Seek God's Face
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not (rebukes, scolds); and it shall be given him. [Jam 1:3-5]
If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.
Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place [2 Chron 7:14, 15]
A close friend of mine, who is also a sister in Christ, asked me what it meant to seek God's face. My quick answer was, "To seek His face and not His hand means to enter into His presence, looking to His face for who He is, and not to His hand for what He can do for us." This dear sister knew that already, but merely sought confirmation.
In the verses above, when we follow the wise words contained within verse 14, we see that we must first humble ourselves. We must fully acknowledge that we are the created, not the Creator.
In a position of humility, we recognize our sinful ways, all the ways in which we fall short or are out of alignment to His will and/or commandments. This is not to approach God under a heavy hand of condemnation (which comes only from the devil or flesh), but rather under the gentle conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Condemnation presents the problem, but conviction presents the solution. Condemnation points to self, conviction points to Jesus. Condemnation brings fear and hardens our hearts, which leads to rebellion (resistance to God, disobedience, pride), keeping us in the flesh and bondage of sin.
Conviction brings hope, brokenness and a contrite heart, leading us to pray and to repent (having faith in God's love, mercy and grace through Jesus). We rejoice in Christ's forgiveness, peace and freedom from bondage.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
[Rom 8:1, 6, 7, 15]
Think upon the very first ones to be deceived and to disobey, who by their choices were first to sin against God. Eve, the one who was deceived, blamed the serpent. Adam, the one who disobeyed, blamed the woman and God (And the man said, The woman that YOU gave me; she gave me of the tree [...]) [Gen 3:12]
As soon as Eve listened and became deceived by the lies of the serpent and ate the fruit, she sinned and then convinced Adam to disobey God's command as well. They hid from God and covered themselves, feeling shame, guilt and fear.
Each placed blame on another (and in Adam's case, even God), but they did not blame themselves. They did not take responsibility for their choices, having been deceived and disobedient. They chose to satisfy the flesh, rather than to walk in the Spirit, as they always had before.
If we accept conviction with a humble heart, we pray (as verse 14 instructs), looking to God as we repent. There is a godly sorrow, a broken and contrite heart that accompanies repentance (a change of heart and mind that rejects sin and turns from it).
We seek God's face. We long for Him to look upon us, to hear what we have to say and to speak to us. He promises to do so when we enter into His presence, worshipping Him in Spirit and in truth.
Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. [1 Chron 7:15]
Now do you understand what it means to seek God's face (eyes (to see), ears (to hear), mouth (to speak), rather than His hand (what He will give or do for us)?
In our humility, God looks upon us, hears us and speaks to us. When we repent, gratitude fills us as we receive His forgiveness. It will lead us into thanksgiving and praise, as we worship the Living God, our Creator.
Enter into the gates with thanksgiving and into the courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name. [Ps 100:4]
Temptations will Come
When temptations come (and they will), we must hold fast to faith and resist fear and doubts. We must resist the devil and he will flee. He will put up a good fight, as he did when he brought every temptation to Christ Jesus in the desert wilderness, but he must and will leave (flee) if we stand firm on the Word, as Jesus did.
Yes, it is hard. The Bible does not give us every single detail regarding the temptations brought to Jesus. For example, Jesus was fasting those forty days and nights when Satan came to Him.
One of the temptations was to break the fast, when he first challenged Jesus about who He was (IF you are the Son of God) and when he enticed Jesus to turn the stones into bread [Mat 4:3]
It is highly likely that Satan produced the aroma of freshly baked bread, or even brought illusions (false visions) of bread for Jesus to look upon and to smell. When Satan tempts, he does so with grandeur. Yet Jesus was well aware of the nature, tactics and strategies of the enemy.
Satan tempted every area in Jesus. He tempted the body (lust of the flesh); the soul (lust of the eyes) and His Spirit (pride of life). Example: bread (lust of flesh); kingdoms (lust of the eyes).
He may even presented an attractive, naked woman standing in one of those kingdoms, complete with an attractive and welcoming smile, holding a feathered fan and a bowl of peeled grapes (lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh). The Word of God says Jesus was tempted in every way [Heb 4:15], but did not sin.
He tried to bring doubt to Jesus about who He was and thus tempted His Spirit. "IF you are the Son of God, [...] (pride of life). Jesus answered: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. [Mat 4:4]
Satan even attempted to get Jesus to commit suicide. Taking Christ to the pinnacle (highest point, loft peak) of the temple, Satan told Him to throw himself down (kill himself, commit suicide).
Of course, Satan added that God would order His angels to protect Him, so that Jesus/Yeshua would be unharmed (his foot would not even dash against a stone). Just like he lied to Eve: [...] you shall not surely die. [Gen 3:4]
The enemy will assault (attack) us in every way. He will tempt every area, body, soul and spirit. He believes (by observation) that he knows our weaknesses. Satan is not omnipresent (everywhere) as God is, but he does have a demonic army that report back to him.
He realizes that due to the fall of mankind, we have a propensity to sin, so he believes that he knows how we think. I do not believe he can read our minds, but he can fire suggestions (fiery darts) into our mind.
We will often perceive such thoughts as our own because Satan will speak in the first person (I need (want, desire) that person, place or thing; emphasis on "I"). However, our Lord Jesus can see all and does know our thoughts, intents and motives. [Mat 9:4; Mat 12:25; Jn 13:5]
Satan will tempt us by appealing to our weaknesses and enticing us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, all of which are of the world and not of God.
Satan will try to pervert the good gifts of God and cause us to place them before our love for God (idolatry) and disobey God (rebellion). We must resist these things that Satan and the world offers and strive to do God's will.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever. [1 Jn2: 17\
We are warned that Satan (whose very name means adversary, enemy) seeks to devour us as a roaring lion. We are instructed to humble ourselves, giving all our cares (concerns) to God; to be sober and vigilant (self-controlled). We are to remain steadfast in our faith, resisting Satan.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour. [1Pet 5:5-8]
We are encouraged when we are read that Satan afflicts all the brethren across the globe, in the world. We come to realize and should remember that others suffer the same afflictions. That does not mean that we are pleased or glad that others are suffering.
No! But rather we are encouraged, strengthened, knowing that we are not alone in our suffering. We are to pray one for another. With understanding, we can counter Satan's lies when he tells us that we are in these trials, tribulations or afflictions due to our lack of faith.
Neither is it because God (Yhvh) is punishing us, or that He has left us (Ichabod). Jesus (Yeshua) promised that He would never leave or forsake us. [Heb 13:5, 6] Satan is the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning.
God is perfecting and strengthening us; He prunes away the dead branches (unproductive parts). He purges away the dross and purifies us a silver and gold. When we are overwhelmed and undone, He will carry us.
Cry out to God, in truth and humility. Keep strong and steady in your faith. Our King and Lord is well aware of our suffering, but He knows that His work is for our good, not for our destruction.
Whom resist (the adversary) steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. [1 Pet 5:9]
And in the wilderness, where you have seen how that the Lord your God bare you (carried you), as a man does bear (carry) his son, in all the way that you went (walked), until you came into this place. [Deut 1:31]
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are young..
Hearken (listen) to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by Me in the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs (gray hairs) will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and will deliver you. [Is 40:11; Is 46:3, 4]
Yet, at the same time, we must also be careful not to blame the consequences of our sin on others. Neither blame Satan, the devil, for our own sinful choices, and most importantly, do not blame God. We alone are responsible for our actions, our choices, and we will be held accountable for sins that we do not repent of. Judgment does indeed begin in the house of God.
Resist Not the Trials (Testing) of Faith
When trials and tribulation come, our first reaction is resistance. We tend to be confused by what is happening and question 'why'. We strive to quickly find solutions and answers, and become frustrated when none are forthcoming.
If and when God is silent during such times, we may question His Sovereignty, His love, His care and His mercy. Fear will tempt us and doubts will taunt our flesh, endeavouring to bring us into dregs of despair. Satan will try to steal our hope, kill our faith and destroy our love (for God, for Jesus).
When Herod saw that the Jews were pleased at James' (brother of John) death, he had Peter arrested to be tried and executed. Peter was well-guarded, but suddenly a bright light entered into the prison. God had sent one of His angels.
It did not look good for Peter, but the faithful brethren were fervently interceding on his behalf. Peter's chains were loosed by the angel. Not only did they get past the first and second guards, but the iron gate that was tightly shut swung open and they walked through and down the street. Then the angel disappeared. [Act 12:1-10]
Even though that particular test of faith (trial) of Peter's was short, he still must have been hard-pressed to hold fast to his faith. After all, the apostle James had just been executed with a sword [Acts 12:2]
Peter had no way of knowing what God had planned for him. There he was, shackled in chains, with guards on either side of him. There was no way of escape as far as he could see. Yet, God is Sovereign and made a way where there seemed to be no way.
After the angel disappeared and Peter went to the house where the brethren had been praying, they did not believe it was him at first, but thought perhaps it was his guardian angel. The miracles of God do indeed defy logic!
The time came when Peter was executed by crucifixion, but not until his mission was complete and his appointed time had come. He still had to endure other trials and tribulation.
There was another man of God whose faith was tested much longer. Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) had been sold as a slave by his jealous and envious brothers.
In Egypt, Joseph served in Potiphar's (an officer of Pharaoh) house, until Potiphar's lustful wife, angered because Joseph had refused her advances and fled her presence, falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape.
God granted Joseph mercy and he had favour with the keeper of the prison, who put him in charge of the other prisoners. When Pharaoh's baker and butler were accused of theft, they were thrown into the prison whilst an investigation was conducted. Both men had dreams, which Joseph accurately interpreted.
The interpretation was accurate. The baker was found guilty of theft and executed, and the chief butler was set free. Despite his promises to favourably mention Joseph to Pharaoh, the butler soon forgot and Joseph remained in prison for yet another two full years. [Gen 39 - 41]
It was only when Pharaoh was distraught due to a disturbing dream, which none could interpret, that the butler remembered. Joseph was sure to not take any creadit. He would only give God the glory when he told Pharaoh, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. [Gen 41:16]
He then proceeded to give Pharaoh the meaning of his dream. The king of Egypt knew that the Spirit of God was in Joseph. Therefore, he made him ruler over the land, second only to Pharaoh. Unlike Peter, Joseph's trial lasted approximately thirteen years, with the last two or so years being in prison.
Neither Peter or Joseph resisted the trial of their faith, but that does not mean they did not wrestle mightily with their thoughts and emotions. They both still had to go through, but they remained steadfast in their faith and trust in God.
When our time of trials and tribulations come, we too must remain steadfast in our faith. We too will wrestle with our emotions and thoughts. How long we must endure the trial is entirely up to God.
We do not know all of His plans, or His thoughts, or the ways He will carry or work His plans. Sometimes the Lord will reveal our destinies to us, through dreams, visions, or a spoken word from the Holy Spirit when we pray. Jesus had forewarned Peter regarding how he would die. [Jn 21:18, 19]
Joseph had two dreams that foretold his future. [Gen 37:5 -11] The prophetic dreams given to him angered his father, but even more so his brothers. They hated Joseph because of his dreams, which is why they sold him into slavery.
They compounded their treachery with a lie, stating that perhaps a wild animal had killed Joseph. [Gen 39] Jacob tore his garments and wept bitterly when he saw the blood on Joseph's coat of many colours and heard his brothers' words.
The one particular trial of Peter's, when he was arrested, shackled in chains and heavily guarded by Roman soldiers, lasted one night. Joseph's trial lasted from the time he was 17 until he was 30 years of age.
We too do not know how long our trials will be, but like Joseph and Peter (and others) before us, we must endure and keep faith, trust God and wait...wait patiently, despite outward appearances. Yes, it can be extremely hard, but God is with us and for us.
When Least Expected God Moves Suddenly
Peter surely did not expect God to move suddenly, in the way He worked (sent an angel) and when He did (that night of Peter's arrest). [Acts 12] Even though Joseph continued to hope in his prophetic dreams, after thirteen long years, he was likely very surprised when Pharaoh gave him such a high position within the kingdom, all due to the interpretation of the king's dream which God had given.
When I posted the previous part of this article, I had stated that I was still in my trial, and I am. However, like Joseph (forgive the comparison), God has granted me mercy and favour as well.
God moves suddenly - when least expected, in astounding ways, in His timing.
The very next day after I had mentioned all the things that happened in the past year of this present trial, I had stated that I was down to six eggs and butter. That was a truth.
However, suddenly the next day, I was able to buy some meat and bread because some money came in. I was very grateful and gave thanks to God. The day was not yet over. Late afternoon, I received a phone call from my landlord.
He told me that he and his wife had purchased a car for me. I could hardly believe my ears. The day before yesterday (Thursday), he and his wife picked me up to drive me to the next town, which is about 35 minutes away approximately.
The car is now registered, plated and on the road. It is an old beater, but it runs! It is a 1998 Nissan Altima. The paint is peeling on the roof and the hood, but the car works.
Yes, it is in need of some repair but it is nothing too urgent. Outside of the one repair, it only needs the general maintenance all vehicles need. It also has low kilometers (miles) for the year of it.
My other car, a 2000 Grand Am is sitting in the apartment parking lot. It has a brand new battery which I plan to keep and I am hoping to sell the new tires that I had purchased just prior to blowing the motor. The tires are a bit too large for the new car, so selling them is the other option.
The car cost $800 and the landlord is willing to take payments. Glory to God! He and his wife are snowbirds; they travel south in the States for the winter, so they wanted to be sure I had a vehicle for the winter.
That astounds me, as I have only lived in the apartment for a year and four months. Truly, I believe God moved on their hearts. He tested my attitude when the other car had to be taken off the road. He tried my faith. How good is God.
Yes, I will not pretend. I certainly do wish this trial was over, but like those who went before us and like many even today, I must wait patiently on God's timing and continue trusting Him. We all must wait patiently, and learn from our trials. Allow the purifying and refining; offer up thanksgiving and praise.
Below are pictures of the Grand Am (white car) that is waiting to go to the car graveyard (scrap yard). Then under that are a couple of pictures of the "new' car (maroon but it looks brown).
May this further encourage others in knowing that even in the midst of the storm, even as the fire rages, Christ Jesus is with us through it all.
|2000 Grand Am - waiting to go to scrap yard|
|1998 Nissan Altima|
Obey Him in the things He commands of you, even if it defies logic. Remember, He will not go against His Word. Be on guard when you hear God's voice. Filter everything through the Blood of Jesus.
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. [Is 48:3]
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [Acts 2:2]
So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. [Is 55:11]
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations. [Ps 100:5]
It has been a long year in this trial, but the day will come when it shall all be over. Alleluia! Truly, God is good and His mercy endures forever.
All things have been created...
for His glory alone!
To the glory of God, it should be added that there is enough food in my fridge to last a couple of weeks. If someone came over unexpectedly at meal time, it would not be a problem.
God has provided. The food supply did not trouble me at all, as I, like many of you, realize that there are those who truly do not know where their next meal is coming from...think of those in Venezuela and many, many other countries in the world. Woe to us if we take things for granted!
Some people stock freezers full of food, have a root cellar fully loaded and a pantry that is plentiful. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as the heart attitude is not hoarding, but to share and to give as needs are revealed.
Otherwise, we are no better than the world that is stocking up for anticipated calamities (floods, earthquakes, tornadoes/hurricanes, asteroids/meteors etc). Others are stockpiling goods, ammo, water, medicines and other necessities in the event of an economic collapse, plagues, martial law, war, EMP attack etc.
If the Lord has positioned and instructed you to do so, then, by all means, be obedient. As He instructed Pharaoh through Joseph, He could well do today. The intent would be to help others in dire need and not for the purpose of hoarding.
Of course, one does not need me to tell them that, but it is good that others know where I stand. As for me, the Lord provides my needs. Like those mentioned in the Word of God, I have learned to be satisfied in times of plenty and in times of lack.
Have I ever gone hungry? Yes, I have. Have I ever been without a home and slept out on the street? Yes, I have. There has been three times in my lifetime that I have slept in a vehicle also, not for longer than a month, but I have. I can honestly say that being without does not put me in the grips of despair. My belly might angrily protest with loud growls, but my mouth will not utter such.
I have not been put in the position, nor have I been instructed to stockpile. There is no gold or silver put away or anything with which to barter. The Lord provides what I need when I need it, and if He does not, I will still praise Him.
In fact, for me, I have always been one to move. The longest so far that I have resided at one place is in the orphanage and that was approximately seven years. It is just the way life has gone. One gets used to it, but since I have been a disciple of Christ, I move as instructed by the Lord.
How He instructs me may well be different to how He instructs another. He knows the beginning from the end. He knew us in our mother's womb. He is well able to direct us, if we will obey His lead, His direction. He knows all things. When God points the way, it is my intention to obey.
Now, the reason for the addendum was to show how God provides. He moves suddenly and unexpectedly. Think of history. We may know what is coming, if the Lord reveals a matter to us, but the timing is forever His.
Noah knew a flood of destruction was coming. He did not know how or when the Lord would carry out His judgment, but he heard and he believed God. Obediently, he carried out the Lord's instructions.
Moses knew God would deliver the Israelites. How or when He would fulfill His promise, Moses did not know. He continued to obey God's instructions, despite every outward appearance of the Pharaoh's hardheartedness and resistance.
Joshua was given peculiar instructions for the takedown of Jericho. As odd as it must have seemed to the mighty warrior, he believed God and followed His instructions. He had no idea how or exactly when God would tumble Jericho's walls, but he obeyed, even though it defied logic and common sense.
Throughout the Holy Scriptures we see examples of God instructing His people, followed by their obedience to His will. The miracles described in the Word of God are hard to fathom or comprehend in our minds that demand logic.
As each obeyed, God fulfilled His promises, but most often they were accomplished suddenly and when least expected. Yes, the people had faith to carry out God's will, but their trust must have been greatly tried when all outward appearances seemed in direct opposition of God's promise.
|Paul and Silas in prison sing praises|
at midnight-shackles and chains broke
|Jesus (Yeshua) forgave the woman caught in adultery|
Tribulations will be in this world until the end of time as we know it. We are living in a fallen, corrupted world that is being temporarily ruled by Satan and his evil cohorts and wicked people.
Trials/tests will come, but God will see us through it all, if we stand firm in our faith and trust Him, obeying His direction for each of us individually and corporately.
Even when we are in a hard trial, the Lord provides and still grants grace and mercy. Do not let go of your hope or your faith. Each day is a new day, a day when God can do things suddenly.
The reality is that this life is filled with hardships, persecution, disappointments and difficulties, even without the help of the adversary. It is a fallen world and we often suffer the consequences of other people's sins and resulting choices.
As the Lord told me, "Not everything is a test..." That is true because there is a physical and spiritual reality. Sin abounds and is increasing; hearts are waxing cold; the adversary is displaying his wrath.
Satan's time is short and his fury is becoming more obvious with each passing day. The times we are in are like no other. We have entered into the days that are worse than the days of Noah and the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It does not take a highly intelligent person to come to such conclusion. Keep your focus on the Lord and keep hoping and trusting. He will not disappoint. He promises to be with us through all tribulation, and yes, through the trials that do come. That is what we must rest in - Christ Jesus.
This life is temporal, but as long as we breathe, we still must live it. Let us choose wisely. Each one of us must work out our salvation with fear and trembling; it is an ongoing process.
God is still Sovereign, even though many are shouting accusations that He must not be real because He is allowing all this evil to happen. Multitudes will continue to ignore, mock, ridicule or reject Jesus. As Messiah forewarned, it shall become increasingly worse.
The whole earth is groaning. We look up, waiting, ever waiting for the day that all things are fulfilled, looking forward to the day of Messiah's return and we will live with our Creator for eternity. Keep strong, stay faithful. Watch and pray.
Even if nothing has any rhyme or reason, or nothing seems to make sense, hold fast to your faith. Even when we cannot see the purpose in a thing, do not give up your faith, love or trust in our Redeemer.
The reality is that even though the Lord has blessed me with food and a running vehicle, I am not out of this trial yet. I wish I was, but for now, He is walking with me and in that, I am secure.
He is still doing a work in me. I rejoice knowing this world is not my home, but for now, it is where I reside. I must go through what I must go through, just as you must do the same. He is our Rock, a constant Companion, our very life.
Keep strong in Christ!
Be you strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for you work ahall be rewarded. [2 Chron 15:7]
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me? [Jer 32:27]