TRIBULATION AND JOY??!!
This morning the Lord put it on my heart to take a break from studying false doctrines and focusing on the down side of belonging to Him, while still in this world. Actually it is not really a down side at all because it leads to Him, but certainly appears to be something one would rather avoid….suffering and tribulation. Yet, the upside is so worth it!! So, I was inspired to write today about the experience of both sides, and show how they go together if we are to pick up our cross and follow Him. We must become broken bread and poured out wine.
No one wants to be broken and come to a point in their lives where they can no longer handle it by their own power. Therefore the need for pain and suffering in this life, and tribulation in the world. These are the things that bring us to a place where we fall on our knees and give it up!!
Once we are broken enough to be filled with Christ and the Holy Spirit, we must become poured out wine. Our lives in this world are no longer important, only sharing the Gospel and leading lost ones to our Savior, has any real meaning for us. The only way to be refilled with the Holy Spirit is to be continually pouring out our love, faith and hope, in a world of darkness.
The incredible beauty of all this, is that this is what Communion is all about. Jesus breaks the bread, and shares that with mankind, (His broken body) and then He pours out the wine (His anointing blood shed for us) and tells us to drink in remembrance of Him; to eat, of His Holy Word, and to drink of His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. And keep doing so, until we are with Him, again.
THE FIRST AND THE SECOND JOY
Our first experience of GREAT JOY happens at the moment we are BORN AGAIN, and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I believe the second GREAT JOY happens at the time of His Second Coming to take us Home. The first joy is that of being directly connected (the shadow of what is to come) to the Lord through the Holy Spirit, providing a way of communication from our hearts, to God’s. The second joy is when we are directly connected to the Lord and there is no more separation…we are He, and He is we!!
We are filled with the Holy Spirit when we are Born Again, and then only in continually pouring out this precious Spirit to mankind, in the form of Love, and sharing the Gospel, will we be refilled and be able to remain filled, at all times. As to the five foolish virgins, they were filled with the Holy Spirit when they were born again, but did not die to the world enough to continue to be refilled. Their cup was filled, but if not poured out, could not be refilled, on a continual basis.
Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches:
John 15:5, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Without the life giving sap of the vine, there can be no grapes, no fruit. Without the Holy Spirit, one is just a dead branch. No matter the soil, the seasons, or work in the vineyard…without this connection, nothing else matters.
One must die to self and let Christ’s love and Holy Spirit fill us. Many love Jesus, but they love themselves more. The wise love Jesus more than themselves, their families, and their lives in this world. We are to be empty, so that we can be continuously refilled.
This includes all of our life, in this world, and anything else we are relying on to bring us this joy. Even our family and loved ones here on this earth. If someone wants to follow Jesus, they have to be willing to leave – forsake – the people in their life who they have previously loved the most…parents, spouses, and children. This does not mean that we do not love our families, but we must not love them more than the Lord!! If there ever comes a time when we must choose between them, the choice must be the Lord.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple … So likewise; whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27, 33)
Neither can our joy be contingent on our worldly circumstances.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
Yet, most importantly we must deny ourselves and die to ourselves. Dying to self is an obvious prerequisite to growing in Christ, but it is not something that begins after one comes to know Christ. It is the way a person first comes to Christ.
As Charles Spurgeon noted, “Learn this lesson—not to trust Christ because you repent, but trust Christ to make you repent; not to come to Christ because you have a broken heart, but to come to Him that He may give you a broken heart; not to come to Him because you are fit to come, but to come to Him because you are unfit to come. Your fitness is your unfitness. Your qualification is your lack of qualification.”
Dying to self is a necessity to obtain maturity in Christ! If you do not die to self, you will live for self. If you live for self, you cannot know the fullness of Jesus Christ in your life.
Matthew 16:24-25, Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the lives I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Picking up our cross, is the daily death to ourselves…and only by dying can we be reborn, just like Christ…he had to die so that we could live, and we must die so that He can live, in us. Is this the first death, that if it happens to us we have no fear of the second death? If we die to ourselves and are born again, spiritually, will we fear the death of our bodies?
This continual dying to ourselves is how we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We become spiritually alive when we are born again, but must continue to die to ourselves, and our lives in this world, in order to be continuously refilled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. This fullness of Spirit is the condition required to be taken to our Heavenly Home, New Jerusalem; the second greatest JOY, which is even better than the first!
Funny how we become connected to God when we disconnect to ourselves!! The more of ourselves that we disconnect from, the greater the connection to the Lord, and the more we are refilled with the Holy Spirit.
That is why Christ tells us to NOT be overwhelmed with the cares of this world. We are instructed to disconnect from this world and ourselves and connect up with Christ through the Holy Spirit. The ironic part is that the more with connect with Christ, the more the world sees us as losers!! When, in fact, we have gained the only treasure to be found in this life!!
We experience the first joy when we are born again, and our spirits are saved. But we will not experience the second great joy if we do not remain filled with the Holy Spirit at all times! This is the difference between the wise and foolish virgins. They are all saved, but because they believed the traditions of man and religions over the Truth, they did not realize they are living in the Kingdom of God, right here, right now and therefore when He comes He tells them “I know you not”.
The Lord, in His Holy Word, says it much better than I, so here are a few verses about being Joyful, that really hits the message home. For it is the Joy that we have that tells more about us than our sufferings, and shows the world that He truly is ALIVE in us.
“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for JOY, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be JOYFUL in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”
“And my soul shall be JOYFUL in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.”
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be JOYFUL in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
“Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding JOYFUL in all our tribulation.”
May we all be continually filled, and stand ready, to do all for Him as He did for us.
JESUS IS ALL AND EVERYTHING!!
HE IS COMING SOON!!