Category Archives: Trial and Testing

Waiting With Christ

This is quite lengthy; as I was writing it I had wondered if it should be two separate entries. Eventually I decided to keep it all together. But there is much to meditate on and pray about, so some of my readers may wish to divide their reading into two parts about halfway through, perhaps at the heading “So now we come to this.”

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Before we start please pray with me. Dear Father, may our minds be renewed with truth as we open our hearts to hear and receive what You are revealing to us in what follows here. Amen.

…Let us open now with this verse:

The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool [literally, the footstool of Thy feet]. (Ps. 110:1)

This prophetic psalm of David is quoted or referred to in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament passage. It is full to overflowing with truth, of which we will consider only a little here. Jesus confirmed a thousand years after this was written that “my Lord” is prophetic of the Messiah, the Christ (Mt. 22:42). A reminder—upper case LORD in the Old Testament always refers to Jehovah (Yahweh), lower case Lord to Adonai (meaning lord, master).

Now this from the writer of Hebrews, who has Psalm 110:1 in mind:

But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. (Heb.10:12,13).

Expecting is “waiting expectantly.” The New King James Version, the American Standard Version, the Revised Version, and Young’s Literal Translation have expecting. The highly respected Newberry’s Interlinear has awaiting. J.N. Darby’s New Translation, the English Standard Version, the International Standard Version, the English Majority Text Version, the Modern Literal Version and others have waiting. “From henceforth waiting till…” Put together, then, we have “waiting expectantly.” The same word is used in Hebrews 11:10. “For he looked for a city…” That is, Abraham the sojourner anticipated the city; he waited expectantly for it; he had no doubt he would one day walk within its gates and at last be home. Also in James 5:7. “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth…” That is, waiteth expectantly. He is certain he will have his harvest.

What, then, is the Christ doing at the right hand of God? He is waiting. He is waiting expectantly for something. He is seated at the right hand of God waiting expectantly till all His enemies be made the footstool of His feet. He has no doubt whatever that He will see this. He is the King of kings seated on the throne of David in the heavenlies—there is no higher throne in the universe—being at the same time our great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4). He is seated because, unlike the Levitical priest who “standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sins,” He has accomplished the taking away. He has offered “one sacrifice for sins forever.” Having done so, He “sat down on the right hand of God,” the place of all authority in Heaven and earth. He is seated there to this day and shall be forever. He will not abdicate and cannot be deposed. He is seated, waiting, expecting the day when all His enemies, each and every one of them, are under His feet. He is not waiting to reign after they are under His feet. He reigns now.

Wonderful truth. Even while all His enemies are not yet under His feet, He reigns, He rules in the midst of His enemies.” Let this lay hold of us.

The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies. (Ps. 110:2)

Who are His enemies?

We can’t go into this at length just now, but they are all who have ever set themselves against the throne and kingdom of God, primarily Satan and his principalities and powers in the rebellion in the heavenlies, for whom God has provided no redemption, and whose fate is sealed—and also all those of the race of Adam, whom Satan succeeded in drawing into his rebellion. Yet these, even while we were enemies, the God of immeasurable love and grace determined to reconcile to Himself. “For if, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10). It is thus that throughout history many of those among men who were His enemies, and received His reconciliation, became His friends.

It is by the sending of the rod (the sceptre) of His strength out of Zion—I believe this is speaking of the word of the Gospel of the kingdom in the power of the Spirit—that His rule in the midst of His enemies is manifested. We have seen this often throughout history. Time and again in the midst of raging enemies the Gospel has gone forth in power. Christ’s enemies have never been able, nor yet are they now able, to put Him under their feet. For He reigns in the midst of His enemies, sending forth the Sceptre of His strength from His throne in Zion, all the while anticipating the day when His enemies are completely subdued under His feet. “Then cometh the end when He shall have put down all rule [principality] and all authority and power.” There it is, the cause of all the trouble in the universe, the one thing that constitutes either angels or men His enemies—their determined conspiracy to have to themselves some other rule, some other throne, than the throne of God. He has determined otherwise for them—their subjugation under His feet. “For He [Christ] must reign,” Paul continues, “till…” (not after, but till) “all enemies are subdued under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25,26). Wonderful and certain hope—all things, all enemies, and finally death too is under His feet. “For He hath put all things under His feet,” cites Paul, quoting a prophecy from Psalm 8:6 now.

And who are His feet?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:4-6)

Quickened us together, raised us up together, seated us together… these are one word in the Greek. Thomas Newberry (The Newberry Bible) strings them together like this: He “quickened-us-together-with Christ… and raised-us-up-together, and made-us-sit-together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus…”

Astonishing truth in all of these; it’s the last one we are dwelling on here. “He seated-us-together-with Him” in His throne. That is just too much to take in, isn’t it. Too much. Except for faith. It is not too much for faith.

Paul is writing to “the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus…” He is not writing to two groups, but one: “the saints, even the faithful in Christ Jesus.” He says they are seated together with Christ in His throne in the heavenlies. Amazing. How did they get there? By being in Christ Jesus. For that is where He is—on the throne of God. And how did they get into Christ Jesus? There is only one way, the same way you and I came to be in Christ Jesus. We were baptized into Christ Jesus. No, not by water baptism, it is baptism in Holy Spirit by which we are baptized into Christ. Do you recall Paul’s words to the Romans, that those baptized into Christ were baptized into His death, and into His life? “Therefore we were buried together with Him by the baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4). It is the Spirit baptism Paul has in mind here—water baptism, important as it is, cannot do this. It is baptism in Holy Spirit that baptizes into Christ, and constitutes one a saint.

And so Paul, writing to the saints, includes himself, and says, “But God, who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us, quickened-us-together-with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and raised-us-up-together, and seated-us-together in the heavenlies in Christ…” Paul had earlier written to the Romans reminding them that baptism into Christ had made them one with His death and resurrection. Here to the saints in Ephesus he unfolds this further revelation—that when they were baptized into Christ, not only were they quickened together with Him, and raised up together with Him, but, since they were in Christ Jesus, they were also seated together with Him in His throne in the heavenlies.

What a wonder. What a wonder. What then are we doing there, saints of God? We are doing just what He is doing. And what is He doing? Again, He is seated on the throne of God, reigning, waiting patiently, expectantly, till His enemies are made the footstool of His feet. Since He is reigning, we too are reigning. Since He is waiting, we to are waiting, waiting with Him. This is our expectation. We wait accordingly. And since He is ruling in the midst of His enemies while He waits, we rule with Him in the midst of His enemies and ours as we wait with Him.

So now we come to this:

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient-waiting for Christ. (2 Thes. 3:5)

That’s the King James Version. Most of our English versions have “the patience of Christ.” Young’s Literal Translation has “the endurance of Christ.” So, what did Paul have in mind? Patient waiting for Christ, or the patience of Christ? Love for God, or God’s love? Apparently in the Greek these are grammatically correct both ways. (Please see end note.) It is also true both ways. Why not embrace both, then, instead of either/or? “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love for God (and the love of God) and into the patient-waiting for Christ (and the patience of Christ).”

I wish we had a better English word to give us the fuller meaning of the Greek word translated patience. We would have one if we blended patience and endurance together into one. In the passage we are considering, Strong’s Concordance says that patience is the Greek hupomone (pronounced hoop-om-on-ay’), adding that it means “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).” Greek scholar W.E. Vine says it means “literally, an abiding under (hupo, under, meno, to abide), it is almost invariably rendered patience” [in the KJV].

Certainly the Lord must direct our hearts, and our steps, into His love, the love of God, and for God. For, as Charles Wesley gave us to sing, “God only knows the love of God…” So we are utterly dependent upon Him to direct us into this love, the “more excellent way” of love. But since to walk in this more excellent way of love brings us, as we know, into trial and difficulty in which we are often completely out of our depth, it requires of us patient endurance far beyond our own capacity. So our Lord must also direct our hearts into the accompanying patience of Christ, and into patient waiting for Christ. In 1 Thessalonians Paul had earlier related how they “had turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven…” (1 Thes. 1:9,10). So there is that vitally important truth about waiting for Christ. But beloved, as I have said, if we are called to wait for Him, we can be sure it’s because Christ Himself has been waiting, and is still waiting, and we must wait patiently with Him.

Reigning patience  

And when all is said and done, it is only Christ’s own patience that will enable us, provision us, as the trials grow greater, to wait with Him and be faithful to the end. Do we not know this by now? How often have you and I been in a situation in which we were seeking to draw on a fund of patience within us, only to discover we were very short of funds? In fact all too often we consider patience the unpleasant task of a hard taskmaster, and the sooner we are done with it the better. Oh, the patience of Christ is far, far above and beyond that. There is an element of immoveable sovereignty in His patience; He reigns in patience, reigns over all, reigns in the midst of all circumstances, reigns in the midst of His enemies, waiting expectantly till they are all the footstool of His feet. Accordingly, those in Him are partakers of His own reigning patience in whatever they are “in the midst of.” And—open our eyes, dear Lord—do we recognize You Yourself with us in that kind of patience? Patience is the expression of the reigning Christ in our own lives and difficult circumstances, is the expression of the waiting Christ, and our participation in His waiting. Patience is not something we reluctantly have to have under the circumstances; in His patience we are not under but above  the circumstances, reigning in our waiting even as He reigns.

How then may we avail ourselves of His patience in the trial of this life? Only by being in Him where He is, He being also in us. Do we recognize we are in Him, having been baptized into Him, and He in us? What a revelation this is to the heart! “Hereby know we that we dwell [abide] in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit” (1 Jn. 4:13). Let us ever reckon it so; faith reckons it so. By being in Him, being seated together with Him in His throne, abiding in Him, and He in us, His reigning patience is our patience. As Andrew Murray has said, the fruit that grows in the branches of the Vine is the fruit of the Vine and the branches in the Vine. And so Paul writes, “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

Patient in tribulation…

In closing let us consider two passages from The Revelation. First this one:

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in the tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:9).

Notice how John phrases that. Notice how he links those two together. “The kingdom and patience…” Do you and I have that kind of patience—kingdom patience, reigning patience? And where is it to be found? “In the tribulation…” What a wonderful place to find this! “In the tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” Are we in any trouble? Are we in His trouble? Then we have in the midst of it our Lord’s own kingdom patience. And we discover some precious companions right there too.

And finally this one—Jesus’ words to the church of Philadelphia (among the seven churches, one of the two for which He had no reproof):

Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from [out from] the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10).

By “the word of My patience” Jesus means, in my view, the word of the truth of the Gospel, which, in order to be kept, He enjoins patience upon them, patience apart from which the word He had committed to them would be lost to them. He is referring back to what He has just commended them for—that even though they had but little strength, “thou hast… kept My word, and hast not denied My name” (vs 8). The word He had given them they had patiently, steadfastly kept—guarded faithfully with diligent watchcare; now they would discover Him keeping them “from the hour of the temptation” (as the Greek has it) a trial singularly beyond others in its severity. Vincent’s Word Studies says, “The preposition [ek, from] implies, not a keeping from temptation, but a keeping in temptation, as the result of which they shall be delivered out of its power.” So He is not saying that, because He is now going to keep them, they will no longer need enduring patience. He is saying that as always, but especially now, they are going to know His faithful commitment to them—that in their patience He Himself would be involved, keeping them in the power of His own enduring patience.

Later in The Revelation we are given what I suspect is the account of this temptation (trial), when “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship”—they know not what (Rev. 13:8). Over the centuries there has been no scarcity of interpretations as to what this is all about by those who were sure they knew. There are many today who are sure they know. I am not so sure. This I do know, that all those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” fail the trial. This also I know, that for those who do have their names written therein, this is no cakewalk; they need to the uttermost a certain keeping power enabling them to continue faithful. John in reference to this great trial writes, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13:10). Not faith alone, but faith girded, armoured, with patience. He brings up this same trial further on, again urging, “Here is the patience of the saints,” immediately adding, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). The context of both verses (13:10 and 14:12), is that “the hour of His judgment is come” (14:7). It’s the anticipation of this that the Spirit intends to inspire the saints to enduring patience. Only a little longer, saints! For those whose very worship is sacrilege, for those who are persecuting the saints, taking them into captivity or killing them (13:10), their hour is come—they have the same to look forward to themselves; if they refuse to worship “Him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters,” instead worshipping “the beast and his image” (whatever this cryptic imagery means) what is left for them but “the wine of the wrath of God,” and “torment with fire and brimstone,” and “no rest day nor night” (14:10,11).

And so these two strong exhortations are an assurance to the saints that the hour of judgment is nigh, their patience and faithful waiting will surely be rewarded, as will the folly of all the earth. Be not partakers with them, dear saints, John is urging by the Spirit, continue faithful, though it take the utmost commitment and patient endurance to continue to obey God and keep faith in Jesus Christ without caving to what all the world has sold out to…

…Just as the three Hebrew children prevailed in their day, remaining faithful to their God, though it meant the fire for them, when all the world was worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. The three endured in the trial, in the fire, because—wonderful visitation—One was with them, reigning with them “in the midst” of it. Even so, prophesies John, it’s this enduring patience, the keeping power of His patience, that you’ll need now, saints, as never before, and in this you’ll prevail in the trial that is about to come upon all the world. This is the provision that will keep you through the trial—not by the skin of your teeth but triumphantly—the patience of Christ. Or rather, the Christ of enduring patience. Seated with Him in the heavenlies even while here upon the earth in the midst of great conflict, reigning with Him in His enduring patience, waiting expectantly for Him and with Him—this has has been your continual practice day upon day, day in and day out, and so you are ready for this great trial, confident now as always that in due time all His enemies will be subdued under His feet.

Yes, under His feet. That day surely comes, just as it came for Israel of old whom Joshua called to “come near, and put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of a good courage; for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight” (Josh. 10:24,25).

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Endnote from Robertson’s Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament

Into the love of God (eis tēn agapēn tou theou). Either subjective or objective genitive makes sense and Lightfoot pleads for both, “not only as an objective attribute of deity, but as a ruling principle in our hearts,” holding that it is “seldom possible to separate the one from the other.” Most scholars take it here as subjective, the characteristic of God.

Into the patience of Christ (eis tēn hupomonēn tou Christou). There is the same ambiguity here, though the subjective idea, the patience shown by Christ, is the one usually accepted rather than “the patient waiting for Christ” (objective genitive).

 

 

Faithfulness As A Mystery Unfolds

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect [mature]: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:6-8).

I wonder that they did not know. Did they not know the story of Joseph?

In the honour roll of faith the writer of Hebrews, while he does not make specific mention of Joseph’s ordeal of faith, he does make note of those who “had trial… of bonds and imprisonment” and “were tempted.” Certainly that includes Joseph. What he records specifically of Joseph is that it was by faith that he commanded the Israelites to be sure to take his bones with them to the land of promise when God delivered them from Egypt. They did this, after long delay finally laying those bones to rest “in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor…” (Josh. 24:32).

That’s quite something when you think of it. The many times they murmured and complained and doubted God in the wilderness—especially when they concluded in unbelief that entering and taking the land was impossible, utterly beyond their ability—they needed only to take a walk to wherever Joseph’s bones were being kept to remind themselves of the faithfulness of God. It was He who had brought them out. It was He who would bring them in.

When Joseph gave this commandment he knew by personal experience the faithfulness of the God in whom he had trusted when year after long year his own circumstances were more a testimony to the failure of the promises of God than of His faithfulness.

I never tire of reading the story. God had given Joseph two dreams, the first in which his brothers’ sheaves were bowing down to his sheaf. What a dream! How could he not help but share something so glorious with his brethren? They got the interpretation immediately. “Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?” They already hated him because of their father’s special love for him, but now they hated him all the more “for his dreams and for his words.” Then he had a second dream which along with his brothers he told his father. “The sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” His father rebuked him. “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” Nevertheless, “his father observed the saying.” But now his brothers added something more to their hatred. They’d begun to feel there could be something to this. So now they “envied him.”

And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt… (Acts 7:9).

Their motive was, “and we shall see what will become of his dreams” (Gen. 37:20).

We know what became of his dreams, we who have read the story, and it’s impossible to read the story without tears in your eyes. The hour came when all his brethren were bowing before him—the very thing they had conspired to prevent—just as the faithful God had shown him in the dreams.

God was with him

Let me quote more fully that verse from Acts.

And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt; but God was with him…

In Potiphar’s house, God was with him. Later in prison, God was with him. In what sense? It doesn’t appear that God ever sent someone to give Joseph a word of prophecy, or ever whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry Joseph, you’re going to end up on the throne of Egypt some day and those dreams will come true.” No, in this God was silent. Yet God was with him. As Joseph went about his daily routine as a faithful slave he was aware that a familiar Presence was still with him. What did it all mean, then? What was it all about? What about those dreams, Lord? In low times they were more a torment to him than a fond hope. But he would go to prayer, and the Presence would be with him, and with it an awareness, then, that somehow, in spite of all this that has happened—it’s all so unjust, Lord—yet, You are with me still. I don’t understand… but please help me to be faithful to You.

The psalmist gives us insight into what God did not disclose to Joseph—that one day God would send Joseph’s brethren to Egypt as well—an ordeal that for them would be utterly devastating, as it had been for Joseph—and that He was preparing Joseph in advance for that very thing:

He [God] sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant [a bondslave];
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came, the word of the LORD tried him (Ps. 105:17,18).

The iron fetters entered into his very soul, as the original implies. But what I find so moving is that God wanted to include in Scripture that Joseph’s feet were hurt with fetters. The tender-hearted God took note of that. How could He not? He “was with him.” As if He were saying, “I know all that you’re going through, beloved Joseph—even to the point of feeling the hurt of your feet in the fetters.”

And so through it all, the word God had given Joseph in dreams tried him, purified him. Come on, Joseph, give it all up, God has forgotten you and your dreams, and life is too short. Enjoy yourself. Instead he turned and fled. There was something more important to him than those dreams of glory. That “something” kept him when he was sorely tempted. If the dreams had vanished like a mirage in the desert, his God was still with him, and his love for his God kept him. He would not sin against his God. He remained faithful. It cost him dearly, he was framed for his faithfulness, ended up in prison. Yet even in prison he continued to serve faithfully without bitterness toward God, without resentment toward those near and far who had treated him so unjustly, and without nursing his hurt with thoughts of self pity… or of revenge. He came forth from his trials with a certain something which made God’s heart swell. Proven character. Joseph may have been laid in iron but he came forth as gold.

And the dreams?

Somewhere along the way Joseph had given them back to God for His safekeeping, and had forgotten about them. The day came when the faithful God gave the dreams back to Joseph again—fulfilled.

…And Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth…. And Joseph remembered the dreams… (Gen. 42:6,9).

Who remembered? God had never forgotten those long-ago dreams, but Joseph apparently had.

It is beautiful to see the way God with sovereign genius unfolded His faithfulness to Joseph. It is also, oh, so beautiful, that all along the way Joseph had remained faithful to God when, as far as he knew, there was nothing in it for him. He did so out of love for God. Even so with our Lord Jesus Christ. For those with eyes to see, it was in the cross that the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ shone forth—His love for the Father, His commitment to do His will come what may, a devotion that meant the cross for Him. It is a beauty beyond compare, to God a “fragrance of rest.” It is Jesus’ reflection, the beauty of the Lord, we see in Joseph’s life in the days of his captivity. Joseph sought to do God’s will, to obey Him, in all things to please Him, though it mean what those in a distant day would call taking up his cross.

Where did that lead him?

Where did it lead our Lord?

Where shall it lead you and me? May we ever remember in our own trials that whatever promises may linger unfulfilled, the faithful God is involving us in an unfolding mystery which His enemies do not understand, but which all too often we ourselves do not understand. In such times let us abide faithful. While the mystery unfolds, God is seeking to cultivate unto Himself the beauty of the Lord in our lives—trusting obedience to His will, endurance, patience, meekness, faith, all the while learning from the lowly Jesus the yoke of His rest… God has not forgotten the promises, nor ever will. And so, however contrary to the promises of God our circumstances may seem to be, let us seek to please Him in all things, and take up our own cross, whatever that may involve for you or for me. It is by that very cross that the faithful God means to fulfill the promises He has given, and prepare us for the glory that is to come.

It was by way of the prison in Egypt that the unjustly treated and falsely accused slave Joseph came to the throne. It was by way of the cross of Golgotha that the unjustly treated and falsely accused bondslave Jesus came to the throne, the very thing the princes of this world had conspired to prevent.

May we ever be mindful of this mystery of the cross—which God has ordained, yes, unto our glory—and continue faithful to Him who is faithful. We may safely commit to Him the “dreams” He has given us. He will not forget them. Meanwhile He is lovingly working in our lives, and anticipates something precious coming forth.

A Mid-Summer Exhortation

What follows here was shared with me by a friend in Cranbrook. B.C. in whose home a few have been gathering several times a week for five or so years to pray and wait on God as they seek Him earnestly for the awakening so deeply needed in this hour. They pray not for their own group alone, but for the Church at large.

I felt to share here what he passed on to me; it is a timely exhortation that I think many others will appreciate.

A MID-SUMMER EXHORTATION: (Saturday July 27, 2019)

This morning in our prayer meeting the Lord put a word on my heart and I shared it and it birthed much participation and enlargement by others in the meeting.

In the last few days I had become aware of a weariness that had come into our midst. We are a small group and we consistently meet several times a week. It has literally been a miracle that a few have been able meet so often and not become weary of each other and of the way. But recently weariness suddenly came into our midst, but the Lord was faithful to quickly raise up a standard against it. The weariness was not on one or two that were spreading it to the others; it was like a cloud over all of us. There was no condemnation to anyone from the Lord, but an exhortation to all to rise above it.

Before sharing more on this morning’s meeting I would like first to share with you a word that was quickened to us within a few days of New Year’s 2019. It seemed to be prophetic of a continuing time of dryness for the coming year. Now here we are mid-summer 2019 and the word proves to have been a true word. We have known much dryness this year.

Here is what I shared at the beginning of the year:

A New Year’s (2019) Greeting To All Our “Companions”:

Companions?? That’s different!!

The Scriptures talk of companions in labours, companions in tribulation, companions in travel, etc. Many of us are also companions in prayer and in seeking the Lord, and in patience.

In our morning prayer time the song of Habakkuk 3:17 was quickened to us:

Though the fig tree does not blossom neither shall fruit be in the vines (not even the beginning signs of fruitfulness); the labour of the olive shall fail (no matter how often we faithfully meet or give Him no rest, we don’t seem able to penetrate that realm of ever-abiding anointing), and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock be cut off from the fold (even though our desire is to be flowing in the River of God with the Universal Body of Christ, true spiritual joinings and bondings are scarce), and there be no herd in the stalls (not many coming to the meetings, not a whole lot of demonstrated hunger).

What a bleak scenario.

But what is the prophet’s response to it?

Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Hab. 3:18,19)

If you can identify with some of this we want to give you this encouragement for 2019. Don’t hang up your harps upon the willows as they did momentarily in Psalm 137. Or if you already have hung them up, take them down and start rejoicing no matter what your circumstances are (lest your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth). Be like Paul and Silas who were in a brutal foreign land, so to speak, and yet after being beaten, sang praises to God at midnight and God answered with an earthquake and salvation was released to all that would receive it.

Back to Habakkuk:

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but in the end IT SHALL SPEAK, and NOT LIE, though it seems to tarry, and tarry, and tarry, wait for It; because it will surely come, it will not tarry! (Hab: 2:3)

Also this from Malachi:

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall SUDDENLY COME TO HIS TEMPLE, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Mal: 3:1)

Benediction:

God bless all of you and your families and extended families in 2019 and forever. Remember the covenant is “A lamb for a house.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

With Love, your companions… Terry & Susan

And Now Here We Are More Than Halfway Through 2019:

With that prophecy of Habakkuk’s about the desolation in the land, the Lord was preparing us for what this year held for us. Yet we have persevered, for He has encouraged us and sustained us all along with His word and promises. Yet as I said, a weariness suddenly came upon us. On Saturday morning July 27, as we addressed the weariness head on, the Lord gave us encouragement from Isaiah and Ezekiel.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing: now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (Isaiah 43: 18-21)

Wonderful promise from Isaiah. But it follows with this:

BUT THOU HAST NOT CALLED UPON ME, O JACOB; BUT THOU HAST BEEN WEARY OF ME O ISRAEL. (Isa. 43:22)

No Lord, we have not been weary of you, we are just weary of the meetings and of each other. But the Lord says no, you’re weary of the way. Does not the word say that “I am THE WAY”? Have I not called you to gather together, and given you grace to endure? You’ve become weary of Me.

Thankfully every heart bowed in repentance to His judgement and joy was restored.

Ezekiel 47:

God showed us clearly that He wants us to go deeper into His river, and He has a specific depth that He wants to take us to. “And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters…..” We see here that He is Lord, it is His will that is to be done. He is not calling us to enter into the river and find our comfort zone. He has a specific destination for us and it is our responsibility—and privilege—to follow Him.

We all felt that this is not a word just for our fellowship, but it is a word for the churches that have a desire for more in this hour. God sees our weariness with The Way in this hour and He is here now, with a line in His hand to take us all another thousand cubits into the river.

Mathew 6:27, 2 Corinthians 4:7, and John 15:4

And which one of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

We cannot add one cubit to our stature but HE can add a thousand cubits.

God Bless,
Terry Conroy

Perseverance

The link below leads to a message titled Perseverance by Bill Sweeney.

Bill has been bed-ridden with ALS for 22 years. He is completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and communicates by means of a computer mouse that he controls with eye movements. Yet there is great grace in his life. I know where that comes from.

His wife Mary is his chief caregiver– a testimony in itself of great grace.

I urge my readers to partake of this message; there is much en-courage-ment here. Bill’s trial of deep affliction is yielding great wealth to the body of Christ, especially for those who themselves are going through deep waters. (Read the comments too; there’s much inspiration there.)

After I read this I was once again humbled by the realization of the many saints who are already gathered in the church in Heaven, and of others like Bill who will one day gather with them. Oh, the  testimonies of the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of countless saints! It leaves me absolutely awed. When it comes my turn to gather with them, I will want to slip in quietly, and take a seat at the back.

Perseverance

Silence In Heaven

A friend shared with me earlier today that she and her husband in a time of prayer together received an assurance that God was attending to a certain much-prayed, yet still unanswered, prayer.

The word she used—attending—took hold of me, and a line from a prayer in the Psalms came on my heart:

Hear my cry, O LORD, attend unto my prayer; from the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed… (Ps. 61:1,2).

It’s a cry to God to attend, to give His attention, to that prayer.

Later, I thought upon a passage in The Revelation that I often dwell on:

And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Silence in Heaven? What is this about? What is happening during this time of silence in Heaven? Let’s read further:

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand (Rev. 8: 1-4).

What is happening during the silence in Heaven? We see first of all that in this time of silence the seven angels who stand before God are handed seven trumpets. They are not sounding their trumpets just yet; they are just receiving them.

Then we discover that during this time of silence in Heaven it appears that the saints in the earth are offering up their prayers, and an angel is intermingling “much incense” with the prayers of the saints “upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”

Let’s drop back down into the earth for a minute. Here are the beloved saints of the Lord offering up their earnest prayers… and wondering, wondering, why the Silence? And it has been the heart cry of the saints of all ages to understand the silence of Heaven. Why, Lord, are you silent? Why do you not answer our prayers?

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my Rock; be not silent to me, lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit…”

Keep not silence, O LORD, be not far from me…

How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD? Forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?

O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.

The cries go up to The Silence. Is God angry against the prayer of His people?  Never!  He has commissioned an angel who is given “much incense” to offer with the prayers of the saints. Where did the angel get this special incense? Where else but from the apothecary of God? For God Himself is burdened with the burdens of His people far, far more than we comprehend. And He has ordained that heavenly incense be added to our prayers—His way of saying Amen to our cries… His way of crying with us! His way of assuring us that our burden is His own burden!

Let us never fail, in the silences of God, to read His heart aright. Let us never interpret the silence of Heaven as a message that our loving God is careless about the prayers of His saints—the seekers, the humble, the broken, the destitute.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer (Ps. 102:17).

…Oh, far from not despising it, just before I began to write this something happened to me (and it seems I am to include it here, but I know I can’t adequately describe it). I unexpectedly felt pierced—yes, that’s the word I must use—pierced to the heart, and overwhelmed, with an awareness of God’s great great love and concern for my concerns—the darkness of the hour, the overwhelming needs on every front, yet God seeming so silent. I was pierced by the awareness of His love so great, so deep: it’s impossible that He could not be concerned. Oh, how it grieves me, that I seem to know so little the God of love!

Oh, let me never misinterpret the silence of Heaven. It is a very pregnant silence. Something very momentous and very powerful is about to burst forth. Seven angels are given seven trumpets, and stand in expectant waiting. At the same time, another angel having a golden censer stands before the golden altar before the throne of God, and continually adds his incense to the prayers of the saints.

And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

Now something else happens. Now comes the response:

And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

The same censer full of incense intermingled with the prayers of the saints is suddenly cast into the earth! And there are voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

No silence now!

Notice the storm elements—thunder, lightning. The voices of Heaven…

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before Him,   and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Ps. 50.3).

A great eternal Storm is about to break forth!

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

No silence now!

How long will our God be inattentive to the prayers of His people? He never has been. Not for an instant. The half-hour silence in Heaven is a time of great preparation; the angels with the trumpets are preparing themselves. And oh, we feel the growing pressure of the word God has been preparing, preparing, preparing…

And we know that the hour of its mighty release is at hand!

The LORD shall roar out of Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake…” (Joel 2.16).

The silence in heaven precedes the silence there is going to be in the earth when the Lord God Almighty speaks from His throne!

But the LORD is in His Holy Temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him (Hab. 2:20).

Beloved of the Lord in great trial, at the end of your earthly resources with heart overwhelmed, let us never take the silence of Heaven to mean that our loving God does not hear, does not care.

He hears, oh, He hears, and cares, and is giving my prayers, and yours, His loving attention!

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 [grain] 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.

 

I Was Sick

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“Behold, He cometh with clouds,” the last book of the Bible proclaims, “and every eye shall see Him…” (Rev. 1.7).

This is the long-awaited appearing in glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; it is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2.13).

But note.  That passage in The Revelation continues, “and they also which pierced Him.”

Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.   Even so, Amen.

This prophecy first appears in Zechariah, where it reads, “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12.10).  Me?  Who is that?  The words are in the mouth of the LORD, that is, Jehovah.

They appear again in the apostle John’s account of the crucifixion of Christ.

And again another scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced (Jn. 19.37).

I wonder how many of the onlookers that day on Golgotha realized that when the soldiers drove the nails into the hands of Christ, and pierced His side with a spear, it was actually Jehovah they were piercing.  We make no attempt to dissect the holy unity between the Father and the Son; the prophecy simply states that the hour would come when those who crucified the Son of God would realize that it was Jehovah God the Father they had pierced.

I wonder, too, how many realize that Jesus Christ is still being pierced.  Saul of Tarsus got that astonishing revelation one day.  He had been persecuting the Christians, delivering them up to prison and death.  One day he saw a light brighter than the noon-day sun and heard a Voice calling to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

What a stunning revelation it was to him.  “Who are You, Lord?”  “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”

You mean, Lord, these Christians… You?

He devoted the rest of his life to sharing the sufferings of the One he had been persecuting, and his writings are filled with the revelation he saw that day.

Now ye are the body of Christ…

Matthew in his account of the Gospel tells of the day when the Son of man shall come in His glory… and reveal to the dismay of all that even before then He was here, though many did not recognize Him.  He said that He was here… hungry.  He was here… thirsty.  He was here… a stranger, here… naked.  He was here… sick.  He was here… in prison.

How so, Lord?  You said “I was hungry, I was thirsty… I was sick.  I was in prison.”  How so?

He reveals that it was when “one of the least of these my brethren” was going through these things, it was He Himself who was suffering…

…And He Himself who was being ministered to by those who reached out to them, even though they were not conscious that this is what they were doing.

We anticipate the appearing of the Son of man in glory, and our cry is, make no tarrying, Lord!

But, beloved, do we see Him even now?  Do we recognize Him… not in robes of glory, but in His humiliation?

Let us not miss out on His appearing even now in His humiliation—His privation, His alienation, His sickness, His distress, His shame, His unjust treatment… His sufferings.

We don’t want to be numbered among those who are wailing in that hour when they finally realize who it is they pierced.

 

 

The Day Of Temptation

Sorry for the length of this one but I feel an urgency about this; please read it when you can give it good time.

Some of the oldsters who read this blog will remember Keith Green’s song, “I don’t wanna fall away from You.”

Neither do I.

But, the Bible speaks of a time called the great apostasy—the great falling away—prior to the coming of the day of Christ (2 Thes. 2:3).

Surely that could not happen to me… could it? I am not trying to sow doubt in my heart; at the same time I don’t want to kid myself either. Things can get so difficult that any of us might be tempted to throw in the towel. Jesus promised in the parable of the unjust judge that God will certainly avenge His elect who cry day and night unto Him, though He bears long with them. He will be faithful. He will avenge them speedily. But then Jesus added, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh [to avenge them] shall He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8).

Meaning that even with the certainty of this promise being fulfilled, its delay will leave many in such overwhelming circumstances that they will be tempted to abandon their faith. This is especially true in this hour when it seems the whole of Christianity is on trial; even here in the “free” western world it is becoming a heavy reproach to be a Christian in a society that increasingly ridicules God and hates Christians.

And so the temptation is there. God, it seems, is slow to vindicate Himself, and His own. Will I be able to continue on?  Will I be able to stay faithful in spite of this delay?

I want to answer this question by first framing a picture from the book of Hebrews, which I was reading through recently, when suddenly the light came on.

First I read this:

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted (Heb. 2:17,18).

That reminded me of this a couple of chapters further on:

 Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession [our confession].
For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).

Now, these verses have been a great comfort to me in times of temptation all through my Christian walk. But, as I said, suddenly the light came on. For it dawned on me that sandwiched between these two passages about temptation is another passage about temptation.

 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith), Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work forty years” (Heb. 3:7-9).

The Grand Scheme of Hebrews

Suddenly I was able to connect the dots. This is the centre of the picture framed by those two other passages about the Son of God being able to help those who are in a time of temptation.

The writer of Hebrews—whether it was Paul or someone else doesn’t concern us—was writing in the days of the early church to Hebrews who in a time of increasing persecution were being sorely tempted to draw back from the high and holy calling with which they had been called—to be partakers of Christ Himself, and thus of the great salvation He had wrought for them on the Cross of Calvary, and which He would unfold to them in all its fullness… as they continued to hold the beginning of their confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

This is grand scheme of the writer of Hebrews. He wants to find ways to encourage his brothers and sisters in a time of sore trial to continue on and not fall away. So he goes back to the days when in the wilderness the children of Israel on their way to their Canaan inheritance did the exact opposite. They didn’t hold fast the beginning of their confidence steadfast to the end. They abandoned their hope. In the day of temptation (or, testing) they failed God… and themselves.  Instead of going on, they drew back.

The original Greek has, “in the day of the temptation,” speaking of a specific temptation, or test. The context shows that it was the day when the people, instead of believing their God and pressing on into their heritage, were filled with unbelief and turned back in their hearts to Egypt. The enemies before them, and the obstacles, were just too much. They were filled with fear, not faith. And they turned their backs on God. (See Numbers Chapters 13 and 14.)

They failed the great temptation. In fact they turned the tables on God, as this passage says (and it seems to include other occasions when the people refused to believe their God; see Psalm 95:8, Num. 14:22, Ex. 17:7, Num. 20:13). “Your fathers tempted me…” That is, they put God to the test when it was they who were being tested; they questioned God, doubted that He could actually do what He had promised.

And so instead of going on, they drew back, they fell away.  Incidentally, the passage in Hebrews about those who crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh does not have in mind someone who has stumbled in sin; it’s about those who have “fallen away” (Heb. 6:6). That is, they walk no more with Christ; they have turned their back on Him. This is far different from one who has stumbled in a sin, and is still crying out, “I don’t wanna fall away from You.”

And so the writer of Hebrews seeks to encourage the new converts; he wants them to know that in this calling, difficult as it is, they are attended by a faithful and merciful High Priest who Himself knows all about temptation and is able to help those who are tempted.

This is why he urges them to come boldly to the throne of grace knowing that this High Priest will not look down on them because of their weaknesses and fears; He will sympathize with them because He Himself had been tempted in all things just like themselves, yet without sin. (And what is sin but falling short of the will of God?) All they need do is accept His invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace for the mercy and grace they need in their present trial.

After I read this, I put my Bible down with that question in my heart. (And when you think of it, every temptation has in it this very question.) Will I continue to be faithful? Will I continue on in this hour, or draw back? As I said, I am not trying to sow doubt—to myself or to others—but some of us know that the test can be very severe at times, and it’s not once or twice that I have cried out, Lord, I can’t go on any further, please just take me home. Not that I am saying I don’t want to go on, but I am certain that with my own resources I simply can’t go on.

But this is just why I am urged to come to the Throne of Grace, is it not? Yes, it’s a very high throne, but the One seated there—reigning there with all power in Heaven and earth—is my priest, my very own great High Priest, who has deeply identified Himself with my cause, and is touched with the feeling of my infirmities, and sympathizes with my weaknesses.

So, if I am certain I will never make it by my own resources, I am just as certain that if I come boldly to this throne of Grace I will find the provision I need in order to abide faithful, and continue on.  And that is the answer to my question.

Faith… that pleases God

This present hour is a difficult hour… which is going to get even more difficult. We are in the beginnings of a final onslaught against God and His Christ, and it will take faith to continue on. And—have we learned this lesson?—yesterday’s faith will not do for today. And so we must come to the Throne of Grace… again and again. At the Throne of Grace we will be able to renew our faith in order to continue to live by faith… today as yesterday, though today’s trial be very severe. At the Throne of Grace we will find the mercy and grace we need in order to continue believing God and pleasing God (for without faith it is impossible to please Him) regardless how great the obstacles before us, and impossible the situations, and dark the day. We will also find—this is my conviction because the present day is calling for this—the release of some very powerful things from the Throne of Grace to enable us to triumph and glorify our God in this day, the Evil Day.

Beloved, let us remember that every problem we face, the impossible ones, the insurmountable ones, the ones we have cried to God about till we have no more tears to cry… these will be answered not by our drawing back, but by our going on. God’s answer to the cry of our hearts lies in an inheritance in the light (Col. 1:12). I don’t think we appreciate just how powerful an answer this inheritance in the light is. Suffice it to say that it means the absolute ruin and complete downfall of all the hosts of darkness in the heavenly realm that have wrought such havoc in the family of man.

The psalmist wrote of “a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (Ps. 78:8). I believe he had in mind that same generation who, on their way to their promised inheritance, failed God in a great temptation in the wilderness.

I don’t wanna join them.

What I want to do is receive the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews.

 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward (Heb. 10:35).

For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;
While it is said, Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation… (Heb. 3:14).

Today if ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts… (Heb. 3:7).

For we which have believed do enter into [the] rest… (Heb. 4:3).

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him (Heb. 10:38).

…Notice that last little phrase? Beloved, this is what living by faith is all about. It’s about pleasing God. It’s about believing in Him, and continuing to believe… every step of the way. This brings Him great pleasure. When we are in a great trial and much difficulty… and we are not sure we can even continue on… and yet we don’t draw back, we come again to our great High Priest on the Throne of Grace seeking mercy, and grace, and a fresh inspiration for our faith so that we can continue on no matter what… oh, how this pleases Him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu6dR7cz1_o

 

A People With A Destiny

I am reading through my Bible again and am in the book of Joshua.  This is very timely, for there is an urgency in my spirit, a renewed emphasis, on apprehending our salvation—our spiritual heritage.

We Christians, whether Jew or Gentile, have a spiritual heritage unto which we have been predestined, just as Israel of old was predestined to the heritage of Canaan—even before they were born.  They were predestined to an earthly inheritance because of the promise God made Abraham long before they were born.

And their inheritance was marked out beforehand for them; it was given them by lot.  They didn’t cross the Jordan and then have some sort of land rush, hoping to grab the best parcels of land before anyone else.  Rather, Joshua divided their inheritance to them (Josh. 1.6), and he did it by lot (Josh. 13.6, 14.2).  In other words, it was not actually Joshua, but God Himself who decided what portion each one was to possess.  This assured that every Israelite, the small as well as the great, the weak as well as the strong, received a portion in the land.  Ezekiel confirms this in what I believe is a prophecy foreshadowing our inheritance in the Spirit.

And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another… (Ezek. 47.14).

What an encouraging hope.  Oh how we admire the great saints, and wistfully wish we could be like them.  But this wondrous heritage in the Spirit is not just for the great saints; God will not be satisfied, God will not rest, till each and every true Christian, the small as well as the great, has apprehended his or her inheritance.

And so, like the Israelites of old, we too are a people with a destiny.  I think it’s likely Paul is drawing a parallel to Israel of old when he says in Ephesians (which perhaps could be called the New Testament book of Joshua) that God has predestined us “unto the adoption” (Eph. 1.5) and also unto an inheritance (Eph. 1.11).  It is a heavenly inheritance—a realm of abounding “spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1.3).  It is also a realm that must be conquered (Eph. 6. 10-20).  Spiritual forces of wickedness “in the heavenlies” must be overcome, just as the Israelites of old had to drive out their enemies in the land God had given them before they could possess it.

And what is this all about?  Why did God bring Israel of old into their inheritance?  Why did He redeem them from Egyptian bondage, bring them through the wilderness, and into the land He had promised them?  Ultimately it was that He Himself might be glorified, that He might make Himself a glorious Name (Ex. 15.11-17, 2 Sam. 7.23, Isa. 63.11-14).

So it does not surprise us to find Paul saying that this same motive is what is back of God’s purpose in eternal redemption and in bringing the redeemed into their inheritance.

It is “to the praise of His glory” that He has predestined us unto the adoption (Eph. 1. 4-7).

It is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” that those who first hoped in Christ are predestined to an inheritance (Eph. 1.11).

And, it is “to the praise of His glory” that this inheritance shall, in the day of redemption, be fully possessed (Eph. 1.14, 4.30).

This I am sure is what Peter has in mind when he talks of a salvation “ready to be revealed in the last time.”  He says this salvation is a living hope unto which we have been begotten, and which he describes as “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pt. 3-5).

That’s so encouraging.  Everything in this world is corruptible, defiled, fading.  This heavenly inheritance is incorruptible.  It can’t be defiled, and it never fades away.  Even after so long a time it’s still there… waiting for you and me.

Notice that word reserved.  There’s an inheritance in the heavenly realm with your name on it.  Reserved for ________.  No one else can have it.  In fact I don’t need yours, and don’t want it; there’s one with my name on it too.

And no, Peter doesn’t mean that when we die and go to Heaven we finally get to keep our reservation.  He says this salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time.”  It’s for here.  It’s for now… “in the last time.”

Notice also that you and I are being kept for this reservation.  We are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Yes, the trial of our faith is very great… and at times, oh, so severe.  But oh, how precious it is, more precious than gold that perishes!  Gold will perish one day, but this inheritance, this salvation, will never perish.

Let us hold fast our faith, then, though it be tried by fire, and thus be ourselves ready for this salvation that is ready to be revealed, this inheritance that is reserved for us.  The time is at hand!  We have an appointment with a destiny!  Let us keep it!

Love The Brotherhood

We are living in days when the price tag on being a Christian—a true Christian—is becoming increasingly apparent.  That’s already true in many countries where to be a Christian costs you your life, or prison, or severe persecution even at the hands of those you love most.

We haven’t seen much of that here in western lands so far, but the forces of darkness here are becoming increasingly hostile these days.  If you stand for truth and righteousness you are going to pay for it—even here in the so-called free world.

A while ago when reading through 1 Peter I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.  This letter is well known for its emphasis on trial and suffering.  But I noticed that interlaced through the letter there is a call—that we love one another.

And so I think, brothers and sisters, that as we see things growing more difficult we are going to see something else growing—something very beautiful–the fervent love of Christ among the brethren in a world that hates God and His Christ.

It’s because of this hatred that Peter urges us:

Love the brotherhood (1 Pt. 2.17).

And also:

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful (tenderhearted), courteous (of a friendly mind) (1 Pt. 3.8).

Peter says finally, but apparently the Holy Spirit wasn’t finished yet.  He goes on to talk about suffering for doing what is right, saying that if we are determined to follow Christ in this world and truly cease from sin, we are going to suffer for it.  And then he brings up this matter of love again.

And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins (1 Pt. 4.8).

I noticed in my Greek Interlinear bible that the article is there; it reads, “have the fervent love among yourselves.”  Peter has a specific love in mind.  I think it can only be the very love of Christ he has in mind, the fervent love of Christ who in His love for us was stretched out on a cross for us.

The Greek word for fervent actually means stretched out, meaning intensely strained, as if on the rack.  And Peter urges us that this same intense fervent love be among us.

In fact at the beginning of his letter he has already called for this.  “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”  Let’s look at this more closely.

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently,
Being born again… (1 Pt. 1.22,23).

So, love is the evidence of the new birth.  How is it, then, that even among those who lay claim to the new birth there has been so much… let’s just call it opposite-of-love?  But Peter says it’s a purified soul that shows unfeigned fervent love.  It’s possible to be born again and still carnal.  The born again person must grow and be purified of all carnality.  And so when we are not walking in love, it’s because of the impurities in our heart—selfish ambition, self love, the lusts of other things….

But God has something that is able to deal with all that carnality—the fiery trial that Peter has been talking about all through his letter.  Here’s the much-quoted passage.  And notice the word Peter uses to begin it.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you;
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy (1 Pt. 4.13,14).

We are loved, brothers and sisters.  Let us love one another, then, with stretched-out love.

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