and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog."Ezekiel 38:16(NASB)
We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8 ESV)
The Lord Jesus said "I am the true Vine," and it was prophesied of Him that He would tread the wine-press alone. The Cross was His winepress. How He was pressed in the Cross! He was crushed and broken, but out of that breaking has come the Life which you and I have, and which so many of all the nations have received. That is true, in a measure, of His Church. It was out of the breaking and crushing of the Church that Life came to the world. And it is true of every member, every branch of the vine. If we are to fulfill this true, living ministry, it will only be through suffering, through the wine-press, through pressure and through breaking. Paul said: "We were pressed out of measure, above strength" (2 Corinthians 1:8 – A.V.) – but what Life has come out of that man's pressure! It is like that. We are not talking about preaching and Bible teaching, but about this great ministry of Christ giving His Life through us. It may be passed on to others through preaching, or through teaching, or through living, but if it is His Life it will come out by experience of suffering. A preacher or a teacher who has never suffered will never minister Life.
Well, this may not seem a very pleasant outlook, but it is true. The best doctors and nurses are those who know something about suffering themselves. Some are just professional, treating you as a case – you are just a blank case number. But, ah! there are others who treat you as a person, a human being, who care for you. If you ask why, you may find that they have a background of suffering themselves. They know just a little of what you are going through. We have read in the Letter to the Hebrews: "We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are... " (Hebrews 4:15, 2:18). He has been the way of the winepress and we have received the benefit.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. § “Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God.
I am a sinful man, O Lord! § Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair!
I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. § You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. § Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.
I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells. § You are complete in Him. § Perfect in Christ Jesus.
You were washed, … you were sanctified, … you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. § That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law… A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” § Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. § Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. . . . “A servant is not greater than his master.” § I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18).
The Christian who relies mainly upon "experiences" for growth will manifest little spiritual discernment, dependability or maturity, whereas the believer who relies upon doctrinal truth will be found to manifest these aspects of a healthy walk. If we bypass truth, we fall short of spiritual reality.
"Many people today are seeking for a new religious experience and when the last grows old, they seek to get yet another experience. The actual need of most believers today is not an experience, but a true apprehension of what the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross for us and of our present day union with Him.
"When a person begins to apprehend what it means to be united to the Son of God and what he has through this union, he will at once realize that his spiritual growth depends upon a clear understanding of truth rather than upon an experience. However, those who really appropriate this truth cannot fail to have daily experiences with the Lord." -L.L.L.
"Nowhere in Scripture is it taught that there is a sudden leap to be taken from carnality to spirituality, or from a life of comparative unconcern as to godliness to one of intense devotion to the Lord Jesus. On the contrary, increase in piety is ever presented as a growth, which should be as normal and natural as the orderly progression in human life from infancy to full stature." -H.A.I.
"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Tim. 4:15).
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:6
Co-Crucifixion. Have I made this decision about sin - that it must be killed right out in me? It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is to come to the decision which Paul forces here.
Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, make the moral decision and say - "Lord, identify me with Thy death until I know that sin is dead in me." Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.
It was not a divine anticipation on the part of Paul, but a very radical and definite experience. Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is - the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me? Then if so, will I agree with God's verdict on that disposition of sin - that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? I cannot reckon myself "dead indeed unto sin" unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God.
Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood? "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
The Apostle John delights to remind us that as children of God, who have entered into eternal union with Christ Jesus, we also have the right to enjoy intimate fellowship with the Father on a daily basis. And this close communion is possible with the Father and the Son, by means of the indwelling Spirit. As we abide in Him and He in us, we are enabled to enjoy Spirit to spirit communion: truly our fellowship IS with the Father, and with His Son – that our joy may be full. 1 John 1:3.
Although intimate fellowship with God is the right of all believers, it is hindered by sin. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. So we are called to walk in the light as He is in the light so that we may fellowship one with the other, for light can have no fellowship with darkness. God is also holy and has a hatred of sin, and a holy God will never fellowship when sin is present.
Although we are forgiven sinners, and in unbreakable and eternal union with Christ, there are times when we fall into sin and every sin places a barrier between God and us. We are told that we can enjoy fellowship with a holy God, but we have to be holy too! And though the power of sin has been broken in our life at the cross, there are times when we fall into sin, causing our fellowship to be broken, and so here we discover ourselves to be in a ‘Catch 22′ situation.
Every time we sin, fellowship is broken and needs to be restored and John outlines the fellowship formula for God’s disobedient children to be restored back into full fellowship and sweet communion with their Father. And John outlines this most important concept, at the start of his first epistle.
Over the years Christians have made three false assumptions to do with fellowship with God, butread more
In John 10:11;3 we read: Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He calls His own by name… and in Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my Shepherd. Scripture gives us many pictures of God. Not only is He our Father and King, our Creator and Sustainer. He is also our Shepherd – and we are His sheep. Just like sheep we stray and get into all sorts of problems.. but God is there to rescue us from all harm and danger. The sweet Psalmist wrote of this wonderful God and Lord.. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. Psa.139:2. And Luke in Acts17:27 tells us: He is never far from any one of us.
Our God knows the deepest needs of our soul, and He cares about them. He knows the deepest desires of our hearts, and He cares about that too! He is not just the Shepherd of the sheep but the good Shepherd. The false, idol shepherd has come to steal and to kill and to destroy.. yes there is much difference between the real Shepherd and a hireling. But the purpose of the Good Shepherd is to give life in all its fullness.
He desires to care for us. He wants to feed and satisfy us with good things. He wants to protect us from the dangers and disappointments of life. He wants to lead us into green pastures and beside still waters. He wants to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. How dearly He cares for you and how dearly He cares for me too. He cares so deeply and so passionately that He has laid down His life for us. In John 13:1 we read: and having loved His own, He loved them right up to the end.
What is also so precious is that He calls each one of us by name. We know that He calls the stars by name. Yet He knows theread more