Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Highway Shall Be There

I mentioned a while ago that God has given me some openings concerning the realm of the Spirit that is before us.  Perhaps these openings are not exactly new, but when the Spirit of the Lord breathes life into the Scriptures there is an opening of the understanding that is very precious; there is a sense of newness of life about what we are reading.  It is fresh, we have a distinct impression that this is what God is saying, this is what He is doing, this is what is before us.

By that (what is before us) I don’t mean that we haven’t already experienced this in a measure.  But I know that there is much much more before us.

And so I mentioned that this realm of the Spirit is both a Place, and a Way.  There is a Pathway, and a Place… a Life, a walk in the Spirit, that oh… if I could only dance… I mean, dance the way the poet danced when he said, “Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…”  Oh how duped we have been, we Christians, of our heritage in Christ, the realm of the Spirit, of the heavenlies.   Oh, how we have been blinded, we settle for earthly things when we have before us a vast heritage in the Spirit, the heritage of the New Creation man, the Israel of God, who walks not according to the rules and regulations of law, but according to a New Rule—the rule of new creation Life.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

One of the wonderful promises of the New Covenant is that God will make a way where there is no way—a way through the wilderness, a way where there has been nothing but desert and wilderness.  Are you there?  Don’t be discouraged, so am I.  But let us lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen our feeble knees: there is a Way here!

Now, in the typology of Scripture, the wilderness is the wasteland of this world caused by the sin of Adam.  Spiritually speaking, this whole world is a desert, an unfriendly and uninhabitable wilderness.  Thorns and thistles grow everywhere; venomous creatures abound; water is scarce, and when we get closer to things that excited us and lifted our hopes when we saw them in the distance, we discover them to be just another deceiving mirage.

But this is what has become of the old creation under the curse.  I am aware these days, as are many others, that the wilderness of this world has intensified, has become even more difficult, not just in the big wide world out there but in our own circumstances.  Sin abounds, and so troubles are greater, problems are more severe.  How wonderful to discover, then, that God promises a Way through this wilderness!  Yes, right there in the desert, right there in the wilderness, right in the midst of those terrible and difficult circumstances of ours—those impossible circumstances—there is a Way.

We find this theme over and over in our Bible, especially in Isaiah, where in Chapter 35 he introduces us to a certain Highway that leads to Zion.  Where is this highway found?

And an highway shall be there

That, is, there in the wilderness.  Isaiah has been talking of this terrible wilderness place, “the wilderness and the solitary place,” and he prophesies that there “the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”

Water!  And not just a brackish puddle of it!

And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons (or, jackals) where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

Water!  Water where there had been no water—living water, the Water Jesus spoke of when He promised the River of the Spirit.  And suddenly the desert is rejoicing, and the wilderness is blossoming as a rose.

And what else is here?

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

Notice the intermingling of these two things in this chapter—the Water, and the Way.  For it is the Way of the Spirit that Isaiah is prophesying of.  He calls it the Way of Holiness, which the unclean cannot walk in.  But reading between the lines, I am sure we detect here that those who walk in this Way discover in it a power that cleanses them and keeps them clean.

Again, where is this highway?  Right there in the wilderness!  And the thought seems to be that even the most foolish of us can walk in this pathway without erring.  Once we have confessed what fools we have been and how terribly we have erred in going our own way and doing our own thing in trying to resolve our difficulties and make a life for ourselves, we discover God has a Way that accomplishes the impossible… if we will just give ourselves to walking in this Way.

I am talking to us Christians.  If we are born again, born of the Spirit, how foolish of us to try to deal with our difficult circumstances with our own resources and wisdom.  How foolish of us to try to resolve our problems with carnal means, to begin in the Spirit and hope to conclude things in the flesh.  God says the answer, the only answer, lies in walking in this Way, the Way of the Spirit.  If we are born of the Spirit we must take the plunge, we must give ourselves to walking in the Spirit in all we say and do.  What have we got to lose?  Our own ways haven’t worked, have they?

And the promise is that:

No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.

I find this a fascinating verse.  There is a Pathway that… as you and I walk in this Pathway, no lion can touch us.  Lions simply cannot go up on this Pathway, they know nothing about it.  Our adversary the Devil who walketh about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour… as long as we abide in this Pathway he cannot touch us.  He doesn’t even know where we are.

What is this Highway, this Way?  It’s the Way of the Spirit, and it’s right there in the midst of our terrible wilderness, the only way through our difficult circumstances.  It’s there, beloved, God promises that it is there.  And He promises that “the redeemed shall walk there:

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

I’m Not Tired Yet

I mentioned a while ago that I hoped to share with my readers some things that were opened to me about the realm of the Spirit during a time of fasting.  It’s still on my heart to do that, but my leading is to first emphasize what the Spirit of the Lord is emphasizing—that at this particular juncture in the purposes of God when many are finding it very hard to go on, and prayer is difficult, and there is so little of His Presence with us, our Lord is saying strongly, “Keep seeking Me earnestly!  Don’t quit!  Don’t give up!”

We’ve had several confirmations the last while that this is what He is urging upon us.  I sensed that again earlier today—that our Lord is bursting with hope for each one of us in the same way we would be cheering and shouting encouragement to our favourite runner in a marathon race.  I don’t know how He manages to make each and every one of us His favourite runner, but He does, and He wants to see us finish and win the prize.

The shape this is taking in my own thinking is along this line:  although we have a measure of this now, God is about to bring His people into a realm of the Spirit and a walk in the Spirit more wondrous than anything we have ever known.  But necessary to this is the time we are now in—a very grievous time of spiritual drought and famine in which many at times can’t find enough of the water of the Spirit so much as to wet their tongue.  So there is a lot of weariness and discouragement.

Part of the reason for this dark and desolate time, I believe, is that it emboldens the evil spirits to come out and make their play, like the psalmist said when the sun goes down and it is night, “wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth” (Ps. 104.20).

There are certainly a lot of beasts creeping around these days seeking their prey.  And not just out there in the “world.”  They are finding their prey even in many churches.  In fact this is the hour when the man of iniquity is being revealed in the temple of God “shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thes. 2.4).  He’s beginning to reveal himself, manifesting signs and lying wonders, and many are being deceived by it all.

And so it’s a very difficult time for the true of heart, and our Lord wants to reassure us.  Don’t give up!  Don’t quit!  Keep seeking me!  I am with you more than you can know, and what I am about to do with your help will deal with all this like a snail in the sun.

It’s a wonderful prospect.  BUT.  We are being very foolish if we think we can just wait for this and meanwhile fill our lives with earthly things.  If there was a time when a Christian could keep his or her walk with the Lord on the back burner and just enjoy the earthly life, that time is gone now.  We have entered a time when, as my friend Terry said recently, “if we are not in the Spirit we are going to be dead meat.”   To trust the arm of the flesh to get you through something is to court total disaster.  We are entering a time—have already entered it—when our own wisdom and earthly zeal will no longer get us through things.  Our own strength will fail us.

And it’s for this very reason, I think, that God has permitted the great spiritual drought we are in.  That’s how I’m beginning to see things.  He has dried us up, has caused our own strength and zeal to shrivel, because He knows it just won’t cut it in the day that’s coming.  So He dries us up to prepare us for what He has in mind to bring us into– a totally spiritual provision, a totally supernatural strength and sustenance, with no admixture of the earthly whatsoever!

Perhaps that’s a fearful thought.  Personally I find it exciting.  And why should it be less than exciting to the new-creation man?

So, with this in mind, the other day I was looking for a song on YouTube.  (I go to YouTube very very cautiously, by the way; there are beasts there ready to eat you if you let your guard down even for a second.)  I was looking for that old song, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  That’s what I have been wanting to do more fully—trust Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  Anyway, somehow I came across a song called, “I’m Not Tired Yet” by the Mississippi Mass Choir.  Please forgive me: I was intrigued by the title, so I listened to it.  🙂  My old ear couldn’t make out the words, but “I’m not tired yet” was the continual refrain.  I thought, they’re singing what God is saying: “I’m not tired yet.”  Amen, I said to myself, God never gets tired.  He’s not discouraged.  He’s going to do what He said He would do.

I wanted to get the words to the song so I searched for the lyrics.  When I found them I was a little disappointed.  They were along the lines of… well, here they are, read them for yourself:

Been working for Jesus a long time.
(I’m not tired yet.)
Been running for Jesus a long time.
(I’m not tired yet.)
Been working for Jesus a long time.
(I’m not tired yet.)
Been singing for Jesus a long time.
(I’m not tired yet.)
Been running by day and praying by night.
(I’m not tired yet.)
I’ve gotta get going it’s a mighty hard fight.
(I’m not tired yet.)
No… I’m not tired yet.
No… I’m not tired yet…

There’s more, but see what I mean?  I wondered if it was just human zeal boasting about a conflict they’ve never engaged.  I know by experience that a painful revelation awaits those who zealously lean on the arm of the flesh in the trials of life.  But then I thought… I’m probably not being very generous here.  These people are no doubt singing because they have been through a lot and actually have discovered the secret of never growing tired.  And that old familiar passage in Isaiah came to me.

Hast thou not known?  Hast thou not heard?  That the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?  There is no searching of His understanding.

So, yes, it’s true—and we need to remember this—God never gets tired.  It’s a very difficult hour and it’s going to get even more difficult.  But God is not tired yet.  God is not tired yet.  He is going to finish what He started.

“Well and good,” you say, “He is God.  What about me?  I’m starting to get so tired.”  Let me say that I too know what it’s like to grow very weary in the trials of life.  At times I have been filled with such inner emotional pain that I have said, “Lord, please just take me home, I can’t do this anymore.”  Even the apostle Paul spoke of being “in weariness, and painfulness.”  Christians are not made of plastic, and the Lord knows it.  He Himself knows our frame.  He remembers that we are dust.  But when Isaiah reminds us that God never grows weary and never faints, he is leading up to something.  This God who never gets tired, what does He do?

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.

He gives power to whom?  To the faint.  To them that have no might.  Can you relate?  These are the ones whose strength He increases in a day when the strong and the zealous are falling and fainting on every hand.

Now the verse we all love:

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.

We love that old song, don’t we.  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…”  In other words, no matter what they are going through, those who are waiting upon the LORD will be able to say, “I’m not tired yet.”  Why?  Because they have tapped into a hidden strength, the resources of Almighty God Himself.  Human zeal and strength—the arm of the flesh—will never carry the day.  But those who wait upon the Lord will, because they have exchanged their strength, as the Hebrew word renew means.  They are no longer walking in an earthly realm.  They are walking in a spiritual dimension, and are being sustained with an entirely spiritual strength—God’s own strength.

And as I said, more and more we are entering the day when this is not optional.  We are up against such complex problems, such grievous things, such difficult things, and forces in a heavenly dimension… forces that are far too great for us, far greater than any human resource can deal with.  We must be in the Spirit, meeting all things with spiritual provision. This is what the day at hand is calling for and requires.

But if it is required, this can only mean that God has it for us, beloved!  He has the provision for us to run this race and not get tired, to walk and not faint.  And it begins by waiting upon Him, looking expectantly to Him… and mounting up into the realm where the eagle flies—the realm of the Spirit, the realm where we discover the wind under our wings, and find those thermals in the Spirit that draw us upward, upward, upward… and we have loosed the surly bonds of earth.

Let’s not be afraid of this.  Maybe it’s frightening, the prospect of being so totally in the Spirit that we have none of the familiar earthly moorings to hold on to any more.  But oh… what an adventure is before us!

…As it turns out this blog entry wasn’t a detour after all.  In fact it’s already leading into what I have been wanting to share about the realm of the Spirit.

 

The Man Who Would Not Let Go Of God

This blog entry is about twice the usual length (as is the title).  And since it’s very meaningful to me, I hope A Mending Feast readers will read it when they can give it meaningful time.

In a time of prayer at the beginning of the year I felt that 2013 would be a time of seeking for me.  And so it has proven thus far.  As I mentioned last time, I spent some weeks fasting recently.  It came about when I asked some friends to join me in fasting and prayer for a day or two.  It was an encouraging time.  Then a few days later one of the friends mentioned to me that he had it on his heart to enter into a longer fast.  He felt it was an “invitation from the Lord,” and invited me to join him and his wife.  I was on.  We patterned it after Daniel’s fast—eating no “pleasant food,” eating very simply, and just enough to maintain strength.

I am not trying to draw attention to what we did, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way.  But this is a difficult and very critical hour, and I want to encourage us all to be seeking God earnestly.  We need Him so desperately, yet we get busy with our earthly lives, and somehow He ends up on the back burner.  That’s a mistake always; in this hour it’s a great mistake.

Personally I have lost my appetite for the earthly life.  We’re only mortal once, and to waste this brief moment of life on ourselves is the greatest of all loss.  Jesus told His disciples many times that those who seek to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives for His sake will find them.  It’s His invitation to us to walk in the way of the cross with Him—this way of death that He made the way of Life.  In my case I don’t know that I have too many grains of sand left in my hourglass, and it’s not very appealing to me to just idle away my precious days enjoying this earthly life and watching the grains of sand run out.  I don’t want to waste my life!  I am determined to spend my mortal life (the only one I get) on Jesus.  So I will continue to take up my cross and follow along with Jesus.  He promises me that this is the Way that leads to God.  And I want God!  And need Him desperately—not just for myself but for others.  So my face is set.  I am not turning back.  I am not giving up.

And during my fast I received a clear confirmation from the Lord that He Himself is saying this very thing to me: that yes, these are difficult days, very difficult.  You’re in the midst of troubles… with more and greater on the way.  Yet at times it seems like your God has hidden Himself, or is very far away.  But don’t give up.  Don’t give up.

Here’s how it came to me.  I found myself dwelling on the story of Jacob.  Jacob, our Bible tells us, was after something even in the womb of his mother.  She (Rebecca) would find herself holding her belly alarmed at what was going on—all that kicking and punching.  She sought God about it and received a prophetic word (Gen. 25.22).  She was about to give birth to twins, and the children were struggling with one another, wrestling in the womb.  Seems like they were positioning themselves.  Who would be the first out, and get the birthright, the blessing, the inheritance, the double portion?  Then when her time came and the firstborn was on his way out, the second son grabbed the firstborn by the heel as if to say, maybe you got out first but this is not over yet.  And so this is how he got his name—Jacob—“one who takes by the heel,” that is, “supplanter, conniver.”

Jacob didn’t make it out first, but what he did at birth was prophetic of his whole life.  As a young man he schemed to get the birthright from Esau, who, faint with hunger, sold it to him for a bowl of bean stew.  Then later when it was time for Isaac to pass on the blessing of the firstborn, Jacob schemed again (with his mother’s help) and deceived his father outright, and obtained the blessing reserved for Esau the firstborn.  Esau swore vengeance for this; he would get even someday; he would kill Jacob.  So Jacob leaves the land of his fathers for Padan-aram, where later on we find him wrestling continually with Laban, his conniving, deceiving father-in-law.  And after toiling many years for a wife and ending up with two wives (actually four) he is on his way back to Canaan the land of his fathers with his family and his flocks and possessions when he hears that his brother Esau is on his way to meet him, and 400 men with him.

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed… (Gen. 32.7).

And he prays for God’s deliverance.

Oh, God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac… I am not worthy of the least of Thy mercies, and of all the truth (or, faithfulness) which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him…

Notice that Jacob prays desperately for God’s deliverance, and at the same time comes up with an elaborate scheme to deliver himself from the wrath of his brother Esau.  He sends droves of sheep and cattle on before him as a present for Esau.  Last of all he sends his family over the brook Jabbok, a tributary of the Jordan.

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32.24).

It doesn’t surprise us, does it, to find Jacob wrestling again.  But this time it was not just the day that broke.  By the time this wrestling match was over, by the time the sun arose, Jacob himself was a broken man.  He had wrestled with his brother in the womb.  All his life he had wrestled with men and circumstances.  And now he is wrestling with… he is not sure who he is wrestling with.

And this One says to him, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.”

But Jacob kept saying to Him, “I will not let thee go except Thou bless me.”  My, how tenacious this man is.  He simply will not give up.

And when the Angel of the Lord saw that He wasn’t getting anywhere with this man, that He prevailed not against him, He touched Jacob in the hollow of his thigh and crippled him.  That would put him down on the mat for the count, right?

But no, it was Jacob who won the match!   We are told it was Jacob who prevailed, who won (Gen. 32.28).  How did he win the match?  By being crippled, by being smitten in the place of his greatest strength, by being overcome by God.  He asked him, “What is thy name?”  Jacob responded—and light dawned—“Jacob.”  Ah, my name is Jacob—supplanter, wrestler, conniver, striver!  All my life I’ve been striving, conniving…

But God responded, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

God gave this man a new name.  In the Bible, the name always signifies the nature, the character of a person, his prophetic destiny.  And so Jacob was as it were a new man now, a new creation.  Now he in turn asks a question. “Tell me, I pray Thee, Thy name.”  But He answers, “Wherefore dost thou ask after My name?”  In other words, I think, Jacob, you know that now.

And He blessed him there.  And Jacob called the name of that place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

But from that day on this man limped.  He couldn’t even worship without leaning on his staff (Heb. 11.21).

Now… I said all that to say this.  I was finding my time of fasting very difficult.  I don’t know that I’ve had a more difficult time—not the fasting itself so much as, oh, it was so hard to get through to God in prayer.  And you start to get thoughts like… maybe I just don’t have what it takes.  Maybe I should just call it quits.  But as I dwelt on Jacob’s experiences, I went to a passage in Hosea I’ve never really understood.  I thought I’d just read it over anyway.  Suddenly it came clear to me.  Hosea says this:

The LORD hath a controversy with Judah, and will punish (that is, visit) Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him.

Hosea is talking here of the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel, both of which had gone into great apostasy at the time.  And he warns them that God will deal with them according to their ways.  But suddenly right in the middle of this frightening pronouncement Hosea sets forth a great hope for these wayward disobedient people.  How does he do it?  He reminds them of their father Jacob.

He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength (or, in his manhood) he had power with (or, strove with) God:
Yea, he had power over (or, contended with) the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us;
Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is His memorial (Hos. 12.2-5).

Suddenly I realized that Hosea, while making no excuse for Jacob’s conniving ways… he is speaking very positively about this man.  There is something about this man, this supplanter, this striver, this wrestler, that God greatly loves.  For this is a man who sought God tenaciously, continually.  From the very womb he wanted God… and just would not give up.  Oh how that blesses the heart of God to see someone like that!  He loved Jacob!

But now in the next verse Hosea comes to his punch line:

Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

And–this is what I said at the start–I heard Him speaking to me!  Wait on thy God continually!  Don’t quit!  Don’t give up!

Do we not hear him speaking to us, fellow Christian?  “There He spake with us.”  God, in the story of Jacob, is speaking to us, to you, to me.  And is saying… “Don’t give up!”  It’s a word we deeply need to hear in this hour when, just as in Hosea’s day and the people of God back then, the same thing applies to “the church,” the people of God in this day.  We are in a state of frightening apostasy, and God is surely going to visit us for our ways.  It’s a grievous time, and many are wondering if there is any hope.  God says yes, there is hope!  God says, turn thou to thy God!  There is hope!  Is there someone in your life who needs mercy?  A situation that calls for judgment (for justice)?  Keep mercy and judgment!  (Remembering that he shall have judgment without mercy who has shown no mercy, and that mercy rejoiceth over judgment, James 2.13.)  And seek Me, God urges, wait on Me continually the way your father Jacob did.  Don’t quit on Me!  Don’t give up!  You will not be disappointed!  You will be rewarded!  And so wait on Me expectantly!  Remember My Name—that I am the LORD of hosts, the LORD of all the resources and hosts of Heaven; I lack nothing you need in any situation you face, regardless of how dark or difficult the day!

It’s a word of tremendous encouragement for this our day.  It may be a day of great apostasy and great distress, and at times it’s hard to lay hold of God.  But God will hear the cry of those who turn to Him and wait on Him.  Continually.  He will not disappoint them.

…But now my own punch line—and this is the thing that broke me up when I realized the longing in my own heart.  Jacob had cried out, “I will not let You go unless you bless me!”  Was he thinking in terms of the prayers he desperately wanted answered?  No doubt he was, he was in great distress and desperately needed answer to prayer.  But was there Something Else in that cry, something that he longed for all through the years of his toil and troubles and that now welled up in him and would not be turned away?  “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me,” he cried, the tears streaming down his cheeks.  And yes, at long last, God answered this Jacob He loved so much.  And he ended up with far more than answered prayer, wonderful as that is.  Jacob ended up with… God Himself.

That’s the Blessing he received at Peniel.  God Himself.

And so with us, beloved.  Does it seem God is delaying answering your prayers, and mine?  Oh how I anguish at times over unanswered prayer.  But God is going to answer our prayers, beloved.  Your prayers.  My prayers.  But when He does… we are going to end up with not just answered prayer.  We are going to end up with…  God.  As  you and I continue our asking, our seeking, our knocking, our wrestling, our striving… as we persevere and don’t give up, we are going to end up with… God Himself.

I realize we have Him now.  But so did Jacob before Peniel.  God had promised him way back at Bethel that He would not leave him till He had done what He had spoken to him of (Gen. 28.15).  But somehow all through the years there was still Something missing, and it was not till Peniel that he found that Something.  At Peniel he met this God who had been with him all through the years face to face.  And as he passed over Peniel the sun rose upon him.  It was a new day for this new man.  And he walked into it halting (limping) on this thigh.  He walked differently now.

I think we scarcely comprehend what this means to any great extent yet.  But we are going to discover what it means in our own Peniel, and as a result of the wrestling and crippling of the cross we too are going to walk differently… are going to walk with God Himself in a Pathway more wondrous and beautiful than anything we could ever dream or imagine.

More next time.

A Time To Dance

Those who know me personally have assessed that I’m sort of a melancholy person; I’m not what you would classify as the dancing type.  But during a time of fasting recently I received some openings concerning the realm of the Spirit, and oh, let me tell you… there hasn’t been any great change in my circumstances as I had hoped (not yet that is) but even so, if I could dance, oh, how I would dance!  Oh, what God has for us in the realm of the Spirit!

This realm—the realm of the Spirit—is the Pathway, and the Place, of the new creation man.  How I rejoice for this!  The old creation is going into corruption right before our eyes at an astonishing rate.  You look back over your shoulder and it’s astonishing to see the acceleration that has taken place even over the last twenty years.  Not just in nature, it’s frightening to hear of the natural disasters—storms, tsunamis, earthquakes… this earth is a very unstable place.  But so is the world of Adam; the moral decay is even more frightening.

And so the old creation is disintegrating all around us on every hand.  How wonderful to know that God foresaw it all, and has prepared a new habitat for His new creation man.

There’s nothing like a fast to show you that you are joined to this earthly life by your stomach.  The apostle Paul said as much when he wrote (and he was weeping as he wrote) of certain ones he called “the enemies of the cross of Christ… whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3.18).

By the “belly” Paul was not talking just of physical food; he meant the whole range of the earthly appetites of the natural man.  These are not necessarily sinful unless they are taken out of bounds, or become our sole preoccupation, which is the case with those in Adam.  The tragic thing is that in our day multitudes of Christians have fallen prey to this too—they are totally preoccupied with the pleasures and concerns of this life.  They are focussed on earthly things.  Their minds, their thoughts, are filled with earthly things.  No wonder Paul wept!  So should we!  Oh what the love of Christ at the expense of the Cross has wrought!  Oh, Christian, the vast inheritance in the Spirit that is yours now, and which by comparison makes all that is earthly nothing more than dung.

Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians reminding them that since they had been baptized into Christ they were “dead with Christ” and no longer lived in this world (Col. 2.12, 20).  Where did they live, then?  Let’s read it.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Col. 3.1).

So they were not only dead with Christ, they had also been raised with Him and were seated with Him in the heavenly realm at the right hand of God.  How could they settle, then, for the things of earth?  Paul urges them (and us):

Set your affection on things above, not on things of on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

My life is hid with Christ in God?  Oh, what a different and higher dimension is ours!  How sad, how pitiful, when we continue to worm our way around in the things of earth!  We don’t live here!  We are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.

When Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.

What must we be doing, then?

Mortify (put to death) your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence (lust), and covetousness, which is idolatry…

Notice this list.  As I said above, these are all the appetites of the earthly man, and there is nothing wrong with some of them as long as they are not out of bounds, and as long as they don’t become our total pursuit in this life.  We are to set our affection on things above, we are to mind things above, we are to be preoccupied with things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  This is our heritage.  This is our element.  This is our habitation.  This is where we live.

I must make this my own personal testimony then, and not just something I underline in my  Bible.  I must make it my personal testimony that I have a secret life.  A hidden life.  I live in a different realm than most men.  My life is hid with Christ in God.  And no man can take my life from me.  They might kill me, but they can’t take my life from me.  I might die somehow or other, but my life cannot be taken from me.

And so in this late hour when the world of the earthly man has become so purposeless a place, in fact is fast becoming too dangerous a place to live in, oh, why do we continue to live here?  Let us to shake ourselves from the dust!  Let us set our affection, our minds, our thoughts, on things above… not just wistfully from afar, but because we dwell there, it is our habitation, we live there!

Oh, what Christ has wrought in Calvary!  He brought an end to the first man, the Old Man, with all his sin and rebellion and sorrow and trouble and woe.  And brought into being a totally new man, a new creation Man who dwells in a totally new dimension—the Spirit of God!

Now, if that isn’t enough to cause you to dance and leap for joy I don’t know what is!

…I meant to tell you some of the things that were opened to me about this realm of the Spirit but I guess that will have to wait till next time.