Readiness & Fruitfuness

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf,
He went to see if He could find anything on it.
When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves,
for it was not the season for figs.
And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
And his disciples heard it.
…As they passed by in the morning,
they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
(Mark 11:13-14, 20)

The season of the world does not determine the fruit of the Spirit.
True fruit borne unto God is that which HIS call and HIS Life at work within us produces. The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is the yielding to HE who works within us to will and yo do according to HIS good pleasure. The fruit which God recognizes and is pleased to savor is the fruit of HIS Spirit. It is in view of His abundant mercy that we offer ourselves living sacrifices upon the altar of our death, that HIS Life might be manifested in us, who by faith and patience inherit the promise of the word of Life which renews our mind and restores our soul day by day.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season…
(Psalm 1:1-3)

The Living God is not interested in what human metrics or men’s traditions regard as fruitful or useful; but rather the hidden man of the heart, which bursts forth in springs of Living Water from beyond what that vessel itself could ever provide. Our ability to bear fruit depends not upon busying ourselves with what men commonly perceive as “spiritual oriented activities;” but depends upon the readiness of a heart that is single towards God and His manifold purposes.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
preach the word; be READY in season and out of season…
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)

The fig tree which Jesus cursed was required by Him to be ready even out of season in order for it to bear fruit in HIS season. The seasons of the Lord’s trees are determined by the calling of the Lord Himself. They do not conform to the patterns of this world’s seasons; for they wait upon the Shepherds voice alone, being driven by the wind of His Spirit, which “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) Trees that only bear fruit in accordance to the wisdom of this age are not bearing God’s fruit. True Life begins in and is sustained by the Word of Life. True fruit is borne only by the means of the Fruit Bearer Himself, whose kingdom is not of this world but is rather found within those in whom His Spirit finds a conduit to flow.

As men go to and fro throughout the earth, looking to bolster “my ministry,” “my calling,” “my inheritance”… meanwhile, the eyes of the LORD go to and fro throughout the whole earth looking to strengthen the heart that is pure before HIM, so that HE might minister through those to whom He has first ministered.

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of your mind having been enlightened, for you to know what is the hope of HIS calling, and what the riches of the glory of HIS inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of HIS power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of HIS mighty strength…”
(Ephesians 1:17-19)

The key to fruitfulness in season is readiness both in and out of season; and what we are ready for is determined by what our hearts are set to meditate upon. “Readiness” is the descriptor of the gospel of peace being manifest in our footsteps (Eph 6:15) – therefore our peace with God in His gospel must be our innermost meditation should our steps become truly stable and ready to bear His fruit in season. We do not wait for the Lord, for He is here! But now that He is indeed come to us, we wait upon Him, even as one waits the table of a king who loves them. We as a royal priesthood minister unto Him as He ministers unto us; for a sweet savor before His throne is the object of true ministry. To wait upon the Lord is most simply to be in constant communion with Him – this is why those who wait upon the Lord are renewed in strength. It is by abiding faith in His power that we as the branches of His vine bear fruit.

– Brendan

A Short Word on Idols

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen.
(1 John 5:21)

An idol is not always the object of your veneration; it is also the object of all your blame for whatever evil is well within your reach and your authority in Christ to address. Your idol can be that which you lay all responsibility at the feet of in order to excuse yourself of your specific responsibility in what God has revealed to you.

Those whom God’s true call passes by in such complacency are forsaking His flock as members of the One True Shepherd; and after their idolatrous and insolent hearts, there are always raised up for them worthless and self-serving IDOL shepherds, which lead them further astray as a judgement; whose arms work corruption, being blind to the Father’s will.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
(Zechariah 11:17, KJV)

Joshua 8 – Part 1: Our Authority & the Enemy’s Blindness

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Do not fear, nor be afraid. Take all the people of war with you,
and rise up, go up to Ai. Behold, I have given the king of Ai, and his people,
and his city, and his land into your hand.
And you shall do to Ai and to its king as you have done to Jericho and its king. Only, its spoil and its cattle you shall take for yourselves. Set yourself an ambush for the city behind it.”
(Joshua 8:1-2)

“Behold, I have given… into YOUR hand…”
“Set YOURSELF an ambush…”
 
The walls of Jericho were conquered not by the hand of any man; but by the overcoming faith of the people in their Captain.

But having been delivered from the great stronghold, they were now expected to walk in THEIR authority from heaven to continue their conquest. Jericho was handed to them without any requirement but the first steps and proclamation of newborn faith; but the taking of Ai required a walk of both holiness and meekness. This was initially failed by the man who stole the things devoted to destruction (Joshua 7), which brought grief and delay upon the whole camp of Israel; and that man was purged from their midst. The putting off of idolatry is the putting on of authority in the Spirit.

And this authority is that of the pierced hands; for pride brings the loss of authority in God’s kingdom, just as the Devil was opposed and cast out. Pride is the root and substance of all idolatry. But the method of Christ’s victory was through death and humiliation at the hands of all the fury of the adversary; for the enemy is blinded by his own vanity, so as not to discern the mystery of Godliness. The greatest warriors in the army of the Lord are the meek, for the enemy cannot comprehend the mind of Christ, “who subsisting in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And Joshua sent them away, and they went to the ambush,
and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west of Ai.
And Joshua remained that night in the midst of the people.
And Joshua rose early in the morning and called up the people,
and they went up, he and the elders of Israel in the sight of the people of Ai.
And all the people of war with him went up and drew near,
and came before the city. And they camped on the north of Ai,
and the valley was between him and Ai.
And he took about five thousand men and set them as an ambush
between Bethel and Ai, on the west of the city.
And they set the people, all the camp on the north of the city;
and its rear on the west of the city.
And Joshua went into the middle of the valley on that night.

And it happened, when the king of Ai saw,
the men of the city rose early and hurried to go out to meet Israel in battle,
he and all his people at the appointed time before the plain.
He did not know that an ambush was against him behind the city.
And Joshua and all Israel were stricken before them,
and they fled the way of the wilderness.
And all the people in the city were called to chase them.
And they pursued Joshua, and were drawn away out of the city.
And there was not a man left in Ai and Bethel who had not gone out after Israel. And they left the city open, and chased Israel.

(Joshua 8:9-17)

The Lord set Joshua and the people in a place which to their enemy made them appear vulnerable and open for attack; but his brashness was the very mechanism of his downfall. Joshua took the way of apparent defeat in order to lay hold of victory for his people. This is a wonderful picture of the cross, upon which Christ Jesus took the fall for His people’s deliverance, enduring the scorn and temptation of the Devil; but being the spotless Lamb of God, He was raised from the dead. And having emptied the gates of hell upon Himself to their own exposure, He now holds every key to their final demise. For it is HIS authority by which the gates of hell (the council and strategy of the enemy) cannot overcome those who remain in HIM. For what He has bound and loosed in heaven is bound and loosed on earth by those who give themselves over to walking obediently by faith in what they see the Father doing.

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai. For I will give it into your hand.”
And Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city.
And the ambush rose up quickly out of their place,
and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand,
and entered the city, and took it.
And they hastened and burned the city with fire.
And the men of Ai looked behind them, and saw; and, behold!
The smoke of the city had gone up into the sky.
And there was no power in them to flee here or there.
And the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers.

And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city,
and that the smoke of the city had gone up.
And they turned back and struck the men of Ai.
And the others came out from the city to meet them.
And they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that.
And they struck them until not was left to them a survivor, not one that escaped.
And they caught the king of Ai and brought him alive to Joshua.

…And Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Only, Israel seized for themselves the livestock, and the plunder of the city, according to the word of Jehovah which He commanded Joshua.

(Joshua 8:18-23, 26-27)

The boldness to walk in overcoming faith is a boldness unfamiliar with pride which is held in meekness. Walking in the authority of Christ is knowing of the Father’s will without the restraints of our own will and drawing the power of that heavenly kingdom to earth by stepping out upon what can only be presently seen by eyes of singleness toward HIS purposes and hearts longing for HIS appearing. This requires the present knowing of His actual will: not as a distant and general unknown, but rather as a clear vision of His desire for today into which we step and speak that it might be so, for He has decreed it. It is OUR faith which overcomes this Devil’s world (1Jn 5:4), that upon the gallows meant for his intended victim, he himself might hang, even as Haman did (Esther 7:10).

And Joshua burned Ai, and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.
And he hanged the king of Ai on the tree until evening time.
And at sundown Joshua commanded, and they took his dead body down from the tree, and threw it into the opening of the gate of the city;
and raised over it a great heap of stones until this day.

(Joshua 8:28-29)

The hidden wisdom of God in Christ Jesus is unto the demise of His enemies by the manifestation of HIS authority and power through those in whom He dwells.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
which none of the rulers of this age has known.
For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

…the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations,
but now was revealed to His saints; to whom God willed to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations,
who is Christ in you, the hope of glory…
(Colossians 1:26-27)

…and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ;
so that now, to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies,
the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church,
according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through HIS faith.
(Ephesians 3:9-12)

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom.
And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in heaven.
And whatever you loose on earth shall be, having been loosed in heaven.
(Matthew 16:19 LITV)

– Brendan

God’s Law – Part 4: The Law of Love

I run in the path of Your commandments, for You have set my heart free.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes. I will keep them to the end.
(Psalm 119:32-33)

…now the end of the commandment is love
out of a pure heart and a good conscience,
and faith not pretended…
(1 Timothy 1:5)

Love (agape – the highest form of love, unique to God) is the true expression of God’s Law being fulfilled in us by the Spirit; because that love is the very substance of the whole of His character and nature.

God IS light, God IS love – both are equally true. A concept of truth with no expression of love is devoid of God’s Life and is therefore untrue. A form of love with no bearing in truth is devoid of God’s Light and is therefore unloving. For the light of God defines His love, and His love defines His light. Grace and Truth are so married in Christ Jesus, love and light are so married in God, that the apostle John could write unequivocally…

And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commands. The one saying, “I have known Him,” and not keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him. The one claiming to rest in Him ought himself to walk as that One walked.

Brothers, I do not write a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again I write a new commandment to you which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true Light already shines.

The one claiming to be in the Light, and hating his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one loving his brother rests in the Light, and no offense is in him. But the one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 John 2:3-11)

The whole of God’s Eternal Law is summed up as the Royal Law of His Love (James 2). And that same Law is called both “new” and “old” here by John because it is the very same Word which was from the beginning, only in differing revelations at different times. The revelation of God’s Law, the very Word of Christ, was through Moses as a schoolmaster bringing those who could see to the end of the flesh, in the hope of a coming Redeemer who would dwell within them to fulfill it; Who, having at last been revealed to His saints, and now being revealed in them, causes them to become the very righteousness of God in Him! For “God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by His Son…” (Heb 1:1-2)

And by that Son, He spoke saying,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:34-35)

It is one thing to love our neighbor as ourselves, it is another to love even as Christ loved us; “who did not sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; who, having been reviled, did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten, but gave Himself over to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore in His body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; of whom, by His wound, you were healed.” (1Peter 2:22-23) – And this command is specifically given to be carried out among the brethren first. The pattern of order is, “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and (then) to the uttermost parts of the earth.” For if we do not love our brother whom we see, how is it possibly true that we love God whom we do not see? Those living in the darkness of this world do not truly come to the Light by seeing the hypocrisy of His people, but rather by beholding HIM as He is through His people. Our calling as His own is to be filled with all His fullness, so that even as He is, so also are we in this world. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God.” (Rom 8:19For in the liberty of the Spirit, we may surrender to the obedience of the very faith of Christ Jesus Himself, so that the will of the Father might be fulfilled in us also.

For, brothers, you were called to freedom. Only do not use the freedom for an opening to the flesh. But through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law
(that is, to fulfill it by the flesh).
(Galatians 5:13-18)

The true love of God is the pure expression of His Light and Life through those who have died to the flesh and live in the resurrection life of the Spirit. The flesh desires to have its own way, the flesh desires to have the last say; the flesh hungers for gossip and seeks to slander whatever opposes its own agendas. The reason that love is patient, kind, and not envious; the reason that love is neither vain, nor proud, nor indecently behaved; the reason that love does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil of another, is because the one who truly loves in this way has died and is living free from his own selfish ambition or the agendas of man. He does not try to outwardly display these qualities to give credence to something or to grow what he perceives to be a “movement;” but rather he is inwardly being transformed as an individual by these qualities of Christ through the Spirit, becoming a man free from the will and decree of anyone but the Father.

For the love of God is holy, and holiness is perfected in the fear of God; but the fear of man lays a snare. “The secret (the disclosure, the intimate friendship) of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” (Ps 25:14) God indeed so loved the world that He sent His Son for them all; but those who believe step into the covenant of His love, which man can still break. A man can talk about the love of God all day long; but he will only truly experience and operate in its true substance to the degree that he fears the Lord. For just as the perfect love of God casts out earthly fear, so also the perfect fear of the Lord purges out earthly love, making way for that which is truly of God. And the man who presently walks in the purity of the holy love of God discerns clearly between the ministrations of flesh and the ministrations of the Spirit; between the mind of the Devil and the mind of Christ. But those who break covenant to walk after the flesh again are warned…

Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21)

The more “subtle” and internal works of the flesh are in God’s eyes equally as destructive as the more “obvious” ones; for they are all the bad fruit of HIM not being the only ruler in His temple. To walk in any form of darkness is to neglect and damage our brethren in ways that we and they may not even percieve, since we all are members one of another. The supply of the Life of the Head is transferred through the joints of the body; which means that the measure to which I may walk in darkness and corruption is the measure to which I withhold the greater expression of Christ’s light and life being released in His body.

Rivalries, divisions, envies and the like have no more place in the body than sexual immorality. “The one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness…” For lawlessness is to not fulfill the Law, which is God’s Love; and every form of sin violates that Law because it damages or hinders the body of Christ being built up. Therefore anything contrary to the body being built up in love is lawlessness. “Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” But the humility of true faith working through love leaves no room for spiritual pride, and it is the healing balm of a body cut in pieces through lawlessness. Faith working through love fulfills the Law, just as Moses offered to be blotted out from the book of life rather than to see God destroy His rebellious people and start over again through Moses. In this, the royal Law of love was being fulfilled in Moses’ heart, and God heeded his petition; and Moses was spoken of as God’s friend.

Greater love than this has no one,
that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends.
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his lord does.
But I called you friends, because all things
which I heard from My Father I made known to you.
(John 15:13-15)

Those of whom Jesus says, “I never knew you” are the same whom He calls “lawless.”
Therefore it is when we walk in the Light that we have true fellowship with Him, and with one another; for only there do we also remain under the fresh flow of the blood of Christ (1Jn 1:7), by whose stripes we are all healed. It was for not discerning themselves and thereby partaking of the fellowship of the body of Christ in an unworthy manner that Paul said to the divided church in Corinth, “For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1Cor 11:30-31) The healthier HIS body, the less symptoms of its sickness need be present in our own. Corinth was a local body which had become factious through the idolizing of men as shepherds and the quarreling over of mere teachings at the expense of knowing Christ Jesus in His humiliation, in whose heart and mind we are meant relate to one another (Php 2).  And by our knowing of Him in keeping His Word, He also knows us. Love is called by the apostle Paul the “greatest” among faith, hope, and love; because such love is the very outworking of true faith and hope!

In love we endure many roadblocks, letdowns, and uncertainties on our path, seeking to live honorably, uprightly and pleasing to God in a perverse age; not being overcome by disappointment, for our consolation and our certainty is in God. Though reviled, those who are being perfected in love do not revile back; since they are not self-serving at heart, but truly desire what is spiritually best for those around them. In love we come to realize our own responsibility for the state of our brother in Christ and seek his edification. In love we discern the true need of the hour, becoming a vessel of God’s intercession, by whose power we see through the eyes of Jesus, know the will of the Father and “feel” with His heart . In love we lay our lives out on the line for the sake of the brethren, forgetting what lies behind. In love we rejoice to take upon ourselves the measure of the sufferings of Christ that are lacking in His body. By walking in this love we walk in the light as He is in the light, where true fellowship occurs and the blood of Jesus flows freely for the cleansing of His bride.

“Love always trusts” – and it especially trusts that GOD can work all things to the good of those who love Him as we submit joyfully to He who works to accomplish all that He intends for His faithful. The love of God which bears, believes hopes, endures, and rejoices in the truth is that by which God’s house is able to maintain true unity and peace, each member being reconciled to one another as this love covers a multitude of sinsFor the actions of love are the impartation of the blood of Jesus among the brethren; as His blood speaks of peace with God and reconciliation, not as the blood of Abel which cried out from the ground for vengeance. For by walking in this love, we walk in the light, where “we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.
And everyone who loves Him who begets also loves the one who is begotten of Him.
By this we know that we love the children of God:
when we love God and keep His commandments.
For this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not heavy.
(1 John 5:1-3)

The love of God IS to keep His commandments, and this is not heavy because the command is one of promise: that for this impossible thing to be seen in the earth, we have been given all that is required by the Holy Spirit to walk in this divine nature, if only we will obey in faith, which is where His power is discovered. Those who so keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21) will not grow cold or weary in doing good even when iniquity abounds; when all around there is betrayal, offence, animosity, and all kinds of spiritual falsehood leading many astray. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual enemy which rules over them in this world; and by faith working through love, we have hope in this warfare, because everything having been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory overcoming the world: our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

God reveals to us the impossibility of the hour in order to show us what is possible by faith, and that faith working through love. Let us therefore step obediently with boldness and humility into this realm of God’s Life where only HIS mighty hand can bring forth that which He has required. For it is all of the grace of the Spirit of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law.
But the ones belonging to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not become glory seeking ones, provoking one another, envying one another
(Galatians 5:22-26)

Those who bind themselves and their expression of His Life to an organization or limit it under the authority of any “shepherd” below Christ have bound themselves to a ministration of man and flesh, even to the curse of the law of the old letter once again; and therefore cannot move in the true substance of God’s love by the Spirit. So the witness of the Spirit departs and the lampstand is removed from a city, for the Lord is provoked to righteous jealously by the unrighteous jealousy of men and their agendas. The “first love” from which the church of Ephesus departed was Christ Himself, whom they had come to know only in an empty religious form rather than in the very substance of His person present within and among them; making Him no longer the one Lord over all and in all and through all. Provocations and envies abound in such environments by nature; and amidst the scuffle for the top of the ladder, the truth itself is lost and God’s love becomes adulterated and conflated with carnal human sentiments. Where men are gloried in, the love of God cannot operate to any effect which takes glory away from them. Therefore Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day,  “I do not receive glory from men; but I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” (John 5:41-42)

This is why today, a man in bondage to darkness who seeks the Lord for deliverance is not confronted with the need for repentance to break the place of its grip; but rather is convinced that all is well and he need not concern himself much with submitting to God because he is ultimately “under grace”: and this is done all in the name of “love” – but such is not the love or grace of Christ, it is a damning lie! “For the saving grace of God has appeared to all men, instructing us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly and righteously and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-12) The grace which is in Christ Jesus is that which strengthens us to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Jesus cast out demons in perfect love, He zealously drove out the world’s commerce from God’s temple in perfect love, and He rebuked the religious hirelings of His day in perfect love; for He loved not in pretense for selfish gain, but in the sincerity of all truth, as He is the Truth.

…Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices in the truth.
(1 Corinthians 13:6)

The reason that love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, is not because it is blind; but because it is free to walk in the exposure of God’s light unashamed and unaffected by other men’s deeds of darkness! The man who loves even as Christ loved him not only knows that vengeance is the Lord’s; but even knows that through walking in the meekness of love, he in fact intercedes on behalf of those currently opposing him. For in love we were predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son; so that by walking in that same love, we also may bear on our own bodies the marks of Christ.

The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the devil’s snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)

This is the walk of the mature man, the one growing into all the fullness of God who is love. For having been loved by God, and thereby now loving his brethren through God; he discovers that he is truly enveloped not merely in a love for God, but rather in the love OF God. For that love is IN Christ Jesus, in Whom we must remain abiding by the rule of His Spirit, that He also may remain abiding in us.

“If you keep My commandments you will continue in My love, as I have kept My Father’s commandments and continue in His love.”
(John 15:10)

And of abiding in this place it says,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  Even as it has been written,
“For Your sake we are killed all the day;
we are counted as sheep of slaughter.”
But in all these things we more than conquer through Him loving us.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God IN Christ Jesus, our Lord.

(Romans 8:35-39)

“These days, shallow and feeble resolve abound;
and true devotion, and passion and fervor are seldom found.
But there are those who often feel they’re all alone,
those whose identities are known
By the marks of the crucified Son…

Praying, caring, loving, sharing
– these are the marks of the cross.
Giving, bearing, feeling, daring
To lay down your life on the line,
Forgetting what you leave behind;
And willing to suffer the loss
Of the marks of the cross.

These days, the search for detachment and solitude
leads to retreating to fortresses no one would dare intrude.
Then there are those whose restless burdens start to show,
those who unmistakably must know
There’s no crown ’til we suffer the cross…

Praying, caring, loving, sharing
– these are the marks of the cross.
Giving, bearing, feeling, daring
To lay down your life on the line,
Forgetting what you leave behind;
And willing to suffer the loss
Of the marks of the cross.


All our identity rests in the knowledge of who we’re created to be.
We are His workmanship, made in His image for all of creation to see
The marks of His pain and His glory…
– “Marks of the Cross,” written by Bob Hartman & Ronald C Cates

– Brendan

Vanity: All But Christ

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “vanity of vanities!
All is vanity!”

(Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Vanity is the only currency of this present world; and vanity its only prize. “The whole world lies in the evil one,” and the fruits of his pride at work in those who follow in his path are the vain and meaningless acquisitions of chasing that dragon. The Devil himself has not attained what he set himself after, and he shall never acquire it. The calling of God upon His people is one of being perfect even as He is perfect – and this is only possible by the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead quickening us, we who have been crucified to the world and the world to us with Him. All but the preeminence of Christ Jesus in all things is as dust in the wind. All that is contrary to each of us living and moving and having our being in HIM is chaff to be burned.

The mystery of God is Christ over all and through all and in all, as revealed in the members of HIS body. Those who are born and lead of His Spirit move with His Spirit, and not with another. Where they truly came from and where they are truly going cannot be discerned by the carnal man. The factions which men call “churches” are the robbers of Christ’s preeminence in HIS church, for they by nature cannot submit to His Spirit, and so they are vanity. But although He is dethroned in the “wisdom” of men, He exalts Himself in the things foolish to this devil’s world.

For this is a world in which the spiritual value of a thing is thought to be determined by its “earthly good.” But truly, it is the lack of outcry in our hearts against the vanity of the passing things of earth and of man’s self-aggrandizing agendas which keeps us from finding the only Worth. We must come to the very end of ourselves and find that HE is everything! As I have heard one sister say, “It is in the void that we find Him.” Men put great effort and sincere devotion into the plans and visions of what a committee decides God should bless; when it is only Christ the head, giving command to each member of HIS body, by which the whole can function and manifest the fullness of HIM. For the true body of Christ IS the fullness of HIM who fills all, as HE is in them all. Only that which God Himself creates, sustains, and truly dwells in will abide the day of His coming. All else will fall and is already falling deep into the obscurity of this fading world, for the Holy Spirit carries along  that which is begotten of Him; but His wind destroys the field which HE did not sow. Man’s own vision and earthly understanding cannot deliver him from the realm of this world of vanity and worthlessness.

For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. He has no standing grain. The stalk will yield no head. If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up. Now they are among the nations like a worthless thing.

(Hosea 8:7-8)

It is therefore no coincidence that the gatherings of man called “churches” under the authority of men are full of people in bondage to darkness, who bear the fruits of the law of sin and death; for a body manifests the person of whatever spirit is allowed to be at work in its members. The prince of the power of the air is at work in all those not subject to the Lordship and headship of Christ, for two masters cannot be served.

But the true and pure bride is His very body, she is ONE with Christ in His Spirit – of whom He can say, “bone of My bone and flesh of My flesh” – she is not a separate entity ruled over by other men. “They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and world hears them;” but the sheep of the Good Shepherd are hearing HIS voice, and He is leading them out, “Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away…” (Song of Solomon 2:10)

“And there shall be one flock, One Shepherd.”

God proclaiming all things of this world to be vanity is not a casual indictment. The engagement of our hearts with the “wisdom” and ways of earth is an adulterous union in His eyes.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
(1 John 2:15-17)

Saul & David: Form vs Substance

Both Saul and David were chosen by God, anointed as king by Samuel. Both prophesied, both sinned, and both confessed their sins; but David was accepted by God, and Saul was rejected.

Saul lived to serve men and feared the people; but David lived to serve God and feared the Lord.
Saul was prepared to make certain sacrifices for God, so long as they suited his supposed reputation; but David was willing to obey God even if it exposed all of his heart.
Saul’s ‘repentance’ covered his guilt in his own eyes; but David’s repentance restored his soul in God’s eyes.

Saul was God’s judgement upon His stubborn people, and he ruled from the palace of their approval; but David was God’s mercy, and he ruled from the hidden cave of true justice.*

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven.
Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power?”
And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, those working lawlessness!”

(Matthew 7:21-23)

The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29); but a true relationship must be maintained with He who examines the heart. It is one thing to have just enough of an outward appearance so that the Lord can use you among those who are ignorant of Him; but it is another thing to walk even AS Jesus walked. He always did what He saw the Father doing. But truly doing the will of the Father requires having the very heart of the Father in the doing. And truly having the heart of the Father requires a purging of your own.

It is good to desire that the Lord might use you for His glory; but He would prefer for your own sake to always KNOW who He’s working through.
The fear of man or the fear of the Lord makes all the difference between a wolf and a sheep. Stop wavering between two opinions and choose this day whom you will serve.

“The fear of man layeth a snare…” (Prov 29:25)

Saul was satisfied to have a heart after man; but David was a man after God’s heart.
Therefore Saul had power; but David had authority.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:10)

– Brendan

*   “While David was on the run from king Saul, he hid in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), where he amassed quite a following… (2 Samuel 23:13-17). The prophet Micah mentions that the glory of Israel will enter Adullam… (Micah 1:15).”
“…for a meaning of the name Adullam, Alfred Jones reads The Justice Of The People. BDB Theological Dictionary, on the other hand, believes that Adullam came from עדל II and explains that this verb means to turn aside in the sense of to hide or seek refuge. Hence BDB translates the name Adullam with Retreat, Refuge. NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to agree with BDB and reads a similar Refuge.”
– Taken from Abarim Publications,
http://www.abarim-publications.com/index.html

Joshua 6 – Part 1: The Kingdom Unsealed

And Jericho was closed, and was shut in from the face of the sons of Israel;
no one going out, and no one coming in.
And Jehovah said to Joshua, “See I have given Jericho and its king,
and mighty warriors, into your hand.”
(Joshua 6:1-2)

The strongholds of our spiritual enemy are as seals which must be broken that the kingdom of God might be opened to those whom He is calling: both His found and His yet lost. The picture here is of things which will at last appear in fullness when all of creation’s expectant groaning is at last answered upon the manifestation of the Sons of God. “For when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” The seeing of Jesus produces a work of being conformed to His image: a holy union in His body which is hastened by its members building itself up in His love, so that He might at last appear to harvest the full-grown fruit of the travail of His soul. I see the battle instructions given to Joshua for the destruction of Jericho having great parallels to the coming of God’s kingdom in the Revelation delivered to John. I see seven seals being opened to the undoing of the devil’s works as God’s people follow the Captain of the Lord’s host round about outside its formidable walls; and I see seven trumpets signaling the destruction of the kingdom of this present world for the ushering in of the Christ’s rule and reign. For we know that there is only One Man in whom the battle is won, even the Captain of the Lord’s host (Joshua ch 5).

And one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep.
Behold, the Lion being of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, overcame
so as to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:5)

Yes, He is worthy! He holds the keys of hell and death, for He was the Lamb who was slain and was raised an indestructible Life, that through death He might cause to cease the one having the power of death, that is, the devil… (Heb 2:14)
…For this the Son of God was revealed: that He undo the works of the devil. (1Jn 3:8)

We have seen up to this point in Joshua that all of the fruits of the kingdom of God are brought forth in a people who walk obediently by faith. So it is the Lord who fights for us, and the degree to which we partake of His victory is in proportion to our surrender to His will for every facet of its outworking. Obedience ushers us into the flow of what God Himself is doing. Jesus has overcome the world and judged its ruler; therefore let us be found abiding in He who overcame, and He abiding in us. “Greater is HE that is IN YOU, than he (the devil) that is in the world.” (1Jn 4:4) The divine nature of which we are to partake is not only for tomorrow, but for today; for TODAY we are called to enter into His REST, which is the end of our fleshy laboring and a submitting to the Spirit’s labor, so that what Jesus has declared finished on His part may become manifest in the body of His people for the showing forth of His wisdom before all the principalities and powers.

“And you shall go around the city, all the men of battle, going around the city once;
so you shall do six days.”
(Joshua 6:3)

“And YOU shall go…” – It is not with natural eyes that they saw their Captain march before them; rather, these people walked, stood, and shouted in faith, for they were convinced that His Word not only was, but in fact IS Truth. Likewise, we also are responsible for what measure of His finished work we allow into our lives and into His body through obedient faith. The warfare we wage cannot be comprehended by the natural mind, as it is spiritual; yet none shall walk by anything except the natural mind unless they have begun to wage war by actually putting aside the self-life for obedience to the will of God. For there is no power provided where there is no active faith required. The armory of the Lord is for those whose who actually require armor because they are engaged in warfare, and not as mere victims of the darkness. The belt, the breastplate, the shoes, the shield, the helmet, and the sword are for actual use in our wrestle against principalities and powers – not to be adored in a display case of apathy. Defeat is not an option in the kingdom of God; for the Lord Himself will return wearing a robe dipped in the blood of His enemies, and He will identify His army by those whose armor is dipped in the same. May our garments of righteousness be kept white and our armor bloody! Or does not the scripture say of those who are even young in the faith, “I write to you, young men, because you HAVE overcome the evil one”? And the spirit of antichrist, the very spirit of this age, is overcome by the “little children” (1Jn 4:4)!

For the rest, my brothers, be made powerful in the LORD and in the might of HIS strength. Put on all the armor of God, for you to be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil; because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenlies. Because of this, take up all of the armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having worked out all things, to stand.
Then stand firm, having girded your loins about with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the darts of the evil one, having been made fiery. Also, take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17, LITV)

The implements of our warfare as listed in Ephesians 6 should not be considered a thing for the so-called “advanced” christian, for they are the very foundational aspects of our daily walk! The basics of what ought to be normal for every child of God – and by extension for His people as a whole – is described in this scripture as the things by which our enemy is resisted and overcome. Where victory over the works of the enemy is not seen, we are not truly walking in all of these things: the belt of Truth which holds all things together, the breastplate of righteousness for the guarding of our hearts, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace for the reaping of what HE has already sown (Joshua 2, John 4), the shield of faith for the quenching of the enemy’s intimidations, the helmet of salvation which is to have the mind of Christ, and the sword of the Spirit which is the living word of God.

And having this armory, we have no excuse not to fulfill the sufferings of our warfare, which we must endure should we be found as a bride without spot or blemish before Him in the end. There is no testimony in a people through whom the blood of the Lamb does not flow freely unto purification, nor whose armor is not bathed in the blood of the enemy. The testimony of Jesus, the first overcomer, is to become the very testimony of His body and its members; for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy, since His appearing was prophetic of His body the church, and His eternal Life now dwells in them so that they may grow into the fullness of the measure of His stature. “And they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of THEIR testimony. And they did not love their soul even until death.” (Rev 12:11) It is in joyous and freeing surrender to our Captain’s Lordship that the people of God quite literally walk circles around the enemy, for it becomes “NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME.” For if we become simply His vessels to be animated by His power as a conduit of His Light and Life, every step around Jericho contains the thunder of HIS feet to the weakening of its walls.

“…going around the city once; so you shall do six days.” – I am convinced that this account is also a prophecy of the warfare of His true body in the last days; and that with each pass around Jericho walking in His footsteps, a seal is broken. For our Lord is returning when He sees a HOLY bride who has ravished His heart in the pursuit of HIM at all costs, a living sacrifice purged by the fire of the Father’s heart. The breaking of the first four seals provoke the enemy to bring forth earthly tribulations through conquest, war, scarcity, and pestilence; the fifth seal breaks by the prayers of the martyrs being remembered in heaven for the avenging of their blood – and their blood shall indeed be avenged of this world; and the sixth seal is to the bringing of that very vengeance by God upon the earth-dwellers who are offended by the Lamb and persecute His own – but He has sealed the faithful (Rev 6-7). For with each pass around Jericho they are completing their obedience in the pulling down of strongholds through Him so that He may at last usher in His kingdom, in which they are finally made ready to rule and reign with Him, to revenge the disobedience of Jericho. “See, I have given Jericho and its king, mighty warriors, into your hand.” (v2) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty THROUGH GOD to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when YOUR obedience is fulfilled.
(2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

“And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the ark.
And on the seventh day you shall go around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall be, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, all the people shall shout with a great shout. And the wall of the city shall fall down flat; and the people shall go up, each man in front of him.”
(Joshua 6:4-5)

The breaking of the seventh seal is to a silence in heaven (Rev 8:1): it is selah for the cry of the contrite and humble, and the promise of continued rest in God for the faithful who endure, who are making their calling and election sure. For on that seventh day of rest they compassed the city seven times; and such labor on the seventh day was made possible and was indeed seen as righteous because it was wrought in God, for the people had entered into the land of rest, the very labors of the Spirit: for the Lord Himself IS our rest, and even our brother if we are lead by His Spirit (Rom 8:11-14). And during that silence in heaven, all the prayers of the saints are offered before God, and in that prayer is a shout – the voice and thunder of many waters by which the Lord Himself shakes all things (Micah 7-15-17). Now, in the book of Joshua we see the people shout when they hear the seventh trumpet; whereas in the Revelation given to John, the trumpets sound after the seventh seal is opened. This is because the account of John is the revelation OF Jesus which God showed HIM, so that it speaks from heaven’s perspective beyond time; whereas the account of Joshua is of His people and speaks from their perspective within time. The Lord’s faithful on earth hear the trumpets even before they sound, being quickened by His Spirit that they may hasten the Day of the Lord. For He has saved the best wine until last, by which the six earthen vessels become as ONE seventh vessel, being filled with all the fullness of HIM, ready for the Day of His marriage supper. For that Day shall break when the Spirit AND the bride say in unison, “Come.”

And the seventh angel trumpeted. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of the world became our Lord’s, even of His Christ;
and He shall reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15)

– Brendan