Tag: Suffering

Really, Deeply, Truly Knowing the Lord – W.E. Smith

Dear ones, how do we come to truly and actually “know” the Lord? How also do we know that those teaching, writing, sharing, etc. have come to “know” the Lord in a personal way? That their words and insights, however factual and based in Scripture, are alive, living, proven in the fires of the valley and the wilderness?

The cross is just as much an offense to so many modern professors of Christ as it was to the Jews. Is it an offense to you personally? It is the Father’s way and it is our Savior’s Way, and yet are we seeking some other way through or around?

Are we seeking to learn the Lord through bible study alone, through more teaching and study? Is there a reason, if we are truly honest with ourselves in the spirit, that this proves tedious and empty over time?

There can be no Jesus without His cross. We cannot follow Him fully to Calvary then turn back, and then apprehend Him again risen up. There is no rising up without first going down, into the pit, into death, into infamy, reproach, rejection and loss, of all that we were and are.

Preach that in America and then see how large a building you will need. Very small indeed, for few if any these days will come. It is offensive and insulting to so many, so many who are strong and seeking to be stronger in themselves. Tell them they must first be emptied before they can experience His living fullness, and the many will turn back. Tell them that real beauty comes only from ashes, and they may just ask you to leave their company.

The cross is missing. It is missing in our worship. It is missing in our instruction. It is is missing in personal testimony. It is missing in all of these so-called schools and seminaries. Oh yes, lots of Jesus, lots of Bible, lots of Scripture, lots of teaching and learning, but this is all empty without the curse and cross of Christ applied to our own lives. It is the cross that divides so many of us, not doctrine, not statements of faith, not factions so much – but the cross.

Why do they always kill the prophets? The religious ones? The “church” ones? Because they bring the message of the cross – “Christ crucified.”

Have you sat there wondering, there in the church service, in the worship service, there at the conference, wondering deep in your spirit what is wrong? Why you feel so cold? Have you been reading some book, where all is on the surface, scripturally accurate, yet something is missing, some living dimension, some power, something unnamed, undefined?

Why are those few who have embraced the cross in personal experience shunned among those who name Him as their life? Why are the many so offended with such a one as Paul, who was dying daily before their very eyes?

Yes, you have the mark and sentence of death upon you, and rather than show tenderness, patience and love, they rather judge you and disregard you. You seem broken and out of sorts to them, or worse suffering from secret and unconfessed sin. If only you would adopt the 12 steps to success, if only you would stand on the word, if only you had more faith; if only you were more like them.

Oh how lonely and scorned is the Lord’s witness. It has always been this way, and it will be this way until He returns to vindicate them, to tell the whole world that these ones were mine all along and I knew them.

Dear brethren – there is so little time left it seems. So stop pretending. Stop seeking the way of men and religion and church. He is the only way! He is the image of God that is to be forged from the flame into our very being! His life is the new wine, that comes first from being emptied. His is the life that traverses all death, like He walked on the very deep. “You shall die” He said to Adam, and so must we. There must be the bearing of the curse before their is renewal, replenishment and bounty.

Oh yes, of itself it is a terrible, ugly thing, an instrument of death – but it is His path to glory, to the throne, to the filling of all this universe with Himself.

Saints – please, please read the following from Bro. Sparks. You will not see such sentiments in most places these days. Ask the Lord if this is so, if you are missing something, if this is what you are lacking, what you are failing to embrace. Then ask Him to help you to minister in love to all those who are bearing their cross, all those hurting and alone, confused and scorned by the many.

Why the Prophet’s Message is not Apprehended

Reading: Acts 13:27, 15; II Corinthians 3:14-18; Isaiah 53:1.

The prophets were read, as Paul points out here, every Sabbath. It was the fixed custom to read the law and the prophets every Sabbath, and it may be pointed out that it was not just at one particular time in the day that this was done, but all through the Sabbath day the law and the prophets were being read in the synagogues. And yet it says that although the very rulers themselves, as well as the dwellers in Jerusalem who attended the temple, heard that reading of the prophets so continuously, they never heard the voices of the prophets. And because they failed to hear that inner something, which was more than just the audible reading of what the prophets had said, they lost everything that was intended for them, as this thirteenth chapter of Acts shows. The Apostles left them and turned to the Gentiles, who had an ear ready to hear.

That is a matter of no small consequence and seriousness. It is evident that it behoves us to seek to hear the voices of the prophets, really to know what the prophets were saying. Let us again look at the statement: “…because they knew him not, nor the voices of the prophets.” Why did they not know? Why did they not hear? There is one basic answer to that enquiry which is going to occupy us just now, and which brings us down to foundations, really to the root of things.

THE OFFENCE OF THE CROSS

(a) A Suffering Messiah

The answer to that enquiry is this – because they were not willing to accept the Cross. That is what went to the root of the whole matter. Firstly, they were not willing to admit of a suffering Messiah. They had their own minds well made up, both as to what kind of Messiah their Messiah would be, and as to what He would do, and as to the results of His advent; and anything that ran counter to that fixed mentality was not only not accepted – it was an offence. They could not admit into the realm of their contemplation that their coming Messiah would be a suffering Messiah. Yet the prophets were always speaking about the suffering Messiah. Isaiah, at that point in his prophecies which we know as chapter 53, presents the classic on the suffering Messiah, and yet he opens by saying: “Who hath believed our message?”

I think we need not stay to gather further evidence that that was their attitude. Right the way through it was just that. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, was dealing with that very thing. Towards the end of the letter he spoke about the offence of the Cross, and he set that over against the Judaizers, who were dogging his steps everywhere and seeking to prejudice his ministry, and at whose hands he was suffering. He ‘bore branded on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus’ (Galatians 6:17). Why? Because of his message of the Cross. He said, ‘If I were willing to drop that, I could escape all this suffering; it is the offence of the Cross which is the cause of all the trouble’ (Galatians 5:11). And all the way through we see the Jews’ unwillingness to admit of a suffering Messiah.

(b) The Way of Self-Emptying

But then it went further than that. It became not only a national issue but a personal one. They would not accept the principle of the Cross in themselves. You find that representative individuals of the nation, who came to the Lord Jesus from time to time, were presented with the offence of the Cross – and off they went again, not prepared to accept it. Nicodemus was very interested in the kingdom which the Messiah was going to set up, which he was expecting and anticipating, but it became a personal matter of the Cross. Before the Lord was through with Nicodemus, He had brought into his full view the serpent lifted up in the wilderness. That was an offence.

Another man, who has become known to us as the rich young ruler, went away very sorrowful because of the offence of the Cross. It was no use for the Lord, at that time, before the Cross had actually taken place, to speak in precise terms about it to other than His disciples, but He applied the principle, which is the same thing. He applied the principle to this young man. ‘If, as you say, you are interested in the Kingdom and in eternal life, this is the way: the way of emptying – utter self emptying.’ “He went away sorrowful: for he was one that had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22). The Lord said, “How hardly (with what difficulty) shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24). The offence of the Cross finds them out.

Now here, with the Jews as a whole, they were making the kingdom of God an earthly thing on the principles of this world – and do not let us blame them without blaming ourselves. This is our battle right up to date. It is a matter that finds us all out at heart. Oh, you may not be expecting that through your preaching of Christ a temporal kingdom will be set up and you will get a literal crown to wear and a throne to sit upon – that may not be your outlook or mentality; but are we not, almost every day of our lives, in trouble because the Lord hides from us everything that He is doing and starves our souls of their ambition to see things, to have things? Is that not the basis of a great deal of our trouble? We want to see, we want to have, we want the proofs and the evidences. We do really, after all, want a kingdom that can be appraised by our senses of sight and hearing and feeling – a palpable kingdom, the answer in tangible form to all our efforts and labours; and the opposite of that is a tremendous strain upon faith, and sometimes even brings us to a serious crisis.

Why does not the Lord do this and that, which we think He ought to do? It is simply this soul-craving to have proof and demonstration; and this is why, if there is anything built up in Christian work which is obvious, big, impressive, where there is a great thing being organized and a great movement on foot and all is in the realm of something that can be seen, crowds of Christians flock after it; or if there are manifestations, things that seem to be clear proofs, the crowds will be found there. The enemy can carry away multitudes by imitation works of the Holy Ghost in the realm of demonstrations and proofs. We are so impressionable, we must possess; and that is exactly the same principle as that which governed the rulers. They were not prepared for the principle of the Cross to be applied in this way – an utter self-emptying, being brought to an end of everything but the Lord Himself.

THE PROPHETS’ THEME – KNOWING THE LORD

Now you see that does bring us to the matter of the voices of the prophets. What was the one thing the prophets were always talking about? It was about knowing the Lord.The thing that was lacking amongst the Lord’s people in the days of the prophets was the knowledge of the Lord. There were plenty of people who were prepared to have the Lord for what He could do for them, but as for the Lord Himself… ah, that was another matter.

What is the Lord after with you and with me? Is He first of all wanting us to do things? The idea of what is of God today is chiefly associated with the things which are being done for Him, the work we are engaged in, and so on – that is, with what is objective and outward. But the Lord is not first of all concerned about how much we do. He is far more concerned that, whether we do little or much, every bit of it should come out of a knowledge of Himself. Any amount can be done for the Lord in Christian work and activities, just as you do other work, but it may not proceed from your own deep knowledge of God. The Lord is concerned above all else that we should know Him. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he hath understanding, and knoweth me” (Jeremiah 9:23,24, A.R.V.).

May that not explain the very principle of the Cross that is being applied to us? The Lord does not satisfy and gratify; along many lines He seems again and again to be saying ‘No’ to quite a lot that we crave for; and, being denied, we often come to the point where we would almost give up everything and allow the biggest questions as to our relationship with the Lord. And yet what He is after all the time, by His denials and withholdings or delays, is to deepen our knowledge of Himself. What matters with the Lord before anything and everything else is not that we should be in any given place doing a lot of Christian work (do not let that stop you serving the Lord!), but that we should be there as one who knows the Lord. Our opportunities for serving Him will spring out of our knowledge of Him; He will see to that. The Lord the Spirit is arranging His own work. He knows where need exists, and when He sees someone who can meet that need He can make contact.

KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD BASIC TO ALL USEFULNESS

That is the principle in the New Testament. We see it in the life of the Lord Jesus Himself. That meeting between Christ and the woman of Samaria was not just a casual happening, a pretty story. No, you have principles. The Holy Ghost wrote those narratives, and involved principles in every incident. Here is One who has water to give that the world knows not of, and here is a thirsty woman. God sees to it that the one in need is brought into touch with the One who has the supply. That is a law. If you have not got the supply, it is very largely empty work that is done for the Lord.

The principle of the Cross works out along many lines, in many ways – testing, trying, emptying us, in order to bring us to the place where we know the Lord, and where our joy in the Lord and our enthusiasm and our Christian life are the result of something deeper than the mere momentum produced by doing many things, running about from meeting to meeting, giving addresses, being occupied on the crest of a wave of engagements in Christian work. The Lord does not want it to be like that. I am not saying that you will never be on the crest of a wave, that you will never have your hands full; but the Lord’s way of making us useful servants is so to deal with us as to make us know Him, so that, whether occupied in Christian work in an outward way or not, we are there with a knowledge of the Lord. What is so necessary for us is an increasing measure of the preciousness of the Lord to our own hearts; that, whether we are able to do anything or not, He should still remain very precious to us. That is what He wants.

That is very simple, but it is basic to everything. You are there in some place where you cannot be always talking about the Lord, where you can do very little; but if the Lord is precious to you, that is service to Him, and in you He has available a vessel for anything more that He wants. I am sure the Lord will never bring us out and entrust us with responsibilities until He has become very precious to us in the place where we are, even though many other things that we would like are being denied to and withheld from us. It is the principle of the Cross.

Nicodemus comes with all his ‘fullness’. He is a man with a great fullness – a ruler of the Jews, in high standing, in a place of influence, and much more. He represents a fullness of a religious kind. Then the Lord virtually says to him: ‘You have to let it all go, and start all over again like a newborn babe. You are concerned about the Kingdom of Heaven, but you cannot bring any of that into the Kingdom.’ To the rich young ruler He says, in effect, ‘You cannot bring your riches in here.’ You may have a lot of natural wealth – intellectual, financial, influential, positional, but that does not give you any standing in the Kingdom of Heaven at all. The wealthiest, the fullest, the biggest here in this world receives no more of the glance of the Lord in their direction than the poorest and the weakest. All are brought down here – you must be born again, you must start from zero in this matter of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, it is a matter of spiritual measure; and you start spiritual measure by being born of the Spirit. The new life is utterly spiritual from the very first breath – something that was not before, something new.

Spiritual measure is just knowing the Lord; that is all. Our standing in the Kingdom of Heaven is simply a matter of knowing the Lord, and if we are going to gain higher place it is not going to be at all by preferences, but by the increase of our spiritual measure. People who count in heaven are spiritual people, and what counts is the degree of their spirituality; and spirituality is knowing the Lord. We may take it that the Lord applies Himself utterly to this matter of bringing us to know Him. That is the thing that really does count.

THE CROSS BASIC TO ALL KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD

They could not hear the voices of the prophets because the prophets were talking about a suffering Messiah, and there was something inside the people which had closed the door; they were predisposed against anything like that, and so they could not hear. Even the disciples of the Lord Jesus were in that position. When He began to refer to His Cross they said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). A suffering Messiah? Oh, no! But they did come to the place where the Cross had its very deep application, where it meant an end of everything for them. The Lord precipitated that whole question, and you see them after His crucifixion – they have lost their Messianic Kingdom, they have lost everything, they are stripped and emptied. And then what happened? They began then to know, just began to know, and their knowledge grew and grew; but it was of another order entirely. So you find, in the rest of the New Testament, that, in their own history and in their instruction of others, two things go together. They are like the negative and the positive in an electrical circuit – there can be no current without both. The negative is the application of the principle of the Cross, which says No, No, No: an end: death to yourself, death to the world, death to all your own natural life. But the positive is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, mightily present, but always hand in hand with the Cross. With those two acting always together, the negative and the positive – the Cross, and heavenly purpose and heavenly power and effectiveness – you find that there is movement and an ever-growing knowledge of the Lord.

We cannot have the knowledge of the Lord – the most important thing in the mind of God for us – except on the ground of the continuous application of the Cross, and that will go right on to the end. Do not imagine that there will come a day when you have done with the Cross, when the principle of the Cross will no longer be necessary and when you have graduated from the school where the Cross is the instrument of the Lord. Such a day never will be! More and more you will come to recognise the necessity for that Cross. If you are going on into greater fullness of knowledge – I mean spiritual knowledge of the Lord – and therefore greater fullness of usefulness to Him, you must take it as settled that that principle of the Cross is going to be applied more and more deeply as you go on.

Oh, God write that in our hearts! for surely we all know the need of the Cross; and those who have known most about it are conscious most of its need still. We have seen the terrible tragedy of people who knew the message of the Cross in fullness, and who after many years have been a positive contradiction to that very message – marked by self-assertiveness, self-importance, impatience, irritability, so that other people have been unable to live with them. Are you one of those habitually irritable people? I do not mean one of those persons who sometimes is overtaken in a fault. The Lord is patient with the upsets that come here and there along the way, but are we habitually irritable, short-tempered, difficult to live with? That is a denial of the Cross, and that has wrecked the life and work of many a missionary.

The Cross will be applied right on to the end, and, altogether apart from our faults and the things in our constitution and nature which have to be dealt with, in this coming to know the Lord for still greater usefulness we go from death to death on that side of things. We think of some known to us. We marvel at the way the Lord has been able to use them, the large place into which He has put them, what riches He has given them; but of late they have been plunged into depths of death never known before. It is evidently unto something more, something greater still. It is like that; the knowledge of the Lord requires it in an ever-growing way.

KNOWLEDGE AND USEFULNESS SAFEGUARDED BY THE CROSS

But furthermore, there is no safe place, apart from the constant application of the principle of the Cross. Safety absolutely demands it. Nothing is safe in our hands. The more the Lord blesses, the more peril there is. The greatest peril comes when the Lord begins to use us. You may say, ‘That does not say very much for our sanctification.’ It certainly does not say very much for ‘eradication’! Well, here is Paul. Did that man know anything about the Cross? Would you say he was a crucified man? If he was not, who was? Did he know the Lord? And with all that he knew of the Cross and the Lord, did he know that he needed the Cross to be applied right on to the end? He will definitely place it on record – “… that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” “That I should not be exalted overmuch”! (II Cor. 12:7). And mark you, he is saying that because of the great revelation that had been given him. He was caught up into heaven. It is a most perilous thing to be entrusted with Divine riches, so far as our flesh is concerned. The only safe place is where the Cross is still at work, touching all that is ourselves, touching all our independence of action.

Take all these Apostles – take Peter, a man who would act so independently, who liked to do things on his own and do what he wanted to do. We find it cropping up constantly. He is the man who acts without stopping to ask anybody. We have no hint that he ever got into fellowship with his brother disciples and said, ‘I am thinking of doing so and so; I would very much like you to pray with me about it, and to tell me what you think; I have no intention of going on unless there is one mind among us.’ Peter never did that sort of thing. He got an idea, and off he went. The Lord summed him up very well when He said: “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (John 21:18). That was Peter before the Cross was in-wrought in him. But see him afterwards. Why, in those early chapters of Acts, do we read “Peter and John”, “Peter and John”, “Peter and John”? Well, they are moving together now, there is relatedness. Is it an acknowledgment that Peter felt his need of co-operation and fellowship, that he had seen the perils and disasters into which independent action led him, even when his intentions and motives were of the best? These are just glimpses of how the Cross touches us in our impulsive, independent nature, our self-will, our self-strength. The Cross has to deal with all that to make things safe for God, and to keep us moving in the way of increasing knowledge of the Lord, which, as we have said, lies behind all our value to the Lord, all our usefulness, all our service.

THE CROSS OPENS THE WAY TO FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD

The Cross is the only way to spiritual knowledge. Important as study of the Word of God may be in its own realm, as laying a foundation for the Holy Spirit to work upon, you never come to a knowledge of the Lord simply by studying the Bible. The Holy Spirit may use what you know of the Bible to teach you much, to explain your experiences, to enable you to understand what the Lord is doing, but you never get this kind of spiritual knowledge by study and by teaching.

You must be prepared to let the Cross be so applied to your life that you are broken and emptied and fairly ground to powder – so that you are brought to the place where, if the Lord does not do something, you are finished. If you are prepared for that way, you will get to know the Lord. That is the only way. It cannot be by addresses or lectures. They have their value, but you do not know the Lord spiritually along those lines.

The full knowledge of the Lord is reserved to us who live in this dispensation, because the latter is governed by the Cross. Peter himself had something to say about this:-

“Concerning which salvation prophets sought and searched diligently; who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you…; which things angels desire to look into” (I Peter 1:10-12).

There you have two orders – prophets and angels – who did not know certain things which are revealed to us. The prophets knew much, but they were searching diligently to know something they could not discover. ‘What does this mean?’ they must have asked themselves. ‘The Spirit of God is making us say these things, but what do they mean?’ They sought diligently to know that which was reserved for us. Why could they not know? Because full knowledge is based upon the Cross, and the Cross had not taken place then. And angels, too, desire to look into these things. Can it be true? We thought angels knew everything! Surely angels have far more knowledge and intelligence than we have about these things? They do not know. “Which things angels desire to look into.” Why do they not know? Angels have had no need of the Cross; the Cross has no meaning for them personally. It is on the basis of the Cross that full knowledge is entered into. Does that need any further argument?

THE CROSS SECURES POSITIVE, NOT ONLY NEGATIVE, RESULTS

So then, the Holy Spirit, in order to bring us to the full knowledge of the Lord and by means of that growing knowledge to make us useful to the Lord, must constantly work by means of the Cross in principle; and my closing word is this. The work is not all negative; the Lord works on a positive basis. You may think that the Lord is always saying No, that He is always against you, that the Cross is suppressive; but no, it is a positive instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God. God is working on a positive line. The fact is that, if ever the Holy Spirit brings us into a new knowing of the meaning of the Cross, He is after something more. That is the law of the Spirit of life.

You must remember that the Lord Jesus, in His resurrection, was not left just where He was before. Before He died He was on this earth, and then He died; and Paul refers to His raising from that death in these words: “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all” (Ephesians 1:19-21). The resurrection carries Him through to the “far above all,” and the principle of resurrection is always that of rebound – we may go down very deep, more deeply than ever we have known before, but the Spirit of God is intending that that shall issue in our being higher than ever before. So do not be afraid when you are feeling very empty, very finished, very much at the end. Ask the Lord that if this is truly the working of His Cross it shall be successful in what He intends for you; and if it is successful, you will be on higher ground afterward than ever you were before.

THE NEED FOR A DEFINITE TRANSACTION WITH THE LORD

We have said from time to time that the Cross does involve a crisis. For some this may be an overwhelming experience, the biggest thing that has happened in your life, even bigger than your conversion. It was so for some of us as we moved from the apprehension of the substitutionary aspect of the Cross, where we saw only what Christ had done for us, to the apprehension of our union with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. Whether or not you have a big crisis which divides your life in two, you must have a point of transaction with the Lord where you recognise that the Cross is in principle an utter, all-inclusive reality that, sooner or later, is going to run to earth the last vestige of that self-life which is the ground of Satan’s power. It is best at some point to have this understanding: ‘I rejoice in the fact of Thy death for me, and I am saved on the ground of that death and my faith in it. But I died in Thee – that was Thy thought about me as a son of Adam. I could not bear to have all that that means brought to me at once, but I recognise that it has to be worked out as grace enables, and that sooner or later I have to come to an utter end; and I therefore commit myself to all Thou dost mean by the Cross.’

A transaction of that kind is necessary. Do not begin to kick when the Lord begins to work it out. He takes you at your word, but He is doing it with the definite object in view of getting you to a higher and fuller knowledge of Himself. Out of that growing knowledge of Him, the growing preciousness of the Lord, all real service will issue. It is not what wedo, but what we have, that is the secret of service.

(In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.)

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Flaming Arrows – W.E. Smith

Precious saints of the Lord, I send out this message, by the Master’s love and patience, that by it you might find grace, encouragement and consolation in this dark hour. Rest assured, all those who find themselves in this lonely wilderness, among His faithful remnant, that you are not alone. I am discovering most painfully actually, as did Jacob, that to enter His Kingdom is to enter as one wounded and bruised. There is no other way, and yet one cannot overestimate the difficulty of this path. If we are to endure at all, then the Lord must be our strength and victory, and He alone can protect us from all of the deadly challenges along the way.

Our theme scripture for this message is found in Ephesians 6, and it should be familiar to all of us –

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17, emphasis added)

When I read this recently, I was instantly reminded of the Master, as He was tested in the wilderness through great travail and weakness. There He was, barely alive, in absolute submission to His Father’s hand, and then who conveniently appears on the scene?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;

and

‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,

SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” (Matt. 4:1-11)

The enemy is so crafty isn’t he? Always lurking, always skulking in the shadows looking for some juicy opportunity to put a wedge between us and our God. And then at the moment when we are the most weakest, the most vulnerable, the most confused and perplexed by what is happening to us; by what our God is doing –  the adversary lights his dart and empties his quiver. So not only are we under the heavy weight of the Master’s sore discipline and testing, the whispering starts, the subtle questioning begins – “If you are the Son of God…”

If you are really a Christian how could this be happening? If God really loved you how could He allow this? If He really cared for you then why is everything collapsing all around you; why is life becoming so hard? If He promised you abundant life then why does it feel like you are dying? If He said I will never leave you nor forsake you, then why doesn’t He respond when you cry out to Him? If He promised that He would never let anything come upon you that you couldn’t bear, then why does it seem like you are collapsing under the weight of your trials. If He really loves you, then would He really let this happen to you?”

Now perhaps you have heard such whisperings, there in the midst of bitter trials and seemingly impossible burdens. Perhaps you have been struck by these “flaming arrows” that the evil one has targeted directly at your heart, and at your faith, and at everything you think you know about this Christian life, and your God, and all that He has promised. As if the trial wasn’t hard enough, there he is with all of these nagging questions trying to plant seeds of doubt and unbelief.

You know deep down, where spirit-touches bone, that your Heavenly Father and your Savior love you, and that a great part of this love is expressed in discipline and preparation. Yet the fiery darts keep coming; and so often they find us weak or unaware, or just plain fatigued by the conditions or duration of our trial. Often they come in the form of a simple thought, a suggestion, a seemingly honest and innocent consideration of your present situation. Sometimes they come from the lips of the ones you love; a spouse (remember Job’s wife), a friend (remember Job’s friends), a brother or sister  in the Lord even (who mean well but ultimately serve as agents of the enemy instead).

Now you are fairly confident that you know God’s Word even; that you are well acquainted with His promises and assurances. You have read them and claimed them many times; things like –

I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU. (Heb. 13:5)

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matt. 21:22)

For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 1 Cor 2:20)

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Heb. 6:17-18; with emphasis)

Yes we know them so well, yet the darts keep flying don’t they? Most of them fly over our heads or fall at our feet. Still others penetrate through our defenses and find their mark.

“If this is really true, then why can’t you find work; why can’t you ever seem to get a break in this world? If all this be true then why is nothing working in your favor? If all this is true why such extreme and prolonged suffering?  If this is really true then why is cancer eating away at your body? If this is true then why doesn’t He answer your cries for help; would not any loving father do everything He can to help the children he loves? If all this be true, then why does it seem that He is your enemy, that He is against you?”

Dear friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, I dare say that lately I have felt an all out assault on my faith and I have been fighting almost every day to stay the course and press on. I am not exaggerating when I say that if I do not survive this and gain the victory over this present test then I will probably not recover spiritually. What started out as a simple test of faith and obedience close to two years ago, has developed and persisted to the point where there truly is not much left in me. Part of me wants so much for all of this to end, whatever that means, and I have been so very much tempted to try to end it myself even if I could (I cannot actually; like Peter who merely wanted to “go fishing” –  to return to the way things were). My confidence in myself has been shattered. I second-guess everything I do now. When I look in the mirror all I see is so much failure and poverty. I see dust and ashes and not a man. When I look at my son I feel like a failure, like I have nothing to give him. I feel numb actually, without interest or passion for anything. As I have written very much and shared it with you as openly as I can, I feel like a hypocrite and I don’t want to share anything else ever again.

You see, I am dying and as very unchristian as it sounds, a part of me doesn’t want to die, and something very deep in me is fighting it every step of the way. My soul (self-life) is fighting tooth and nail against forfeiting any ground or dominion to the spirit. Beyond that I am not really sure what is happening. The Lord is so often silent. Everything is just so hard – to pray, to wait, to study, to hope in my God – everything.

Please pray that I will endure despite the constant whisperings and urgings of the enemy and the utter weakness in myself. I need mercy and grace and patience more than ever. Though it feels like it, my Lord is not my enemy; He is not against me. Though I have no definite answers, His wisdom and love cannot fail. Though He bruises and breaks us will He not bind us up again in His Beloved Son?

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” – (Job 13:15, KJV)

This, I believe, is what is inferred by Paul when he exhorts us to take  “up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. Oh what kind of faith this is, that though He has laid this test on us, that though He has permitted it – that it seems by all evidence that He is indeed destroying us, that we will trust Him; we will hold on to Him for He is all we have. Oh indeed, what a special kind of faith this is dear brethren, and how we need this faith in this hour!

I then remembered Jeremiah. Oh how can we ever forget this man, this amazing man, this deeply bruised and battered servant of the Lord. How brutally the Lord tested and afflicted him. How low he was taken and how so very much he was asked to lose. How so unimaginably difficult it must have been. Notice how he expresses this in his lamentations –

I am the man who has seen affliction

Because of the rod of His wrath.

He has driven me and made me walk

In darkness and not in light.

Surely against me He has turned His hand

Repeatedly all the day.

He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away,

He has broken my bones.

He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.

In dark places He has made me dwell,

Like those who have long been dead.

He has walled me in so that I cannot go out;

He has made my chain heavy.

Even when I cry out and call for help,

He shuts out my prayer.

He has blocked my ways with hewn stone;

He has made my paths crooked.

He is to me like a bear lying in wait,

Like a lion in secret places.

He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces;

He has made me desolate.

He bent His bow

And set me as a target for the arrow.

He made the arrows of His quiver

To enter into my inward parts.

I have become a laughingstock to all my people,

Their mocking song all the day.

He has filled me with bitterness,

He has made me drunk with wormwood.

He has broken my teeth with gravel;

He has made me cower in the dust.

My soul has been rejected from peace;

I have forgotten happiness.

So I say, “My strength has perished,

And so has my hope from the LORD.” (Lam. 3)

And yes, lest we misunderstand, the “He” here is none other than the Lord His God. Do we ever feel this way my brethren, like the Lord is against us, that He is like a bear or a lion tearing us to pieces, and stripping the very flesh from our bones? That He has shut out our prayers? That He has broken our teeth? That He has walled us in so that we cannot move or find relief? Oh, brethren, I dare say that if we are honest in the spirit with ourselves, we do.

And all the while Jeremiah was wrestling with all of his concepts and assumptions about His God, one can only imagine the fiery arrows flying at him from the real enemy of his soul. Oh dear brethren, this story is played out all throughout the Scriptures, with so many of the Lord’s people – Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, etc. To wrestle with the Lord, to struggle with and against Him at times; this is the way of the cross and the path of true faith.

Oh but make no mistake – it is so unimaginably hard at times, so awful, so heavy, so bitter. There is nothing glamorous or easy about death, even the death of the soul for those who are to live anew in the spirit. Death, in any of its forms and applications, is awful and terrible and bitter! Yet it is so necessary that we might enter into life. Life and blessing and renewal is only ever found on the other side of the Jordan, through the depth of the river, through baptism, through the cross, through the fiery darts of the enemy. But yet again we must acknowledge and emphasize just how hard and painful and bitter this actually is. Please don’t let anyone ever try to convince you otherwise, my friends. The Lord has called this the narrow way for good reason –

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

And lest we leave Jeremiah there on the other side of his God, we are encouraged that he indeed take up this shield of faith at the end of his confession –

Surely my soul remembers

And is bowed down within me.

This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,

To the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently

For the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man that he should bear

The yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone and be silent

Since He has laid it on him.

Let him put his mouth in the dust,

Perhaps there is hope.

Let him give his cheek to the smiter,

Let him be filled with reproach.

For the Lord will not reject forever,For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lam. 3)

Dear end-time saints, all those who find themselves under the grievous training and discipline of the Lord in this time, I hope and pray that these words might help and encourage you even in some small way. I know, brethren, how hard it is, and how even a word such as this may seem empty and abstract. Yet we are all in this together, as his precious and faithful remnant at the close of this age. We need each other, and I for one am so grateful for all of you who have offered encouragement and prayer on our behalf. This truly is the grace and love of the Lord as it flows though the hearts of his people. If one member of the body is suffering, then we are all afflicted, for we are one in Him. And although our stories and testimonies may be unique, the general pattern will always be the same – from death to life.

That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Cor 15:36)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

I also know that there is an instinctive tendency on the part of many (usually those who are not going through severe testing at the time) to  offer good-natured counsel to those who are suffering and confused. I have done this far too often myself. And although we mean well, this counsel can at times do more harm than good. Remember Job’s well-intentioned friends. You see, although we are one in the body, our struggles are very personal, and we each wrestle with our God in very personal and intimate ways. He is testing our love and devotion to Him, as with Peter (“Do you love me” He asked three times), and this is a very personal thing. He is refining our love in the fire, such that all dross will be burned away. He is trying to determine if we will take Him at His word, even when all of our circumstance, experience and reality cry out against it; when the devil himself tries to convince us otherwise. For only a tested love will endure. Rest assured, brethren, that if you are indeed among the saved in this age, He will test this love to the uttermost.

My only encouragement therefore, is that you will seek the Lord for this shield of faith; this faith that trusts Him even when it appears that He has forsaken us; that He has turned His back on the sufferings of His people. Oh dear friends, please pray the same for the one sharing these words, for lately more of these fiery darts are finding their mark than ever before it seems. Now this faith that acts as a shield against the flaming arrows of the destroyer is not merely that faith brought us to the Lord in the beginning. It is not merely that ‘saving faith‘ – it is rather a ‘staying faith‘. It is not the faith that comes; it is the faith that remains and holds on no matter what. It is the faith that is accounted to us as righteousness by our God (Gen. 15:6). And without it, here in the midst of our trials and suffering, we will certainly not endure the strange discipline of the Lord or the attacks of of the evil one.

May the Lord be our Strength and Patience and Victory. Amen.

For the Lord will not reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lam. 3)

Please feel free to review the following related messages on “Brokenness” – Here

Note to All the Saints –

Dear brethren, as you see and become aware of your fellow saints in the midst of sore trials, loss, confusion and want in this hour, I encourage all of you to pour out not only your thoughts and prayers, but also your provision, as the Spirit and the love of our Lord inspires. We will need each other increasingly as the material conditions around us become more desperate, and as so many of our beloved brothers and sisters lose their livelihoods, their health and their property in this world. Open your hearts, your homes, your businesses, your storehouses, open them wide and let the Lord care for His own in the midst of what, by all accounts, seems to be a looming and great depression coming on  this and so many other formerly rich nations. Give directly where possible, not through agencies or ministries, but give where the Lord can look through your eyes at the needs of His people. If you have a business, consider hiring your fellow saints. If you have work to be done, ask the Lord to make the connection, and He will.

Please consider this very serious word from the Master on this matter –

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:41-46)

If the World Hates You – W.E. Smith

bodyThe Scriptures convey most vividly the idea that those begotten of God by His Spirit represent nothing less than the corporate manifestation of Jesus Christ on the earth. As His “body” we are inseparably joined to Him in more than principle, agreement or religious allegory, but in origin, life and purpose. The Father, in choosing to create a new spiritual man in place of Adam, has formed both the head and body in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. (1 Cor. 12:27)

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:22-23)

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (Eph 5:23)

As the Lord’s de facto body on the earth, we are to manifest His presence and purpose in both our individual lives and the corporate life of the “ecclesia”. If we are to cast any shadow at all it is only to be His shadow. If we are to represent or reflect any kind of wisdom or purpose whatsoever, then it is to be His wisdom. If we are to proclaim and embody any message, then it must be His message. Having been bought at such a price, we are no longer our own, coming and going and living as we please unto ourselves. We are intrinsically joined unto Him that we might fulfill the Father’s eternal purpose in manifesting and magnifying His Son throughout His creation. In choosing to propagate and advance His divine essence throughout the universe, He has graciously called upon a tiny remnant of puny, mortal creatures to share in His work.

Although the Head is currently seated in heaven with the Father, His ministry and witness continues in this present age through His Body – the Ecclesia (or “called out” ones) of the Living God. And it is should also be expected that the world (and the current ruler of this world) – that is opposed to God and all His plans and purposes in Christ – would respond to His Body in precisely the same way as it responded to Him… with bitter contempt, hatred and murderous intent.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matt 10:22)

Dear saints – all of this is presented, by way of introduction, that we might present our immediate topic, which is – the tribulation and testing of the saints. Now this is important stuff here my friends, for I fear a fraud has been perpetrated upon God’s people by many who have taught them to expect something other than what our Lord received in this world. Both the Scriptures and the Spirit suggest otherwise however, as we shall see.

sufferingNow there are concepts seldom mentioned today by many Christians, and they are these – rejection, isolation, suffering, tribulation, trial, persecution, loss, peril, distress, opposition, affliction, martyrdom. Perhaps there is this general sense that these unsavory topics are no longer relevant or applicable to the sophisticated and pragmatic church of today – those who believe kingdom blessings can come in advance of the kingdom itself and the King. The whole issue of suffering for the glory of God and His Christ has become one of the many unmentionables in the modern church – bad for business one might suggest.

This, of course flies in the face of our Lord’s consistent message that the ill manner in which the world treated the Head would logically be applied to the Body, which represents the perpetuation of His presence and ministry on the earth. This also runs counter to the violent manner in which most of the Lord’s holy prophets and apostles were treated. Consider Hebrews 11, for example, which grimly catalogs the fate of so many faithful saints of old –

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (Heb 11:35-38)

And why should we who serve the Lord today expect anything less? In Second Timothy we are assured that “all who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution”. Not some, not a few, but “all”. Why? Again, because of the deep-seated and loathing hatred of the ruler of this world to all things “in and of God”. The idea expressed is that anti-christian and predatorial forces are literally hunting down all that threaten their very survival and vitality. Elsewhere the Scriptures convey the image of the devil as a roaring lion seeking to devour all who would oppose his earthly dominion. Our Lord prayed to the Father that His sheep would not be removed from the earth, but preserved from this lion seeking to devour them. And Satan essentially employs two means whereby to neutralize opposition – to tempt them into rejecting God’s true revelation in His Son, or if they refuse, destroying them.

My friends, this current gospel of an easy and painless testimony in this world is clearly not from heaven but from somewhere else. The body that is legitimized by the world and does in fact experience this kind of relative ease and safety is truly not attached to the Head that is the Lamb of God. The entire message of both testaments is that a colossal war is underway in which the spiritual forces of evil are pitted violently against God and His faithful ones. This world is and has never been worthy of those who are true, pure, holy, righteous and faithful to He who saved them out if it. It seeks only to devour and destroy them, and (listen carefully saints) the wonder of it all is that YES – our loving God actually permits the righteous to be physically persecuted and even slain. He doesn’t always deliver His children from the wrath of the rulers of this world. Even today in many parts of the world, there are many genuine children of God, who hold the testimony of Jesus and represent His manifest Body on the earth, who are being poured out as a shining sacrifice to the glory of God. The prophetic scriptures indicate that this will become worldwide once evil is more universally unleashed, and the murderous wrath of the beast and his minions is released against the testimony of the Lamb.

The plain and simple testimony of Scripture is that God nowhere promises us deliverance “from” persecution, but deliverance “through” it, and victory “over and above” it. All spiritual growth and maturity requires and meets some form of resistance, as Peter assumed in his prayer –

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Pet 5:10)

Resistance quickens our faith, bringing it to life, maturing it, and deepening it into obedience. Hebrews 5 tells us that our Lord “learned obedience by the things which he suffered.”

Brethren – it may be worth repeating that this world is not our world. We are merely traveling through on our way to a better place. And if we are truly bearing the testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives and example, then we represent a spotlight shining on all that is false and unclean in this world. As such we represent a significant threat to all those (both human and otherwise) who profit and gain from the present state of evil. Rest assured that all wickedness in high places will hate us and seek our destruction, for the very reasons it hated our Master. As His body, we bear His truth and His testimony – and the world cannot bear it, and must come against us in the only way it knows – with malice and violence.

Herein, in a nutshell, is the very reason we are in the world – as a righteous testimony against it. We are witnesses of the Most High God who is poised to judge this present world with righteous judgment and fierce wrath. Our very testimony will play a large part in the Lord’s “case” against this world and all those who support and serve it.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9)

No we are not subject to God’s wrath or the execution of His judgment on this world, but neither are we greater than our Master (John 15:20), and all throughout the Bible we are conditioned to expect violence and affliction at the hands of the devil and all who represent him. It is Satan’s murderous wrath that constitutes the real physical (and it can only ever be a physical threat, affecting the body and soul) threat to the saints. Through so many forms of threat, tribulation, torment, accusation, violence, loss and deprivation against the body of Christ, Satan seeks always to reduce Jesus Christ, to stamp Him out in some form or another.

Yet here is the wonder and the power of the testimony of the saints, in demonstration of a wisdom that renders even the angels awestruck – that when violence and even murder comes against the sheep, the Shepherd is not thereby reduced, but increased and magnified ever to an even greater degree. His glory shines even brighter in the testimony of the slain, whose righteous blood the world is not worthy.

The same Loving God who has numbered the very hairs on our head, and who encourages and sustains us through much testing, trial, and tribulation at the hands of evil in high places, is forever with us and in us, strengthening and fortifying us in Himself. Recall, dear saints, that remarkable fourth figure in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, looking very much like the Son of God, and preserving His own in the midst of the oven. No, my friends, we are not, nor ever shall be alone to endure this world’s fiery wrath and indignation. The Body and the Head are one.

Why then do we love this world so, and grip it so tightly, when all that it is and represents is opposed to the Holy One we serve? When it scorned and crucified the only pure and perfect thing that ever entered it? Why do we seek its acceptance and legitimacy, even its love when our Lord commanded us to follow Him out of this world, to bear His cross, and to die to this world and its ways, to its illegitimate wisdom and purpose? If the Head was not of this world, then must not this also be true of the body? Why then do we seek to align ourselves with all that this world represents in its opposition to God – its politics, its systems, its institutions and even its false, small “c” christianity?

Our Lord’s claim on us is an ultimate one, and neither the gates of Hades nor Death, nor the god of this world can ultimately deprive us of what we have been given in Christ. But let us not reduce this assurance to mere physical survival of the body or the preservation of our place in this world. It is the spirit that is inviolable to the gates of Hades and the one who holds its key. And this alone marks the source of our sanctified and prophetic testimony before every false and unholy thing.

The wisdom of this world and its god is to protect, preserve and increase itself by force if necessary. If it cannot convince or otherwise claim something for itself, it will endeavor to destroy it. It is the way of “get”! And into this world, the Lord has inserted us to demonstrate another kind of wisdom, adverse and opposed to all that it represents – the way of “give”. Hereby we are oil mixed with water, day dividing night, and salt separating sugar. Only we know that love cannot exist apart from truth, and ours is a message of truth (that the Lord’s soon-coming kingdom will ultimately supplant the kingdom of men and devils) that the world cannot possibly bear, for it exposes it, and draws out all that is hidden. Ours is a testimony that cannot, and will not, conform to the world’s precepts and ways, and yet blind conformity is what it is all about. This is why it hated our Lord and continues to resist all those who live in Him, right up until the very last day, when God Himself will remove His faithful ones before executing His fierce wrath on this evil world.

Most beloved saints – those in whom His very life and spirit abides – we all know the times in which we live, that forces are quickly marshaling to bring about the most wicked state of existence the world has ever known. If we are not being made ready now, then I fear many of us will not resist the dread powers to come! If our lamps are not topped up now, then how shall we fill them then? If we do not have a martyr’s faith, and a martyr’s love now, then from whom shall we get it when those days are upon us? If we have no root in ourselves now, then what shall keep us from being uprooted then? In the very name of Our Gracious Lord and King, I implore and exhort all who read these words to make yourselves ready while there is yet time.

All of our Lord’s words are rapidly quickening to life and meaning as we prepare our hearts as end-time pilgrims on this earth. Do we indeed love self, family or things more than Him, and how shall we respond when this world threatens to separate us from such? For this is all the devil can really do when you get right down to it, as evidenced by his vicious attack on Job. Indeed, with the Lord’s permission, he can separate us from the ones we love, from our physical existence, from our property certainly. Yet…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

” For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

And so do we genuinely and deeply believe this, my brethren? Have we resolved this in our hearts and minds today, in anticipation of a world where we will certainly be marked and hunted like dogs? Where everything and everyone will be against us? When we will be scattered and alone, with only God and his promised provision?

Do we believe our Lord when He assures us that – ” In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world”? Do we actually comprehend what the Lord means when He says that judgment will begin with the house of God?

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:12-17)

There is first a refining, a strengthening, a testing, and a building up of patience amongst the saints that must occur before this world is judged. And whether you choose to believe it or not, the clear and certain message of God’s Holy Word is that this requires suffering and separation. And God has always used the devil and his world as an instrument of such. All of us must be separated from our idols – violently if necessary – before entering the Kingdom. And remember an idol can be any thing or anyone that we love or trust or turn to before the Living God who made us.

Dear saints – Our most precious Lord went meekly as a lamb to the slaughter in obedience to the Heavenly Father, suffering the ultimate separation for His Glory! We too, as the Lord’s manifest body on this earth, must we ready and willing and preparing now to experience the same thing for the Glory of our God! In this and anything else, there truly can be no greater or higher motivation, than that the God we serve and love will receive the Glory worthy of His Holy Name! This – and I believe the Lord affirms this – is where we must focus our hearts and devotion and prayers as end-time saints anticipating the days to come!

Oh Most Holy Father – Keep us from the lie that we can be made ready apart from loss or separation, that as servants we can expect anything less than that which befell our Master, that maturity can come in a box. Fortify the saints O’ Lord, in preparation for the testimony of your Purpose and Glory before a world that is rushing headlong into depravity and the incarnate rule of the evil one. Turn our hearts singularly to You and Your Son in these last days, and let us not be afraid or thwarted from our steadfast faith and trust in You alone, to help us to overcome whatever comes. Most Precious Father, we do indeed love Thee, and know that we can be and do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens us! In His exalted name we pray, Amen.

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Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do. Please pray for the author especially, a blood-washed sinner, who needs to heed these words as much and even more than those that read them. Please pray that His will be done in our lives as we follow Him in patience and obedience, and that He would cleanse our hearts and hands and lips in this evil hour, as we submit to Him in all readiness, preparation and faith.

sodom_and_gomorrah
And a special message
to all those, like Lot, who are entangled in the affairs at the gate – Come Out! For the iniquity of Sodom has become full, and the gates of this world are no place for citizens of the Kingdom of Our Lord! Come out of her politics and cultural debates, come out of her churches and counterfeit religious systems, come out of her temples where men reign over God’s people and Nicolaitism and Baalism is the order of the day! Come Out dear ones lest you share in her destruction at the hand of the Lord! His Sword is stretched out and why, why are you still at the gate, involved in movements and parties and agendas? Will you save it then? Will Sodom listen to you? Did it listen to Lot? Don’t be a fool and heed the warning of the Lord before it is too late! Remember Lot, who was scarcely saved! Remember his wife whose heart remained in this world! Come out I say! Come out to the safety of the Lord while there is yet time!

Your friend and brother in Christ Jesus,

Wayne