DEALINGS OF GOD
For I think that God has displayed us, apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christs sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst and we are poorly clothed, and beaten and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands, Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (1 Cor 4:9-13).
God leads His chosen children through various kinds of turmoil, storms and difficulties. In the above-mentioned scripture Apostle Paul says that God has displayed the Apostles as men condemned to death, spectacle before world, angels and men. God displayed Apostles as fools, dishonored, weak, hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten and homeless.
God made them to labor and work with own hands. They were reviled, persecuted, defamed and made as the filth of the world and offscouring of all things.
God speaks to the world through His chosen servants. God gives them authority over the sun and the moon (Josh. 10:12-14). God gives them power to stop the rain and bring fire from heaven. God gives them power to raise the dead and heal all manner of sicknesses. God gives them the power and authority to appoint and dethrone kings. They are the servants of the God of heaven and the earth. (Ezr 5:11) They are named the Priests of the Lord and men shall call them the Ministers of our God. (Isa 61:6).
Then why God displays His chosen vessels as a spectacle before the world. There is a great mystery behind it. Through out my small and humble ministry I faced several severe storms and turmoil. Even now also I am in the midst of storms. In the beginning, when tempests came against me I thought God has forsaken me and I used to cry in His presence like a little child. On one occasion when I was caught in a big storm of shame and reproaches, I took some time to be alone with God. Then God spoke to me from His word through the Holy Spirit. God revealed some of His deeper things. From that time onwards I rejoice in the Lord for all kinds of shame, reproaches, criticisms, allegations, persecutions and all kinds of hardships. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Cor 2:10) It is important for every child of God to take time with God to know the deep things of God.
God gave power and authority to Elijah who declared before the king Ahab that there shall be no rain and dew for years except by the word of Elijah. The great powerful man of God who stopped the rain and dew was sent to the Brook Cherith to hide himself. The ravens brought bread and meat for him in the morning and evening and he drank from the brook.
After the brook dried up he was sent to a poor widow of Zarephath. According to the customs of those days, living with a widow was considered shameful. The King Ahab, his queen Jezebel and other leaders of Israel is living in their palaces and enjoying all kinds of luxury, comfort and respect. But God directed his mighty man to the bushes of Cherith to hide himself. After the brook dried up, God sent His prophet to a shameful situation of living with a poor widow. What a contrast? (1 Kgs. 17: 1-16).
After three and a half years of great draught, Elijah presented himself before the King Ahab and commanded him to bring all the prophets of Baal and the people of Israel to Mount Carmel. On the Mount Carmel Elijah brought fire upon the Altar from heaven, which burnt the sacrifice, wood, mud and even stones. Then Elijah commanded to kill 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah.
Elijah brought rain in the land after three and a half years of drought. Elijah ran before the Chariot of King Ahab, but when Jezebel threatened to kill him, the great man of power is fleeing. He went a days journey into the wilderness, and sat down under a broom tree. He prayed that he might die, and said, It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers Where is his boldness? Why the fear of sinful woman Jezebel gripped him? (1 Kgs. 17, 18, 19 Chps).
Elijah, the mighty man of God is facing a severe storm - fear of Jezebel. Why God allowed Jezebel to threaten the life of Elijah, the chosen prophet of God? Elijah was full of zeal for God and obeyed all his commandments. He demonstrated on the Mount Carmel that God of Israel is the only true God. After such a great work (ministry) we find Elijah as a fugitive, sitting under a tree alone in the wilderness and seeking death. God brought Elijah into such a situation so that Elijah may not take credit for any of the great work he performed for the Lord. God allowed Jezebel to rise against Elijah. Otherwise it was possible that Elijah might receive praise and honor from people of Israel and would have taken Gods honor and glory for himself.
God has broken his Outer Man completely and like a fugitive Elijah asking God to take away his life. This is Gods way for his chosen vessels. This is the deep things of God. God again encourages Elijah to move forward and anoint Hazael as king of Syria and Jehu as king of Israel and Elisha as prophet in his place. When Elijah completed his earthly ministry, God sent the chariot of fire and horses of fire to take him to heaven. What a great and honorable welcome for Elijah who once hid himself in the bushes of Cherith, who had to live with a poor widow of Zarephath and who was afraid of Jezebel and fled to the wilderness.
The New Testament ministry is more glorious than Old Testament Ministry. God uses tougher methods to break the Outer Man of New Testament Saints because we have been chosen for a higher position with the Lord. Old Testament saints did not get the privilege to become the Bride of Christ. We, the New Testament saints are specially chosen by God to become the part of the body of Christ. Therefore God uses harsh and tougher methods to break our Outer Man.
God has appointed the New Testament ministers to perfect the saints to the full stature of Christ. The ministers should prepare themselves and prepare the children of God who are under their responsibility. So God deals with His chosen people in different ways to break the Outer Man completely so that the nature and glory of the Inner Man might be revealed. Therefore God displayed His apostles as spectacle before the world, angel and men.
God gives more power and authority to New Testament Saints than the Old Testament Saints. Jesus Christ gave us the power to bind the wicked forces in the heavens. (Mat 16:19) Jesus Christ gave us power to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. (Lk 10:18,19). Here the serpents and scorpions are wicked spirits and not literal scorpions and serpents. God gives us power through the Holy Spirit to wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places and defeat them. (Eph 6: 12).
Jesus Christ has given us power and authority through the Holy Spirit and His Name to heal the sick, cast out the demons, raise the dead and perform miracles as and when required. Jesus Christ has given us the authority to preach the gospel and make disciples from all Nations of this world. When we are entrusted with such greater privileges, power and authority, which are much higher than the ministry of Moses and Elijah, there are possibilities to get puffed up.
Look at the life of Apostle Paul. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in distresses, for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:7-10)
The love of God is supreme and there is no comparison for the love of God. God demonstrated His love towards us through the cross of Calvary. Loving us, He leads us through the paths of shame and reproaches. Our human nature is so ugly and dirty that we easily get puffed up when God does something through us. The next step is personal pride and then we fall spiritually.
In order to protect us from personal pride, God deals with us in different ways to break our Outer Man. For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives
but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:6-11). Apostle Paul says By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things (2 Cor 6:8-10)
Now days, Satan is misguiding the children of God with fame, respect, position, material prosperity and great name. Church leaders are being lured into awards in this world. Some organizations have come with various kinds of awards known as Faith Award Peace Award etc. Many great soldiers of Christ have forsaken the actual spiritual war field and now relaxing safely in the bosom of worldly comfort, fame and great name. Saints! Be not deceived. This path is not the proper path for the chosen vessels of God who are marching forward as a stranger and pilgrim. Jesus Christ said If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (Jn. 15:18, 19)
The word of God says Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (Jam 4:4). John the Baptist who was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus Christ and to baptize Jesus Christ was beheaded and his head was given on a platter to Herodias because John the Baptist disclosed her sin. Look at the beheaded head of John the Baptist in the platter before sinful Herodias. She would have laughed and spat on the head of John the Baptist. This is the way for the chosen vessels of God while they are on this earth.
While Apostle Paul was alive, the world hated him. Even some children of God criticized him. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by human court (1 Cor 4:3) Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you (2 Cor 13:3). When Paul was marching forward pulling down the strongholds of Satan, the wicked spirit captured the mind of some believers and they began to criticize Apostle Paul. In Lystra when Apostle Paul healed a lame man people wanted to offer sacrifices to them because they said gods have come down to us in the likeness of men. But when Paul refused accept their honor, he was stoned and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. (Act 14:8-20).
Apostle John also faced the similar situation. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds, which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church (3Jn. 9, 10). The true path is Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach (Heb 13: 12, 13).
Every child of God should reach their own Golgotha. Then only they can say that I finished my race. The way to Golgotha is through shame, reproach and filth of this world. If you prayerfully look for the foot steps of Jesus, you will find it out side the camp. Apostle Peter walked on this Path. Apostle John walked on this path. Apostle Paul walked on this path. All the chosen people of God loved this path and walked on it. All the Martyrs of the Lord Jesus Christ walked on this path. This is the way. Let us walk on it.
While concluding this message I again emphasize the need of waiting in the presence of God to know the deep things of God. God who loves us more than any one else, who gave His only begotten Son for us to save us from hell fire, will lead us through the path of shame and reproaches so that we may follow Him with a broken heart always. Apostle Paul writes For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia; that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8, 9)
When God breaks our outer man with different ways of dealings, we will stop trusting on our SELF, abilities and strength and will follow the Lord with a broken heart. In order to tear away our hard shell of SELF, God must deal with us roughly through His harsh dealings. From my own experience I declare that God keeps His chosen vessels - the Pearls of heaven- in the mire of shame and reproaches so that they may not get puffed up when God uses them mightily in His hands to pull down the strongholds of Satan.
The chosen vessels of God will live in the mire of shame, filth and reproaches like a salty water sea fish. The fish that lives in the salty water of the sea, takes oxygen through the salty water of the sea but the fish remain pure, without salt. Similarly, the chosen vessels of God may be surrounded with filth, shame and reproaches but their inward life would be totally holy and acceptable to the Holy God. Finally when His work in us is completed and when He has fashioned us according to His likeness, our Loving Lord will take us to His eternal home where we will live with Him for ever and ever. Beloved! The city of God, NEW JERUSALEM is waiting for us. Our Father in heaven is waiting to receive us.
I pray that God may grant you heavenly wisdom to accept all kinds of dealings of God so that we may fashioned according to His likeness. May God bless you. Amen