Being shaped, sharpened, and formed into the image of Christ, on God’s Anvil of Life!

Being shaped, sharpened, and formed into the image of Christ, on God’s Anvil of Life!

It happens…

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’

Says the LORD of hosts.”

(Zech 4:6)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Here on the streets of New York City, you can buy a Rolex watch for fifteen dollars. As every New Yorker knows, these watches aren’t truly Rolexes. They are simply “knock-offs”—cheap copies of the original.

There seems to be a duplicate for just about everything today. But there is one thing that cannot be duplicated and that is true spirituality.

Nothing that is truly spiritual can be copied. The Lord recognizes the work of his own hands—and he won’t accept a man-made duplication of any of his divine workings.

Why? Because it’s impossible for man to duplicate what is truly spiritual. That is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. He’s constantly at work doing something new in his people. And there is no possible way for us to reproduce that work.

This is the big mistake of modern religion. We think if we merely impart knowledge of the Scriptures and biblical principles to people, they’ll become spiritual. But the fact remains—no person or institution has the power to produce spirituality in someone. Only the Holy Ghost does that.

Very little of the work God’s Spirit does in us can be seen. This is why truly spiritual people rarely look for outward evidence of his work.

Paul says, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

In the context of this passage, Paul is speaking of sufferings and afflictions. He saying, “No one knows all the things we face, except the Holy Spirit. And this is where true spirituality is manifested—in the crucible of suffering.”

Those who submit to the leading of God’s Spirit—who face their afflictions confident that the Lord is producing something in them—emerge from their crucible with strong faith. And they testify that the Spirit taught them more during their suffering than when all was well in their lives.

In all my years of walking with the Lord, I’ve rarely seen an increase in my spirituality during good times. Rather, any such increase usually took place as I endured hard places, agonies, testings—all of which the Holy Ghost allowed.

At one point in his walk of faith, Paul said, “The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me that bonds and afflictions await me” (see Acts 20:21–22). Indeed, throughout Paul’s entire life, his afflictions never let up. They just kept coming.

“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). According to Paul, our afflictions and difficulties produce eternal values in us. He’s saying, “The suffering we go through on this earth will probably last our whole lifetime. But that’s only momentary compared to eternity. And right now, as we endure afflictions, God is producing in us a revelation of his glory that will last forever.”

In these days and times, at least for many of us… and I believe this is becoming increasingly true for more people with each passing day… that life’s problems and challenges seem to be ramping up and on the increase. Can I hear an AMEN out there? 🙂

Did not God promise us in Hebrews 12 that in the last days that in route to our destiny and in preparation for eternity that we would of necessity have to experience and become an Unshakable Kingdom:

Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—”If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.

No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.

So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.

Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

Hebrews 12:18-29 (The Message Bible)

So how does this happen? It happens when everything in your world gets shaken, right down to your foundation; when all your personal resources, your plans, your ambitions, your wants and desires seem to be on hold; and all that you formally looked to for security in the natural is now in disarray and is of no use to you anymore, or worse it isn’t even there.

Kind of like what happened to the children of Israel, in route to their promise land; where all of the sudden they found themselves challenged by a desert wilderness, where every day they were being trained to rely on God alone!

No longer was there an over abundance of life’s necessities, as they had before in Egypt; everything now, even the bare necessities of food and water were scarce and in short supply.

Now they had to live day by day, and trust God moment by moment for their very subsistence and survival; and their reaction was probably like yours and mine, until we learn (if we are wise enough to consult the Operations manual—The Holy Bible) that this is a test; it’s a set up by God to where we are being stretched and tried to see if we will obey God, or if we will follow our old habits and follow after our understanding and limited knowledge?

When under pressure, you can count on it, at least at first until we are trained and know better, we will most often react in our flesh at the first sign of trouble; and yes we will stumble and fall many times along the way (I do several times a day—more than I can count), and even this is necessary and is a part of our training, for we learn from our mistakes.

The test is, when you stumble, when you make mistakes, do you quit, or do you get back up and try again. In this case, practice makes permanent; but without the practice you are lacking in the experience that enables you to persevere and not quit.

It is here that we learn that God is there when all seems to be lost, and there is no visible sign, nor sight/sense evidence of His presence. It is here that we learn that God’s presence is assured and verified not by our feelings and circumstances, but ONLY by our faith and reliance upon His Word!

It is here also that we are taught to look to God alone and not to man as our source. For as we look to other people and to other things, as our resource, they will often prove to be unreliable and a vain hope at best; because people and things can fail you, but God is not a man that He should lie… and He NEVER fails!

However we can’t learn this by reading a book, not even by reading our Bible, though reading the Bible is necessary for it is there that we get our instructions, and learn what it is that we should expect and do.

But when it comes to our gaining perseverance and hope, these things come only by our having experienced the heat of the fire, and our having been put to the test.

Like what happened to the Children of Israel; where their wilderness experience, after having stumbled and made mistakes, and therefore having to go in circles for forty years, the result of the lack of faith and obedience of that first generation; when God was ready to give them another chance, and take them into the “Promised Land,” that was only the beginning; and if they thought it was hard in the wilderness, now they would be facing giants and fortified armies, and all of this would necessitate an even closer walk with God, and greater trust, reliance, and obedience!

Compare that with your experience, and ask yourself how are you doing?

What is it that you are looking to as your primary support system… is it God and His Word? Are you responding in faith and obedience to His Word, not leaning on your understanding, but doing what God instructs, even when you don’t agree, understand, or like it?

Unless you can answer in the affirmative to all the above questions, then just know that what happened to the Children of Israel, when they failed to obey, will also happen to us; and God does not mark on a curve, but only on a pass or fail bases!

So if we don’t learn our lesson on the first go-round, then we had better be prepared to go the test again, and go in circles just as the Children of Israel did until we learn; because God will not take us to the next level until we learn to be obedient and do as we are told where we are!

The next thing is, while we are on this journey, it is very important that we become intimately acquainted with our personal Guide, Comforter, Paraclete, and Friend… the Holy Spirit! This is very important because, as David is pointing out in the above devotional message, it is the Holy Spirit that both empowers and guides us while we are on this pilgrimage, and it is He who illuminates the way.

We are talking here about a person who is closer to each of us than our next breath, who lives inside of us; and is longing to have never-ending communion with us; but unless we take the time to be still, and to listen, and to learn to discern His voice, and His guidance, then we are without a light for our path.

It is the Holy Spirit who illuminates and gives us insight, understanding, and personal application into our lives, as we mediate upon God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is like the laser light to a film, that when the film is exposed to this laser light, the resulting image or photo is holographic, and three dimensional. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the Scriptures come alive; and when we do not know how to pray for a particular problem and need, it is the Holy Spirit who prays through us!

In short, the Holy Spirit is that part of the God Head who gives us the power, wisdom, and guidance we need to walk our path, and to live our life in a manner that is pleasing to God; it is also the Holy Spirit who is our chief instructor and guide along the way.

It is so sad that so many Christians have yet to learn this secret, that we can only successfully accomplished our assignment, and carry out the Great Commission to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in the earth, and to disciple all nations as we are empowered to do so through the Holy Spirit, and are in fact relying on him moment by moment, 24/7!

So with all of this in mind, let us each start out each day in sync with the one who is our Comforter, our Teacher and Guide; and let us allow Him to lead us, moment by moment throughout our day; for as the Bible promises in Proverbs 3, that if we acknowledge Him in ALL our ways, then He is directing our steps; but we have to do so by trusting with ALL our heart, and by NOT relying upon our own understanding!

This walk that God has placed us on is a faith walk, and the Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, that unless we walk by faith, then it is impossible for us to please God! Selah


Skip Barland


This is an open forum where we look into and investigate the Rhema Mysteries of God's Word; and also other issues of importance for our day and time.

One thought on “Being shaped, sharpened, and formed into the image of Christ, on God’s Anvil of Life!”

  1. Thanks Skip. This particular blog stands out in my mind as one of the best I have ever received from you or anybody else. God bless.

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