QUOTE: “Things may be taking a new and different shape, but the purpose of God is the same. We may be presented with His vision in new and further-on aspects,
    ***but it is only what He originally meant.” (my stars added for emphasis)

    and here the Lord reminded me of the verse in Ephesians 1:4-6 (KJV)

    “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved”

    Quote from you:”The more I pushed against it seeking a way out, longing for the good old days, the stronger His chains on me became.”

    Oh how well I know that hand of the Lord against me!
    VERY painful like “kicking against the pricks or goads” for an ox ( see Acts 9:5)
    in Strongs “pricks” mean “a sharp point” OUCH!
    In Merriam Websters dictionary:
    Definition of goad
    1 a : something that pains as if by pricking : thorn
    b : something that urges or stimulates into action : spur

    The accident has been a goad to the company to improve its safety record.

    2 : a pointed rod used to urge on an animal
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/goad

    ((Interesting it being a “thorn” in the first def. – like Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (?) that kept him from being puffed up with pride))

    I found this wonderful message from C.H. Spurgeon (9/9/1866) regarding “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”
    Acts 9:5.
    Here is the link since it is a bit long for my “short” comment:
    http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols10-12/chs709.pdf

    Well I must say I am expecting the “move forward” will have its own set of challenges for me to submit to the Lord’s process of making me like Himself 🙂
    YES “…let us go on unto maturity…” Amen.

    Thank you, Michael for continuing to be transparent in your journey so we can see better how the Lord is at work in our own lives through His work in yours – and be inspired.

    Love in Jesus to you and all the saints here and thanking Him for each one of you! 🙂 Judi

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you Judi for your own transparency and sharing with us your journey of breaking free of guilt into HIS marvelous light. A couple of verses came to me as I read your story and journey into freedom.

      “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:8-9, KJ2000)

      “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:1-2, RSV)

      Yes, we will sin, but God has made provisions for that that we might receive forgiveness as we confess it and then be free of all the guilt that came with it. Notice His provision in this verse as well.

      but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:7, RSV)

      In the fellowship that is ours as we walk in His light, even if we sin here, His blood cleanses us from all sin. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus PERIOD!” We sin, we confess it, HE is faithful to forgive us and we resume walking in the Light. Satan tries to capture us and keep us in his darkness by telling us, “Sorry, but this time you REALLY blew it. You are toast! There is no forgiveness for YOU!” GUILT and CONDEMNATION! It is so sad that his messengers often reside behind church pulpits. In religion and legalism there is bondage, but IN Christ there is freedom.

      “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” He goes on to describe that slavery as being under the law… religion. “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.” (Gal 5:1,4,5 RSV). Christ has set us free and the Spirit by faith in Him makes us righteous. Religion condemns and makes us slaves. Choose LIFE!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Judi says:

        Thank you Michael
        Interestingly I just laughed out loud at this one particular part that you wrote:
        Quote: “Satan tries to capture us and keep us in his darkness by telling us, “Sorry, but this time you REALLY blew it. You are toast! There is no forgiveness for YOU!” GUILT and CONDEMNATION!”
        “You are toast!” That especially tickles me…
        I laugh but only after the fact since I struggled with believing I was [not] forgiven for so long. Back and forth I went. Toast indeed! The Lord just added some butter and honey to that toast LOL!

        Like

      • Michael says:

        Yes, Judi, ours is a land flowing with milk (butter) and honey. Your comment made me laugh too. I am so glad you are free in Christ’s love.
        Michael

        Like

  4. Good word Michael. As I was reading, this scripture came to mind:

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Patricia wrote,

    What a beautiful teaching Michael, we can not twist the arm of the Lord in any way, when God stops moving we just do not move, when God moves we move, but the natural man has a hard time letting go of what the Lord has already left behind. On the other hand, we like to cling by nature and the Lord teaches us again and again that we must not force anything because it is not by our strength, it is with the power of His Spirit.

    This reminds me of something I read by Brother Watchman Nee:

    “David served in a generation, his. He could not serve in two. While today we try to perpetuate our work establishing organizations, societies or systems, the saints of the Old Testament served in their day and passed on. This is an important principle of life. The wheat is sown, grows, spike forms, is harvested and then the whole plant, until the root is pulled up by the plow. The work of God is spiritual to the point of not having any earthly root, nor does it even smell like earth. Men pass on, but the Lord remains. Everything related to the Church must be alive and current, facing the present – you could even say facing the needs of the time and then it passes. It must never be static, fixed, or clinging to the earth. God himself takes away his servants, but gives others in his place. Our work suffers, but His never wains. Nothing touches Him. It is still God.”

    A hug my brother.

    Qué bella enseñanza Michael, no podemos torcer el brazo al Señor en ninguna forma, cuando Dios deja de moverse nosotros simplemente no avanzamos, cuando Dios se mueve nosotros nos movemos, pero al hombre natural le cuesta soltar aquello que el Señor ya ha dejado a un lado, nos gusta aferrarnos por naturaleza y el Señor nos enseña una y otra vez que no debemos forzar nada porque no es con nuestra fuerza, es con el poder de Su Espíritu.

    Esto me recuerda algo que leí del hermano Watchman Nee: ” David sirvió en una generación, la suya. No podía servir en dos. Mientras nosotros hoy día procuramos perpetuar nuestra obra estableciendo organizaciones, sociedades o sistemas, los santos del Antiguo Testamento sirvieron en su día y pasaron. Este es un importante principio de vida. El trigo se siembra, crece, forma espiga, se cosecha y luego toda la planta, hasta la raíz es arrancada por el arado. La obra de Dios es espiritual al punto de no tener raíz alguna terrenal, ni siquiera tiene olor a tierra. Los hombres pasan, pero el Señor permanece. Todo lo relacionado con la Iglesia debe ser vivo y actual, dando la cara al presente — hasta se podría decir encarando las necesidades de la hora que pasa. Nunca debe ser estática, fija, aferrada a la tierra. Dios mismo se lleva sus siervos, pero da otros en su lugar. Nuestro trabajo sufre, pero el suyo jamás se perjudica. Nada le toca. Todavía es Dios”

    Un abrazo mi hermano.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Patricia, thank you for sharing this teaching. You (and W. Nee) are so right! Fallen man wants to leave his mark on the earth. They want to leave a legacy so that when they die mankind will remember them. It is the spirit of Babylon that says,

      “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth [and be forgotten].” (Gen 11:4, ESV2011)

      Sad to say, most church builders and planters are no different. BUT unless God builds the house they who build it labor in vain. God still will not have any idols before (in preeminence) HIM. There is only one measure in the economy of God which will go on into eternity– that which has been CRUCIFIED with Christ with only HIM living in on in them! The flesh of man profits NOTHING!!! Every man’s work will be tried by fire and all the wood, hay and stubble of his dead works will go up in smoke. Only the gold, silver and precious stones of the work of Christ in us will survive.

      God has moved mightily in the past and people call those moves “revivals.” But it is dead as soon as man touches it and makes a “movement” out of it. The next generation that tries to keep it going and they form dead institutions and denominations out of something that was once made alive by the presence of God. God has no grand kids. Everyone must be born from above as a child of God. My children are not saved by my faith. They must surrender to Jesus themselves.

      If you want to show me a “great man of God,” I first want to see the cross in His life, his wilderness journey that has killed all of Babylon and Egypt in his life that once motivated him. I want to know nothing about a man other than Jesus Christ in him and him crucified.

      Paul wrote, “If any man thinks he knows something, let him know this… he know NOTHING as he ought to know.” The further we proceed on this way of the cross, the more we realize that we really know nothing compared to the excellent knowing of Christ in a most intimate way. That is all that counts. The greater He becomes in our lives as our ALL the more we decrease until “our” lives are HIS life only. As John put it, “He must increase and I must decrease.”

      “Enoch walked with God AND HE WAS NO MORE!”
      “Our God is a consuming fire!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adriana Patricia says:

        Así es Michael. Enoc caminó con Dios, no dice, que Enoc construyó iglesias, ni creo campañas evangelísticas, ni se inventó los mejores discipulados. nada. Caminó con Dios. Pero al hombre en su naturaleza caída le gusta llamar la atención y dejar un legado, como tú dices. Al hombre natural le gusta llenarse de logros humanos para ser aplaudido.

        Cuánto nos ha tocado perder y ser cincelados una y otra vez, para aprender que nada de nuestra vida natural satisface el corazón de Dios, todo lo de Adán es abominable para Dios.

        Esto que dices es tan real: “Si quiere mostrarme un “gran hombre de Dios”, primero quiero ver la cruz en su vida, su viaje por el desierto que ha matado a toda Babilonia y Egipto en su vida que alguna vez lo motivó. No quiero saber nada sobre un hombre que no sea Jesucristo en él y él crucificado”.

        En esto conocemos quienes son de Él y quienes no. Que nuestra cabeza ruede y termine en una bandeja como la de Juan. Un abrazo mi amado hermano.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Thank you, Patricia, for your comment. The first Adam and all that he has become in us must be replaced by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, and ALL that HE is! Like Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do NOTHING.” For this reason when I look at Christiendom and what it has become I SEE A LOT OF *NOTHING.*

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like what you wrote here, Michael. I think TAS offers an explanation of spiritual maturity here.

    We have our sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Those are the five senses of our physical natural life. But there is also an inner man called the “hidden man of the heart”, and that inward man has what corresponds to the outer man’s five senses. There is a faculty of spiritual sight, of spiritual hearing, of spiritual smelling or sensing, of spiritual taste and spiritual touch, and these senses are very important to the life of the inward man – yes, more important even than the senses of the physical man.

    […]

    ‘We have had fathers of our flesh and they saw to it that our fleshly, our physical, senses were developed, that we were kept up to the mark on knowing right and wrong in the natural realm; they taught us there what was true and what was false’. Now we have a Father of our spirits, and it is our spiritual faculties and senses that are the object of His concern. He is concentrating upon the development of capacity in spiritual seeing, and spiritual hearing, and spiritual sensing and tasting and touching. This is what is meant by the full-grown man.

    http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/001972.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      YES! Let us go on unto full maturity IN Christ and the fullness of HIS love which is the ONE way that all men will know that we are HIS disciples.

      Thanks for sharing this excerpt, Susanne. I have noticed the spiritual counterpart to the five natural senses as well. I am looking forward to reading the whole article/chapter by TAS

      Bless you, my sister! ⭐

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kenneth Dawson says:

    I relate with this post– I was living in Florida married 5 kids a house and a library of over one thousand heavy duty books on theology and doctrine and going to a big evangelical church— And then came the wilderness–House-gone,3 kids–dead–wife=divorce,thousand books gone with the wind—Now 12 years later I am in Tulsa—where? Tulsa–but I am fortunate in that I came across you and Sue and all these other fine commentators.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Kenneth, sorry to hear about your loses. I got to keep my wife and kids, but about lost everything else when the Sabean raiders came through. I spent most of a year in deep depression, curled up in the fetal position because I couldn’t land a job no matter what I tried. It was a real blow to my ego to have to stand in government free cheese lines with all the welfare people and have my kids dumpster diving after dark at the local supermarket and have to glean potatoes out of fields that were too muddy for the farmer to harvest them. It truly is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Living God. Frankly, losing those books on theology was no big loss. My stint in the wilderness was so long because of all the crap I had learned in churches and elsewhere that was not what He needed in my mind muddling up the voice of His Spirit. The generation that went into the Promised Land had no memory of Egypt and all its gods and niceties. The same has to happen to us.

      I remember when He finally started using me to write what He wanted to share with the body of Christ, I said, “You know, Lord, this is really great that you wait to use me this way late in life when I have started to lose my mental acuity.” To this He said, “And your point is?” In other words HE did not need my quick mind, either. It all makes since once we start becoming scribes for Him instead of “authors.” HE IS THE AUTHOR!!! All we can do is listen and speak/write what He has for us. WE are not Original nor are we meant to be, but HE is. I know what you mean about Tulsa. I visited that town only once, the religious spirit there was repressive. Babylon all over again.

      “And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:3-4, RSV)

      You are in my heart and prayers, my dear brother. I am glad you found us. I hope we can meet some day soon.

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Dan says:

    Good post..
    —-
    I went through similar experience ( brokenness, etc..) – on my journey.
    During that time, I learned that ” It is not our Vision for God, but His Vision
    In us that will be dynamic and that will determine value. ” -TAS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dan, I had a local pastor in the early ’90’s that said from the pulpit, “If you can’t get behind MY vision for this church, then go find a pastor whose vision you CAN get behind.” What a difference between this mindset and God’s vision for each of us which is quenched as long as we sit under the heal of over-lording men!

      Moses thought he knew what God had for him to do, killing one Egyptian task master at a time while trying to live under the ruler-ship of the king of Egypt, but it took 40 years of his own personal wilderness to kill that vision of his flesh so God could instill in a weak and humble old man HIS Vision… to deliver a whole nation in a matter of a couple of week from the slavery of Pharaoh and deliver them into the Promised Land leading them and providing for them every step of the way.

      May He continue to develop His vision for and in you in the weeks, months and years ahead, my brother. Good to see you again face to face.

      Michael

      Like

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Dan, another thought. God has used over-lording pastors in my life to teach me the difference between laboring under the vision of a man, including my own vision, and getting free of that so that He could work HIS vision in me.

      Once again TAS has nailed it. God had to work a death in him at an early age when he was trying hard to be a denominational pastor. All that had to go before He could start to enlighten and enliven him according to HIS will. All to many of us settle in under another man’s vision and miss what God has for us, so Jesus’ words once again come to pass, “You make of no effect the commandments (leading) of God by your own traditions.”

      You sure can see and hear the difference that has made in T. Austin-Sparks as opposed to today’s typical church teachers and preachers and their many tapes and books that glorify THEIR vision.

      Like

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