Janet Smith – 11-4-19 ©gardenministries.org
We are in God’s birthing picture. Jesus called it the beginning of birth pangs, John describes a pregnant woman crying out in the pain of travail, and Paul called it “groaning.” The pain of birthing culminates in new life. We have to remember this. A new life is coming.
God has made some spectacular promises, the greatest being His coming to dwell with us. He is moving us toward Himself and the fulfillment of these promises with increasing pressure and momentum. Assuming we all want to stay with Him to the end and to the point of all this, we can look at what to do now that will help facilitate the birthing process.
What is God’s will for us during this stage of God’s birthing picture?
Hebrews 10:36: For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
How does endurance accomplish God’s will and position us to receive His promises?
Endurance weeds out the riff-raff. The 5 foolish virgins were shortsighted because they relied on earthly wisdom. They didn’t set their minds on heaven’s perspective so they could not prepare for the enduring aspect of waiting for the bridegroom. The proof is this: they didn’t pay the price to get the oil they actually needed. The 5 wise virgins accessed the wisdom that comes down from above and because of this, they were ready with proper supplies to meet the Bridegroom when He came.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The Glory is a Person
Without endurance, we won’t have the character needed to house His glory. We have never experienced the Haggai 2 “glory of the latter house.” No one has. This is reserved for the last days and has a special preparation process that others may not have had to go through.
The point is, we cannot know how to properly prepare based on natural wisdom and means. We need the supernatural revelation that only comes through an intimate, daily pursuit of knowing Jesus as Romans 12:1-2 describes. To stand at the door ready for His knock, we need Him. To hear Him knock, we need Him. To open the door and welcome Him in, we need Him. Waiting on Him now is how we find Him and access His heavenly wisdom.
Patiently waiting while seemingly nothing is happening is a part of the cost of accessing the glory. The glory is a Person. It is the invisible God making Himself tangibly Present through the manifestation of His transformative essence. The glory is different than the anointing. It is far more weighty and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord comes before it.
This is the beginning of the heavenly wisdom that comes down from above. It is a whole new ball game. If we don’t let God prepare us, we will not be able to stand and minister and thrive in the glory. We will be crushed by the sheer weight of He who is present in His manifest power.
Thus, our hearts are being purified now as we wait on God. We wait because He said so—period. We wait because it is important to Him—period. We wait because He is doing something in our hearts that we can’t yet see the fruit of. Bob Jones once said, “Waiting on God is not a waste of time.” Do we believe this?
Times of patient endurance reveal whether or not we will turn away from God and look to anything or anyone else, including ourselves, to get what we want. Anything we substitute for God is idolatry. Idolatry is one of the main reasons there is a veil of separation cast between heaven and earth. But every time we refuse to seek a substitute for Jesus, we are causing that veil to thin and heaven to draw nearer.
2 Corinthians 3:16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
The time of patient endurance reveals whether or not we will wait for God to come and fulfill His promises in His appointed time or if we will try to take matters into our own hands and self-justify getting ourselves out of the painful circumstances God has purposely placed us in while we wait.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Even though Jesus could have summoned thousands of angels to rescue Him from His painful trials, He never took matters into his own hands—not even when it looked like the Father had forsaken Him.
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
All the way into death itself, Jesus never turned to Self. He did not love His own life outside the Father’s perfect will but always entrusted Himself to the Father to take care of Him and accomplish His promises.
Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Faith that produces godly character requires perseverance. This kind of character brings the hope that God’s love will be poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We may even get to the point where we can exult in our tribulations. Why? Because we see Jesus, the Hope of glory in them.
Romans 5:2b-5 we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Only God knows when our enduring process has accomplished His will. That’s why He asks us to follow Jesus’ example and not love our lives unto death, i.e., seek to save our lives from pain and suffering. If we think there is a point before death when our enduring process should end, then we may be tempted to take matters into our own hands and prematurely end the enduring process and miss the fulfillment of God’s promise. The point is, we don’t know when we’re ready. Only God can read the heart and know this. Abraham even had to be willing to die to his fulfilled promise in Isaac.
Endurance Breaks Idolatrous Bondages
Overcomers know how to patiently endure. Overcoming the spirit of the world—especially in the form of the love of money—are big steps in the maturing process and these steps can take time. Jesus actually spoke more about money than He spoke about the kingdom of heaven. James 5 leads all believers into the subject of endurance but first warns the rich not to use their wealth to avoid hardship and thereby miss the blessings that come to those who do endure (James 5:11). You may not think you are rich but as Americans who are Christians, compared to most of the rest of the world, you are considered rich. James 5 warns us of the consequences of misusing our resources.
James 5: Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure! 4 Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 5 You have lived indulgently and luxuriously on the earth. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person, although he does not resist you.
And then James segues into the call for endurance and a proper attitude toward others.
7 So be patient [makrothumeó], brothers and sisters,
Makro-thumeó (mak-roth-oo-meh’-o) 1) to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart 1a) to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles 1b) to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others 1b1) to be mild and slow in avenging 1b2) to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.
Be patient for how long? Verse 7 continues.
…until the Lord’s return [The Lord’s Parousia].
He’s coming to us before He’s coming for us.
Parousia: 1) Christ’s transformative Presence 2) the progression of Christ’s coming, His arrival, and His formal and glorious setup of the kingdom of God on earth.
7 (cont.) Think of how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the ground and is patient for it until it receives the early and late rains. 8 You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lord’s return [Parousia] is near.
9 Do not grumble (stenazó) against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates!
Stenazó: I groan, expressing grief, anger, or desire. From stenós, “compressed, constricted” – properly, to groan because of pressure of being exerted forward (like the forward pressure of childbirth); (figuratively) to feel pressure from what is coming on – which can be intensely pleasant or anguishing (depending on the context). [This term “denotes feeling which is internal and unexpressed,” i.e. to sigh, moan (groan) with frustration.]
Getting into the Nitty Gritty
God often uses the enemy’s opposition to accomplish His divine purposes in us. When opposition hits and squeezes us, our unsanctified soul’s response to the injustice ignites and we begin to groan. Here’s our chance to see what’s really under the hood and where we’re at with God. We may feel slighted, grieved, mad, or incensed about something or someone and we want the problem fixed. What do we do now? It’s a choicepoint opportunity. We can either look to our soul and the world or dead religion for answers, or we turn upward and look to God for His way through. We are called to stop our outward groanings toward other things and people, and groan upward toward the Lord.
Our opinion of what people or things should or shouldn’t do in response to what is happening needs to go upward in prayerful submission to the Divine filtering process of God. This may only take a few moments or it could take weeks. The point is, we are turning to God to bring His answers and not relying on our own earthly wisdom to solve the problems. We don’t see the whole picture like God sees it. As we wait on God for answers, we are submitting to His vision. We can cast our anxieties about the situation on Him and let Him carry us in peace toward His comprehensive plan of action, which often includes waiting and seemingly doing nothing.
James 5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name. 11 Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 And above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall into judgment.
One way to interpret James directive to “not “swear” can mean that we don’t give into an impatient soul’s response to a perceived injustice by lashing out in verbal anger expressed through swearing. This expression of anger will not accomplish the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-20 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Overcoming the Anger of Injustice
If we choose to indulge vengeful anger, it’s usually because we blame God and don’t trust Him to bring the kind of resolve we may selfishly prefer. We let what we want supersede what God wants. But Jesus walked in deep submission to His Father’s leadership and never took matters of injustice into His own hands. He always waited on His Father to lead and direct Him. This is God’s way for us.
Without this deep submission to God, our unsanctified, defensive, self-protecting egos will always get the better of us. Apart from God’s Truth and Love driving our motives, the human perspective can only view injustice through a foggy, self-centered lens. We cannot see clearly as God sees all things. When we align with God’s Spirit of Truth, we can expect God’s way through the situation to activate. But we must remember that His ways are not our ways. He is looking out for everyone, not just us.
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
God sanctifies our egos by means of first bringing our sense of right-and-wrong into full alignment with His Word. Through the process of dying to self and growing in intimacy with Jesus Christ, we will better appreciate His ways of dealing with injustice. He often uses injustice to heal and deliver us from retaliatory aggression and irresponsible passivity. Heaven’s wisdom promises pure and peaceable results. The best way to prevent our soulish anger from rising up and making things worse is to turn to the Father for help.
Responding to Injustice
Romans 12 describes how mature Christians should practice kingdom justice and it does not include angry, self-righteous, ego-driven reactions. In fact, the Bible requires a very different and even difficult response. One we can only give if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need to spend time with Jesus and cultivate intimacy with Him. When injustice comes our way, the closer we are to Jesus, the more His nature will manifest through us. If we don’t invest in our love relationship with Jesus, we won’t act like Him when trouble comes.
Romans 12:14, 16-21 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where we are vulnerable to unrighteous anger and where our unsanctified ego is defensive, competitive, and vengeful. Then when injustice hits, and our unrighteous heart condition is revealed, we can ask Jesus to forgive and cleanse us, and then entrust what concerns us to the Father to figure things out, since He will judge all situations righteously.
In conclusion, we need to endure until the will of God is done in the earth. Only God knows when His will is done. If we don’t endure, we won’t have the character to carry the glory and minister in His fullness. We need to wait on God, seek His will above our own, turn away from idols, pray with each other to strengthen and encourage each other, and not misuse our money and resources to kick the can down the road, that only delays our preparation—which necessarily includes endurance. The birthing of a new day and the new life of God is at hand. Will we enter into it or just watch it happen from the sidelines?