"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (that's us, the New Creation, he's talking about here). Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord. Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money." (Is. 52:1-3, KJ)
Many of the elect are struggling to keep the wolf away from the door these days, and when I hear about it, I always think of Isaiah's promise that we are "redeemed without money." We just had an e-mail from a reader who wrote, "Paying the bills every month is like the multiplication of the loaves and fishes." Another reader spent the winter in a trailer in Michigan without heat or running water. She more than survived. She encourages those around her. I can relate. Lenny and I only have his social security pittance as a regular income we can count on each and every month, but God has always met whatever additional needs we have by various means and sundry manners. We have learned two things out of living by faith: a) to be content with whatever we have, and b) that we don't NEED everything we think we want. Without God, there's no way it would be possible. With Him, we count it all joy to be free from the rat race, the world's agenda.
Lenny and I were very successful real estate brokers in Southern California for many years until God changed the program. We lost everything by God's design, a half million dollar house, our "dream home," our credit, our career and our retirement. Some in my family assumed that we were poor money managers, but we both knew, that the whole adventure was "a divine set up" from beginning to end, carefully orchestrated by our Father to show us at a cellular level that He is in charge; He is calling the shots; and His will is done in our lives. His will was for us to come here to Missouri, so that Lenny could be a witness of His light, love and power to an adult men's Sunday School at a Baptist Church here in Neosho. His will for me was that I write and publish on the Internet, which would have been very difficult indeed with the work load we had in our former lives. No matter what anyone else may think, we know that what happened to us was not caused by the wiles of the devil or lack of faith. It was not about sin, or poor money management. It was about the higher plan God has for each of us, the calling He laid on our lives before the foundations of the world (II Tim. 1:9-10). It was rough sledding at the time, but His grace was always sufficient, and His provision for our needs without fail.
Throughout the whole ordeal of watching our financial endeavors circle the drain, I never lost faith that God could do anything. He had shown me over and over again that He is in charge of everything and His arm is not shortened; He can still ransom us (Is. 50:2). I knew that He wasn't doing it to hurt us or kill us, but to show us that He is sovereign in all things. Without that sure knowledge that it was God ONLY, with whom we had to do, I may have wanted to leap off something high. Those were growing pains for me, big time. Many of the elect are experiencing growing pains in one way or the other, whether in their bodies or their pocketbooks or their minds or their families, and the purpose of this journal is to shout words of encouragement to anyone whose life seems upside down right now. Take heart. It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. We are, after all, traveling on "The Glory Road."
I have been getting e-mail from a new reader, a very dear man who contends that God does not do bad things. "He is a good God, and only does good things," he insists. Well, that's true, when you are looking at it from the third floor, as Elwin Roach describes being caught up in Spirit. Still, verses like these abound in the Bible: "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." (Deut. 32:39). And in I Samuel 2:6-7, "The Lord killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up." Amos makes it mighty plain: "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos. 3:6). Paul even says that GOD consigned all men to disobedience. Why? So, "He could have mercy upon all" (Rom. 11:32). He gives us sunshine so we'll appreciate the rain, and light so that we won't curse the darkness.
God is the author of all things. As little kids in Christ, we couldn't be told these things, for it would have hindered our growth, perhaps, but now that we are adults, we must come into the realization that "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever" (Rom. 11:36). Eventually, we must come into the sure awareness that "He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). When we grow up, we understand the truth of Paul's statement, "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:6). Notice the all inclusiveness of those passages. God is every where, in every one, and as Elwin Roach said recently at a meeting in Decatur, AR., "God is every when."
This dear brother who says that God cannot kill, has not read the Old Testament lately. There is example after plainly stated example that God killed the disobedient, chastised the sinners, and burned His name into the children of Israel with fire (Deut. 4:34, 33; 5:24-26). As a Bible student from my Mother's knee, I was horrified and terrified to read all the various and sundry ways that God dispatched the rebellious. He fried them with fire falling from heaven (II Kings 1:10-14; Lk. 9:54); opened up the earth and swallowed them whole and alive (Num. 26:10; Deut. 11:6); bludgeoned them to death with hail stones (Is. 30:30; Hab. 2:17; Rev. 8:7; 16:21), sent the plague on them numerous times (Num. 14:37; 16:49; 25:9; II Sam. 24:15); sent poisonous vipers among them to kill them with snake venom (Num. 21:6), destroyed them with flood (Gen. 7:23; Lk. 17:27), fire (Deut. 4:24; 5:24-26; 9:3; Job 1:16 Zech. 13:9; Heb. 10:27; 12:29; Rev. 18:8), famine (Deut. 32:34; II Sam. 21:1; 24:13; II Kings 4:38; 6:25; 8:1; 25:3; Ps. 105:16; Is. 51:19; Jer. 11:22) and sword (Jer. 14:12,13,15,16; 16:4; 18:21; 21:7,9; 24:10; 27:8,13; 29:17-18; 32:24,36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:16,17,22; 44:12-13,18,27). In spite of all these references, I'm sure I've missed a few techniques for destroying the wicked. "Yes," you say, "but they deserved it. They were sinners. If we're good, then God won't hurt us." That's exactly what I believed when I was a child. It's what I learned when I began to follow Charismatic teaching, which stressed that it was that bad old devil who was the one plaguing me, but if I would rise up and plead the blood, bind the demons, and quote enough scripture, he would leave me alone. It's what I counted on to get me through the night when I was afraid. I was following the Lord and had nothing to fear from Him. Christians don't want to think the Lord does anything bad because He might come against them, but how sane is it to think that you have to take charge of the devil by the strength of your own right hand lest he destroy you? Now, that's a scary thought! No, as David said when the prophet Gad gave him given three choices of punishment to be sent him from God, "David said to Gad, 'I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men'" (II Sam. 24:14). I would only add to that, "Do not make me responsible for my own safety and well being, for I cannot trust myself not to fail." I can trust God's mercy and grace, however.
The reason I address this subject of God's responsibility for everything is because we cannot grow up in the Lord if we hang on to a two power universe. There is only one power, and that is God. "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all" (I Chr. 29:11). After His resurrection, He declared, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth" (Matt. 28:18). To blame bad things on the devil and then to say that it's up to us to stand against him, puts everything right back into our hands. Our days of fighting the devil were a rite of passage only. John the Beloved, said that "young men" "have overcome the evil one" but of fathers in the faith, he said, "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning" (I Jn. 1:13). Please, please know that I am not trying to make you afraid of God. I grew up terrified of God and it's a dreadful place to live. In fact, there is no life in it, only existence of the bleakest order. What I'm trying to do here is to show that "God is all and in all," and when He brings upon our lives what looks to our natural eyes like evil, He is doing it for our ultimate good and His glory. When we see that He is in charge of everything, and that nothing about our spiritual growth or maturity or salvation has to do with our efforts, but it all ultimately lies with Him and His plan written before time began, then and only then can we enter into His rest. There is peace in the valley of the shadow of death, and we fear no evil, because our God and our Lord is the shepherd, our champion. He is the one who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24).
The glorious truth is that ultimately, no one really has anything to fear from the Lord because He loves each of us unconditionally. He is the Father of us all, Paul said, and since there are no disclaimers in that verse, it means all, everyone, saint and sinner alike. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). He loved us ere we knew Him, the old hymn declares, and the Apostle John said that we love Him because He first loved us (I Jn. 4:19).
Yet, to declare that God is good (Ps. 73:1), which He most certainly is, and that He is a God of love (I Jn. 4:8,16), which He most certainly is, does not negate the fact that He brings bad things upon His children in order for them to know Him in His fullness. This is NOT punishment, but "course correction," God's training class, if you will. I see it as the chastening of God for His sons whom He loves, and the Hebrew writer concludes, "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:10-11). You only have to read the first couple of chapters in the Book of Job, to get it that God is the one calling the shots, giving the orders. Job was a righteous man. As God was siccing Satan on him, He asked him, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job. 1:8). Do you think you are good? Do you believe that you obey God and keep His commandments? Do you suppose He would say of you, "Consider my servant Joe. He is perfect." [Well, actually, He does say that because when He sees you, He sees Jesus, who is perfect, and who lives inside you and me, but I'm getting ahead of myself here]. The point is that had Job lived today, his friends would have described him as "a good Christian." Yet, this did not save him from major course corrections in his life. After all the loss, the death, the destruction, the boils, the ash heap, the bitchy wife, and the accusations of his self righteous, "miserable comforters," Job could still say, "And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes; I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job. 19:26-27). His growing pains had brought forth fruit in his life, and he did see God in all His glory. The scripture tells us that God Himself brought all this evil upon his servant. It was obvious to everyone. All his friends and family came to him "and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him" (Job. 42:11).
Satan, obviously, was merely a messenger boy, the instrument of God's pleasure in this instance, even as he was in the case of Jesus' false accusation, mock trial, and crucifixion. "But wait," you protest, "what was the purpose of all this evil that God brought upon Job?" Isaiah knew it, for he said, "For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Is. 26:9). And indeed Job did learn righteousness. After the trying and testing and chastening were over, he said to His Creator, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job. 42:5-6). I submit to you that this statement characterizes a "father" or an adult in God. As a child, and I'm not speaking of chronological age here, but rather spiritual maturity, Job only knew God based on what others had told him and I believe this caused the irrational fear of God that came upon Him. "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me" (Job 3:25). Many Christians across the planet are in that same boat. They live in fear, and they go to church weekly, sometimes daily, hoping to get a drop of nourishment from the pastor, preacher, priest, or teacher; or they turn to Televangelists to get a glimmer of truth and relief from their night terrors (Job 27:20; Song 3:8). They attend conferences, Bible classes, seminars, and try many other ways to learn about God, but they do not know God. Why did Job repent in dust and ashes? Why did he despise himself? I think it is because he spent so much of his life in works and worship based on something men had told him, without knowing the One whom he worshipped and for whom he worked. He discovered another of Isaiah's truths, which is that all our righteousness is but filthy rags in the presence of God. I'll make it easy for you to read the whole passage by including it here: "How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" (Is. 64:5-8). Isaiah is singing on the same page as Job. Both are saying that you cannot know God second hand, nor can you depend on your good works to save you. The churches are full of "old children" who still believe in this false doctrine taught by Pharisees.
I woke up this morning thinking, "I've got to delete that part. It's too harsh." Then, I went to the little service where I participate every Sunday morning and heard the speaker say, "I'm going to read from Matthew 13. It tells us what God does for us IF we do for him." Talk about grist for the mill. The part he read had to do with the parable of the sower. Clearly this very nice, kind man was only repeating, without question, what he had heard preached all his life, but when you look at the text, two things leap out. 1) Jesus never scolded the rocky soil or the barren earth for their lack of fruitfulness. He never even suggested or inferred that there was anything they could do about the way they were, and 2) He plainly says that the problem is that their eyes don't see and their ears don't hear. Why? Well, it is NOT because of anything they have done, according to Paul in Romans 11:8, "as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." Do you get that? God is the one who put them in this situation, but the churches are so mired in traditions of men that they insist on throwing everything on our shoulders, instead of on God's. If you are having trouble accepting this, check out these scriptures. Your eyes will be opened and your ears will hear the truth:. (Ezek. 12:2; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; Rom. 11:8; II Cor. 3:14,15). The buck stops on His desk, dear ones.
Job came to understand this because in his boil scarred flesh, with his pride, self esteem, ego, and self confidence in his own abilities scraped away, he finally saw God, and had he enjoyed a discussion with the Apostle John, he would have understood the truth of John's statement that when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him (I Jn. 3:2)
And by the way, as an observation here, the Old Covenant only dealt with the flesh, not the spirit, which is why Isaiah said that God's judgments brought righteousness on the people of the world, even though the judgments almost always killed them. I have been reading the Old Testament since I was knee high to a duck. It has the greatest stories ever told, which I appreciate even more when I'm too impoverished to buy books. It has all the sensationalism that keeps Hollywood and American book publishers afloat in green: sex, violence, deception, manipulation, glory, love, hate and betrayal, making modern novels pale by comparison. Anyway, suffice it to say that I love the Old Testament, and one day after many years of reading it, it hit me gloriously, that all the judgments and punishments which came upon the rebellious children of Israel were for the present moment, for this life only! There is no verse which states that these dreadful punishments were to be everlasting, or to affect the eternal destiny of the one who was punished in this life. If you know of a verse which contradicts my assumption, send it to me by e-mail, "snail mail," fax, or phone, but I don't expect to hear from any of you, because after all, in spite of the horrible and numerous executions God arranged for His wayward children, Paul asserts that "All Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11: 26). Another proof of my conclusion is this. Moses was denied entrance to the promised land because he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. The story is told in Numbers 20:8-12. So, even though this man did more for the Jewish nation than anyone else except Christ, because he sinned, probably in anger and exasperation at the grumbling, backbiting, ungrateful people he was assigned to lead, he was not permitted to enter into the land. Instead, God took him to the top of Mount Nebo, where he looked across Jordan at the land he had waited so long to see (Deut. 34:1-5). "Then the LORD said to him, 'This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.' And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said" (Vs. 4-5).
Now, whether you think, as some do, that this was unfair, or perfectly just, matters not. The point is that Moses was with Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:2-3; Mk. 9:2-4). Had his eternal destiny been sealed by his sin, then he most certainly would not have been there. But he was! He suffered in the flesh for his sin, but his spirit was alive and well with God. When I was a child, I thought as a child (I Cor. 13:11). I read the Bible as a child. I made childish conclusions about what I read. When I became an adult, I put away the childish beliefs. I realized that if "God is all and in all" (Eph. 4:6), and if "He is not willing for any to perish" (I Pet. 3:9), then none will perish! That includes those who died under the law. This is why I cherish the writings of the Apostle Paul, for he more than any other, has given us a glimpse behind the veil, beyond the age, to see God's plan of redemption and ultimate reconciliation for all, written before the foundation of the world. He gives little hints like this one: "This is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.' (What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:8-14). In that carefully written passage, we see the purpose of all our growing pains. They are designed to take us from being infants, tossed to and fro and every which way, to the place where, by God's grace, we attain the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ." In this verse, we see that Christ went into the lower parts of the earth, and took captivity captive. He plundered Satan's strong hold where men and women had been chained for millenniums, and He took them to heaven with him when He ascended upon high. Peter tells us that after His death, Christ went to preach to the spirits who were in prison (I Pet. 3:19), and he identifies them as the disobedient ones who were killed in the flood. (Vs. 20). This clearly says that death is not the end of the story, something that is taught in our pulpits across this land weekly. John the Revelator saw prophetically that death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them (do you realize that this verse says people don't stay in Hades forever? They get out!) And then "death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." (Good riddance!) (Rev. 13-14). God does not view death as we do. Most of death's terror lies in the fear that we might end up in hell forever and ever. Spiritual children fear death, but adults know that Christ triumphed over it. "For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him" (Rom. 6:9). And we adults in God also know that "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:1-2). From before the beginning of time, Paul declares, "..it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Tim. 1:10). So, since death clearly is not the end of anything God has planned, why is this still taught in churches? May I be blunt? It's good for business. Not kingdom business, which depends on God's grace, mercy, and unconditional love, but church business. Someone wrote a book entitled, "Winning Through Intimidation," and this is exactly the strategy adopted in many churches. Scare the flock enough; lay enough guilt on them, and they will come to church; they will give; and they will help in the Sunday School program. But will they grow up into the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Will the saints be perfected for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ? Will this kind of fear tactics bring us into "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ?" (Eph. 4:12-13). Not by a Missouri mile!
On my heart for weeks now has been the desire to see the starving, mal nourished children of God be fed meat rather than milk. I couldn't find a graphic that showed what I visualized, but I can draw you a word picture of it because unfortunately I have experienced it first hand, week after week. Imagine the pastor standing before the congregation, his hand hidden by the podium. He turns the page of his big, black, leather bound Bible, and then suddenly holds out a large baby bottle, offering milk to very old babies and children sitting in the pews with their mouths open ready to nurse. They need meat, solid food in order to grow, but instead, what they get is milk. They want to know how to live an overcoming life, but what they get is, "If you don't accept Jesus, you'll burn in hell." What's new and helpful about that? They've been hearing it for 50 years, some of them. And yes, of course, I know that pastors and preachers and elders and deacons do the best they can with the light God has given them, but really, isn't it amazing that they can't come up with something other than "You need to be repent and be born again" to feed the congregation?
The reason I've been thinking about this is because a young woman I know about, who has had a tragic life, and who has fallen afoul of the law, gave her heart to the Lord sometime this past year. I don't know her personally, but I have been praying for her fervently recently because she has "jumped the tracks" again in her Christian walk. This was as predictable as the sun coming up in the east, given her situation and problems. I don't know the details, but what I see is that she was told she needed Jesus. She accepted Jesus. She was baptized. She began attending church. These are all a good beginning, but she needs to be fed meat to grow up in God. She needs to be told that she doesn't have to fight this fight in her own strength. Clearly, from her track record, she can't do it. As Gary Sigler puts it, she was born on the bad side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and she really can't pull off being good by main strength and exertion. Do you realize that many of the so-called "good Christians" who fill our pews every week are merely ones who were born on the good side of that tree, which is why they can pull it off? They can attend church regularly; they can help with the Sunday School and missions programs; they can deliver meals to shut-ins, and on and on. I'm not criticizing those things. But please hear what I am saying: Good works and bad deeds are both on that tree, and both produce death. We do not need a church with people who act better, or to quote John Gavazzoni, a church where "a nice preacher teaches his nice congregation how to be nicer." We need a church with people who know that their own works are not what counts. It is only what God does through them that matters in the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus sent out the 12, He did not admonish them to "act nice and be good." No, He gave them these instructions: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). I don't have to tell you that no one can do these things unless it is God's will at the time, but bottle fed babes in Christ usually can't do them at all, at any time!
The Hebrew writer puts it all in a nutshell for us: "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so" (Heb. 5:12-6:3). That summarizes the problem, and gives the answer: "God permitting, we will do so." What I'm lamenting here in this journal is clearly God's problem. Paul said that Christ gave himself for the church, "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). Do you see who is the subject of the sentence, the one doing the action there? It is Christ, and Christ only. The church cannot cleanse itself or sanctify itself, or make itself holy, as is clearly evidenced by the thousands of "flavors" of Christianity which are proliferating all over the planet. My purpose here is NOT to criticize the extant church, because I have come to believe that they are doing the only job God assigned them in this hour, which is to tell people about Christ. God is calling out a people for His name (Acts 15:14). The church has done a good job of introducing people to Jesus, but they have done a miserable job in telling them what to do after they accept Christ. So, what we encounter in congregations everywhere, are people who know all about how to be saved, how to join the church, or whatever other phraseology you care to put on it, but know very little about how to live the Spirit filled life. If you can't do it by trying harder, then they don't know how to do it. Some continue to attend church week after week, but others leave, seeking nourishment wherever they can find it. Church leaders moan about falling attendance, but think about it. If you are hungry for a thick steak and you go into a restaurant which only serves you pabulum and animal crackers, you'll probably never return there.
For people like this young woman I've been praying for, trying harder isn't even an option, because even supposing it would make her godly, which it will not, she couldn't do it. If she could have done better, she would have. At times, I have wanted to shriek at guilt ridden church members, "It is not you, stupid, who can live the life. It's only Christ in you who can." That, of course, is a "first floor" perspective (looking at the natural, without considering God's plans). When He caught me up in Spirit to the "third floor," I had a broader view and began to see that God knows what He is doing. He alone has the master plan, and He alone can carry it out. He will be there for this woman, to protect her from the dragon waiting to destroy her (Rev. 12:4), and He will bring her through to perfection, for it is who He is and what He does, my friends. Our God is glorious!
In giving me this broader view, God has been talking to me for some time now about the woman in Revelation 12, the one birthing the manchild. She is clearly a symbol of Israel, which is itself, symbolic of the church today. "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days" (Rev. 12:5-6). This verse shows symbolically that the church births the manchild, the elect, who are then caught up to the throne of God which represents His authority and dominion. This is very encouraging to me personally, because the professing church on Main St., USA is weak, sickly and ineffective in delivering men and women from the world, the flesh and the devil. Now, since God gave me this insight, I have peace because the church is still telling people about Jesus, still birthing the manchild, and because it is, God has protected her, though she is still in a "desert place." The church on Main St. is a far cry from the church universal and triumphant that Paul talks about (Eph. 3:10), but nevertheless, Jesus said, "The gates of hell will never prevail against it" (Matt. 16: 18). It is clear to me that the manchild will never come to maturity in the church. It is God Himself who nurtures, protects and teaches him until the time is right for him to be released in power and glory on the planet.
All the problems we plaguing the elect today, be they financial, physical, mental, marital or emotional are but growing pains. As I wrote this, it came to me softly that another way to say, "redeemed without money" is found in Zech. 4:6. "It's not by might. It's not by power, (two aspects of money) but by my Spirit saith the Lord." Since I mentioned losing our "dream home," I want to share with you what the Lord finally told me about that. He said, "I am your home. I am your very great reward." When we are caught up to the throne, we are separated from the flesh and all the problems thereof. Painful though the process often is, the separation is inevitable, because there is nothing in the holy of Holies but God Himself. Being caught up in the Spirit is the only way to grow into the maturity of Christ, where we see that truly, we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). There, we are being transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Our minds are being renewed (which is really the only way to repent of anything) (Rom. 12:2), and our spirits are continually being charged, electrified by the Spirit of God. When God's time is fully come, we will return with our head, our Lord, our bridegroom, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to speak peace to the heathen (Zach. 9:10), and we will hear our Father say, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Ps. 2:8-9).
Until then, we encourage and affirm one another with the words we have heard the Spirit utter, knowing that love covers a multitude of sins. As the woman whom I quoted at the beginning put it, "By the world's standards we may look poor, but we are so rich in the Lord. The presence of God is strong and wonderful (far better than silver or gold) and there is so much JOY here that family and friends think we are a bit "daft" as my Irish grandmother would say. We are soooooo BLESSED!" It is His love pouring out through us that salves the wounded hearts and acts as a balm for the sin weary souls everywhere around us. We are the representatives, the ambassadors for "the root and offspring of David," "The bright and morning star" (Rev. 22:16). We are the "city set on a hill" (Matt. 5:14), which has no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; "for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it" (Rev. 21:23-24). As it is written, so let it be done in our lives. To be continued. See the links below for the next three journals, all dealing with the sovereignty of God.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail mail)
The Trash Heap of All Human Fears
"God's Glory Road"
, "When good things happen to bad people"
The Glory Road
We would enjoy hearing from you
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Last edited on 10/06/08