Souls of Men

I awoke to the sound (as it were) of that ruthless transaction which is the true commerce of this present world: the buying and selling of souls.

I am not sure which was more deafening: the sound of it, or the silence in what is called God’s house.

Ought they rather to be wailing over the souls of men? But these have put in their lot with the merchants of the earth, and they also profit by the trading of men’s souls.

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her (fallen Babylon), because no one buys their cargo any more, cargo of gold, and silver, and of precious stone, and of pearls, and of fine linen, and of purple, and of silk, and of scarlet, and all thyine wood, and every ivory vessel, and every vessel of very precious wood, and of bronze, and of iron, and of marble, and cinnamon, and incenses, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine meal, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and of bodies and souls of men.
Revelation 18:11-13 (LITV)

Do not partake in her sins, lest you partake also in her plagues.

Idle Words from Idol Shepherds

But Peter and John answered and said unto them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19-20

There is no speaking for Christ where He is not known in person; and His true abassadors are sent by no man but Himself.

There is much speaking amidst God’s house through the ages in accordance with the philosophies of men, of which God has not spoken. Much is carelessly extrapolated from God’s word, and much is purposefully avoided where that word is emphatic – these are signs of men sending themselves, or corrupting their calling. The surgical nature of the Word of Christ is derived of His anointing: and that which He does not ordain, He does not anoint.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:9-12

A sent man can render himself un-sent. A sent man can also step outside of his calling unto the shipwrecking of many. Greatly instrumental men of God have shaken whole nations and peoples with the gospel, only to also spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men and the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:5-6

We will be judged for every idle word. The teacher of the scriptures is the Author of them. The lense through which we behold the form of the Living God cannot be through a darkened glass, but must be the illumination of the Holy Ghost. HE is the anointing of the meek to make them mighty; the strength of those who righteously tremble, invigorating them to withstand on the evil day. Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar! Brilliant men, philosophers and lawyers, intellectuals, musers, and scholars: these all must bow to the one who has so graced them. Such were not the credentials by which the beloved apostle wrote,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life… That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…
1 John 1:1, 3

The perfection of the word going forth from a man is determined by the conformity of the man unto that word. The one who speaks most truly from God speaks from the present ongoing crucible of experience with Him. Not only has he known God by the hearing of the ear; but his eyes have seen the Lord and he has abhored his own means for the sake of knowing that One. All the words of man’s reasoning are regarded as empty by the wise who fear God. Even if the wise does not yet know the reply of the Lord against another’s teaching, he does not meanwhile give himself unto them, nor does he consult the sayings of the many; but he patiently waits in discretion. This man will the Lord bless liberally with all wisdom and insight, who so asks in humility, despairing to know God’s very Person.

Not so are the shepherds of men, who, by waiting upon the whims of others, disqualify themselves as ministers before the Lord…

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.
Zerchariah 11:17

Men are only shepherds to the extent that they privately serve before God’s throne. Those who leave their prostration before His throne to be seated upon their own have left the flock in God’s eyes, even though they might “lead” more men than before. The turning of the heart toward man’s admiration is the rejection of true spiritual authority; producing blindness and deafness to the things of God. The lifting up of men’s personas is the worship of idols in the house of God. These speak from the world, therefore the world hears them. These cloud the understanding of many, for they become a wedge and mediator between men and God. Their words, which unto the flesh sound holy, are truly the sewing together of the veil which was torn; and their deeds, which unto the flesh appear righteous, are a denial of the precious blood that was shed to give us entrance. The hand of God is against these who so undermine the power of His gospel through worldly cunning. They inherit the quenching of His Spirit by boasting in their own arm and by walking according to the darkness of the pride of their eye.

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?”
And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Gk. “lawless ones”).”
Matthew 7:22-23

Sin is lawlessness: In other words, those to whom Christ is not the end of the law for righteousness remain under its curse. Likewise, those to whom Christ is not the end of earthly wisdom for the riches of His very Person remain blind, though they think to see. For the wisdom not according to Christ is of the same lawlessness of all sin; since only in HIM are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

All unrighteousness is sin: In other words, where righteousness is not imputed, all remains sin; because nothing there is of faith. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The new man born of the Spirit cannot sin, but the old man wallows in sin and his own devices – therefore we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, putting off the old and putting on the new. For all else being at work within us is begotten of the world’s corruption, and touches idolatry.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. THIS is the true God, and eternal life.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Amen.
1 John 5:18-21

Wisdom & Folly – Spirit & Flesh – Sowing & Reaping

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction; to discern the words of understanding;
to receive instruction in prudence, justice, and judgement, and uprightness;
to give sense to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young man.
The wise hears and increases learning, and the understanding one gets wise counsel, t
o understand a proverb and an enigma;
the words of the wise, and their acute sayings.

The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:1-7)

The proverbs of scripture are not merely earthly truth which in practice bring man’s approval; rather they are words of the Holy Spirit which in practice lead to greater fruitfulness in God. However, if they are not practiced patiently in the fear of HIM, then their true reward in HIM remains unattainable and they cannot be understood beyond carnal wisdom. For the wisdom of God is justified by her children, not by her mere admirers. Christ Jesus is truly heard, seen, beheld, and touched not by mere argumentation and human reasoning, but rather by His life at work in a man.

The proverbs are not a mixture of heavenly and earthly wisdom as some regard them; but rather in parables they reveal the fruits of the manifold wisdom of God, which now in Christ can be seen in His people: who after Him are called to walk in manner which generates hunger and thirst for righteousness in others. For it is the fruit of His Spirit borne out in those fearing God and walking humbly in submission to Christ, who IS the Wisdom and Power of God, which reveals the table set for those hungry for that heavenly Bread.

Yet in our day we often refuse to so walk by the power of God and would rather seek to honor Him by our own devices and methods – things which are passing away and are not holy before the Lord. For this we have been given over to a season of spiritual famine and an unready harvest – yet still we cling to our own wisdom. We are living in a rocky field of thorns; yet without repenting, we foolishly desire to sow among them in our own barrenness when we ourselves have nothing to sow! We expect God to bless our labors, when in all our doings we still have not worked out our own salvation by the One who would work IN US to the showing forth of HIS wisdom on the earth through HIS church. Little to nothing of value in God’s eyes is able spring up and grow where the earth has not first been tilled. For until we set our hands to our own plow, the ground of our own heart remains a fallow and unbroken land, riddled with the idols of worldly understanding rather than the wisdom of God revealed only by His Spirit. We look across the land, surprised at the hardness of the soil around us, not seeing that the ground of our own hearts is truly the most impenetrable according to what we have been given. Why then should we be astonished that we are judged, and that the Lord of the harvest tarries?

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed,
and its end is to be burned.

(Hebrews 6:7-8)

“If you return, O Israel,” declares the LORD, “to Me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from My presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,’ then nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory.”
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest My wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”
(Jeremiah 4:1-4)

It is the blindness of pride and arrogancy which desires or expects those in the world to spiritually comprehend the things of God apart from His new birth. It is also cowardice not to address them as requiring God’s illumination if we already discern that they have none. And if we do not discern (as I fear we largely do not), let us ask of God who would lead us into all truth in all things. Otherwise we are Fighting flesh with flesh and corruption with corruption. Only the new heart created by God Himself is the rightful vessel for HIS word; but the tendency of the old man’s deceitful heart is to sow among thorns in his own understanding, leading to death. And this we are largely guilty of.

When we so readily and proudly cast pearls before swine, we reveal the uncircumcision of our own heart. All argumentation is vanity where no spark of God’s life yet exists; and the subsequent lowering of divine Truth into the realm of earthy wisdom only renders it all the more devoid of power. Truthful things and Truth itself are not the same. The former is humanly understandable knowledge which can be argued for all day by unregenerate flesh; but the latter is spiritually discerned reality, only made manifest by the humble obedience of faith in discretion before God’s eyes. (For true obedience to Him only takes root in the secret place of the Most High – it is the fruits thereof that are seen outside, by which the Son of Man is lifted up upon His cross for all men to see.) The tree of life is planted in heaven – it is the branches thereof which reach down to earth. In all our zeal to philosophically argue spiritual realities to deaf ears and blind eyes, we have tried to re-plant the tree of life on earth, forgetting how to labor in prayer over men’s souls for GOD’s work in them, failing to let HIS light shine forth in us by walking in the labors of the Spirit rather than by our own wisdom. That which is not first from heaven cannot ever enter therein, nor can the unseen be revealed in those who do not walk according the heavenly thing once revealed to them.

Let it no longer be we of whom the scriptures say,
They are of the world; because of this they speak of the world,
and the world hears them.

(1 John 4:5)

 

That receiving birth from the flesh is flesh, and that receiving birth from the Spirit is spirit. Do not wonder because I told you, “You must receive birth from above.”
(John 3:6-7, LITV)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man may sow, that he also will reap. For the one sowing to his flesh will reap corruption of the flesh. But the one sowing to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit.
(Galatians 6:7-8)

For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God in order to pull down strongholds: pulling down imaginations and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ, and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever YOUR obedience is fulfilled.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Readiness & Fruitfulness

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 to 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 mercies 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 the vessel itself could ever provide. Our ability to bear fruit depends not upon busying ourselves with what men commonly perceive as “spiritual activities;” but depends rather 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 whomever 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;” the eyes of the LORD meanwhile 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 His 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 His season. We wait upon the Lord with all diligence, even as one waits upon the command 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)

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; thus 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

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