Newborn bunnies with their mother- photo by Michael Clark
You haven’t heard from me on this blog in quite a while. Sometimes God is silent while He digs deeper into us that we might know His ways more perfectly and during these “dry times” it’s best to be silent. But just lately He has prompted me to share the following about what has been going on in my life. Paul wrote the following…
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20, KJ2000)
[We are] always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2Cor 4:10-11, ESV2011)
Yes, we ourselves have had the answer of death in ourselves, so that our hope might not be in ourselves, but in God who is able to give life to the dead: Who gave us salvation from so great a death: on whom we have put our hope that he will still go on to give us salvation; (2Cor 1:8-10, BBE – emphasis added)
In the above verse many translations read, “we had the sentence of death in ourselves.” The answer to all our struggles with our flesh that wars against the Spirit of God within us is the death of our carnal minds so that the mind of Christ may prevail (see Philippians 2:5-8). It’s not the will of God that we should die in our sinful ways, but rather that we are crucified IN Christ. By this act of crucifixion with Christ on the cross we are saved from that old adamic mind within us.
For many months, now, I’ve had no brother locally in Christ to fellowship with. George Davis with whom I have written many articles and books over the last 22 years has moved out of the area and he often has no cell service. Another brother, Bob N. with whom we had fellowship in Christ for the last few years, recently died of cancer and most other Christian men I have met lack the ability to meet IN the mind of Christ together. I know that many of you are going through the same experiences these days.
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a group of men in this area who have coffee together at the local supermarket deli. Some of them are Vietnam War vets and we have that in common. It has been interesting to watch and listen for any hint of the Spirit speaking through any of them and even myself. One of them, Rodney, is an “ex-pastor” who sneaks in a phrase out of the Bible once in a while. He seems to be quite outgoing and inclusive in his attitude towards others which is refreshing. I found the following quote from him on his church’s website that is most interesting.“I enjoy being a part of a fellowship that sees every person as valuable. If one person matters then everybody matters.” Excellent!
George Davis once had a conversations with a pastor who was trying to exalt his position over George. The man said, “George, how will I ever be your pastor (unless you yield to me)?” George said, “If you want this kind of relationship with me it will be with great difficulty. But if you are willing to be my brother we will get along famously.” This all reminds me of what Paul wrote,
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom 12:5, ESV2011)
So, what does all this have to do with where I started in this missive? The temptation I have faced for many years it to “be one of the boys” and to be accepted and make friends. But when I join in their worldly conversations if I feel this check in my spirit, so I have learned to not do so and seek His grace to listen for the voice of the Lord before I speak. The Lord spoke through Isaiah:
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isa 30:20-21, ESV2011)
Jesus said, “But you are not to be called rabbi [teacher], for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.” (Matt 23:8, ESV2011)
Ezekiel heard this same voice behind him!
Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. (Ezek 3:12, KJV)
I, like many of you, have known a lot of adversity and affliction during my 77 plus years (not to mention being in constant physical pain) on this earth so the tendency is to avoid anything that makes for conflict or rejection. In short we tend to seek to “save” our lives by mingling with people just like us. The problem is that we cannot obey the Spirit if we are constantly listening to the wrong voice within us telling us to “just get along” and “be accepted as one of boys.”
I have been made aware lately of the nature of these two voices, the one within and the one who speaks from behind me say, “This is the way of the Lord, walk ye in it” and to quit looking to the left and the right. You see, a lot of the conversations I have been drawn into become political; Left – liberal, and Right, conservative. Yet, Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world…” You would think that I would have overcome this temptation to be accepted in this world by now! Meeting with these guys has taught me to discern which voice I am listening to and to obey the Spirit before I speak.
God helps us by giving us the “answer of death in ourselves, so that our hope might not be in ourselves, but in God who is able to give life to the dead.” Taking up our crosses and following Him daily, as Jesus said, involves a lot of crucifying of that old man within us so that we might walk in HIS life and not our own. May we all become more than overcomers IN Christ Jesus as we learn to walk after the voice of the Spirit and not after that old Adam within.
But the LORD God called to the man [Adam] and said to him, “Where are you?”And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid… and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:9-10, ESV2011)
Instead, let us learn the lesson given to young Samuel in a time when in Israel the word of the Lord was rare.
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1Sam 3:6-10, ESV2011)