by Pam Clark

Do you realize that we continually come out of sin? The Bible declares that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but many seem to think that is a one time deal. And some think that if we raise our children in a Christian environment, we can create a Christian culture where God will be pleased to dwell.

Many have attempted just that only for themselves and others to find sin still lurking in the camp - the sin of jealousy, competition, backbiting, provocations and even sins of the flesh, personal weaknesses of various lusts that lead to moral and spiritual decay.

If salvation were a one time deal, we would have bought a ticket to Heaven. But having come into a taste of Heaven, and experiencing it, we then find that we want even more, and worse, that our tastes have changed. Circumstances have a way of invading our paradigm and what worked before ceases to work for us now.

What is our problem? We have failed to see God. We saw in the past a very real and present help in time of trouble and it was powerful. So much so, that we thought it could last forever, but then it didn't. And now we have to face the weaknesses and failures of the flesh to approach God again, a very humbling experience.

Again we have to say, "I don't know the Way, I need Your help." Again we have to face that what worked before is not working now and since it seems to be a repeat performance of humility, our flesh rises up against it.

Jesus spoke to the crowds of John, who had sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him his hard question. "Are you it? Are you the One, or do we look for another?" What worked in the past as he suffered in prison, no longer was working. Jesus took John to the place where it worked before and then said, "Blessed are those who are not offended in Me."

John had to come to another place of submission, this time even unto his death. Are we good for that? Can we, will we, look for the Resurrection?

Then Jesus asked, in Matthew 11:7 concerning John: "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?"

In other words, do you want the human drama or the divine one?

"But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:8-11)

Jesus had faith that John would pass the test. Jesus had faith that with the memory of the past, he would look again to the One who could save him, spirit, soul and body.

Jesus continued to teach: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias [or Elijah], which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:12-15)

The Law was not just a set of rules -- it prophesied!

"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, 'We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He hath a devil.' The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.' But wisdom is justified of her children. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not." (Matthew 11:16-20)

Where is our heart? What kind of heart do we have? One that wants to repent to see the greater glories, or one that wants to hold its own to maintain our control?

What does a reed do? A reed goes with the wind and has no strong root like a tree. When the surface water dries, the reed dries and dies, but a tree sends its roots beneath the surface and taps into the deeper streams. There are seasons where the tree loses its leaves in seeming shame in the wintertime. But it's at that time the sap goes down to nurture the roots as they prepare to launch out for deeper life giving, life sustaining territory.

The reed will grow up next year to be a reed again, but the tree will grow to greater height, stability and even reproductive fruit bearing and proclaim the glory of God. Are you dressed for a day, or will you submit and humble yourself in hard times to receive even more for life giving eternity?