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This month's teaching : Repentance

God Answers A Hurting Man

The despair of the righteous in difficult times is often so profound that hope appears as a foolish notion one dares not discuss, not even with God. There are professing Christians who are shallow, having very little depth in their walk with the Lord, and with sloppy reverence they try to be Christians. There are those with a sincere and yearning heart to follow after God with what they know. Then there are those who are truly followers of Christ, who walk in greater depth of faithfulness and have been sealed by the Holy Spirit through faith deeply established by years of loyalty. In all the different categories of our spiritual experience as Christians, we at times become bewildered and deeply grieved by disappointments that occur amidst our time of peaceful serenity in Christ. This can happen when something, or even someone, creates an unanticipated situation designed to displace our loyal service to Christ. I am not referencing light afflictions, but the extremely difficult situations with effects that linger to disrupt our purity and holiness—established in the presence of God.

These disappointments can bring us into grave situations of utter despair and anguish for a season. At times, even trust seems to fail; we may even question our faith in God. Sometimes there are tragic circumstances that encounter us and are designed to destroy the tender love and faith we have in our relationship with Christ. When we get into these situations, we’re often encumbered with utter despair. In these places of anguish, we tend to look at everything in a way that takes us even deeper into misery. We find ourselves in a place where we become distraught and troubled on every side. There seems to be nowhere to look for refuge; any ray of hope is only a façade leading to further dismay. At times, every move we make thrusts us into deeper cycles of dejection and inconceivable feelings of isolation. These advanced stages of testing can even bring a vibrant prayer-life to a sudden halt. We begin to process thoughts of questioning, sifting through ideas of what could cause this torrent of despair. Is it something I did wrong? Are we in the crosshairs of Satan’s conflict against our very soul? What went wrong?

Often, I refrain from speaking much about this, because there are many who will associate their troubles with spiritual trials, when in truth, it is only that their sinful life is being exposed. I am writing about the many afflictions of the righteous, not the unrighteous. We must never misunderstand this in any sort of way. The issues that encumbered Job did not result from sin he had fallen into. It was simply that he was a righteous man, with loyalty even observed from heaven when his name was brought up at a meeting amidst the sons of God.

Job was a man that was perfect and upright, he feared God and hated sin. Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He had 7000 sheep 3000 camels 500 yoke oxen 500 asses.

He was the greatest amongst the men of the East. Job sanctified his family continually unto the Lord, in case they fell into hidden sin. His integrity and loyalty before the Lord was so solid, that Satan remarked on God’s blessing and protection over him. Satan said, ‘If you take that away from him, he will curse you to your face’. God told him he could take all from Job, except for his life. Satan did it all in one day. This calamity was to an extreme degree that few people in all of history have ever experienced. It is estimated that Job’s assets were around 20 million approximately 3,600 years ago, far richer than anyone in our day. It appears that all was lost in a day and nothing was left for him. His health was taken, and his friends became ill-advisers, turning out to be enemies.

So, in a short conclusion, Job was extremely troubled—he lost everything, and had every reason to be the most down-cast man on all the earth. God gave him to Satan to be nearly destroyed in order to prove to him that Job would not sin with his lips, but would only fear God. He lost all his wealth and his children, and his friends greatly misunderstood him, basically accusing him of sin. We would think if ever a man needed tender care and understanding, and the love of God in a way that brings hope, it was Job in this moment!

This is what he got from God: Job 40:6 Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said V.7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Job 40:10 Deck you now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. V.12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. V.13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. V.14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

‘Get up and stop crying, clothe yourself with excellence and beauty and cast away the rage of your wrath: look at the one that is proud, and humiliate him.’ And Job was fully restored and given more than he ever had before, including sons and daughters. What was his victory?

Tried and Transformed

Was the test for me or for God? Did I fail or was there really a divine purpose? How do I know or understand what God is really seeking within me? Was the entire mess I went through of the enemy? Am I hurting from my own mistakes? All of these questions have answers. In the quietness of our heart, there seems an evident hint that has overtures of deep spiritual significance. The answers are simple yet faint to the hearer. The answer becomes clearer and clearer once we emerge from the shadowing veil.

Inside this secret song of inspiration, you will begin to uncover the richness of a lasting transformation which has sprung a new beginning of redemptive power only God can work. This is a deeply surrendered access point, wherein you have given the Holy Spirit the liberty to search all things, yea the deep things of God within you. Such a deep surrender to the will of God gives Him ownership and the authority to transform His sacrifice. He will discover and bring to your attention that which is an isolated place, still untouched by the master’s surgical hand. Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: V.24 and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. The search turns into a test that lingers around one’s sensitive, yet toughened places. Towards the conclusion of the trial, He tenderly whelms one’s heart with deep spiritual gentleness, so lovingly that the soul weeps its way to surrender. He is transformed!

These are all thoughts that surface as we emerge out of the furnace of testings. One of the primary divine achievements that God wishes us to understand is the results of what just happened. The testings and trials I am referencing are not momentary tests of shallow experiences. These are grave valleys of sorrow and deep humiliation of soul that encompass the ways of the elect of God; those with depth of aspiration and anointing that God refines into unlimited depths of His desire. These are not reckless sinners and wanderers in soul-boasting appeals of personal ineptitude. These are the ones that hold tirelessly onto the lifeline of God’s mercy. These saints treasure the grandeur of God’s presence in holiness, but are often trounced with ultimate feelings of anguish. These are the ones who seek transformation in secret closets of despair. The ones who deeply seek immortality by dwelling in the light of God. They are a book laid open that hold nothing in the dark. These closet saints weep for a redemptive solution against their own will and wrong apprehensions.

These are they who hang onto eternal life! They know of the walk through valleys of deep spiritual refinement while being laden with feelings of severe bewilderment and loneliness. These are the withdrawal symptoms that are being purged out of one’s self-filled with selfish ambitions, so now to walk in the transformed image of Christ. This depth of Godliness does not come from mere obedience, as some would like to self-induce through stubbornness of mind. Jesus did not become obedient through intelligence; He became obedient through things He suffered and endured. The sanctified believers become partakers of Christ’s sufferings as well. We seldom realize this in the middle of suffering, because it appears too evil. 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: V.13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Now let’s look at the picture of the failed test. Some things are designed to be destructive against the purpose that God has placed upon us. If God is our refuge, then He will deny us the ability to run from His sovereign love and become encased in bitter harshness. If we caused the error and refuse to acknowledge our iniquity, we will prosper further into callused animosity and find cover in hardness of heart. The sorrow-laden soul of such a condition will never find deeper revelation in Christ but remain shallow, though super-spiritual in appearance. This soul is not noticed as genuine and cannot be held in God’s trust as faithful to His will. This soul demonstrates itself with strength but is laid bare in the small matters it stumbles over. This pitiful undone slave lurches with the pretense of being super-spiritual, but boils in his frustration with explosive quietness. Jeremiah 6:30 Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them. This silver has kept its impurity and would not refine even in the fire.

We must allow God to test us where He desires us to go. We cannot be the commander to His will. He will not harm us nor ever leave us. He will transform us into His image just as we have asked Him to do. He leads us by our own unseen hand that we didn’t know we had. It is the hand of difficult circumstances. Our hand is a very vulnerable and tender place. Here He gets all our attentive focus. Hallelujah!

Passing the Test

As a child, I attended school to learn things useful for my future. At the end of a specific amount of learning on a subject, there was given a test to see how successful my learning really was. Throughout the year, there were numerous tests on the things I learned within the same subject. If my test score failed, I had to go back and relearn the subject till I passed the test. Only after reaching the needed scores was I allowed advancement in my lessons and entrance to a different grade level for the next year. Is the Christian life this way as well? Are trials tests?

“The trial of your faith” is a phrase found in 1 Peter, chapter one, which simply means just that. The Greek meaning for the word trial here means testing. The original meaning gives this phrase, “testing of trustworthiness”. Tests are important and even more so in the spiritual life. My experience in walking with God for close to 50 years is that testings are for a purpose. There are a lot of people who have not experienced such testings, and the results are obvious; their lives are shallow and not very effective for the kingdom. But the greater and deeper the spiritual tests one endures, the greater the divine relevance. Christians who have not endured many testings are shallow and filled with noticeable bareness. 1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

There are three great and noble virtues that form within a much-tested vessel for God. One is patience and the second is spiritual refinement known as gold tried in the fire. The third one is divine enablement by purity and holiness before God. God will not advance someone into deeper effectiveness without testing their trustworthiness by His fire. I have observed the triviality of many well-meaning Christians, having never accomplished much for God, and there is a notable difference in the solemn spiritual categories of testing in their own lives. These tests are entirely spiritual and do not come as correction to weak attributes. Spiritual testings are not corrections to mistakes; they are refinements in areas of spiritual credibility.

Why do some escape God’s complex virtue of testing? It is mostly lack of surrender of certain principles, these being held against the request of God to place upon His altar. When we are surrendered entirely, we are tested entirely. I find that if all is surrendered, then all is tested and all becomes useful. I understand that many say they have surrendered all, but that which is still esteemed important by them speaks of the lack of spiritual depth under which they have restrained themselves. These are they which are always in need but not aware of their own plight. These well-meaning people are not poor in spirit as might be portrayed in innocence. They understand very little about true heavenly kingdom living but never lack easy answers. Their resources, lying close at the fingertips, are of better ideas and predigested information, but lack deeper flowing rivers from one’s own belly.

Testing is important even if it seems to lack noticeable objective. Our thoughts are not His thoughts, and our ways are not His ways by common nature. This is how He changes us into His own image. The spiritual sequence is seemingly like this: He manifests His will, then requires obedience and tests the relevance. If the tested has passed through the refiner’s purging table of fire, then the gold becomes purer, the intrinsic value is significantly increased, and God will be greatly glorified in due time on the earth. What seemed to us as unfair victimization, now becomes enablement to exercise the Holy Spirit’s power and spiritual authority in ways that most do not comprehend. Passing God’s tests can be very hard and extremely perplexing. I find that His potter’s work is in seasons. I have clearly perceived by experience that He brings me through these seasons about every ten years. Sometimes these seasons last for several years. It has been God’s way of dealing deeper within my life. It might not be this way for others but I do clearly acknowledge that God works in seasons of testings, all for His glory, to refine the power that works within us. Endure, yield, and wait it out. Once you come out of it changed and transformed, you have passed this noble test. Hallelujah!

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: V.13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. V.14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.