Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘The Body of Christ’

Rut, Rot, or Revival

I recently read an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer entitled “Rut, Rot, or Revival” in which he speaks of the “dictatorship of the customary” and the “psychology of the usual”. These issues were purposefully directed to the sometimes woeful state of the Body of Christ in relation to our incorrect representation of life in Christ. He correctly asserts that we are often in danger of slumbering in our complacency (rut), we are in a state of satisfied sameness (rot), and we have gratefully accepted comfortable status quo. That hardly demonstrates:

…constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18

How can the worldwide Body of Christ effectively offer to the lost the powerful ministry of reconciliation back to God when we are hardly alive ourselves to the energizing ministry of the Holy Spirit? Smith Wigglesworth has suggested that if you are not daily growing in the things of God than you are in a back-slidden state! While some may consider that an overstatement, it is, in fact the call of our Father, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that we “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Luke 1:30 (Amplified) extends the meaning of grace with the words “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness”. That’s what our Abba extends to us on a daily basis. There is never ending growth in God. We are never finished!! There is always more to know, to learn, to become.

…He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].
Isaiah 50:4

As members of the Body of Christ that is our daily calling – to grow in grace, to crave to know more about our Father, to enter into this most extraordinary walk in the Spirit. We are to:

..teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom {in spiritual things…(Colossians 3:16)

And we are to approach our Father and our walk with Him according to the leading of the Spirit:

…in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things… (Colossians 1:10)

Ruts and rots are boring and nonproductive – something our Father never is! Ruts and rots stifle growth and accept quiet mediocrity. Ruts and rots allow the attitudes and accepting standards of the world into our approach to God – both individually and corporately. We are not to allow the world’s standards and the world’s way of doing things to compromise, to infect, our growth in the Spirit and our accurate representation of God’s ways of doing and being right. The people of the world who have yet to know Christ need to see how gloriously “otherworldly” life with God is meant to be!

As we attend to the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we welcome in growth in our own spirits, we enhance the Body of Christ. We boldly speak of what we are learning and sensing and bless others. We demonstrate the peace and confidence and joy which is a direct result of life in the Spirit and enable and invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to see possibility! We revive others as we daily and steadily “grow and increase in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition] (Colossians 1:10). And energized and revived believers have a profound effect on the local church. We look for what the Word promises and are no longer satisfied with the “dictatorship of the customary” or the “psychology of the usual”.

Daily Renewal – Part Two

We continue addressing the vitally important, life-altering practice of speaking God’s Word and His Truth into our days -spiritual realities transforming the physical world. We renew our minds and our situations with the words we resolve to speak.

Keith Moore, pastor and teacher to the Body of Christ shared two powerful stories along these lines. Always remember that when you hear such testimonies- this is the will of God concerning you as well. for He is no respecter of persons and what the Truth of His Word has accomplished in one life it will accomplish for all through faith in His stated Word, His revealed will. (Ephesians 6:9)

A man came to Pastor Moore actually quite hopeless concerning his addiction to nicotine. He said that he had been prayed for many times to be able to stop smoking with no success. He had often thrown away packages of cigarettes only to go in search of them again. Pastor Moore counseled him to say, every time he bought a package of cigarettes, “I don’t need or want to smoke.” Every time he took out a cigarette and lit it up he was to say, “I don’t require nicotine any longer.” In between puffs he was to speak out, “I don’t need cigarettes.” With some surprise the man warily agreed to these instructions. After a few weeks he came up to Pastor Moore amazed and joyful, testifying that one day he went to have a cigarette and simply did not want it anymore. He was free! The words of his mouth changed his outcome.

Pastor Moore also tells of a daughter of God who was extremely ill with stomach cancer. She had been a missionary, teaching and preaching the Word of God in Central America, but was now “bedfast”, reduced to skin and bones. How disease robs us of our vitality and our work and witness for the Lord! This sister in the Lord could keep no food in her stomach; whatever she ate came right back up again. She was so weak she could barely be heard when she spoke. Pastor Moore leaned in close to hear her whisper, “I am so weak I can’t keep any food down.” He heard in his spirit, “Let the weak say I am strong.” (Joel 3:10) He told her to repeat after him, “I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”. Slowly at first, very slowly and almost inaudibly she spoke those words. For forty-five minutes he and she spoke those words until her voice could be heard outside by all who passed by, praising God and speaking in faith. Pastor Moore instructed her to say when she tried to eat and couldn’t keep it down, “I have a ravenous appetite. I eat in health and my body receives in health.” He further instructed her never again to say, “I am so weak and I can’t keep any food in my stomach.” Every time she threw up (in other words when visible physical symptoms still seemed to prevail) she was to wipe off her mouth and say, “I eat in health and my body receives in health.” Two or three months later she was up and about the work of the Lord, gaining weight and walking in health.

I too, along with so many others, have experienced a season of physical attack. For truly, that is how we must view such encounters. One brother in Christ has said, “I consider a splinter in my finger as an assassination attempt.” Smith Wigglesworth has said:

If it is only a finger or a tooth that aches, if it is only a corn on your foot that pinches you or anything in the body that detracts from the higher spiritual attainment, the kingdom of Heaven is dethroned to a degree. Disease or weakness or any distraction in you is a power of violence that can take the kingdom of Heaven in you by force. The same spiritual power that will reveal this to you will relieve you. On the authority of the Word of God, I maintain that “greater is He that is in you” (1 John 4:4) than any power of Satan that is around you. How much more would be done if you would inwardly claim your rights and deliver yourselves.” {Smith Wigglesworth Devotional}

For many months an infection requiring surgery kept me unable to walk. I was at first wheel chair bound and spent a month in hospital and at a rehabilitation facility, followed by months at home seated on the couch. During this process I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. From the very outset of this physical attack I knew two things – God is my Healer and I needed to speak that Truth every day, all day. I listened to healing tapes concerning healing. I read Keith Moore’s book on Healing. Gloria Copeland’s books on healing promises and God’s Will for You, and Bosworth’s Christ the Healer. I fed on God’s Truth concerning healing. I spoke God’s Truth concerning healing. I called my body strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I spoke to my pancreas – spirit taking authority over flesh – and said, “My pancreas is strong and healthy and it produces just the right amount of insulin for the nutrition I give my body.” I said, “Diabetes is a disease under the curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28:15, 61), but Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). I called my circulatory system strong and healthy and my blood pressure normal. I called my immune system strong in the Lord and healthy. In fact, for many weeks I daily went through an inventory of all my body parts and systems- brain, heart, lungs, digestive system, etc. – calling them healthy and exhorting them to perform their functions and to fulfill their purpose the way the Creator God made them to perform.

I came home from the hospital with medication for every physical issue the medical community had discovered. I checked my blood sugar four times each day as instructed and gave myself insulin shots, all the while saying that this was a short lived phenomenon. I checked my blood pressure every day, as instructed (there was a pill for that too). I was given sleeping pills and stomach acid pills and pills for nausea. I had no appetite (all the while calling my appetite strong and healthy) and often gagged and threw up due to the regimen of pills and the toll the infection had exacted from my physical well-being. I called my digestive system a healthy receiver of good food.

When I truly just wanted to share with others how awful I was feeling – weak, nauseous, and yes, sometimes discouraged –I spoke only what the Word says about me instead. I remembered a similar testimony from Barbara Arbo, a sister in Christ whose prayer ministry at The Sanctuary – a New England place of prayer in New Hampshire that is such a blessing to the Body of Christ. Barbara says that when well-meaning friends asked her how she was feeling after a serious and painful injury, her answer was always “I am getting better and better and stronger and stronger every day.” That became my mantra as well. Every day I spoke praises to God for His love and goodness to me and for the reality of and the manifestation of my full healing. When I weakened in this – and I did – my wonderful faith-filled daughter encouraged and exhorted me to stand on His promises only.

One by one, every issue and the associated medication for that issue was gone. My appetite is no longer compromised, no blood pressure medication is needed; no insulin is needed for my blood sugar levels are within normal range. I am the healed of the Lord!

Jesus said, “Take no thought” about physical issues. (Matthew 6:25). Consider not (Romans 4:19) the concerns and limitations and hindrances of the flesh. Speak only what God speaks about you.

When the church does not teach these Truths, the Body of Christ suffers and is weakened. We must encourage each other into mountain moving faith. We must exhort each other to “have faith in God constantly”. We must give each other firm footing in all of the promises of God. Take great care with what you are hearing and speaking.

And He said to them, “Be careful what you are hearing. The measure {of thought and study} you give {to the truth you hear} will be the measure {of virtue and knowledge} that comes back to you – and more {besides} will be given to you who hear. (Mark 4:24)

Separate and Set Apart

What separates the church of Jesus Christ, the believing church, the obedient and set apart church, from the attitudes and beliefs of the world around us; the watered-down morality and compromising, politically correct standards of the world system within which we live? Throughout church history, right up until the present day, there have been those who mistakenly, or intentionally, negatively impact the power of the Gospel in the lives of individuals, entire congregations, or large segments of the Christian community.

For the time is coming when {people} will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction. but, having ears itching {for something pleasant and gratifying} they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold. And will
turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

…because of false brethren (some men who were Christian in name only) who had been secretly smuggled in {to the Christian brotherhood}; they had slipped in to spy on our liberty and the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might again bring us into bondage. (Galatians 2:4)

In Revelation 2:13-15, speaking to the church at Pergamum, Jesus warns of believers “clinging to the teaching of Balaam…” and “to the teaching of the Nicolaitans” both serious stumbling blocks to their faith walk. We are to cling to and hold fast to His Name and to the standard of set-apart holiness that God requires. We are to stand uncompromisingly on “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The enemy will always attempt to infiltrate, deceive, and overcome the power and authority of the church. He sows distraction to the flesh, “the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit”.(Romans 8:3 – Amplified) Today, in this present end-times climate, this is profoundly important – impacting our faith walk and our set apart heart before God as the rapture approaches and Jesus returns for the church.

I distinctly remember hearing a pastor, whose walk before the Lord I greatly trust and admire, prefacing his teaching on end-times prophecy saying that he was at first reluctantly obedient to preach the message because he did not want to be known as a “prophecy nut”. The Holy Spirit, he said, had clearly led him to teach on the subject, but he recognized the reluctance and aversion many of his listeners had to these particular biblical truths.

I approached this writing with similar concerns. The purity and the sanctity of Christ’s church in these last days is the issue which so many do not want to hear. Jesus warned His disciples to be on the lookout and beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:11); beware of rules and traditions and teachings that would compromise and even nullify the Word of God; “depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect”. (Matthew 15:6)

Our Lord Jesus:

…loved the church and gave Himself up for her. So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things {that she might be holy and faultless}. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Satan’s initial purpose is to keep people blinded concerning their need for God – to keep them from submitting to the Lordship of Christ. Failing that in the lives of many, his Plan B is to disprove the Word in a believer’s life; to so weaken Bible Truths and our Father’s covenant promises that entire churches operate within the parameters of a compromised Gospel. Millions of Christians around the world – saved and Heaven-bound – have no idea of the authority and blessed life that is theirs in Christ. The world system we live in has, to a large extent, infiltrated the church. The warning of 2 Corinthians 2:11seems turned upside down. For many do not seem aware of Satan’s tactics; they appear “ignorant of his wiles and intentions” and he is gaining an advantage over them.

Paul’s letter to Timothy sets the right standard:

Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in {all} the faith and love which are for us in Christ Jesus. Guard and keep {with the greatest care} the precious and excellent adapted Truth which has been entrusted {to you}, by the {help of the} Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us.(2 Timothy 1:13-14)

When you see it in the Word, expect it in your church. So many receive Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. What is the difference? Savior is what He accomplished for us. Lord is the position He is meant to hold in our lives.

“Too often the church today has offered a good message of salvation apart from Lordship. For the sake of not deceiving people, for the sake of any who might otherwise someday hear ‘depart from Me'{Matthew 7:23}, for the sake of the strength of the church, for the sake of truly walking in the blessings of God, let’s forsake our inadequate ‘good’ Gospel message and return to the tree of life – the biblical message of salvation.” (John Bevere – Good or God?)

Purposing to Grow

I recently read an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer entitled Rut, Rot, or Revival in which he speaks of the “dictatorship of the customary” and the “psychology of the usual”. These issues were purposefully directed to the sometimes woeful state of the Body of Christ in relation to our incorrect representation of life in Christ. He correctly asserts that we are often in danger of slumbering in our complacency (rut), we are in a state of satisfied sameness (rot), and we have gratefully accepted comfortable status quo. That hardly demonstrates:

…constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18

How can the worldwide Body of Christ effectively offer to the lost the powerful ministry of reconciliation back to God when we are hardly alive ourselves to the energizing ministry of the Holy Spirit? Smith Wigglesworth has suggested that if you are not daily growing in the things of God than you are in a back-slidden state! While some may consider that an overstatement, it is, in fact the call of our Father through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18), “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Luke 1:30 (Amplified) extends the meaning of grace with the words “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness”. That’s what our Abba extends to us on a daily basis. There is never ending growth in God. We are never finished!! There is always more to know, to learn, to become.

…He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].
Isaiah 50:4

As members of the Body of Christ that is our daily calling – to grow in grace, to crave to know more about our Father, to enter into this most extraordinary walk in the Spirit. Ruts and rots are boring and nonproductive – something our Father never is! Ruts and rots stifle growth and accept quiet mediocrity. As we attend to the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we welcome in growth in our own spirits, we enhance the Body of Christ. We speak of what we are learning and sensing and bless others. We demonstrate the peace and confidence and joy which is a direct result of life in the Spirit and enable and invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to see possibility! We revive others as we daily and steadily “grow and increase in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition] (Colossians 1:10).And energized and revived believers have a profound effect on the local church. We look for what the Word promises and are no longer satisfied with the “dictatorship of the customary” or the “psychology of the usual”.

The Greatest Conversation

I have often heard that the purposeful reading of classical literature can be referred to as taking part in “The Great Conversation”.   Ideas and philosophies expressed through the written word over the centuries evolve and blend; food for thought and deep pondering are offered to us by authors reflecting the issues and societal thinking of their own period of history.  Those who thoughtfully and purposefully enter into this “Great Conversation” recognize that expressed wisdom through the written word is not only relegated to today’s writers.

That being the case, it would also be true that Christian writers who have penned works throughout the centuries are taking part in “The Greatest Conversation”!  We have so many writers today who bless and inform our faith walk as they obediently write, led by the teaching of the Holy Spirit: John and Lisa Bevere, Gloria and Kenneth Copeland, Lynne Hammond, Joyce Meyers, Rick Renner, to name but a few.   (See Recommended Reading List) But the light of God’s wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit to write is evident throughout the Church Age.  Those who have come before, those who have, in obedience, written down the counsel of the Lord have much to teach us if we will willingly enter in to this greatest of all conversations – C.S. Lewis, William Wilberforce, Lillian Yeomans, Hannah Whitall Smith, F.F. Bosworth and so many others have obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit to bless the Body of Christ with their writings.  I have discovered such wealth here.  Whether a single sentence or an extended treatise, they offer food for my spirit – words that grow me in my faith.

William Wilberforce in Real Christianity writes powerfully of lukewarm faith, Rev. Will Harney encourages the Body of Christ toward unshakeable faith and how to achieve it in  Praying Clear Through, and in Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis offers a clear and concise proof for the Christian faith.  Lewis wrote in the 1940’s, Harney in 1915 and Wilberforce in 1797.  Hannah Whitall Smith  encourages us to walk daily in the joy of the Lord in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life published in 1875.  Lillian Yeoman’s and F.F. Bosworth , both now home with the Lord, give testimony and speak so powerfully of the Gospel concerning healing.

Each of these writers “sought acceptable words, even to write down rightly words of truth or correct sentiment” (Ecclesiastes 12:10).  Their works were ” written to admonish us and fit us for right action by good instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11).  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ whose words still instruct us.  And time is of no relevance as they hold conversation with us if we will seek out their works and honor them with our attention.