Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Hearing Ear - Part 6

Joseph Herrin (08-11-2012)























Proverbs 20:12
The hearing ear and the seeing eye, Yahweh has made them both.

Let us suppose that a child of God has acknowledged the cost of Christian discipleship and they have accepted it. They have surrendered their life to be led of the Spirit wherever He would guide them, and to do whatever He would ask them to do. This same one has responded in obedience to the things Christ has commanded them to do. They have not shrank back from costly obedience, and have denied their own desires that they might do the will of Christ.

There will be times when such ones will find that Yahweh is silent in their lives. They may find themselves in some difficulty, or distress, they may be facing some decision that needs to be made quickly, yet despite all their prayers the heavens remain silent.

It is not uncommon for a Christian who is leading a surrendered life to find themselves in such a quandary. There are times when one will be pursuing fervently obedience to Christ and yet they find that everything seems to be falling apart around them. Their mind may be in perplexity, not understanding why things are occurring for they cannot identify any overt sin, their heart does not convict them of having gone astray in any matter of obedience.

Consider the plight of the disciples as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee at night in a boat and a tremendous storm arose. On this particular occasion Yahshua was with them in the boat, but He was sleeping. As they labored to cross the sea a fierce storm arose so that they feared they would be swamped, yet still Christ slept.

Have you had occasions in your life when some storm was brewing in your home, at your place of employment, in your health, your finances, or some other area, and it seemed God was sleeping? No matter how hard you labored to stay afloat in the midst of the storm it seemed as if you were all alone. You knew God was present, but He was doing nothing to deliver you. At such times Yahweh is testing our faith.

I can remember many occasions, following my surrender in 1999 to follow the Lord wherever He directed, when I was faced with a great trial of faith. I had a wife, and two children, and we were often in some peril. If God did not come through we would surely suffer harm, or loss. Yet Yahweh delayed.

I was very much a man of prayer in those days. I clung desperately to the hem of Christ’s garment. I would daily beseech Him to send forth deliverance, provision, or to give some added assurance of His direction for our lives. Yahshua was truly faithful, for He did not permit us to perish. However, He was not always timely according to my expectation. There were many times when He let our bills get behind.

I remember one day when an employee of the electric utility showed up to disconnect our power. I was three weeks late in paying the bill. Every day this matter weighed upon my mind and I sought the Father for His provision. I was working a part time job as a college instructor and I received a paycheck once a month. As days turned into weeks, I had no money to pay the bill and the Spirit restrained me from seeking additional employment. I prayed for God to intervene, to manifest His provision, or to keep the lights on by some means. Finally, there was only one more day until I would be paid and I thought Yahweh had spared us by causing the power company to overlook the fact that we were behind in payment. Yet, that very day a man showed up to cut off the power.

Not knowing what else to do, I walked outside to speak to the man. I explained that I would be paid the next day and would go immediately and pay the bill. I was shown grace as the man said that since he had never been to my house before for non-payment he would not turn the power off that day. The next day the bill was paid. All through this trial the Lord was silent. He spoke nothing to me. He sent no additional provision. He provided me no assurances that all would be okay.

Yet, as I considered my situation I knew that I was walking the path Yahweh had appointed to me. I had not deviated from His will. I had been careful in my expenditures, and daily I was seeking to walk in obedience to Him. I also knew that it was NOT His will that I announce to others that I had a need, and it was His Spirit that forbid me to seek additional work to earn more money.

Why would Yahweh reward my obedience with such trials and difficulties, for they were frequent and unrelenting? Added to my burden was the criticism of family, friends and even Christians who viewed my life and condemned me. They would urge me to follow common sense and go find a better job and earn more money. Yet, Yahweh had only temporarily granted me part-time employment. Soon He would require me to lay even this aside and to trust Him once more for all the needs of my family.

I often felt like I was hanging on a cross as those around me were hurling reproaches and insults. How I longed to come down off the cross. I knew I could choose to do so, but it would be an act of disobedience. It was a fear of God and a deep desire to not fall short of His will that kept me walking that path appointed to me. I also bore the burden of knowing that my actions and choices would affect my wife and children. I wanted to provide them an example of one who would endure suffering and not shrink back from the afflicted path. I feared lest my own disobedience in abandoning the afflicted path should lead to the same action in their lives. That was a burden of guilt I did not wish to bear.

Hebrews 10:36-39
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Yes, we have need of endurance. “For yet a little while” Yahweh will test us and try us. He may be silent as we endure many trials and face numerous decisions. If we know we are following the path He has appointed to us, then there is no need for Him to tell us again that this is the way. We should not expect that obedience will result in calm winds and smooth seas. Yahweh must perfect our faith and test our hearts to see if we will remain faithful to do that which He has commanded.

I thought much on these matters when this walk was new to me. I wanted to understand my way, and also to encourage others who were facing similar trials. During one particular season of waiting on God when many threats and pressures were weighing hard on me I wrote the following article.

Waiting, the Ultimate Test!
Joseph Herrin (6-5-2000)

This test has been the most excruciating of all. I have been tempted repeatedly to throw in the towel. At times, only a tremendous fear of missing the will of God and being disqualified to be a partaker of the things reserved for overcomers has kept me to the course. As one of God’s prophetesses has recently stated, “Only those who finish the course receive the prize. Don’t quit half way through the race.”

The test I am speaking of is waiting. I am now in the eighth month of waiting. The trial has been severe because God has selected a path for me that would bring me into opposition with all around me. Christian brothers and sisters have judged me to be in great disobedience. I have been characterized as arrogant and prideful and wicked. My own family has judged me to be deluded and some have even questioned whether or not I was ever truly saved.

Does this worry you? Do you wonder why so many would judge a Christian brother to be in such gross disobedience? Are you affected by the preponderance of negative opinion? Certainly so many could not be wrong, could they?

Consider Joshua and Caleb returning with 10 other spies to look over the land of their promised inheritance. The land was a veritable fortress. There were walled cities and warriors of great size in the land. Joshua and Caleb did not deny this. They believed, however, that their God was bigger than these obstacles and that the giants before them would simply become their prey.

Not so, the other 10 spies. They judged by appearance. They looked at themselves and were made weak. In their own strength they perceived that they would fail and their own strength was all they had. They had not learned how to exhibit confidence in an almighty God. The rest of Israel gave way to the same fears.

Some have estimated that Israel consisted of nearly 3 million people at this time. Joshua and Caleb stood against the opinion of 3 million of their brothers and sisters. What arrogance, what pride for these two to believe that they were right when so many said that they were dead wrong. In fact, those who said they were wrong wished them to be dead. It is recorded that they spoke of stoning them. I have been stoned with the rocks of accusation and insult. It hurts. Some of the bruises don’t go away very quickly. Some are deep bruises.

Consider David when he was yet a youth. He is sent to the site of battle to carry food to his brothers and to bring back news of their welfare to his father. He finds all of the army of Israel hiding behind rocks as the champion of the Philistines comes out daily to challenge and taunt them. David hears that King Saul has offered a reward to any Israelite warrior who will challenge Goliath and slay him. He even has offered one of his daughters as part of the reward. David hears of this and is incredulous.

David is not intimidated. He hears the taunt of Goliath and is filled with indignation. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who defies the armies of the LIVING GOD?” David cannot believe that such a reward has been offered to kill him. This idolater has defied the true God. His protection has been removed. He will become a prey to a warrior of the true and living God.

David’s oldest brother Eliab overhears David as he talks to the soldiers about the reward offered to kill Goliath. David’s words are bold and Eliab becomes angry. Eliab felt justified to hide behind the rocks every day. Goliath is huge. David’s fearless words sting and Eliab begins to accuse David of evil.

1 Samuel 17:28
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle."

After all, who did David think he was. The entire army of Israel was cowed before Goliath. David was surely just exhibiting arrogance and pride. He was deluded to think that he could slay Goliath. He was but a youth. The opinion of all Israel was against him. Why did he think he was right?

No, being in the minority doesn’t mean you are in the right, but being in the majority doesn’t either. One must look at the issues involved. One must see what emotions and physical and spiritual forces are shaping opinion. Fear and a desire for self-preservation were very evident in the majority in both cases mentioned. Courage and confidence in God was present in the minority.

What do you suppose the percentages are today? Do the majority of Christians express confidence in God? Are they stepping courageously out in faith, entrusting themselves to an almighty and loving God? No, most are rather choosing to play it safe. They are given to pursuing the “prudent” path. What then do you suppose their response will be to a brother or sister who wants to face the giant?

It is hard, however, to face such opposition from brothers and sisters and family over a prolonged period of time. It wears at one. It is easy to give into despair when you have taken a stand that requires courage and confidence and then God delays in bringing about your vindication. Even Abraham had difficulty in waiting. At times it seems that desperation assails you. It is best not to make decisions in these moments. Stand firm. Wait. The answer is coming.
   
Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me the strength to endure the test. Give me the fortitude to finish the race. Though I stumble, give me the courage and resolve to get up again and return to the race. Consider my frame, that I am but dust. However, I desire to be courageous dust. I desire to be bold dust. I desire to be dust that brings glory to You. Breathe Your breath upon me and cause me to stand. Cause your resurrection life to renew me and bring forth fresh vitality. My eyes are upon You, Father. You are my shield and my buckler. You are my strong tower and my fortress. Cover me over with the pinions of your wings. Hide me from the power of the evil one. Do not let my enemies triumph over me. My eyes are on You. My eyes are on You. Lift up my head once more and set my feet upon the solid Rock.
Amen
[End Article]

During this same season of testing I published yet another article based upon the lessons the Father was teaching me.

The Untimeliness of God
Joseph Herrin (6-7-2000)

It has been prophesied by some in recent days that the Father is preparing a group of His children to be able to walk in tremendous callings in the days ahead. This group will be a type of firstfruits. It was common in the land of Judah and Israel for the people to plant an early crop of barley, only to plow it under when it began to reach maturity. This sacrificial crop enriched the soil, preparing the way for an even greater wheat harvest which would follow.

I believe the group God is raising up at this time corresponds to the barley crop. God will use them to prepare the way for a tremendous wheat harvest which will follow. As ministers of God, they will devote themselves to the Lord’s purposes in them of ushering in the great last days harvest and in bringing forth beauty in the Bride of Christ.

Part of the preparation of this group is removing all religious thought and reasoning from them. These false thoughts born of man’s reasoning and fleshly desire will be replaced with the true knowledge of God. One particular tenet of religious thought that the Father is revealing in my life, and I believe in the lives of many others, is that God’s will can be recognized by timeliness and sufficiency of His provision. We are taught that if God’s provision for us comes through for us in a timely manner, then it is proof of His will. If His provision tarries past some immovable physical deadline, it is proof that He would have the need met in some other fashion.

My particular crucible of testing involves trusting God for financial resources. Nearly eight months ago God told me to leave my job as a PC Coordinator with a local hospital. He indicated at the time that He would take me into a new realm of ministry involving writing, speaking and whatever else He would bring to me. God confirmed this direction in my life many times over. It was a tremendous step of faith for me, so I asked Him to confirm His will many times. This He very graciously did. After a point, though, He quit reassuring me and left me to exercise faith in the path He had set before me.

During this time I have had no regular financial support. I am not a paid staff member of any church. Being 39 years old, I am much too young to collect retirement. To add to the trial, I am married and have two children, ages 10 and 12, who rely upon my provision for them. My wife does not work outside the home, rather she finds her employment in home schooling our children and fulfilling the other responsibilities of being a wife and a mother.

As I said, it was eight months ago that I left my job at the Father’s leading, and during this time we have not lacked for food, clothing, transportation, shelter, or any other basic need of life. However, God’s provision has not always been timely. On occasion my home mortgage and other bills have been in serious arrears before God’s provision was manifested. At one point my mortgage payment was 3 months delinquent and I received a notice of pending foreclosure proceedings before God’s provision was manifested.

The testimony of nearly one and all, both within the church and without, is that if God had truly led me to walk as I am, His provision would be both timely and amply sufficient. Indeed, many of the churches I have been in have taught that one of the primary ways to discern God’s will in the life of the believer is to see if His provision is manifested in a timely and sufficient manner. Is this religious thinking, or does it reflect the true knowledge of God and His dealings with mankind?

It would certainly be nice if this were true. It would mean that those who are walking in obedience to God will never know lack, nor will they ever have to wait an undue amount of time to see God fulfill His word to them. Unfortunately, for those who wish this to be true, the Bible reveals that this is not the case.

One of the clearest examples in scripture is Abraham. God gave him a promise of a son. Abraham waited and waited. He knew at some point that he would pass a line of physical possibility. At some point his body would grow old and no longer be capable of reproduction. Abraham and Sarah waited as long as they could. The deadline was at hand. Sarah, being the dutiful wife, finally suggested that Abraham do something she really wished he would never have to do. Sarah was cutting her own throat. She was suggesting that her husband have a child by another woman. Physically, she could see no other way. Isn’t God a timely God? Wouldn’t He fulfill His promise to her husband while he was still capable of having children? This must be the only way.

Of course we know the story. Abraham listened to Sarah and had a child by her handmaiden. God then appeared to Abraham again and told him that this child was not the promised one. Whoops! If this wasn’t the promised one, where would he arise from. Abraham was now past the point of having children, and so was Sarah.

Romans 4:19
And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb...

God was very untimely (according to man’s expectation) in fulfilling His promise to Abraham and Sarah. Something must have clicked in Abraham’s thinking at this time. He realized he and Sarah were too old to have children, but God was still saying they would. God must not have been limited to perform His word within a time frame of physical possibility. It must have occurred to Abraham that God’s word can be accomplished past what we would consider a point of no return.

This sort of messes up the nice religious theory that God’s will can be recognized by its timeliness. The scriptures also show that God’s will cannot be recognized by its sufficiency. Paul said:

Philippians 4:10-12
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

Paul said that he at times knew humble or lean times. He experienced going hungry and suffering need. Those who support the theory that provision indicates whether one is in God’s will would have to conclude that Paul was outside of the will of God. “Why Paul, don’t you know that if you were really doing what God called you to do that God’s provision would be present in your life?”

Those who preach a prosperity gospel have somehow overlooked much of the testimony of scripture. We don’t like to wait upon God. We don’t like to think that at some point we might endure lack or hunger. It is easier on our flesh to teach that God will always bless us with an on-time abundance of the things we need. By teaching this we are justified to go out and obtain what we need after our own fashion when we perceive that God hasn’t met our need, or satisfied our longing, to the degree, or with the expedience we expected.

We may ask, “What could it hurt to try to help God out some if we perceive a real need and God’s provision is absent?” The account of King Saul’s failure to wait for God’s provision should provide us reason to hesitate to “help God out.” The story of King Saul’s failure to wait upon God is familiar to most saints. I have heard it frequently taught on. I think most saints are much too hard on Saul. I know few who would not cave in to the same pressure.

Saul’s son Jonathan had just gone and raided a Philistine garrison and had achieved a decent victory. This angered the Philistines. They called their whole army together. There numbers were tremendous.  “Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance...” (I Samuel 13:5).

How many people did Saul have. We are told that there were 2,000 men with Saul and 1,000 with Jonathan. King Saul was vastly outnumbered. The people with him saw this and it is said that those following him “trembled.” They were scared to death. Things then began to deteriorate. Saul’s army began to slip off and disappear.

1 Samuel 13:6-7
When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.

Now, it is bad enough to be outnumbered and to have the numbers get worse and worse (it got to the point that Saul only had 600 men left, 4 out of 5 of his soldiers deserted), but to have the ones who remained “quaking with fear” made it even worse. Who was there to encourage and embolden Saul? Who was there to tell him to stand fast and trust in the Lord? Few of God’s saints today have ever been put in such dire straits.

Saul rightly knew that only God could deliver Israel in such a situation. It was customary to entreat the Lord’s favor before entering a battle. The king, however, was not to offer the burnt offering. It was pre-arranged that the prophet Samuel would show up and make the offering and entreat the Lord’s favor. Saul waited seven days, the days agreed upon for Samuel to arrive. When Samuel didn’t show up on time, Saul could endure the wait no longer.

It must be said that it was a tremendous test for Saul to wait even seven days. Each day he received reports of more Philistines gathering and more of his army fleeing. Saul was surrounded by terrified men. A seven day wait had to have been agonizing, but Saul waited these seven days. However, Saul had a point past which he could wait no longer. His endurance had limits to it.

I Samuel 13:11-12
Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."

In actuality, Saul seems to have done the prudent thing. Certainly, he felt justified in his own eyes. Things started out bad and they were falling apart. In very little time Saul anticipated having no men left at all. The Philistines could come against him at any moment. In offering up the burnt offering he was seeking the Lord’s favor. There was only one thing wrong, Saul was not permitted to perform the sacrifice.

It is apparent here that in God’s sight, the end does not justify the means. Samuel told Saul,

I Samuel 13:13-14
"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."

It is interesting to note that if Samuel had shown up at the appointed time that Saul would have appeared to be the most godly of men. He had faithfully waited seven days under the most trying conditions when all were deserting him. How many of us appear godly when God is on time? How many of us look like heroes when God meets us according to our expectation? But what if God’s answer is delayed; what will be revealed to be in our heart? Will we also feel “compelled” to do that which we know in our heart is wrong? Selah.

Prayer:
Father, give your servants the strength and confidence in you to wait upon your provision. Keep us from presumption. Father, protect us from the terror that comes upon us suddenly. May we not be moved, but may we find peace attending our way as we fix our eyes upon you.

Father, instruct us that we might acquire the same peace that Your Son had, sleeping in the bow of the boat while the storm raged and others’ hearts were filled with fear. As the popular song of one of your handmaidens says, “You have been my Lord and Savior; won’t you be my Prince of Peace.”

Father, we ask for your peace that we might persevere in the storms and trials of life. Out of our confidence in You, may we be preserved in the day of testing.
Amen
[End Article]

Brothers and sisters, there are times when our spiritual hearing is functioning quite well, but God is not answering our urgent pleas and petitions. Yet, if we will quiet our souls, in the silence we will learn much. Yahweh will instruct us in His ways and we will come to discern the purpose of our trials.

There are times when Yahweh does not speak to us when matters are urgent. This is often for the perfecting of our faith. Do not permit yourself to be driven into some hasty action by the pressures exerted upon your soul. Do not choose a course different from that which Yahweh has set you on. In a little while He will come. We need not be upbraided as Peter was when his faith fled away as he looked at the wind and the waves about him.

Matthew 14:31
"You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Our faith is precious to the Father and He will surely try it. In the silence let us stand firm in faith and not shrink back.


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

1 comment:

no debt said...

I am encouraged by this post. I am in the active process of coming to the end of my Self. I am not at liberty to share all the details of how I have been wounded and abandoned by family and friends, though the Lord has provided at least two who have been used to help me provide the needs to sustain my life as I live in my car. I pray that I will be given grace not to shrink back from what I have prayed for. Thank you Joseph for sharing the grace of our God and Father has given you. I know He is faithful, I am not so in my flesh. I cannot complete my course nor executed His calling for me unless I am crucified with Him daily and He live in and through me.

By His grace and Spirit there go I

John