Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building,Ezra 4:4(NASB)
Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. (Hebrews 12:26 ESV)
Everything is going to be shaken in earth and in heaven, with a view to finding out just how much there is of Christ living in it. These Jewish believers were going to see the temple and the whole temple system wrecked, and they would discover just how much they had got of Christ, or how much of their life was bound up with earthly things. They would see what was left when that was all gone. God is not only going to shake Judaism, but this heavenly thing. He will shake heaven and earth, and we shall find out by that shaking what we have left when the earthly system passes, when even the representation of heavenly things in Christianity is tested (for Christianity has developed a representation of heavenly things, just as Judaism has). Men have made an earthly representation of the New Testament revelation of the church, the ministry, and priesthood. It is all going to be tested. For many it is now in the melting pot. The issue is the shaking of heaven and earth. What have we got left? The issue is Christ.
Whether you like all that we have said, or agree with it or not, does not worry me; but I am concerned that we have come to Christ, to show that Christ in heaven is our Life, Christ in heaven is our All, and appointed to be so by God, and nothing here can take the place of Christ. God will bring everything to an end that takes the place of Christ. He has determined from eternity that in all things Christ should have the preeminence, and have the fullness, and that nothing shall glory before Him or take His place. May the Lord bring us into a larger measure of Christ, and a larger measure of Christ into us.
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. § “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. § And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. § Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. § Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. § This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.
You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. § Seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. § But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ … For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. § If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
I am with you always. § I will never leave you nor forsake you. § Another Helper … dwells with you and will be in you.
So now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Phil. 1:20).
If we look to other Christians as examples to follow, we will soon be discouraged by the prevailing low standard. If we look to Christ as our example, we will be utterly discouraged because of His infinitely high standard. Hence it is essential that we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is our life; He is not a legal example to emulate, but the source of life from which we grow.
"It is not in any conventional standard of frames and feelings that the disciple is to find the measure of attainment required of him. It is not by any painful reproducing of another's spiritual history that he is to acquire the true comfort of spirit which he longs for. Outward imitation, though it be of the perfect Example Himself, has little place in the order of spiritual growth - little place because little possibility. Without Me (i.e., apart from Me, in separation from Me) ye can do nothing.' To abide in Christ is the only secret of Christlikeness; for only thus is obtained the likeness of unity, which is perfect and enduring, instead of the likeness of conformity, which is only partial and transient." -A.J.G.
"In the pathway of discipline and trial we learn by bitter experience the truth of Paul's confession, In me. . . in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.' Coupled with that is the lesson that God waits with infinite patience, like the potter, to work out a design and beauty with such frail material." -M.H.F.
"And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18)
“Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” 2 Corinthians 12:15
Natural love expects some return, but Paul says - I do not care whether you love me or not, I am willing to destitute myself completely, not merely for your sakes, but that I may get you to God. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." Paul's idea of service is exactly along that line - I do not care with what extravagance I spend myself, and I will do it gladly. It was a joyful thing to Paul.
The ecclesiastical idea of a servant of God is not Jesus Christ's idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of other men. Jesus Christ out-socialists the socialists. He says that in His Kingdom he that is greatest shall be the servant of all. The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples' feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God. Paul delighted to spend him self out for God's interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. We come in with our economical notions - "Suppose God wants me to go there - what about the salary? What about the climate? How shall I be looked after? A man must consider these things." All that is an indication that we are serving God with a reserve. The apostle Paul had no reserve. Paul focuses Jesus Christ's idea of a New Testament saint in his life, i.e: not one who proclaims the Gospel merely, but one who becomes broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for other lives.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, and go over this Jordan, you and all this people … as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you…. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
What an enormous responsibility to place on the shoulders of any man.. to be told to lead all your followers into the jaws of certain death. But the command was spoken to Joshua by God, and reassurance was given to him. Success was guaranteed.. verbally – through the Word of God – for the Lord, Himself spoke to Joshua.
Every Old Testament story presents New Testament truths – spiritual truths. What was done in the physical realm is to be translated into the spiritual realm. Paul tells us to: “mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample,” in Philippians.3:17 . The Old Testament stories of Israel were to become New Testament examples to the church, so that we should live godly lives, “lest anyone fall, according to the same example of disobedience.”
We don’t fight physical Goliaths, for our foes are spiritual forces – our enemies are armies of principalities and powers in the heavenlies. We don’t ford flooding rivers, nor take armies in dangerous lands or march round walls of stone. But the battle in which we are engaged in is none the less tangible. Ours is a spiritual battle, engaged in the invisible realm with the unseen forces of evil. Every Old Testament example pointed out one towering truth… The Lord your God is with you – I will not fail you nor will I forsake you.
Physical courage may be admired – but it can sometimes be foolish. Spiritual courage when battling the unseen enemy is truly what counts. That inwardread more
Be found in Christ – (in Christ alone) not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God, by faith.
Our righteousness is as filthy rags, says the Lord. My dress is ugly and stained, torn and dirty. Truth is hard to swallow. Truth is never flattering to human pride. Truth exposes the dirt and grim and sin of the true nature. And God describes it as it as ugly; ugly; ugly. And we shrink from this description of our own, old sin nature.
For the best of human righteousness is as filth to Him, and the kindest of human acts remain in the pits of slime in God’s eyes. Nothing we do of ourselves is satisfying to Him. Holy God points an accusing finger at sinful man and proclaims, CONDEMNED. “Change me”, I cry in despair, “Not so”, the Lord replies, “Can a leopard change its spots“, He declares, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin“, He proclaims. “can a sinner change himself into a saint?”. ”Never declares the Lord!” But the gospel makes an announcement of righteous dress.. adequate in the sight of a holy God, whose eyes are as a flame of fire – acceptable to the most pure eyes of the sinless Lord of Righteousness.
The righteousness which is of God is pure; the righteousness which is of God is holy; the righteousness which is of God is glorious; the righteousness which is of God is beautiful; the righteousness which is of God is acceptable; the righteousness which is of God is mine by faith – the righteousness which is of God is become my glorious garment. “Change me” I cry in despair “Not so,” says the Lord, “but I will exchange your ugliness, for my beauty, and I will exchange your filthy rags for my glorious garment. I will exchange your death for My life – and I will exchange your sin, for My glorious righteousness.