If your love for the Lord is pure, you will love Him as much on Calvary as on Mt. Tabor. You must learn to love the cross. He who does not love the cross does not love the things of God. It is impossible for you to truly love the Lord without loving the cross. The believer that loves the cross finds that even the bitter things that come his way are sweet. You will hunger after God, and find Him, in the same proportion that you hunger after the cross.God gives us the cross, and then the cross gives us God.
The more you posses God the more you are made like Him. But it must be a godliness that has grown from within you. If godliness is not from deep within you, it is only a mask. The mere outward appearance of godliness is as changeable as a garment. The Lord is ever jealous over any saint who is utterly abandoned to Him. He does not let that believer have any pleasures at all outside of Himself.
Once you have established such a relationship with your Lord, you will soon discover that no fault in you escapes the reproof of God. For instance, as soon as you commit a sin, you are immediately rebuked by an inward sense…a tender confusion. Once you have departed from God, you must return to Him as quickly as possible.
The more you see your true self, the clearer you also see how miserable your self nature really is; and the more you will abandon your whole being to God. Seeing that you have such a desperate need of Him, you will press toward a more intimate relationship with Him.
Temptations, as well as distractions, are a major problem you will encounter at the outset of your adventure into God. Be very careful in your attitude toward them. If you attempt to struggle directly with these temptations, you will only strengthen them; and in the process of this struggle, your soul will be drawn away from its intimate relationship with the Lord. A close intimate relationship to Christ should always be your soul’s only purpose.
As you turn (to God), you draw nearer to your Lord. It is that simple. What does a little child do when he sees something that frightens him or confuses him? He doesn’t stand there and try to fight the thing. He will, in fact, hardly look at the thing that frightens him. Rather, the child will quickly run into the arms of his mother. In exactly the same way, you should turn from the dangerous temptations and run o your God! You and I are very weak. At our best we are very weak.
You turn inward to your spirit and, in so doing, turn from outward activities and outward distractions. Inward activity begins by simply turning within to Jesus Christ, for that is where He is; within your spirit. You should continually be turning within to God. Give Him all your attention; pour out all the strength of our being purely on Him.
“I’ll keep my whole strength for You (Psalm 59.9).”
“My son give me your heart…(Proverbs 23.26)”
What does it mean to give your whole heart to God? To give your whole heart to God is to have all the energy of your soul always centered on Him. It is in this way that we are conformed to His will.
As soon as you notice yourself staying from the Lord, you should deliberately turn your attention within to the Living God. Repeat this simple turning within to the Lord again and again, as often as you are distracted.
To be continuously turned deep inside simply means that, having turned within to God-by a direct act- you have remained in His presence. The only time you need to make a point of turning again is when your abiding is interrupted for some reason.
You rest in the continuous inward act of abiding. It is a sweet sinking into deity.
If a new convert were introduced to real prayer and to true inward experience of Christ as soon as he became converted, you would see countless numbers of converts go on to become true disciples.
You can see that the present way of dealing only with external matters in the life of a new convert brings little fruit. Burdening the new Christian with countless rules and all sorts of standards does not help him grow in Christ. Here is what should be done; The new Christian should be led to God.
How does one do this? By learning to turn within to Jesus Christ and by giving the Lord his whole heart. If you are one of those in charge of new believers, lead them to a real inner knowledge of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a difference there would be in the lives of those new Christians!
You would see each of these people put away every kind of sin from his life; all would become spiritual men and women with hearts set on knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ.
Once the heart has been gained by God, everything else will eventually take care of itself. This is why He requires the heart above all else.
Dear reader, it is by the Lord gaining your heart, and no other way, that all your sins can be put away. If the heart could be gained, Jesus Christ would reign in peace and the whole Church would be renewed.
The End is union with God!
There is something in this universe which is the very opposite of God; it is the self-life. The activity of the self-life is the source of all the evil nature as well as all the evil deeds of man. On the other hand, the loss of the selfhood in the soul increases the purity of the soul. In fact, the soul’s purity is increased in exact proportion to the loss of self!
His wisdom burns away all the impurities in a man for one purpose: to leave him fit for divine union.
~Madame Guyon (100 DAYS IN THE SECRET PLACE, Introduced and compiled by Gene Edwards; Destiny Image Publishers)
I would say that the greatest temptation is to be without temptations. The greatest onslaught is to be without any onslaught at all. Therefore be glad when you are assaulted. With resignation, peace and consistency…abide. There, in internal regions, walk and live.
You must walk the path of temptation. You will not walk down this road very far before you discover that the most internal parts of you are scattered; scattered and active, moving from one thing to another.
Collect yourself in His presence with the one purpose and intent of loving Him. Come to Him as one who is giving himself to God. The consistency of true prayer is in faith, and in waiting on Him. First you believe that you are in His presence. You believe that you are turning to Him with all your heart. And you wait there before Him, tranquilly.
You can expect to suffer through problems of a multitude of thoughts, problems of the imagination, provocation of your natural desires, and problems of an inward life that is very dry. All of these temptations must yield to the spirit.
And if it seems to you that you have done nothing in the time that you have set aside for the Lord, do not be deceived. A good heart-a firmness in prayer-is something that is very pleasing to your Lord. When we come to the Lord in this way we labor without personal interest. We are as the young men who work in the field with their father. At the end of the day, unlike the hired labor, we receive no pay. But at the end of the year, we enjoy all things.
When there is no emotional experience nor intellectual insight into His way, the enemy may suggest to you that God has not spoken. But your Lord is not impressed with a multitude of words. He is impressed with the purity of the intent of your heart. He wishes to see the inward part of you humbled, quiet, and totally surrendered to Him and to His will, whatever it may be.
There are those people who have begun a practice of collecting their inmost being but turned away from it almost immediately because they did not find any pleasure in it! There was no sense of God, there was no power, there was no sense of being pleased with their own thought, or being impressed with the way they formed their words and sentences to God. Actually all of these approaches to God are nothing but a hunt for sensible pleasures. This, to God, is but self -love and seeking after self.It is really not seeking after God at all.
But the less you care for the outward thrills of spiritual things…ah, here is something which delights the Lord.
Your daily occupations are not contrary to your Lord’s will. Your occupation is not against the resignation to His will, which you presented to Him. You see, resignation encompasses all the activities of our daily life. Whether it be study, reading, preaching, earning your living, doing business, or the like…you are resigned to whatever it is that comes into your life each day, each hour, each moment.
If you are drawn away from Him-if you are drawn away from prayer-revert to God, return to God, return to His presence- then renew an act of faith and renew an acquiescence to His will. You will never attain to the mountain of internal peace if you govern yourself according to your own will. This self-nature of your soul must be conquered. There must come a holocaust of your own values and judgments and will. It would be better that you gather dung by obedience than be caught up into the third heaven by your own will.
Obedience that is pure has no personal interest or thought of gain for oneself. Pure obedience is solely for the gain of God.
~Molinos (100 DAYS IN THE SECRET PLACE, Introduced and compiled by Gene Edwards; Destiny Image Publishers)
“In the presence of the Lord is fullness of Joy and pleasure forever more.”
His presence in our lives is everything. His presence is our distinguishing factor. Israel was just another nation without the presence of God. They would have been destroyed without God fighting for them. Moses wouldn’t go without His presence. Gideon as one man would deliver the nation because of the presence of the Lord. The prophets stood in the presence of the Lord. John’s revelation was in the presence of the Lord. His presence is everything.
David said, “the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73.28),” and “Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere… (Psalm 84)”
When the ark of the presence was at the home of Obed-edom everything flourished in his life (2 Sam. 6). So it is with knowing God; the flourishing of your life will be in exact proportion to the attention you give to His presence in your life. Only when His presence is the center-piece of our lives, can He make our lives His masterpiece. “Never let anything get bigger in your consciousness than the awareness of His presence… (Bill Johnson).”
Why is this? Because His presence empowers you to obey, and obedience brings nothing but blessing (Duet 28). Jesus said, “Come to me…I will give you rest (Matthew 11.28).” Isaiah 64 shows us that the Holy Spirit gave them “rest” in the wilderness from which “He lead them.” The leading of the Holy Spirit is in the place of rest. This rest is a place of transcendence above efforts and striving. It is the ceasing of striving. “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10).” It is the ceasing of your Adamic outflow that enables His Divine inflow. Jesus said, “…but the Father who dwells in me, does His works.” This is rest. Man ceasing from his own initiative and resting in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within him; yielding to His direction and life. This is the end of your own efforts and the beginning of divine enablement.
Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own initiative (John 8.28).” Evangelist David Popovici said to me one day, “our job isn’t to try to become love, but rather to be filled with Him who is love, power, peace and infinitely more.” The totality of a life laid down is the ignition of this divine rest. We don’t stop going after God to rest, we press into Him who is rest to find rest. Rest is spelled, J.E.S.U.S. The tree doesn’t focus on bearing fruit, but on receiving the sap. We cannot pin fruit on the tree. It will just fall off. It must issue out of an inward connection. This inward connection is cultivated in no other place than spending time with God. Waiting in His presence for His voice to enter and quicken us with a revelation of Himself.
“Law” can be seen as a life focused on fruit, while “Spirit” can be seen as sap focused living. This is the higher life. “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace (Romans 6.4).” This is Christianity. Anything else is just another religion; an adherence to principles and efforts for outward modification without an inward transformation. Bill Johnson said, “to desire kingdom principles without His presence, is to desire His kingdom without the King.” In no other religion does one’s God enter into him and perform the works through him. Our character in God is measured by our ability to surrender to Him. One man said it like this, “the greatness of a man’s power is measured by his surrender.” Our ceasing to be is our greatness, for it makes that man a channel of God’s life.
Spending time with God is the training ground for spiritual life. You learn to hear His voice. You learn to feel His impressions. You begin to experience His heart. You sharpen your vision. You get aligned with His thoughts. This is the absolute heart of life in God. Without this time of diligently entering His rest you will die! The gospel taps you into this rest, but you have to be diligent to abide therein. Hebrews 4 shows us the divine paradox of diligently entering His rest. The rest is then laid out as trust (absolute surrender to Jesus) and obedience (the only outflow of such a disposition). It is as simple as salvation. Colossians tells us, “as you received Him, so walk in Him.”
Leonard Ravenhill said it like this, “a man first collapses in the prayer closet.” Meaning, if a man has fallen in his life, he first failed to fall on his knees for strength. E. M. Bounds said, “the devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Why? Because he knows that he has gone to “fetch strength against him.” I tell you that, “praying men stop sinning and sinning men stop praying (Ravenhill).”
David told us to “Wait upon the Lord.” He also showed us that the secret to supernatural strength in God, is waiting on God (Isa. 40.31;Psalm 27.14).” The rest is entered by those who diligently come to Jesus to wait on Him. The rest is the Spirit. The Spirit of God leads and guides, strengthens and enables. So much so that Paul said in Galatians chapter 5, “if you walk in the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of sinful nature.”
The Greek word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit has many meanings. Jesus said, “The Comforter will come.” This word means, partner, teacher, leader, guide, advocate, strengthener, stand by, helper, intercessor, comforter and counselor.
What confidence! He knew the rest. He knew that it was above efforts and striving. He knew that in the rest, there is only victory. It is the place of hiding “under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91).” It is the place of which David said, “oh God, My Strength (Psalm 18.1).” “You are my hiding place (Psalm 32.7). Prayer is the air of the Christian life. “When we cease to pray we quench the Spirit. When we quench the Spirit we cease to pray (Benny Hinn).”
The revolution of prayer in the Christian life is a major evidence of the infilling of the Spirit.
“Spending time with Jesus is number one. Don’t ever forget that (David Hogan)!”
“To be much for God, we must be much alone with God (Leonard Ravenhill).”
Spending time with God is your sap for fruit and your air for breathing. It is your heart of victory. It is your power for living. Without it, you will die just as sure as a fish out of water. You will become more and more worldly. You will lose your sense of conviction. You will lose sight of your spiritual purpose. You will begin to ooze the poison of the first Adam instead of the life of the last (1 Cor. 15.45). You will cease to find all your satisfaction in God and by default seek satisfaction elsewhere.
“The Kingdom of God is within you.”
The inward surrender of fixed and sustained full attention upon God in waiting and worship is the only way into the presence of God. David said, “To you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143.8).” His mind, will and emotions laid upon the altar unto God. As a cup could never be filled as it spins on the table so our spinning souls must get still before God for Him to flow into us. Madame Guyon said, “God dwells in absolute stillness.” There is no other place in which to meet Him. Just because you are quiet doesn’t mean you are still. Stillness is the soul laid upon the altar of God in worshipful whole-hearted fixation upon God Himself, anticipating the impartation of His life-giving words into your Spirit. This is waiting. We know very little about what is going on while we are on the earth, it is imperative that we are led by the Holy Spirit in prayer. He knows what is going on. Listen to Him. You will not hear Him in any other place than worship, waiting and whole-hearted attention.
Some use music, a certain prayer or phrase or some kind of aid to focus completely upon God. Once you are fixed upon God you must be sure to sustain your full attention upon Him in worship, not necessarily with words, but definitely with a whole-hearted surrender of love toward Him. This will cause you to become aware of His nearness that is always with you (Hebrews 13.8). This is the base for all of what God wants to accomplish in your time with Him. Here is the dispensing of the most vital nutrients for Spiritual life. His inflow of peace beyond all understanding and complete fulfillment in the most vulnerable parts of man is the overwhelming satisfaction that transcends anything else that exists. This is where the Scriptures will come alive. In Luke 24, it was only in His presence that the word of God revealed Jesus. “He expounded to them…” The presence of God is the key to the Scriptures because they are locked until He opens them.
From this base of an inward setting of yourself upon Him, prayer becomes a powerfully rich experience, both of your hearts releasing to God and His guiding you by His Spirit in seeing the desires of His heart. Prayer will come alive. And there is simply nothing like it. Nothing touches its caliber of fulfillment and life. You can really tell when a man has touched God in prayer. He becomes addicted to the experience of God in prayer.
It is here that He gives you to drink from the river of His delights (Psalm 36.8). Just as a man cannot drink from the river while he is moving, so the soul must stop its activities if it is to ever drink from this wonderful fulfilling river of God that He has granted us unlimited access to. But stopping is only the beginning. Because worship must transcend expression and become reception or it is of little value. No amount of external contact with the river can quench the inward thirst of the soul. We must drink.
Waiting in His presence is renewing and faith building as you cease your outflow and subject yourself to His lead. It is this submission that releases you from the bondage of your own thinking. It makes you a subject and not the leader, respecting the Holy Spirit as the leader. We must be, “led by the Spirit.”
I know this one thing. Without His presence I don’t stand a chance. Neither do you. It is not God’s plan. He wants everything to hinge upon Him. The oneness of God and man! This is God’s desire. Worship; the inward fixation sustained upon God in the worship of total surrender waiting upon Him and His voice is the divine melting of the soul of Man into the Spirit of God.
Zach knew that Jesus was there.But he couldn’t see Him.There were too many obstructions in the way.But his desire to see Jesus pushed him beyond his natural state of inability to see Jesus.It pushed him to a tree.He climbed the tree and saw Him. In seeing Jesus he was brought into His presence and he was moved not only to repentance, but to restitution.Salvation had come to his house.
Brother, wherever you are in your life, if you are having a hard time seeing Jesus; where He is, what He would have you do…or even if you are in a state of stagnation, I say to you, “climb the tree.”Make the decision that your natural inability to see Him is not satisfying.Make a change in your heart to climb higher. Set your heart to see Him.Determine that these obstructions in the way will no longer hold their distracting power.Set them all aside, put away the non-essentials and go after God. Seek Him and make yourself find him. What do I mean? Settle for nothing less than seeing Jesus, alive, today. His mercy and grace has placed a tree in your reach, no matter how blocked your vision of Jesus is. He has set it in front of you.Only those who choose to let their frustration of their current situation move them out of complacency and into an all out initiative to see Him, climb this tree.
It seems God has set up a principle to finding Him and this is the tree that He has set in your reach for you to climb into a fresh revelation Jesus.The principle will bring you into a seeing of what you could only feel before.It will bring you into His sight and He will call to you in your hunger and declare/manifest His saving power in your house.That principle to which I am referring, that tree set in your reach to climb is this, “in that day when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Jeremiah 29.13).”
Whatever your obstruction, be it sin, tribulations, bondage, pride, fear, unbelief, religion or any other thing that has eclipsed God in your life, just stop, look around and right within your reach is a tree.I promise, it is there, for He has divinely given it to you, I have found it many times myself; The ability to lay your life down at His feet. I believe that most, if not all issues in life can be pined on to a lack of surrender to Christ and His gospel. “The secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will” (Hudson Taylor). Even in weakness and despair, you can choose to lay it all down at His feet.He will take you into His presence and bring deliverance with all its effects!Praise God for such a love. Christianity is not a change of life, but an exchange of life.You lay all the pieces of your heart down and then He will pick them all up with limitless power and strength to conquer through you.
Beloved reader…lay it all down. Resurrection life follows death alone.
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…” -Psm. 1.1a
“You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.” -Ex. 27.20
It is one thing to declare in a church meeting that the Lord is our Counselor. It is quite another thing to dwell in the clear air of His heavenly sanctuary, and to surrender our lives- lock, stock, and barrel- to the counsel He gives us in real life. Are we naive enough to believe that walking in the counsel of the wicked is limited to practicing Satanism, engaging in prostitution and drug activity, or giving ourselves to some other blatantly dark thing?
What if I told you that we can be just as duped into walking in the counsel of the wicked by things that seem good or religious? What if I told you that being swallowed up in a hundred “decent family movies” can be just as detrimental to your heart as viewing a movie that is morally compromised? What if I told you that you can sing on a worship team, listen to Christian radio, even ‘pastor’ a Church, and still be totally devoid of the life-giving counsel of God?
If we are not pressing past the various voices that seek to penetrate our hearts and distract us from the vital counsel of God Himself, we are vulnerable candidates for walking in the counsel of the wicked. We may speak religiously, but we will not be free from the spirit of this age which rules the hearts of men, binding them in lust, fear, intimidation, anxiety, and self-centeredness. The nature and condition of a man’s life when he is not in a religious meeting is the statement of where he really is in God.
The seven-branched Levitical “lampstand” in the tabernacle of Moses was fueled by “clear oil of beaten olives for the light.” At the command of the Lord, the oil which fed the flame was to be clear, beaten from olives, “to make a lamp burn continually.” The Lord has always desired that His people, who are typified by a “lampstand” in the Revelation to John, would bear a flame of His fullness, and that the bearers of the flame would be fitted to burn continually. The lampstand was to be made of “pure gold,” or literally, “hammered metal.” There was a preparation of heat and hammering that formed it before it was fitted to receive the oil and carry the holy fire.
We have settled for soulish outbursts of religiosity once or twice a week in services, but have been unwilling to go through the heat and pounding- the inward work of the cross- as the Levitical lampstand was required to endure for its formation. Only a rightly fashioned lampstand that is fed by clear oil can bear the seven-fold flame that the Lord has desired it to burn with, and the intention was never to light it only for ceremonies or religious services. It was meant to burn continually, and it was the responsibility of the High Priest to keep it alight. The Son of God is eager to help us along in formation, and He desires to keep the flame of love and righteousness alight in our midst. Why have we so often turned from the hammering work of character formation, and turned away from Him when His desire has been to keep the holy flame alive within us?
We have wanted lives that we can control, that we can own, that never discomfort or challenge us with unpredictable counsel from the Ancient of Days. We participate in a measure of Christian devotion, knowing full well that if we were to surrender to the Lord unreservedly, we would likely be shaken from our stationary spirituality, and called into a more dangerous and risky love than we have ever before known.
We have not been willing for Him to surprise us, to consecrate us, to immerse us in His heart and His ways. We have desired a partial involvement, a limited relationship, and it is something that falls short of covenantal glory. Hence, our flame sputters and fluctuates. It’s choppy, sporadic, and usually dim. We have willingly allowed a tainted oil to go through the lampstand for the feeding of the flame, but the Lord will have no such thing. He requires a clear oil, the oil which He Himself provides, rather than something lesser that we have received from men, or something that we have worked up by our own wisdom. Truthfully, dear saint, what oil are you receiving?
Again, I inquire: We may declare the Lord our Counselor in a church meeting, but who’s counsel are we actually walking in? The bad fruit of wicked counsel is a life of religious striving, moral compromise, mistrust and suspicion, fear, anxiety, and self-absorption. To breathe in the clear air of the Heavenly sanctuary, to break into open communion with the God of Life, is to receive the clear oil into our souls, and to dwell in the counsel of the Almighty.
When we sink our lives into His counsel, we hear the clear word of His astonishing love for us. We hear the clear testimony of His Son. We hear the clear statement of the judgment to come. He reveals Himself to us, and we are rooted and grounded in love, and brought into an awareness of the gravity and seriousness of His eternal purposes. Only this kind of profound union with the Lord can charge a steady and full flame in the house of God, and He would have it no other way. For if He Himself is the Smith of the lampstand, and the Producer of the oil, and the Giver of the flame, then not only does He have vessels and servants, He has co-laborers and friends. He has sons and daughters. He has “… a bride adorned for the Bridegroom.” (Rev. 21.2b)
Receiving tainted oil, or allowing the aura and essence of the world to influence our minds and hearts, is the ominous gate to walking in the counsel of the wicked. It results in something less than true communion with God, however innocent that counsel may appear. But to break out of the cobwebs of worldly influence and thought, and into the clear air of God’s holy house, is to be immersed in the counsel of the Lord, which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14.17b)
We’ve got to be fiercely desirous of the clear air, saints. The media, Hollywood, and often our co-workers, relatives and neighbors, are wanting to drag us down into the various pits where they have resolved to remain, and which rob them of the Life that His counsel offers. Don’t be duped by a smile, by wealth, or by a confident attitude. If they are not receiving the “clear oil” of God, they are walking in the counsel of the wicked, and if you don’t break out of the pit you will not have Life sufficient to overcome the lies yourself, much less to provide a way of deliverance for them. We’ve got to “delight in the law of the Lord,” and give our lives in the place of prayer, worship and fasting, lest we find our “lampstands” filled with tainted oil or empty altogether, our flames sputtering and fading in the winds of this passing age.
God is not a God of confusion and disarray. He is sounder and more stable than the foundations of the earth, unchanging and eternal, and He lives in the clear air of Heaven. He has always desired a people who would dwell there with Him, and if you have repented and believed the Gospel of God, you have been raised up into His house through the work of His Son. It’s time to cast the murky oil to the side, be it moral compromise, or simply giving our time and energies to too many seemingly good things, while neglecting the place of face to face counsel from Him.
The hour is here for an ultimate consecration of our hearts to the Lord, and the invitation He is giving us is glorious beyond description. “Now is the day of salvation” from all that has hindered us from the full experience of the clear oil of His Spirit; the abiding Life of Jesus Christ. Isn’t this what you long for? He has made His own “righteousness, peace, and joy” available to us in a radical way through His Son.
And what is the glory that alights upon the believer who breaks out of wicked counsel and into the clear air of the heavenly Tabernacle?
“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,