Friday, September 25, 2009


Lend an Ear to a Love Song

By James Ryle

"If My people would but listen to Me..." (Psalm 81:13).

The Lord is looking for Listeners, those who will be both attentive and obedient to His revealed will. To such as these He will surely speak -- "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Although He is looking, He does not often find them. This is not merely a condition of modern times, but rather is a longstanding problem that has characterized the people of God throughout history.

The Lord lamented Israel's indifference to His Word, revealing that their defeats in battle were directly tied to their neglect of listening to His voice. "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!" (Psalm 81:13-14).

Charles H. Spurgeon, the distinguished prince of preachers, once commented on this verse, saying, "Our enemies find their greatest weapons against us in the stockpile of our own disobedience. They could not defeat us were we not first to defeat ourselves" (The Treasury of David, Vol. IV, pg. 30).

The foremost cause of our many defeats is failure to listen to what the Lord is saying to us, and to do what He is telling us. Oh, how much grief do we experience in our lives simply because we do not lend an ear to a Love Song!

Imagine what a difference it would make in your life today if you listened for the Lord to speak to you, and then did what He wants you to do. Why, the results would be so wonderful that you would lift you voice to heaven and sing your own love song back to Him!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


It’s A Wonderful Life!
by Chip Brogden
God is Love, Light, and Life. These are the most profound words in the Scriptures. The writings of John are the writings of a man who is spiritually mature. He has found a way to express the inexpressible, a method of summing up all that God is. You will never get to the bottom of these depths. You will never see all the way to the end of it.
I want to talk about that Life for a moment. God has dealt with me for many years on the subject of His Life, and I have written much about Life and spoken much about Life. Even so, I hardly know what I’m talking about. I have barely scratched the surface. Friends, you have no idea what is yours! The same Life which raised Jesus from the dead is contained there within you! It brought the world into being, and it holds the world together. This Life overcomes sin, death, and hell. We have the Life because we have the Son. He that has the Son has Life! YOU HAVE THE VERY LIFE OF GOD HIMSELF.
Brothers and sisters, why do we - how can we - sit around day in and day out, week in and week out, month after month, year after year, content with just barely getting by, fighting with each other all the time, struggling with the same old besetting sins, arguing over the same old man-made doctrines, rehashing the same old arguments, listening to the same old crusty hand-me-down sermons? We have bigger things to discuss! Dear man, dear woman, if Christ is yours then you are filled with LIFE! And if you will yield to that Life, it will transform you and overwhelm you, eclipsing your selfishness, molding and shaping you into the very image of Him Who has called you! Isn’t that more exciting?
Let me tell you about this Life. In my Christian walk I have experienced more defeat than victory. But now the tide is changing. After more than twenty years of Christian experience I am realizing that permanent defeat is impossible because Victory is so encompassing. Let me say that to be victorious or to be defeated is entirely your choice and your decision. If you want to be totally and completely victorious all the time then you only have to decide to be so. How is it that simple? Because the Life is sufficient. The Life! It is more than sufficient. Victory lives within you; Victory has a personality. Have you met the Man named Victory, or are you still looking for it as an experience? Stop searching, for Victory is Christ, and He is already present within you as Life. The Life will carry you through when you cannot go on. The Life will give you words to say when you are all out of words. The Life will inspire you when your circumstances depress you. Trust in the Life, yield to it, rest in it, revel in it, rejoice in it. Talk to your Victory! “Good morning Victory, how I thank you that today You are mine and I am Yours! Jesus is Your Name, and You are My Life!”
Can you see this? Will you see it? Ask the Lord to open yours eyes and show you the Life which is yours. Go to Him and say, “I have heard about this Life, but I don’t know how it works or what to do with it. Please show me, please teach me, please reveal this Life to me.” And He will do it. If ever you see this, just once, you will discover the secret to the Christian life. You will shake your head and say, “All these years I thought I was really living the Christian life, and all I have been doing is playing tiddlywinks. This Life I have been given is greater, bigger, and more wonderful than I ever dreamed!”
How will He do it? How will He demonstrate the sufficiency of His Life to do everything in your stead? Why, the next time you feel your temper getting out of control, or the person you resent is bothering you, or things are not going right, or you are tempted to quit, decide that instead of reacting the way you always do, you will trust in His Life, then stand back and just see what happens. If you are a Christian the Life is there, it just has to be stirred up into activity. The things we call temptations, testings, and trials are the very means through which God desires to activate the Life He has placed within you! How else would we be able to rejoice in our afflictions? How else would we be able to count it all joy when we fall into many temptations and trials of faith? Humanly speaking this is impossible! But what is impossible with man is possible with God, and easily achievable when we trust in His Life to do what we cannot do.
I will say it again: Victory is your choice, and if you possess this Treasure of Life and you are still defeated, it is your choice to be defeated. I know that sounds harsh, but instead of becoming angry, realize that if you can choose to be defeated, you can also choose to be victorious! That Life is just sitting there dormant, waiting to be called upon, waiting for you to activate it, but it will never just take over without a conscience decision to yield to the Life. Yield to the Life! Trust in the Life! This is what it means to lose your life that you may find your Life. Yes! Have you found your Life yet? You say, it is God’s Life, not mine. True, but it is now YOUR Life as well, if you want it, for the Vine is one with the branches. If you do not want it, then it will lie there sleeping, waiting for the day and the hour in which you choose to call upon it.
Some Christians think they have to have the right book or the right man of God or the right formula or the right church or the right this or that before they can be victorious. My friend, you already have all the resources you need to live a victorious Christian life. The same Life which rose Christ up from the dead dwells in you! If the Life can do THAT, what is your excuse? What more could you possibly need than the Life which you already possess?
Here is a golden truth: if He possesses all that YOU have, then you will possess all that HE has. Allow that truth to sink into your heart. Breathe it in and out. Let the Holy Spirit soak it into the pores of your soul and you will not be able to contain His joy and peace emanating from you. You will start giving things up that before you would have never let go. You will gladly relinquish everything.
Each time you lose a part of your life, you will find His Life is right there to fill the void. Every single time. This is a spiritual truth, and there are no exceptions to the rule. Think of what it means. The more I give to Him, the more He gives to me. I trade in my life in exchange for His Life. Which would you rather have? Do you want your life, your failures, your mistakes, your frustrations, your sins? Or would you rather give that up in exchange for His Life? You can have either one you want, but you cannot have both.
What happens is we are afraid to commit ourselves totally and unreservedly to the Life. We want the Lord’s Life, but we also want to retain a little something of our life. That will never work. This is why you have such ups and downs, simply because you still love your life, and only trust in His Life for the really difficult moments. In a bad situation you will throw yourself upon His Life and it will carry you on through, but in the normal everyday situations you live according to your own life. Instead, let us learn to trust in His Life for every moment of every day. If we will surrender everything His Life will reproduce in us more effectively, gradually transforming, renewing, invigorating, and sustaining us from the inside out.
Permit me to share another golden truth with you: walking by the Spirit, trusting in His Life, is a habit. Once you discover how this Life is supposed to work and you obtain a small success over something which used to defeat you, keep yielding to the Life in that area until it is the most natural thing for you to do. Then, expand into other areas and trust in His Life for that, too. Get into the habit of trusting in His Life, of losing your life so you can find your Life. There are not many guarantees in this world, but here is one thing I am sure of: the Life will never fail. Not once will the Life of Jesus fail to meet the highest, most severest demands placed upon it. You might fail, but He cannot fail. If you don’t believe me, look at how Jesus behaved on the cross. Not a trace of bitterness, self-pity, hatred, or desire for revenge. Nothing but love, compassion, forgiveness. Do you think He is not sufficient to see to your little trial?
Invariably, when we fail, it is because we did not trust in His Life to carry us through. Always. So when that happens, simply ask for forgiveness, and return to the habit of trusting in His Life. Just like any other habit, it will be a struggle the first time you attempt it, but if you persist, it will soon be a struggle to do anything else. Trusting in His Life will be the most natural thing for you to do, as natural as breathing. You won’t even stop to think about it anymore. And when someone praises you for being such a fine Christian, such a mature believer, or such a good example, you can do nothing but fall on your face and exclaim, “Not I, but Christ: for apart from Him I can do nothing. It is God working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” There is no room for the flesh to glory.
It is amazing to see this happen in actual practice. Let us take an example such as bad temper, since most of us can relate to losing our temper, saying and doing things which we regret afterwards. That’s a habit, isn’t it? I can confidently say that I have never lost my temper while I was trusting in the Life of the Lord. Ah, but I lose my temper all the time. Why? Because I don’t always trust in the Life of the Lord! I choose to be angry, or depressed, or defensive. Since I have made my choice to keep my life, I lose the Life of the Lord in that particular situation. What I mean is, I have chosen to handle my temper on my own. I am acting independent of the Lord. So I fail.
The next time you realize you are about to lose your temper, with another person for example, take a few seconds and pray along these lines: “Lord, I am so angry right now I am about to lose my temper. I frankly confess that I cannot control myself. But I trust in your Life to do what I cannot do! Since I cannot humble myself, or be meek and gentle, I rely upon You to do it in my stead. I trust in your Life.” Then don’t worry about it anymore. If troublesome thoughts arise, simply remind yourself that you are trusting in the Life of the Lord to meet THAT, and go on about your business. You see, the key to this is realizing that you cannot do a single thing but trust in His Life. As long as you think you can do it yourself, the Spirit will permit you to go your own way and meet with stinging defeat.
But if your prayer is sincere and you do this early on (before losing control), the next time you meet this bothersome person you will find something rising up on the inside of you which can only be described as supernatural. You may be conscious of compassion trying to come forth. Perhaps when you see the person’s face you will burst into tears and ask for their forgiveness. Or, you may simply receive an extraordinary peace that enables you to remain silent while the other person curses you to your face. Indeed, the Life in you might even have an affect on the other person, and they will totally break down before you, allowing you to minister love to them. One never knows how the Life will respond to the demands made upon it, but afterwards you will wonder how you were able to remain so calm, so full of peace, and so gentle.
This sort of response cannot be conjured up or fabricated. It certainly cannot be faked. Neither can we merely get an idea in our heads as to what we think Jesus would do and try our best to imitate Him. No, no, no, no, no! We don’t have to imitate His Life, we only have to trust His Life! Trust in His Life to do it in, through, and on behalf of us who cannot do it! And I will tell you something else: if you can Trust in His Life to keep you from losing your temper once, you can do it a million times. Hear what I am saying. If you have ever once trusted in His Life to keep you from losing your temper, you can trust in His Life every single time you are confronted with it, and He will bring you through. Without exception.
Along those lines, I can say with all confidence, that if you can trust His Life to overwhelm your temper, you can trust His Life for everything else. What do you need? Do you worry too much? Are you fearful? Are you bitter? His Life indwells you right now, and longs to make you into something totally new, to transfigure you into something entirely different than what you are now. Thank the Lord that I don’t have to be the way I am, but there is hope for me, and there is hope for you, and there is hope for the worst sinner on the face of the earth, because it is not a question of my effort, but of His sufficiency!
Another thing: settle it in your spirit right now that His Life IS sufficient. When you go to the Lord, don’t say, “Oh Lord, help me to trust in your Life.” That will never do. We must go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I DO trust in Your Life to do what I cannot!” If you are saying “help me to trust” then you are really saying that you remain unconvinced that His Life will really rise to the occasion and manifest itself. If you remain unconvinced, ask God to reveal His Son to you as your Life. Go through all the Scriptures concerning the Life of God, particularly the Gospel and Epistles of John, and Romans, and Ephesians. Give the Spirit something to work with. With these Scriptures in hand and in heart you will soon be convinced, if you are not already, that Jesus can do anything. He really can. If He can die on the cross and forgive His executioners, I am confident that He can deal with your little situation. If death, hell, and the grave can’t hold Him back, you need not worry that your problems are going to be too much for Him to handle.
Paul knew something about suffering and affliction, and he wrote, “We are the circumcision, we worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Are you still confident in your self, that you can do it on your own? Go right ahead. The Lord will permit you to meet with failure after failure, but when you give up, His Life will take over from there and you will understand why His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Today let us pray, “Lord, up until now I have come to You as a last resort. But you have taught me to have no confidence in the flesh. Today, I will trust in your Life, for I have come to believe that you are more than enough, that your Grace is more than sufficient.” Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Hermit Crab

-by David Wilkerson.

King David, the author of so many Psalms, grew weary of his
struggles. He was so tired in soul, so embattled and beset by
troubles, all he wanted was to escape to a place of peace and
safety: "My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of
death are fallen upon me... And I said, Oh that I had wings like
a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest... I would hasten
my escape from the windy storm and tempest" (Psalm 55:4-8).

A lesson from nature reveals what happens when we trade the good
fight for an easier way and walk away from our struggle. I recently
read a biologist's study on crabs, creatures that live in a rough,
dangerous environment among jagged rocks. Crabs are dashed
about daily by waves and attacked on every side by creatures from
deeper waters. They battle continually to protect themselves, and
over time they develop a strong shell and powerful instincts for survival.

Amazingly, some in the crab family give up the struggle for life.
Searching for a safe haven, they take up residence in the cast-off
shells of other ocean creature. These crabs are known as hermit
crabs. Settling for safety, they retreat from the battle and escape
into secondhand houses that are ready-made.

But hermit crabs' "safe houses" prove to be costly and ruinous.
Through their lack of struggle, crucial parts of their bodies deteriorate.
Even their organs wither due to lack of use. Over time the hermit
crab loses all power of motion, as well as vital parts needed for
escape. These limbs simply fall off, leaving the crab out of danger
but useless to do anything except exist.

Meanwhile, crabs that continued the struggle grow and flourish.
Their five pairs of legs become meaty and strong from resisting the
powerful tides. And they learn to hide from their predators by skillfully
scuttling under rock formations.

This law of nature, too, illustrates the law of the Spirit. As believers,
we get tossed and pounded by wave after wave of difficulties. We
face vicious predators in Satan's principalities and powers. But as
we fight on, we grow stronger. And we come to recognize the
devil's wiles when he employs them against us. We discover our
true refuge, the "cleft in the rock," by trusting in Jesus. Only then
are we truly safe in the midst of our battle.


Sunday, September 6, 2009



"Some years ago a fearful railroad wreck took a dreadful toll of life
and limb in an eastern state. A train, loaded with young people
returning from school, was stalled on a suburban track because of what
is known as a “hot-box.” The limited was soon due, but a flagman was
sent back to warn the engineer in order to avert a rear-end collision.
Thinking all was well, the crowd laughed and chatted while the
train-hands worked on in fancied security. Suddenly the whistle of the
limited was heard and on came the heavy train and crashed into the
local, with horrible effect.
The engineer of the limited saved his own life by jumping, and some
days afterwards was hailed into court to account for his part in the
calamity. And now a curious discrepancy in testimony occurred. He was
asked, “Did you not see the flagman warning you to stop? ”He replied,
“I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag, and I took it for granted all
was well, and so went on, through slowing down.”. The flagman was
called, “What flag did you wave? “A red flag, but he went by me like a
shot.” “Are you sure it was red?” “Absolutely.” Both insisted on the
correctness of their testimony, and it was demonstrated that neither
was color-blind. Finally the man was asked to produce the flag itself
as evidence. After some delay he was able to do so, and then the
mystery was explained. It had been red, but it had been exposed to the
weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and it was but a
dirty yellow! Oh, the lives eternally wrecked by the yellow gospels of
the day—the bloodless theories of unregenerate men that send their
hearers to their doom instead of stopping them on their downward
road!" - H. A. Ironside

"And what is wrong with the old method of scaring the ungodly with
a sermon on hell?" - Vance Havner

"There is a lot of soft, sentimental talk about Him today that brings
no conviction. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he did not feel comfortable!
Neither did Habakkuk nor Daniel nor Paul nor John. We want a
picture of Him today that does not disturb us, that smiles at sin,
and winks at iniquity. I remember a man who told me he wanted to
hear no hell-fire sermons but rather about the meek and lowly Jesus.
Yet the poor man did not seem to realize that the meek and lowly
Jesus said more about hell than is reported from the lips of anyone
else in the Bible! We need a true and complete vision of God in
His holiness and Christ in His glory that will bring us to repentance."
-Vance Havner.

"Obedience is the crown and honour of all virtue."
-Martin Luther

"Spiritual maturity is reached when obedience [to God and His
word] becomes a joy." - Jesse Yoder

"In Acts the apostles prayed for 10 days then preached for 10 min-
utes and 3000 people were saved. Today pastors pray for 10 minutes
then preach for 10 days and wonder why no-one is saved."
-B.H. Clendennen.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the
hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.”
-George Whitefield.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Gift of Christ

The Gift of Christ
by Chip Brogden
As the fullness of God - all that He is and all that He has - dwells in Christ, so the fullness of Christ - all that He is and all that He has - dwells in you (Colossians 2:9,10a).”
We have mentioned the need to recognize and appreciate the value, worth, and preciousness of the Lord Jesus. We would like to expand upon that and discuss The Gift of Christ. I pray that the Lord will grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full-knowledge of His Son as we ponder this.
I am afraid that we do not truly appreciate the fact that God has never given us things, but has summed up everything into Christ, having poured Himself into His Son. Having the Son, possessing the Son, being one with the Son, we have and possess everything God is. It never has been a question of seeking ten, one hundred, or one thousand different things from God. If we do not know from our experience, we should at least know from the Scriptures, that Christ is the Gift of God. Then our experience will come into line with God’s Thought. If you are used to seeking spiritual “things” (love, joy, peace, anointing, power, blessing, etc.) then this message is particularly for you, but we all stand to benefit from being reminded constantly that Christ is God’s One Gift.
It is the fullness of Christ that we are after, the revelation of Christ as He in fact is. For too many Christians the Lord Jesus is “merely” their Savior. Thank God He is our Savior, but there is a depth and a richness bound up into the personage of Christ that goes far, far beyond “mere” salvation. Salvation is the narrow gate - coming into the fullness of Christ is the narrow path. The gate is only the entrance to something larger.
The principle we have in mind here is All Things In Christ. If we see this then we will be delivered from “things”, from lack, from dissatisfaction, from inferiority, from defeat. The Lord has much to gain by us entering into His fullness now, as opposed to waiting for some future appointment with Him in heaven. It is here on the earth that we need to pray for His Kingdom and His Will to be accomplished. May the Lord illuminate our hearts as we explore these depths.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).”
All we have and all that we are as Christians is based upon our union with Christ. Apart from Him, we have nothing, and we are nothing. But in Him we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. Think upon the ramifications of that. If this is true then we have very little to ask God for, and very much to praise God about.
For most of my life as a Christian I sought God for things. When depressed, I would seek joy. When worried, I would seek peace. When weak, I would seek strength. When angry, I would seek self-control. When defeated, I would seek victory. Most Christians are taught to approach God and seek these things when they are conscious of some lack. For a time it seems they are given what they ask for, but soon they are back asking for more of the same thing. Today we ask for patience, and tomorrow we ask again, and the day after that we have to ask yet again. So it is with peace, joy, victory, and everything else.
Eventually we must learn that we have everything in Christ already. That thing called “patience” that we are so diligently seeking is not a thing at all, it is Christ. “Victory” is no longer a “thing”, it is a Man. And so it is with everything else we need. It is certainly possible to seek spiritual blessings from God apart from Christ, or in addition to Christ. What a difference it makes to realize that He HAS (past tense) blessed us already - not with three or five or twenty blessings - but with every spiritual blessing. However many there may be, we have them all. Where and how has He done this? Thank God, it was done the moment we received Christ and entered into Him as our All in All. God would have us seek Him first, and not His things. To Him there is no “thing”, for they are all summed up into Christ.
Again, it is the preciousness and extreme worth and value of the Lord Jesus that we have in mind here. May we see before God that God’s Gift is Christ - not a lot of spiritual blessings that we must diligently seek after, one by one, until we accumulate them like a collection of virtues or special graces. That is not to say there are not many spiritual blessings we can obtain from God, only that they are all found in Christ. Having the Son we have all that pertains to the Son.
“If God did not spare His own Son, but freely delivered Him over to death on our behalf, how will He not also, with Him, freely give us all things (Romans 8:32)?”
Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a man who found treasure buried in a field. With great joy he went out, sold all his possessions, and purchased that field. The point of the parable is this: the one who owns the field possesses all that lies buried within the field. It is not a matter of getting the individual pieces of treasure, but of gaining the field. Once we have the field, we have the treasure.
The Scriptures tell us that hidden in Christ are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3)”, “every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)”, and “all the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19).” Since this is the truth, we maintain before God that His Gift to us is Christ, and to the extent that we appreciate the value and preciousness of the Lord Jesus, to that same extent will we be satisfied spiritually. We will find fullness in the Son, and will not find it necessary to be continually pumped up or propped up as we go about our daily walk as Christians. Imagine the foolishness of asking God for a “few coins” to get you through until Sunday while wealth is buried just below your feet. Or, imagine the vanity of thinking we have to go “here” or “there” to get something from God (such as a “blessing”, a “word”, an “anointing”, etc) when we already have everything He has. I will go so far as to say that when we know the preciousness and costliness of the Lord Jesus we will not ask God for anything else. The one who must ask God for “things” has not yet fully appreciated the treasure he has in Christ already.
Perhaps an illustration would be helpful at this point. When God wished to test Abraham, He did not ask him to sacrifice a sheep, a ram, or a cow. He did not ask for Abraham’s gold or silver or tents or possessions. He went right to the heart of the matter and asked for Isaac, the son of promise. How gladly Abraham would have given anything and everything but his own beloved son. But in the willingness to give up his son, he was, in essence, laying everything down on the altar. When God owns what the man loves most, He owns everything the man has.
In the same way, the Father, wishing to demonstrate His great love for us, has not given us parts and pieces of things, but has sacrificed His only Son. By giving us His Son, He has, in essence and in fact, freely given us everything. When man possesses what God loves most, he owns everything God has. This is why I say we have little else to ASK God for, but much to PRAISE Him about: for IN CHRIST, God has freely given us all things.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16).”
To the casual observer this verse appears to be giving us a thing called “eternal life”. But that is not what this verse says at all. God has not given us salvation; He has given us His Son as Salvation. This Scripture tells us that God loved the world, and this love prompted Him to remedy the situation by giving us His Only Son. What is the gift? It does not say, “For God so loved the world that He gave eternal life.” If I may say it bluntly, it was not eternal life that we needed to begin with; we needed His Only Son. What good is eternal life without the Son? See before God that there is only One Son, One Gift. Now all who believe IN CHRIST have eternal life. At the moment of New Birth we did not receive salvation, we received the Son. Hence, we are saved. Salvation is not giving me eternal life, but giving me Christ as my Life. Hallelujah! Do you see this?
There is a difference between salvation and a Savior; between deliverance and a Deliverer; between healing and a Healer; between redemption and a Redeemer. The first is a “thing”, the second is a Person. This may sound self-evident and elementary, but before God the difference is vast, and in actual experience the difference is incalculable. If we are not clear on the matter of His Son we will find the Christian life very difficult, if not impossible, to live. I have the “thing” because I have Him; having Him, I do not need to search for the “thing” anymore. What do you have? An experience? A word? A doctrine? A belief? Or a Man? This is the difference between a living Christianity and a dead religion.
We have to come to know the height, length, breadth, and width of HIM, and may I say that we will never come to the end of Him. But we do not search for anything as if we do not have it, nor do we hope to gain some new thing, for what we call “new” is simply that which has been seen for the first time. Thus, revelation is critical, for it unveils what we already have. Having the Son, we have all.
“It is of God that you are in Christ Jesus, Whom God has made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30).”
This is a very rich verse. We have already seen how the Lord Jesus is given to be our Life. Upon that basis we can lay claim to everything else. Here we see that to those of us who are in Christ, He is made to be our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It does not say that He gives these things to us, but that He is these things in us.
Again, this is the difference between a living Christianity and a dead religion. Most of us are still trying to attain something and have not yet realized that we have already obtained it. We wear ourselves out in order to be Christ-like. We are hoping that through much effort we will one day reach some standard to which we can finally say we are living like Jesus. But this is not God’s way. It is not a changed life that God seeks from you, but an exchanged life - that is, your life is to be given up in exchange for His life. “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me (Galatians 2:20ff).” That is the exchanged Life: my life for His Life.
We should have learned by now that we cannot change ourselves. Jesus says we cannot increase our stature by a single inch through worry and self-effort (Matthew 6:27). If we cannot make ourselves grow physically, how can we ever hope to make ourselves grow spiritually? Have you ever seen a brother or a sister try to act sanctified? They wear themselves and everyone else out. It is a burden to be around such a person. That is not Christianity. Christianity is this: not that I am trying to be wise, but that I receive the Lord Jesus as my Wisdom; not that I am trying to be righteous, but that I receive the Lord Jesus as my Righteousness; not that I am trying to be sanctified, but that I receive the Lord Jesus as my Sanctification; not that I am trying to be redeemed, but that I accept the Lord Jesus as my Redemption. Henceforth I cease trying to be anything, and I allow Him to be Who He is through me.
We must be clear: these things are not the “reward” for years of faithful service, or the fruit of walking with Jesus after a long period of time. If I have Him now, then I have all that pertains to Him now. My Wisdom, my Righteousness, my Sanctification, and my Redemption has a personality, for He is all those things in me. It is not a question of my behavior, or my conduct, or my feelings one way or the other - those things will come into line soon enough - but it is all based upon this accomplished fact. Christ is God’s Gift. I repeat, we have much to praise God about!
“The Father gives you the True Bread from Heaven… I am the Bread of Life (John 6:32b, 35a).”
The people were asking for Jesus to give them bread, but failed to recognize that He Himself is the Bread of Life. They worked and toiled for something which would perish, but were not willing to receive the True Bread that would not perish. Again, the significance of the Lord Jesus is not that He can give us bread, but that He is the Bread.
Why are we following the Lord? Is it for what He can do for us? Is it so we can enjoy His blessing? Is it because He supplies our needs? Do we want the gifts or the Gift? If our motivation is for blessings then we will soon be disappointed. Indeed, from this time forward, many of His disciples turned back and stopped following Him. How many of us will continue to follow when the Lord fails to respond to us in the way we have grown accustomed? The Lord may provide you with bread for a season, but there is a difference between looking to the Lord for bread and looking to the Lord as bread. May God show us the difference. The Gift of God is not what Christ can do for you, but Who He Himself is.
The ones who seek bread from the Lord will be temporarily filled, but all who seek the Lord as Bread will be constantly satisfied. What is more, they will have resources from which to feed others. It is a shame that many Christians only seek to be filled, and still they are never satisfied. They are content with a meager pittance, for a few crumbs from the table. They are constantly obsessed with being filled. To such ones we can only say that it is time to seek the Lord, not for what He can give you, but for Himself.
“Things”, even spiritual things, cannot satisfy. Only Jesus can satisfy, and since all fullness dwells in Him, we need nothing else. Eventually we will learn that Christ is the Gift, and when we do, we will be enlarged. We will be able to minister Life to the Body. What are we giving people: bread, or Christ? If we are ministering bread then they will become dependant upon us to feed them all the time. If we point them to Christ, they will find in Him an infinite supply.
“If you knew the gift of God, and Who I am, you would have asked Me for a drink, and I would have given you Living Water… Jesus stood and shouted ‘If anyone is thirsty, come to Me and have your thirst quenched! Anyone who believes in Me, as the Scriptures have said, will have rivers of Living Water flowing from within’ (John 4:10; 7:37b, 38).”
As some pursue “rivers” and “watering holes” how refreshing it is to know that Christ is the Living Water. How can we know the difference between Christ and what is proclaimed as the manifest power or presence of God? It is quite simple: the one who drinks from a “meeting” must continually drink to stay full, but the one who knows Christ as Living Water has their thirst quenched altogether.
We are empty because we do not know the Gift of God. “If you knew the Gift of God, if you knew Who I am, you would have asked Me, and I would have given you.” Those who hunger and thirst after Righteousness (Christ) are filled continually. Those who hunger and thirst after anything else must be constantly looking for their next fill-up. We repeat a thousand times, the question of abundance or lack in spiritual Life relates to how we see the Son. If we clearly see the Son then we see all that God has, and all that God is. In Him is fullness. To leave where we are and seek out some man or woman or ministry at the ends of the earth in order to be filled or blessed is a serious tragedy. How much time I have wasted in that pursuit, before knowing Christ as All in All! Broken cisterns cannot hold water for long.
We must know the Gift of God. The one who knows will not only be satisfied, but will have abundance of Life springing up from within. If we are mainly interested in being filled for ourselves then we will have little to offer anyone else. Yet when we know the Gift of God the Life will overflow. “You anoint my head with oil, and my cup overflows (Psalms 23:5b).” Are you an overflowing Christian, with all of God you can hold, and much leftover? Sadly, this does not describe many of us. To drink is a beginning, but God’s goal is an overflow. How we need clear revelation into the Son! How we need to see just how precious and worthy He is!
Here is the glory of our union with Christ: when we come to Him to drink, we become what we are drinking. Jesus clearly says the streams of Living Water overflow from within the innermost being of the person who knows the Gift of God and has come to Him to be filled. To begin with it flows from Him to me, but eventually it flows from me outward. What can anyone possibly give me that, in Christ, I do not already possess? So the question is not are you “in the River”, but is the River in you? In all things God directs us continually to His Son as All in All. May He give us grace to see Him.
“Of His fullness have we all received, blessing upon blessing (John 1:16).”
Just how full is “full”? How many people does “all” include? We have to believe that full means complete, and all includes each one of us. “Of His fullness we have all received.” No one, no matter how “anointed” they may appear, has more fullness than anyone else. And if we have received it already then there is nothing for us to do to get it. If I have already entered into a room and sat down in a chair then there is no need for me to try to get into the room anymore. I am there already. We entered into Christ when He entered into us: we do not have to enter into Him over and over again, we are merely abiding in Him.
I am frequently asked how do we partake of this fullness? How do we walk in it? What practical application exists for living according to this Truth? We see what God says, but we also see our situation. We see Jesus, but we also see ourselves. God says we are complete in Him, but we say we are incomplete. God says we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we say we still need this or that. What is the problem here? Is it not a glaring discrepancy between what God says and what we say? Whose word is more reliable?
The solution is not to look at one’s self at all, but to look away to Christ. Then we will not have to worry about the practical side, it will develop of its own accord. Let us get a foundation first: then the Life will find a way to manifest. I am convinced that we have plenty of faith, we just have faith in the wrong things. Many Christians have more faith in the Law of Sin and Death than they do in the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. We are more conscious of what (we think) the devil is doing and how weak we are than we are cognizant of God’s Son. But when we look away to Christ, He is increased. As He is increased, we are decreased. We must become lesser, He must become greater. When Christ looms larger in our vision than anything else, we will experience the fullness which is already ours in Him. Remember, the one who possesses the field possesses everything buried in the field. Meditate on that, breath it, live it.
We must ask God for revelation into His Son. Lord Jesus, reveal Yourself to us as All in All. Illuminate our hearts to see you. Bring us into the full-knowledge of Yourself. No matter our feelings or experiences to the contrary, we acknowledge that we are complete in You. You do all things well! Teach us to look away from all that pertains to man and to see You as You really are. Thank you Father for the Gift of Christ! Amen.