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)
Yes. We are in this world, but not of it. Hallelujah!
Brother Michael, so good to hear from you! Your word rings true in my heart and spirit. I have the same experience of wanting to fit in with others, and sometimes I end up with a rebuke from the Holy Spirit who dwells within, I don’t meet with the organized system of Christendom, I’m a saint and Christian of course, but the Lord Jesus isn’t leading me to join myself to that system, but He always meets all my spiritual needs and blesses me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. The Christian faith is glorious and I love all of God’s saints, but I have seen that if I meet with Christians who are on divisive ground I cannot be one with other members of the body of Christ. So I long for fellowship with saints who understand the oneness of the body of Christ, and who know God’s eternal purpose and counsels. And I appreciate you brother and the other dear saints who frequent this blog. So the Lord deals with me also about my speaking when I am conversing with someone, its easy to not be paying attention to the Anointing within and then get the sense of rebuke from the Lord. It can be lonely walking with the Lord, but we are never really alone, because the Lord Jesus is always with us, in us, and we are in Christ. Amen. The Lord Jesus bless you Michael, I’m glad to hear you.
Jim, speaking of Christians who don’t meet on divine grounds, sometimes I wonder if there is any other kind in organized religion, but then I remember how many years I tried to find fellowship in that system only to be rejected. It seems that they knew right away that I was not one of them for I lacked that sectarian spirit that drives them.
God sets us apart to have fellowship with Him as our Father and we as His sons and daughters united IN Christ become a living accusation among those of that other spirit. For us it is as Jesus prayed in those final hours before they took Him away,
As for fellowship, Christ is our sufficiency. God bless you my brother.Thanks for your comment.
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Hi Michael, glad to hear (read) your voice again. Lots of folks “in the wilderness” now, but seems like Father is revealing His realities and exposing corruption so that healing and real revelation can inhabit His people for these times. Blessings, Grover
Yes, Grover, the hour is late. As it is written,
It’s so nice to hear from you Michael. I’ve lately been thinking how you are doing having not seen a new post from you in a while. The post is encouraging to me since I have been experiencing similar tension where I long for Spirit led fellowship with brothers around where I live on one hand and fitting in on the other.
Paul wrote, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken,
for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
(2Cor 1:6-7, ESV2011)
So, when we go through these times we should not be surprised as members one of another that even on the far side of the globe we have all things in common IN Christ.
I love you my dear brother,
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Great to hear from you again Michael. Your messages always encourage me and obviously resonate with many others! The growing darkness of the world, my aging body (turned 78 in May) the denial of all truth except if it fits a particular ideological narrative, hatred for the truth actually, violence, etc. can wear us all down—-me included. Like others who have already posted and so many others out there seems to be this cry for fellowship centered IN Christ. I have not found it, and though I hunger for it I’m no longer seeking it out but rather praying God will establish those relationships where He does the leading. I do recognize the dangers of being an isolated believer, however— the Word says ‘ truly our fellowship is with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ I pray my heart’s desire for Him will always be precedent over fellowship with others. Over the past 10-15 years this “Coming out “ of things about Christ and being centered “in Him” has been a theme. I thought this coming out related primary to the Institutional Church, which I separated from years ago, but have discovered the beast of SELF waiting for me! Now my prayer is that the Cross would break me so He could realize His purposes in and through me. Getting a late start in my mind but in His mind probably perfect timing. Anyway, peace to you and all others out there who know this drawing of our “Abba” as this Age nears the end. Blessings brother
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My dear older brother, Dick,
Jesus was left to suffer alone by the disciples both in the garden and on the cross. Then there are these statements by Paul at the end of his ministry to the churches…
It seems that isolation from other believers is not that all uncommon but there is this statement by John which you referred to… “that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1John 1:3, ESV2011) Oh, how easy it is to forget this when we get too focused on other believers. It seems that John is saying that our fellowship must be first of all with the Father and the Son before meaningful fellowship with the saints can happen. When we get the cart before the horse it can soon become idolatry, don’t you think?
Like you, I looked “out there” when I read “Come out of her, my people…” But after many years of being “outside of organized religion” and many flesh exposing trials, I saw that it was a lot harder to get Egypt out of me than me out of Egypt. Like Pogo said, “We have found the enemy and HE IS US!!!” Oh, how I thank our Father for His great patience with us as we struggle through that phase of seeing “all men as trees walking.” I thank our Lord that He is bringing about a further miracle in our hearts so that we can see all men as HE does… with great boundless love and patience.
Thanks for your wonderful comment my brother,
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Amen brother, I wholly agree with what you are saying, I find many who profess to be Christian, are actually hostile towards the truth of the Word of God. I enjoyed what you shared of your experience, we all can encourage one another when we share our portion, our gift of grace we all have received from our Lord Jesus. I agree there are dangers in being isolated, but God is faithful towards us, too preserve us, and the danger of what is in the leavened false system is exceedingly dangerous, as 2 Timothy chap. 2 and 3 state. God bless you brother.
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Thank you Mike! This is s greatLesson you are sharing!!
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You are welcome, Laurie. It seems to be a lesson that never ends, but Father has His purpose in it all.
“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. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2Cor 4:11-12, ESV2011)
Howdy Michael, I hope things are well with you and Dottie. So did you make it to Houston? Anyway, I saw the above scripture come to life several years ago ’07? I was sitting in my apt. and the phone rang. I felt absolutely empty and dead but yet picked up the phone (it was a landline as I had no cell phone then). It was my good friend and brother Bart. Long story short, thru the death that was working thru me, a conduit of life was extended to brother Bart. It was truly supernatural. After the fellowship I felt quickened and encouraged. Which reminds me of this: “By the fruit of his lips shall a man be filled, and by the increase of his mouth shall he be satisfied.” Prov 18:20
Hello, Bill. Things have been real busy for the last month of more here in Idaho. Our house sold and we have been packing up our stuff and arranging for the move to the Houston area. We will be moving about the middle of next month. I assume you are back in Kansas. Give me a call sometime.
It is a strange thing the way God uses us. We do His best work when we are totally dead and feeling like a nickel waiting for change and are often oblivious that He has used us. This way there is no room to boast in ourselves, but only in Him. Paul wrote,
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.So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, (2Cor 4:11-13, ESV2011)
Thank for sharing that Proverb, my brother,
Your insight into the ways of God is baptizing us into His Name. I too have heard Him shouting at me in His “still small voice”.
Many will argue and discuss the speaking in tongues incident of Acts 2. The Father was really making a huge point to tell us that He is all about giving His Word to all the languages of the world, all Chrisendom should be with Him in this.
Consider order came upon chaos when God said “let there be light ” and when our Lord was born in Bethlehem He came as that Light for all mankind, the Word of God to us.
Consider the dark ages became the enlightenment and the industrial revolution when the Word of God was translated into the common language of the people of England and Germany by Wycliffe and Luther respectively. The message is the loud Word of God in His still small voice saying “this is the way, walk ye in it”. Become involved in the Bible translation movement, turn the world upside down.
Thanks, Don. The scripture have never been more available than they are today. I go to thrift stores and the local library and free Bibles are available everywhere I look, but like God spoke through Isiah. “Who has believed our report?” We moved into what is called “the Bible Belt” and I have never seen so many church buildings anywhere else I have lived. It is one thing to read the Bible, but a whole other thing to HEAR the voice of the Lord in a personal way. Like Amos prophesied,