Kingdom of God
Chapter 7, Content in Weakness, part II
“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (II Corinthians 12:10, NAS).”
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (I Corinthians 2:2-5, NAS).”
“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor (I Corinthians 4:10, NAS).”
Most people, including the majority of mainstream Christians, view strength and weakness incorrectly. Even the most devout of believers think they can somehow be strong enough to overcome their dilemmas with working or praying harder when all that is required is rest. We seem to perceive weakness as bad and fleshly strength as good. At the heart of the matter, that thinking is backwards.
Above we read in several texts that only in our weakness can the strength of Christ prevail through us. It is when we are strong in the earthly sense that we, inadvertently, block the power of God. For me, it wasn’t until life went terribly wrong and my own strength failed that I was able to see God for the first time with clarity and intimacy. It wasn’t until I was stripped of family and friends that I was able to say, “I cannot do this, this thing called life.” Growing up in a common denominational church, I was certain I had great spiritual maturity by the time I graduated high school. It was because of this warped perspective that I could not hear the voice of God or receive His admonishment or direction.
I didn’t think I was boasting; I merely saw it as a fact that I was mature. After all, I was no less mature than the spiritual “elders” surrounding me. As it turned out, we were all spiritually weak because we thought ourselves so strong and wise. As we read above, our faith definitively and without question cannot reside in the wisdom of men. Our only strength comes from recognizing our irreversible weakness. When I think I’m something or somebody, I fail to see Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection abiding through me.
Paul writes in I Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.” This man was anointed of God to write the majority of the New Testament, yet he made himself a fool for Christ’s name’s sake. Too many want to boast in their righteousness, power, strength, authority, ability, or things of the like and, in so doing, they miss the power, presence, strength, authority and the glory of Yahweh.
Weakness is the best place to be if you want to experience the move and presence of Yahweh. When God’s people begin to understand and accept this simple concept, we will be better equipped and “well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” People throughout denominational churches proclaiming the power of God are still operating with the power of their flesh and don’t realize it. They may have good intentions but by utilizing their natural strength, they’re omitting God. Often people are operating in soul-power as was used by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I discussed this in detail in Looking for God, so I won’t elaborate here. Holy Spirit power ruling all our natural abilities and soul is the only power from which God’s people should draw. I highly recommend Watchman Nee’s book, The Latent Power of the Soul for further insight on this subject.
Chapter 6: Becoming Base and Foolish, part II
We’ve seen famous athletes who are suddenly taken out of the game because of an injury and they’re completely lost having no idea how to be anything other than an athlete. We’ve witnessed the filthy rich turned to rags for one reason or another. The actual foolish, at the core, are those who think themselves wise. The authentically wise are those who place no value on anything of themselves. If you are in a situation where you have come to the end of yourself, recognize God is at hand. He earnestly desires you to humble yourself before Him so He may bless you doubly. Don’t think yourself so great that, in your weakness, you believe God has wronged you. Do not boast in your greatness assuming God owes you something.
Don’t despise becoming the base things of the Earth. It is there you will find the righteous right hand of God and all His mercy and grace. With everything my family has endured with mine and Sophia’s physical maladies, along with diminished wages from Michael’s job over the years, I am continually humbled to witness and experience first-hand the awesomeness of such an amazing God. It isn’t that Yeshua immediately manifested His healing, which I believe will happen any day, the restoration of finances, which I believe will happen any day, or that everything suddenly became perfect. No, it is a matter of watching God produce the impossible! Countless amazing God-only things have happened along the way. They confirm always that God is God; that He is in love with me, with my family, with my enemies, with the naysayers, and with His magnificent creation that I could never deny His sovereignty.
This is how foolish I am and I praise God for it! I believe. I expect. I wait upon the Lord when people or circumstances would shout loudly, “There is no God!” God avenges those who make themselves base for His name’s sake. those who lose everything and anything so as to gain eternal life.
Lose to Gain:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, NAS)
Philippians reads, “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” Knowing Christ is only attainable through loss – total loss – because it isn’t about more information, it is about intimacy with the Savior. There is nothing more valuable in this universe. One can only know Christ Jesus through death just as it was for Adam. To know, in the deepest sense of the word, is to to immerse completely into something or someone. Comparing it to human relationships, when a person falls deeply in love, one can say they die to themselves or they lose themselves in the other person. They “lose” themselves for another.
The person in love will do anything to get the object of their affection to reciprocate their love. Being in love is often referred to as painful. “Love hurts,” people say. It is painful because those who were once very independent become dependent on the other person. People have been known to commit literal suicide when their love is not returned, and human love pales in comparison to the pure love of Yeshua. We need to be dependent upon Him and independent of self. This is “becoming base”; becoming as nothing so as to gain everything of value.
Counting everything you are and possess as loss is, hands down, the epitomy of becoming as nothing for the sake of Christ.
“Why me, Lord?” or rather “Why my child?” The question of “why” has to be the most commonly asked question of anyone throughout the ages. “Surely God who is loving has forgotten us. Doesn’t He love us? Is He punishing us? Is He lacking in power, goodness or greatness? Surely a good God would not allow this. If He were great, we wouldn’t suffer so.” To be clear, God is equally loving, good and great. He is all powerful and able to heal in any capacity needed; in fact, His healing is fully intact and is complete in the spirit-realm. The problem lies not in who God is, but in how we perceive Him and our circumstances.
We read in the first few lines of the 73rd Psalm of Asaph, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He continues citing how the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Here we witness the candor of a man who was in love with God. He begins with stating the truth about God, that He loves His people, then goes into the confession of his envy of the wicked who prosper. Envy, as shown in numerous verses of God’s Word, is sin. Not only is it sin, but it is mercilessly destructive.
I deeply appreciate Asaph’s confession of his envy of those who flourish yet are wicked. When one has set their cap to serving the Lord yet suffers greatly, it is all too easy to become prideful assuming God should be more mindful of the righteous; this is pride. In our prideful spirit, we believe God has wronged us, forgotten us or altogether forsaken us. This simply is not true. There are a multitude of Scriptures preparing God’s people in how to stand in the evil day, how we have overcome the world yet beset by a myriad of sufferings.
We’re back to the problem: is it God or is it man’s prideful thinking? Without question, it is the latter. When we lay down our fleshly mindset (conscious or unconscious) of “I deserve better because I love the Lord,” already we can deduce we do not love God as much as we think. In fact, we think too highly of ourselves and love ourselves in an unhealthy fashion. It isn’t until we get to know our Sovereign King that we can take hold of a major paradigm shift. The bottom line is, we are all unworthy of God’s grace, yet He extends it regardless. All of humankind deserves hell, yet, in His supreme compassion, He allows us to partake in His worth, His Kingdom, His grace and kindness.
When our children suffer, it is far worse than suffering in our own bodies. Nevertheless, God is sovereign; He is just in all His ways. I believe 100% in supernatural healing, binding away spirits and releasing Holy Spirit in their place, anointing with oil, laying on hands from elders, repenting of known sin and going to sin no more, and breaking generational or other curses. When, however, one who walks with the Lord has done all this through faith and they don’t immediately experience a shift in the situation, we must stand in faith and trust that the Lord is all He proclaimed. His promises remain steadfast and sure.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Instead of asking, “Why”, we need to begin to humble ourselves and turn the “why” into praise. Let us come to the Father on behalf of our children so as to praise God in faith that He is who He says He is as well as stand in the faith we proclaim. Additionally, stop thinking only of your situation and begin to ask, “Lord, in all this suffering, how may I aid and comfort another in theirs.”
Asaph closed his psalm with the words, “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on Earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”
As parents, let us release the bitterness and embrace the God we say we love. Though our feet nearly slipped, allow God to rescue so that our feet are once again planted on solid ground. It isn’t enough to entrust our lives to the Lord, but we must equally, or more so, trust Him with our children.
I Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.
Chapter 6: Becoming Base and Foolish, part I
“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (I Corinthians 1:27-29).”
Most view weakness as foolishness, as if it’s the worst thing that can happen to someone. Adversely, it’s when we weaken ourselves completely before the Father we are able to go beyond human ability. God purposes to nullify the things that are (anything of human ability) so that we have nothing left from which to boast or pull strength.
God has graciously granted mankind His image which includes a great many assets, gifts, attributes, talents, brains, brawn, and so on. His directive for such assets is so we may glorify the King and flourish in the Earth, subduing it as was intended in the Garden of Eden. We are to bring Heaven down to Earth. Unfortunately, mankind, in all its pride, has become more dependent upon such gifts from God in lieu of God. Instead of leaning upon Christ, we use them when we should submit them allowing God to utilize them for the good of all mankind. For instance, if you have a gift of prophecy, you may speak something out of your great intellect instead of waiting upon the Spirit to lead. This is using human power instead of Holy Spirit revelation. Furthermore, if you have a talent of painting, you may for the sake of a huge paycheck paint something not approved of God because you can. You did it with the mindset, “God must be blessing me” when it had nothing to do with God at all.
People who do subject everything to God are considered foolish, childish, silly, and worse. People say, “You can accomplish____________ in your own strength. Why do you call upon God?” These same people, in due season, become humbled by the same God on whom they spit. We who are hidden in Christ recognize we are nothing and no one outside the perfect will of God. We are to become as dust and ash as did Job at the end of his trials. He once leaned heavily on his abilities to accomplish all he did pre-trials. He stirred God’s wrath by justifying himself. Unlike the norm, Job finally saw the error of his ways, humbled himself and was then positioned before the Almighty to be doubly blessed.
When will we see from the perspective of Heaven? When will God’s people humble themselves, make themselves as nothing so that God may intervene? We’re so busy being angry with God for not stepping in or having allowed our predicament in the first place. We are remiss simply because we do not understand He’s attempting to bring us to foolishness so that He may be our wisdom, our solace, our Savior, our everything.
When All My Strength Has Failed
Chapter 6, part I of III
Alexys V. Wolf
Chapter 5b: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh
“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…(Philippians 3:3, NAS).”
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ephesians 2:3, NAS).”
Definition of Circumcision: removal of the foreskin or prepuce of the male genital organ
In the natural, circumcision is a customary, religious practice of being set apart from other people groups by removing a layer of skin not required for life. It is removed as a symbol of purity. One is born with it but is not necessary to sustain life, much like the appendix or gallbladder. Spiritually, God calls His people to be “set aside” through circumcision. We’re all born with a fleshly, sinful nature, but it must be cut away so as to be set aside unto God. It has everything to do with characteristics and predispositions with which we are all born. To say, “I was born this way” as if to excuse sin or bad behavior is invalid before God. We’re all born with characteristics, flaws and temptations that, once in Christ, must be abdicated to God through spiritual circumcision. For that matter, we’re all born little babies, but we do not remain in such a form.
To be circumcised in Christ means you live only unto Christ and you willingly cut away that which is displeasing to the King. It is a matter of surrendering everything. “Put no confidence in the flesh” Paul says, by definition, the flesh is defiled. The fleshly nature of mankind is a heavy yoke no one can bear very long. It is condemned and can breed only corruption, no exemptions. There is no exclusive club comprised of people who are born into righteousness. We are all born into the nature of the world with our minds corrupt from birth. There are natural weaknesses that don’t need to be kept and controlled; they need to be forfeited altogether for the cause of Christ.
A baby or young child may be innocent from blatant sin, but a child naturally knows how to manipulate with crying, whining, begging, nagging and things of the like. It comes naturally figuring out quickly how to get what it wants. That isn’t innocence, that’s the sin nature at work without even realizing what’s happening.
It is crucial you and I understand we are all born into the sin nature of Adam. There is no good person good enough that God would look upon them and say, “Okay, you, you and you are exempt from resigning the Adamic nature because I like your style!” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God (Matthew 19:16; Romans 7:18).” True circumcision is spiritual and it is a matter of cutting away that which divides you from intimacy with God.
All God’s people should desire and pray that “the natural will become unnatural and the supernatural of God become natural.” Translation: you personally should be so attuned to and led by Holy Spirit that acting worldly becomes unnatural, and operating supernaturally, as God, becomes everyday life. In this condition, whatever unholy characteristics are present with which we are born, they are brought into submission to the Holy One so that He will reign in their stead.
“They (the righteous) will have no fear of bad news” reads Psalm 112:7. For anyone who walks with God who has a chronically ill child, this verse alone has the power to uplift the most downtrodden in the darkest of times. God’s promise to those who love Him and keep his commands is that the righteous will never be forsaken, they will never be shaken.
I speak as one who is, through Jesus’ blood, the righteous seed of Abraham. As such, I have no fear of bad news because I trust the One who upholds His word as well as our family. Over the last 9 years, especially the last 3, I have watched Sophia go up and come down thousands of times over. One by one, we hear a diagnosis for this and for that. Just last week they determined she has dysautonomia, a malfunction of the nervous system. Three times in a week she had to get IV fluids because her body can’t retain them. This is causing chronic dehydration, fevers and tachycardia. Our next step is to visit the neurologist and cardiologist.
I can say without hesitation, I have no fear of bad news because my confidence lies in the God of all creation. It does not mean I like what’s happening or that I am enjoying watching my daughter suffer. It does mean I believe beyond what I see. I trust all things work together for good for those who love God. My heart is secure in Jesus, the Christ. I will praise Him all the more until I see heavenly, divine results concerning Sophia. My encouragement is in personally knowing who God is; in such intimate knowledge, it overrides temporary discouragement.
“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor (Psalm 112:6-9).”
Chapter Five: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh, part I
“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27, NAS).”
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1, NAS).”
Definition of Abdicate: renounces one’s throne. Synonyms: disown, renounce, give up, refuse, relinquish, repudiate, abandon, turn one’s back on, wash one’s hands of, forgo, waive, abjure
I love this word “abdicate” because it is so in line with the meaning of “deny self”, “die to self”, “take up your cross”, “surrender”, “living sacrifice” and other expressions of ridding our person of the nature of the flesh. We, mankind, have made our flesh our throne from which we rule and no one can tell us what to do – not even God.
We worship self by following our heart when we should deny the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No possible hope can be found in the heart of a man separate from the heart of Jehovah. This is why it is a matter of life and death that we disown the throne we have made of ourselves and abdicate to the King of kings. Do you remember the definition of “surrender” in chapter three? It is to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” The throne of self is the enemy of the Throne of God and must submit.
Since Christ is our only hope, it makes sense that one would have to concede unto the One who can save those who are lost. We must deny ourselves if we are to expect anything of the Lord, especially strength. It’s all too easy for the flesh to appear strong when there are no real struggles afoot but, when things begin to go awry, we can’t help but acknowledge the glaring weakness of the flesh.
Paul, a mighty warrior for the Kingdom gospel, said he “made his body a slave”. This is because he understood full well how askew the flesh of man is, no matter the man, no matter how closely that man walks with the Lord. In fact, it was because of his close relationship with the Lord that he understood the intensely sinful nature of mankind. He went on to say that he made his body a slave so that “I myself will not be disqualified”. Many a person of God has fallen away due to the fleshly nature they refused to abandon, all the while preaching salvation to others.
We read in Mark 8 that, for those who want to save their life, they will lose it and vice versa. We cannot rightly attempt to hold to this life and somehow force it into morality so as to please God. The flesh must be acknowledged and rendered as dead since it already is. This is taking up our cross – it is death to self. The flesh will never be transformed into the image of God; therefore, it cannot be allowed to thrive even when we believe it to be “under control.”
If Jesus had to give up His life due to the nature of the flesh, this tells us the flesh is defiled beyond restoration. Christ did not give up His life that we may have ours; He gave up His life that we may have His. We are to take on His life into our mortal shell. We try too hard as “Christians” to will our flesh into submission or, in other words, we try to keep it controlled, much like a pet Rattlesnake. It is impossible to control the uncontrollable long-term. It must be extinguished; it must be 100% subjected to the holiness of Almighty God. This is the only possible way to become self-controlled – subjected and surrendered to Christ’s life.
You will read this in all my writings because it is all throughout God’s Word. The Bible is clear. The flesh being forced into morality is not the solution. It is weak and we must stop pretending it is strong enough to allow us to overcome our circumstances. To get to the root, flesh is not only weak but altogether defiled and dead in the sight of God; it is irreversibly cursed. It can never produce enough strength or power to aid you in a torrential downpour of life.