Friday, February 28, 2014

grape vine or wreath

The Wreath
A friend of mine whose grapevine died, had
put it out for trash.
I said to her, "I'll take that vine and make
something of that."
At home the bag of dead, dry vines looked
nothing but a mess, but as I gently bent
one vine, entwining ' round and 'round,
A rustic wreath began to form, potential did abound
One vine would not go where it should,
and anxious as I was,
I forced it so to change its shape, it broke -
and what the cause?
If I had taken precious time to slowly change
its form,
It would have made a lovely wreath, not a
dead vine, broken, torn.
As I finished bending, adding blooms,
applying trim,
I realized how that rustic wreath is like my life within.
You see, so many in my life have tried to make
me change.
They've forced my spirit anxiously, I tried to rearrange.
But when the pain was far too great,
they forced my fragile form,
I plunged far deeper in despair, my spirit broken, torn
Then God allowed a gentle one that knew of
dying vines,
To kindly, patiently allow the Lord to take His time
And though the vine has not yet formed a
decorative wreath,
I know that with God's servants' help one day when
Christ I meet,
He'll see a finished circle, a perfect gift to Him.
It will be a final product, a wreath with all the trim.

So as you look upon this gift, the vine round
and complete,
Remember God is using you to gently shape His wreath.

unpublished poem by Kathleen Viaes page 205 "Living Free in Christ" Neil Anderson

Monday, February 24, 2014

Growth: Spritual Growth

Part II
Principles of Spiritual Growth
by Miles J. Stanford 
Consecration-Which life is to be consecrated to Him-the old self-life, or the new Christ-life? God can accept absolutely nothing from the old-He sees and acknowledges only that which is centered in His Son, who is our Life. “Yield yourselves unto God, as…alive from the dead” (Rom. 6:13). It is utterly futile to expect a believer, by means of consecration, surrender or commitment, to step from his ground of substitution as spoken of in Romans 3-5 on to that of the deeper truths in Romans 8 and 12:1. There is an all-important area of identification truth in Romans 6, 7 that cannot be skipped over. It is the man who is conscious of his own impotence as a believer who will learn that by the Holy Spirit he can lead a holy life.

Self-In order for one to get beyond just knowing about the Lord Jesus and enter into a consistent and growing personal knowledge of, and fellowship with, Him, one must first come to know oneself. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the self-life to the believer. The Holy Spirit will teach us “Not I, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20).

Self-denial-As we learn to stand on the finished work of Calvary, the Holy Spirit will begin to faithfully and effectively apply that finished work of the cross to the self-life, thereby holding it in the place of death-inactive-resulting in the “not I, but Christ’ life (Gal. 2:20).

The cross- Our intelligent faith, standing on the facts of Calvary, gives the Holy Spirit freedom to bring that finished work into our daily lives. Calvary is the secret of it all. It is what He did there that counts, and what He did becomes a force in the life of a Christian when it is appropriated by faith. This is the starting point from which all Godly living must take its rise.

Discipleship-A disciple is one who is free from the old and free for the new.

Process of discipleship-All that is not Christ, no matter how nice in appearance and profession, is revealed for what it is-just self. There is a stripping, right down to the germ of life, right on down until there is nothing left but Christ, who is our life. Down, Down into death (see  John 12:24).

Rest-True activity is that which springs out of, and is ever accompanied by, rest. It is only as we know what it is to be “still,” that we are ready to “go forward.” “We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

Help-Christian living is not our living with Christ’s help, it is Christ living His life in us.

Cultivation-Each of us must be thoroughly cultivated before He can effectively cultivate others through us. It is not that there will be no service for us until we are spiritually mature but that most of our service on the way to maturity is for our own development, not so much that of others. To the extent that we learn how our Father has had to handle us through the years will we understand how He would have us share with others. We must be cultivated to be cultivators.

Continuance-As our Lord takes us along through the years, it slowly dawns on us that there are vast, almost infinite, areas of development through which He must still lead us (see 11 Tim. 2:1-3). We rejoice with you as you continue in Him. “The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you” (II Thess. 3:3).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Principles of Spiritual Growth" by Miles J. Stanford

Principles of Spiritual Growth
by Miles J. Stanford

    The aim of this book is to carefully bring out some of the more important principles of spiritual growth in order to help build on a sound biblical foundation in Christ.
    The aim of this paper, in two parts, is to take each chapter and give just one paragraph to entice the reader to explore the book and the subject further.

Faith-true faith must be based solely on scriptural facts. Unless our faith is established on facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation or presumption. Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends.

Time-It takes time to get to know ourselves; it takes time and eternity to get to know our infinite Lord Jesus Christ. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months. Rest in God’s time not mine.

Acceptance-There are two questions that every believer must settle as soon as possible. The one is, Does God fully accept me? And the second, If so, upon what basis does He do so? Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ (Rom. 5:1). The peace is God’s toward us, through His beloved Son-on this our peace is to be based. God is able to be at peace with us through our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:20). And we must never forget that His peace is founded solely on the work of the cross, totally apart from anything whatsoever in or from us (Rom. 5:8).

Purpose-God’s purpose of making man in His image is for communion, fellowship and cooperation (Rom. 8:28, 29). God has a natural law in force to the effect that we are conformed to that on which we center our interest and love. If we are attracted to this present evil world, we become increasingly worldly; if we pamper and live for self, we become more and more self-centered; but when we look to Jesus Christ, we become more and more like Him.  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure: (Phil. 2:13)(see II Cor. 4:11; Phil. 1:21 and John 12:20, 21).

Preparation-God’s basic ingredient for growth is need. Without personal needs, we would get nowhere in our Christian life. The reason our Father creates and allows needs in our lives is to turn us from all that is outside of Christ, centering us in Him alone (Gal. 2:20). The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted. Watchman Nee puts first things first in saying, “God does not set us here first of all to preach or to do any work for Him. The first thing for which He sets us here is to create in others a hunger for Himself…No true work will ever begin in a life without first of all a sense of need being created…”

Complete in Him-Since we are complete in our Lord Jesus, it will not do to try and add to that finished work. It is now a matter of walking by faith and receiving, or appropriating from the ever-abundant source within. Our part is not production but reception of our life in Christ. This entails Bible-based fact-finding, explicit faith in Him and His purpose for us in Christ and patient trust while He takes us through the necessary processing involved.

Appropriation-In order to appropriate something for our daily walk in Christ, there are two essentials: to see what is already ours in Christ; and to be aware of our need for it.

Identification-see Romans 6; Gal. 2:20 Nothing more needs to be written.