I once heard a story of an old man who carved dogs from blocks of wood. They were so beautiful that people would come from miles around just to watch him make the carvings and purchase the beautiful sculptures. One day, a young man asked him how he could carve with such detail and make the wooden image look so real. The old man replied, "I just cut away everything that doesn't look like a dog."
I believe God does the same thing. Remember the meaning of "prepare" is to reduce or remove by cutting, to decrease gradually; to pare or cut down, to make ready (clip, shave or lessen) prior to or in advance of its use.
We are to be transformed into the image of Jesus. In order to do that, God must cut away everything that does not look like Him.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son . . .
2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:1
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
We are to be conformed and transformed into the image of Jesus. What does this mean? Image refers to likeness, reputation, character, nature or qualities. Taken deeper, it means phraseology, wording, appearance and demonstration. The purpose of us going through the different things in our lives, the places we visit on this journey, is to conform us into the image of Jesus in order to continue the ministry of Jesus in power and demonstration. Each stage, each season, from glory to glory or from one level to another - we are to take on a deeper dimension of Him. The Word says in John 14:2-4,
2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
4 "And where I go you know, and the way you know."
"Mansions" is representative of rooms, levels or dimensions in Him . . . that where He is, there we may be also . . . and the way we know. He is the way. He is the way to the place in Him that we are to strive for. A place where we become so much like Him that when people look at us, all they see is Jesus. We look like Him, act like Him, talk like Him, love like Him, operate like Him in power and demonstration.
Our goal should be to be conformed to His likeness and image - to take on His character. Character, according to Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language is the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person, especially referring to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles and the like or, who you actually are. Character is not something you do, it is something you either have or don't have. On the other hand, reputation is the position you occupy or the standing that you have in the opinion of others. It is what others perceive you to be. We must take on the character of Jesus - His attributes as displayed by the fruit of the Spirit which, according to Galatians 5:22-23,
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In Second Peter 1, we read that God has given us great and precious promises that by these, we are to be partakers of His divine nature.
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, please notice these attributes. Just as with the Fruit of the Spirit as stated in Galatians 5:22-23, these also hinge on charity or love. How do you obtain these attributes? By spending time in His presence and allowing Him to do a work in you. As verse 8 reads, ". . . if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". God, working these things in you, cutting away those things that do not line up with His nature, is making you so that you will not be barren nor unfruitful but that you will produce much fruit!
We must remember who is holding the knife and the purpose of the knife. It is for the cutting away of the things that do not look like Jesus. It's all part of the process.
Remember the definition for process?
According to Strong's:
1. After or end (#7093)
1. Chop off, cut asunder, into pieces (#7112)
2. Abundant, in quantity, size, age, quality, rank, to abound, exceedingly, mighty, multiply, process [of time] (#7227)
4. Increase, in whatever respect, be in authority, excel, continue to enlarge, grow up, heap . . . (#7235).
According to Webster's:
A series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained;
A systematic series of actions directed to some end.
A series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained. I really like this definition. A series of progressive and interdependent steps. As I progress or go through, each step being dependent upon the previous step, I get closer to God's desired end. There is more to this process than meets the eye.
2At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time."
3So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt.
5For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.
6For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, "a land flowing with milk and honey."
7Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.
8 So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.
God instructed Joshua to make knives from flint in order to circumcise those who had been born in the wilderness. I could really go into this wilderness thing much more - the wilderness being a place of making. Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness, John the Baptist was raised up in the wilderness; Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted (tested) of the devil for 40 days. It's those wilderness experiences which help to make you or, to show what you are really made of. Remember, those who left out from Egypt died in the wilderness because of their complaining and murmuring. God allowed them to wander 40 years in the wilderness as He tested them to show them what was in their hearts.
Deuteronomy 8:2 states:
"And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." (Emphasis mine).
God tested the children of Israel so that they could see what was in their hearts! Adversity not only builds character, it also reveals character.
Only those who were born (or made) in the wilderness were allowed to cross over into the promise land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, who God allowed to cross over because of their faith in Him.
So here we have a group of men from babies to forty years of age, who were born in the wilderness, ready to be circumcised (again). Natural circumcision in the Old Testament was a sign of covenant with God, a cutting away of the flesh. We, as New Testament believers, are to have a circumcised heart, a cutting away of fleshly things.
Psalms 51: 17 states:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart-
These, O God, You will not despise.
A broken spirit and a contrite heart - these He will not despise. A broken spirit is a spirit which is totally submitted to God. A contrite heart is a humble heart - when you have humbled yourself and completely submitted yourself to God - this is a place where He can use you because it becomes about Him and not about you. Pray Psalms 51:10 and ask the Lord:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
You are complete in Him. He will only cut away those things which are unnecessary, things which may have you bound, things which are hindering your growth. Sometimes, these things are people, habits, traditions, customs, etc. and are hard to let go of. I know! I literally had "knock down, drag out" fights with God about some things (attitudes mostly) I did not want to let go of! It was not a pretty sight! When I made a decision to walk in the things of God, there were friends I had to leave behind. Not that I didn't want to bring them with me, but they had no desire to go where I was going. They could not understand why I could not be "godly" and continue living the way I was living (or the way they were living). It was time to separate, not being deceived by man's philosophy or according to the tradition of man. It was either all or nothing. I am complete in Him. As I stated in a previous chapter, "being that and nothing else". There were some things that had to go so, they went.
6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
With everything we go through victoriously, there is another piece of us which has been cut away. Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh, of fleshly things. One at a time, God will cut away envy, jealousy, strife, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness and any other thing that is not like Him. It is through submission to Him and humbling ourselves before Him that we allow Him to do the work in us that He wants to do. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
I'm not going to lie and say cutting does not hurt, because it does. It is painful to let go of friends that you would like to bring along. It is painful to allow the man with the knife to cut away parts of us that we would like to hang on to. It is hard to forgive someone who you feel did you wrong - that they don't deserve your forgiveness. But if you don't forgive, your Father which is in heaven cannot forgive you. It is hard to kill those things about yourself that you justified to hold onto or like and enjoy but which do not line up with the Word. But there comes a time when you must lay them aside and say, "Ok God. Have your way and do as You will. I submit to You and the working of the Holy Spirit." If you don't, you will never get any further than where you are. But God never leaves you with open wounds. He has a healing balm that is like none other.
So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.
They remained in Gilgal, in their places in the camp, until they were healed. The Holy Spirit can heal your mind and emotions. As things are cut away, allow Him to heal you completely. Allow Him to heal you of thoughts and attitudes which may stem from unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, hate, envy, jealousy and the like. Allow Him to heal you of attitudes which may have come from the results of gossip, lies, rumors, abuse, divorce, perversion, whatever your case may be. Allow Him to cut away these things and then heal you of the painful memories and even the scars. Jesus heals completely. All you have is the testimony of the healing. . . . they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. As I stated before, please do not try to minister out of your pain but out of your deliverance and healing. Stay in your place until you are healed.
Just like the old man with the knife, cutting away everything that did not look like a dog, we are God's workmanship, allow Him to cut away everything that does not look like Him. According to Ephesians 2:10:
. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We are His workmanship, created for good works.
There is a very interesting concept found in Matthew 5:30. It states:
"And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
If you look at this from the spiritual aspect, there may be things in your life which are hindering you or holding you back from moving forward in the things of God. They may be carnal things, habits, people, or your will. We must learn to let go of these things, allowing them to be "cut off and cast from you" so your whole being may profit. Do not let "self" keep you from stepping into a deeper relationship with God.
Romans 8:6-8 states"
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If you live according to the desires of your flesh, it will bring spiritual death. If you live according to the flesh, are carnally minded (continuously living for self, according to your will), you cannot please God. We should live according to the Spirit, minding the things of the Spirit. Live according to the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Remember, He is the man with the knife. Allow Him to cut away everything that is not like Him. Yield to His Spirit and allow Him to do the work in you that needs to be done. It's your decision to make. Take that step of faith into the Jordan of your life and go possess the land He has for you.
©2008 Kingdom Dominion Ministries - All Rights Reserved.