Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Winnowing Eyes Of The Lord

I continue to have on my heart the Man with the winnowing fan in His hand, which we wrote about last time. John the Baptist prophesied:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in Holy Spirit and fire,
Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Mt. 3:11,12).

I like that– His wheat.  The threshing process can be very devastating, and in the midst of it we need to know we are His.  But this aspect of the Spirit baptism—the wind and the fire of the winnowing process—has been almost entirely forgotten in our day. And so there is a often a mixture of flesh and Spirit (sometimes a horrible mixture) among many of those who profess to be baptized in Holy Spirit. But God has not forgotten. He will yet thoroughly winnow His wheat till there is nothing left on the threshing floor but the pure kernels of wheat.

I am reminded of Solomon’s words:

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment (justice) winnoweth away all evil with his eyes (Pr. 20:8).

That is a fearful prospect—a king with eyes like that. But this king is also our great High Priest, who walks in the midst of the golden lampstands with eyes as a flame of fire (Rev. 1:14).  His all-seeing eyes search out and winnow the very thoughts and intents of our hearts, and the fire consumes all that is evil and impure in His sight. His intent is to conform us fully to His own image and likeness, and thus make us together with Himself the very habitation of God.

This is what God is after, and He will not settle for less, as David discovered when he was inspired to write of the winnowing process as a great heart searching.

Oh LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting, and my uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou winnowest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether” (Ps. 139:1-4).

This is about the all-seeing eyes of God searching David and all his ways, knowing him through and through. Lord, he cried, you know my sitting down and my rising up. You winnow my path—my going out. You winnow my lying down. No matter what I’m doing, or not doing, I can’t escape You. I don’t even have my own private thinking place anymore. You make me aware You even know my thoughts! And every word I speak—You know it altogether. What is it you’re after, Lord? Do You really want that big a piece of me? My sitting down, my rising up, my going out, my coming in, my lying down, my thoughts, my words…

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.

David was overwhelmed with this knowledge, and the awareness of just how much God wanted to be involved in his life.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence?

Nowhere.

If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there.

That’s what David found. In those rapturous times when he felt like he was in Heaven, his God was there. But when he made his bed in Hell—he did that once—he found His loving God was there also, who in great mercy brought him up out of the pit again.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, surely darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

All this is far more than a poetic flourish about the omniscience and omnipresence of God. This was something David was experiencing, a conscious awareness of God, and he cried out, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence?” Were you trying to get rid of God, David? But no… you were becoming aware of the extent to which God wanted relationship with you, a God whose all-seeing eye you could not evade, a God of unrelenting love who would not leave you to yourself no matter where you went or what you did, a God of love who would not let you go, because He wanted you—yes, you—for His very habitation. Nothing less than that.

And so you surrendered to His desire, and consented to this devastating searching.

Search me, O LORD, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be a wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Let us also, with trembling, give Him our consent. Lord, search me and know me, open your eyes upon me. Know my sitting down and my rising up so that your Presence is with me in all I say and do. Winnow my path so that I walk in You, in the Way everlasting, and not in my own ways. Winnow my lying down, purify my inactivity so that this too is fellowship with You. Know my heart, my thoughts, that I might be moved with what moves You, and think the very thoughts of God. Look upon me, Lord Jesus Christ, my great high priest and king! Oh how deeply I need this searching, this knowing, this winnowing of the all seeing-eye of God. Oh to see the Man with the winnowing fan in His hand, the Man with eyes as a flame of fire! Make me, make us, make your churches, Lord, to be the very habitation of God among men. Come into our midst in this hour and open Your eyes upon us! We invite You to do this, Lord! Look upon us! This is my prayer—that You would not be just above us, as the sister saw, but that You would come right down into our midst, and do that needed winnowing work in our lives and in our churches that can only be accomplished by the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit and fire.  Amen.

 

Whose Fan Is In His Hand

As this year comes to a close let me share what’s on my heart. In a recent gathering we had been praying for a deeper work of the Spirit in the churches in our area, and in our own midst—that God would do whatever He needs to do to bring into being churches that are according to the desire of His own heart, churches that make a serious impact on the world around us, which is growing darker by the day. After prayer there was a time of quietness. Then one of the sisters said that while we had been praying she had seen above us a man with a winnowing fan in his hand, and he was waving it back and forth.

John the Baptist’s prophecy came immediately to mind:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in Holy Spirit and fire,
Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Mt.    3:11,12).

This is a picture of the ancient threshing floor into which the stalks of wheat were gathered and then rolled over with a threshing cart or sledge to break up the stalks and break out the kernels from the stalks. Then the thresher tossed the broken stalks into the air with his winnowing fork or fan, and the kernels fell back to the ground and the wind blew the chaff to the outer edge of the threshing floor where it was burned. This process was continued till the threshing floor was completely clean; there was nothing left on the floor but the wheat, which was then gathered into the granary.

We discover in our Bible that threshing floors can be very devastating places—yet very wonderful places. It was in a threshing floor that Uzzah was smitten dead because he put out his hand to steady the ark. But this caused a great heart searching, the result of which was that David discovered God’s way to return the ark to Zion (1 Chr. 13:9-15:2).

It was in a threshing floor that David built an altar of burnt offering after he had seen the angel of the Lord ready to strike Jerusalem. This same threshing floor, because of the altar that David built, became the site of the new temple God had in mind (1 Chr. 21:18-22:1).

God in Isaiah called His people, “My threshing, and the corn of my floor…” (Isa. 21:10). He spoke this in view of the impending judgment of Babylon; that’s the context in this passage. God by His servant Isaiah had just pronounced the fall of Babylon. But what did this mean to God’s own? “Oh My threshing and the corn of my floor…” It might have looked like complete destruction, that threshing floor, but it only meant a purifying of His kernels of wheat. It’s a word that is prophetic of this hour, when, in a vast worldwide threshing floor, God purposes to liberate His own from Babylonian captivity, and release them from all that holds them to the earthly realm.

Daniel saw in vision a great image that was crushed to pieces and “became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors, and the wind carried them away” (Dan. 2:35). What could be more devastating? Powerful kings and their kingdoms just… blown away. But this happened because the great image had been smitten on its feet by a Stone cut out without hands, which then grew into a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

And so, when the inevitable shakings come, in the midst of the devastation—in the midst of winds and fires—God wants us to remember who we are (we are His precious wheat), and who it is that has the winnowing fan in His hand. It is our mighty Lord Jesus Christ, and His purpose in all the devastation is to bring to completion the desire of God’s heart. He is lovingly, faithfully, fulfilling the great purpose of God—that of baptizing a people into Christ, and purifying them from all that is extraneous to the desire of God’s heart.

 

Don’t Give Up On God

Last week I was in as deep a temptation to give up as I have been in my Christian walk of some forty years.  I desperately needed to hear from God about a certain matter.  Would it be this, or that?  I needed to make a decision.  Yet prayer was so difficult.  God was so silent.  It seemed I had no other choice but to give up on God.  I won’t go into detail, but let me tell you how it happened that I did not give up.

I went to a prayer meeting, and it hardly got going before one of the brothers spoke of George Mueller and his continual experience of answered prayer.  George Mueller proved, demonstrated, over and over again that God answers prayer.  Then a sister shared that the Lord had laid on her heart again the same two passages that have been given to us in our prayer gathering over several months.  They both involve prayer that does not take no for an answer.

One is the parable Jesus gave with the express purpose of teaching that “men [the word is gender inclusive] ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Lk. 18:1).  That is, not give up.  It’s the story of the widow who relentlessly pressed an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversary.  Although the judge gave God no place in his life, nor sought favour of man, he finally did for her what she wanted just to be rid of her.  Jesus then comes to His point.

And shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.

He then adds this:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?

So He gave this parable specifically to encourage people to “not faint,” to not give up on God, but keep pressing Him with our prayers and believing He will yet answer in a day when God is silent and faith is severely challenged, tested, because of it.

The other parable is the story of a man with two friends—one in great need, the other with great provision.  The friend in great need has come to the man hungry in the middle of the night but the man has nothing to set before him.  So he goes to the friend with great provision and, standing outside the door, calls out and wakes him up and asks for what he needs—three loaves.  But calling to him from within, this friend puts him off, he is rebuffed—go away, we’re all in bed here, I can’t give you what you need.  But the man keeps after him till finally he gets what he wants.

Jesus then brings out that it is this importunity, not their friendship, that got the man the provision he needed.

And I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth”       (Lk. 11:8).

Importunity—it means to ask or demand urgently, repeatedly, persistently, relentlessly, tenaciously.

Just prior to this parable the Lord has given his disciples what has been called the Lord’s prayer in response to their request that He teach them to pray.  Then with this parable He continues to teach them to pray—to be importunate in prayer.  Then after the parable He says this:

And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Ask just once?  Seek for a while?  Knock once or twice?  That’s not what the man with two friends did.  He kept on asking, seeking, knocking, till he was given his heart’s desire.  And that, actually, is the force of the Greek tense here—present continuous.

Keep on asking, and it shall be given you; keep on seeking, and ye shall find, keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that keeps on asking receives, and he that keeps on seeking finds, and to him that keeps on knocking it shall be opened.

We need to know and believe that our God greatly desires to answer us and give us our longed-for requests, though it seem He is a reluctant God.  Not so.  We must never take unanswered prayer as God’s answer to prayer.  We must be persistent.  Importunate.  We may not understand why just yet, but this, it seems, is something very important to Him.

At the outset I called it a temptation that I was about ready to call it quits.  I chose that word specifically, because another of the brothers in our little prayer gathering brought out how the disciples slept through the greatest opportunity they’d ever had—that of praying with Jesus in Gethsemane in His hour of temptation to evade the cross.

What, could ye not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation… (Mt. 26:40).

It was when the brother brought this out that I suddenly recognized what I had been going through.  It wasn’t just my own thoughts, it was a temptation.  I have an Adversary who would love nothing more than to see me pack it in, and persistently advises me to do so.  I am so thankful that with the help of brothers and sisters I was able to disappoint him.  I was able to recognize the temptation for what it was, and not enter into it.  If the Lord Himself had been sitting in the prayer gathering in that living room He could not have spoken to me more clearly than He did through the brothers and sisters who were there.  I heard my Father Himself speaking to me.  Don’t give up.  I hear your prayers.  I’m going to answer them.