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|Written by drk|
|Saturday, 21 March 2009 16:53|
Dr. Kluane Spake
è You’re already raised up to live in a God-given life that’s not just for later – but for now.
Jesus gives His holiness to the believers that He maintains. This means believers can identify with Him and enjoy conscious and eternal fellowship with Him. In the book of John, Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He was the Living Water, “If you drink of me, you’ll never thirst again.” In other words He said, I’m alive. If you drink of Me, then everything in Me is going to cause everything in you to be alive. Imagine His water coming into your body and flowing into every cell. When you understand salvation, He becomes Christ IN you —the fountain within. (Your glass is full; He fills you.) Salvation flows as perpetual internal Living Water IN you.
Notice that by filling a glass with water, there’s no space for anything else. This is called the law of displacement: No two substances can fill the exact same space at the same time. You and I must empty ourselves and make room for Him. Remember that God didn’t hide His glory from us, but He hid it within in order to have holy fellowship (koininea) with us.
This interior process creates the possibility for a new creation in Christ Jesus, who sits beside His throne. Yes, the good news resounds; Jesus believes in you. His life shows you the way back to the Father. Your salvation is supposed to restore everything lost in the fall.
The Master Teacher’s commission is to convict the world of sin. Then, after the believer is born again, the Holy Spirit assists them in their personal transformation into the (holy) image of God. Like we said, getting born again is not the end of the road, but the beginning. The Holy Spirit comes, not just for us to have a one-time experience long ago, but also to consecrate us NOW. This continuing work of the Holy Spirit reduces the ritual that has stolen our power, and escorts us to personal holiness.
This book leads us from the place God found us, to where He wants us to be. Theologians call this process Progressive Sanctification (the working to the outside, that which Jesus already put on the inside). Progressive Sanctification (which can also be called transition or transformation) is the act of passing from one condition, or from one place to another.
The Spirit of Truth accompanies and leads us into all truth.[i] He points to Jesus and reminds us of His words. He comes “To our aid and bears us up in our weakness.”[ii] He helps develop the giftings within us for every aspect of life. This Third Aspect of God, the Holy Spirit, came from heaven to literally immerse us in the nature of God.”[iii] This transformation is granted only to those who choose to continue their approach toward the Holy God. Great frustration comes into the lives of those who refuse to deal with this transition.
Literally thousands of Christians live their lives without the overflow of the Holy Spirit, deciding to reject this uncomfortable place of transformation. They look for doctrines to justify their unwillingness to be immersed and totally hidden in the deep things of God.[iv] But, becoming hidden IN Him remains the only answer. 1 John 3:2 says that when Jesus returns again you’ll see Him because you shall be like Him. This precise job of the Holy Ghost conforms you into a new kingdom of His likeness.
Without being impassioned with the solitary goal to know the Lord, you’ll never see Him when He returns – because you won’t be like Him. Know this for sure, you can’t accomplish holiness on your own. Sanctification isn’t completed by you, but rather worked in you, as you yield to the work of the Spirit. It’s your choice:[v]
1. You can be accurately led by the Holy Spirit only in proportion to your understanding and knowledge of the Word (Is. 11:2).
2. It’s not enough to hear the Word, it must be understood, and acted upon (Jn. 15:26).
3. Wisdom and knowledge will be the strength of your salvation (Is. 33:6).
4. Once revelation comes, you must then become the doer that reproduces it.
5. The doing brings stability.[vi]
So you see, God’s interest isn’t just taking you to heaven, nor necessarily changing your situation. No, His intention was and is to change your temperament and your wicked ways. This goal remains unattainable without your cooperation and free choice.
From this vantage, can you see that this concept expands from a fountain to rivers? While the cross puts Christ in me, the Holy Spirit puts me in Christ. That deluge only comes when you’re submerged IN CHRIST. (Picture my filled glass now immersed and unseen in the river of water.)
That river approaches our desert place where life’s hazards have laid us bare, deadened in feeling, lifeless in plans, yearning for an oasis of answers. Yes, the river of the Holy Ghost comes to unearth our dry-bones – once alone and disconnected – long exposed to the wild and parching heat. There in that waterless place where not even a tear remained, the Spirit of the Holy God hovers to spring forth with that hidden rushing current that submerges us into His nearness.[vii] Isaiah foretold these rivers, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”[viii]
è Jesus reigns on the throne of my heart: the river under God’s throne runs in me.
The Holy Spirit lives in us, comes upon us, and flows out of us – maintaining purity. Moving and deliberately going somewhere… Out of that once dry and thirsty land (my wilderness), my little stream mingles with yours -- until our separate images can no longer be found in that great River. Our lives rise and flood unhindered through uncharted seasons of grace that echo in their own time, converging in uncharted cycles that reverberate over and over again with endless possibilities.
The current of this raging river effortlessly draws us into the inner-complexity of ebb and flow, moving too swiftly for our scarlet pasts strewn with impurities to remain. It powerfully and forcefully breaks through all those long-standing logjams, rushing to irrigate the parched fields of our famished minds. Without deviation from the pre-set course, giftedness flows -- out of me, over to you, and then back again – making its way through the forgotten wastelands, hastening to touch humanity with an overflowing acceptance of love that evokes new life.
· Reading about Christ being “in us,” and our being “in Christ” are concepts that most of us still probably don’t completely comprehend. In modern speech, the preposition in usually designates a place, for example, “I’m in the yard, or he’s in the car.” But, in this instance, “IN” primarily indicates a partnership. But even a deeper significance exists. In the original language this phrase means, “one with Christ.” Not just being in the same place with Jesus -- but where there were two of us, now there’s just one. Just as the separate elements of hydrogen and oxygen when combined properly becomes water, now you become one “in Christ,” united to Him in an indissoluble union. Just like copper and zinc combine to make the new alloy of brass, you fuse inseparably with Jesus.[ix]
Like Elijah, it’s time to move from the dried brook of Cherith on to the roaring torrent of the river Kishon (1 Kings 18:40, Ps. 83:9). Jump in! Stay until your vision bursts from drought to rivers. Ezekiel 47 tells that the steadily deepening river sustains life. My friend, let the waters flow. If you don’t have living rivers -- then GET IN HIM. Then, seek God until that gushing river turns into the ocean.
As we’ve seen, the process of holiness can be viewed as instantaneous (positional) and ongoing (progressive). We are sanctified by the following ways:
1. By Jesus Christ Hebrews 10:10
2. By the Holy Spirit 2 Thessalonians 2:13
3. By the Word of God John 15:3
4. By faith Acts 26:18
5. By prayer Psalms 51:10
6. By self-purging 2 Timothy 2:22[x]
Positional sanctification states that you are holy because God gave you His holiness. The believer bears His name, and stands as beneficiary of His will. God alone puts holiness inside. “For it is (that same) God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Who does the working in us? Say, “God does.”
è You aren’t holy because you don’t touch the unclean, you’re holy because the One Who is clean has touched you.
On the other hand, Progressive sanctification is an on-going process. If the believer is impeded by the old nature, he only knows this inheritance as mental assent and yet never experiences the promise. It’s not that we lack vision and ideas, but we seem to be unable to present them into a continuing reality. Philippians 2:12 states, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
This “working out” isn’t bodily exercise nor an external add on, but the continual capturing of a prize. Who does the working out? Say, “I do.” Working out means to “make it manifest” from the inside out. This process of working your salvation from the inside to the outside; makes it manifest (shows) to others. This “working out” is the logical consequence -- you work out what God works in.[xi]
Ah, so here in 1st Chronicles 15:12 comes the necessary command, “...Sanctify yourselves...” This ongoing process of perfection (the journey through the wilderness on the highway) is accomplished within you. When you start acting holy – that’s ongoing progressive sanctification. You work out your own salvation because you’re a co-laborer with God (1 Cor. 3:9). You’ll never demonstrate this indwelling Holiness without choosing to walk in it. Remember that adjusting your personality is your free-will choice.
è Progressive sanctification demands your cooperation and repentance.
Like a Malamute Husky in front of the sled – you’ve excitedly wanted to run. For such a long time you’ve been pulling, yipping, and jerking, unable to move; not realizing the sled brake was set. Meanwhile, the owner has been loading the sled with containers of supplies and provisions for winter. “Stay, you huskies,” the driver shouts as he steadies the load, “stay, until it’s time.”
At last the time comes. A cool breath shoots forward as the long awaited whistle pierces the moonlit darkness. Then dawn splits the sky. The driver tips his foot to release the brake. “Mush” he roars, as you strain your eyes into the daybreak -- only to see that no one has ever gone this way before. And this time when you pull, the sled moves forward. The reddened sun kisses the horizon and smears behind the pines, enlightening your fresh path through the blushing snowdrifts.
Gliding sled-runners sing to your eager stride, while you fit into an easy gait, prancing in rhythm with those who are harnessed by your side. The Driver knows where to go. He steers by leaning on the runners one way or the other, and you respond to his slightest movement. His body bends a long shadow that advances with precise direction toward the nations – carrying a cache of provision and warmth for the winter.
With perfect dramatic timing, the rising sun turns the world to gold. Then unexpectedly, the wind flaps His large coat like a banner, allowing you a momentary glimpse into the dim opening of the hood. Vaguely you sense the impression of the Driver’s face -- and suddenly there’s an indescribable passion to look right into His piercing eyes. “Run with Me,” the Driver prods, “for I’ve indeed prepared you and enabled you to finish the race...”
Your panting mouth puffs crisp air, as you breathlessly chase the wind into your face. Then day turns to night and then to day, as you mark the way -- leaving leaping paw prints.
Scientists say that Aurora Borealis makes no sound… but they just haven’t heard it move in the stillness. Well, something makes a sound, at least to a child when dusk falls early in the gray northern sky. As a youth, I would pause in my sadness to watch the colorful aurora swoosh through the star blazed sky overhead. The sounds of the darkness and icy wind cracked and creaked aloud against gnarled bare branches, as teardrops traced silvered lines upon my face, “God are you there?” I’d plead. “If you are, then show me ... show me.” Many times in my childhood, I laid on the deck, listening to the Arctic night, while my frozen feelings desperately ached to find reality.
It wasn’t easy being raised an atheist. Whenever I’d get too serious about going to church, my dad would send me on a “trip to visit relatives.” In spite of this influence, I continued searching. At the age of ten, I was baptized at a little neighborhood church. Once again, Dad didn’t lecture or yell at me. Instead, he once again sent me on another sudden and much longer “trip.”
Raised in an environment where Vulcan-like parents seemed not to care, this unresolved quest for answers became a lifetime of constant childhood questions: “Why am I alive? What’s life all about? What is time?” That hunger led to unknown hidden places where nobody else could take me. Looking up for a sky where there would be no more cold, no loneliness, no pain. There, He drew me close, comforted me, affirmed me, and disclosed that I was His child of a new day -- revealed for a purpose -- born to live. But how?
Time, in human perspective, turns a season from young to old; from seeds strewn in crusty earth to a harvest that yields amid frosty leaves. Time can be measured by asking, “How old are you? When did you move here?” But old age isn’t a sign of favor. If you live without God to be 102 -- it’s still all vanity. Carl Sandburg said that time is a coin of life, the only one you have, and only you decide how to spend it. Don’t let someone else spend it for you. And don’t waste time driving around in circles all over your wilderness, when you can drive through it.
You know, everything involves time. If you come to church two hours late, it’s over. Airplanes leave without you. Babies are born in their own time. Calculations blur with constant activity. Do you remember when you were big enough to drive? Or old enough to go to school? Why do the days go by so much faster when you get older? Where did the day go?
While there was yet nothingness, out on the niche of nowhere, before the foundation of the world, the counsel of the Godhead determined the plan for humankind. This happened before there were several hundred thousand million suns in our immeasurable galaxy alone. There, Jesus was slain (Rev.13:8) -- long before the beginning of our measured time, before the Fall, and before the cross. Redemption was built into the beginning. Imagine, before our little world was hurled into space, God (in His foreknowledge) knew you and wrote your name in the Lamb’s book of life.
While God exists from everlasting to everlasting, humans have a definite beginning, but no end. We’ve been talking about this life, describing it as a journey in time from that beginning of birth to forever. Tragically, unless people make Godly choices, the terrifying sentence of eternal damnation comes upon them as a result of the Fall.
Our lifetime supplies the opportunity to decide if that eternity will be eternal life or eternal death. What do you choose? It’s difficult to comprehend that our eternal destiny endlessly continues, with or without God’s presence. The plan of God or going our own way? Whether we think it’s fair or not doesn’t change the truth -- there’s no temporary punishment or purgatory where we can change our mind. The Bible speaks unquestionably about a death of continuous agony, unchangeableness, and never-ending separation from God.
The only hope… we can choose eternal life -- if we want it. The heartbeat of time allows each of us to choose which eternal nature will endure. That decision permanently affects our eternity. We obtain the constant enduring God-given life when we enter into Him. Salvation gives (the God kind of) life to our future. Becoming “born again” begins our new LIFE, because God gives everlasting life from that point onward.
Ecclesiastes 8 says that a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment. Successful lives depend on ordering our days and accomplishing our duties. Unless we determine the use of our time, interruptions can become the driving force of our lives. Sometimes the Eternal Lord has to interrupt our busy schedule and breaks in for some time with us. However….
è We always seem to find time for what we really want to do.
Just think about the wonder of being alive. You haven’t always been. But now, seemingly out of nowhere, you’ve come to this earth and been given time to form your life. Why use that precious commodity worrying about what others think, how to pay bills, or what kind of car to drive? Like the old slogan goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
The Bible says that life is like a shadow, a shuttle that is swifter than a runner. The span of our years vanishes like a vapor, a breath, and a haze.[xii] The frightening dynamic within our modern era is that most of our life passes on the treadmill of accelerating momentum, responding to the so-called flight-or-fight feelings, where we ambitiously strive for productivity. Somehow, by getting so wrapped up with the sense of urgency about our own schedules, we forget that God views this world from the vantage of eternity. When we finally come to our senses, we realize that the best way to enhance the quality of our lives is to enjoy the time we have. We want to put the brakes on our frantic striving and slow ourselves down enough to hear the soothing voice of the Spirit.
Living a separated life, John the Baptist heard the Word of the Lord (Luke 3:2). He understood the coming of the Lord and “prepared the way.” Like John the Baptist, you and I have been selected to live in a transitional desert time between eras, midway between a change of generations. Some call this end-time the “hinge of history,” or the “cosmic divide.” Once again we remember that this momentous time yields unparalleled opportunities to prepare the way for the second coming of the King.[xiii]
What will you do between the time now and when the Lord Jesus returns for His church? You need to make plans for your time on earth in order to fulfill your assignment. You’re alive to gather your inheritance – and that’s not golden streets and pearly gates, but a portion of His name. God didn’t intend for you to have a superficial existence, but one that manifests itself in a truly inspired identity. His wonderful plan produces meaning, adventure, and joy.
He’s made you just like you’re supposed to be, and He’s going to use you in your surroundings where you are, where you live, and where you work. The Holy Spirit waits to enable you to accomplish His plan. Think about it, your present interval of life is a gift of time in which you make permanent decisions for eternity, where time never ends -- for eons of timelessness.
The purpose of your life determines the length of your life (there is a time to every purpose under heaven). Like Esther, you’ve come out of timelessness into the kingdom for such an extraordinary time as this.[xiv] You have purpose in life, no matter who you are, no matter how you were conceived. From this awareness, a fundamental principle formulates: You were purposefully created to live in this unprecedented interval of momentous change and anticipation.
1. God knew you before you were born.
2. He has a plan for you. You’re born exactly when and where God wanted. You’re purposefully alive at this scheduled and precise time.
3. God gives you this time to have an opportunity to transform your mind and become everything you were created to be.
4. God commits to perfect that which concerns you. You don’t do it, you agree to cooperate with Him.
5. Now’s the time to change.
6. Time is given to obey God’s instructions, to possess the promises, and to destroy the enemies of your soul.
7. This lifetime provides an opportunity to be transformed. Why waste time giving attention to your trials, when you can seize the opportunity to serve God.
8. The misuse of time is a sin.
9. The purpose of your life is to proclaim the glory of God, and to demonstrate His characteristics to the world.
10. Bible promises are not for the sweet by and by, but for you, NOW, in this lifetime.
è You were born and born again at a precise time designed especially for you.
Have you ever wondered how you as a Christian will be judged Not on how gifted you are but how consecrated. Not whether you’re saved or not -- but did you choose life? Did you bury your talents or did you use them?[xv] Did you accomplish your potential, or did you cop out and go to bed? You have well chosen eternity with God, but what about now? As a believer, you should walk in that everlasting life –right now, in this world – and that LIFE should be an actual possession. Don’t just talk about it. Understand that you can’t possess that precious legacy unless you’re mature enough to grasp it.
Time will never come this way again. Now, it’s time. The hour has come that all ages have long awaited, “the end of the age,”[xvi] the time for the glory of God to cover the earth. Soon, our present hopeless world will be forcefully transformed and believers will be saturated with His eternal resurrection nature. As we look through the lens of prophetic anticipation, we SEE believers, pregnant with the Word and Its eternal purposes, shine forth His glory. Finding our part in this plan completes the gigantic puzzle. And then we SEE that God’s time differs from ours.
In the guise of human form, Jesus stepped out of eternity and into our world of time. At the age of thirty, Jesus began His ministry. While here, for three years He showed us how to walk in this world, but not be a part of it. In three days He defeated death, hell, and the grave. Now He lives forever – time without end.
Jesus lived in a world measured by time, but He demonstrated how to minister within the Father’s time that’s unbounded by 24-hour-a-day concepts. We need to find His timing. Let me emphasize that accurate and penetrating ministry depends on us well discerning God’s timing.
· Keep in mind that temporal means: limited by time, brief, transient, vanishing, momentary, fading, and passing – like fads, fashions, hem lines, that which is fleeting, politically correct, and accommodating to society. Whereas, eternal means: everlasting, unshakable, deathless, durable, and never momentary. Eternal things could include revelations, dreams, and insights.
1. The reckoning of temporal time hangs on two events: the birth of Jesus (BC), and His death (AD). All measured time will end with His perusia (the brightness of His coming again). All history fits within this reference.
2. Out of the universe of His timelessness, this boundless God of all eternity sets you within a current framework and creates every action pertaining to your life to be referenced within your concept of time. The Divine Creator relates to your home, city, and nation in terms that you already understand... time.
3. In many ways, time defines and boundaries your life (you’re limited by time). Temporal life ticks away. By the time you read this book, I may not be able to remember when I wrote it.
4. Not merely a collection of minutes, hours, days and years, life becomes a series of interconnected moments – mountain tops and valleys that you cross along your journey. These accumulated moments form who you are. You need to make your minutes count.
5. Future prophecies concern upcoming events for these last days. The history of the world is set by God. As David said, “Our times are in His hands.” Selah.[xvii]
6. You can transcend time by using Biblical principles and prophetic moments to direct the future. You can also, by transforming the mind, change the expectations of your future.
7. As you navigate life’s mazes, you begin to disentangle the self-destructive perceptions and apply life-giving ones instead. You’ve been given time to change. Like the old hymn goes, “Take time to be Holy, think oft of His words.”
As the end of our temporal earthly time rapidly advances, we realize that Biblical predictions are coming to pass. Surely you’ve noticed that all the prophetic signs are lining up -- just like the lights on the airport runway align so that the pilot can discern how and where to land the plane. Jesus is coming again. Soon.
Romans 13:11 says that now is high time to awaken out of the darkened corridors of sleep. Life in the Spirit realm has a timing. To accurately function in the Spirit, you need to know when to speak with unction and force. You don’t want to jabber, but give a pertinent Word in due season.
The more we become transformed the more clearly we see our purposes. Soon, Jesus will return and the Body of Christ will step into eternity. How we get along in the eternal holy Kingdom depends upon how well we travel this journey through our lifetime.[xviii] Today, the Lord would speak to you and say, “I want your time. I want you to learn to be holy.”
“All the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came to be.”
If you’re lost in a wilderness gap right now, then our travel advisory says that the best way to survive is by gathering the information about your surroundings. That information basically boils down to discovering where you are and knowing where you’re going. Have you ever been lost in a shopping mall, and then found a strategically placed illustration that says, “You are here”? That knowledge can be most helpful, because you need to know where you are in order to be able to find your way out. That’s why you have a journal.
Go ahead: Pack your camera, binoculars, and suntan oil. But whatever else you decide to take with you, don’t get in the car without that journal – you need to write the answers to this application section. Yes, you do. Whether you call it your log, diary, or notebook, the written record of your impressions on this trip will be a most valuable tool that will enable future effective momentum.
Besides, the actual act of writing by hand has been clinically proven to help clarify feelings and thoughts because it connects all of the senses. Writing is also an accepted way to help heal traumatic memories and bring an awareness of present needs. Just reading about this trip isn’t enough. These exercises offer absolute guidance to help you on your own road of life. That’s why I ask you to please write about the following:
1. Until now, you probably thought that true happiness would come if certain things happened. Make a list. “I’d be happy if… (I had lots of money, had a good job, more stuff, etc. Now, be honest, don’t try to impress anyone.
2. Are you ready and willing to leave Egypt (the world) behind? Write at least two paragraphs about what this choice means. Will you leave it physically and mentally? When?
3. Write about your life so far. Where are you now? Who’s going with you? How fast are you going? Are you making forward progress?
4. Write about the “best day” and the “worst day” of your life.
5. If you hope to live in the Promised Land, then some things must change. What do you think you might need to change?
6. What is your attitude about disappointment?
7. Do you have learned behavior that is habitual?
8. Do you make good use of your time?
ost of us are still lost. Take my life for an example of how to waste years wandering in the wilderness of my own making. I never heard about progressive sanctification. “God, nothing is working,” I cried, “and I can’t find you anymore. Haven’t you noticed -- I’m not doing well?”
A wilderness like that can be defined as an uncultivated, uninhabited, barren and empty region. It’s often a confused mass or tangle of things or people, or a wild and untamed condition. Even my mind was a wilderness. It’s the same barren place that the children of Israel found. Paul was there -- just him and God -- and no way out. There, in that desert, Paul received a singular obsession to draw near in fellowship with God, and no one else. There, the body of Christ will discover this same “Simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).
Jesus went to the wilderness school, but He didn’t get depressed about it and He didn’t have to stay long. He demonstrated how this desolate location is a place to go through and not stay. We don’t have to investigate every winding side trail. But, we’ll die in the desert unless we give up all we know for all we don’t know.
The good news is that there’s a road to follow until this dreary, barren land becomes the watered garden that suddenly blushes green and bursts into blossom. The wilderness of our soul can be conquered. And, the wilderness school becomes the “way of the Lord,” the special place of God’s dealing. On the King’s Highway, we realize we’re not our own, and that it’s our reasonable service to give back the life God gave us.
The next thing to learn is that no matter where you are, every place either has been, is now, or soon will be a place of difficulty. In between when you receive the promise and get the answer, there will always be a wilderness. I call it the GAP. God designed that special wilderness just for you, and you’ll experience frequent visits to that lonely place, while your heart searches for fertile soil. Know that it takes guts to follow the right road of action and to go through the wilderness, while others take comfortably widening detours.
Progressive Sanctification (a soul-realm work) becomes our life-time trip through the desert, where we overcome every obstacle. We can examine the story of Israel’s wanderings to discover why some found their way out while most others failed.
Being lost in the wilderness represents our time of spiritual immaturity. We all know the story. Moses wandered on the “Back-side” of his personal Desert for forty years.[xix] Those long forty years of lonely personal wilderness prepared Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt and through their forty year desert trek.
Ex. 13:17 says that God led Israel “Through the way of the wilderness.” Twelve million people “Went up harnessed out of Egypt” moving as one, and depending upon miraculous provision (daily bread). Soon, they developed their own theologies to make the wilderness more explainable, and clamored to go back where they came from. “Let’s go back to Egypt (worldly ways)!” they protested, being too full of idolatry and self- interest to realize that they were about to die. In the same way, if our mind rambles back to our past, then we slide back more steps than we’ve gone forward. We don’t want to be like them, meandering in monotony and circularity, only to find defeat and death.
Even Moses saw the glorious land of promise but never gained it. He wandered until he died. It was the same story for all but two of the other twelve million original wanderers. We all remember how Israel waited while twelve spies explored the Promised Land of milk and honey. Then, unfortunately, the evil report came from the ten spies who said, “We are not able to take the land. The enemy seems to be like giants and we felt like grasshoppers in our eyes and in theirs.” Unknowingly, this grasshopper mentality caused them to stumble back into the wilderness and wander for 40 more years of discontent. But that wandering wasn’t supposed to happen. It was supposed to be a time of training.
Israel had arrived at the point where God was ready to move them to the Promised Land. Yet they failed. Keep in mind that Israel knew that they were chosen of God to enter in, but because of the way they perceived themselves and their situation, they spoke fear, doubt and unbelief. Consequently, they never found their inheritance. Many have taught about becoming the “Joshua Generation.” Just remember: this unbelieving generation all died while whining and complaining about every new curve in the road – they never saw the promise. Only the next generation could enter.
We look at that murmuring community and wonder why they couldn’t learn their lesson. One day, I realized that I was just as bad as they were -- worse even. Just imagine wandering with several million tired and thirsty people kicking dust in your face. They didn’t have the Scriptures like we do, and they only knew God as Judgmental, never dreaming that He loved them. What’s our excuse?
Complaints usually happen when we are inconvenienced by things that don’t go our way. (Ouch!) Scriptures are very specific about how grumblers and grouches open the door to destruction. Complainers never see good in their journey and their bemoaning conversation prevents them from arriving at the Promised Land. Paul reminds us to do “All things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining (against God) and questioning and doubting (among yourselves).”[xx]
We can learn from their mistakes and easily avoid similar consequences. If we don’t learn to get rid of that wilderness mentality, then our lives could well end up the same as theirs –dying without obtaining our inheritance. Our progress can be stopped by how we see ourselves; seeing through eyes of human reason.
You know, God didn’t intend for Israel to wander forever. Plan A was to get to the Promised Land. They were supposed to walk straight through the wilderness; to the other side. Plan B was the manna and miraculous provision. But, even though God continued to provide for them, they never accomplished what they were supposed to do. Often times, we’re like that – blazing our own trail through the desert -- just murmuring and complaining, while the Lord waits for us across the Jordan.[xxi]
è If you’re in the wilderness, then you’re in a perfect position for victory. But, you won’t come out of the wilderness unless you change.
The reasons for their problem were:
1. Israel wanted to go back to Egypt (the world).
2. Even though they had been slaves, they wanted to return to the old life (a mindset of slave mentality).
3. They didn’t trust their leaders.
4. They didn’t trust (rest in) the promise of God; they wanted their own way.
5. They didn’t understand that this wilderness time wasn’t a punishment, but an important time to be trained on how to conquer the enemy.
6. What was to be a brief eleven day trip ended up a lifetime experience.
God delivered them physically from Egypt, but Egypt was still in their mind. The world (Egypt) was all they thought about, and that limited vision and wrong perception brought death.[xxii] A person becomes a slave to whatever he or she submits. In much the same way, God won’t force us to give up the world (Egypt); and neither will He take it away.
The problem is that Israel never grew in their understanding of God; they didn’t want to hear the Lord’s instructions for themselves. Even worse, because of the condition of their heart, they never grew to know the Lord. Consequently, they were unable to please Him. But the plan for them was to enter into the promise. The major lessons we learn are:
1. God trains those that are His.
2. God expects His children to be faithful
3. There is a terrible consequence for not trusting in God (Numb. 13-14:38, I Co. 10:1-10, Heb. 3:4).
4. It is a fearful thing to disobey a holy God (Numb.14, 15, 16).
5. Disobedience can keep us from our Canaan (Heb. 3-4).
6. “Success” was conditional upon obedience. (Josh. 1:6-9).
7. God provides all things we need to sustain us through trial.
8. God’s purposes will be fulfilled.[xxiii]
9. If we only see the wilderness obstacles, we will perish there.
10. The wilderness battle is in our mind.
I screamed the day I turned 40, “Lord, I’m coming out --” I said it over and over determined to not wander anymore. “The 40 years are over, no more wilderness for me, no more going around this same old mountain.” Vividly, I remembered the frustrated years of wasted efforts…
After all, Jesus only spent 40 days in the wilderness. He didn’t give any attention to the enemy’s hurdles, and He also didn’t employ His miraculous endowments as implements of war. Rather, He used the Scriptures like a two-edged sword. As our example, Jesus reached back into the Old Testament Scriptures, applying only the relevant excerpts that correlated to the nature of each specific temptation. Then He jabbed that sword (of the Word of God) at the devil with the penetrating words that came out of His mouth (Matt. 4:4-10).
When the wilderness struggle ended, Jesus emerged with power and public ministry and multitudes followed Him. Notice that He went right back to Jordan, where He had been before the encounter with the devil – but this time everything was different.
Many of you may be tired of aimlessly wandering. Just remember, you’re not alone. We’ve all had this miserable frustration of getting nowhere fast. Right now, if you’re in a time of wilderness, know that there’s no possible way out by using human reason or effort. So far, the devil has probably been having a hey-day finding footholds in your inner man.
If you’re like me, then your wilderness time is also determined by your responses. Just like Israel, you decide if your journey will be an eleven day walk or a forty year one. There’s plenty to complain about, and if you worry too much about the desert perils, then your journey becomes seriously frustrated. The demand is always too intense, the mountains too high, the curves too sharp, and the desert too boring. Besides, what about those plagues, the bitter water, and the long walk? But if you readjust your course and continue traveling on the right road, you’ll surely receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and a character metamorphosed for eternity -- so rejoice and lift up your eyes. Where you are right now can become a necessary part of where you’re going.
A death process occurs in your soul-realm when this lesson is finally learned. Then, this back country journey can be joyous. You’ve been given this lifetime to learn to sing at places of bitter water, to finish your course and become whole (James 1:4).
What you need to do:
1. Learn to walk by faith. True faith makes a road where there’s no road. Remember He doesn’t find pleasure if you draw back.
2. Be in a process of ongoing change. The cloud is moving.
3. Be in a process of discovery.
4. Realize that everyone travels on a different journey, learning at different times.
5. Know that testing often precedes blessings.
6. Be assured that if God sent you on the trip, then He precedes you on the way.
7. Know that His kingdom comes with maturity.
SEE the continuous provision. Even through failure, they weren’t forsaken. The Lord God continued to draw Israel to Himself. At the end of each day as darkness settled, those rebellious people encamped according to tribe, inside their individual tents. A vast fire suspended over the mercy seat of the ark – what had been an unusual cloud by day became the Shekinah fire by night; a flame that no one fueled nor tended. That cloud-fire comforted and led them through every hardship and disappointment. And yet, Israel never realized that this desert wilderness was the place where God took them to learn.
· The word used for Shekinah has roots in Hebrew that mean “the along-side One” and has its counterpart in the Greek word for “Comforter.”[xxiv]
· Again, at the time of Pentecost, a fire suspends over the disciple’s heads, and this time humans become the ark, the container of the living presence of the most Holy God. The Spirit of God indwelt the temple of their heart, enabling these now fiery people to turn their world upside down.
Searching for our way through life’s wilderness wastelands, we discover a dusty roadway. Up there, in the distance ahead, it divides. There, at that place of choice, the enemy stands – right at the fork of the roads -- to use divination to influence our choices (Ez. 21:21). Matthew speaks of those two alternative roads: the broad road that leads to destruction (7:13,14), or the straight and narrow path that few find. Trying to take both roads causes double-mindedness… and what’s more, there’s no middle-of-the-road way to heaven. How do we find the right road? Jesus’ first commandment was, “Follow Me.”[xxv]
Isaiah talked about the only road that goes through the wilderness, and he called it the Highway of Holiness.[xxvi] Isaiah says that the unclean won’t travel on it, but the redeemed will walk there. So don’t expect the Holy Spirit to drag you down that righteous road. That precisely designed desert highway takes you directly through the middle of your problems and into the fullness of God. Read how those ransomed travelers return with joyful shouting. Your journey of life can be like that -- one of everlasting joy.
On Isaiah’s Holy Highway, no devil (lion) stalks your way. Imagine this. Even though it’s a desert time, there’s no lion on the roadway, no devil, and no more need for encountering endless opposition. Angels shut the lions’ mouth in Daniel’s den. 1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that in unapproachable light there is no darkness at all. Evil forces disappear because wickedness and demonic apparitions can’t survive purity. Today is the day to DECIDE that you’re going to travel that Holy road.[xxvii]
Psalms 68:4 tells us that our singing of praises “Casts (creates) a highway.” The indwelling Holy Spirit sees down that road to tomorrow. He knows that between here and heaven you need direction, and He knows how to get you to the goal. Did you know that the Holy Spirit leads you in the same way He led Jesus? Not with lightening and thunder, but with gentle guidance[xxviii] that’s free from continual demonic encounter. He ushers you through life in ways of holiness.
The wilderness road of holiness leads you past the desert shifting sands, and over the valleys of sorrow and discouragement. Then finally the road climbs to Zion, the Holy City. It’s the way to maturity, where every valley elevates, every mountain levels, every crooked place straightens, and every rough place smoothes.[xxix] These are the times we experience, even if only fleetingly at first, that drive to wholeness.
It’s the same road they all walked: Moses, Joseph, Paul, Noah, and Jesus. The road cannot be avoided because there are vital lessons to learn. The highway of holiness becomes “the way of the Lord”[xxx] that leads us ultimately into the Kingdom.
Jer 31:21 "Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway…
Along our road, you’ve probably already noticed the signs (è) pointing to just one direction -- the way you should go. These markers along the holy roadside are put there to help you move forward toward the deepest knowing of the Anointed One. Just follow them, and we’ll meet at the throne of His grace.
è Don’t forget to read the road signs along the way.
è Success is defined as your progressive completion of God’s predetermined goal (the Promised Land), while being purified, complete, stable, and released in Him.
Holiness (where God wants us to go) is not a requirement for salvation. But, it is the inherent consequence of true Biblical faith. Initial salvation comes only by God’s grace and we could never earn it. Our faith stands still if we try to please God by self-works. I want you to remember this paragraph, as though it were inscribed on every succeeding page of this book. Grace is the sovereign work of God that can’t be accomplished by us any more than we could have created the universe. Our own works are worth nothing. However, Godly works will result from our salvation. We become co-workers, cooperating with His strategy. The natural outcome of Grace is that our actions change.
The Lord doesn’t expect us to groan and strive with human effort to be holy. Not for a moment. In fact, we must realize the impossibility of being Holy without the work of Jesus. The Great Master Builder, the Architect, is building Himself a unique home. It’s not so much changing what we do, but changing who we are.[xxxi] The journey of life is a gradual process of Progressive Sanctification. Are you ready? In order to look like Him, we must get on the road to the Holy City. Remember that that road of holiness through the wilderness is lion free.
[i] Eph. 3:19 AMP, Jn. 14:6, 16A:13.
[ii] Romans 8:26
[iii] 1 John 3:3 explains that it is our hope in the return of Jesus that causes us to desire to purify ourselves.
[iv] Neighbour, pg. 52 You can grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30-32) with attitudes of rage, slander, and anger, etc. You can resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51 when you refuse to listen to Him. You can quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) by putting out His fire. You should be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
[vi] Yandian, Bob, Ministry publication, Vol. 8, Number 6, June 1986, Tulsa, OK
[vii] John 7:37-39
[viii] Isaiah 43:18
[ix] Thoughts from notes on unknown tape by Joyce Meyers
[x] Barclay, Mark T. “Foundation Truths” Barclay Ministries, Midland, MI 48640
[xi] Forgive the dangling preposition, but it’s the best way to say it!
[xii] Job 7:6, Ps. 102:11
[xiii] Damazio, Frank “The Making of a Leader,” pg. 1-35
[xiv] Esther 4:14
[xv] Matt. 25
[xvi] Matt. 13:30
[xvii] Ps. 31:15
[xviii] Paulk, Bishop Earl, “Face to Face” Destiny Image Digest, Spring 96.
[xix] Ex. 3:10-12
[xx] Philippians 2:14 AMP
[xxi] The word Jordan means the place of our descent.
[xxii] The Lord had warned them saying, “...As ye have spoken in mine ears (unbelief), so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness... ye shall not come into the land...”Numb. 14:28-39.
[xxiii] “Walk Through the Bible” ibid. pg. 15
[xxiv] Varner, K.H. “The Tongue of the Learned” self published Pg. 22
[xxv] John 1:43
[xxvi] Is. 43:19
[xxvii] See Ezek. 21:25-29
[xxviii] Ps. 73:23 , “He shall guide me with his counsel.”
[xxix] See Is. 40:3-5. Proverbs 16:7 tells us that the highway of the upright is to depart from evil. Jeremiah 31:21 says to set your heart toward that highway. Isaiah 40:30 tells about the voice crying out for the preparation of a straight and smooth highway for the Lord through the wilderness desert.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2012 12:12|