“Come and Die”

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:57-58 (ESV)

Men look for their own sense of purpose; but God wants to take His own beyond this into walking in the lively substance of He who is the very purpose. Your hopes of success or earthly blessing will not get you through the onslaught of the Devil when he with heaven’s approval tears all your hopes and dreams into pieces. And then, poor soul, what will you do? How long will you shake your fist at God? Not even the prospect of the grave shall give you solace thereafter, though you wished it would; for you have dug it far too shallow.

“But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lam 3:32) To be raised up most fully into the heavens, you must pass most fully through the blackness of death itself. The cross’s work is not being finished until it has begun finishing you. You must be being crucified into the Life which is deeper than a mere sense of your own purpose. You must walk through hell’s onslaught, through the terrors of death itself; holding fast your flame before the cold black stare of Satan’s nothingness. Your sense of purpose is only as good as your ability to keep it; but if you would go to deeper and higher places with God, His depths and heights will demand of you its demise: for the kingdom of God is where men and their own aspirations go to die.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

God in Christ brings us into His purpose by bringing us beyond ourselves – if only we will allow His death to be ours in this life daily; so that His very Life might reign in us, and consequently, we in His Life. God Himself must become our only means to His only ends; our only vision and our only Hope beyond hope. If you have another plan, may God shatter it beyond repair! O, let nothing be of any use to us but the keeping of the presence of God with us! It costs absolutely everything else; but there is no other way. Only then are we no longer entrapped in this world by the selfishness of seeking our own things; only then are we sufficiently broken vessels to pour forth the sweet aroma of Christ’s work for the glory of God alone.

Obedience to God as the means of finding our own sense of purpose is idolatry. His ministration will not be mocked even by what men call “ministries.” But obedience to God because He is worthy is its own reward to the humble; for it is the power of God moving within a man beyond that man’s capabilities, and it is the Spirit of God unhindered even by a man’s most seemingly pious desires. It is the legacy of those who have counted all as loss; it is the result of men reaching the end of their own rope, and finally letting go.

There is nothing more embittering than the anguish of defeat and loss without purpose. But there is nothing sweeter to the soul than the continual repentance whose heavenly joy is birthed by God’s own hand through said anguish; which finds strength beyond strength in the admittance of defeat; whose purpose is wrapped up in the mystery of Godliness at the willing loss of all else.

Let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus.

True Religion

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:26-27

The religion toward which every man’s heart is naturally drawn is characterized by a boasting in his own spirituality through the outward show of lofty words, and even lovely deeds, while inwardly there dwells secret depravity unchecked. But true religion in the sight of God is characterized by the golden harmony of authentic selflessness and personal holiness.

There is a sureity of tongue that is born not of holy confidence, but of arrogance; and yet there is also a self-deprication that is born not of humility, but of sinful pride.
The spiritual worship that is to be the very walk of every child of God is a daily offering of life to receive Life; it is the fragrance of holy conduct born of the fear of the Lord’s mercy. For he in whom the demerrited mercy of God does not invoke a reverence unto obedience has not known God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

To “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24) is seen in a selfless and holy life; to be authentically selfless only flows from the shattering recognition of the mercy of God; and to be truly holy is in a sense to be wholly true – which is to be without mixture in one’s dealings before the eyes of He who is all-knowing.

How, therefore, does the selfish man walk humbly, and the sinner live holy? By the application of the cross to every facet of his life and being, spirit soul and body. He to whom the cross of Christ truly applies will bear his own cross also. And it is this bearing of the cross which promises the abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. In the urgency of such a life in God, there is found the foretaste of eternal rest; and in the overcoming obedience of such a faith, there runs a trust which takes hold of a purely God-ward contentment.

“The truly religious man does everything as if everything depends on himself, and then leaves everything as if everything depended on God.”
– Joseph Parker

Scripture & Thought – Obedience & The Self

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)

A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.

Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.

For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)

The Sixth Day – The Image of God

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:24-25

How appropriate it is, that just before the creation of man, the very beasts which will later help him in earthly duties are prepared beforehand. And not only these, but other creatures which themselves contribute to the care and furnishing of the earth are still being made. Yet the livestock in particular may be of note. The scriptures refer to the oxen as the image of the Servant of God. For it is through making Himself nothing and taking the form of a servant that our Lord Christ, the very image of the invisible God and firstborn of all creation, became so highly exalted. The cross precedes the crown, the burden precedes the glory, humility precedes exaltation. Therefore man ought to be mindful of his humble beginning, considering it indicative of his place before the Lord; for he is but dust, and having fallen shall return thence. And only the Lord shall raise him up on the last day, if indeed the faith of Christ was in Him. For in the kingdom of God, the lowest servant is the greatest; while they that exalt themselves shall be lightly esteemed, as they “esteemed Him not.”

Behold, my Servant shall act wisely; He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you – His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind – so shall He sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
Isaiah 52:13-15

It is He to whom all dominion is given, who laid Himself aside for it all; it is He who tasted death for every man, who from the dust was again raised up that His own might share in that Life incorruptible: so that being last they might share in the firstfruits, being despised they might become embraced, and being condemned they might become accepted. They that are being made in His image and after His likeness are taking up the cross and following after Him. For it is the loss of all else which gains Christ, it is the suffering with Him which finds His fellowship, it is the conformity to such a death as His – “His appearance so marred, beyond human semblance” – which discovers the fullness of His resurrection life. “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…”

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28

If He is not found ruling in us, we shall never reign with Him. It is in being conformed to the image of the Son of God that we discover the incomprehensibility of His great work, and the necessity of that work to be brought unto completion in us. And the giving of Life by the Father unto His chosen gives them the power to be raised up unto “the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ” – for nothing less is the goal. It is from His various workings within each one that the manifold wisdom of God is displayed in the building up of His body before every creature, before all that exalts itself against the knowing of Most High. It begins in the dust, not in temples made with human hands; and it becomes the very temple of He who created it, the very house of His reign…

And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God with men! And He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor outcry, nor pain will be any longer; for the first things passed away.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He says to me, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
Revelation 21:3-5

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31

This is the mandate of God in the making of man into His image: that His rule be complete in His own, and by this shall the kingdom come. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Just as the first Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, let the Last Adam be formed in us in like manner. Let us present ourselves as the nothing that we are before Him: for it is out of nothing that He is truly glorified to create. And when at last Christ Jesus is fully formed in us, then shall He “see the fruit of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Unto this very end the Spirit groans and travails within His own for that final adoption; and the Son awaits His bride.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
Genesis 2:1-3

The rest of God is for things being completed – let us not restrain Him from completing His work. Let us give over our own yokes and burdens, man’s philosophies and self-made religious compulsions for HIS yoke and burden, and His rest will carry us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Then let us fear lest in any way a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short.
For, indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard.
For we, the ones believing, enter into the rest, even as He said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest,” though the works had come into being from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4:1-3

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. To the one thirsting, I will freely give of the fountain of the water of life. The one overcoming will inherit all things, and I will be God to him, and he will be the son to Me.”
Revelation 21:6-7

Thought – Ineffectual Grace

How broadly and thinly we have partaken of the grace of God, that it is become only a veneer to cover up our sins, and not the power to uproot them utterly from the heart by which they continue to be commited! We consider only what is behind – and that with much triteness – taking no thought as to what death we shall continue to sow, and what hell-fire we may thereby reap. The saving power of the grace of God through faith is not found in its being a doctrine admired, but in being a Life lived.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:14-18