"We are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."  Philippians 3:3  Commenting on this passage, Watchman Nee wrote, "Circumcision was a sign that marked out the Jew from the rest of mankind. What is the corresponding mark of our Christian life before men?.....What distinguishes God's own is that their confidence in the flesh is destroyed and they are cast back upon Him."  If you consider yourself a believer, I think that you would say that you believe this verse, and Nee's thoughts are true.  Can I dare to ask you, as I dare to ask myself, what does the witness of my life show to be the source of my confidence?  The Father, or ourselves?  Before we answer, can we allow His Spirit to search our hearts and lives to see just how we've "conducted business" in our choices, decisions, relationships, affairs, and perhaps most importantly for we in the church, our ministries?  Where does our true confidence lie?
     Nee says that "The spiritual man walks humbly, always aware that he may be wrong."  Do you and I walk in such humility?  Are we open to being wrong?  When it comes to the conduct of our lives, the pathway we're on, that we've chosen, do we forge ahead totally sure of the rightness of the way?  So sure, that if there be any dissenting voices, no matter how lovingly spoken, we see them as opponents, even enemies, getting in the way we wish to go.  Many a person, perhaps many more pastors, have had such an approach to life and ministry, only to find at some point, and with much sorrow, that they were wrong.  They'd put their confidence in their own abilities, understanding, wisdom, and intellect....the flesh.  If there was a confidence in God, it was more likely in the thought that they were "confident" that He would bless and add onto their lives in the course of the journey.  I have seen this in the lives of many, just as I have seen it my own.  Families, marriages, lives, ministries, and churches, that have suffered spiritual shipwreck, all because we saw a "way that seemed right to us," only to find that it's end really was death.
     We live in a culture that worships the power of the individual, and we in the church have been heavily influenced, in some ways, conquered by that culture and mindset.  We live in the place of "presumption," presuming that we know the best and right way. Just as we presume that the Father is totally on board with us in that way.  The Word calls living in such a place of presumption sin, yet somehow, we keep missing that truth.  So we go on with our affairs, laying out our plans before men, but rarely before God.  We spend months formulating a strategy, and mere minutes laying everything before Him in prayer.  We may build something, but it is nothing more than wood and stubble.  The eternal is missing, because it was built in the power of self, and not the power and life of Christ.  Chris Tiegreen says that "Living in the power of the flesh is perpetual futility.  It accomplishes nothing eternal.......We are promised success, but are delivered nothing that lasts."  That will always be the final result of a life lived in the confidence of self.  Nothing.  The Father said of His people Israel who were living apart from His life and power that in the end, they were living lives that "amounted to nothing."  Hard words.  To what degree do they apply to us?
     May we, in whatever places we live in the power of the flesh, renounce those places, and come instead into the fullness and power of a life, His life, that Hebrews 7 says, "cannot be destroyed."  Lives, ministries, fellowships, walking in a way, that yields not wood and stubble, but the silver and gold of His Kingdom.  Living with no confidence in ourselves, but ever abounding confidence in Him.  May we, but will we?

Pastor O
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  August 2018  
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