Category Archives: Trial and Testing

A Loving Warning

As is my wont, I was reading in my Bible recently and came across this verse in 2 John:

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

I read that and continued reading… till I was suddenly arrested with the awareness that God was speaking to me. I turned back and read it again.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

I knew what this word of warning from the Lord my keeper was about. I’m 75 now. On the home stretch. Not much time left. It’s ironic, then, that being more or less a shut-in, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands.

I remember from years ago a man who used to come up from the U.S. to Canada from time to time and minister in our midst. He was an older man who had retired from his job and now had time to travel, and one time he told us that when he retired he knew he faced a temptation, and had earnestly prayed, “Lord, keep me from pottering around the house.” Translated into my own life and circumstances, and heeding the word of my Lord to me, my own earnest watchcare and prayer is, “Lord, keep me from pottering around the internet.” I must continue to be vigilant, alert, lest, so close to the finish line, I am stumbled, and lose out on the reward of the things I have wrought. So I am thankful for my Lord’s loving warning, which resulted in some earnest heart searching.

I’m thankful for the internet—the wealth of spiritual help it has opened up, the wealth of friends I’ve made but never met face to face apart from Zoom gatherings. But the internet has its deadly dangers. You may not even be looking for it when suddenly pornography is right in your face. One must ever be on the alert. It’s the second look that takes the bait and catches the foot in the snare. One of my friends has told the story not once or twice of something he saw years ago in a National Geographic presentation. It showed a large snake lying as still as a stick, and a little chipmunk scampering back and forth along it, each time getting closer and closer to its jaws… when suddenly the snake pounced and that was the end of the chipmunk. Let us beware, brethren, of the peril in seeing how close we can get to the jaws of a snake without being caught and consumed.

But, while not outright pornography, there are countless things seemingly harmless on the internet that invite viewing and serve no other purpose than to rob us of our precious time. It’s this that the Lord was speaking to me about. And I don’t want to forget that Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (Jn 10:10). I don’t want to forget the order there—the end that the Thief has in mind when he is robbing me of my time while I am contentedly frittering away the precious minutes of my mortal life on things that do not profit the Lord or His people, or myself. Especially when in my old age the grains of sand in the glass are about run out.

George Fox of the early Friends warned that the young people were “going into the world.” An ever-present peril in our day as well. He also warned that the old people were “going into the earth.” They weren’t going on with Christ, they were in idle. In their old age they were contenting themselves with earthly things, unaware they were gradually losing the bloom known only by those who are in continual communion with the living Christ.

As I was considering these things a passage from Hosea came to mind:

Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. (Hos 7:8,9)

Strangers have devoured his strength… Is not this what happened to the mighty Samson? What was his strength but his nazarite vow of holiness? Yet here he is intermingling himself with the unholy… and the next thing, he is in chains and his eyes are put out and he is grinding grain for the Philistines. We are told that he “wist not [was not aware] that the LORD had departed from him.” That took place suddenly. But how he got there didn’t happen in a moment. It was so gradual that he wasn’t aware he was in serious trouble.

That, apparently, is what happened to Ephraim. Something was gradually happening to him, and he wasn’t aware of it. He was mingling with the unholy, and they devoured his strength. And he didn’t know it. He was getting weak, and didn’t know it.

He was growing old… and didn’t know it. “Ephraim… gray hairs are here and there upon him, and he knoweth it not.” Gray hairs… oldness. But Hosea, how can anyone prevent aging? But this is the voice of prophecy speaking of those who would come to know the new birth in Christ, in whom we may have the ever-youthful raven-black hair of the beloved in the Song of Solomon. What’s that about? Surely it speaks of a new way of thinking, a mind in which there is nothing of the old man, but rather knows a continual renewing, the inner man being renewed day by day in spite of the outer man going the way of all the earth.

And so, Allan, there is no excuse for growing old when you grow old, as happened to Ephraim, unawares to himself. Where was his watchfulness? “Ephraim is a cake not turned.” Overdone on one side, underdone on the other. One side hard, the other side doughy. Hardly the fragrant bread of God’s table. How could this happen if the baker were attentive to the baking? The whole picture is one of a failure of daily watchfulness to maintain present-ness with God.

Words of assurance, words of warning

There is abundant provision in God at the throne of grace for us to maintain this present-ness and continue steadfast and faithful unto the end. God will always be faithfully speaking so as to keep us safe from all evil—if for my part I am hearing and heeding His leadings. If not, this is an indication of dullness on my part. If so I must be chastened. I must be stirred. I must be awakened. Hence, the many loving warnings of Scripture.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

It is a serious error in doctrine when we “doctrinalize” statements like this as not pertaining to the truly regenerate. The promises of God are real. The warnings accompany the promises because the possibility of falling short is also real.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:12)

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pt 3:17)

The word beware… it means be aware of. Be mindful that it is possible for the righteous to be led away with the error of the wicked. Peter follows with words of comforting encouragement:

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Pt 3:18)

In his first epistle also Peter combines these two—the warning and the comfort:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are  accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Pt 5:8-11)

I lay these words of Peter to heart, coming as they do from one who missed it badly because he had failed to lay to heart His Lord’s exhortation to “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41).

About the same time I “happened upon” the warning in 2 John, I was reading by “coincidence” a book by A.B. Simpson called Joshua and The Land of Promise. (It’s actually a combination of two books by those titles.) In the chapters toward the end of the second he sets forth side by side words of assurance, and words of warning.

In closing, here are excerpts from those chapters. I found them convicting.

From a chapter called Inheriting:

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. (Josh 13:1)

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you? (Josh 18:3)

The word slack implies they were indolent, and quite satisfied with their present condition. There was a lack of holy energy and aspiration after the inheritance promised. They were taking things easy. They were little concerned about failure and sin…. They were breathing the atmosphere of the enchanted ground. Have you never, perhaps even while on your knees, had such an influence thrown over you—the very anodyne of Satan, who would thus lull your spiritual senses to sleep? How it has made you shrink from the pain of holy inspiration, and made you willing to fall back into a passive contentment. God is calling you to press forward, to “lay aside every weight,” and  “be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Is this your spiritual state, beloved? If not, ask the Lord to awaken you out of your sleep. There may come a very terrible awakening some day if you do not.


The day will soon come when you, too, will be old and stricken in years. Time is rushing by; God has not given you a day too many. They are going fast. Suppose they should stop tomorrow, and you never have another opportunity to gain a victory for Him. You would give all the world for a chance to resist temptation, or for another hard place in  which to glorify God as you had before dishonored Him. The days once gone can never come back. You will not pass this way again.

There will be no chance in heaven to learn holiness, to have patience with unholy people, or to love your enemies….

If you find difficulties in your homes, or enemies in your own heart, or trouble anywhere in your life, God has given them to you as opportunities for victory. There you will find the crown of glory and the land of promise. It is always the place where God plants His paradises. Eden is always in the midst of a wilderness….

When He wanted a capital, He sent David to take a hill so difficult to capture that its inhabitants laughed at him, and defended it with the blind and lame. Yet David conquered it, and it became the Zion of the Lord, the holiest, dearest place in all the world forever.

From a chapter called The Danger of Declension:

Therefore we find the New Testament epistles, where they speak of the highest possibilities of Christian experience, most urgently warning the believer against the danger of backsliding, calling us to ceaseless vigilance and constant obedience. Even where God’s eternal faithfulness is most securely pledged to keep us, we are called upon all the more to exercise a spirit of watchfulness and constant dependence on HIs all-sufficient grace.

Hence, we find John saying in one breath, “The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you,” and yet in the next, “Now, little children, abide in Him.” We find Jude pointing us to Him that is able to keep us from falling, and yet enjoining us to “keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

We find Peter saying, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” but adding in the same epistle, “Beloved, beware lest ye also be led away with the error of the wicked and fall from your own steadfastness,” and again assuring us that “His divine power hath give us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” but also charging us to give diligence to make our calling and election sure, “for if we do these things we shall never fail.”

And while Paul can exclaim, in the language of the sublimest confidence, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day;” yet he also charges Timothy in the same epistle, “That good thing that was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost that dwelleth in thee.” “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

And to the Corinthians:

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” But lest this should be too strong it is followed by the word of assurance, “God is faithful and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” And then the balance is made complete by the final word of gentle warning, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” There is no discouragement, but there is no presumption; the danger is real, but the security is ample; not, however, for blind, presuming rashness, but for watchful, humble, holy, and persevering obedience.

The Bible is no system of cast-iron dogmas, but the wise, firm and gentle hand of a loving teacher and guide, adjusting its message to our situation and condition, whether of depression or false security. If in an attitude of wilful disobedience, it has no absolute promise of unconditional security, but words of stern and terrible awakening and warning; but for humble trust and watchful obedience it has nothing but encouragement and the assurance of God’s everlasting faithfulness and love.

There is, then, real danger of declension, even on the part of a consecrated Christian, should he for  one moment become separated from Christ, or relax His vigilance and constant dependence. Sanctification is not a state of infallible holiness, but a place of dependence upon Christ and abiding communion with Him. “He that abideth in Him sinneth not,” but “apart from Me ye can do nothing.” And the strongest saint will, like Simon Peter, make the most desperate failure whenever he trusts his own strength, or attempts to stand alone.

Indeed, we are never truly safe till, like Peter, we have learned our constant danger and our need of Jesus every moment. Nor let us forget that declension after consecration would be for us a fearful thing. The most terrific declensions of the world’s history have usually originated with those who have had much light before. And failure, after all that the Lord has brought us into, would be utterly sad and unutterably disastrous.

Beloved, let us abide in Him, let us put on the whole armour of God, that we may stand against the wiles of the Devil, let us adhere faithfully to His holy Word, and walk in obedience to all His commandments, and above all, let us depend implicitly upon His keeping, fearing to take one step alone. We fear not while He holds our hand and leads us safely in the most difficult paths, and makes us “walk upon our high places.”

Rejoicing Unto The End

There is a theme running through the book of Hebrews—the theme of God finishing His work. The Greek word teleos in various forms appears 21 times in Hebrews. In the English of the King James Version we have it as, full age, perfect, perfection, end, finisher.

We also find over and over again the words faith, and patience, and endurance.

We read of confidence and hope; we are urged to “hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6). Hope, then, is a confident companion always rejoicing, whom Faith and Patience and Endurance are to hold fast to them all along the way.

The Greek word translated rejoicing here is found 11 times in the New Testament. Five times it’s translated rejoicing in the King James Version and six times boasting or glorying. The thought seems to be that the hope is so sure that one may rejoice  in having the hope as one would boast in having finally received it.

The writer likens himself and his readers to competitors in a race—it’s no hundred-yard dash, it’s a marathon—and he exhorts, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith [lit. the faith] who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Here again is that companionship of joy and endurance.

Personally I have always felt I lack this joy to a great extent in my own walk… at least when I compare myself with others. I wish I could be more ebullient the way some people are. Joy just bubbles out of them. But then I will get reading some passage of Scripture, or hear a certain Word in my heart, and… oh, the joy that wells up in me from some hidden spring within! So I must be careful to guard against comparing myself with others.

Another thing I must guard against is introspection, and looking on the dark side of things—looking ahead with foreboding instead of with hope. The book of Hebrews helps me here, too. The word promise appears in Hebrews 18 times (as a noun or verb), more than in any other book of the Bible. So I need to be more disciplined in this area, and do some spiritual gardening. I must not water the plantings of darkness; in fact if any have taken root I must root them out. I must seek to cultivate and water only the plantings of the Lord, the hope of the promise that is assured us. I must “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

The implication is that in our journey through the wilderness of life it can be lost. But it need not be lost—although to maintain it will require diligence. God has provision for us to rejoice in hope every step of our Christian walk as we bear His end in mind. This does not mean we are never burdened with sorrows. But even in sorrow there is always that certain joy in us that no man or circumstance can take from us. We may be sorrowful, but are always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10). Rejoicing in hope! (Rom. 12:12).

Jesus was faithful… as Moses was faithful

Moses was faithful to fulfill the old covenant and to build the tabernacle. He reared up the tabernacle and set all things in order, and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it. “So Moses finished the work” (Ex. 40:34). The writer of Hebrews assures us that Jesus also was faithful to Him that appointed Him.

Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. (Heb. 3:1,2)

Note the past tense in that passage—it’s that certain. Christ Jesus was faithful to complete the work God gave Him to do. And so the writer continues:

And Moses verily was faithful in all His House as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over His own House, whose House are we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb. 3:5,6)

In His high priestly prayer our Lord Jesus said, “I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (Jn. 17:4). He confirmed this at the Cross, proclaiming, “It is finished.” Why then does the writer of Hebrews confirm that Christ was faithful, and yet speak of a work still in progress, and an end yet to come? But it’s the end of the Gospel he has in mind, the work that Christ is involved in now at the right hand of God, as He works to fulfill in us what He finished, what He accomplished, at the Cross.  Yes, it’s true—the work God gave Him to do while on earth He finished faithfully.  But now at the right hand of the Father He has a heavenly work that is not yet finished—which is to bring the new covenant people fully into the work He completed on Calvary’s cross. Thus this exhortation in Hebrews—that we are to hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.  Or as he says later in the epistle, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23 NKJV). If we do this, we have the assurance that our Lord Jesus Christ will be faithful to fulfill the new covenant in us, as Moses was faithful to fulfill the old.

This then is our question: how do we do this? How do we discover God’s provision so that we may hold the same joy we started out with all the way through our Christian journey?

First let’s note what happened to our fathers in the wilderness under Moses—and I’m thinking of that great intercessory prayer of Moses when he sees them one by one perishing in the wilderness. They had started out rejoicing.  But didn’t finish that way. At least, most of them didn’t finish that way. They died in the wilderness never seeing the promised land. This was the sentence God had passed on the faithless generation who refused to enter His rest. They would wander forty years in the wilderness till they all had died. Moses sees it happening before his eyes:

For we are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled.
Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.
For all our days are spent in Thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told…
Who knoweth the power of Thine anger? Even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath. (Ps. 90:7-11)

It seems he is saying that the measure of God’s wrath upon His disobedient and unbelieving people was in proportion to the fear, the reverence, they had withheld from Him when they refused to believe Him and go into the land He had called them to enter. Yet Moses is interceding. How he loved the people.

Return, O LORD, how long?  And let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants.
O satisfy us early with Thy mercy…
Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us…”

“Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants…” Moses is burdened to see God finish what He started—that beautiful work of God that His hand alone can create, and in which His people had rejoiced that wonderful day when He brought them through the Red Sea on dry land. How they rejoiced and danced that day. And Moses sang and danced with them.

I will sing unto the LORD, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. (Ex. 15:1)

What tremendous hope surged in their hearts that day! The days of bondage in the iron furnace were over! Wonderful things were before them!  Their God had brought them out of Egyptian bondage, and He was bringing them into their own inheritance. He would deal with the enemies in front of them as He had done to those behind them, who were sunk in the waters of the Red Sea never to be seen again.

“The people shall hear, and be afraid; sorrow shall take hold of the inhabitants of Palestina” (Ex. 15:14). The word is stronger in the Hebrew. Sorrow would seize the inhabitants of Canaan like a woman in travail. They would quake with fear at their pending doom.

Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of Thy power they shall be as still as a stone, till Thy people pass over, O LORD, till Thy people pass over, which Thou hast purchased.
Thou shalt bring them in and plant them in the Mountain of Thine inheritance, in the place O LORD, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established.
The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. (Ex. 15:15-18)

It’s a tremendous prophecy, and they all rejoiced that day at the victory that was behind them and the glory that was before them. But it was not long before their rejoicing disappeared in the desert sand. The word of promise had not disappeared; it was their faith that had failed. This is how they lost their joy. The wilderness walk had discouraged them, as did the report their spies brought back after seeing the giants in the land before them. The prospect of giant enemies before them robbed them of their faith. They refused to go forward. They turned back in their hearts to Egypt. And lost their joy.

Paul tells us these things are written for our instruction. We too look back over our shoulder and remember the wonderful day when we first rejoiced in our salvation, and God began to unfold before our eyes what He had in mind to do. There was great joy in receiving the word. But now? These difficult times. This desolate wilderness. The word of promise seems to have fallen on hard times. And what’s ahead, though we cannot see, we guess and fear.

The rejoicing of the hope

That kind of thinking is so demeaning to us, and to our God. He wants us to find His provision—and that provision is there for us—to continue rejoicing, regardless what circumstances we are now in. He want us to “hold the beginning of our confidence… and the rejoicing of the hope firm (or, steadfast) unto the end” (Heb. 3.6,14). I am sure the writer of Hebrews has in mind here the crossing of the Red Sea I just referred to:

There did we rejoice in Him. (Ps. 66:6).

There…? What about here? What about now? God has provision for us to continue rejoicing every step of the way. Where are we to find His provision? Israel of old didn’t find it. In that waste and howling wilderness their rejoicing ceased. Their confidence withered. Instead of overcoming in the wilderness, they were overthrown in the wilderness.

I appreciate the Book of Hebrews very much.  Sometimes I’m intrigued as to who might have written it; they’re forever debating this. Does it matter? I marvel at the perception and insight the writer had by the Holy Spirit, and I am content to leave it at that. Hebrews is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit, whose one great commission is to lead us into all the truth. And because that is so, He is ready to provision and equip us to apprehend the full intent of God without giving up anywhere along the way—as that early generation of Hebrews did in the days of Moses—and as the Jews who had newly turned to Christ were tempted to do. It was these (in about 65 AD or thereabouts) that the writer of Hebrews was addressing. And so he exhorts them—and the words fall on our ears now—to fear falling short of the promise as those in the wilderness fell short.

Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Heb. 4:1).

Over and over again we are warned that this is the temptation—falling short. Yet how many times over the centuries has this happened? The problem is never the obstacle itself. The problem is never the trial itself. God is always greater than them all, is He not?  Where is the real problem, then?

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Heb 3:12).

…If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Heb. 10:38)

…Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God. (Heb 12:15).

Those are the warnings. But with the warnings, God shows us the way to apprehend His provision so that we receive the full reward. He has a great and rich store of provision that will enable us to rejoice to the end. And where do we find this provision?

The throne of grace

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

If we are to be sure that we—together with our brother, our sister—don’t fail the grace of God and arrive with exceeding joy at His end, we must persist in coming unto the throne of grace—yes, especially when that’s the hardest thing to do—in time of need. In the time of sore trial, in the time of desperate need, that’s precisely when we need to come to the throne of grace. And are invited to do so. We are exhorted to come boldly to the throne of grace. Let nothing hinder us. I know by experience there are times when it seems very difficult, nigh unto impossible, to “get through” to the throne of grace. But we are exhorted to persist in this. The throne of grace is the blood-sprinkled mercy seat of God, the place of the Atonement. On the basis of the Atonement we are assured of access to God, and thus of His provision—the grace that will enable us to overcome every trial, every enemy… every step of the way. Like the old song, “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater…” If the needs grow greater, if the trials and the enemies grow greater, we discover at the throne of grace the greater grace we need to continue rejoicing “unto the end.”

As we read the passage carefully we discover that the provision for this rejoicing is found in obedience. The writer says, “…Whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” But then he says, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith) Today if ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts…” Notice the word wherefore. In other words, if instead of hardening our hearts we are responsive to His Voice, we will discover His provision for our trial, and will be able to rejoice in every step He calls us to take.

God never calls us to take a single step forward that is anything other than obedience to His will. He doesn’t set new territory before us and tell us to propel ourselves forward by our own ingenuity and resources and strength. He makes His will known to us that we may please Him by walking in it (Col. 1:9,10). Going forward then is a matter of obedience to His will, which is always accompanied by His enabling grace. And so as we follow through on His leading we know the true joy of the Lord—He Himself being with us—even in the midst of very difficult and even impossible things.

Finishing the course with joy

Hebrews is about God fulfilling His great eternal purposes. So He sets them before us so we don’t lose sight of them. Bringing many sons unto Glory.  The eternal inheritance. The Rest of God. The Heavenly calling of the royal priesthood. A City which hath foundations. Mount Zion. The new covenant…  Tremendous truths are laid out before our eyes. The best of all—the mediator of the new, the better covenant, Jesus Himself!

And, as we said at the outset, He speaks of a race that is set before us. We are in a race, and we must continue to look steadfastly to the finish line. “…Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher (teleoten) of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross…” (Heb. 12:2). He had joy even in the Cross, our Lord Jesus did, because of the hope that was set before Him.

Paul too had the same hope of finishing his course with joy.

…But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy… (Acts 20:24)

And he did just that.

We too can finish our course with joy.

Let us run with patience the race that is set before us… (Heb. 12:1)

That is our Lord’s provision for us to finish the race with joy: His patience, His endurance… His confidence.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith… (Heb. 10:35-38).

God is saying, for My part, I am going to finish what I started. I give you My Word, My promise. And I give you My oath. I will be faithful. I will do what I have said. For your part, trust Me, believe Me.

Do we believe Him?  That’s our part.  For our part, for us to finish the race with joy, this is going to require patience, and endurance, and obedience.  And faith.

Israel of old fell short of their inheritance. They did not finish the race because they didn’t believe in their God. Seriously? They didn’t believe in God? That’s what Scripture discloses, regardless of what they said with their mouths. “They believed not in God…” (Ps. 78:22). The writer of Hebrews says the same thing.  “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3.19). It was not because the wilderness trials or their enemies were too much for them. It was because of their own hardness of heart. They did not believe in their God, who had all the provision necessary to enable them to triumph in all things, and continue rejoicing… every step of the journey, regardless of the increasing magnitude of their trials in the wilderness or the size of their enemies before them.

And so He says to us, to you and to me:

TODAY, if ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts…

If for our part we will continue to believe Him, and obey His Voice in every step of obedience He bids us take, we can trustingly leave the rest up to Him. In every step of obedience a step at a time we will discover the well of joy springing up again right there in our wilderness.


I Was Not Rebellious

This message is Part Two of The Great Rebellion. If you haven’t yet read that I encourage you to take it in first. It’s a long message, as is this one, but read together will mean greater profit.

“I was not rebellious…”

Now let’s consider the rebellion that God dealt with more severely than with any other—the great rebellion that He poured out His full wrath on—at Calvary. Jesus Christ put an end to all rebellion right there, beloved, the rebellion that is in the hearts of all those in Adam, and, reaching further back, the rebellion of Satan and the heavenly hosts that followed him. For we will yet see the judgment of Calvary fully carried out—the hosts of evil quake at the prospect of their destruction—and which those who bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ may apprehend by faith even now to their salvation.

Consider this passage from Isaiah:

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isa 50:4-7)

We are not told specifically what this one’s opened ear heard, but from what follows it’s apparent that he had heard God’s commandment to submit to suffering and shame. His response was that he was not rebellious, neither turned away back, but gave himself to being smitten, shamed, spat upon. As we read the passage, does it not bring Jesus before our eyes? Smitten. Shamed. Spat upon. That is Jesus. They tore out the hair of his beard (though the Gospels don’t record this).

But how can this be—Jesus saying, “I was not rebellious”? That’s hard to read. You mean He had the potential to be rebellious? If it were not so, He could not have become the Saviour of rebellious man.

It was in a garden that Adam rebelled against God. It was in a garden that Christ resisted a temptation to rebel, to turn back from His commitment to obey God whatever the cost. He had earlier proclaimed this, His life-long commitment:

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince [ruler] of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me [no sin, no grounds for death].
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (Jn 14:30,31)

“The prince of this world cometh…” What is this about? The adversary of God and man had tempted Him on other occasions already, but this was the game match in which Satan would spend his all to defeat the Son of man. The match took place on Calvary but it was engaged in Gethsemane when the prince of this world tempted Him to do His own will and not the Father’s will. Thus we overhear Him in an agony—a great conflict—crying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mk 14:36).

“Not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” Do you and I recognize that these words from our beloved Lord Jesus Christ spelled the doom of Satan the rebel, and of all rebellion?

Learning the obedience

 The Holy Spirit, who also overheard Him in Gethsemane, had this to say by the pen of the author of Hebrews:

…Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:7-10).

Young’s Literal Translation has, “though being a Son, did learn by the things which he suffered—the obedience…” This gives us the word order in the original Greek, placing for  emphasis the obedience at the end of the sentence. Note that it includes the article—the obedience, specifying a certain obedience. What obedience is this, then—the obedience?

It is a very costly obedience. Jesus, though He was Son of God, and therefore had a disposition to obey His Father, still needed to learn by the things that He suffered what it would cost Him to obey. That cost can only be estimated by the appalling cost that disobedience has brought upon our world—and what it cost the Son of God to deal with it. Apart from this, how could He the Son of man otherwise become the great high priest of fallen men in need of learning obedience, if not by inaugurating the very pathway that they must tread in? What obedience is this then?

It is the obedience of the fear of the Lord

 God by His messenger Malachi challenged His priests: “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?” (Mal 1:6). He’s talking about obedience. To honour the father is to obey the father. To fear the master is to obey the master. To fear God is to obey God. Again from Isaiah 50:

Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant… (Isa 50:10).

Yet it’s an idea that some don’t like because it seems wrong to fear the Lord. But the fear of the Lord is not the fear that “hath torment” (1Jn. 4:18). David wrote, “Let them now that fear the LORD say that his mercy endureth forever” (Ps 118:4). In the same breath he continues, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” He fears the Lord, and therefore will not fear anything else. For, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Pr 14:29).

When we think upon this, dwell upon this, actually to fear the Lord is to love the Lord:

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good. (Dt 10:12,13)

A while back I came up with a little homemade proverb that I tucked into my heart:

To fear the Lord is to obey the Lord is to love the Lord.

Try it the other way around:

To love the Lord is to obey the Lord is to fear the Lord.

I find that helpful; in any case let’s keep this in mind as we read the following passage. Are you familiar with it—Isaiah’s prophecy of the Branch in whom the Spirit of the Lord rests? Bear in mind that this same Spirit is the portion of those who abide in the Branch:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. (Isa 11:1-4)

Various commentators from the days of the early church till the present have seen here the menorah (lampstand) with its centre stem and three couplets of branches. Note the perception of this powerful illumination penetrating beyond the shallow reach of eye and ear.

But we want to focus on the last couplet marrying together “the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” To have knowledge that is not joined to the fear of the Lord is a recipe for certain destruction. But note especially—this is quite the revelation—that the fear of the Lord is one of the branches, one of the lamps, of His very Spirit. And so this couplet together with the other two aligned along the centre stem make the Branch “of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” Let’s say that again. The light of this seven-fold Spirit means nothing less than the very eyes of the Lord in the Branch; there is no darkness, no haziness, no guesswork, no perplexity as to the will of God, but rather quick understanding.

Quick or quicken in the King James Version doesn’t have anything to do with speed; it means alive, or to impart life. However, Quick understanding is one word in the Hebrew: ruach. It means breath. One commentator has, “He shall draw his breath in the fear of the Lord.” The emphasis is on breath drawn through the nostrils and therefore having a fragrance. The same word in several other places is translated, “smell,” as when Noah offered his burnt offering, and the Lord “smelled a sweet savour [fragrance]” (Gen  8:21). But I think ruach in Isaiah’s prophecy is illuminated best in the story of Samson breaking the green withs [bowstrings] the Philistines had bound him with “as a thread of tow [a strand of flax] is broken when it toucheth the fire.” The word “toucheth” is ruach. That’s the King James Version. But get this. Young’s Literal Translation reads that Samson “breaketh the withs as a thread of tow is broken in its smelling fire (Jdg 16:9). What an image—the withs catch a mere whiff of fire and it’s enough to cause them to disintegrate on the spot. It’s this kind of response to the knowledge of God’s will that is the thought in Isaiah’s prophecy—the fear of the Lord being such that the very scent of His will genders a response of instant obedience. That is the fear of the Lord. Other translations have that the fear of the Lord is His delight. Young’s Literal Translation here says that the Spirit of the fear of the Lord shall “refresh him in the fear of Jehovah…” That nuance speaks to me. With the fresh quickening that only the Spirit can provide, our knowledge of God’s will is passing sensitive and our response of obedience instant. That, beloved, is what is meant by the fear of the Lord.

It is the obedience of Samuel…

Remember Amalek? Last time we wrote of Amalek viciously preying on the weak in the wilderness when Israel came out of Egypt. Some along the way had grown weary, and fell behind. Defenseless, they fell prey to the ruthless Amalekites. For this, God commanded that when Israel entered their inheritance they were to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it” (Dt 25:19) Why had Amalek done this evil? Because, said the Lord, “he feared not God.” The day came when God commanded King Saul to carry out His judgment and destroy Amalek and all that he had. Saul compromised, sparing Agag king of Amalek and the best of the sheep and oxen. Saul didn’t fear God either, would not obey him, but “turned back from following” Him (1 Sam 15:11). God called it rebellion.

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Sam 15:22,23)

And so God dealt severely with Saul for this; it cost him the kingdom. (And Samuel’s word to him was right on the mark—his rebellion led him to the door of the witch of Endor.)  After pronouncing this to Saul, Samuel had Agag brought before him. Agag breathed a quiet sigh of relief; surely now “the bitterness of death” was past. Until he saw Samuel drawing a sword. (Was it Samuel’s own sword or someone else’s? Saul’s?) “And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal” (1 Sam 15:33).

I still read this, and… Samuel did that? Samuel? Yes, beloved Samuel, an old man with the fear of God in Him, uncompromising in his obedience.

It is the obedience of Abraham…

…in offering up his “only son.”

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [prove] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Gen 22:1,2)

There are poignant details in this whole passage; just now we want to connect two words together. Abraham obeyed God—that is, he feared God:

And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Gen 22:11,12)

Now note the Lord’s concluding words a few verses later. To fear God is to obey God:

And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen 22:15-18)

That is the fear of God—uncompromising obedience.

It is the fear of Isaac…

…who voluntarily gave himself to be the sacrifice that God had commanded Abraham to offer. We may well ask if anyone, excepting one Man, ever feared God the way Isaac did.

A generation later Isaac’s son Jacob, disputing with his father-in-law Laban, told him that “the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac” was with him (Gen. 31:42). Arresting words. The fear of Isaac. That is to say, God Himself. Isaac feared God. When Abraham and Isaac reached their destination on Mount Moriah Isaac was already aware of his father’s earlier words that “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” No doubt he helped his father build the altar, all the while aware that God had not yet provided the lamb. Did he start wondering if he himself were to be that lamb? Yet when the altar was ready, and his father now turned to him… we are not told that any words passed between them as they now stood face to face by the readied altar. But Isaac of his own free will let himself be bound and lain upon the wood he had carried on his own shoulders up the mountain. It was not death he feared, but God. He feared God and willingly became “obedient unto death.”

It is the obedience of the Son of God…

…to His Father’s will that led Him up Mount Calvary carrying His own cross, determined to be “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:8).

In the will of God, He endured the suffering and shame and death of the cross.

That is the obedience.

“Not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

“He learned, from the things He suffered, the obedience…”

It is the obedience of all those who obey Him

…And being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

 The writer of Hebrews is enlarging here on his earlier words, that “it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb 2:10).

Thus the perfect Man was perfected—tried, proven—by sufferings, that He might lead others in that Way. The way of the cross. The way of the cross, mystery of mysteries, becomes the way of salvation. Being made perfect He became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him.

Walking in obedience, then, walking in obedience today, daily, with the same obedience of the Son of God, is the harbinger of our eternal salvation. Do we faint under the very thought of this, it’s just too much to bear? If so we’re not seeing the beauty of this. As our great high priest after the order of Melchizedek, Christ the Branch imparts to us step by step the needed grace, the help we need, to obey Him—His own Spirit.

And so, with that help, the help of His Spirit—the Spirit of the fear of the Lord—and since He who learned the obedience in the things He suffered is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him, let us arm ourselves with the same mind. Let us fear Him, obey Him, though to do so bring suffering upon us. As obedience surely shall in this world. For to cease from sin in this world will surely mean suffering:

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Pt 4:1,2)

Let us so live, beloved, and see to its finish the horror story of rebellion. For, count on it, God with the judgment of Calvary will surely bring all rebellion in His universe to an end. Let us fear Him, then, and be wary of that alien voice, that thought, that suggestion, that to follow through on, would mean to rebel against the will of God. A very small thought, when fed gains strength, and will grow. And grow. And grow. As rebellions always do if not instantly quashed.

But what if I stumble, what if I sin? Is it all over for me?

But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared (Ps 130:4).

Forgiveness, that He may be feared? Yes, because to be left in sin is unimaginable horror; if I sin and continue in sin with no hope of forgiveness I am doomed to perdition along with all rebels. How then can I not fear Him, thankful beyond words to express, that with Him is forgiveness? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Repentant of my sin, I swiftly repair myself to the throne of grace that I may receive the forgiveness, and the cleansing from sin, and continue in the pathway of obedience.

For, our obeying Him means the ultimate perdition of the rebellious.

And the salvation, eternal salvation, of the obedient.

And the gratification of delighting the heart of God.

And the fellowship of His everlasting Rest.

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.”


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).


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)


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:


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


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.


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

Posted on

“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.



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