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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Hope of His Calling

2Co 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

2Co 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

2Co 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Do not misunderstand God is fully aware of the pressure that is squeezing many of His children mentally right now. There is a pressure unlike any previously known and the intensity is increasing. Many saints are struggling with anguish, burdened down, many are enduring persecution, or some form of tribulation. This will weigh you down, make you feel heavy with despair and cause you to struggle with depression, even. It will truly make you wonder about the purpose of your life, make you feel like your life isn't amounting to much, and seems so fruitless, so pointless, how could God ever be satisfied? Have you caught yourself wondering why, Lord? Of course the enemy will be right there to whisper God is mad at you. He'll throw your failures in your face, constantly seeking to harass and accuse. Why does God allow these things into our lives, those of us who love Him and truly desire to know Him and live for His glory, not for self?

I think Paul tells us in the next two verses. The word for sentence in verse 9 means answer. There is a judicial answer for the problem. There is something in us that has been sentenced to death-and that is self will-it has to die and God will allow things to press and come against us so we will learn that we cannot trust in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but only in God who once we are dead to ourselves, (no longer relying on or looking to please self) is well able to raise us up and make good use of our lives. Just as He rescued us from sin, and darkness, which truly was an awful death, He is well able to deliver us and will deliver those who trust in Him. No matter how it looks right now, no matter how you feel right now, He loves His people, and is working things out for their good and His glory. And He will yet deliver us. Think about what He delivered you from in the beginning. Look at how much your thinking, your desires, your life has been changed since He saved you. He saved us from our sins, but He wants that self will pressed out of us. Why does He want to empty us of self? He has something better to pour in us in its place.

Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

He can never give this kind of revelation, He can never have this kind of close fellowship with a carnal person. What will happen to a saint of God who gets a divine understanding of the Lord? When He manifests Himself to you, and reveals to you more of who He is then you are knowing Him yourself-you are learning Him. Intimately. As you begin to have this kind of deeper fellowship with Him, your faith is strengthened, your purpose in life is reaffirmed, redefined, and transformed. Now your focus has moved away from self and to HIM. When He begins to manifest His presence in your life, and open His Word to you more, drawing you in deeper, it's a thrilling thing. That aching longing deep in your soul that nothing around you satisfies, begins to find fulfillment in HIM alone as it was meant to do. In the knowledge and presence of this awesome God is fullness of joy. His precious Holy Spirit is working to this end. No matter what is wrong now, or how bad it may look, He wants to minister the cure to His people-His presence, and our divinely given awareness of His presence and who He is. He wants to reveal to us more of Himself. He wants us to understand and consider the hope or expectation of His calling which is an invitation. His calling us is His inviting us to something much better, much greater than what we have. He has such great richness, there is such a majesty about Him, and He has a glorious possession held in store for the saints, (the blameless, the consecrated, those who are HIS). What is that Possession? I believe it is His Beloved Son, the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Remember, beloved, many are called but few are chosen. If we don't yield to the stripping and pressing process, we won't be chosen. He has to strip away all the chaff of the carnal and worldly thinking, and living. He wants to replace it with spiritual understanding, spiritual thinking and living, and dependence on God, not self or the world. What is the hope of His calling? The expectation of this invitation God has given us? It is in His Son. Our life is in His Son.

Now there is something else we must know as well....He wants us to know the exceeding magnitude of His power-His mighty ability freely extended toward us who have faith in Him, who are committed to Him, and know that HE ALONE is our hope, our security. As long as we try to do it ourselves, then God will allow things to move against that to tear down that reliance on and confidence in self. If He can't fix it, it can't be fixed. If He started it, He will finish it. He that has begun a good work in you will continue to perform that work until it is finished, if you will allow Him to. That requires yielding to His leadership. And He has to give the grace, the understanding, and Holy Ghost power to do this.

This kind of power He has already shown us when Jesus Christ was crucified, put to death, and the power of Almighty God working in Him raised Him from the dead and elevated Him to the throne in heaven. He rules over all, that which was, which is, and which is to come. Hallelujah!

Col 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Col 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Col 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

I know I was in terrible darkness until He opened the door! You never realize how awful that darkness is until you see the Light. Let us pray this way for one another, beloved. Pray the Lord of glory will open our spiritual eyes and ears and that we may be fully aware of His will for our lives, with a godly wisdom and spiritual understanding. That we no longer be carnal in our thinking or living. That we can mentally put the truth He reveals to us together-the pieces of the puzzle coming together so we can see the BIG picture-we can see beyond ourselves to His greater purpose. That we might live a life worthy of Him, pleasing and fertile-so His life is reproduced in us, no matter what work or labor we do, that we are continually being enlarged by Him in the recognition of Him, intimately knowing Him. That intimate fellowship produces a solid faith in us, which will enable and strengthen us, with His mighty power, that dunamis (G1411) power, that works the miraculous-that which only God can do. This will help us endure, patiently waiting for the completion of all things-when He comes for us. It all depends on Him revealing Himself to us. He can't do that if we don't meet with Him in prayer, if we don't pick up our Bibles and begin to dig in, and make time to get alone with God. We need to be filled with His Holy Spirit, we need to know HIM for ourselves, and we need to be depending on HIM and not ourselves. God help us once again to know how to tarry before Your presence, to be willing to tarry and not leave until we get filled. Help us be willing to put off any thing and every thing but You.

Dan 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

There is a temptation to want to prevent suffering, to give in to the desires of ourselves, and indulge ourselves. We need to realize that voice is an enemy of what God wants to do for and give His people. Don't be corrupted by a smooth voice whispering you don't have to go to the cross. You don't have to deny yourself. He did it for you. But we must pick up ours and carry it and follow His example. In this time we live in there is a heavy sense of impending disaster. People everywhere are struggling, the only difference is some have the Holy Ghost in them, and the Word of God is their foundation. If we are on the Rock, built on His Word, and on His promise, no matter what storm hits, we will not go under. Remember, when Peter stepped out on that raging sea, as long as He kept His eyes focused on the Lord, He did not sink.

Those who continually meditate on Him, His Word, and stay in close contact with the Holy Spirit, acknowledging His presence in themselves, communing with Him, hungering to know Him, He will reveal Himself. What He reveals will strengthen, and edify and build us up. It will always leave us longing for more of Christ and less of self. You can reach a place in God where the voices of this world, the things of this world, the temporary pleasures of this world no longer hold any fascination for you. God can be and wants to become so real to you that these things lose their grip on you. When what you read in His Word is more real to your heart than what you see and hear in this world, you have moved into a heavenly place reserved for those who are dead and dying to self. Why does self have to die? Oh, what an awful thing to say, if you don't understand the recompense and the reward! For the carnal mind is enmity (HOSTILE) against God. That is why it has to die. It will never yield to God. It has to be denied. That nature in us that wants to please only itself regardless of the cost to others, to God, it has to be crucified.

Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

I am learning, this is how the Holy Spirit is working in me. Through His power and His love, He draws me to dig into His Word, to seek a greater understanding of this lovely and all powerful Christ who gave Himself for me, so that I might give myself to Him and for Him, and in knowing HIM, in seeing Him, through eyes of faith, through divine revelation, I hunger for more of Him and less of me. In this way, the Holy Spirit, by revealing Christ to me, more and more, creates the desire to give up self and embrace Christ, to do His will, regardless of the cost, and He is the power and ability of God in me to see this accomplished. Hallelujah.

Now, if God had never allowed me to be pressed, troubled, afflicted, so I would be stripped of confidence in self and human ability, see what I would miss out on? He wants to strip us of filthy rags of self and cover us with His glorious presence, with His glorious truth! Nothing is worth missing out on knowing Him! He is our exceeding great reward and our shield!

See Him, being pressed by a crowd of people, on His way to raise a dead girl, and you see that trembling, fearful, and very ill woman pressing through a crowd, pressing through many voices, much opposition, just to touch the hem of His garment. She's lived like an outcast for 12 long years, lost everything but nothing has brought relief. See her trembling fingers touch the very part of His garment that was put there in remembrance of the law that marked her as unclean. See sin, and sickness touch holiness and be cleansed!! See Him stop and turn and fasten His wondrous eyes on Her, as she tries to slip unnoticed back into the crowd. See her fearful eyes lock with His as He says "Who touched Me?" She knows He's not going anywhere. She's exposed. Her heart is pounding like a frightened rabbit's, but she comes forward, completely exposed and vulnerable. Oh, she got healed, immediately, but there was something else she needed. See Him take away the reproach of 12 long years of living as one unclean, a social outcast. See Him recognize that pain of being ostracized. Hear Him speak to her "Daughter, be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole." What a lovely heart for us He has! See Him as He is and desire Him! Love Him! This is what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us! He wants us to know who this wonderful Christ is! Our lives will be revolutionized! We will never be the same. We will no longer be content to live mediocre, barely getting by lives. We will no longer feel like we are barely hanging on when we are holding His unchanging Hand and we KNOW IT! See Him and Love HIM! See His mercy and praise Him! He is so worthy!!!! Glory to GOD!! He will not fail you, neither will He forsake you! The Perfect One who lives in you will make you perfect-complete in HIM. You stand in God's sight, complete in Him, but He wants to make that finished work a reality in you now. It doesn't happen overnight, but each yielding of your will to His is a step toward that perfection. That completion.

He is circumcising our hearts, cutting us off from that tendency to live by self rule. Be encouraged Beloved, the stripping process is very unpleasant and painful, but God knows what He is doing, and doesn't delegate this task to another. No, He is right there, doing this Himself. That is in itself a declaration of His love. He will not entrust such a personal, painful process to one of His angels. He does this Himself-through the power of His Holy Spirit. He will not leave you alone, defenseless and wounded and raw, having been stripped. No, He wants to replace that confidence in self, with the kind of faith and peace that comes from intimacy with Him. Sharing His heart, and learning who He is, how He thinks, and what He thinks. Don't believe the lie of the devil that what you are going through is God's judgment because He is displeased! God knows your heart, He knows if you truly desire Him, and if you hunger and thirst after righteousness! He wants to fill you! He has to empty you first. Nothing must be allowed to remain that would hinder the free flowing river of living water. He wants to pour it in us that it may flow freely out of us to others. He is a hands on God, Beloved. Let this truth comfort you today, and pray this truth be real to your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all being pressed, being afflicted, and things are growing darker by the day-but if we yield to God, He will trim the chaff off us and we will shine brightly in this dark hour. He wants us to shine so the lost can see and come and be saved. Let us be found willing vessels, submitting to the Refiner's fire, so we can be purified, and shine brightly to the praise of His glory. Knowing Him for yourself will produce a confident faith and peace that is never dependent on circumstances-and never goes unnoticed by the lost. In our tribulation, He is our Rock, our Refuge, an ever present Help in an increasingly dark and evil world.

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