A Faithful Witness

The following is a guest post by Yiuman Szeto.

The word “witness” in Greek can also be translated “martyr.” In this thought, the weighty conception behind the word is pronounced. Imagine an experience to be so convincing that it even defies the desire to live, and enables one to forfeit life itself. To the witness, it is not merely a real and provoking event that took place, but an experience so potent that changed the fibers of his being. To such a person, to deny this change is to deny his very existence.

I am reminded of Stephen, who was the first martyr recorded in the book of Acts, and along with this definition of “witness” in consideration, I recalled this one verse:

Acts 6:15 – his face was like the face of an angel.

This verse means that Stephen’s expression was heavenly, indicated by its reference to an angel, a heavenly creature. For a person to be heavenly means that he is experiencing resurrection (1 Cor. 15:47). We know that Christ himself is resurrection (John 11:25). This is why in the entire account of Stephen’s martyrdom, there is a sense that Christ was being extolled in Stephen. Being fully immersed in the Lord’s inward and tender affections, Stephen’s weighty and powerful words were filled with divine sentiments. Even with his last breath, he guilelessly asked forgiveness on behalf of those who was in the act of murdering him, just as the Lord had done on the cross.

We do not know how Stephen came to be as he was and how he obtained such an admirable testimony. Yet, we must not think that this change was instantaneous. The Bible never revealed anything more of Stephen besides his appointment as a deacon. His history being unwritten may be the very intention of our hidden God, who treasures our secret accounts with him and keeps it a secret (Col. 3:3; Rev. 2:17). It may also be true that there was not anything outward to disclose. Nevertheless, it is implicitly concludable that Stephen’s martyrdom, the finality of his testimony of the resurrected Christ, is simply the maturity of the faith which was instilled into him through all the years of countless hidden experiences of the Lord Spirit in his “day by day” pursuit in the renewal process of his inner man (2 Cor. 3:18, 4:16). This is the undeniable experience of divine change.

ghost orchid 2In relation to Stephen’s hidden history, I have in mind a rare flower known as the Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum), a near extinct plant that burrows underground and surfaces only to blossom. The orchid’s most unique characteristic is its required symbiotic relationship with particular fungi for survival (the plant lacks the ability to photosynthesize). To me, Stephen’s hidden years with the Lord are similar to the plant’s time underground and its symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, just as it is out of such a relationship that the plant can blossom into such an exquisite flower, Stephen’s years of absorbing the Lord as his source of nutritious supply eventually produced into him such a powerful and impacting testimony.

At the end of the course, Stephen, a man on the earth, became a reproduction of the heavenly Christ. Stephen spoke in truth and was full of the Holy Spirit; while his accusers lied, slandered him of blasphemy, and tried him according to their hypocritical law keeping. As they picked up their stones to terminate his life according to the law of ordinance, Stephen interceded for them according to the law of life. Everything this man said and did was a replication of the Lord Jesus. There was nothing natural nor Judaic about Stephen, but rather, the only sense we get from the record was that he was heavenly. Toward such a precious person, Jesus stood with concern over him in his last tumultuous moment as an encouragement for him to finish in triumph. The Lord had produced a faithful witness who completed his course.

Inspiration: Life-Study of Acts Message 21, Crystallization-Study of Acts Message 1

 

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9 Basic Principles of Morning Revival

So you went to another awesome conference and came away with your spirit burning! After spring break, does it seem like you’re starting to cool down? Here are 9 points we talked about at the conference to help you. Practicing this was what caught your spirit on fire to begin with.

flueOne metaphor that came to mind related to morning revival is that of a chimney. When you open the flue of a chimney, you are opening the flame or embers to air from outside. A lot of air whoooshes in and the fire immediately ignites! Sometimes you can’t even tell there is anything hot at all in there. But there was, it was just covered by ash. A good way to catch fire is to open our mouth! Especially in the morning, take some deep breaths and call on the name of Jesus! You’ll find that those embers from the conference are still in there, they’re just covered by a little dust 🙂

1. The unique center of morning revival is Christ

And He is the Head of the Body, the church; He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that He Himself might have the first place in all things; – Colossians 1:18

2. The highest purpose of morning revival is to satisfy Christ

Your people will offer themselves willingly In the day of Your warfare, In the splendor of their consecration. Your young men will be to You Like the dew from the womb of the dawn. – Psalm 110:3

3. The most outstanding characteristic of morning revival is love

Kiss the Son Lest He be angry and you perish from the way; For His anger may suddenly be kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him. – Psalm 2:12

4. The most critical experience in morning revival is life

Incline your ear and come to Me; Hear, so that your soul may live; – Isaiah 55:3a

5. The most critical exercise in morning revival is our spirit

For which cause I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

6. The necessary ingredient of morning revival is opening

Our mouth is opened to you, Corinthians; our heart is enlarged. – 2 Corinthians 6:11

7. The long term key to our practice is simplicity

But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your thoughts would be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity toward Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3

8. The ultimate goal of morning revival is a living

For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:19-21

9. The enabling factor or morning revival is grace

And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my weaknesses that the power of Christ might tabernacle over me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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An Excellent spirit

exc3Daniel had an excellent spirit! This phrase is mentioned twice in the book of Daniel, by the Babylonians no less! Even some of them, when they were being honest, had to admit that there was something excellent about Daniel. It wasn’t his mind they were referring to either. They didn’t say “this is Daniel with a tremendous mind!” They could tell there was something more to Daniel than just an awesome intellect; it was “an excellent spirit!”

Because an excellent spirit and knowledge and insight, and the interpretation of dreams, the declaring of riddles, and the resolving of problems were found in this Daniel… – Daniel 5:12

Then this Daniel distinguished himself among the chief ministers and satraps because in him there was an excellent spirit , and the king considered setting him over the whole kingdom. – Daniel 6:3

Daniel’s primary concern was not for his body or even his soul but for his spirit. He joined himself in spirit to The Spirit which was in the word of God (1 Corinthians 6:17). As God revealed His heart to Daniel, Daniel immediately joined himself to God’s heart’s desire through prayer.  When our heart is joined to God’s heart, God can pour Himself into us (Romans 5:5).

This is what it means “to have an excess”. This reminded me of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. 5 had an excess of oil (The Spirit) in their lamps (spirit) and vessels (soul). This means they had an excess of the Spirit in their spirit that then overflowed into their soul. They got to go into the wedding feast with Christ. The other 5 did not.

“An excellent spirit” also means an exercised spirit. We all know the best exercises and workouts are with partners. They remind us, push us and motivate us. It’s the same with spiritual exercise. Surely Daniel had “an excellent spirit” because he had companions that helped him exercise his spirit.

Would you like an excess of God flowing out of your spirit, through your soul, and into others? Would you like some companions to help you exercise your spirit? Would you like to go into the wedding feast to meet The Bridegroom in that day?

Check out:

www.Biblesforamerica.org 

www.eachonehas.com/find-us

Related Blogs:

http://truthandexperience.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/daniel-and-his-three-companions/

https://drod55.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-thief-in-the-night/

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The Divine Romantics

romanticismThe following is a guest post by Yiuman Szeto.

A while back ago, I had the opportunity to read Isaiah Berlin’s The Roots of Romanticism and there I found a quote from Johann Georg Hamann that went like this:

…but if you really wish to enter into contact with human beings, if you really wish to understand what they think, what they feel and what they are, then you must understand every gesture, every nuance, you must watch their eyes, you must observe the movement of their lips, you must hear their words, you must understand their handwriting, and then you come to direct acquaintance with the actual sources of life.

I am most impressed with Hamann’s passion in linguistics. For Hamann, it was not merely a study of human languages by “some anatomical…means,” in other words, an objective, logical study of a means of communication. Of course, there is that aspect, but there is something more with Hamann: an earnest desire to really get underneath the words that are used, to reach the feelings that drive the language.

This passion and desire to know people in such an intimate way should also be replicated in our fellowship with the Lord. That is, to “wish” and “really wish” in our contacts with Christ that we can understand what He thinks, what He feels, and who He is (the emphasis is on Christ). Yet these wishes must be motivated by a burning passion, a love that “many waters cannot quench” (Songs 8:7). With such affections, beauties can be uncovered in the words, and meanings can be found in the nuances expressed on His face. If we are to love, why shouldn’t we love in such a way?

The Apostle Paul said this once, “to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

Here lies the beauty of incarnation: The fact that the face of a man, Jesus, reflects the content of God’s heart and desires, and that the living of a man on the earth carries out God’s very intention. In such a man, God’s personality, His thoughts, His emotions, and His will are expressed with a man’s face, are embodied in human words, and portrayed by His walk. God has become knowable to man by a man. Without Him man cannot know and would remain ignorant on the earth, and God would remain distanced in unapproachable light. Yet, when God is known, one thing is certain, He is very approachable and human.

The same verse conveys another point, “the face of Jesus Christ” is now “in our hearts.” This means that the privilege to “understand every gesture” and “every nuance” belongs not merely to those who lived in the time of Jesus, but also to those who have received Him into their very being. Now we, His believers, can watch His eyes, observe the movement of His lips, hear His words, and understand Him, because this very wonderful Person is in us.

It is in this manner that the Apostle Paul lived out this life and in his own words, “in the person of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:10). The word “person” is translated from a very rich word in Greek. It denotes the person’s countenance and look, “the face so far forth as it is the organ of sight, and (by it various movements and changes) the index of the inward thoughts and feelings” (Strong Concordance).

Finally, it is through these mysterious encounters with our Savior that we come “to direct acquaintance with the actual sources of [Christ’s] life.” It is true that when we become acquainted with a person we would also come to know the sources of that person’s life. We understand the simplicities and complexities behind the person’s psyche (basically, we know what makes them tick). Furthermore, different ranges of emotions toward the person will begin to foster in us through these interactions.

As we come to know Christ and the life of this person we are also being brought into the source of Christ’s life, God Himself. The life of Christ is not merely a human life, but it is the divine, eternal, uncreated life of God. Our experiences of the depths of Christ’s personality will also transport us into all the various aspects of the magnetic and alleviating God and His mesmeric and soothing attributes. It is such a marvelous blessing to be deep in the midst of Christ and to dive into His extraordinary love, to be lost in His boundless forbearance, to stand on His unparalleled faithfulness, to be sheltered by His absolute humility, to breathe in His utmost purity, to climb across His supreme righteousness and holiness, and to bathe in His brightness and uprightness*.

Ephesians 3:8 To me, less than the least of all saints, was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel

Here’s to you all, the divine romantics.

*The virtues listed here are from the book, The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross, by Witness Lee

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A Thief In The Night

thiefThe Lord is coming as a thief in the night. This is a very important aspect of Christ’s coming. It is so important it is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament by Peter, Paul, John and Jesus Christ Himself (Matt. 24:43, 1 Thes. 5:2, 2 Pet. 3:10, Rev. 3:3, 16:15).

The charge here is to watch and be ready (Matt. 24:44). The question is, how do we make ourselves ready (Rev. 19:7)? We first need to ask why Christ would compare Himself to a thief.

In John 10:10 Jesus contrasted Himself to a thief coming to steal, kill and destroy and said that He came to give us life. Jesus isn’t contradicting Himself by later calling Himself a thief. He’s giving us an awesome picture into what it means to give us life.

This “life” is Christ Himself growing and maturing in us. It is so precious to us, even more precious than our own life. By denying our life, He is able to give us more of His life. This is part of being watchful and it also makes us precious in His sight. See Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and Gemesis for more on becoming a precious stone 🙂

We now need to ask, “what is precious in the Lord’s sight?” One person we can learn from is Daniel. He is very precious to the Lord. He is called a man of preciousness (Dan. 10:11,19). He’s even called preciousness itself (Dan. 9:23). What made Daniel precious? There are three characteristics about him we can learn from.

Number 1, he had companions his whole life long. They stood against the tide of that age and stood out from among the rest from their youth. They refused to eat the king’s choice food and worship the king’s idols.

Number 2, he read the Bible which at that time was the prophet Jeremiah. Particularly, the prophecy about Israel being released from captivity in Babylon and returning to Jerusalem after 70 years. He was alive and well during this part of history and even made history
by his prayer which brings us to…

Number 3, he prayed, every day, at least three times a day. What did he pray for? He prayed what he read. He prayed Jeremiah’s prophecy into being. What we learn from this is that God needs man to pray. This is how God moves. Similarly, we have Christ’s prophecy that He will return. He isn’t lying, He will return, He’s just waiting for us to pray, and read, and pray and read some more with more companions.

Why not start right now? Pray “Lord Jesus, I am tired of living for myself and my own interest! Lord, I give myself to You for Your interest! Open Your word to me! Show me what You’re interested in! Remind me to read! Remind me to pray! Teach me to pray Your word back to You like Daniel did! Give me companions like Daniel! Make me a man of preciousness like Daniel! Lord Jesus make me precious enough to steal!”

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Man’s Final Frontier

The following is the first guest post I’ve had. It is by Yiuman Szeto. It is also his first blog post. There will be more to come.

TexasHillCountryIt’s always nice to get out of the city and suburbs, and into country. Recently, I drove through the Texas Hill Country with a friend of mine. Seeing the Hill Country on the long and winding Texas roads gave me a momentary impression that I was in Europe. It was a rainy day; those dark clouds, the light shower of rain, and the mists that hovered high over hills and mountains – transformed the land into a somewhat mystical, dark, gloomy gothic terrain. Observing this had placed in me a desire to see more of this beautiful planet. I want to see all the corners of the world.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of Him, both His eternal power and divine characteristics, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world…

I am a genuine admirer of the magnificence of nature. Although I’m not the type that can watch “Planet Earth” in one entire sitting, I long to be the cameraman behind the mesmerizing footage, as if I would be content in life to see these alluring wonders with my very own eyes and be struck by it with its full impact. What would it to be like to behold these grand spectacles before me? Having these great expanses demanding my very soul, a captivation of all my senses by it’s incomprehensible beauties that may need a life time to hone a worthy appreciation, giving the sensations of insignificance by its gravity, but yet at the same time, a full admiration of its immensity.

For God must be an artist, and man is made to appreciate His works at every level.

Well, to see the world is one thing, but to discover a new world altogether is another. Yet, in an age where our vast world has mostly been explored, discovered, and reduced, a mystery of what is lying beyond our civilization no longer exists. Sometimes, I wonder what was it like for Lewis and Clark, when they braved crossing the Mississippi River and traversed across sea to sea, being the first Americans to experience the unchartered land (coming from the view of the Western Civilization), or the discovery of unknown indigenous civilizations within Central and South America by the Spanish Conquistadors, or Marco Polo, as he journeyed to the East, and saw China for the first time from what was beforehand to him just stories and legends from sailor’s relaying tales of lore. This very aspect: to not only see something for the first time, but to discover that which has yet to be known by man and it’s impacts. The loss of this VERY aspect – I lament. The Earth is no longer a frontier for man’s exploration.

Someone told me that 2012 was the year where man had ascended to the highest sphere, and had descended to the deepest ocean. He was referring to Felix Baumgartner’s feat of dropping 24 miles from the earth’s stratosphere and James Cameron’s dive to the Mariana Trench. A news anchor described the director’s feat as the last frontier on earth. I suppose that would be accurate for now. Yet, there is eternity in my heart – and I am sure this eternal void exists within every man walking on this earth since our very dawning in time. We long for the unknowns and explore the deeps as if it is there that we might find the purpose of our existence. So we build the most powerful telescopes to see into the heavens, and construct atomic colliders to understand the atomic fabrics of our universe (the so called “God particle” has also been discovered in 2012). We have psychology to try to fathom the depths of human hearts. We are always exploring, as if our human lives are a journey in itself, to search every into corner in hope that we can find what we exists to discover.

Nevertheless, the earth, while still profound and marvelous, seems to have lost its sense of mystery. The study of our psyche can only diagnose our problems without many solutions. With space, we see a limitless universe, but we are trapped by our limited resources contained in our small humbled planet. The internet can summon any source of information to be in our hand in an instant. The entertainment industries have been rehashing the same thing over and over again with remakes. The arts can only help us appreciate us what we know from others. What is new anymore? Is there anything left yet to explore? But there is one more remaining:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Man’s final frontier is not in the realm of sight and sound, neither will it be in the realm of man’s own imaginations. The final frontier is prepared by God in His wisdom as the “final” mystery (v7). It is referred to as the “depths of God”, in which there is need of man’s active research (v10). These depths are like oceans of riches untouched. The depths of what? We are talking about exploring the depths of God Himself. These depths are the regions of the universe belonging not of God’s creation, but the personal, intimate universe of the Creator (v11).

1 Corinthians 2:12 But we have received… the Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things which have been graciously given to us by God;

Our last frontier is not in the physical nor in the psychological realm, and not merely in the spiritual realm, but it is the realm of the Spirit of God. The Spirit has been graciously given to us by God for our ownership, exploration, settlement, and enjoyment. The intangible realm of the Spirit is as real as the planet Earth and our comprehension of it can be just as solid. It is profound that it is not merely God’s interest, but it is His very desire that we would be lost in the vastness of Himself as our final frontier. The final two lines of a hymn have always impressed me in this sentiment:

I have lost myself in Jesus, I am sinking into God.

I believe it is in this exploration that man will finally find what we are created to search for in the journey of our lives. The impacts of our discovery will find us to be much more awestruck, magnificent, immense, significant, long lasting, and beautiful than any other experience of God’s creation. This is the highest work of God for man.

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God’s Move in Eagle Pass

God is moving on the earth! By His mercy we can see it and even be a part of it. In recent years, a few of us from San Marcos and surrounding cities have made several visits to Eagle Pass, Texas, mainly to visit students we know and their friends and families.

This year, we went with the goal of bringing more of these families and intimate friends into the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We spent 3 days visiting students and their friends and families with the goal of inviting them to a mini-conference that Saturday. We rented a community center from 10am-4pm and packed it out. At least 60 made it to hear the Bible being unlocked and opened like never before.

The topic was 1 Corinthians. The message titles were Union and Communion with Christ, Eating and Enjoying Christ, and the Body of Christ.

Christ! Christ! Christ!

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The first message introduced God’s economy. God made man in three parts so He could fill man with Himself. When we believe in Christ, we receive Him into us. At that instant, we are joined to Christ and become one with Him.

He who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him – 1 Cor. 6:17

Now we have the way to commune with Christ and stay in fellowship with Him. The way is simple. Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus.

No one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor. 12:3

I enjoyed calling on the Name of the Lord with all the saints, in EaglePass.

The called saints, who call on the Name of the Lord, in every place – 1 Cor. 1:2

There was a table full of free ministry that got picked over. Some titles included, The Economy of God, The Glorious Church, The Normal Christian Church Life, The Four Major Steps of Christ, The Body of Christ as well as Recovery Versions and The Basic Elements of the Christian Life Vol. 1 and 2.

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After the first message, the Recovery Version was introduced. The footnotes were used to expound Matthew 1:1, John 19:34, and John 6.

In Matthew 1:1, we can see that the subject of the New Testament is Jesus Christ. The first name and last name in the Bible is Jesus Christ. We can also see the subject of Matthew and how it compares to the other gospels. Matthew portrays Christ as the King-Savior, Mark portrays Christ as the Slave-Savior, Luke portrays Christ as the Man-Savior, and John portrays Christ as the God-Savior.

Then in John 19:34 we see that when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side on the cross, out came blood and water. Blood is for purchasing the church and water is for producing the church.

Finally, in John 6, the disciples were in a boat getting tossed around by a storm. Jesus comes to them walking on water and gets into the boat and immediately they get to where they are going. The storm is our human life, full of anxieties and troubles. We need to invite Jesus into our family, occupation, and school and enjoy peace with Him.

After eating lunch together, we started singing more songs together in English and Spanish. These songs included Just taste and See, Drink a River Pure and Clear that’s Flowing from the Throne, Christ Liveth in Me, Life is God the Father in Christ Jesus, Oh, the church of Christ is Glorious and We are Part of it.

The next message on Eating and Enjoying Christ was solid food. It covered a practical example of “keeping the feast”, mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:8. When we go to a home to get fed and nourished, we are then able to meet others and supply them. This has been my experience in the church life wherever I go. This was our experience in EaglePass. There was a mutual benefit in every home, we were supplied and they were too.

This ties into the last message about the church which is His Body. At the end of 1 Corinthians in chapter 16, Paul personally thanks certain brothers and sisters that refreshed him. He then sends a greeting from Aquila and Prisca and the church which is in their house. This is how Christians began meeting together, from house to house. This helps bring all the members into function. One family we visited the next day was touched by this word and expressed their desire to open their home for fellowship. Unfortunately, we had to leave.

There were many touching responses at the end of our trip. One college student from Eagle Pass said, “Nothing like this has ever happened here!” Another woman at the free literature table asked for one of everything. One sister on break from the Full Time Training in Anaheim that just graduated from Texas State was so excited to see God’s move and especially be part of it. Another sister from Kyle, Texas thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the visit and exclaimed, “I could do this again!”

Visits like these are healthy for the Body of Christ. They bring all the members into prayer and then function together to supply other members of the Body of Christ. Personally, it was the best conference I’ve ever attended, probably because of all the prayer that went into it. I really began to understand that this makes the Lord happy, having a group of people in every city as His testimony.

Much more prayer is needed so please pray for Eagle Pass and if you can, join us next time.

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