Our Western culture is obsessed with success and getting the big job in the big corporate structure. Not everyone can get to that top, as there has to be a huge raft of human workers underneath in order to keep the “successful people” at the top. It’s the human way and the dream that keeps people on the treadmill in the hope of success.
Those who don’t get up there into the echelons of public acclaim, must settle for second place or less… Perhaps failure…
It depends on how we define failure. To succeed in terms of this world’s system- proud, self-seeking, self-promoting, is to not succeed in terms of God. I might seem to overcome and get acclaim, but not to triumph in spiritual life. God’s ways are not my ways, or human societies ways. We can climb to the top of this world’s system, yet fail towards eternal values. The last will be first, and the first last.
Human success is fundamentally different from the way of Christ. The Lord Jesus is the humble Lord, who rode a donkey, not a mighty stallion of an earthly conqueror. He washed dirty human feet. He did not have servants- He is the servant and the glorious Lord of all things…
The Christian church, especially in the West, has been infiltrated by godless concepts of authority and control, and relying on money and big business to succeed in spiritual work.
We acknowledge the gracious Spirit, yet at the same time denying His power…
Oh that God would come down and break open the heavens… Then we would see something…
His terms are that His people pursue holiness and deny themselves the things of the life that we may legitimately want, and put all we are and have on His altar…. Then we will see the fruits of success…
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
How glorious is this passage, which elevates the people of God and gives power and spiritual insight to them. God’s Holy Spirit is poured out and the effect in human lives is astounding. The differences between people have gone and they are in a common, wise and spiritually alive state- caught up with the occupation of the kingdom of God. All worldly ways of thinking have become ineffective. All manoeuvrings of the powers that be will be impotent. God will have His way and He will vindicate His people who love Him with true hearts.
God pours out on the people, living on the earth, the insightful gifts of the Holy Spirit and the impact of the lives of His people affects everyone.
Every child of God will understand God’s mind and His ways and will have the ability to read and interpret the signs of the day, the meaning of events, and the intentions of human hearts.
God will communicate directly with each one of His people, without priest or any mediator apart from Christ. Jesus will be all in all and the very centre and sun of every redeemed life and that light will radiate to a dark and needy world.
That dark world is already doomed. The space/ time bubble will soon deflate forever. The signs in the physical nature of the planet will cause many to wonder and fear. The end is coming and many will see it. It will be the day of glory for the King of Kings and He will gather His people to Himself forever. There will be no other opportunity for redress of soul or body…
Everyone who calls to Him and believes in His name, shall be saved from the devastation at the end of all created things. Faith reigns supreme. Faith pleases God- nothing else.
We seem to be living in a generation that is particularly against the idea and person of The living God. His name is defamed and blasphemed everywhere and people have found other ways to live their lives apart from God. We now have the right to choose anything we like and any lifestyle that appeals to our senses. The Bible is vilified and Christians are sidelined and regarded as unscientific. We are surely in the days of Noah; the days of Ninevah; the state of Sodom and Gomorrah; the time of the Queen of the South; the unbelieving days of Christ, when God walked the earth.
Noah was a sign to the wicked people in his day, to show them they needed a refuge from the judgement of God. They refused to believe and were all drowned in the flood. Jonah was a sign to the people in Ninevah, and he preached to them to repent and turn and be delivered from certain punishment. They repented and searched for forgiveness and turned away from their wicked lifestyles and trusted in God. They were saved. Sodom and Gomorrah would not repent, or turn from evil, but persisted in provoking God, so they were all consumed by the raging fire of God’s wrath.
News of the glory of Solomon and his glorious God, reached the ears of the Queen of Sheba. She travelled far across the world, carrying rich treasure for Solomon, so that she could learn about his wisdom and his God. People in our culture will make no effort to even hear God’s message to them- it does not matter how endearing it many be. The mighty Queen of Sheba will show them up and they will have no excuses left.
When Jesus walked on our world, he brought hope, forgiveness and mercy to many, many people. Many saw “the sign” and believed and were healed in body and spirit. He is the ultimate sign- the final sign of the message of deliverance and forgiveness to all who believe. Even yet there were those who refused to accept him. They wanted a “sign” A sign of their choosing.
As the crowds grew, Jesus said to them… “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.” Luke 11:29-32
Unbelief is not particular to any generation or age of man, it is specific to us all. God sends His messengers and “signs” to warn, teach, preach and lead people to righteousness. Either we come to God or we resist. The pattern is clear. If we kick against His mercy and will, we will be ultimately destroyed.
Our culture is no different from any other. We refuse and deliberately go our own way. Gods “signs” remain. The “signs” are seen in scripture, in history and in the lives of every Christian believer today. Our lives and behaviour and our words, are “signs” to our generation that there is another way, and we all must walk it, so that people see there is a difference.
The way is a blessed way, the only path to peace and blessing. Believers in Jesus walk the way because they love Christ, and the people around them – we live as living “signs” for the glory of God.
The blacksmith, the anvil and the hammer
There are people who have spent time on the anvil. The hammer descends and forms them into the shape required of the designer. They brave the heat of the furnace in white hot conditions, and feel the fall of the weight of the blacksmiths hammer. The sparks fly as the semi-molten metal is beaten into the design and the unyielding iron becomes mailable.
These are the sturdy, the robust, the unmovable. Only as we face the fire, the hammer and the anvil, will we be any use. Without the heat and pressure, we remain rough and cold. The beauty is revealed in the tough trial and the strength is forged under the pressure of the pain.
God knows exactly what he is doing. The making that happens between the cold hard metal and the stress of the oven are the very things that make the person able to withstand the increasing difficulties of life. Strength of the heart and mind have a direct correlation to the power in the soul in the face of trouble.
The iron in the fire and on the anvil, battered by the hammer in the hand if the blacksmith, is sure to overcome.. Let us not ask for deliverance from the planned purposes of the creator of living souls. May God’s people be reshaped in The Blacksmith’s forge so that they will become what He intends…
” Strengthened in every good work..” 2 Thessalonians 3:17
“Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..” Colossians 1:11