Joseph Herrin (05-02-2011)
I Peter 2:21-23
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all who yearn to be numbered among the firstborn of God, please attend to this word from the Father.
Over the course of the last few months I have been observing that the Spirit of Christ is at this time leading many of His people to embrace the afflicted path that leads to life. A collapse of the economy, civil unrest, disasters, or political upheaval have not been that which has precipitated the beginning of this walk down the Way of the cross. Such things are coming, but they are not needed to lead the people of God to a full surrender. In each situation I have been made aware of, the circumstances have been different. In each case the saints are being called to yield their lives to God in an unusual way, to trust Him beyond what is commonly observed in Christianity today, and to accept whatever experiences Yahweh has appointed for them.
In recent days I have corresponded with sisters in Christ whose husbands are leaving them. These sisters face great disruption of their lives. They are put in a position of vulnerability. When facing divorce, all manner of issues arise, and fears are revealed. The threats are very real. In one instance a husband is selling the house that has been the home for both of them. He has hired a lawyer, has acted deceptively, and is seeking to wrest as much of the material gained from the years of marriage as possible.
The counsel of the natural man would be to exhort the wife to fight fire with fire, to hire a lawyer herself, and defend her “rights” with all available means. Carnal wisdom would urge her to do all in her power to make sure that the husband does not take advantage of her, or defraud her.
In another instance, the husband wants out of the marriage, though professing to be a Christian. Friends encouraged him to at least give marriage counseling a try. He finally relented. The husband met with the counselor alone. The counselor was not someone known to the wife, and she feared that her husband would have prejudiced the counselor against her. She was to meet together with the counselor and her husband later. She expressed that she felt certain it would be necessary for her to give a defense of herself before the marriage counselor in response to a negative mis-characterization by her husband. Inevitably, such defenses include making charges against the other spouse.
In another instance I have been corresponding with a man who has been held in jail for some time as charges against him have been slowly making their way through the court system. About fifteen years ago the man committed serious transgressions, repenting of them afterward with many tears and much sorrow. The man faces many years in prison. His accusers have exaggerated the claims, and painted his character and motives with the blackest brush strokes. He has felt compelled to defend himself, hiring a lawyer, to mitigate an excessive sentence.
In each one of these cases, and others, I have been led of the Spirit to give the same counsel. Do not defend. Be willing to be defrauded by others. Do not lean on the arm of the flesh to seek to deliver self. Entrust yourself to God. This is the pattern we find in the life of Christ. He is our pattern man. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...” What was the example of Christ?
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, "Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!" But Yahshua still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.
To the natural mind, the counsel I have given to these people is wrong-minded. Reason would object, “Don’t you know that if a spouse does not hire a lawyer in a divorce case when their spouse has hired one, they will be taken advantage of? Don’t you know that the spouse who presents no defense, makes no accusations, and presents no evidence on their behalf will be defrauded, that they will suffer loss?” Hear the words of the apostle Paul.
I Corinthians 6:7-8
Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.
About fifteen years ago there was a couple in our church that I knew well. My wife and I had been friends with them for many years. They had a business in the town we lived in, and devoted their lives to the business, often working 100 hour weeks.
This couple had a falling out after many years of marriage. They had recently built a new house, doing much of the work themselves. They had land, and a business. When the wife filed for divorce the property became uppermost in importance in their minds. They both hired lawyers. The wife’s lawyer sought to depict the husband as mentally imbalanced. The husband had a problem with anger, so the lawyer embellished this, claiming that he should be in a mental hospital.
The husband retaliated, seeking to throw some dirt on his wife’s character. His lawyer made much of the fact that the man’s wife had purchased some lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. He characterized her as a wanton woman, sexually promiscuous, when the husband had no reason to believe that his wife had ever been unfaithful.
Before all this went to court, I counseled the husband to not proceed in this direction. I told him it would be better that he lost his business and home and started over, than to proceed down such a carnal course that God could not bless. I shared many Scriptures with him, imploring him to entrust his life and welfare to God, but he did not heed. The court drama was truly shameful as each spouse sought to defame the other that they might receive the best possible ruling from the judge. Both spouses were professing believers. Their actions brought great reproach to the name of Christ.
In the end, the man kept the business and some land, while his wife got the house. The enmity between them continued, though they had spent many years together, and had a son and a daughter. The words of Christ resounded loudly in my spirit.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
People of God, I do not deny that a man or woman may very well be defrauded, and taken advantage of, that they will get the short end of the stick, if they do not employ the methods of the world in presenting a defense of self. Certainly this was the end result of Christ’s silence. He mounted no defense. He answered none of the charges the Jews brought against Him. As a result He was scourged, beaten, mocked, and crucified as a transgressor between two thieves.
It is doubtful that you or I will meet with such an ignominious end as Christ, but there will be loss. There will be shame. There will be reviling. There will be false judgments. It is appointed to all disciples of Christ to follow in His steps. We are given the following words of consolation:
I Peter 2:19-20
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
Who can put a price on what the favor of God is worth in the life of a child of God? There is nothing in this world that you or I could lose that could compare with the favor of God to be gained. Though we end up financially impoverished, and have to scrape by the rest of our days while others are living in comfort, we will not suffer any lasting harm. We should keep in mind the following words of insight and wisdom.
Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Will not a life of affluence tend to cause a man’s heart to become careless, while a life of poverty will encourage a man to daily seek God, and maintain a righteous walk that Yahweh might honor Him and supply all His need?
Yahweh has throughout my life caused me to practice this counsel I have given to others. I have repeatedly been brought into circumstances that Yahweh might prove me, test me, and lead me in the path of righteousness. The counsel I have given others is the counsel I have practiced and continue to practice.
I mentioned in the previous post that I am once more being brought before the court systems of this world. On May 24th I must stand before a judge I have stood before twice previously. I will not hire a lawyer. I have no defense planned. I will follow the pattern of Christ of whom it is said, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
I believe the entire matter revolves around how much we are willing to entrust our lives to God. If you do not perceive God to be intimately present in your life, having power and authority over every circumstance, ordering every experience of your life, then you will surely find it difficult to entrust your life to His care. You will find that the pressure to defend yourself is too great to resist if you do not rest in the confidence that there is a righteous Judge who is ruling in the heavens, and who cares for you.
Many will not entrust themselves to God for they have bought into the lie that this life is intended for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” They have not yet embraced the mind of Christ who testified, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). It was the will of the Father that His Son suffer many things before He entered into glory. It is His will that you and I do the same.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
People of God, how can we walk the path that Christ walked if we have adopted as our aim to please our self and to avoid suffering? If this is our aim we will always eschew the way of the cross. We will hesitate to entrust our lives to the Father’s care. We will not yield to whatever experience He chooses for us.
I have found that if I set my mind on finding some way of escape from the suffering I see before me, my mind will be consumed with anxiety, scheming, and carnal thoughts. I have found peace only in casting all over into the hands of the Father. Even if He should not deliver me according to my natural desire, there is peace in knowing that I have placed my trust and confidence in Him and in nothing else.
Eighteen months ago I stood before the courts. I had no lawyer. I made no counter charges. I had no petition to make before the courts of man. I was put in jail for sixty days, but like Joseph of old, I found great grace while there. Daily I was able to conduct Bible studies with a few men who were hungry for the word of God. When I was released my heart remained concerned for men who are incarcerated. I was led to create a series of newsletters to share the word of God with men in prison, to provide solid food, and spiritual meat, in a place where there is very little to be found.
The experience of being in jail is not something the natural man desires. I found that my flesh recoiled at much of the experience. There are many degradations. Upon entering one must strip naked before a guard, shower, and apply delousing solution to their hair. The inmates are issued no shoes, no socks, only a pair of shower slippers. The inmates are issued no underwear, only a pair of coveralls. The prison is kept very cool, and those who want socks or underwear must purchase them at the prison store when they are given the opportunity, and if they have the money to do so.
The men in the dorms are permitted to shower in the evenings. There are no shower curtains, just open stalls. Quite often the jailors on duty are women. They walk around the dorms as the men are showering, observing the men while naked.
The county jail I was in keeps the men locked down in their cells 20 hours a day. They are let out for meals and a few breaks a day. Some days these breaks were taken away due to some inmate acting out. The boredom is hard for many to bear. I took advantage of the time to read the Scriptures, write letters, and pray, or converse with my cell mates.
There were no windows in the prison wing. For someone accustomed to being out of doors, I experienced a longing for some fresh air and a view of God’s creation. Yet, in a myriad of ways the grace of God was present in my life. I knew Yahweh’s fellowship. I was not alone.
People of God, we are not assured that in entrusting our lives to the Father’s hands, looking to Him alone as our defender, that we will receive just treatment in this world. Indeed, the Bible reveals that ALL those who live righteously will suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). What does it mean to live righteously? Is it not to follow in the steps of Christ who is the Sun of Righteousness? When we follow in His steps, being silent before our accusers, we will experience suffering. Yet, God will use all of it for our good. It finds favor with God when we bear up patiently under such things.
If we are to walk through these days as overcomers we must adopt a mindset that is foreign to the natural man. We must seek to please the Father. It is the Father’s will that we suffer many things. We will find ourselves opposing His desire if our focus is to seek to deliver ourselves from all suffering. Yahweh would have us to demonstrate the attitude observed in the three Hebrew men who stood before the king of Babylon.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
These three men knew God had the power to deliver them, but they did not know with certainty if it was His will to keep them from harm. I know that God could deliver me from further time in jail. He has all power and all authority. He graciously told me the last time I went before the courts that it was His will for me to experience jail like unto the experience of Joseph the son of Jacob. His grace was sufficient.
God does not always tell His people what the outcome will be of their entrusting their lives to Him. There have been many martyrs through the years whose lives were given freely as they entrusted their lives to Yahweh. Many of the saints of God have lost all their possessions. Others have been imprisoned.
But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
Our Father has not altered the manner in which He perfects His sons and daughters. Such experiences are still be to endured today, even by the disciples of Christ who live in countries that many suppose to be Christian nations. How does a disciple in America “joyfully accept the plundering of your goods”? One way is when being divorced, or brought before the courts, to not follow the pattern of this world. Do not hire a lawyer. Do not mount a defense of self, or attacks against another. Walk in the pattern of Christ. While being reviled, return a blessing. Utter no threats. Pray for those who persecute you. Entrust yourself to the One who judges righteously.
This last statement is a very critical one. I have found that when a Christian takes up their own defense, they inevitably fail to press into the Father’s presence as they ought. They put their time and effort where their trust is. If they have chosen to defend self, then their focus is drawn to their efforts, or their lawyer’s actions, to deliver them. Their mind becomes consumed with their own efforts to bring forth the desired outcome. Often these thoughts are accompanied with great torment, and an absence of peace.
If the Christian has cast their life into the hands of God, then they will spend much time in the presence of God. He will truly become to them a refuge, a sanctuary, and a place of peace.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Many of the people of God are being brought into experiences where they must choose to entrust their life to God, or seek through their own efforts to deliver themselves. Christ is our pattern. All grace will be made available to the one who casts his life into the Father’s hands. If you have not yet experienced such things, your opportunity will arise. Consider the following words of Christ.
Then the Lord said, "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
The context of these words is Yahshua’s parable of the widow and the unjust judge. The widow kept coming before the judge, asking for his protection. Finally the judge yielded due to her persistence. Christ used this to illustrate the manner in which we should continually press into the presence of God our Father. Yahweh will render a righteous judgment. He will not delay, but will avenge His elect speedily.
Note carefully the closing words of this passage. Yahshua asks, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Will there be anyone who is entrusting their life to Yahweh in these last days? Will the saints be petitioning God, or making their petitions before the courts of man? Will the people of God be leaning wholly on the Father, or leaning on the arm of the flesh?
I do have a petition to present. I do have words that I wish to be heard, but not here on earth, nor before an audience of fallen men. There is a Judge that I will present my case before. He sits enthroned in the heavens. To Him will I raise my voice. To Him I will entrust my life.
May Yahweh be glorified by many sons and daughters who demonstrate the faith and obedience of Christ as they too choose to entrust their lives into His hands.
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