Janet Weaver Smith ©4-27-2016 – gardenministries.org
In Acts 5, we read how the Apostles are carriers and prophetic administrators of God’s divine power in unprecedented levels. Peter walks across town and his shadow falls upon people and they are healed and delivered (5:15). Greedy believers named Ananias and Sapphira, pretending to be generous but lie to the Holy Spirit are confronted with the truth behind their heart motives and fall over dead. Yikes! This level of God-power sparks intense jealousy within the Jewish religious leaders and they arrest and imprison Peter and the rest of the Apostles (5:17-18).
In John 18:10 we learned that back in the day, Peter packed heat! He carried a sword and when he and his Lord were threatened with arrest, feisty Peter whacked a guy’s ear off! Jesus later tells Pilate that “His guys” were well able to defend and protect Him if He called for it. John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
From these scriptures we learn that even before the Apostles were so greatly empowered to do miracles, they were fighters. Peter was always defending himself, making grand and noble claims about himself. He even tried to correct the Lord from time to time. With so much spiritual chutzpa (prounounced: “hoot-spa”) at their disposal, why did the Apostles even let themselves get arrested and imprisoned? That leads us exactly to the point of this article. God is preparing a bridal vessel to walk in great authority and power and humility. This vessel must not misuse such power and authority and must love sacrificially and be Lamb-like in her nature.
The Apostles had been forewarned by Jesus that these kinds of tough situations would occur, and just like Him, they were never to “take things in their own hands” and protect themselves with natural means but were to submit their every move to the Holy Spirit’s leading and let Him direct their paths. This is the Way of Love and why it is critical for anyone who aspires to walk in complete union with Jesus Christ to learn how to process the pain of His training into greater love and submission to Jesus’ leading. We are being cleansed of our knee-jerk self-protective defensive reactions.
The Apostles had processed their love relationship with Jesus so thoroughly that they did not take matters into their own hands and resist imprisonment but complied with the arrest and waited in jail for the angel to release them. From there, the Apostles followed the angel’s direction which ironically put them all right back into a position of being arrested again. This time, not only were they arrested, they were flogged! And get this: they left rejoicing that they had been flogged for the sake of Jesus! What the….? Who does that?
Acts 5:40-42 [the religious leaders] called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
When asked what the sign of His coming and the end of the age would look like, Jesus has also forewarned us, the last day’s apostolic generation, to expect the same treatment and to handle the power and glory of our supernatural God in the same humble manner that He and His first church age Apostle’s handled the Holy Spirit’s power. Matthew 24: 9-10 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, If we don’t know how to process the pain of betrayal and hardship and persecution without retaliation or self-protective defiance, we will not be entrusted with the power of God to deliver, heal, and restore.
This gives us a foundational understanding of why God allows pain to come our way. When processed toward the end of knowing Jesus more intimately, the hardship of pain plays a significant role in driving us to Jesus to be delivered from our self-centered, self-serving, self-protective, knee-jerk reactions to injustice. Through the empowered Word of God, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to process pain toward the humility of reverent submission which prepares us to host and administrate the great power of God at all times and in all situations from a purified heart of the sacrificial love of the Lamb. Our hearts have become purified through the painful corrections of God’s discipline and the comfort of His healing in order that we will not turn to or rely on anything in ourselves, apart from the Holy Spirit. We have learned to completely depend on Him in all things.
Faith is the resulting fruit of the human being’s process of becoming fully persuaded that God is truly Who He says He is and that He extravagantly and completely loves each and every human being—enough to send Himself as the Son to die and now ever lives to intercede for us to become fully persuaded in faith.
The environment in which we learn faith—especially great faith—is an environment of pain and hardship.
Hebrews 11:5-6 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
All human “love” is based in fallen human nature with its source being the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. All human generated affection or love has its limit and will eventually completely fail and betray us. It’s good to come to the end of trusting in human love as an answer to the holes in our hearts.
Only God’s love never fails. When God loves us through another human, it is because that person is putting Jesus in the place of First Love priority, is receiving God’s chastening love and comforting affection, and is becoming a trustworthy vessel that the love of God pours through.
We know that God’s love is pouring through us because our process of becoming inwardly persuaded that God extravagantly loves us—even when every circumstance seems to contradict this truth. The fruit of being heavenly minded is manifesting in an ever-increasing faith and trust in God. We have more hope then ever that He will deliver on His promises to heal, deliver, and transform us to become just like Him.
Hebrews 12:5-7 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
When God comes in answer to His BIG promise, and the supernatural of God breaks through and fills a lovesick bridal vessel, the distinct hallmark that differentiates the empowered bride of Jesus Christ from the empowered bride of satan is how Christ’s followers love one another. John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The Love of God means everything.
Malachi 3:1-2 describes the intensity of God’s coming in the last days. In His mercy, God has sent His Spirit through the spirit and power of Elijah-like vessels to help prepare our hearts to receive His purifying Presence. Without this preparation of Love, the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord would overwhelmingly terrify us. It is His love that stabilizes our hearts and helps us stand in His Presence. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them and no one can come to the Father except through Jesus. (John 14:6 and John 6:44). When I ask the Father to draw me closer, He will answer my prayer. And because He is an all-consuming fire and launderers soap, I can expect things in my life to heat up because He is leading me into situations where my human love cannot hold me.
Only God can bring us to the brink of ourselves and offer us a breaking point, which carries us into a ChoicePoint opportunity. ChoicePoints come when we reach the end of ourselves in a matter and must now choose whether we will admit that we have nothing left to give to solve our problem. Upon admitting this, we also then choose to turn to Jesus and ask Him to fill us with His divine love for that person and situation instead of trying to escape it. We confess that we are tempted to run away, isolate, stay mean and angry, fearful, or controlling and ask God to deliver us into His way through the pain.
At this ChoicePoint juncture, we pray: “God. I can see that I do not yet fully trust you in this area. Please forgive me and cleanse me of my fight-or-flight anger, meanness, fear, self-defending, self-centered heart responses. I want to love myself and other people beyond the weaknesses and infuriating compulsions and I have no power to love like that. Only You can love me and other people like that and I need Your love to replace my self-centered, human love. Please do this in my heart. Fill me with Your love. I ask this in Jesus Name.”
Until we reach a breaking point, receive the clear Spirit of conviction Who has graciously provided a ChoicePoint, we need God’s loving discipline (i.e., the pain of hardship) to work on us and create a need and desire for change, while leading us to the end of our own strength and ability to exert any more human love. The road toward brokenness and humility is longer for stronger people and ironically, most of God’s leaders are really, really strong people. There is productive pain that creates maturity. There is unproductive pain that keeps us immature. Either way, all humans will have pain. We might as well seek the productive route.
The following is an excerpt from my article entitled, “Entering Into, Receiving, and Delivering the Glory of God The Process of Brokenness and Humility” Janet Weaver Smith 1-8-2012 – ©gardenministries.org
THE PATH TO ENTERING INTO THE GLORY IS VIA HUMILITY: Brokenness Precedes Revelation.
The yielding process between God and us occurs in our daily circumstances. God deliberately engages us through daily opportunities that lead us into a state of brokenness—or not. In his faithfulness to our hearts and to his promises, and within the context of the assignments we have accepted from him, God brings us opportunities to grow—or not. These opportunities purposely exert greater pressure than our self-will can withstand (usually incubated within a “too-much-with-too-little” environment). This pressure creates a continual need to choose greater dependence on God OR greater independence from God. I will continually get to the point where the end of me hits and a series of choices will be presented to continue my assignment and grow in love—or not.
END OF ME SYMPTOMS (symptoms usually hit within the context of circumstances surrounding our various life assignments)
Note: Be Encouraged when “End of Me Symptoms” occur. The Breaking point and ChoicePoint opportunity is near. Ask God to release the Spirit of Conviction and Repentance.
Phase 1: venting stage: “self” feels emotional explosions and/or implosions (which are not wrong) “I can’t do this anymore!” – “I’ve had it!” – “I’m so sick of this!” – “That’s it!” – “I can’t take it anymore!” – “Fill in your own words here _____!”
Phase 2: venting stage: emotional explosion causes “self” to seek self-solution to problem (still not wrong) “I can’t take it anymore, so I won’t. I quit!” – “I’m not understood and never will be, I’m leaving!” “What’s the use, I don’t seem to fit in here anyway, I’m going to find someplace where I do.” “What’s wrong with me?” – “What’s wrong with these people?” – “Fill in your own words here___”
Phase 3: Decision-making stage. I either turn to God and seek His clear answers and wait for Him to speak and lead me into my next steps or I turn to and act on my Phase 2 self-solutions. There is no neutral here. A ChoicePoint has come and I either seek out and follow the Holy Spirit or I seek my own religious-looking, self-centered solution that do not produce lasting fruit or transform me.