Mystic Moments: Count All Things A Loss

Tags

, , , , ,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  There for let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  (Philippians 3:12-17)

The mark of perfect, as set before us in Paul and all who are thus minded, is the passionate desire to be yet made perfect.  This looks like a paradox.  And yet what we see in our Master proves the truth of what we say: the consciousness of being perfect is in entire harmony with the readiness to sacrifice life itself for the sake of being yet made perfect.  It was thus with Christ.  It was thus with Paul.  It will be thus with us, as we open our hearts fully and give God’s words room and time to do their work…. To count everything loss for perfection in practice, is the surest proof that perfection in principle has possession of the heart…. And so Paul uses expressions which all tell us how what he already had of Christ was but a part.  He did know Christ, he had gained Christ, he was found in Him, he had apprehended in wonderful measure that for which Christ had apprehended him.  And yet all these things – of knowing Christ, of gaining Him, of being found in Him, of apprehending that for which he was apprehended – he speaks as of what he was striving after with all his might: “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead;” “I press on to the goal, unto the prize.”  It is of all this he says: “Not that I am already made perfect.  Let as many as are perfect be thus minded.”  Paul had known Christ for many years, but he knew there were in Him riches and treasures greater than he had known yet, and nothing could satisfy him but the full and final and eternal possession of what the resurrection would bring him.  For this he counted all things but loss; for this he forgot the things that were behind; for this he pressed on to the goal, unto the prize.  He teaches us the spirit of true perfection.  A man who knows he is perfect with God; a man who knows he must yet be perfected; a man who knows that he has counted all things loss to attain this final perfection; such is the perfect man.  – Andrew Murray

Poor in Spirit: Ezekiel 36:29-31

Tags

, , , ,

Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.  I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.  Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.  (NASB, Emphasis added)

In this passage the Prophet Ezekiel is proclaiming a day in which the nation of Israel will experience spiritual renewal, and the blessing of the Lord will be again upon her.  The result of this renewal initiated by God was that the nation would remember and loathe its past iniquities.

We learn two steps to becoming poor in spirit from this section of Scripture.   

Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good.  The first step given is the iniquities need to be remembered.  Sin cannot be dealt with if it is hidden in some safe place where God can’t take care of it with the shed blood of Christ.  Our sins separate us from the love and presence of the Lord.  With the sin out in the open and repented of the Believer is then free to start the process becoming poor in spirit and can approach the holy and awesome God.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2, Amplified) 

And you will loathe yourselves in your own sight.  The next step is that of seeing with your own eyes what you truly are apart from Christ, and come to the place of loathing yourself.  The word used for loathe in the Hebrew means to abhor.  It means to despise, to feel a revulsion toward something or someone; in this case the self is loathed.  With the recognition of the self as void of anything with value apart from Christ, the Believer looks towards the Loving Father with the character of being poor in spirit, which is the desire of the Father.

There you will remember your ways and all your deeds that you have defiled yourselves with, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil things you have done.  (Ezekiel 20:43, HCSB) 

For your iniquities and your abominations.  These two steps bring us face to face with our sin.  Sin always needs to be dealt with.  Praise the Lord God that He sent Jesus Christ to make provision to take away our sins!

If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  (1 John 1:8-10, HCSB)

It is time to deal with any sin in your life right now.  Character begins with a clean believer (1 John 1:8-10).

Teleios: From Child to Mature

Tags

, , ,

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature (teleios).  (1 Corinthians 14:20)

This passage illustrate teleios in a contrast as teleios is (mature) contrasted with children.  Spiritual maturity verses immaturity is presented as a choice.  When it comes to understanding the things of the Spirit we are encouraged to be mature as opposed to immature children.  Clearly there is a choice to be made on our part.  What choice will you make?  Embrace the process and grow forward in Christ.

Poor in Spirit: Ezekiel 16:49-50

Tags

, , , ,

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.  Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me.  Therefore I removed them when I saw it.  (NASB)

We are all familiar with the story of Sodom and her sister city Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16 – 19:29).   Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sin and have become buzz words for the most immoral of all human sins committed.  This passage tells us what led these cities to their great sin – that is pride.  Looking at this passage we can glean some insights into pride and the sin it can lead to.

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance.  What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?  This passage tells us that the cause of all their sin was due to a specific sin they committed: the of sin pride.  I cannot think of a single sin that is not tied in some way to pride.  Pride is what causes us to go against God’s will because we believe our way is the better way; or in all-out rebellion we don’t care if we are out of His will which is also caused by pride.  The man whose character is poor in spirit is inclined to not sin because pride is contrary to being poor in spirit. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  (1 John 2:15-17, NASB)

Abundant food careless ease.  Another sin that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is overabundance of food and the easy life.  This is caused by pride because we think it is ok to abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit and to live our lives in leisure when there is work for the Kingdom to be accomplished.  Granted, rest is good for you and is ordained by God as instructed in the principle of the Sabbath, but idleness beyond rest is a sin.  Wow, if this does not describe life in America I don’t know what does.  We have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses attributed from a poor diet in this country that is costing the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars each year.  We also have a society that has a lot of free time which is being spent on useless activities that neither glorify God nor is beneficial to the human soul.  We need to wake up.  The man who is poor in spirit should not be controlled by his stomach, but is led by the Holy Spirit and set free to take control of his life. 

For I have often told you, and now say again in tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame.  They are focused on earthly things.  (Philippians 3:18-19, HCSB, emphasis added) 

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.  For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.  (2 Thessalonians 3:10-13, NASB)

Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  Another sin directly related to pride is not caring for the poor and needy.  We are instructed as God’s people to care for the needs of others whenever possible.  Pride causes selfishness which stifles charity to the poor and needy.  The selfish man hoards his riches and does not use his wealth in a way that honors the Lord.  The man who is poor in spirit honors God with his resources because he knows he is a steward of the King. 

The wicked in pride and arrogance hotly pursue and persecute the poor; let them be taken in the schemes which they have devised.  (Psalm 10:2, Amplified)

Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me.  We have discussed haughtiness before and how it is contrary to being poor in spirit.  This act of pride led to Sodom and Gomorrah to commit abominations before the Lord.

Haughtiness of eyes and a proud heart, even the tillage of the wicked or the lamp [of joy] to them [whatever it may be], are sin [in the eyes of God].  (Proverbs 21:4, Amplified) 

Look, I am against you, you arrogant one – because your day has come, the time when I will punish you.  (Jeremiah 50:31, HCSB) 

Therefore I removed them when I saw it.  The end result of the pride in Sodom and Gomorrah is that their great sin was judged in the destruction of the two cities.  The person who is poor in spirit does not commit sins of pride and avoids the judgment awaiting those who live in the sin of pride. 

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB)

Today is a good day to look at your charitable giving and how you spend your time.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Are you being a good steward of God’s blessings?

Waiting: The Truth of the Gospel – Part 3

Tags

, , , ,

Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The truth of the gospel is made powerful to you when you wait on God with hope – Part 3.

Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.  (Colossians 1:5, NKJV)

In the introduction part of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church he gives the cause of the good report he received concerning them, and that cause is the hope they had laid up for them in heaven.  Thus, hope was delivered to them through the truth of the gospel.  Once again, the picture is clear for our admonishment.  The gospel is preached, then people respond, and the hope they have causes a change in character which produces fruit.  The main fruit Paul speaks of is their love, both for saints and love in general.  Martin Vincent adds, “Faith works by love, and the ground of their love is found in the hope set before them.

Kenneth Wuest in his Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament says the following concerning hope, “…this hope of reward has been the incentive to the Colossians in their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love to the saints, encouraging both and causing both to make progress and grow more intense.  The preposition ‘for’ is dia, which is a preposition of intermediate agency.  This shows clearly that the hope is an active thing, working in the saints, energizing that faith and love to a greater intensity.”

Laid up in the Greek is to be reserved, to put to the side.  In the future, the disciple will enjoy his or her rewards in heaven where our treasures put aside there (Matthew 6:20) because we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and our inheritance is reserved there (1 Peter 1:4).

Of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.  Paul is contrasting the gospel truth preached by Epaphras with that of the false teachers that have infiltrated their churches.  The gospel truth was at one time close to the Colossian disciples, but the new teaching was causing problems.  They needed to go back to the truth.  At once the fruit of the gospel truth was strong, as it has been in the entire world Paul mentions in the preceding verses.  The truth brings much fruit and the disciples needed to eradicate the false teachers and go back to the gospel truth.  Once more we find it is important to wait on God and learn the truth and to seek after it with diligence.

Wait on the Lord with great hope and pursue the fruit of following the truth of the gospel.  Paul in the passage surrounding our verse details this fruit produced from the hope heard in the word of truth of the gospel:

  • They were faithful brethren (1:2)
  • They had love for all God’s children (saints) (1:3)
  • They were very fruitful (1:6)
  • They loved in the Spirit (1:8)

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 5

Tags

, , , ,

The Words of Christ

To sum up the words of Christ, the revelation of God, I quote Arminius:

I think you will understand the distinction which I imagine to be here employed: I will afford you an opportunity to examine and prove it, by adducing the clearest passages of scripture to aid us in confirming it.  (I.) “All things,” said Christ, “are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son.” (Matt 11:27)   They were delivered by the Father, to him as the Mediator, “in whom it was his pleasure that all fullness should dwell.” (Col 1:19 See also ii, 9.)  In the same sense must be understood what Christ says in John: “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” for it is subjoined, “and they have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (xvii, 8.)  From hence it appears, that the Father had given those words to him as the Mediator: on which account he says, in another place, “He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God.” (John 3:34 )  With this the saying of the Baptist agrees, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17 )  But in reference to his being opposed to Moses, who accuses and condemns sinners, Christ is considered as the Mediator between God and sinners.  The following passage tends to the same point: “No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father,” [that is, “admitted,” in his capacity of Mediator, to the intimate and confidential view and knowledge of his Father’s secrets,] “he hath declared him:” (John 1:18 )  “For the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand;” (John 3:35,) and among the things thus given, was the doctrine of the gospel, which he was to expound and declare to others, by the command of God the Father.  And in every revelation which has been made to us through Christ, that expression which occurs in the beginning of the Apocalypse of St. John holds good and is of the greatest validity: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants.” God has therefore manifested Evangelical Theology through his Son, in reference to his being sent forth by the Father, to execute among men, and in his name, the office of Mediator.

(Complete Works of Arminius, Oration II)

Poor in Spirit: Jeremiah 44:9-11

Tags

, , , ,

“Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  But they have not become contrite even to this day, nor have they feared nor walked in My law or in My statutes, which I have set before you and before your fathers.”  Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to set My face against you for woe, even to cut off all Judah.”  (NASB, Emphasis added)

Jeremiah is declaring that God is going to bring judgment upon the nation because they have not humbled themselves in repentance and sought the Lord with a reverent fear and have not walked in the laws of God.  If the people of the nation would take on the character of being poor in spirit and humble themselves they would escape judgment; but that they did not do.  We can learn from the poor example set by the nation in Jeremiah’s time.

They have not become contrite.  The starting point given by God to escape judgment is to become contrite and humbled.  Why is this so important?  The man or nation that is not humble is driven by his own pride.  With pride on the throne where is God?  God is nowhere to be found in the life of the person who is not humble.  When man is separated from the Lord his sins cannot be covered and that results in judgment for him.  The man who is humble recognizes both his own sinful condition in which he allows the Lord to rid him of, and he also sees God as He is and the desire to submit to the will of the loving Father is so strong that he submits to God’s plan.  The man who is poor in spirit has the character that is humble, and as such judgment is never his concern.

Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart – he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem – so the LORD’s wrath didn’t come on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.  (2 Chronicles 32:26)

Nor have they feared.  The second point made by God to escape judgment is that having the fear of the Lord is required to avoid judgment.  Why is this so important?  Without the fear of the Lord there is no wisdom and no desire to walk with Him.  The opposite holds true for those who fear the Lord: there reverence for God gives them a desire to not to displease Him and to walk closer to Him.  We have seen in many places that fearing the Lord is a natural characteristic of the man who is poor in spirit.

The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do {the will of the Lord].  Their praise of Him endures forever.  (Psalm 111:10, Amplified)           

Nor walked in My law or My statutes.  The last point presented by God to escape judgment is by walking in His law and statutes.  Why is this so important?  His law and statutes show you His plan for your life; they tell you how you should live.  This too is a natural characteristic of the man poor in spirit.

And keep your obligation to the LORD your God to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees.  This is written in the law of Moses, so that you have success in everything you do and wherever you turn.  (1 Kings 2:3, HCSB)

We as Believers are far removed from judgment, but we can learn these principles as they help us become poor in spirit.  The three principles to apply to our life are (1) to be humble; (2) to fear the Lord; and to follow God’s Word.  Set your heart to apply these principles to your life and pray that the Holy Spirit is allowed to implement His plan concerning them.

Mystic Moments: Press On!

Tags

, , ,

There is an ever-increasing number who cannot forget that God means what He speaks: “Be perfect,” and who regard themselves as under the most solemn obligation to obey the command.  The words of Christ: “Be perfect,” are to them a revelation of what Christ is come to give and to work, a promise of the blessing to which His teaching and leading will bring them.  They have joined the band of like-minded ones whom Paul would associate with himself; they seek God with their whole heart; they serve Him with a perfect heart; their one aim in life is to be made perfect, even as the Master…. Fear not to take your place before God with Paul among the perfect in heart.  So far will it be from causing self-complacency, that you will learn from him how the perfect has yet to be perfected, and how the one mark of the perfect is that he counts all things loss as he presses on unto the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. – Andrew Murray

Waiting: The Truth of the Gospel Part 2

Tags

, , , ,

Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The truth of the gospel is made powerful when you wait on God with great hope – Part 2.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.  (Ephesians 1:13, NKJV)

In Him you also trusted after you heard the word of truth.  In Him refers to Jesus Christ as the context reveals.  It is in Christ we trust after hearing the word of truth.  Trust is inserted by the translators, though it is true, it was not needed to be put there.  We were placed in Christ after we responded to the message proclaimed to us, the good news of the gospel.  As you meditate upon this passage wait for God with hope to give you understanding to the blessings that are yours being placed in Christ (Read  and meditate upon Romans 3:21-26, 6:11, 6:23, 8:1-2, 8:38-39 and 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1:30, and 15:22; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 3:14, and 5:17-19; Galatians 2:16, 3:13-14, 3:26-29, 5:6, and 6:15; Ephesians 1:3, 1:7-14, 2:6-10, 2:13, 3:6, and 4:32; Philippians 3:9 and 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 5:18; 2 Timothy 1:9, 2:1, 2:10, 3:12, and 3:15; and 1 Peter 5:14).

The gospel of your salvation.  The word of truth is defined for us as the gospel of our salvation.  Salvation is ours in Christ is indeed good news, and that is the faith preached to us by the faithful messengers of the gospel.  Romans 10:17 is right on point as it says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  The word of truth is spoken to us and we respond in faith.  Waiting on God brings understanding.  Know the word of truth is the gospel or our salvation.  Hear the word of God and act in faith.

In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.  Our faith, our belief in Christ, is validated by being sealed with the Holy Spirit promised to the Church by Christ and to the world by the Old Testament prophets.  Sealed in the Greek is to set a seal upon or to mark with a seal.  The Holy Spirit is the seal.  This analogy can be seen in other passages which are applicable here such as:

(1) A completed transaction (Jeremiah 32:9-10: and John 17:4 and 19:30)

(2) A seal of ownership (Jeremiah 32:11-12 and 2 Timothy 2:19)

(3) Security (Esther 8:8; Daniel 6:17; and Ephesians 4:30).

This seal would then represent great truths.  The Holy Spirit is indwelling us to show the transaction that purchased our redemption has been completed and the price is paid in full and we are forever secure in our salvation.  Truly this is good news.  Wait on God with great hope and allow these truths to come into focus.

Prayerfully meditate upon the following passages concerning the promise of the Holy Spirit.  As you wait upon the Lord with hope allow the reality of your salvation, the gospel of truth, to penetrate your heart and your mind, surrendering your will to the One who purchased you.  The transaction is complete; you are now God’s possession.

Isaiah 32:15

Isaiah 44:3

Joel 2:28

Zechariah 12:10

John 7:39

Acts 1:48

Acts 2:16

Galatians 3:14

Teleios: God’s Love is Complete

Tags

, , , ,

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)

But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  (1 Corinthians 13:10) 

Perfect is teleiosIn this verse, Paul is using the word as complete versus incomplete; or the process to completion is the agape love of God.  In this Love Chapter love is shown to be the perfection of God’s creation, His crown jewel, what He has given for man’s benefit.  The passage from which the Matthew 5:48 reference is located is also the perfection, or completion of love.  The only way to live the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 and 6 is through the love of God.  To be complete, to live teleios, is to live in God’s perfection, His love.