Learning Obedience as Sons and Daughters of God

carrying crossIn the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-8 RSVA)

I recently wrote an article on our blog titled, “The Death of a Vision.” I described an ordeal in which I dreamed that I was to pray for the healing of a sister in Christ named Sandy. She was a dear friend with terminal cancer, and according to the dream I was to pray in person while laying my hand on her. I did this in front of the congregation at the leading of the pastor. She later died of that cancer. It was a traumatic time for me for I was still young in the Lord and just knew I had heard God.

Since I posted that article I got an email from long time readers of ours, a couple from Australia who commented and shared from their own experiences on how God trains us as His obedient children. Writing for her husband this sister wrote:

 “God gives us the vision as you had, but often the details are not as the vision actually is and we misinterpret them, as God knows we will. Then we are in the problem phase of the whole process as we try to hold onto our belief in God and our ability to hear His voice despite appearing on the surface of things to having got it all so wrong. Then, eventually comes the provision of the promise, as with your other ladies being healed [many years later after Sandy died. ~ mdc]. It’s not straightforward is it?”

This explanation of hearing God and misinterpreting what we hear because of being emotionally involved or just not understanding and then disillusioned by the outcome was right on. I have gone through these three phases in my life more than once; 1) The Vision for your calling in Christ, 2) The Problem – the vision does not work out the way we had planned, and 3) The Promise – God comes through, but not the way we thought He would. All you have to do is look at the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah and David (to name a few), to see that this is part of the way that God trains His saints for obedience to Him.

After Sandy died, her husband, Dan, sought me out to comfort me. In my dream I saw Sandy in perfect health at the peak of her maturity, and she radiated life. Dan explained that I had seen the heavenly Sandy after the Lord took her home, and that I should not be dismayed, which was very kind of him. I saw Sandy in her perfected body in a room flooded with light, but I chose to believe that it was here on earth and that she was physically healed.

Eventually, my first interpretation of the dream of me stretching out my hand and seeing people healed did come true, but not until I went through a lot of dying. God knows that man is corrupted by power and that old Adam in us must be thoroughly killed before He dares to use us in the lives of others in such a powerful way. I had to go through many years of Him killing everything in me before He used me almost 20 years later to heal those other two women that had terminal cancer.

These successful healings set me up the next temptation, to think that I was a “healer.” One friend, a retired pastor, even suggested that I “exploit my gift.” We all have read about and seen the TV version of people with famous healing ministries and all the hoopla that carnal people make over them as they are elevated to stardom. In effect Satan is right there saying, “All the kingdoms of the world are mine to give if you will obey me and just bow down and worship this image of fame that I have for you.” He is good at what he does and many people fail at this point. Paul wrote that Satan will come “with all power and signs and lying wonders seeking whom he may deceive” and he does.

I overcame the temptation to see fame, because by then the Lord had drilled into me that I was nothing and it was not my place to think otherwise or try to “grab the gold ring” when it is within reach, but rather to rest in Him and let Him do what He wants to do when He wants to do it. But once the word gets out that you have been used to heal terminal cancer, you get a lot of attention just the same and you really don’t want to disappoint others who are dying. That is the real test–will you obey the wishes of others, or will you disappoint them, seem cruel and cold, obey the Lord, and stay put?

Bob Mumford told a story in one of his books or tapes about a neighbor across the street who was training his retriever dog. He would take a stick, throw it and say “Fetch.” After many days the dog would go get the stick, bring it back to him, and he would tell the dog, “Heel.” The dog would sit by his side and wait for the next command. Eventually the dog was doing both these commands well. But then one day the man threw the stick and said, “Heel!” instead of “Fetch.” That that poor dog nearly came unglued. The action said “Fetch,” but the command said, “Heel.” That is what God does with us. He fine tunes us to obey and we can’t always go with our experiences. We have to listen to His voice.

As young Christians, when God does something miraculous or prophetic in our lives, we want to run out and tell everyone about it. What starts out as enthusiasm for the Lord ends up with us believing in our own “press releases” and blowing our own horns to draw attention to ourselves.

The sister in Australia went on to write in her comment,

“My biggies were thinking I was being told to trust a pastor for three years when he was the most untrustworthy person I have ever known! It took me a year to trust anything other than the Lord is my shepherd and he is worthy. Talk about learning to walk all over again!

“I don’t think I’ll even go into the next biggest challenge I had in trusting in what I believed I was being told by God but it was devastating. For three years I believed that something wasn’t going to happen, that God was reinforcing what I was hearing, and then it happened and I was shattered. Again! Now we hold very lightly to what we believe we are being told and just wait to see if it happens and if it does, then we talk about it to others.”

Being obedient and then having things blowup in your face as a result, as many of us have found out, pops our bubble. We think that if we obey the Lord, everything will turn out great, but in the short haul it doesn’t always do so. In the long run it does, but often not the way we think.

Sometimes obedience makes us do things that cause misunderstandings and rejection from the ones we love and care about. This very fact has gotten many of us bounced out of our churches in the past, just because we obeyed the Lord! Obedience is not about instant gratification as we would like, but about following and obeying His voice. The results to our comfort zones can be disastrous.  Jesus was a classic example of this kind of obedience and so was Paul. It got them into hot water with the religious establishment of that day and eventually killed!

There is often a cost to obeying the Lord as far as our immediate well being in this world is concerned. This cause and effect mindset had to be undone in me. I felt that as long as I obeyed the Lord or his representative (read: pastors) perfectly, everything would come up roses. It did not. Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly and it cost him everything on the cross, but it produced a far greater weight of glory and reward later — the bringing forth of many brethren and the sons to the Father. Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered and He is the Son of God. What makes us think that we will have it any easier? He endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him, not the things that seemed right in His own eyes.

The real lessons in our lives are never about us having the best of both worlds. God is a good Father and He does not spoil us. We read in Hebrews that He rebukes and chastens those who are His children and He scourges those who are His sons (Put that verse in our politically correct ideas of how to raise kids!). If we are one of His, God puts us through all kinds of trails because He is a good Father. He is more concerned with our eternity with Him than He is with our temporal comfort here on earth that lasts for a short time.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

What is the purpose of sonship? It is to bring us into a place of spiritual responsibility. God never puts responsibilities upon ‘official people,’ but upon sons. Therefore He has to train us as children in order to develop sonship in us, to bring us there where we can take responsibilities for God. He seeks to bring us to a state of spiritual maturity, to full growth. This cannot be done in some Bible school, or by putting people ‘into the ministry.’ God never works on an official side. Oh yes, God does take us into His school. He can also take us into His school in some training institute. And it is a blessed thing if He does it.

But God’s school is something very different from mere scholarly activity. His Word says: “My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Note this word “whom He receives.” The exact meaning in the Greek is not ‘receives,’ but “whom He positions” or places. It is a matter of position. God is seeking to develop a state in us where He can trust us. When God is dealing with us, there is behind it a wonderful assurance that He is going to put His trust in us. He is bringing us into a position of trust. We do not just want to be servants, bits of a machine, but sons who have become one with the Father, and in whose hands He can put spiritual responsibilities. When we truly recognize this, we begin to understand why God is dealing with us as He does. But because God is in it we knows that the end is sure. He will bring His children through.


So dear saints, if you feel that God has slighted you and rained on your parade, He probably has, but it is for your maturity and for His long-range purposes. God is funny that way–He believes that He is God, not us. God bless you as you submit to Him as your Father who loves you and knows what is best.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 RSVA)

It’s a Great Life IF You Weaken!

jesus_calms_stormHow often have we heard the saying, “It is a great life if you don’t weaken”? It sounds great at first, but is that the gospel of the cross of Christ?

I was comparing the following two passages written by James and by Paul…

James wrote:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)

Paul wrote,

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us. (Romans 5:3-5 KJ2000)

Here we read that trials and tribulation work patience, and patience works experience, and experience works hope, and hope works the love of God in our hearts because of the Holy Spirit whom God has given everyone who puts their trust in Christ alone.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

Experience with God is much more than knowledge. We may be very greatly informed, and have a great deal of knowledge, but, lacking experience, our knowledge will remain purely technical information. Experience is more than knowledge. It is also far more than human cleverness. Clever people may be able to do a lot of things and seem to be successful. The absence of this quality of experience will find that their structures will sooner or later come crashing down, for there is no body there. Experience is something that we can never inherit, nor can it be transferred from one to another in any other way; it has to be bought. It is therefore the sole possession and property of the individual who has it. It is something very personal. If it had been possible for the Father to bring His own Son, the Lord Jesus, to the designed and determined end in any other way, He would have done it. The only way was experience: “…yet learned (he) obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb.5:8); He was made “perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). Even Jesus Christ (and I speak in a certain sense) had to buy His experience. He had to come to the full end, or the end of fulness, to be made perfect, made complete, by the way of experience.

It seems that God puts a high premium on seeing us gain experience in overcoming our trials and temptations. He wants us to quit looking to ourselves and other things and start casting all our cares on Jesus, Who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. We, like Jesus, must learn obedience through the things that we suffer. According to James, it is our faith that is being tried. Peter also spoke of our faith being tried.

“[We who believe]…are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:5-7 KJ2000)

First, we are kept by the power of God, not our power. Even our faith is not ours, but Christ’s (see Gal. 2:16). It seems we get an infusion of His faith to get us started, and it grows until we have our own faith based on experiences we have overcome through Him. From these verses, I picture my faith in Christ being put in a refiner’s crucible with the heat turned up. That heat is trials and tribulations that determine if I will call out to Christ to be my strength and sufficiency in all things, or if I will just “gut it out” by my own strength. Paul said it best for me when he wrote:

“And he [Jesus] said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJ2000)

Paul, like James, counted it all joy when he found himself weak in a trial. That meant he had to throw himself on Christ, and see Jesus come through for him every time. He saw that his own human strengths were his biggest enemy. He expounded on this in telling about how he despaired even of life itself:

“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 RSVA)

Paul’s faith was tested to the point of death, yet he believed that even if he were killed, Christ would raise him up again. It seems that Jesus might have done this earlier in His life (see Acts 14:19). This man had a strong faith in Christ because he lived on the ragged edge of walking by faith. Like a muscle, faith has to be exercised or it atrophies and dies.

In the American church, we hedge all our bets and do all we can to keep from having to walk by faith. We have insurance policies for everything imaginable. We have our 401k and IRA to cover us in retirement. We join unions to give us power and job security. If we get some kind of pain or infirmity, we run for the medicine cabinet or doctor’s office (for more pills – there seems to be a pill for everything) without even giving Jesus a chance to heal us. We avoid trials at all cost. We even avoid being tempted by cloistering ourselves in our churches and homes away from the real world where we might be seen with the wrong kind of people. We are inoculated against walking by faith in Christ alone. Our faith is not being tried! Is it any wonder that the American church is so feeble and powerless against the rise of evil that is closing in around us as a nation? We are a nation of weak Christians being led by weak church leaders who fall for every kind of temptation that comes their way. If you think I’m exaggerating, just type in “church corruption” on a Google search!

All that is missing is for us to totally put our trust in Jesus alone and walk wherever the Spirit leads us that we might know HIM as our sufficiency and strength in adversity. During my years in churches, whenever I felt God calling me out of my comfort zone and to get out in the trenches among the people of the world and do something that would make a difference in their lives, I was told the same thing by the pastors I submitted to, “You are not ready yet!” Nobody I knew was ever “ready yet” in the minds of these church leaders, if God was calling them to go out into the fray of the world and take a chance outside the daycare center called “Sunday church.” As one man from Argentina put it, “The church as we know today is designed to preserve the perpetual babyhood of the believer.”

So, dear saints, it is a great life in Christ if we allow Him to make us weak through trials and testings so that nothing comes out from ourselves. We are not to walk by might or by power, but by His Spirit. All we have to do is abide in the Vine and He will abide in us, and then He will bring forth the fruit of His kingdom, not ours. Amen.

God’s Crucible of Love

firey furnace of afliction“But I see four men walking around in the fire,” the king replied. “None of them is tied up or harmed, and the fourth one looks like a god.” (Daniel 3:25 CEV)

Have you ever thought of love as not only what holds our relationships together, but as a crucible in which they are refined and purified? If it were not for love given us by God, my own marriage could never have endured these 48 years of trials and testing, nor could any of the other enduring relationships God has given me in the body of Christ have lasted. Relationships are grown by enduring trials together and coming out the other side triumphant. They do not grow and take root by having everything go our way in some storybook fantasy life where Prince Charming gets his Cinderella and they live happily ever after in marital bliss. This fact is also true of Christ and His bride.

A crucible is usually made of a high temperature substance like ceramic or lined with such, so that it can endure the high temperatures that metals have to be melted and refined at. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about a substance like this. “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fade-less under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails.” Love is a crucible!

Peter wrote to the church:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. (1 Peter 1:6-8 RSVA – emphasis added)

Yes! Without having seen Jesus Christ, we love Him and believe in Him. We love Him because He first loved us! Love is the crucible we are being refined in by His loving hands. We suffer many trials and testings in the fires of affliction for a little while . Actually, Peter says that it is our faith that is being tried—we have already been tried and found not guilty because of the atonement of Christ–so that our faith might be found genuine and precious in the eyes of our Father as Christ is revealed in us! It is His love and vision for us as sons and daughters of God that keeps us hanging in there and coming back for more that we might not fall short of the glory that our Father wants to share with Christ’s heavenly body.

How long must we endure this suffering and trials? Malachi, the last book of the Old Covenant, speaks of God’s Messenger coming to His temple with a new covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-34), but His coming will be a day of endurance! Why? Because He comes to refine those who are His until we yield to our Father. He is after sons and daughters who live to and reflect His glory.

“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. (Malachi 3:1-3 RSVA – emphasis added)

Is this an ideal process the way we think that ideal should be? Probably not. In Daniel we read, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9-10 RSVA – emphasis added). “…and some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine and to cleanse them and to make them white, until the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed” (Daniel 11:35 RSVA – emphasis added).

I once had a neighbor who worked in a foundry. One day I asked him about his job, and he told me that they refined and cast iron products like manhole risers and manhole covers. They took old radiators and engine blocks, broke them up and melted them down in a giant crucible. I asked if it was ready to be poured into molds once melted, but he said there was more to it than that. The melted iron has to first be purified. The liquid metal always has impurities that float to the top and have to be scraped off each time it is melted. Casting the iron risers that the covers fit into only takes one melting and scraping before it is ready, but for the covers that will have heavy truck wheels rolling over them, the metal has to be cooled again after scraping and reheated and scraped off again a total of three times. Each time the metal is heated, it releases more impurities. If you are content to be a lowly riser buried in the dirt, one time is enough. If you are content to be a sewer access lid, three times is enough, but if you are destined to be a son of God it takes seven times!

“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (Psalms 12:5-6 RSVA – emphasis added)

For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall by calamity. (Proverbs 24:16 KJ2000 – emphasis added)  (Also see also 2 Kings 5:1-14)

Refiners of gold and silver heat, melt and scrape off the dross from the molten metal seven times. Heated and cooled and heated and cooled again, scraped each time, but that is not all. On the seventh time, before the molten metal is scraped, they add arsenic and it causes the metal to boil violently. That brings up the last of the impurities to the top and they cling to the arsenic. It is interesting to me that arsenic is a deadly poison as well as a purifier of precious metals. Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 RSVA). You see we both lose the one life and we gain the other. Our Refiner is after one thing. When He looks down into that crucible of His love, He wants to see His own reflection and nothing left of that old, rebellious Adamic mixture. At first we rebel and complain a lot about the heat and the scraping, but the further the process goes on in our lives, the more we submit to it, because we start seeing the goal of what God is doing. We agree more and more with Him in His methods of dealing with us because the intense love surrounding us keeps us in His marvelous ways.

In the midst of the [seven] lampstands [stood] one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; (Revelation 1:13-15 RSVA – emphasis added)

We are Christ’s feet and as such we must be refined so we can to walk in Him among men.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 RSVA – emphasis added)

The Treasures of Darkness

treasures of Darkness

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3 KJ2000)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2, NKJV).

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?.. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 KJ2000)

Could it be that God allows us to go into darkness so that He can shine forth His marvelous light from within us so that He can create the greatest contrast possible for all to see? When a jeweler wants to show the brilliance of a diamond, he displays it on a piece of black velvet, not white satin. A dear sister who has gone through many hard trials and hardships in her life recently wrote on her blog, “God’s living flame which had just begun to burn exceedingly high in my heart in the year 2000… At that time I hoped that I had already finished my long way with God, that is, I thought I had reached the goal of perfect unity with Him. But, alas, it was only the beginning of a long, both blissful and painful way that led me closer and closer to Him. During the following years when I often thought that God would be silent and all the darkness inside me deeper than ever, He had been far closer than ever before… God’s indwelling of a human being is indeed a divine mystery.” (To read the rest of what she wrote see: http://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/the-living-flame-of-love/)

There is a saying around Christendom, “Be careful what you pray for; you might get it!” His answers don’t always come in the manner that we imagine they will. I remember praying in 1979, “Father, make me like your Son, that I would only do the works I see you doing and only speak the words I hear you saying.” I had enough time to think to myself, “Boy! That was sure a righteous prayer!” Then He answered back, “No my son, that is only the starting point!” This is when He, in answer to my prayer, moved my goal post way down the field and took me off the religious Foosball table I was on, spiritually speaking, and put me onto a real spiritual soccer field by comparison.

I soon found myself in total spiritual darkness. Where I once had thought I was God’s rising star in Christendom (See Isaiah 50:11), He pulled the plug on all my aspirations of becoming someone in the church. In fact, He even pulled the plug on all my aspirations and livelihood in the world! For fourteen years He held me in a spiritual state of darkness where my fleshly senses could no longer sense His presence in any form. Where my flesh and pride were once built up by Him speaking to others prophetically and using me through words of knowledge in people’s lives, I found myself in what some call the dark night of the soul or the wilderness of God. I soon became a spiritual zombie. People could be feeling the presence of God all around me, getting blessed, but not me. I was flat line.

After all those years in this state of spiritual suspension, He finally brought me out, but this time it was different. My flesh no longer wanted to surf on the Spirit’s wave or draw attention to myself. I just was just glad to have my first love relationship with Jesus back again. He was enough. I wanted Him, not what He could do for me. Or as one dear old saint solemnly advised me about that same time, “Seek God’s face, not His hands.” In 1994 I heard Him say to me, “You have not been this way before.” I soon was to find out that He was cutting me off from knowing Him after the flesh.

Paul wrote, “Therefore from now on know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 KJ2000)

Knowing Christ after the Spirit, His Spirit in us, and not after the flesh, merely by what we read about His earthly life in a book. This has made all the difference–knowing Him as the One who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you even until the end.” Where I once knew Christ by way of my five natural senses that I depended on so much, He was now fine tuning me to know His living presence by His five spiritual senses. Where once darkness was my all consuming enemy, I could now see that He can abide in the deepest of dark places where my old sense of sight was totally worthless. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”

David wrote,

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hides not from you; but the night shines as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to you.(Psalms 139:11-12 KJ2000)

And when Israel was up against the Red Sea and the army of the Egyptians was at their backs we read,

All this time God’s angel had gone ahead of Israel’s army, but now he moved behind them. A large cloud had also gone ahead of them, but now it moved between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud gave light to the Israelites, but made it dark for the Egyptians, and during the night they could not come any closer. (Exodus 14:19-20 CEV)

Light and darkness are the same to Him! When we are being led out of our spiritual Egypt–a land where our god dwelt in niches and temples made by men–the Egypt side of our understanding only sees darkness, but the side facing His kingdom sees His marvelous light! In this sense, light and darkness are the same unto Him; they serve the same purpose to cut us off from our idolatry and turn us toward worshiping the Father in Spirit and in Truth! Isaiah understood this saying,

Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the LORD and relies upon his God? (Isaiah 50:9-10 RSVA)

Those of us who have gone through the dark night of the soul have seen and heard the accuser of the brethren speaking through other Christians. We feared the Lord even more than before because of the darkness we were in. Often our accusers did not survive and their fleshly works were eaten up, but in Christ we were vindicated. In all these trials we learned how to trust in and lean on Him alone until our darkness became His Light!

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O my enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. (Micah 7:7-8 KJ2000)

If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. (Psalms 139:11-12 RSVA)

The whole time we were in that darkness we were actually under the shadow of His wings and were never closer to Him! And when we thought He was silent (to our old way of hearing), He was teaching us subliminally so that our flesh could not rise up again with knowledge that puffs up. Remember, when revelations come to us from the Spirit of God, we can expect His humbling hand to also be upon us as it was with Paul. When we are weak, Christ is made perfect within us.

Many of us who have been severely tested under the hand of the Lord have a wonderful promise that we are starting to see unfold even now:

I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of bronze, and cut asunder the bars of iron: And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:2-3 KJ2000)

An Open Heaven vs. the Wilderness

Jesus in the wilderness


Well, all that is, I know, very simple, but we shall not do ourselves any harm by contemplating what He won for us in that wilderness, how great a thing it was that resulted from that cry. The answer given to that cry – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” – is our supreme and all-inclusive blessing: it is that we may never know any more forsaking of God. Oh, put your feet down upon that. It is not as simple as it sounds. No more forsaking of God! Have you, a believer, a believer perhaps for many years, in full devotion to the Lord – have you never been tempted to believe that God had forsaken you, God had left you, had given you up, washed His hands of you, parted company with you, withdrawn? If you have never had that temptation, I am not going to say that you ought to, but I will say that I do not think you will get through your course in a really spiritual life without having it, and more than once. As in Adam’s case, so with every son of Adam and every child of God, with every member of this human race, the Devil’s greatest work is to get between us and God. Once he has done that, if he can establish himself there between us and God, it is an end of all things, it is hopeless. But in the case of a believer he cannot now do that in actuality. He can only do it in effect, by the attitude that a believer takes toward this great thing that happened on the Cross, by the answer that the believer will give in his or her own heart to Christ’s question, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” If you really will give the answer, ‘In order that I might never be forsaken’ – if you give that answer and stay there, you have entered into the value of what the Lord Jesus accomplished in destroying the works of the Devil, especially his supreme work of getting between you and God.

Calvary is always an open door, an open way, to God’s face. You know that it was ever by Jordan that the place of God’s face was reached – always by Jordan. Of the promised land the Lord said, “The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deut. 11:12); His face would be toward it, and so it was described as the land of unspeakable blessing. Israel never arrived there except by the Jordan. When they came back from the captivity to the land again, where God’s face was, they had to go across the Jordan again or through the Jordan. When the Lord Jesus went to the Jordan, He passed that way in order to come to the place where the heavens were opened, where the face of God was seen; always by Jordan to the place of God’s face – in other words, always by the Cross. It is by the Cross that we come into the light of His countenance.

This excerpt is from :

The Significance of Christ
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 – In Relation to the Race as it is

May we always seek His face and may the wilderness never get the last word on defining who God is in our lives! mdc


When One Member Suffers…

He aint heavyIt has been about three weeks since I last posted on this blog. The reason is that God has been doing a deep work in my heart and going after things that I had not given Him as of yet due to my own pain from things in my past. It has been a very intense time while Jesus ministered to me through a couple of precious saints who have suffered much in the last few years.

Paul wrote,

“For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit… That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:13-27 KJ2000)

Have you ever thought about the depths of Paul’s love for Jesus when he wrote, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10 KJ2000)? “The fellowship of HIS sufferings! What a curious thing  to say, Paul. Isn’t fellowship suppose to make us feel all warm and fuzzy?

Jesus made it clear that the goal of the Father is for us who are His to walk in this world just as He did, motivated by the love of the Father and being poured-out for those in need. And that means that we should not be indifferent to the pains of another if we are truly living IN Christ. We are in touch with their pain because HE is in touch with their pains and sufferings! We are to be their “Jesus with skin on,” and be His conduit of love and comfort in their time of need.

So, how often do we find this same sacrificial love of Christ among our fellow Christians when WE are the ones who are suffering? Sure, they will often offer “sound advice” when we are troubled and maybe even be given the name of  “a good counsellor,” but they either want to get  away from our pain or quickly put the “fix” on us to make themselves more comfortable. They don’t want us to rock their perfectly orchestrated worlds.

One time I was going through a hard time in my life when nothing seemed to be going right. I went to church one Sunday hoping to find comfort. A brother walked up, shook my hand and said, “How are you doing, brother? Good to see you!” As I started to share with him just how I was doing  and shared the first thing that had befell me, thinking he really cared, he said, “Well, that’s great, brother, see you next Sunday,” turned and walked away!

How often has someone like this or even a family member just sat there with us, held our hand as we poured-out our hearts, cried with us and really entered into OUR sufferings and pain? Yes, true love and fellowship with another member of Christ’s body sometimes requires that we suffer with the one who is hurting and just love them through it all without doing our best to put a “FIX” on them, until Christ heals them in HIS time. We live in such a shallow world when we look for REAL fellowship and enduring love and no one wants to be bothered. When we are suffering it can be a very lonely world, but Jesus leaves the 99 sheep, goes out, finds us, and personally loves and heals us.

Paul wrote, “Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 KJ2000). This requires getting down in the trenches with those who are burdened and helping them with their load. May we all search our hearts and ask the Lord to change us so that we walk as Christ does with all those He puts in our lives, for better or for worse, in their triumphs and their sufferings. As one pastor used to say, “This is a test! This life is ONLY a test.”

Uncommon Peace in Troubled Times

jesus-calms-the-stormA dear brother in Christ who lives in Louisiana named Ken Burgess, posted the following on his Facebook:

“Mariners and oceanographers have known for a long time that no matter how rough the seas or how high the waves get the water just 10 feet below the surface of the trough is completely calm. We spend the majority of our time at the top of the waves during the rough seas of life. That is where the struggle is. It is also where the, ‘seaworthiness,’ and/or weaknesses of a vessel are discovered. The weaknesses can sometimes have disastrous results. We are to remain in HIM at all times. Just 10 feet below the surface of the raging storms of life where it is perfectly calm. A submarine spends the majority of its time below the surface of the oceans of the world and the sailors are unaware of surface conditions even during the worst storms with the highest waves unless the captain surfaces. A wise captain will not risk his boat or his crew in those type of conditions. Jesus is our wise captain. HE did one of three things during stormy weather that was kicking up the waves. HE slept. HE rebuked the storm and spoke peace to the wind and waves. And HE walked on the water. It is our choice to make.”

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let now your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” JESUS: John 14:27


I, Michael, after spending years at sea, myself, know first hand about wave action. One time I was on an aircraft carrier in the edge of a typhoon and waves were coming over the flight deck  which was normally 90 feet above sea level! It was a wild time, but the submarines that were escorting our group were safe under the surface.

True peace and faith go hand in hand. And God allows situations to come into our lives so our faith can be tried as it was with the disciples on the sea of Galilee on that stormy night. Peter wrote,


[The elect] are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1 Peter 1:5-7 KJ2000)

I felt led to  look up each Greek word in this verse from John fourteen which Ken shared and it is interesting that the word translated “troubled” in the Greek means “roiled up” as in troubled waters on the sea. Jesus gives His peace and specifies that it is superior to the peace that the world gives. If the world (kosmos– or world system) gives “peace” it is totally conditional and is often armed neutrality at best and is a war that is just waiting for the right conditions to break out again. We are seeing this kind of “peace” all over the world where ethnic violence is only suppressed by militaristic dictators and more recent they are getting involved in “ethnic cleansing” themselves! Jeremiah saw this day when He said,


For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest everyone deals falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people lightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13-14 KJ2000)

But the peace that Christ sends us forth with (the meaning of His words “my peace I give unto you”) is deep and not subject to the superficial roiling of the world around us. His peace settled deep into our spirits out of reach of all things temporal. I often think of Paul and Barnabas in that dark Philippian dungeon with their backs split open from a flogging, and their feet bound in stocks awaiting further sentencing and what were they doing? Singing praises unto the Lord! (How many Christians in America do you know that would be doing THAT under such circumstances?) Paul and Barnabas  went forth with Christ’s peace in their hearts, peace that surpasses all reasonable understanding, and they were more than overcomers as they abode IN Him. And, as we know from the story, Jesus came down and inhabited their praises and the will of the kosmos gave way to the will of its Creator (see Acts Acts ch. 16).

In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever: for in the LORD GOD is everlasting strength: For he brings down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he lays it low; he lays it low, even to the ground; he brings it even to the dust.  (Isaiah 26:1-5 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

The Fellowship of HIS Sufferings

Rejection of ChristI know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 3:15 to 4:1 KJ2000)

I have been through many sufferings and rejections through the years at the hands of well meaning but ignorant Christians in the church system. But remember, Jesus came to His own people with salvation and healing and they still rejected Him, yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As we read the scriptures we find that rejection is part of the package if we are to follow Him as our Savior and Lord. Yes, we can be rejected for being obnoxious and obstinate, but this is not what I am talking about.

Many of us have found ourselves marked for rejection by that apostate system and it often came without us knowing why! Dear saints, it is in our DNA… It is Christ IN us that they reject. We join a “church” and soon the initial welcome wears thin and we find that people start to distance themselves from us. We can never seem to get into that “inner circle” where everybody seems to be best of friends. Why? They know that we are NOT one of THEM! Even without making any waves, we may even eventually be asked to leave. Of course this is accelerated when we dare to point out that “the king (pastor, prophet, apostle, whatever the title) has no clothes” or that he is teaching things contrary to the scriptures. The kind of coldness and shunning that takes place afterwards proves that we were associated with a cult in the first place, not the ecclesia of God.

Jesus and Paul were emphatic about keeping the unity of the faith and maintaining fellowship through thick and thin. The early church leaders were never above being corrected when needed. Yet, in a system that is marked by schism (43,000 different denominations and sects) which is constantly dividing against itself, it easy for people to divide from one another at the first sign of disagreement, especially when the head wolf (“pastor”) is involved.

In all these seemingly negative experiences we go through in Christendom, we are given a chance to go beyond the hurt and bitterness and go through an open door in the heavens and obey His call to “come up here.” Jesus does not stand outside that closed door church system of Laodicea forever, begging to be let into the lives of individuals, but calls us out of it unto Himself. In this NEW relationship with HIM in heavenly places, as the One who truly loves us, we are healed. It is here that He shows us HIS heavenly perspective of what HIS kingdom is about. It is from this tearing and healing process that we are then given an opportunity to be used to comfort others who go through the same things. As Paul so rightly shared from his own experience:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 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.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 RSVA)

Remember it is in the sharing of Christ’s suffering, which we are allowed to experience, that we grow in love (Just read Isaiah ch. 53 and compare it to your life as well and you will see what I mean). This is the deepest form of fellowship, “the fellowship of HIS sufferings”(see Phil. 3:10). In the controlled atmosphere of organized religion, “fellowship” is a time when we get together, put on our plastic smiles, and share empty platitudes as we eat snacks in a special room called “the fellowship hall.” How empty compared to sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and the comfort we receive from Him as we do. Comforting another with the same comfort we have received from Him is REAL fellowship and it just keeps getting richer. No wonder that the church in the first two and a half centuries grew in leaps and bounds as it was so heavily persecuted by the Jews and the Romans. It was all in the plan of God. It was when the Emperor Constantine banished church persecution and made it the official religious body of the Roman government that the church went stagnant and almost died.

So, dear saints, today we don’t have the Romans and the Jews to persecute and reject us, but we have a church system that has gone bad to do the job. I thank the Lord for what it has become so that the REAL members of the body of Christ might shine forth in His love. God bless you all.