Pondering Truth In Christ

Dec. 8, 2018

"You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.” Dt. 12:8.

The article below (highlighted section my focus) troubles me - not by what it actually says, but by the way such things are often perceived and then promoted - as there is thinking among Christians today that pits them against one another, further still than all the divisions already present. 

Those who have become "unchurched" (in the sense of no longer "going to church") seem to have a low regard for people who still attend a brick and mortar church. And vice versa. There’s condescension in both camps, and the former seem to regard themselves as "spiritual" while others beneath them (in their opinion) are regarded as merely “religious.” I’ve been around both.

It's the either/or mindset out there today that troubles me. Hopefully there will come a day when the household of God will be that in which its "children of all ages" will realize that they all have a place at the table in the House of the Lord.

Maybe those who see themselves as “mature sons" might need to consider sticking around and be examples to, rather than critics of, those they regard as “children,” rather than making a run for it, or running away from home, since they are so obviously enlightened. What kind of household, after all, is it where its "older" mature children condemn and pick on the "younger", or decide that because "they are not mature, so I will leave them"?

My conclusion: Get over the semantics and the antics. Be yourself mature. Love and listen to one another; you just might learn something. Find value in ancient tradition, liturgy, and the beautiful old hymns, and appreciate them; honor them. In a sense this is much like adherence to the commandment to "Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

And so very often, those who are quick to condemn those who “go to church” and what the Bible has to say are very frequently those whose shadows never darken a church doorway, nor do they read or study the Bible, which they also criticize, but instead “look within” for what they call "light". 

This would not be their view if they actually read and understood what the Bible says about the “heart” they advocate for following: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are what defile a man…” Mt 15:19,20. And “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jer 17:9.

Believe me, I was in this “follow your heart” camp myself for quite awhile. So I’m not speaking from mere opinion.

This begs the question, who is the more mature after all - those who think themselves spiritual and regard the others as immature and religious, or the other way around? If the Apostles were to look down from heaven and see what is going on today among the churches, one wonders what sort of eye rolling and face palming there would be, even amidst the joys on high, amongst those who've actually been perfected in Christ?

(PS / Afterthought: I'm not advocating for "unity" at the cost of truth.)

 ***

Remarks above based on highlighted underlined remarks from T. Austin-Sparks article below from:

Christ the Power of God - Chapter 4 

 http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002159.html

“The Holy Spirit points out that the way into the true Holy of Holies is not yet thrown open as long as the former tabernacle remains a recognized institution and is still standing... For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with human hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but He has entered into heaven itself. (Hebrews 9:8,24 AMP) Fellowship with God must be of that kind, that whether we can go to meetings or not, we still have the Lord; whether we have nice soulish music or not, we still have the Lord. You are not in that realm: "Neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem...." Bricks and mortar cannot communicate with spirit. Man's soul can communicate with God only through the vehicle of his spirit in union with God. That is what Calvary has done. You can understand now, of course, why the message of the Cross is unacceptable... and that, because of this strong cleaving to a historic, traditional inheritance, you will be outside the camp if you are going to proclaim it and stand for it. And, too, the awful thing is this – that Satan has taken hold of the Divine representation, or typical system, to appropriate it, when God has done away with it, and that what God brought in for a temporary purpose he has captured for himself in order to obscure the real nature of fellowship with God.

Now no one will think that I am saying that there are no spiritual people in that system of things. I am not saying that; but I am saying that if that represents for them their spiritual life – if they must have that, if that is the realm in which they live... that they do not see beyond that and are not free from that as a thing in itself – then they have missed the meaning of Calvary, and they are bound to miss all the meaning of Christ crucified – the wisdom and the power of God. 

Wrestling with principalities and powers wants something more than a system of external things. You see, we are up against a terrific business; we are up against a spiritual opposition which is colossal, and only a spiritual position is adequate to that – nothing less. We do not want to be in any position less than the Lord's first and best for us. The toys, the picture books, the illustrations, the symbols, the types are for children who have little intelligence; they are taken away at a certain time when God is out to have, not children but sons; and there is all the difference between the two. And so Calvary dismisses the kindergarten of external things in relation to God and brings in the fullness of heavenly order so as to make of us full-grown sons of God. May we be so!”

Yes, spiritual wrestling does want something more than “a system of external things,” Mr. Sparks. It requires life within the body of Christ, not a life of unscriptural thinking and being a stand alone, dining on a smorgasbord religion pieced together from Eastern mysticism, indigenous traditions, New Age, New Thought, and every other popular thing out there and calling yourself a Christian - which is where the “homeless Christian” viewpoint will almost inevitably wind up, because it is not grounded in anything but faith in itself, which is not the faith of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

Nov. 27, 2018

Psalm 103:1Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me bless His holy name.” 

David here commands not only his soul, but everything that is within him - mind, heart, intellect, thoughts, desires, motivations, strength, abilities, and every other interior power to bless the Lord. 

Ordinarily we would think of only the first line of this, but he also calls upon “all that is within me” to bless His holy name. This caught me as if I’d never seen it before upon reading it this morning. Probably because I saw but did not notice. Ordinarily we think of the soul as being the container of everything internal and unseen within us. However, the Psalmist calls upon not only his soul to bless the Lord, but also all that is within him! 

How might that look as a prayer, a command to the interior powers to come forth as blessing the Lord? Here are a few examples. Bless the Lord, O my mind. Bless the Lord, O my will. Bless the Lord, O my intellect. Bless the Lord, O my thoughts. Bless the Lord, O my desires. Bless the Lord, O my motivations. Bless the Lord, O my heart. Bless the Lord, O my strength. Bless the Lord, O my talents. Bless the Lord, O my abilities. Bless the Lord, O my feelings and emotions. Bless the Lord, O all my powers bestowed by Him. Bless the Lord, O my spiritual insight, hearing, seeing, and comprehensions. Bless the Lord, O that of which I am unaware within me. Bless the Lord, all that is within me that remains unnamed… 

The king, under the Lord’s command, first commands his soul. We might see him as the commander of the Lord’s interior hosts - where God has placed His army. There are many divisions in that army, listed and unlisted, but in need of being enlisted in blessing and glorifying Him. God’s Holy Spirit - when joined with my spirit are to become one Mind - to command the blood bought soul, and all the host within. All are to function as one with “us” (His Spirit / our spirit), in full allegiance and surrender to the salvific vision and eternal purposes of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus each (of the “all that is within me”) is called upon bless Him to its fullest capacity.

Jesus prayed, (Jn 17) “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” Ponder that!

Had you ever considered that there is a spiritual and interior standing army at the ready to be called upon to bless the Lord’s name, according to what the Christ prays for in the foregoing? 

Our interior gifts and powers must be commanded to bless His name, for they also have the potential to become little gods, idols, kings, and potentates setting themselves up as rulers in His temple, His house of prayer - our body and being - as usurpers. They can vie for supremacy as they compete with one another for our attention, thus creating a state of anything from anxiety to full blown insanity. The question is, have I brought them to attention, commanded them to stand down, and to instead participate in blessing the Lord - the very purpose for which they are made and placed within me? In order for things to be in order, this means that my human spirit must first be, through Jesus Christ, in full surrender to the Holy Spirit - the Commander in Chief - so that the entirely of this army may be brought into a place of undergoing complete sublimation and transformation!

There is only one Lord, one Savior, one God. Thus the command goes forth, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” This can be applied to seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, as the first order of spiritual warfare takes place within us, by having the troops at the ready and in shape, with an understanding of the mission for which they are created and called.

PS: With the “go through the Bible in a year” mentality that has become so prevalent, thoughts like this are missed due to a mechanistic, ritualistic, and even liturgical hustle. (My intention this morning was spun from the direction of a dream to explore the first five verses of Psalm 103. Of course my ideas about this were slowed down to one at a time, which I would have missed going my own pace and approaching it on my own terms.)

It requires a “contemplative scrutiny” to really notice and appreciate the morsels of manna the Lord wishes to place before us to enjoy and to inwardly digest them. This is of course not done out of context or in some wild flight of fantasy or imagination (which would be a couple of those powers gone rogue!), but it is a careful noticing that must take place. And that adds to the depth and accuracy of one’s personal application. This must always be aided by the Holy Spirit.

I find that partaking and imbibing of Scripture need to resemble fine dining rather than a hasty drive through McDonald’s. It is more deeply appreciated when taken in small morsels well chewed and enjoyed, than it is when rushing through in an “all you can eat” mode, as quickly as you can eat it. And it is far more spiritually satisfying and healthy as well.

Soli Deo Gloria! 

 

 

 
 
 
Nov. 12, 2018

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.” Mt 18:18,19. 

We only “bind” and cast out sin and dark spiritual influences on others, but do not cast hatred and vitriol on them, for often they may be a victim of unawareness of what’s happening. We are to “loose” salvation through our prayers, blessing, and even gratitude toward God. We choose love, not hate, as Christ’s disciples! Might this be how miracles occur in healing of relationships and ourself? If we hate another, we shoot ourself in the foot, reaping what we sow. Satan also comes in and begins to tempt with the idea of unfaithfulness and adultery, in case of marriages - which he is out to destroy along with beautiful families and all God’s blessing.

Love - not a feeling, but a decision of attitude and a positive action - releases the other person and yourself. Hate binds both, since we understand that whatever we are sowing, we ourselves also will be reaping. So we need to examine our own thoughts, words, and deeds toward another when it comes to this. We may be binding rather than releasing them and then wonder why things do not get better, or were perhaps worse - because “hate bombs” are curses that bind. 

When we hate, we curse another. This has severe ramifications. It not only has a binding effect on the other person, but it backfires and starts to bind us into darkness - spirit, soul, and body. We must not allow this to happen. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy on every level. And he has a big following these days, encouraging many to forsake God, to forsake one another - in the midst of relationships (especially family) whereby God intends His blessing and the expression of love - including our growth in the likeness of Christ. 

There’s only one way to break this cycle. As much as it may seem like a really stupid idea according to our reasoning and feelings, we must start to bless deliberately in the name of Jesus, because in all things, that is Who we represent in this life. This is the only way to start turning the impossible around.

Forgiveness releases the other person. Hatred binds both them and us. We cannot expect the other person to change when we spend our time obsessing about their faults and cursing them, ranting against them, even though we may justify our attitude and behavior because they may actually make stupid mistakes. Might some of that have been exacerbated by our cursing them? This only creates havoc in our life, and this is what the evil one wants - in order to rob, kill, and destroy. Sometimes we need to let go of trying to control them, and just let God take it over, which happens through forgiveness which releases them to Him. 

Love is an act of faith in God, in trusting Him to bring in His power into the situation. Love is not about feelings of wanting to control. As odd as it may seem, our wanting to “fix” someone is like playing God; it is a form of idolatry and is as the spirit of witchcraft. 

To strengthen aggressive love by deciding consistently in its favor is an act of war against folly at a much higher level. Forgiveness means letting go, of not joining sides with the Accuser, who will always want to whisper in our ear about how badly the other person performs. Whenever we activate love, God is activated - because God is love. And there is nothing more powerful than that.

The M.O. must be changed, beginning at the level of thought about one another. There are eternal consequences which ought to make us sit up and take notice. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 Jn 3:15.

Below are some scriptures to consider, and pray over. They should bring some direction and encouragement along these lines. It’s not always easy to swallow because Jesus is not a marshmallow in His directives for us - He knows what we’re up against and shows us His way to handle it. It begins in ourself. It is useful to “pray the Scriptures” in many of these cases. Learn them by heart as much as possible, so they are always present. The Lord will teach you directly as you meditate on these things.

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts, words, and deeds according to God’s word. This is what will bring us through these tough days.

1 Corinthians 13; Psalm 51:10-13; Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:44; 1 Peter 3:9; James 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 12:21; 1 Peter 2:21-23; Entire Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5,6,7.

 

 

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Nov. 11, 2018

Galatian 5:13,14. AMPC. “For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.” (Lev 19:18; Mt 5:43-46; Gal 5:19… more!)

Jesus is clear that there are no exceptions. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven…”

We must learn and practice this in the simple times, when the “enemies” the Lord places in our life are, shall we say, easy targets. Christ love is not just for when it’s easy, when I feel like it, or when it’s convenient. The times when it challenges our feelings, perhaps even to the very core of our being, will be the ultimate tests - that we are not running on the fuel of ordinary human love, but on the Love of Jesus Christ Himself, because the circumstances will call for that.

The little practices that lead to such things? When one’s spouse is sour and moody. Intend love. When the cat is inordinately demanding attention and whiny. Intend love. (Yes, even pets are there to be loved as God loves us! And often show far greater devotion to this than their human keepers.) Someone calls at an inconvenient time and needs to talk, when the talking for them may be in that moment an expression of their loneliness. Intend love. Exercise patience. Transcend self by tuning in to their need.

The Savior says, Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done it unto Me! We really need to let that sink in.

What the Gospel calls us to is to love as God loves, reflecting His image, and increasing in His likeness. No exceptions. No excuses. No additions, deletions, or corrections. The good news is that Christ has set us free to love as He loves, unconditionally, and He has empowered us to do the same by His very own Holy Spirit within us.

A wonderful video someone sent today on reconciliation (“coincidentally”?) that dovetails nicely with the foregoing thoughts. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27GYDM8FHwk&feature=youtu.be 

 

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Nov. 1, 2018

After yesterday’s post http://www.at-the-crossroad.com/430065897/6677263/posting/the-whatevers I felt compelled to expand on it a bit more in its context. So here goes.

Beyond the "whatevers" posted last evening (See Philippians 4:8) - all the things we’re encouraged to think on or DWELL on - there is more. That was verse 8, and while there's nothing wrong with keeping on the sunny side, this verse goes way beyond “positive thinking,” as it continues with verse 9, which says (as St. Paul goes on with the rest of his thought), "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." But who today, with the cherry picking mentality of much of the church, wants to even go there? We’d rather be told what feels good.

A lot of people figure that by "thinking positive," they can ward off trouble, or even earn their salvation. It's almost like a magical practice to them whereby they think life can be manipulated; but clearly witchcraft (the spirit of control) is not what the Apostle had in mind here. He certainly knew better. Self sits on the throne in lives where positive thinking becomes a magical practice of manipulating others or circumstances.

Certainly it’s not necessarily evil to stay on the bright side, as having a better mental outlook can not only make us feel better, but a good attitude can determine one’s “altitude”, as far as emotionally getting through difficult things. But this isn’t the point of what Scripture reveals to us. Without the Gospel, such attempts at manipulation amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs aboard one’s personal Titanic. What if instead we were to simply lay it down at the feet of Jesus?

A higher view comes along with the opening verses of Colossians 3 - “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, (implying an actual rebirth by the Holy Spirit) keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.” This is not about a cherry picking kind of Christianity where I simply want God to bless what I want, or believe I can “think” my way to it! 

Paul is advocating for an uncompromising devotion to Jesus Christ in Philippians 4:9, in single minded discipleship and surrender to the Lord. That's the practice! It’s not just about so called positive thinking, although we know that Paul and Silas sang hymns and prayed (Acts 16:25) after being beaten and jailed. So if we're going to practice what Paul practiced, it's important to be informed from Scripture what that looked like. What was the content of message? How did he and the other Apostles react to their difficulties and even persecution? What was their prayer life like, and for what did they pray? Were they full of self will, or a will surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Way of the cross?

Comprehending these things we can come to a balanced understanding of the relationship between verses 8 and 9. Scripture should always be taken in context of not only the verses around it, which complete a thought communicated, but also the entire message of the Bible, which is to reveal Jesus Christ and His sublime love of us and His authority in our life - won by the shedding of His blood. We are not our own!

The fact that we’d rather look at verse 8 without its complete context in verse 9, shows how much New Age / New Thought positive thinking - in some cases more than the Gospel and its implications for our lives - has infiltrated the churches and the minds of Christians. That should make us stop and think, and question where it’s going to take the church, and who’s behind this subtle infiltration. We need always to pray for complete understanding as we read and study Scripture, and that we be cleared of any previous notions founded in worldly religions or philosophies.