Just before moving to our home in Montezuma a thought came to me one day, that I rejected as being from the Father. The thought was that God would not release His provision for us in our new home until I had shared the gospel of Christ with my neighbor who lived across the street. My neighbor was a divorced man, close to my own age, who lived alone, though from time to time his two children would come and spend time with him. I had spoken to this man on a number of occasions when we would meet outside, but I had never spoken to Him about the Lord, or about his soul.
Not all saints are given the ministry of an evangelist, but all are called to evangelize. A parallel truth is that not all saints are called to the ministry of a prophet, but Paul says “All can prophesy.” I had never considered evangelism to be my ministry gift, and whereas I speak to people about the Lord nearly every day, most of them are professing believers. I knew in my heart that part of my lack of evangelistic effort was a result of a deep, ingrained fear in my life. It was a fear of man that was unhealthy, and which had been keeping me in bonds in certain areas of my life. Yahshua came to set the captives free, and He desires that we be free in every area of our life.
I convinced myself that the thought which had come to mind regarding speaking to my neighbor was not from God, but that if I saw a golden opportunity before I moved I would speak to him. My neighbor was a very congenial person, and not one that people would consider gruff or intimidating. I never found a time to speak to my neighbor before we moved, though this was largely due to the fact that I was not looking very hard.
I had received a financial gift from a brother in New Zealand on April 23rd, and this was the last support I would receive for an entire two months and two days. (Again we see 22 in this, and the Father was using this lack of provision in a profound way to remove some flesh from my life.) I had paid a month’s rent when we moved to Montezuma, this being for the month of May, and as June approached I began to get nervous for no support had come in.
I had received a refund from the state of Georgia soon after moving, but the money went quickly with the cost of moving, paying utility bills up to date, purchasing clothes and other essentials for our family which had been pending for some time, and also giving some of the money away as the Spirit directed. When June arrived I had no money for rent and the anxiety this produced in my soul was greater than any other time I could remember. In a parallel to the spiritual buffeting I was experiencing inside, the weather continued to be stormy, and, in particular, very windy on a nearly continual basis. My anxiety had begun to build during the last week of May, and when June came with no provision in hand the storms were at gale force in my soul.
I continued to struggle to stand in faith and to look to the Father for His provision for us, and some days the battle would rage the entire day. Fears of angry landlords, and anxiety over being reproached for not paying my bills in a timely manner weighed upon me. The thought of being evicted terrorized me beyond all sound reason. I did not know why these fears were so strong in my life at this time, for they had never been before.
On June 2nd I had been experiencing a demonic buffeting all day long as fears and anxieties were coming against me. In a direct correlation the wind blew hard all the day and I could see out in the yard the trees bent over against the assault. The wind outside was so ferocious and unrelenting that the trees rarely straightened up the entire day. This was a perfect mirror of the buffeting I was receiving. By the evening I was so exhausted from the fight that when I prayed to God for relief the tears began to flow and I begged for His mercy and deliverance. I knew that He had me in a place of tremendous sifting, and I felt I could not bear anymore.
I sent out an e-mail in the evening to the Heart4God list, and I asked for the saints to pray for me. The response was immediate as within fifteen minutes I felt the storm in my soul abating, and I received an inpouring of e-mails from saints who said they were praying for me. I believe the number of people who responded with an e-mail to this one mailing was greater than anything I had previously written and sent forth. What a tremendous mercy this was.
When I had prayed that evening, the thought came to me once more that I had not spoken to my former neighbor about his relationship to God, but I once more put the thought away, not wanting to believe that it had anything to do with my trials. Yet the next day as I was listening to the Lord He spoke it to me again. He said that He wanted me to speak to my neighbor about his soul and that He would not release our provision until this had been done. I wanted to convince myself that this was the voice of Satan seeking to torment and confuse me, but I really could not imagine Satan telling me that I was to witness to my neighbor.
What finally persuaded me was the realization that it was a fear of man that had kept me from speaking to my neighbor, and I knew that Yahweh did not want His children to be enslaved to any fears. I considered that, whether God was telling me to speak to this man, or not, I could not do wrong by facing this fear and refusing to be cowed by it. I could only err by continuing to be ruled by fear.
I gathered my family together and I shared with them what I was now convinced the Father had been speaking to me. I shared how I had allowed a fear of man to go uncontested in my life, and that I had failed to speak to our neighbor when the Spirit had prompted me to do so. I asked them to pray for me as I was going out right at that moment to drive the 30 miles to where our neighbor lived, and I was going to fulfill that which God required of me. My wife and children prayed for me, and I then got in the car and drove in complete peace over to this man’s house. I knew he would be home, and he was, and he invited me in and we spent about an hour and a half speaking about his relationship to the Lord.
I felt something significant had occurred in this, and that I had broken free from some chains that had long been binding me. The torment from this particular stronghold had been shattered. However, there was another fear that the Father also desired to loose me from before His sifting would be complete.
The Father showed me that I had also been fearful of bearing reproach in the name of Christ. Fears of my landlords thinking that I was an infidel, or reprobate, or a sorry fellow for not holding a wage earning job were buffeting me. Then there was the church and our extended family. They had heard me profess that the Father had called me to trust Him for our finances, and how could I defend myself if the Father chose to delay in manifesting His provision? Who would believe that I was truly walking in the will of God? Would not all men number me among the transgressors?
It wasn’t that such reproaches were new to me, for I had experienced a great number of them before. Yet I had never come to a place of being content with the reproaches I received. They had always galled me, and left me with gaping wounds that were slow to heal. As the Spirit spoke to me He began to bring me understanding that it was His will that we willingly bear reproaches in our obedience before God, and that the Father would intentionally bring us to situations in which we had no possibility of defending ourselves. He intentionally orchestrated events, and our particular reproaches, where no one would believe us if we attempted to persuade them. He opened my eyes to see that He had brought one after another of His chosen vessels to this same place.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, was accused of being an attempted rapist, and, as a slave and a foreigner, no person would believe his word over the word of one of Pharaoh’s officials and his wife. What a reproach this young man bore, and it was God’s will that he bear it. Mary, the mother of Yahshua, was thought to be an adulteress, and people thought her Son was the product of adultery. How could Yahshua defend Himself? Who would believe that His Father was God and not a man. No man had ever been born previously aside from the intimate relations of a man and a woman, so who would believe that Yahshua was the first and only exception to this pattern? He had to bear this reproach, as well as the reproach of being a Sabbath breaker, a blasphemer, a Samaritan (illegitimate half-breed), and many other things.
The apostle Paul testified regarding reproaches:
II Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with reproaches, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
God challenged me at this time with the questions, “Will you be content to obey Me even if it leads to reproaches that you are unable to justify in the eyes of man? Will you be content with the knowledge that I know you are being obedient, though all men consider you a transgressor? Will you receive the reproach of your landlord, if it be My will, and bear it with contentment?” It took me some hours to be able to tell the Lord I was willing, but in the end I did. As I made the confession that I would be content to bear more reproach, the storm in my soul broke, for it was the fear and dread of reproach that was bringing torment, and when I chose to no longer avoid reproach the torment was broken. I confessed that I was willing to bear the reproach of my landlord, or any other, and I even began to seek an opportunity to meet my landlord so that I might see whether God had chosen further reproach for me, or not.
A few days later, now the middle of June, our landlord’s wife came over to do some work in her garden and I went out to speak to her. I told her that I did not have the money yet to pay her for the month’s rent, but that I was committed to doing so as soon as I was able. Her response was very gracious and without a hint of reproach. She said that she understood that there were times when things did not work out according to our expectation and that these were times when we had to have faith in God. What a marvelous attitude and expression of grace this was. When I went back in the house I thanked God for His mercy, and I told Him that though I was willing to bear reproach, it was a blessing that He had chosen to remove the reproach in this instance.
June 25th was a landmark day in many ways for us. It had now been two months and two days since we had received any financial support from any of the saints, and this was quite unusual for us. Though I do not solicit funds, nor do I normally make my personal needs known to the saints, the Spirit regularly leads various ones from all over the world to send us financial gifts at very appropriate times. To go for two months and two days without any such gifts being received represented a very real drought for us. Our rent was now seriously in arrears. Our telephone bill was a few days past due, and our electric bill would be due before another week had passed.
When we come to extremities in our circumstance we can either begin to murmur and complain, or we can choose to worship God. I felt the Spirit leading me to worship the Father that morning, so I put on a very worshipful CD, and I quickly entered into a deep and profound worship. For about thirty minutes I worshiped the Father, and my whole being was moved. I felt a trembling inside and tears streamed down my face as I worshiped the Father for His awesome holiness, His faithfulness, His love and mercy. It was a very moving time and I knew I had been in the presence of the Father and that He had received my worship which had been offered in the midst of a great trial.
As the CD ended there was a knock at the door and I found that it was my landlord. I went outside to speak to him, and I could tell that he was a bit nervous about what he had to say. He began with, “I really hate to tell you what I have to tell you,” and then he proceeded to tell me that one of his sons who had moved out of state with his wife and child had found that things were not working out for them as he had anticipated, and they were going to move back home and would need to live in the home we were now occupying. This man told me that he had not anticipated having to ask us to move until his next son got married, but this had come up unexpectedly. He hated to ask me to move out so soon after we had moved in, and as some compensation they wanted to offer us our last month’s rent free, if we could be out in two weeks time.
I saw in this that God had ordered our steps to manifest a provision for us in receiving a free month’s rent, and also giving our landlord’s a way to save face and act graciously in this unexpected turn of events. Our landlord was being very humble and gracious, and I did my best to reassure him that I was in no way upset with his request, and we would begin praying immediately for the Lord to show us where we were to move.
While he was speaking he also mentioned that they did not know that we had dogs when we moved in, and they had not asked, and we had not told them. He said they would never have said anything about the dogs once we moved in, but it was really their desire to not have dogs in the house. These words brought back to remembrance my own omission of revealing this information, and it brought me understanding of what the Father was doing.
Over the next days the Father spoke to me through the history of Abram and Sarai, when on two occasions Abram went into a foreign country (Egypt and Gerar) and he asked Sarai to say that she was his sister. This was actually a true statement, for they had the same father, but different mothers. Technically, Abram and Sarai were not lying, but neither were they disclosing the entire truth. They were withholding the fact that they were married due to Abram’s fear that the men of the land would kill him in order to have Sarai for themselves, for she was very beautiful.
Abram, who was later to be called Abraham, is called the father of faith, yet his faith was something that he had to grow in. He had faith when he was younger, for he followed God to a land that he knew nothing about simply on a promise from God. Yet his faith needed perfecting. He stumbled in faith on several occasions, and these were two of them. Abram should have been able to trust God, and not be concerned about being killed. Yahweh had promised Abram that he would be a father of many nations, and Abram had not yet had born to him the child that was promised. He should have been able to trust God to take care of him in these foreign lands, yet fear was present in his life and he willingly omitted a key item of truth in order to “help” God preserve his life.
What a parallel these occasions in Abram’s life were to my own situation, for I had also omitted some information to help God out (not telling our landlord we had dogs), and in doing so I had revealed that my faith was not yet perfected. God, in His mercy, would now allow me to walk through the same situation again in order that I might walk perfectly this next time. In a great parallel to our previous move, we once more had two weeks to move, no money on hand, and no idea where we would move to.
When Yahweh revealed the purpose for having us go through this again, I felt no reproof from Him, but only His desire to see me perfected in faith. As I read the story of Abram’s two similar events, I also could find no hint of God reproving him in the matter. God simply continued to patiently mold Abram into Abraham the father of faith. When I understood the will and purpose of God in this matter, I gathered my family together and I confessed to them these things. I told them that the reason we were having to move again so soon was that I had not acted perfectly in the previous move, and God wanted to see all of His children perfected before Him. I confessed my error and we all committed to doing it right this next time.
I took comfort in the fact that Yahweh did not punish Abram materially when he stumbled in these matters, but that he actually was increased in goods in both instances. Though he did suffer embarrassment in being forcibly escorted out of Egypt, he went away with more than he arrived with. Knowing this, I had hope that God would not make us suffer some deprivation due to my error, such as sending us to live in some dilapidated hovel that was undesirably situated, trusting instead that He was merely looking to produce a correct attitude in me that He might bless us.
June 25th was a landmark day due to the fact that we learned that the Lord was going to move us again in two weeks, but it also stood out because we received a financial gift in the mail that day from a Christian sister in California. It had been two months and two days exactly since the last gift, and this was the capstone to God’s testimony that He was removing much flesh from my life. The amount we received was fifty dollars, and five is the number of grace, and fifty is the number of Jubilee where all the captives were set free, so this number was also very significant to us. An added testimony was that the sister had written the check out and dated it for the 23rd, and once more Yahweh was testifying to us that He was our shepherd and we would not want. We actually received more than fifty dollars on this day, for our landlord had told us our rent would be free for the month, and this was a financial provision as well.
As I spoke to my family of what the Father was doing, I shared with them how gracious and merciful the Father was being to us. Our landlord could have come over with great indignation because I had not told them about the dogs, and he could have been angry that I was behind on the rent. He could have rightfully demanded that we be out in two weeks and still pay the last month’s rent, yet none of these things occurred. We received great grace as the landlord was very humble and even apologetic, and he demonstrated much grace to us in giving us a free month’s rent. We serve a loving and merciful God.
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