Sit, Walk, Stand
April 2012 - David Bradshaw with daughter Braida Zoe (Age 8)
"I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." -Psalm 63:4
Dear family & friends,
As the world around us becomes ever more restless... the need also becomes greater for the people of God to enter His rest,
in our spirit and mind. Our Christian walk begins with surrendering our will, our desires and our time to our Lord. Below is a new 18-day daily devotional based on reflections upon the classic book by Watchman Nee. May it bring refreshment!
Introduction to Ephesians
Paul's letter to the Ephesians is believed to have been written from his house arrest in Rome in the year sixty or shortly thereafter. This letter was written to the entire church as a grand panoramic perspective and road map for a successful Christian life in the spirit, in the world and overcoming the underworld. His goal was to equip the saints to realize our divine purpose, as Christ said, "that that the world may see Him and know Him".
Chapter one through three, (sitting with Christ) outlines our richness in redemption, chapter four through the beginning of chapter six, (walking in faith) explains how we are to practically life, and finally the middle portion of chapter six, (standing against the counterattack of the enemy).
"Sit, Walk, Stand" is the title of Watchman Nee's little book on Ephesians and it indicates that the letter is about the how to of following Jesus, or the activity of a Christian. The Christian walk does not begin with walking, but rather sitting. "Christianity does not begin with a big DO, but with a big DONE."
SIT - Ephesians 1:4-6: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Ephesians 2:5-9: "Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Reflection... In the natural what is the difference between standing up on your legs and sitting down? One requires trust in your own strength, leaning to your own understanding, balance, etc. The other requires none of the above, but rather confidence only in the chair, couch or bed on which we sit and rest. Standing and walking requires energy, but when seated we can relax at once.
The same is true in spiritual realm... we must first sit down in the finished work of the Lord... allow Him to take our load, our future, our cares, everything. Only when we allow Him to carry the responsibility and cease to carry it ourselves are we a vessel fit for service by our King. Lord today we have decided to sit, rest and rejoice in you. By your spirit we ask for the peace of God as we face the challenges of this day.
Day 1 - Life Begins at Rest
Have you ever noticed when you are at rest most often you are looking upward? And while at work we often are looking downward? Now, thanks to mobile devices, many of us are looking downward almost 24/7, at work, play and rest.
Does our day begin when we arise? Or could it be it begins when we are at rest?
"The Christian life from start to finish is based upon the principle of utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ," writes Watchman Nee. "We only advance when we first learn to sit down."
The world tells us "hurry up and do something", but the Lord says "slow down and rest first." Draw near to Me, then GO. This pattern was first established in the Creation.
The God-ordained pattern of resting first can be seen clearly in Genesis. God labored six days forming all of His magnificent creation, He then rested on the Sabbath, the 7th day.
God created man and woman at the end of the 6th day, as His crescendo of creation. Man's first day was the 7th day, which God forever has established as the day of rest for Himself and for His creations, including us.
Adam and Eve were to begin their life at rest...and relationship with their God, in preparation for work to begin on Day One. Again, we are taught by the world system work first, then rest. Little wonder the world is so full of rest-less people.
Reflections ... Lord, today we choose to begin and end our day at rest in You. As we grow may our rest extend throughout the entire day... even amid daily trials. Far from the rush of daily deadlines and distractions, we enter the quiet place of communion with You, giving thanks that we have been given a seat at Your table, as Your sons and daughters.
Day 2: When the going gets tough
Do you believe in the slogan: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going... or get tougher"?
It makes good sense to the natural mind, you know: "do more, get more". But not so in the spirit.
We must alter our thinking if we are to think and live with the mind of Christ.
So our revised slogan should be something like "when the going gets tough...the tough stop and call upon the Lord, sit in His presence, then seek direction before taking action. Too often we are content with our own blessings, calling upon our spiritual Father for help only during earthly trials.
In Christ we sit TODAY, says vs. Eph. 1:2, "with ALL spiritual blessing".
In Him we lack nothing, despite circumstances that appear otherwise. We are already complete, in Him. Our 'self', no matter how good in our own eyes lacks His qualities, which are needed to live, work and build God's Kingdom.
Eph. 1:4 reminds us "...he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world..." WOW! We were chosen by Him long before we were even born. His love and relationship with us began before creation and extends into eternity. Wo-ho!
Fruitless and rootless, our spirit was first born in the heart of our Father in heaven - whether we feel loved or not. He yearns to express His loving acceptance toward us.
Once we grasp His deep love for us our purpose in life becomes clearer... vs. 6, "to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved."
We are living examples, epistles, songs of praise to His glory... right now... as we walk toward eternity. Like the Prodigal son's father, He yearns for us to give up on self-dependence and run toward dependence upon Him.
He seeks to fill our deepest void, heal past pain of life's disappointments and broken relationships. He offers forgiveness freely on earth, just as it is in heaven.
He then teaches us likewise to empower others with His greater sense of purpose in their life. And it all begins from our place of spiritual rest.
Want to break the cycle of purposelessness and restlessness so rampant in our culture today? Lord let it start with me.
The realization that there is nothing in the world I can do to save myself is my new starting point. Except I lay my sins and worldly cares upon Him who created me and who redeemed me, I shall forever worry about the future and mourn the past.
Reflections ... Lord, today let me live in the present... and in the presence of You Lord. When I'm tempted to make split second decisions, help me instead to choose first to rest...to SIT before walking.
Day 3: What God has provided
"Our Christian life begins with the discovery of what God has provided. It is not that we work for God, but that he works for us."
Consider some of the spiritual gifts outlined in Ephesians 1 that our Father has given us access to when we are seated in Christ...
Vs. 9 - Having made known to us the mystery of His will which He has purposed.."
Vs. 11 ..."being predestinated according to the purpose of Him..."
Vs. 13 "you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise
Vs. 14 "The earnest of our inheritance..."
Vs. 17 "...the Father of glory may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him..."
Vs. 18 "The eyes of understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of your calling"
God by his mighty power has made Christ to sit at His right hand, then by his grace, He has made us to sit with Him.
Nee continues: "God gives us our position of rest. He brings His Son's finished work and presents it to us, and then says to us 'Please sit'.
Reflection: Lord open the eyes of my understanding further today, to see Your glory and splendor in all circumstances. It calms my spirit to know there are no accidents in my life. You have preordained my walk in the spirit. Allow me to better comprehend the mystery of Your grace and divine direction today.
Day 4: He is Already There
A popular Christian group, Casting Crowns has a great song entitled "Already There"
"When I'm lost in the mystery
To you my future is a memory
Cause You're already there
Your already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
From where You're standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When you breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan
This song paints a picture of an omnipresent God, who sees the beginning and the end of all things, including our lives. 2,000 years ago Christ was crucified, and Ephesians tells us we were there with Him if we abide in Him now.
How can we know for sure we are in Him? Because the Bible affirms it ... we believe it... and that settles it. As Nee puts it "It is something accomplished by Him, to be seen, believed, accepted, and rejoiced in by us."
"If you put a dollar bill inside an old book and then burn the book, where is the dollar bill?" asks Nee. Yes it has gone the way of the book into ashes. Where one goes, the other follows. Their history has become one.
Romans 6 tells us "Our old man was crucified with Him and no longer in bondage to sin." This is not that we might struggle, but that we rest in His finished work at the cross.
Nee concludes: "Our deliverance from sin is based, not on what we can do, or even what God is going to do for us, but on what he has already done for us in Christ, When that fact dawns on us and we rest back upon it (Ro. 6:11) then we have found the secret to a holy life."
Mary and older sister Martha had different reactions when Jesus visited their home (Luke 10:38-42). The younger sister Mary sat at Jesus feel, listening, opening her spirit to the master. Martha's mistake was not in trying to clean up her home after dinner, it was simply missing the whole point of Jesus visit in the first place.
We clean and organize our homes (physical and spiritual) in an attempt to make them acceptable as a place where the Spirit of the Lord can dwell, but in fact He was already THERE. In person. Martha had already made a home where Jesus felt comfortable and welcome, what she needed do now was simply LET IT GO and sit down at His feet.
Reflection: Lord today calm our spirit in Your presence. Help our minds understand that whatever we must face today - we are not alone, You are already there. We let go of our fear of the future...because You are already there.
Day 5: When I cease doing...
...then God will begin.
Having dealt with sin and death at the cross, our Lord has done it ALL! There is nothing left for US to do.
As Watchman Nee puts it, our prayer is, "Lord, I cannot love and I give up trying, but I count on Your perfect love. I cannot forgive, but I trust Thee to forgive instead of me, and to do so henceforth in me."
Ephesians 2:6-10 is a familiar text, reminding us why we are seated with Christ, how we have come to this lofty position, and what our ultimate purpose in Kingdom life is ...
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
There is little purpose trying to walk as a Christian until we first are seated with Him.
Nee's example... "There are two ways to save a drowning man:
1) Either you must wait for him to stop struggling until his strength gives way before you to go his rescue, or...
2) You must knock him unconscious and then drag him to shore. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror and drag you under, and both you and he will be lost."
God is patiently watching to see if we will admit that our own strength is insufficient before He can deliver us. Nee concludes, "God is waiting for you to despair."
Reflection: Lord today we enter Your rest in preparation for our walk throughout the day with You. The busier we get, the more we need to stop, sit and rest our spirit... then continue with our tasks and duties of the day.
The Christian's battle begins inside our own mind and spirit with our own willing submission to the mind of Christ - to be governed by God. The armor of God begins by having our loins girded with Truth. Jesus is the Truth, the Light and the Way. In God's presence is the fullness of joy! Today we rejoice in the Lord! We are created for 'good works'...which begin after sitting at His feet.
Day 6: The way to please God
Luke 15 records for us three parables which provide excellent examples of what pleases God the most: when that which belongs to Him returns home to rest in His arms and in His provision.
1) The Parable of the Lost Sheep... 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
2) The Parable of the Lost Coin... 8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
3) The Parable of the Lost Son... 21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing...
28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31 "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
Here we have a prodigal son returning home after wasting time and money on riotous living, yet not one word of rebuke from the Father. Instead He rejoiced over the opportunity His son's return provided Him for lavishing even more time and money on him. Amazing grace!
Nee puts it like this, "God is so wealthy that his chief delight is to give...It was the Father's joy that he could find in the prodigal an applicant for the robe, ring, shoes and feast; it was his sorrow that in the elder son he found no such applicant."
As a father of four beautiful daughters I can relate of the great joy it is to give them as much as possible, and while a may appreciate their gifts to me on special occasions, I much prefer giving and giving, doing and doing for them. Why? That is God's order established first in heaven.
As on earth, so it is in heaven...our heavenly Father is so rich that he needs nothing from us. "He wants to be the Giver eternally, and he want to be the Doer eternally," writes Nee.
"All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet..." is the response of the elder brother, speaking in the flesh...yet for all of his doing for the Father his heart had not found rest. He was clinging onto his good works to gain the Father's favor.
When we seek to do it ourselves we are placing ourselves back under the Law ... which we are told become "dead works". "The younger son was all wrong to leave the Father, but when he came home he found rest - and that is where the Christian life begins," concludes Nee.
Reflection: It is difficult for our mind to grasp the simplicity of pleasing God, in a world so works-driven. Do more, get more, right? But not so in the Kingdom, we seek God first, then serve... sit first, then walk. If we reverse this divine order the result is frustration - for both ourselves and for God.
Whether a lost sheep, coin or son, our Lord rejoices in seeking us out and in giving to us beyond our wildest imagination the desires of our heart. Praise His wonderful, powerful name!
Day 7: Sitting... while walking!
Today we move from learning to rest in our Lord first, to walking in the Lord, while sitting. This is the practical outworking of our heavenly position transmitted into our earthly relationships. That inner knowing that we belong to Him motivates our belief and then impacts our behavior.
"We sit forever with Christ that we may walk continuously before men," says Nee. "Abide in Christ, and our position there ensures the power to walk worthy of Him here... All who sit can walk, for in the thought of God the one follows the other spontaneously."
Nee uses the illustration of a man driving a car or an invalid, sitting in a power wheel chair yet traveling at the same time. What does he do? He goes, but also sits. He keeps going because he remains sitting. "Our conduct and behavior depend fundamentally on our inward rest in Christ."
Eight times the word "walk" is used in Ephesians. Chapters 4-5 sets the bar for Christians much higher than the world system's code of conduct. Paul beseeched believers to "...walk worthy of the vocation you have been called with all lowliness and meekness... no longer as Gentiles in the vanity of their mind... but in the spirit of your mind ... to walk in love, even as Christ also loved you... to walk as children of the Light...proving what is pleasing unto the Lord."
These passages bear much resemblance to Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:38-48). According to Nee, "The Sermon on the Mount teaches us that children attain to the responsibility of sons in the measure in which they manifest kinship of spirit and attitude with their Father. Matthew 5 sets a standard we may feel is impossibly high, Ephesians endorses it."
The truth is, if we try to walk in humility, in love and in the light without abiding in Him, we will most likely fail.
Exhibiting discipline in our external life and walk is an outworking of our inner peace of God. Family, friends, neighbors (and even an occasional enemy) need to feel and know they are unconditionally loved by us ... as we are loved by Him.
Children are a delightful and challenging tool God has given to help us understand how the family of God should function best... on earth as it is in heaven. We all have made mistakes with our kids, but our willingness to ask for forgiveness paves the path to a growing relationship.
Fathers are called to lead the family. To make decisions and stick by them, as our heavenly Father does. As covered in last year's devotionals on Proverbs, the word "father" literally means "He who decides". We fathers need to learn to yield to Father's will, turning to Him before our decisions are made.
I recently attended a meeting with Parents/Partners of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) at Paradise Community Church. The stories parents shared their experiences, trials and blessings which revealed the pain and frustration and fruitless attempts to change their child's behavior until they are finally at the end of their rope and reach out for help. I am thankful such groups like PAL-group.org are springing up to offer support for weary mothers and fathers, also near the end of their ropes.
Loving prodigal children is a real challenge for parents, but if we rest in His perfect love first, that which is impossible in the natural can be transformed into the possible... the supernatural!
Reflection: Walking in the Lord is a life-long challenge that stretches into eternity. May we first learn to first walk slowly, strengthening our spiritual muscles, in preparation for the long-distance run ahead of us ... and may we never forget to sit... while walking!
Day 8: Walking with a Limp
A well-known and loved Bible teacher from the 1970s, Bob Mumford once said, "Never trust a Christian without a limp."
What do you think he meant? That age, physical condition or infirmities are signs of spirituality or proof that we can be trusted?
I think he meant that our trustworthiness as Christians is tested and proven when we face and overcome life's trials and tribulations and experience the "fellowship of His suffering". Such circumstances force us to lean on the Lord, rather than our own strength and understanding.
You might say trusting in Him, qualifies us to be trusted by men. In the same way trusting and abiding in His love for us empowers us to love those we may find unlovable.
Eph. 3:16, 19 says, "We are strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man...to know the Love of Christ".
Nee explains, "Not only did God place us 'in Christ". I Cor. 1:30 says, by Him also "Jesus Christ... was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
So Christ is our wisdom... for right living... that we may grow up in grace... to be His expression of redemption to the hurting world in which we walk each day.
"This is one of the grandest statements in Scripture: He 'was made unto us..'" says Nee. "If we believe this, we can put in there (...) anything we need. The Lord Jesus is Himself made unto us whatever we lack."
WOW! Now that's a heavenly promise to ponder. What is it you lack today? Health? Wealth? Wisdom? Love? Forgiveness? Christ is Himself everything that we shall ever need.
Nee continues, "Once we see this, it will be the beginning of a new life for us. Our holiness will be spelled hereafter with a capital 'H', our love with a capital 'L'. He Himself is revealed as the answer in us to all God's demands".
"The operation of His life in us is in a true sense spontaneous, it is without effort of ours. The all important rule is not to "try" but to "trust", not to depend in our own strength but upon His," concludes Nee.
Reflection: Lord we trust in your perfect love for us - just as we are - imperfect, with thorns in our flesh and perhaps a limp in our walk. We thank You that everything we shall ever need has already been given to us, if we will simply take time to rest in Your wisdom, Your righteousness, Your love, before we attempt to walk uprightly.
Today we ask for opportunities to share this great inheritance with those we come in contact with and look forward to walking toward our destiny ... of being conformed to Your image and we trust your Spirit to lead us every step of the way.
Day 9: Redeeming time
Time may be the most valuable commodity on earth -- because of its strictly limited supply and our inability to halt its endless march forward or to recover precious moments from the past.
Wouldn't it be great if we could turn back the hands of time? To rewind the tape of our life and 'do-over' wasted time foolishly spent fretting over the past, or worrying about the future?
Although we cannot change one single thing in the past, we can learn lessons to avoid repeating the past. We can decide to make better choices to create better habits tomorrow, if we abide in Christ today.
"See that ye walk circumspectly," says the Apostle in the preceding verse, "not as fools, but as wise men, redeeming the time." Christians are called to save all the time we can for His best purposes, because the present "are evil days."
According to Nee, "The word 'walk' suggests first conduct or behavior, but it also contains the idea of progress toward a goal. Notice the association between time and difference between wisdom and foolishness."
To some degree we all are 'slaves of time' and schedules. But In Christ, we no longer serve time, but rather command it. If our life is governed the Creator of all time and space, we are no longer slaves to any but Him. We are sons and daughters of eternity, a timeless world awaits us.
The world lives under the tyranny of time; the urgent often trumps our best laid plans. Whether we punch a clock or create our own schedule, this world measures our success by how efficiently we steward our time and how well we accomplish assigned work tasks.
The world considers "money" to be the most accurate measurement of our success and the best redemption of time. Christian strategist Dennis Peacocke refers to money as 'time in foldable form' (or in the case of real money "gold and silver", a weight measurement of precious metals).
Indeed time is the great leveler of mankind -- we all have the exact same measure of it each day. No man has been cheated of the opportunity God has given us to become a better steward of our time - to choose using our time to gain wisdom instead of foolish amusement and vanity.
The word "redeeming," means "to purchase; to buy up" from the possession or power of anyone; and then to redeem, to set free, as from service or bondage.
Christians are called to 'buy up' the moments which others seem to throw away. Sitting and walking 'in Christ' we have the unique possibility of improving every present moment and, to some extent, regaining the time we have lost.
Sadly many Christians view time as their enemy, living in a world of regret over the past, or worry about the future. Far too many Christians are counting the moments of time until they can evacuate the earth and the trials thereof, praying for the Lord's swift return to rescue them from these evil times.
But In Christ, we are free to embrace time as our greatest asset, knowing that God is not in a hurry to accomplish His purposes; either in our life or in His creation. So while the world says "hurry up" our Lord is saying "slow down" ... listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit and I will teach you how to accomplish the purposes I have for you in the time graciously given.
Reflection: Lord this day we rest in the knowledge that You have time to finish what you have begun; confident you will continue to perfect us until we meet You face to face. May we yield our time to Your purposes, seeing that time is no longer "ours" but like our life, is now Yours.
Day 10: Rightly fitted into One
Ephesians 4: 4-16:
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it[a] says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people."[b]
9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
WOW ... what a beautiful picture of a bride finally getting her life together in preparation for that magnificent wedding day. Mature in mind, body and spirit, ready for service, in complete harmony with her head and bridegroom - Christ Himself!
[If you have time watch: "Wedding Day" by Casting Crowns]
Scientists tell us that every cell in our physical body carries two DNA codes; one code to bring the cell to maturity and reproduction, and another code to bring the cell into harmony and integration with the entire organism. It's God's natural design.
So it is in the spiritual realm also. God has placed within every Christian an individual code, or destiny to reach maturity and reproduction, as well as a corporate destiny to integrate us with the whole body of Christ. We each have a vital role to play in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God, Jesus taught, is built with "some things old and some things new," (Matt. 13:52). So the family of God is without age limitation. As parents know, age does not always equate to maturity. Maturity means we first rest, then walk with a growing willingness to be responsible for discovering our unique spiritual gifts, then learning to share them with others.
The process of coming to maturity requires: 1) a period of deliverance for the new believer, then 2) discipleship, including mentoring and apprenticeship, only then are we ready for 3) commissioning and deployment, being sent back into our confused and hurting culture. Read John 17:14-18 for a restatement of this strategy by our Lord Jesus himself.
Maturity, in Christ, involves recognizing: 1) God's sovereignty to "Take us out of the world system," (SIT) and, 2) our progressive, obedient yielding to the Holy Spirit to take the world's system of thinking out of us (WALK). It then culminates in 3) our responsive action to His call to go back into the world system to represent the Kingdom of God (STAND).
This threefold sitting, walking and standing is also the theme of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Our Bridegroom is committed to assembling his bride, made up of growing family of delivered, discipled and deployed Christians prepared to participate in the cosmic battle for God's earth.
Reflection: Lord today we give thanks for the many gifts you have given us in order to "fill the universe" with your praise and build Your family. May we continue to grow up in Christ and find our unique place of service in Your Kingdom. Wash our minds of the world's thinking so we can become fit vessels to deliver the cleansing water of the spirit to a world of thirsty souls.
Day 11: He leads, we follow
What is the word of the Lord to the church in today's world preoccupied with entertainment, possessions and various lusts of the flesh?
We learned in Genesis to rest in Him first each day, then as we allow Him to work through us we can participate in re-occupying the earth until His return. The original commission given to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful, reproduce and subdue the earth in the Garden (Gen. 1:28).
Although greatly sidetracked, this original commission from the Father was never revoked, only expanded and re-empowered by Christ. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus re-commissioned each believer to fruitful, reproduce and subdue the earth - but now with the added power of the Holy Spirit living within us to fulfill this great task of living the Truth and discipling the nations.
Historically the biggest obstacles to every fresh move of God are the leaders of the last move of God, who remain stuck in traditions and refuse to change. But God will not allow the old man or old wineskins to be limited in His eternal mission. New men and new wine are now bursting out.
Over a decade ago I recorded an audio series compiled from interviews with nearly 100 Christian leaders called "The Big Picture: The Shape of Things to Come on Planet Earth" which endeavored to better understand the true authority, mission and structure of the body of Christ in the 21st century to better serve each other and impact the world. http://www.myideafactory.net/bigpict.html
The era of spectator Christianity is now giving way to a participatory Christianity because the urgency of our present cultural crisis in America and abroad simply won't permit it.
The core issue is: If we continue to avoid the cross of Christ, there will be no true Church. This dynamic is not only valid for individual Christians, but for Christianity as a whole. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a great harvest.
No Church structure - no matter how biblical - changes Christianity from the outside in, but a life-changing encounter and relationship with Jesus, the renewing work of the Holy Spirit and a return to biblical standards to change us all from the inside out.
"Submit yourself to each other" (Eph.5:21): the end of the worldly "one-man-band" approach of leadership requires a very significant step of humility.
If everyone submits to each other, no one would be number one any longer except Jesus Christ. We will have to cease working based on status and organized accountability, but work based on spiritual function and organic, mutual trust. No more in pyramids of power, but in a togetherness and synergy of gifts and callings.
Refection: Lord today our spirit bears witness that just as we are a living organism, so is your Church. We ask that you help us find our place of service in the local Church by learning the humility of the Cross in our life...speaking words of encouragement only...guarding our tongue...that we might see the miraculous resurrection power begin to flow through our life.
Day 12: He seeks our firstfruits
The Bible has much to say about the special value firstfruits have to our Lord. Often quotes verses in church deal with our giving, our tithe, and our offerings as symbolic of our surrender to God and obedience to support the Kingdom. As David said, "I will give nothing to the Lord unless it costs me something." (I Chron. 21:24)
The giving of firstfruits is rooted in Hebrew origins, although also a custom in pagan Roman and Greek worship to the gods. According to Jewish Heritage Online...
"The Hebrew term 'bikkurim' derives from the same root as bekhor - firstborn (bikkurim are also referred to in certain instances as reshit - the first.) According to the same general principle that the firstborn of man and beast belonged to the God of Israel and were to be devoted to him, the first fruits to ripen each season were to be brought as an offering to God. The people walked in procession headed by an ox whose horns were adorned with gold and silver wreaths and with olive branches. The pilgrims were accompanied by musicians playing the flute. Rich people took the first fruits in baskets of silver and gold, while the poor carried their fruit offerings in wicker baskets made of peeled willow branches."
God is not concerned with the earthly value of our firstfruits as with our willingness to make Him first in our lives - during blessing and trials - as an expression that we know in our heart and mind that we belong to Him, lock, stock and barrel, as the saying goes.
Watchman Nee asks, "What is the difference between harvest and firstfruits? It is certainly not quality, for the whole crop is one. Their difference lies only in the time of their ripeness. Some fruits reach maturity before others and thus they become firstfruits."
"Firstfruits are carefully handpicked and fetch top market prices...The entire crop will reach ripeness, and harvest (Rev. 14:15) but the Lamb is seeking firstfruits (Rev. 14:4).
In the parable of the ten virgins (5 foolish, 5 wise, Matt. 25:1-13), the 'wise' are not those who have done better, but those who have done well at an earlier hour...their lamps were burning when the Lord arrived."
"The point of the teaching of this parable is that there is some privilege of serving Him in the future which his children may miss by being unprepared," says Nee. "The five foolish virgins had oil in their lamps, but had no reserve in their vessels. They have the Spirit, but they are not 'filled with the Spirit.' When the crisis comes they must go out to buy more oil and missed the purpose for which it was intended. The wise had sufficient oil in time."
"It is all a question of time...at the end of the parable he urges his disciples not just to be disciples, but to be watchful disciples... "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18).
"In Matt. 25 it is a question of the extra oil in the vessel - of the light being sustained, through however long a time of waiting, by means of the continual miraculous supply of the Spirit within. Allow yourself to be continually made full...a state we are to be in all the time."
This is the great challenge in our Christian walk: waiting upon the Lord. Walking forward in faith while inwardly waiting for a miracle. Reckoning our spirit full, despite very real and empty circumstances.
This is where 'body ministry' kicks in. Allowing ourselves to be led by the Spirit, to be bold enough to reach out to the hurting with healing hands for the Lord in every situation.
"Being filled with the Spirit involves both... "singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord", but also "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" The fullness of the Spirit is something we share with other Christians in mutual dependence...that we should sing together a new song before the throne (Rev. 14:3). By cooperating with the Lord, the wise provide God with what He wants: handy tools, instantly available to Him."
Reflection: During the very special days leading up to Resurrection Day, may we seek our Lord in fresh ways, offering Him the firstfruits of our time, our life, our resources, everything. May we be found wise, instant in season and out, the vessels of honor He created us to be.
Day 13: Hold your ground
On Good Friday 2012, we approach a third sphere in which Christians are called to be engaged: spiritual warfare. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil." (Eph. 6:10-11).
So far we've learned that our Christian experience begins with sitting, which then leads to walking, but we also must learn to stand - with prepared hearts and minds for conflict. Like the old saying "if we don't stand for something we will fall for anything."
Spiritual warfare is a subject many Christians would rather ignore, often feeling unequipped to wrestle with, let alone overcome God's arch enemy the devil, with his legions of demons. Today I pray we can pole-vault over a creek to discover a fresh perspective in winning the spiritual battles we all face daily.
We again begin in Genesis with a very pivotal question: Who owns the earth? God or Satan? Most Christians profess "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof", but live, speak and act as if this dirty old mud-ball is now so permeated by Satan and his minions that we must be on the offense every waking moment - because our mission is to clean up the world for God.
Right? Wrong!! Most Christians have it exactly backwards. We have been deceived into thinking Satan rules the earth and God is fighting to reclaim it, when it's just the opposite! The nature of deception is that where you think it is, it isn't, and where you think it isn't, it is!
Nee explains..."Two thrones are at war. God is claiming the earth for His dominion, and Satan is seeking to usurp the authority of God... to overrun the world with evil and exclude God from his own kingdom."
The Greek verb "stand" followed by "against" (Eph. 6:11) mean "hold your ground." This is not a command to attack... or to invade... or even march against in a foreign territory.
Nee continues, "To 'stand' implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God's, and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold on it. Notice the armor of God described in Ephesians is purely defensive, not offensive."
The difference? Defense is guarding ground that is already rightly ours. Offensive has no ground and is fighting to get it. The warfare waged by Jesus was offensive, He gained victory through the cross, but our battle is to maintain the victory Christ already gained by the Resurrection!
"In the person of Christ, God has already conquered. He has given us the victory to hold. For our part we need not struggle to occupy ground already ours. In Christ we are conquerors - 'more than conquerors' (Ro. 8:37). We do not fight for victory; we fight from victory," writes Nee.
WOW! Now that is liberating! Christ has turned the table on the enemy. But have we?
"When you fight to get the victory, then you have lost the battle at the very outset," says Nee. "Only those who sit can stand. Our power for standing, as for walking, lies in our having first been made to sit together with Christ. Our walk and warfare derive their strength from our position. If we are not sitting before God we cannot hope to stand against the enemy."
Double WOW! This, as they say, changes everything. No wonder so many spiritual battles are lost as we try, try, try to take back authority which is already ours. This must be on some level amusing to the enemy... to watch us flailing away, fighting for something we already own.
Yes, the earth is ours, not our enemy's. Christians are called to manage it, not our adversary. The resources of the planet belongs to God (and His kids) not Satan (and his legions), and are at our disposal to steward on His behalf. We are to stand His ground with boldness.
Reflection: Dear Lord how we praise and worship You for laying down your life for us, giving us the ultimate victory over sin and death...and spiritual wickedness in high places. We rejoice knowing we are already seated with You far above all rule, and authority, and power and dominion. Lord today we no longer hope to overcome, in Christ we are already the victors!
Day 14: Name above all names
How appropriate it is to continue our devotional on resting, walking and standing in the Lord during this Easter season, as Christians worldwide celebrate the day that split human history in half. Today we reflect on the name that empowers us to do the work God has entrusted to us.
17 Take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Eph. 6:17-20)
Under what circumstances are we justified in moving from defensive warfare to offensive, warfare, that is, in occupying territory which outwardly appears to be held by our enemy? Consider these two passages; Matt. 18 and John 16.
18 "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven. 19 "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matt. 18:18-20)
23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. (John 16:23,24,26)
"None can be saved without knowing the name of Jesus, and none can be effectively used of God without knowing the authority of that name, according to Nee.
"Not simply the name which he was known while among men, but the name invested now with the title and authority given to him by God after he became obedient to death... his sufferings... his exaltation and glory...Today it is in that "name which is above every name" that we gather and ask of God.
"Our eyes must be opened to see the mighty change wrought by the ascension...the power and authority given by God, before which every knee in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth must bow. Today God has committed all authority to his Son, so that in the very name itself is power. Scripture has the recurring expression 'in the name'... it is not only that he has such a name, but that we are to use it."
Jesus himself confirms the importance of asking in His name three times in John 14, 15 & 16, repeating the words, "ask in my name" (Jn. 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-26). He has placed that authority in our hands to use it.
Imagine having in your possession a letter signed by the U.S. Treasury Secretary authorizing you to march into any bank in the country and withdraw whatever amount of funds you need. No questions asked, you simply present the official signed letter to the teller or bank manager and the amount needed is paid promptly. Is there anything you could not accomplish financially?
That is type of unlimited power we all have access to "in His name"! But this amazing power is not just limited to our financial needs, but to EVERYTHING we need to fulfill our mission on earth. Jesus' name offers Christians miraculous power in three directions.
Nee explains, "His name operates 1) in our preaching to men, effective to their salvation, cleansing, justification and sanctification (Acts 4:10-12)... 2) in our spiritual warfare against Satanic powers, to bind and bring them into subjection (Mark 16:17, Luke 10:17-19, Acts 16:18)...3) in our asking toward God, "whatsoever you shall ask" ... and twice "If you shall ask anything..." (John 14:13. 15:16, 16:23).
Reflection: "In His name" alone is the power to overcome! Nothing on earth, above or below is more powerful than the Name of Jesus, when properly applied by the children of God. All is possible as a result of the Resurrection miracle. Lord Jesus, help us better understand the authority of our sword of the Spirit, Your Word and Your Name, the key to gaining victory over our daily circumstances and challenges.
Day 15: Will God back us up?
It is a wondrous thing God has done in committing to Christians the use of Jesus name, but how can we be absolutely sure God 'has our back'? Imagine arriving at the Last Supper table only to discover Jesus is not even in attendance.
"The name of Jesus is God's greatest legacy to the Church, for he has no other means for completing His task. We must be able to stand up and speak His name. If not our work lacks spiritual impact," writes Nee.
Nee asks: "Are we in such a union with the Lord that He will commit Himself to what we are doing?" Indeed, that is the pivotal question we must ask ourselves.
Before we cover the first means of knowing God can and will fully commit Himself, I want to share an email I received Monday morning from an insightful 82-year old writer in Tucson, AZ, (not professing to be a fundamentalist Christian) regarding the media coverage of Easter. The world is more than happy to erase the name, and especially the cross, of Jesus from society.
"Subject: The deletion of Jesus on TV networks... This year during the week before Easter Sunday there wasn't a single film or documentary about Jesus Christ on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS or Fox (and almost no mention on network "news" except an occasional "Happy Easter") ... Also NOTHING from the overpaid "talking heads" like Limbaugh and Hannity on daytime talk radio... As if Jesus never existed to them - and their audiences. I am still dumbfounded that MANY Christian "leaders" do not (at least) verbally protest this INCREASING BANISHMENT of nearly all mention of Jesus Christ on the MAJOR broadcast media during the only two periods of the year concerning him, Easter and Christmas! - Dick Fojut, Tucson
Where will this secularization of Christianity in America lead to if not to criminalization in the future. It's very telling that even non-Christians discern a void when Jesus name is removed from our holidays (read Holy Days). It is a testimony of both the great power in His name, and of the poor witness we Christians often are to our confused and hurting world. Lord, please forgive us.
It motivates me to insure that God can and will fully commit Himself to me, if I will learn to sit, walk and stand up for Him - so that the world can see and know Him with clarity.
Nee says there are four essential features to which God can fully commit Himself. "The first vital need is a true revelation to our hearts of the eternal purpose of God...It is a question of the identification of my purpose with the eternal purpose of God."
Tommy Barnett of Phoenix First Assembly teaches the importance of receiving a 'first-hand revelation' from God before acting, rather than a second-hand revelation from other believers or even leaders. As he puts it, "If you don't have a 'so-that'... so-what?"
Nee agrees, "We have to seek from God a revelation to our hearts by His Holy Spirit of "the counsel of His will," (Eph.1:9-11) ... and then ask ourselves 'Is it directly related to that?' ... When that is settled, all the small questions of daily guidance will solve themselves."
Reflection: Thank you Lord for the new revelation you are placing in our hearts that you want to be committed to us and our work as it resonates with Your will and purposes in the earth. May our life and work produce lasting fruit and Your commitment to back us up. Christian musician Josh Wilson's beautiful song entitled "Sing it" expresses the joy of singing in perfect harmony with Father's purposes: "You placed this song inside my heart, and all I know to do for you is sing it. No it's not much, but it's what I've got, and all I know to do for you is sing it..."
Day 16: By What Name?
In Acts 4:5-12 the apostles have been arrested for healing the sick and for preaching the resurrection of the dead. They are brought before the most powerful people in Jerusalem: "the rulers, elders, and scribes... with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family." This is the apostles' first confrontation with the very people who plotted to kill Jesus and perhaps considering the same fate for Peter and John.
The political and religious leaders interrogate the disciples by first asking: "By what power or by what name did you do this?" They demand to know the source of their authority to forgive sins, heal the sick and raise the dead.
Peter, "filled with the power of the Holy Spirit" responds: "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...".
The rulers' response, "...they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed...they could say nothing against it."
What a beautiful picture of our God silencing political and religious leaders with a first hand revelation of the miraculous power transfer from Jesus to his apostles and disciples after the resurrection and ascension, IF the name of the Lord alone is exalted. Not us and Him. Just Him.
This brings us to the second of four essential features of a work to which God can fully commit Himself. Nee puts it like this, "All work that is going to be effective in the divine purpose must be conceived by God. If we plan work and then ask God to bless it, we need not expect God to commit Himself to it. The abiding principle of all true Christian work is: "In the beginning God..."
"Thirdly, all work to be effective must depend for its continuance upon the power of God alone...Is it spiritual power or natural power? We have got to learn that, even where God has initiated a work, if we are trying to accomplish it in our own power God will never commit Himself to it."
Natural power is simply defined as what we can do without the help of God. Nee says "If we are accustomed to depend on our natural gifts, we may feel no need to cry to God. The trouble with us all is that there are so many things we can do without relying upon God."
Jesus Himself told us: "Apart from me you can do nothing".
Reflection: Lord today we seek to cease from our own work, that yours may begin. Thank you for both natural and spiritual gifts, may we learn to discern the difference when seeking Your will on a matter. May we, like the Psalmist David, make our life goal to serve the purposes of God in our generation. Thanks for the privilege of investing time at Your feet. Make our enemies, both earthly and spiritual, speechless before the power of Your mighty name.
Comment: This is a great example of how the resurrected Christ changes our lives. Prior to the resurrection Peter was meek and fearful when asked if he knew Christ, he even denied him. But after meeting the resurrected Christ he was changed, much like our lives after we are born again. -CV
Day 17: Wholly of Him
"The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him." - Henry Varley, British evangelist spoken to D.L. Moody, 1873
The world is waiting... and watching to see the Lord's majesty demonstrated in the local church and through believers exercising the power of God to change lives - starting with me. In fact, the world will never see nor enter the kingdom of God until the church becomes a clearer reflection of the King.
This means all praise, glory and honor for our good works must be diverted from us... to Him.
In 1973, at a Josh McDowell "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" rally in Flagstaff, AZ I came face to face with who Jesus really is. I marveled at the authority of his words when he declared, "Jesus is either; a liar, a lunatic or Lord... There are no other options. Who do you say He is?"
God's love was like a laser beam piercing the darkness, suddenly it all made sense... I saw the kingdom of God... and I wanted in. Sure, over the last nearly 40 years at times I felt like I am wandering in the wilderness, but through it all I see Him leading me... I see the purposes of God at work in every circumstance slowly conforming me into the image of Christ. PTL!
"What cannot stand the cross today will not survive the fire later. God never asks us to do anything we can do, instead He asks us to live a life which we can never life and to do a work which we can never do. Yet, by His grace we are living it and doing it," says Nee.
To recap, Nee sees four essential features to which God can fully commit Himself:
1. All work must begin with a revelation to our hearts of the eternal purpose of God.
2. All work to be effective in the divine purpose must be conceived by God.
3. All work to be must depend for its continuance upon the power of God alone.
4. The object of all work to which God will commit Himself must be His glory.
"When a work is wholly of Him, he will commit Himself in wonderful ways. In utter obedience to Him, you can use His name, and all hell will have to recognize your authority to do so. When God commits Himself to a thing, then He comes out in power to prove that He is in it and is Himself its Author."
David Wilkerson (1931-2011) founder of World Challenge, Inc., puts it this way in his devotion entitled "Wholly Dependent on Him" ...
"God has always wanted a people who would walk totally reliant on him before the eyes of the world. That's why he took the insignificant little nation of Israel and isolated them in a wilderness. He was placing them in a school of testing, to produce a people who would trust in him no matter what their circumstance."
"Today, the Lord is still looking for a people who'll rely totally on him. He wants a church that will testify both in words and actions that God is all-powerful on their behalf."
"Job suffered one of the worst trials any human could undergo. He lost all of his children in a tragic accident, and then he lost his wealth and possessions. Finally, he lost his physical health. And all these things happened in such a short time, they were utterly overwhelming. Yet, God had put Job on this path. Job declared, "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
Can anyone else relate? He is the Lord of all, including tragedy, that it might bring triumph over our circumstances and bear fruit for His kingdom. The key is abiding in the Vine, embracing the pruning process, knowing a season of fresh growth must surely follow a season of pain... because our loving heavenly Father is the vine dresser.
Reflection: Lord we fall on our face before You, confessing our foolish self-reliant ways. The world may boast of self-sufficiency, but we are not of this world. We are committed to Your purpose, Your power and Your glory. We pray You will commit Yourself to our work... for Your glory! May our life and work sit, walk and stand... wholly of Him.
Comment: I've found that in my own Christian walk, life can be filled with blessings of love, piece, financial security etc. however, it's when the tough times hit that our faith is tested for sure. I think only after the pruning is complete that we look back and see that maybe that trial we just came through was actually a blessing as well. -CV
Day 18: Conclusion - Committed Love
There is a glorious liberty reserved for God's children. The freedom to love, to forgive, to sit, walk and stand in the Lord is the birthright of every child of God. No child of His should settle for anything less. Because we are forgiven, we are able to forgive. Because He first loved us, we are able to love - beyond just affection into the realm of devotion.
Devotional or committed love is developed over time. To produce the kind of faith our Father is delighted may require patiently waiting on the Lord. The highest motivation for love is not our feelings or affections, but rather, an honest, intelligent facing of the question, "What is best for the one I love?" This is how God loves us.
On Easter, we were reminded that it is the committed love of God for us that was expressed through the cross of Christ, NOT his anger toward us. The cross of Christ is the epitome of his identification with us as human beings - even in our sin and shame.
Because of His identification with us despite our shameful situation, we are invited to identify with Him in what the Apostle Paul calls the "glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). That is the hope of resurrection!
We are called to be free from all of our guilt and shame, and to live in the freedom of God's love for us. There is freedom in the cross. The true secret to a life of freedom is learning to abide in the vine (John 15:1-8).
Watchman Nee concludes his short, power-packed classic, "Sit, Walk Stand" with a story to demonstrate the truths presented therein. He tells of a period of severe testing in his ministry, disappointment and near despair.
He and his team of 7 workers traveled to a Chinese island village to share the gospel, but encountered no interest in God and widespread worship of their local god Ta-wang. Every January they celebrated with a festival. For 286 years they always had a perfect day without rain or cloud, giving the islanders complete confidence in Ta-wang.
One of the younger member of the team, brother Wu impetuously declared that this year on the day of festival it would rain. The crowd responded by saying if it rains then your God is God!
When Nee heard the news he thought "what have we done?" Had we made a terrible mistake, or dare we ask God for a miracle?
In prayer the word came to Nee, "Where is the God of Elijah?" Were we going to fight our way through this battle, or were we going to rest in the finished victory of Christ?
The day of festival arrived Nee awakened to rays of sunshine coming thru a single window in the attic they slept in. As the team gathered for breakfast, they prayed "Lord, please send the rain!" Again the word came "Where is the God of Elijah?"
"There was not a cloud in the sky, but we knew God was committed," says Nee. Before they could say "Amen!" came the sound of drops on the tile roof, then as they ate their rice came a steady shower. They prayed and gave God thanks, asking for heavier rain. By the time they finished their 2nd bowl of rice rain was coming down in bucketfuls.
After they finished breakfast they entered the village and heard the sound of youngsters saying, "There is God; there is no more Ta-wang!" The village streets were soon flooded, cancelling the festival procession. Divination was made. "Today was the wrong day," came the answer, "the festival is to be in 3 more days".
Nee immediately felt the assurance by God that He would send rain again in 3 days. That afternoon the sky cleared, and Lord added to them 30 converts over the next 3 days. As the hour of the festival approached, they again prayed, and again God poured out the rain! In those few days they experienced being in the very center of God's will.
"Together we had been granted a brief glimpse of 'the mystery of His will,' Paul describes in Eph. 1:9 and 3:10. Do you see what it means to 'stand'? We do not try to gain ground, we merely stand on the ground which the Lord Jesus has gained for us, and resolutely refuse to be moved from it," concludes Nee.
"The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by Him and standing in Him. We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength for a consistent and unfaltering work in the world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with Him at last in triumphant possession of the field. "Unto Him...be the glory... forever." AMEN!
Reflection: As we come full circle we affirm the central truth of the good news... that our Christianity does not begin with a big DO, but with a big DONE. That was Paul's message to the Ephesians... and to us. May we carry this truth with us each day when we are tempted to rely on our old self. May our lives be living epistles in a world preoccupied with "doing". As we face adversity we are committed to God, girded in truth, fitted with the breastplate of His righteousness, feet shod with a prepared gospel, firmly grasping our shield of faith in Him, our mind protected by the helmet of His salvation and with the sword of His Spirit... "that we may open our mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel," (Eph. 6:19)
End note: This concludes this devotional series on Sit, Walk, Stand. I hope the simple truths have been a blessing to you. If so, you may also enjoy Proverbs devotionals from 2011. I am praying about starting a new devotional series soon, perhaps based on another Nee classic, "The Normal Christian Life". Please let me know if you would like to be included.
P.S. Josh McDowell and his son Sean have a new book and video series. I was blessed watching this: which is entitled "The Theology of Forgiveness" in which Josh explains to unbelieving Muslim why the trinity was God's only solution for reconciliation between a perfect holy God and fallen mankind. It is such a blessing to see a son following his father in ministry! In His service... and at your service, -db