All that we see are but mere shadows. The good things are shadows of Christ, whereas the evil things are shadows of hell.
I will begin with how evil things are shadows of hell, before we get into the much greater topic of how good things are shadows of Christ. Some have decided that pain and suffering in this world is hell, but that is not so. Pain and suffering warn us of hell. Hell is much worse than what we experience on earth. The greatest pain here will not compare to that of hell. That is why it is by far better to pluck out your own eye that causes you to sin, than to be cast into hell with both eyes. That horrible pain of plucking out your own eye is but a shadow of the pain of hell. But, let’s move on to greater things than hell.
All good things are shadows of Christ. Each good thing reveals Him in a different way and in a different measure. There is not a place that you can look without seeing Christ. The highway may be the way you get to work, but Christ is the true Way. There are many signs that show you where to go on the road, but Christ is the real Sign that directs us. We dwell in houses, but Christ is our true Home. You feel relief from a cool breeze in the heat of summer, but Christ is our true Relief. The sun gives us light and warmth, but Christ is a Light to our path and gives us
His warmth. A tree is lifeless in the winter, but comes to life in spring. There you see a shadow of His resurrection.
The entire land is a great shadow of Christ. From the land, mankind receives everything it needs. The land gives us food, water, materials for building, precious jewels, and the list can go on. The land is abundant. Christ is our Land, and from Him comes everything we need in abundance. Are you hungry? He is your Food. Do you need shade? He will cover you. Do you need your Spirit lifted? He is far more pleasant to look upon than any wildflowers.
Do you understand? Look anywhere and the shadow of Christ is obvious for those who look through His Spirit. He is the ultimate Reality and all that you see and naturally experience is a lesser reality.
“Also in the church in Rome was a godly man named Lawrence, who was a minister of the Gospel and in charge of distributing the church’s goods. Marcianus greedily demanded that Lawrence tell him where the church’s riches were hid, thinking he could take them for himself. Lawrence requested three days in which to gather the riches together and present them to the governor.”
“When the third day came, Marcianus demanded that Lawrence keep his promise. Whereupon Lawrence stretched out his arms over some poor Christians that he had gathered in the place with him and said ‘These are the precious riches of the Church. They are the treasures in which faith in Christ reigns, in whom Christ has His dwelling place. What more precious jewel can the Church have than those in whom Christ promised to dwell?’”
“…After many cruel torments, this meek slave of Christ was laid on his fiery bed. But in God’s providence, it was as a bed of soft feathers, and the godly Lawrence laid there and perished as if taking a nourishing rest.” – John Foxe, The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
“…The reader of this book must keep his heart pure- that is to say, he is not to read it out of curiosity concerning future events. He ought instead to peruse its pages with the desire to know more of God’s word so that he may keep God’s will and may receive whatever He intends to give through His word.” – Watchman Nee
In Aids to “Revelation”, Watchman Nee opens our eyes to see that “…the book of Revelation is not one of secrecy but one of disclosure.” This opposes the modern view that Revelation is one of mysterious symbols that cannot be understood. To show that Revelation is indeed a revelation, Watchman Nee points out that more than half of the symbols in Revelation are already explained in its pages.
This book in not an in depth study of Revelation, but is rather, as its title states, an aid. Watchman Nee briefly examines the various interpretations of Revelation and decides that the Futurist position is most satisfactory. Although, He refuses to “argue which interpretation is right and which is wrong”. The true interpretation of Revelation is to be found in its own pages.
The key to understanding Revelation, according to the Watchman Nee, is in Revelation 1:19:
Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
(Rev 1:19 ESV)
Therefore, Watchman Nee divides the books into these three categories: Things that you have seen, those that are, and those that are to take place after this. As he describes these divisions, Watchman Nee explains how the prophecies of Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John are all complementary and speak of the same things. In addition, Watchman Nee describes the meaning and significance of numbers and uses Scripture to reinforce the meaning of each number.
This book is a great encouragement to those of us who are overwhelmed by the complexity of modern interpretations and the belief that this book is not understandable. If you don’t agree with Watchman Nee’s understanding of Revelation, in spite of His Scripture references and use of historical sources, this book will at least encourage you that the book of Revelation was meant to be understandable for those who love God.
In “Let Us Pray”, Watchman Nee brings us into the deep waters of the mystery of prayer. He reveals that “the prayer which a believer utters on earth is but the voicing of the Lord’s will in heaven”. Any expression of our own will that is not God’s will is not prayer at all and will be ineffective.
Using examples from Scripture, Watchman Nee shows the importance of prayer in the lives of Christians, because “all the actions in heaven are governed by the actions on earth!” Although, God has His eternal will, which He will complete, He will wait to act until His People join with Him in prayer.
Watchman Nee uses the parable of the widow, who repeatedly bothers the judge because of the oppression of her enemy, to show the importance of praying against Satan. This is a type of prayer that Jesus prophesied would be rare when He returns.
I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
(Luk 18:8 ESV)
Watchman Nee continues throughout the book showing the importance of prayer, offering examples of effectual prayers, explaining types of prayers, and revealing the schemes that Satan uses to harm us.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much when I started reading this little book. I have quite a few books on prayer and there comes a point when you have to ask: “Is there anything else that someone can say about prayer?” Watchman Nee has showed me my many failures in prayer. I understood that prayer is always to be according to God’s will, but I didn’t realize He waits for our prayers before He acts.
How unfaithful to my Lord have I been in this matter! I have not been praying for His return. I have not been praying for Satan to be bound and cast into the pit. I have not begged our Father to rebuke the evil one with all of His wrath for causing all kinds of pains and sufferings on His Children. Christ has revealed to me that He wishes for us to join in His work and is willing to delay the fulfillment of His will, because we don’t yet care enough to pray about His desires. How the army of heaven has suffered, because we have been unwilling to aid them in their battle against the enemy of Christ.
If Christ is always interceding for us, how can we justify not joining with Him in fulfilling the eternal purpose of God?
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psa 46:10 ESV)
Some of my most enjoyable times with Christ, have been in silence. To sit still and see Him by faith is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t take words to worship Him. You can worship Him by just enjoying Him. To forget the troubles of the world, if even for a moment, and turn your gaze to Him, honors Him much. Instead, of bringing Him your laundry list, you can bring Him yourself and seek Him for no other reason than because you want to enjoy His Presence. If only we turned our focus from our outward duties to God more often, we would surely be consumed with a holy passion for Him. Somehow, during this time, He fills us with contentment, while filling us with more desire. If only we knew how important this quiet time is to Him, perhaps we wouldn’t consider it wasted time.
- The Old and the New Creation Through Christ (thekingspresence.wordpress.com)
- We Should not Shrink from Suffering (thekingspresence.wordpress.com)
- What Does It Mean for a Christian to Bear Fruit? (thekingspresence.wordpress.com)
- Let Us Be Content With Our Sufferings (thekingspresence.wordpress.com)
- Walk in Christ (thekingspresence.wordpress.com)
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2Co 12:7-10 ESV)
In order for the eternal purpose of God to be made manifest in us, troubles, trials, difficulties, and sufferings are allowed to come to us. God is never the originator of evil. Instead, Satan is the author of evil.
Evil is not something created, it is the lack of good. In the same way as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of goodness. You can’t turn on darkness, but you can turn on light.
Satan cannot act against God’s Children, unless it is by the permission of God. God can prevent or stop any trial, whenever He pleases.
You may suffer because of sin, to become more Christlike, to glorify God, or a combination of these. Don’t assume that you are suffering just because you have sinned, for we suffer because we live in a fallen world, where there is an unseen war being waged by powers and principalities beyond our understanding. If you suffer, seek God and He will give you understanding by His Spirit.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
(Joh 9:1-3 ESV)
God used a messenger of Satan to keep Paul from becoming conceited and to reveal to Him that the power of God is perfected in our weakness. When we do experience any momentary trouble, or lasting difficulty, we can trust that God is using it for our good. Let us be content with our weaknesses, when trouble is upon us, knowing that our loving Father is in complete control. We see from Paul’s example that it is not wrong to ask God to remove our thorns, but that we must be resigned to His will if He chooses not to.
Who are we to question God, whose ways are not our ways and who is beyond or full understanding? We know He is always good and does what is best for us. Let’s walk in peace and contentedness no matter what our circumstances are because we are in Christ.
But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.
(1Jn 2:27 ESV)
Many people search books to learn about God. It is good to learn from others, what God has revealed to them about Himself. This is much easier for those who have not learned to listen to God. But, those who have walked with God long enough, should be able to move on to learning from God Himself. Of course, the Spirit uses books to teach us, but He is able to use anything to teach us. Also, He will use others to teach you, especially if you are not listening. Sometimes, words cannot even express what He shows You about the glories of Christ. Use Scripture to evaluate what you believe the Spirit is telling you, in order to ensure you are not being deceived by Satan.
If you are willing to practice His presence in humility and for no reason but out of love for Christ, He will share Himself with you in abundance.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Col 2:6-7 ESV)
Receiving Christ is only the beginning of something magnificent. Together, each body of Christians is to walk in Christ, be rooted in Him, and be built up in Him. These things require that we be well established in our faith in Christ. No individual can do these things on his or her own. Each one of us is given a portion of Christ, according to God’s grace. As we experience the living Christ with other Christians, we increasingly display His splendor.
Don’t be fooled into thinking there is a method to growing in Christ. It takes time, love, and lives spent in the presence of God.
“That he expected after the pleasant days God had given him, he should have his turn of pain and suffering; but that he was not uneasy about it, knowing very well, that as he could do nothing for himself, God would not fail to give him the strength to bear it.” – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not shrink back from pains and sufferings in this life. We should embrace them as great graces from God, which He is using to sanctify us. If only we could understand, in the hour of difficulty, the blessings God is pouring on us.
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
(Act 14:21-22 ESV)
There is no reason to search for pain. God will give what is needed. If it is necessary for your growth, then it will come. If your difficulties become too great, know that God will give you strength to bear them. Often, He will use other Christians to strengthen you.
If we are in a situation where our pain will alleviate the pain of someone else, we should wholeheartedly embrace it. There are people who will not suffer a little discomfort for the life of another person. All of us have chosen ourselves over others at some point in our lives. This is not the way of Christ. This is not the way of love. If we wish to save our lives, we must lose them. We must die to self, that Christ may live through us.
If our Father reserved the greatest sufferings for His beloved Son, we should expect that, as heirs with Christ, we should suffer something as well.
I have gone through the dark night of the soul previously. Unfortunately, it never seems to be any easier. It is the reason that I have not written on this blog recently. I have nothing from God to write. The dark night of the soul is a time that God seems distant, even unreachable. It is like He is hidden behind a veil, and His light does not shine upon you. I know that He is there and is taking care of me, but He does not show Himself to me. Fortunately, there are brief moments where His light shines upon me and I am encouraged to carry on. These are times of growth. After these dark times, His light seems to shine brighter. I look forward to walking in His light again, when He has decided that I have walked through the night enough.
The gospel is Jesus. Jesus is the good news. There is nothing that can be added to Him. He lives in us and through us. We have died with Him, and we share in His divine life. We do not follow a list of rules, because He has written His law in our hearts. We can’t help but love Him, because He is constantly pouring His love out on us. Everyday our love for Him increases. We can see Him in everything. But, most of all, we see Him in each other. He fills us with so much love, we must share it with each other. None of us can fully show the image of Jesus, but together we show Him to each other, and the world. We are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us. Jesus is life itself, everything else is death. He is our joy, our hope, and our love.
We should not expect God to work the in same way that He has in times past. Sometimes we think God is going to rescue us in our circumstances the same way as He has before. From reading the record of God’s acts in the Bible, it seems that He does not often use the same ways to save His people. This can also be seen in the myriad of ways that men and women come to salvation in Christ. We should drop our expectations of how God will or should act, and have a simple trust that He will act in the best way, according to His infinite wisdom.
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Num 6:26 ESV)
As the world’s troubles threaten to consume us in fear, our Father speaks peace over us. He is always near to us, even when we can’t sense Him. In these dark times of fearfulness, even the smallest acts of faith are loved by God.
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Mat 17:20 ESV)
It doesn’t take much. The smallest act of faith in Jesus, is great in the spiritual realm. At the appropriate time, according to His wisdom, our dear Father speaks peace over us through the Spirit that dwells with us. He assures us of His love and faithfulness. He holds us in His arms and gently rocks our hearts to peacefulness. These trials test our faith, and draw down great graces upon us.
“That we ought to…enliven our faith. That it was lamentable we had so little; and that instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions, which changed daily. That the way of Faith was the spirit of the Church, and that it was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection.” – Brother Lawrence
How many of us actually walk by faith? We claim to have faith, but our lives don’t show it. How many Christians are not living the life of peace and joy that Jesus promised? Jesus calls us to live free of fear and anxiety. With man this is impossible, but we have the Spirit of God and enjoy the divine life. If we had greater faith in the One who promises eternal life, we would not fear the trials of life. Has God been faithful to you in the past? Let your faith be built on the faithfulness of God. If anyone is lacking in faith, let him ask God to give him greater faith.
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
(2Co 5:7 ESV)