Why We Have the Discipline of the Lord in Our Lives

Photo by Maria Krasnova on Unsplash

I have spent a great deal of my life trying to become self-sufficient. In my youth I found that I could not depend on my family for love and support and even so-called “friends” were often self-centered and often cruel with no compassion toward me in my social awkwardness (I grew up in a completely dysfunctional family). So my answer to that was to seek a place where I could show my worth by what I could do. I became quite proficient in many fields, at least proficient enough that I was of value to employers even though I tried some of them with my social ineptitude.

I said all this to say that once I came to a saving faith in Christ, meeting Him was a most wonderful experience. I was on a spiritual honeymoon with Jesus that lasted for many months. He was my constant companion. Because of His great love, the day came that I wanted to become all that He had for me. That was when the trials started in earnest. I had to find out that God was not interested in all my soulish abilities, gifts and self-sufficiency. The Bible says that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. How little did I know!

One day Jesus and the disciples were walking along and they came across a blind man and the story goes like this:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Teacher, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:1-3, KJ2000)

Did you get that? He did not say, “… so that the works of God might be manifest TO him,” but rather he was born blind so that the works of God might be manifest IN him! This man’s blindness was a gift from God to humble him and prepare him to meet and accept Christ. God knows exactly what we need to bring us into the fullness of Christ. This is the only case where Jesus put His spit on a person and the man did not protest one iota. In his lack of reaction Jesus knew that his blindness had done its work. Truly the working of God was manifest that day in a blind man while he was still blind. He had spit and mud in his eyes, yet he did not curse Jesus and wipe it away. He went by himself and washed in the pool of Siloam as commanded and in his humble obedience he received his sight. Yes, he was healed, but truly the working of God was manifest by his humility and obedience to such a foolish command. Jesus often spoke humiliating things to people to prove their hearts before He healed them. Maybe that is what He is waiting for in us. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”

We have heard that old quote from Benjamin Franklin, “God helps those who help themselves.” Sorry, but it’s a lie! Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1, ESV2011). Then He said a most curious thing, “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV2011).

You see troubles and tribulation “go with the territory” when we get serious about our place as God’s children. He wants us to mature into full sonship and not remain as self-focused children. Jeremiah called out to God in his troubles, “Why do the wicked prosper?” How many times have we asked that and how can Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor?” God replied to Jeremiah saying, “If you have tired running with men, how will you make it with horsemen?” In other words, “Quit your complaining, Jeremiah.” Paul wrote:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2Tim 3:12-13, ESV2011)

As His children, God puts us into a place where we can no longer trust in our natural abilities, intellect, beauty or any other thing that the world sees as valuable. Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Herein is the key. The amplified Bible translates the word “believe” as that place where we “cling to, trust in and totally rely upon” Christ. Yes, in this world we who desire truly godly lives in Christ are going to suffer rejection and suffering as He did. Why? So that we will quit trusting in the world, its ways, its people, and our own abilities. Those things that got us ahead in the world system are in conflict with the kingdom of God. You might say that when we come to Christ our “Midas touch” starts working in reverse! I have met men who made themselves millionaires only to see it all vaporize when they surrendered to Christ. Some became bitter and others surrendered to His working, believing that God was in it all. He was making their “camel” fit through the eye of God’s needle (see Luke 18:25-28).

All that we suffer as His saints has an eternal purpose as He conforms us into the image of Christ. Some of us come under severe persecution and some come under physical suffering through diseases or bodily degradation (the effects of Covid 19 has become all too familiar with many of His saints). Some have their riches stripped from them when they come to Christ. One way or another our loving Father brings us to a place in His maturing process where we put our whole trust in Him and removes those things we once took pride in. In my case I had taken pride in being taller than most men, my ability to get things done with my own strength, and not asking others for help when I needed it. That has all changed. In my old age my back is suffering from scoliosis and deteriorating disk disease as well as compression fractures in my spine. Back pain is my constant companion and my height is shrinking. I have to call upon others for help in lifting and moving things and it is totally against my nature to do so. Even technical things I once knew evade my aging mind. I am reminded of what Jesus told that old self-sufficient Peter.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:18-19, ESV2011)

This death He spoke of is also dying to self-sufficiency and all other forms of self as we totally surrender to Christ. It is a death in which He alone is glorified. So how do we overcome tribulation and suffering in this world? By escaping it? No! We mature to the place in life through our Father’s discipline where we overcome completely by abiding IN Christ who said, “take heart; I have overcome the world.” Or as Paul put it, “We are more than overcomers IN Christ Jesus.” Jesus told the disciples, “If you abide in Me and I abide in you, you will bring forth much fruit.” The key word in these verses is IN. The Christian walk is not a religion or a belief system, nor is it an organization. It is totally dependent on a moment by moment relationship with and IN Jesus Christ (see John 17:20-21).

Jesus was and is the ultimate obedient Son. He is the forerunner of many sons and daughters unto the glory of the Father. Early in my Christian walk, I prayed what my church friends called “dangerous prayers.” They learned not to pray such prayers in hopes of avoiding suffering. As it is written “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Living God.” But I wanted all that God had in mind for me so that like Paul, “I might apprehend ALL that I had been apprehended for.” I prayed, “Father make me like your Son, so that I would only speak the words you give me to speak and only do those things you want me to do.” I also prayed as Paul saying, “That I may know Him, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings and be conformed unto His death.” Most Christians I knew wanted the power of God at their disposal and their prayers ended right there. But in the economy of God it is a “full meal deal.” You can’t have the one without the others. We must mature to the place where we find fellowship with Christ not only in the good times but in our suffering instead of moldering in our self-pity when it happens. We must mature to the place where we are conformed into the image of Christ by dying to our old nature and being raised in His newness of life. Remember Jesus’ final prayer before He suffered on the cross, “Father, I would that this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will by yours be done.” Few of us ever dreamed that taking up our crosses and following Him would be so literal.

One time I heard a story of a traveling evangelist who spoke at a small church gathering about the power of God. Afterward he had an “altar call” where he said, “All of you who want God’s power line up on the left side of the church and all you who want suffering line up over here on the right side.” Well, the majority lined up on the left side with only two on the right. He then pointed to those two and said, “I will now pray for them. These will experience the power of God.” As Paul wrote, “In my weakness is Christ made perfect within me.”

I would encourage you to read an article by T. Austin-Sparks that I found this morning,

“Maturity- the Lord’s Desire for His People.” http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/003680.html

Love to all of you who desire ALL that Christ has for you. You are my brethren and I look forward to the day we can meet face to face. “When He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him [and one another] as He is.”

33 comments on “Why We Have the Discipline of the Lord in Our Lives

  1. Michael says:

    After praying about it, I felt the Lord saying that the problem was caused by WordPress rejecting the photo I got off of “Free Christian Images.org” that was just below the title. Although “a picture is worth a thousand words,” how could a mere picture describe what all His saints are going through in a time such as this?
    Now that I got this article posted I was able to add a picture that seemed to fit. He reminded me of what I saw in our back yard on Mother’s Day. There among our thorny blackberry bushes was a lone tulip flower. The local deer love tulips and will eat them down to the ground. I have found that God gave plants thorns for a reason… to keep the browsing animals away from their fruit and flowers! This plant found a way to survive by growing up among the thorns. In all this I was reminded why we have all those difficult times in our lives… to keep the devil in check in our lives so we can produce spiritual fruit unto Him alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tobie says:

    Thank you, Michael. This ministered to me in a very deep way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for letting me know, my brother. As the Book says, “Deep calls unto deep.”

      “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps 130:1-4, ERV)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. gbhalford says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Michael – at first glance it may not sound like encouragement, but it surely IS ! I’m sure many of us can equate with all the things you have talked about here… the desire for “self sufficiency”, the seemingly never-ending process of stripping away the dependence on self, age wearing down the physical abilities, and maybe opening the spiritual eyes a bit more, the realisation that “He must increase and I must decrease.
    For a while now I have been praying that Father would bring someone like-minded alongside physically, to share this journey with. It has been a little ‘lonely’ for some time. But just recently Father began to make me aware that it was probably in the loneliest times of Paul’s life that he was given the most dynamic insight into Father’s heart for the church, and the process of growth that He is taking us through… yes, there is a reason for everything !
    Blessings in Him, Gordon H.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Gordon, thank you for your heartfelt and insightful comment. You bring up a good point about the end of Paul’s life, how he was isolated in the emperor’s prison and all fled him when he went to trial, yet it was here that he was able to write so many in-depth spiritual letters to the churches from which we still are blessed IN Christ today. In what must be his final letter he wrote to Timothy,

      “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2Tim 4:16-17, ESV2011)

      It seems that God uses isolation so that we might fully put our trust in Him and it is there He can fulfill His purpose in our lives. It is interesting how Paul’s life was just like the path that Jesus had to walk and an answer to his prayer, “That I may know Him, the power of His reserection, the fellowiship of His sufferings and be conformed unto His death.”

      Love IN Christ,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carina says:

        That paragraph has always made me so sad. Paul, who was encouraging everyone, who was like the motherly hen to everyone, left alone? And not unlike Jesus who was praying alone at Gethsemane.

        And I have had such moments when I was rejected by most everyone around me. I remember one particular time, on my last year of high school. In our country we have the custom of a one-week trip for students ending school that year. At that particular trip, the ostracism I had suffered reached its highest point. The group of girls who were supposed to be my friends told me they wanted to be in the room without me. They explained that it was not they didn’t like me but they had been friends for so long and they wanted to share things among themselves. Yeah, right. No one else wanted me in their room, so in the end they had to have me. It was most humiliating to go to the reception desk to ask what my room number was because I didn’t want to talk to these girls or anyone else.

        So I said, OK, I’m forced to sleep for one week with a bunch of girls who dislike me intensely. The others are mocking me to my face. There was a former friend (one I had argued with before I joined this group of fake friends who basically used me as a private teacher and to cheat on tests) who was sort of friendly when she saw my situation but as for the rest, it was pretty horrible.

        And it was liberating at the same time. Because I spent one week on a beautiful place, all alone with Jesus. It was perhaps the best spiritual retreat of all those years. I prayed a lot in silence and God showed up big time. There were times when I could hear Jesus speaking sweetly to my heart, “You know, I went through the same, girl. I was rejected. I was unfairly abused. I was mocked. I was left alone. I understand. I’m here with you and I love you.”

        Another time, when I had my huge crisis at 21. 90% of the people I spent a lot of time with rejected me as if I had leprosy. When I left the Catholic groups I had been so active at, I received almost zero calls. In a sense it was worse because I didn’t expect it from supposedly spiritual people. When I joined Evangelical churches I thought it would be different. And again, I experienced rejection much too often. But all those things in the end broke my pride and made me more dependent on Christ’s opinion, not man’s.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Carina,
      I know what you are talking about. I grew up going to Catholic schools as well. I remember being picked-on by Catholic bullies and the nuns and I thought, “Why do Catholics persecute one another? Isn’t it enough that the non-Catholics hate us and do the same?” Then we moved to a small logging town in northern Idaho where there were no Catholic schools nearby and I started going to public school. Frankly, it was a relief to have teachers that weren’t man (and boy) haters. I was still picked-on by many of the boys and shunned by the girls, but at least the teachers for the most part were understanding in public school. But even there they knew how to use peer pressure to get what they wanted. Basically, I had few people I could call a friend most of my life. I know what it means to be “a root out of dry ground” (Finding fellowship with other saints on here who have suffered the same things is comforting).

      Then one day after coming to Christ and suffering much at the hands of the clergy and those who worship them I saw the reason why. After reading Isaiah chapter 53 and putting it together with what Paul said in Philippians about the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings it all made sense. God chose me to be one of His sons and as a result my life has been as it was with Jesus on this earth. Jesus said that the world will hate us because it hated Him.

      “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18-21, ESV2011)

      God foreknew us and chose us out of the world and the world and its people react accordingly, be they pagan, Catholic, Evangelical or Pentecostal and the hate REALLY comes to the surface if Christ uses us to speak His words to them! The more pure the vessel, the greater the hate the world has for us because they do the will of their father the devil and don’t even know it. Paul wrote,

      “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:15-17, ESV2011)

      All our suffering in this life has a glorious purpose.. that we might be conformed into the image of His Son.

      “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:29-39, ESV2011)

      Yes, dear sister, we have been chosen and taken out of this satanic world system and separated unto our Father in Heaven for a glorious eternity with Him. THAT is why the world hates us. They are guided in their hearts by the prince of this world and he hates everything that is of Christ. But, oh how we are loved by our Father and Jesus!

      In His love,
      Michael

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  4. Mary says:

    Very good article to help me remember that my brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world are also going through suffering…gives me strength.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      You are welcome, Mary. Sometimes in our pain we get to thinking that we are alone in all this, but we are not. God is doing a deep work in these final days to purify the Bride of Christ and in His wisdom this involves suffering and in many cases isolation. Paul knew this in his own case and knew God’s divine work and purpose was in it (see 2 Tim. 16-18).

      May you be made complete in every spiritual blessing IN Christ through it all,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. dimple says:

    Thanks for posting this, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Patricia Lelión says:

    Gracias Michael, esta palabra realmente la necesitaba hoy, quedé sin palabras.

    Un abrazo mi hermano.

    Patricia wrote:
    Thanks Michael, this word I really needed today, I was speechless.

    A hug my brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Allan Halton says:

    This is such an important matter, Michael. Being disciplined is something we ought to take comfort in, for it indicates we are truly our Father’s children, and that He loves us. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens (disciplines)…” So, it ought more to be a concern when the discipline is not there. (Heb. 12:5-8)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Allan, this is why this doctrine of comfort and prosperity being God’s best for us is so destructive in the lives of baby Christians. It might build mega-churches and fill them with itching ears, but it does not build up the saints of God IN Christ.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Michael, I know that there are other Bible translations, but your quote of James 4, verse 10 (KJV) literally jumped out on me. It reads,

    “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”

    It is this humbling IN SIGHT OF THE LORD that made me wonder whether we can only humble ourselves if we continually look at Him by beholding His divine nature instead of circling around our old nature. If someone cannot ‘see’ Christ yet, I am afraid they will have no inclination to humble themselves, either. 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Wow! I just saw this in a new way because of what you wrote! “In the sight of the Lord.” Who’s sight? His sight! It is the spiritual seeing of things as HE does that humbles us. In the Gospel of Mark, the blind man after Jesus’ first healing touch said, “I see men as trees walking.” This was definitely not total sight! That partial sight must have included a skewed view of Jesus and the disciples, too. Jesus had to do a second work to get him to see ALL men clearly.

      After many years of us being misled by religious men and others in this world and finally seeking Him alone, He is doing a second work in us and we are getting our spiritual sight so we can see “all men clearly” including ourselves. Yes, it is very humbling. and not a high place from which to judge others, wouldn’t you say?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Judging others in the sense of condemning them, no, Michael, never. But we must be cautious to discern the real spirit that drives other people, esp. Christians, in order to not get entangled with false Christs again.

        9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 Jn 9 – 11 ESV)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2John 1:9, ESV2011)

        This is exactly where cults operate. They convince people that THEY have the truth. They come with some new teaching instead of abiding in the teaching of the Lord. They go on ahead! They are deaf to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His warnings. The gullible and even those who wish to get on the “fast track” to spirituality (which doesn’t exist) get sucked into their web of deceit.

        My mother who was a J. W. in the last part of her life used to try and convince me to read their literature. She would say, “WE have the TRUTH!” She could not understand it when I told her that the Truth is found in Jesus Christ where we are taught by the Comforter whom He sent to lead us into all truth. It is not found in the intellectual teachings of Charles Taze Russel. I must say she was much easier to be around after she became senile and forgot all that doctrine stuff. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, Without the Holy Spirit teaching us and speaking to us moment by moment, I believe that even the cautious ones can be out-foxed by the devil. His discerning of spirits is a gift that we all need if we are to stay free IN Christ. This is a great part of what the scriptures are speaking of here,

        “For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:13-14, ESV2011)

        Susanne, I know from experience that your powers of discernment have been “trained by constant practice,” just during the seven short years I have had fellowship with you. You see things in people that I miss and a few times so do I for you. We need one another functioning as a body and surrendering to one another’s gifts can be a great asset to keep us on the right track.

        “When two walk together if one falls the other is there to pick him up”… “Two cords wound together are stronger than two cords that are separate and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” I believe the third strand in that threefold cord Solomon spoke of is the Holy Spirit in the relationship of two who walk together IN Christ. Those who think that they have it all are easy pickings for the devil.

        Holy Hugs,
        Michael

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, for sure, Michael, we all need this discernment which is a gift from God although I am not quite sure that the Bible tells us that we all will receive it. The first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12 (that lists spiritual gifts) reads,

        “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, […] to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, …” (1 Cor 12:8-10 ESV)

        So, if not everybody has received the same gift, we should indeed surrender to the gift given to the other as we walk together IN the Holy Spirit, just as you rightly pointed out. Apart from walking by the Spirit, the temptation lies in our soulish ability to (mis)use the gift given by the Holy Spirit when we start to believe, “I have it all figured out, no need to ask God anymore.” As young Christians we all (?) seem to hear a call for ministry and start to do something for God, something we CAN do with our own natural abilites. Yet you and I know after decades that God does NOT need us nor what we CAN do. Instead, He wants us to do something we cannot do, that is, to die to ALL our soulish desires, as spiritual and selfless as they might seem at first. As soon as we trust in our own ‘giftedness’ more than in Christ, we are an easy prey for the enemy. I agree with you.

        It has always been good to have this fellowship with you, Michael, as God wants to teach us through other members of the Body of Christ, too, because “[t]o each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. ” (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) The Body has many members and I hope that we can hear His voice through anyone, even through seemingly young and unexperienced believers.

        In Christ,
        Your sister Susanne

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        I agree with you 100%. I think great harm has been done to the ecclesia, the body of Christ, by this “one man band” style of ministry we see behind pulpits and on stages in front of the faithful. Even when they allow others to help, all church activity must come into alignment with the gift that Leader might have. The result is a church full of people with no idea what the gift that God has given them to function as a viable member of the body. All natural talents are often given a place to function as long as they build up the church leader and HIS vision. So the true Spirit given gifts for the edification of the whole body are shut down. I actually heard a Vineyard pastor say from his pulpit, “If you can’t get behind MY ministry in this church then go find a pastor whose ministry you CAN get behind!” In other words, “Its my way or the highway!” I wanted to stand up and say, “Hey! Has it ever occurred to you that some of us have a gift and calling that is not the same as yours?” But intimidation from a powerful soulish person up front maintains the status quo until his pride brings about his fall and the sheep are scattered. Paul was addressing this same twisted mindset when he wrote,

        For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1Cor 12:14-20, ESV2011)

        Yes, where IS the Body of Christ? It is a body without its rightful Head, Jesus Christ.

        One thing amazes me and that is how devoid pastors are of spiritual discernment! They invite people in from the outside to speak to the congregation that are there to fleece the flock and puff up egos. That is okay as long as these “ministries” don’t cut into the giving that supports the local church and speaks well of the pastor to the people. Ministry in churches ends up being a mutual admiration society. Yet, if a member of the church has something to say to them about what they sense is wrong. Look out! You are told to shut up, sit down and submit! It seems that the whole body is a mouth with a microphone in front of it with all its support group sitting in silence instead of people who are allowed to edify one another by the Spirit. No wonder Christendom is so feeble and helpless when the wolf comes in to raise havoc in their lives.

        God help us!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Amen, Michael! I think I just found an excerpt by T. Austin Sparks that confirms what we both have said on here.

        “Remember again what John said about this, “Ye have an anointing and the anointing which you have received abideth in you and you need not that anyone teach you anything, the anointing teacheth you all things…” Oh be careful! Be careful… “I’m quite independent! I don’t need anybody to tell me anything!” that is not what John is saying at all; at all. What is John saying? There are many antichrists in the world and an antichrist is not a spurious, fearful creature, you know, with a tail and a pitchfork.

        No, an antichrist is something that assumes the place of Christ. The devil himself is transformed into an angel of light, there are many. And with the natural judgment, natural powers, you are not able to distinguish between the true and the false. The Christ and the antichrist seem to be so much alike. You can’t discern the difference but the Anointing will tell you!

        The Anointing which you have received, when you come into touch with something false, will tell you if the Anointing is really governing, saying “be careful”, not in words but inside. You have a feeling there’s something not quite clear here, not transparent here, not safe here… “I don’t feel happy about this, I can’t tell you why but I just don’t feel quite happy about this… there’s something in me that says: beware”.

        […]

        “The spiritual man, says Paul, discerneth all things. And I would close with just saying this, dear friends, that in my judgment the greatest need in Christianity among Christians today is spiritual discernment. I could not say anything beyond that. I am convinced that in a day like this of deceptions and misleadings and all that, the great need is our spiritual discernment; of knowing the Holy Spirit in this way, that He’s able to warn you, just to warn you! Not in words, it might be by words of Scripture, but in your own spirit where He dwells He says, “That’s alright, go on”.

        “The arbitrator is Life and Peace, but people say, “No, be careful there’s danger there”. Then it is for us in our spiritual sensitiveness to take note of that and let me tell you that it’s not my experience that the Holy Spirit speaks with a shout. I’ve very rarely known the Holy Spirit to speak out in a way that there’s no mistaking it. It’s been such a gentle thing… Such a gentle thing, it’s just something that I could miss if I didn’t pause and learn. That’s the voice of gentle stillness that is so often the voice of the Spirit. That is sonship you see, growing to discern, to sense, to understand; the spirit of sonship.”

        http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002144.html

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Yup! That about sums it up… our spiritual senses being exercised. We ALL need this to avoid the pitfalls of the devil. Thanks for sharing it, Susanne.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You are very welcome, Michael. 😇

        Liked by 1 person

  9. wanda says:

    Hi Michael,

    I totally understand what you went through in your childhood, I feel I have been isolated most of my life. I used to feel bitter about it but have come to realize that my greatest periods of growth in Christ happened during those times. Thank you for posting such honest writings.

    Love in Christ,

    Wanda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Wanda, I think you are right. Greenhouse growers raise up “hot house” plants (much like churches do). Before the plant can survive in the natural elements they have to “harden it up.” They do this by introducing it to the colder climate outside and the direct rays of the sun a little at a time. Finally, they are able to be taken out of the greenhouse altogether and planted it in their gardens. Though it hurts at the time, I think God does that with us.

      One speaker who taught about our Father’s love said once, “All of you who did not have good fathers or ones that were absent during you growing up years, need to understand that God allowed this to happen so that you would eventually seek out your REAL Father in Heaven for all that you were deprived of.” I think he was onto something.

      Bless you, my sister, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and life with us,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carina says:

        Very true quote about the Father, Michael. Well, I’m 43 and I can tell you I had to pray a lot and basically cry my guts out to get the garbage of my past out and I felt the significant change happened about a year ago. On many occasions Jesus or God the Father spoke to me deeply through a Word. I remember each of those experiences. John 8:32 around 10 years of age, Psalm 16 at 11, Psalm 139 at 16, then this revelation of the Jesus on the Cross at 18, and there were many other times. But it seems that the sword didn’t go deep enough to remove all the serpent’s venom that was caused by so much abuse from my natural father. The other bullying/rejection experiences would ultimately not have hurt so much if I had had a more “normal” relationship with my parents.

        But I also have the feeling that if I hadn’t had such a broken life, such a hole in my heart, such an unfulfilled desire for acceptance and approval, I would most likely have had a much more shallow relationship with God. I would have settled for the kind of religion everyone else had. I couldn’t. I had to go all the way, I couldn’t go through the motions because I was deeply aware of God’s probing view (and Satan used that to accuse me and keep me under the bondage of self-condemnation and depression for years). I was on the surface the average Christian but felt so frustrated, I felt if I was saved at all I was for sure missing my calling. I knew in my heart and mind there were things that God wanted to deal with, and much as I wanted to bury it, it kept resurfacing. So I finally said, OK, God, I get it! I need my Peniel moment. I need You to beat me up and destroy everything that is not Yours. I prefer that You tear me apart than walking in circles wondering loves-me-loves-me-not forever.

        During the last couple of months, I’ve probably cried more tears than in the last 15 years combined. I’m not ok yet. But finally I have understood those chapters in the Bible that terrified me so much were not meant for me. He has chastened me deeply so that they will not apply. Without the chastening, I would most likely have been fake. His rod and His staff made me genuine, and in the end, that has brought a lot of comfort. I can finally say The Lord is MY God. My portion. My desire. And my greatest desire is to be rooted more deeply in His love.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Carina, you wrote:

        “Without the chastening, I would most likely have been a fake. His rod and His staff made me genuine, and in the end, that has brought a lot of comfort. I can finally say The Lord is MY God. My portion. My desire. And my greatest desire is to be rooted more deeply in His love.”

        I was really blessed when I read this! “To be rooted more deeply in His love” and see that all the chastening you have gone through was to separate you unto Himself. What a gift to see that His rod of chastisement and His staff of correction are instruments of His love, not symbols of His rejection or hate. All this is given us that we might be rooted deeply in Him and His love and not the world. This insight is truly a gift from Him, dear sister, and you are as well.

        ​”For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5, ESV2011)

        “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” (Isa 60:1-2, ESV2011)

        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Like you, Michael, I spent many years believing myself self-sufficient. Of course, all our strength and all our talents are derived from God. Only when my health failed was this lesson truly driven home. W/ age has come even greater dependence on Him. Once upon a time, I longed to do “great things” for the Kingdom of God. My hope and prayer are now that He may use me in some small way for His Kingdom.

    Blessings,

    A.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Anna, the greatest “work” we can do for His kingdom is to be conformed to the image of His Son and believe that no matter what happens to us in this world, He has His hand at the helm of our lives to bring about this purpose. It is abiding (resting) in Jesus (and HIS finished work) and He abiding in us that brings forth the fruit. Rest in Him and and His love and the rest will happen.

      Love you,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  11. sabrina says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Michael. And that article, wow, that was an answer to some of my prayers, and also some of my moments of wallowing in self-pity recently over some of the work the Lord has given me to do. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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