I know many of us were hoping we would get another chance, through the election, to turn this country around and stall off the impending and long over due intervention of Justice. The elections have caused us to see more clearly than ever, the terrible state of moral decay and blatant rebellion we are in as a nation, and we are sad. The mourning is appropriate, and actually a gift from God, that we ourselves will begin to take this spiritual battle more seriously.

Many of us have been swept along in a kind of complacency. Many have spoken out boldly. Many made great personal sacrifices to bring this country back to the God of the bible. Many prayed. Many talked, and listened, and campaigned. Many hoped. Many counted the votes ahead of time to see if the scales would tip back to righteousness. Many crossed their fingers, waiting to see if America had had a big enough change of heart to make a change in the White House. God has spoken. He said NO.

The good news is that God is STILL with us. The good news is that we are more aware of our sins and the need for prayers of repentance then ever before. The good news is that if we allow God to continue to open our eyes to the truth, He will give us the strength and wisdom to stand for righteousness and declare His truth so desperately needed in this hour. The good news is that the crisis is not past but that Jesus’ return has just been moved up by four years.

If things would have gone the other way, we would all have settled back down on our couches and watched three and one-half more years of TV and spend ourselves into three and one-half more years of self-entitled oblivion, eating and medicating and escaping the inevitable reckoning of the Last Days. The door to the easy way out is now shut!

The line has been drawn. Peace with God is not found in the pursuit of secret knowledge or in discovering some hidden passage way or in fervent loyalty to the theologies of dead and traditional religion. Jesus discarded all our human notions of what needs to be done to make God happy when He boldly said, in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”

Now is the time to “get in or get out” as far as God is concerned. Only you can make that decision for yourself, but none of us can make it by our self. We desperately need the strength of the Holy Spirit Who is still here to lead us and keep us in the midst of the greatest treachery and spiritual deception the world has ever known. Only see that you do not reject Him.

I have found this passage to be remarkably accurate in summing up where we are at and what is going to happen next. The deception and the seduction are all part of the signs of the end time prophecy and the wonderful confirmation that God is still in control.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

2 But relative to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and our gathering together to [meet] Him, we beg you, brethren,

Not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here.

Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the [a]apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great [b]falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition),

Who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he himself is God.

Do you not recollect that when I was still with you, I told you these things?

And now you know what is restraining him [from being revealed at this time]; it is so that he may be manifested (revealed) in his own [appointed] time.

For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until [c]he who restrains is taken out of the way.

And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming.

The coming [of the lawless one, the antichrist] is through the activity and working of Satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels—[all of them] lying wonders

10 And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.

11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false,

12 In order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on] the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.

13 But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning [d]as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth.

14 [It was] to this end that He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain and share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions and instructions which you were taught by us, whether by our word of mouth or by letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us everlasting consolation and encouragement and well-founded hope through [His] grace (unmerited favor),

17 Comfort and encourage your hearts and strengthen them [make them steadfast and keep them unswerving] in every good work and word.

So, what is our disposition? To stand firm and hold fast to the Word of God as it was originally presented to us through the Holy Scriptures, as given by the Holy Spirit through the pens of those anointed to write it down.

We are to comfort and encourage our own hearts and strengthen those who are wavering, to continue in every good work and word. He told us the world would know we were His disciples by the “Love we had for one another”. Unselfish, unconditional love will be the sign we will give to one another.  We are to continue to occupy and proclaim the coming of the King of Kings and His unending Kingdom until He returns. It is time to pray and believe, to bind and loose, to join together as the true body of believers because, right now, and from here on out, we only have Him each other. So, it is time to lay down offenses, stop trying to get the world to like you, and discern true intentions.

The very good news is that God is watching over us and is ready to answer our prayers. He is ready to turn around impossible family situations and intervene in the worst of your personal health problems or financial disasters. It is time to know you are loved by Him. It is time to know that He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you. So we may boldly say: The LORD is my helper; I will not fear, What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5).

It is time to do what He said; “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Dear Fellow Pilgrim,

We are in dark days. The second coming of our great God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer who is returning to the earth to deliver us from this present evil world system draws nearer. And though this is a cause for rejoicing, many of us are experiencing our own personal days of trial and fear that massive tribulation is no longer in the far distant future.

We cry out with the prophet Habakkuk. And even though we have never met him, the world that prompted him to cry out, “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2), seems to be a world much like our own. Violence and iniquity surrounded him. Trouble and strife and contention and plundering were swallowing him up. He did not think God was hearing him or seeming to care about what had happened to law and justice. The “law is powerless and justice never goes forth”. The wicked surrounded the righteous and perverse judgment prevailed in the affairs of mankind.

The good news is that God is watching! He speaks to the prophet and to those of us today who have “ears to hear”. He tells us we are to “look among the nations and watch – and be “utterly astounded!”  He goes on to say “I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” Now we know what happened in hind sight. The tribe of Judah was in its “death throes”.

They had rejected to heed the warnings of many of the prophets by continuing to practice idolatry. They refused to repent of their ways. The very ones who had been given the revelation of the law were now stubbornly continuing to follow the pied pipers of Darkness who presented themselves as prophets, priests, and spiritual leaders.

Things were not all that different from us today who often unwittingly take our spiritual leadership from demons posing as angels of light and ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15), and spirit guides. We allow discussion groups to reshape the truths of the Word of God to fit our opinions, and inadequate theologies that deny the truth of God’s Word and fail to account for or explain what is going on within the context of human experience to mould our behavior.

This leaves us vulnerable to the lie and unprepared for the judgment. We are left to our own devices, basing our conclusions about God and our relationship with Him, based on our own personal opinions and experiences, signs and wonders, eastern mysticism and spiritual exercises. We are so much like the tribe of Judah. But God tells the prophet to “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2).

Though Judah was familiar with the words of the prophet, they were more comfortable with the works of darkness that had blinded them to the danger of the impending judgment God was being forced to bring upon them. Their hardness of heart left them no longer shocked by the things that were going on. They became indifferent and stubborn. Their stiffness of neck manifested a hardness of heart that blinded them to the needless pain and willful killing of the innocent for money and gain. They either joined in willing or ignored the need by giving their consent through their silence.

Fear is on every side for those who do not rest in and rely upon their God, (the One True God), to save them. God is not an opiate for the weak but counsel for the wise. When the world would deliberately try to create mass hysteria through the threat of international violence, economic collapses, and a variety of natural disasters that no terroristic group can boast claim to, we can rest in knowing that those who KNOW their God will be kept safe.

And isn’t it marvelous how God can preserve those who trust in Him. Though they be but a small remnant, they are never too few for Him to bother with. You can be counted in that number if you want to be.

There is no need to loose your peace or forfeit your chance to have the assurance of eternal life because, at no point in this war can the value of your soul be measured to cost more than what has already been paid for it. The price of its redemption, the death of God’s Son, can never be counted as insufficient, though the careless spending of our live in self pursuit can never gain for us enough to purchase our own salvation or safety.

He is no fool who willingly gives up that which he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose, (Jim Elliot, martyr to the Waodani tribe of Ecuador).  It is time to give up your life to the One Who gave up His life for you. Only those who let go of this life will be able to keep their life. For some that is a simple matter of surrendering your will and intentions over to the truth that “who so ever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Romans 10:13).

For those who consider themselves saved, check the fine print. If you are trusting in some form of Karma for Justice which insists that you must obtain your own righteous perfection through good deeds in order to stop an insidious circle of reincarnation, you are under the gospel of works. God offers us redemption, not recycling. Read the contract. And if the agreements you have made with the false peace of the new age promise peace through a transcending awareness with nothingness in order to find that peace, get out now! God does not require us to empty our minds to abide in His peace.

If the worship and preaching and work of the Kingdom that you are involved in does not look like what is happening in the New Testament, you may be under the influence of a false gospel. Many of the look-a-like gospels contain just enough truth to get the hungry eaters hooked in.

Satan has always preached a gospel of mixed grace and works because that way he can offer his victims the “best of both worlds”. Because it works so well, nothing has been changed but the outward appearance to keep it looking modern and trendy. Inwardly, the gospel of works, or its newer version,- the mixture of grace and works – is still full of dead men’s bones like the tombs Jesus used to illustrate the folly of following such traditions, trends and death trap theologies.

For those of you who think you are a Christian, check out what brand of theology you have embraced or your leaders are promoting. This is not the time or place where we need to look for our “our best life now”, though it is a time of sweet promise and strength for the journey. Jesus in not about pony rides and inflatables! His church is a body, not a circus. We are a family, not a corporation. Jesus is the attraction. He is enough.

As believers, we sometimes experience a loss of joy and feel disconnected from our own lives. We feel numb and maybe a little alarmed by the lack of genuineness we feel toward God or see demonstrated in our own lives toward others. Compassion for the lost and a sense of urgency have been replaced by the endless demands of the immediate.

We begin to see how far we have fallen from the Grace of God. We may have gotten caught up in squandering our lives on another gospel or in turning aside to fables of any sort to find meaning and enough reason to continue living. These have proven to be  only temporary and ultimately unsatisfying for those destined to rule and reign with Christ.

 Our lives are filling up with disappointment and troubles, more than anyone should have to endure. The answers to life’s problems are as elusive now as they were when we first begun the journey. 

It is at this point of disappointment and frustration that we are again drawn by the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to search out a deeper, more serious place of surrender and abiding. This desire to draw closer to God has presented a real and hidden danger to those who would desire to experience Him at a deeper level of intimacy and meaning.  But, alas, experiencing God at a more personal level is not accomplished by our own desire to make it happen or through greater searching of our souls or more will power or self effort.

The Devils’s prescriptions for the purification of our souls centers on strict self discipline and strenuous religious exercises for the development of a god-consciousness that  only end up wearing us out. These efforts often lead either to”self” deification (we become our own god), or we wander away in pursuit of some more tangible and temporal happiness.

Strenuous soul-searching, self-monitoring, and strict adherence to the dictates of some cultural or individualized cult promote a sort of “religious neurosis” in those who would follow God, not the cultivation of virtue that promotes the natural or supernatural healing of the soul. Only life and peace in God can promote our desired rest and relationship with Him.

The strenuous expectations of religion only create a tension  and pressure that allow the burdens of life to become heavier and open wider the door for guilt and condemnation giving the Enemy even more opportunity to find fault with every move we make.

This sets up a vicious circle of seeking and striving that spins an endless cycle of “not good enough” and “never enough”. Searching our souls becomes the perfect mechanism through which the Enemy can take advantage of us. He uses our desire to “know or be closer to God” to put all sorts of unscriptural demands upon our souls.

He manipulates our thoughts and forges fake feelings to manage our experiences around God. He then counsels us on how to “get closer to God”.  His suggestion made under the guise of our own thoughts and meditations which end up either making us feel more condemned or deceive us into evaluating our spiritual progress in God based upon our own feelings of how we are doing, which can be self-deluding at best. 

Which ever way it goes, using the Devil’s counsel on how to get closer to God is doomed to discouragement and disillusionment and destruction of those who would follow him. Jesus Christ never left our salvation and sanctification in the care of demons, be those demons ever so persuasive and familiar enough to pass off their thoughts as our own. He sent the Holy Spirit to in-dewll us to lead us into all truth and triumph. He is our Helper and preserves for and in us, the hope of eternal salvation.

The Word of God is very clear. We will not nor can we ever be “good enough” to earn or deserve Heaven or eternal salvation on our own. They have been given to us freely as the gift of God, given out of the goodness and generosity of His Own Heart and desire to see His children saved and set free.

Because most of us, however,  are taught to be responsible and do things for ourselves, we are led to search our souls to find the answers to life’s pressing questions, rather than search out the Word of God. In searching our souls, we can only draw from our past experiences. Mixing those experiences with our present thoughts and feelings about those experiences can only generate another set of experiences patterned after those we already are struggling to work through.

The Enemy of our souls has used those experiences to weave lies and error to craft our mindsets, our world views and basic value structures from which we form our concepts and perceptions. This information is gathered and organized under the counsel and direction of another spirit that would instruct us to try harder to fix and figure out what is wrong.

It would counsel us to get closer to the God we feel has already rejected us. We are confused and angry tempted to give up and wonder why following God has to be this hard and complicated.

The Bible clearly tells us to walk in the Spirit to avoid fulfilling the lusts  of the flesh, (Gal. 5:19). Instead of searching our souls and opening ourselves up to the deceptive counsel of the impersonators, (those who would guise themselves as either we ourselves, or as God), let us search the scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to do His job.

My salvation and sanctification is His problem. I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Those good works do not come out of striving, but out of abiding. As the Holy Spirit leads us into a genuine life and relationship with the Lord God, our lives will take on all the meaning and purpose they were intended to contain. The weak and weary dictates of religion will drop off like the dead leaves of winter giving way to the first fruits of summer.

Consider His Gift, and let the Holy Spirit be your comfort and counsel as you journey through this life and into the next.

Judge and Jury? by Marjorie Cole, Life Recovery, Inc.Do you ever feel like you are your own judge and jury? Like your whole life is a result of either being judged by others or,  worse yet, yourself? Do you live constantly going over your mistakes, debating with yourself, re thinking your options, feeling guilty and judged by failed outcomes, trying to figure out how you might have done things differently and feeling responsible for other people’s responses?

Add to the confusion the fact that many of us continue to live our adult Christian lives using the insights and conclusions we gathered during our childhood. We determine our worth, our value and the current status of our “love-ability” based on these subconscious conclusions made as children.

As a result, many of us take a moral inventory of our spiritual lives only to come up agreeing with condemnation, that we didn’t do it right, don’t love God enough and maybe aren’t even saved! We spend our lives moderating the debate that goes on in our minds and emotions to determine if we are trusting God enough, sincerely convinced in our hearts and really born again.

We grew up in performance-based conditioning that caused us to believe that whatever was happening in our world was “all up to me” and if anything went wrong, “it was my fault”. “I’ve got to do it right”, “be good”, and “figure it out” in order to be “okay”. (For more teaching check out “It’s My Fault” cd.)

"It's My Fault" by Marjorie Cole, Life Recovery, Inc.

And though this blog is not a clever justification for sin and reckless abandon of moral absolutes, the “it’s up to me” gospel has created a deep and serious challenge to the Gospel of grace. Failure to embrace the Gospel of grace has widened the separation between us and our merciful heavenly Father, and is creating  a growing number of neurotic Christians.

Confusion and condemnation are spreading like a contagious disease among unsuspecting believers who rewrite the Gospel of God from “Done” back to “Do”. Confusion around the Bible’s declaration that “it is finished!” has exchanged the absolutes of the final and  finished Gospel of Jesus Christ for one of powerless uncertainty. This unfinished Gospel allows the Enemy’s to constantly accuse us that we are never quite good enough or certain that God’s acceptance of us is unconditional.

Things  like “I have to , I should, I need to, or I feel like I have to keep myself in line, or “I feel like I have to choose the right thing”, bind us in the constant fear of NOT choosing the right thing. And if our salvation all comes back to and rests upon us and our choosing the right thing, the entire work of the Cross rests, not upon the Word of God or the Blood of Jesus, or upon the Faithfulness of God to pay the penalty for sin and buy us back, but upon our ability to choose rightly!

Was this not the very foundation upon which the Law was built? Putting the work of redemption back on us puts the work of Christ in jeopardy of being undermine and cancelled out by the choices I make. How devious! How arrogant! How clever of the Enemy who knows he cannot erase or undo or remove the Word of God or the Work of Christ, to make them both subject to my performance, my feelings, and my choices.

Does not Paul in Romans 6,7,and 8 make it abundantly clear that we were slaves of sin, programmed to sin, controlled by the sinful lusts and cravings of sin that war in our members? As he writes is it not clear that  he was experiencing these same powers controlling the members of his own flesh? And that they were controlling him in spite of his love of God’s Law and his will (intention) to follow it?

Simply repeating the “try harder” cliches of taking personal responsibility to be more diligent and self-disciplined did not resolve the dilemma. The insidious entrapment opened Paul’s eyes to the need for deliverance which causes him to cry out, “O wretched man that I am, Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). ”

The good thing he wanted to do he did not do; the bad things he did NOT want to do, he found himself doing. (Rom. 19). Observing and basing his conclusion upon his will and intention to love and want God instead of the bad and unruly behavior that he saw going on in his members caused him to conclude that “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells IN me.” (Rom. 7:20).

Paul immediately stopped trying to be good or control his behavior or condemn himself for not being able to be good or control his behavior or stop the war going on inside of him. In stead, he stopped it by crying out to God for deliverance from the grip of the body of death – the operating software from Hell – that was running in his soul. He realized he could not deliver himself by good works or by trying harder to stop sinning. It was not up to him to deserve or prove or complete the work of the Cross. All he could do was cry out for “deliverance”.

Even evidence of sin and the presence of the battle that continued raging within him were not able to persuade him that the Cross and the Salvation it secured were lost. There is NOW therefore, no condemnation to “those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1).

Walking in the Spirit make us immune to the ongoing blasts of Satan that debate our position in Christ based upon our performance or our feelings. Condemnation is a feeling. As a feeling it is often used by Hell to frighten the sheep into believing they are not safe, okay, or saved. It creates a low grade anxiety in the souls of those who would follow Christ.  In searching for relief from the uncertainty, they turn aside from following the commands of the Good Shepherd, into the pastures of religious performance, legalism, and self-doubt.

These little sheep become caught up in trying to be their own shepherd. They base their love for God on how well they think or feel they are doing (performance). When we try to please God by keeping the Law to be holy and judge our progress by how we feel we are bound to fall into condemnation!

When we base our salvation or run our relationship with God through our minds (thinking) or through our hearts (emotions) we  give the Enemy all kinds of opportunities to hurt and confuse and condemn and strip us of our authority as believers.

If Satan can get me to doubt, or second guess, or believe that the work of Jesus Christ is dependent upon me, or how I feel, or how I am doing , or on what kind of choices I am making, then he had slipped a noose around my neck to drag me back into the pit of despair. If all I do is spend the rest of my saved life being drug around by Satan what good am I to myself or what profit will it be to Christ?

If the devil can get me to agree with him, he then has the power to control me. If I let him get by with speaking words through my mind and out of my mouth that I do not “take captive” ( II Cor.10:3-5), if I do not “resist him” (jam. 4:7) he will not flee. The Enemy is a wiley foe and a master deceiver. He is the author of confusion and his strategy is to divide and conquer.

He desires to control you. If he can “set you up in opposition to yourself”, (II Tim. 2 25  KJV)  by getting you to monitor your feelings and your behaviors, he can divide you and set you up against your own self.

He deceives you into sinning. He then uses the evidence of the sin you just committed as proof that you disobeyed God. He then has you read some scripture that he can reinterpret as condemnation to get you to question or worry about your love for God. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (Jn.14:15) gets re-framed and the Enemy begins to condemn you for not loving God enough because you sinned.

Our sinning gives the Enemy an opportunity to discuss ways we could improve which opens up the way to bring striving on board to more closely monitor our life in God. This sets the stage for condemnation to come in and creates a vicious circle of try harder-never good enough that leaves us  always wondering if God really loves us. God’s love becomes conditional and grace must be earned!

The only way this vicious cycle can be broken is by Abiding in Christ! This revelation changes everything, including our vigorous and sketchy attempts to be good, make right choices and follow God. And if we add to this folly, the notion that we can assess our current state of holiness and acceptability with God based on how we feel, we  have handed the appropriation of the Work of the Cross and its power to save, over to Satan!

“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). If we “Walk in the Spirit” we will not give Satan the opportunity to use our souls to debate the work of Christ being done in us through His Holy Spirit. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. (Eph. 2:10). Know that you know that and you will live an abundant and meaningful life in Christ.

Amen!

I recently received this email and realized that many of you may have a similar question. Feel free to read the letter and consider the following passages from the bible given to us for our instruction and comfort. My prayer for all of you is that you will know the depth of the riches of the goodness of God and embrace the finished work of Jesus Christ. That work includes abiding in a place of rest knowing we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, (Eph. 2:8-10).  Resting in that finished work brings truth and freedom from condemnation and offers us the only way to know the will of God. As we follow Him the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy become the best evidences of our faith.

For simplicity sake I will break down each statement in my response.

Dear Marjorie,
I believe as a born again believer in Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, but if a born again person willfully sins continually can they ultimately grieve the Holy Spirit & God at some point could remove the Holy Spirit from them because their heart gets hardened from sin and they can no longer repent? I have thought that we must walk in the Spirit & not walk in the flesh for if we walk in the flesh we will die – so it seems even born again Christians, if they go back & remain in a state of sin, can lose their salvation, but if they repent & walk in the spirit they shall live. My thought being that we are eternally secure as we walk in the spirit. It’s hard to explain, hope you understand what I am asking. Thanks!
(more…)

I realize you may be as skeptical as you are sick to death of the gimmicks, the  self helps and quick-fix promises made by churches and individuals claiming to represent Jesus Christ. You are as “turned-off” by the pony-ride, inflatable gospel as He is!! So, what are we going to DO about it?

The first order of business is to REPENT. We must admit we have used, abused and misused the testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel to sell everything from investment opportunities to cemetery plots. We have turned the body of Christ into a business corporation. We have submitted the cause of Christ to voting bodies and church boards and subjugated the Kingdom of God and the will of God to the well-intentioned promotion of too many of our own good ideas. (more…)

Peter continues to write, to us, “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Many centuries before, the Prophet Habakkuk wrote a similar phrase as he admonishes his readers to wait patiently for the vision to be completed. “Write the vision, …for the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie, though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, It will not tarry. Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

All of us will be led down to the place of testing, the place of the shadow, the place of silence, the place where our faith in the Faithfulness of God will be tried. Job had everything a man could hope for. He had a place of honor and prominence in his community. His family was close and well. His finances were in order. His investments were growing. His lands were manicured. His flocks were healthy. His crops yielded an abundance, until that day of sudden destruction. Its unbelievable shock had turned his life into an inescapable nightmare. He had been struck by the hand of the Almighty and he was stunned.

Confusion leapt upon him like a lion in the night. Why? What had he done to so enrage the Almighty? His mind could give him no explanation. His head was spinning. His heart shut down, melted within him. Hope fled.

Even more distressing than the irreversible loss of his children, was the disturbing silence of the God. This same God he had given himself so fully to honor and obey had turned on him. He sat disgraced in the presence of those inferior in faith and service who interrogated him from their place of untested strength.

Shame bound Job as he sat in the shadow of the silence. “Even today my complaint is bitter: my hand is listless because of my groaning.” All he had left were words, words that could all too quickly become his enemy and turn him over into the hand of bitterness.

David, another servant of God cries out to the Lord in his trouble and poured out his complaint before God. (Ps. 143) No one drew near to help him. Even his fellow soldiers had seemed to forsake him. “For there is no one who acknowledges me, …no one cares for my soul.” (Ps. 143:4).

Nothing afforded David a place of refuge. His strength remained in the faithfulness of God, the only One who could hear or would listen. “Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I.” (Ps. 143:6). And in his darkest hours David learned to use his last bit of strength to choose to praise the LORD, rather than worship at the altar of worry and woe is me. He found courage to look, like Abraham, not at things seen, but at things not seen and obtain the promises of God by faith.

Moses complains about the burden of responsibility he carries for the welfare of the millions of people he is leading through the wilderness. “If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now-if I have found favor in Your sight- and do not let me see my wretchedness!” To him the way out of his misery and the kindness of God looked like being struck dead!

Paul lifts his voice along with the great champions of the Old Testament to cry out “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:23). Bound by the things he did that he did not want to do, he felt himself being torn by his desire to do good and controlled by a thing that warred against that desire. For him, it was no longer a matter of will power or taking responsibility, it was only his wretched helpless inability to be perfect and walk in God that remained to taunt him.

The evidence is overwhelming. Every man or woman who seeks with any sincerity to serve or follow the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth will be tested. Their endurance, their resolve, their own abilities to please God will not bring them into a closer or more pleasing place with God. We must be broken, chastened, and emptied out until all that remains of us is Him.

Our righteousness is as filthy rags though many of us have taken those rags to the professional tailor to have them sewn into a more acceptable garment. God has already woven for us a robe of righteousness matched to the fabric of His Own Son’s heart. Apart from the breaking process, and the emptying out of self, we are not qualified to wear it. The test becomes one of surrender to God, not giving up or giving in to the temptation to go along with fear, or its twin, control.

Your test today may be a foreclosure, a bankruptcy, a sick or dying child, children who are mean and ungrateful, a false accusation made against you, a bitter son, a divided house and compromised health. The trials are as different as they are the same. They are as unique as they are unfair.

But the purpose is always one and the same. The test is always a test of trust. Will God keep His Word? Can He be trusted when I have run out of resources, ideas, or friends? In times like these the only reasonable question left for us to ask is, not “why me?” or “where is God?” He’s in the same place He’s always and ever been. The question is more, “O wretched man that I am, WHO will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).

And in that question we discover, in recognizing our own wretched, helpless condition, is that God is Who He said He is. He sees us. He has not forgotten us. He will bless us at the right time. So, in the mean time, and it is a “mean” time of injustice and fear and discouragement, it is time for the courageous son and soldier and servant to submit themselves to the goodness of God and rejoice.

Remember, Rejoice is the action form of the verb, “Believe”.

PRAYER: You are The LORD God and I will rejoice in You even in the midst of this crushing crisis. “You know the way that I take; when You have tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to Your steps, I have kept Your way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandments of Your lips; I have treasured the words of Your mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:10-12). Amen.

PURPOSE: We are in the days of our purification. In your patience possess your soul until He comes and you receive the fulfillment of all His good promises to you, His Beloved.