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I think, in a way, God has been showing me the difference between the carnal and the spiritual. Not in the sense of the wickedness of the carnal, or the sin problems, but just that it’s temporary. It’s impermanent. And that we’ve got to learn to live on the permanent. I’ll just give you some beautiful scriptures that have come to me. In the middle of the night, in Jamaica, when my wife was sick beside me in the hotel, there just came to me very, very quietly these words. “With God, all things are possible.” Praise God. I believe that. I may not always feel it but I believe it. With God all things are possible. And gradually I’ve been building on that and I tend to quote these scriptures to myself over and over again. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. All things are possible to him that believeth. There’s three “all possibles.” With God all things are possible. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. All things are possible to him that believeth.
I’d like to then share some other scriptures about victory. For once, in a way, I won’t necessarily give you all the references. But in 2Corinthians 2:14 I think it says,
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (KJV)
That’s a tremendous statement. I’d like to quote it again. “Thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” You take those two adverbial phrases; always and in every place, it leaves out no time and no place. And what is the triumph? It’s more than a victory; it’s a celebration of a victory that’s already been won.
And then in 1Corinthians 15:57 it says:
“Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (KJV)
And in Romans 8:37 it says:
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors...” (KJV)
And I read a little statement once about what does it mean to be more than a conqueror? And the answer was this: that you go into the conflict and you come out with more than you had when you went in. And I believe that is really what God desires when we go through times of testing and conflict; that we come out with more than we had when we went in. We don’t just win, but we come out with spoils.
And so I’m going to read to you some of the passages of scripture that have been very real to me. Some of them I’ve shared with my wife over and over again. At a time like this, sometimes we need to imprint the word of God on a person’s spirit until it’s right there inside them. No matter what may come against them, there’s something inside them. You know, in visiting people in the hospital, never assume that an unconscious person is not affected by what you say. You know that. I talked with a spiritual psychiatrist once. He said, “Never say anything in the presence of an unconscious person that you don’t want them to hear because they can receive it.” In fact, he told me this: He’d been newly baptized in the Spirit and he went into the hospital and there was a woman there whose kidneys had ceased functioning. She was terminal. Her body was yellow, there was no medical treatment. And in the boldness of somebody newly baptized in the Spirit he turned to this unconscious woman in a coma and he said, “Your sins be forgiven you in the name of Jesus.” He said, “Next week I met her walking down the street.” Mentally she couldn’t receive it but her spirit received it. When her sins were forgiven apparently the blockage to her healing was immediately taken away.
So I’ve been trying to imprint on my own spirit and my wife’s spirit some scriptures. And I’d like to share some of them with you in the hope that God will bless them to you too. I’m going to go to Isaiah 40, begin at verse 1. I like the first word. It says:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
The Bible calls God the God of all comfort. And here’s a message of comfort.
“Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, [the Hebrew says speak to the heart of Jerusalem. That’s a real art, to speak to people’s hearts, not just to their heads.] and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished [or ended] that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? [And this is the answer.] All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (KJV)
There’s the difference between the temporal and the eternal. All flesh is grass. And scripture indicates there it can be very beautiful. It can have blooms and flowers and be lovely. But it’s not going to last. It’s going to wither, it’s going to die. And the scripture actually says that it withers because the spirit of the Lord blows upon it. In other words, God causes it to wither. Why? My answer is because he wants to wean us from the temporal to the eternal. It depends on your particular stage of pilgrimage through life. But you see, everything that we see, that we love is beautiful. Our children, our wives, our homes. They’re all withering. Physically. There’s no permanence in any of them. And God has arranged it that way. He lets us fall in love with these things to draw love out of us, to give us a desire for the beautiful and for what he has. And then he lets the very things we love wither. Why? Because there’s something else that doesn’t wither. But he can never show it to us first. He has to reveal the temporal before he can reveal the eternal.
This is the theme of poets and philosophers throughout all ages. I can show it to you verse after verse from Shakespeare where he was occupied with his problems. Why the woman I love, the thing I love, why is it going to wither? Why is it going to die? why is it going to decline? Why isn’t there any permanence? In fact, I will quote Shakespeare, it’s unusual but he said, “When I consider everything that grows, holds in perfection but a little moment. And this huge stage presenteth naught but shows where on the stars in secret influence comment.” That was a brilliant man disillusioned, looking for something permanent and no where knowing where to find it. And yet, God gives us this beautiful world, and I love the trees, I love the scenery, I love Florida. I tell you, I’m happy in Florida. I like sun, I like sea, I like sand. I’m never asking God to move me anywhere else till the rapture comes. And yet, it’s impermanent, it’s not going to last.
You see, you see a young couple get married, they’re beautiful, they love one another, children come. But I’ve lived long enough to know that one day, maybe they’ll live together thirty years, forty years, but one day one of them will die. And there’ll be left a very heartbroken, grieving old person. It’s true. It’s just the way it is. And the deeper their love for one another, in a sense, the greater the heartbreak.
Does God permit that? He arranges it. The flesh withers, the grass withers, because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it. God says, “I don’t want you to get wrapped up in anything temporal. It’s all going to pass.”
But there’s something that won’t pass. The word of our God abideth forever. And in this recent experience that I’ve been passing through, in a new way, I’ve begun to lay hold in my spirit on the eternal unchanging truth of the word of God. I’ve been a preacher of the word. I’ve been a fanatic about the word ever since I went into ministry. But in a new way I’ve grasped the fact that the one eternal, unchanging thing that comes our way is the word of God. The word of our God shall stand forever.
Then I’d like to go on to the end of that chapter which I’ve read to my wife probably ten times in the last two days. Beginning at verse 28:
“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KJV)
I believe that really has a message that we all need to take to heart today. That natural strength is not sufficient. When you’re young, vigorous, active, your mind is keen and life is in front of you, it’s pretty difficult to absorb that truth. I can remember when I was a student at Cambridge, I used to meet with a group of my fellow students, close friends, and we would always have lunch together in the basement of the house that I lived in. And we sat there and we discussed the problems of the world. And life was like a football just waiting for us to kick it whenever we felt like. But then World War II broke out and the whole of Europe was in an upheaval. And about a year later I found myself in the British Army reluctantly. And do you know what I discovered? I was the football! And I was just waiting to find out where life was going to kick me next. See, that kind of arrogant, youthful strength and self confidence, self reliance, cleverness, wisdom and technology is not enough. What does it say? The youth shall faint and be weary, the young man shall utterly fall. What is the alternative? But they that wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength. The word renew in Hebrew is change. Or exchange. They shall exchange their strength. In what way? They give up their own, they receive God’s. When you come to the end of your own, you’re able to receive God’s.
And we come to that 29th verse: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” I’ve quoted that to my wife because she has literally no mind. I said, “There you are, you’re a candidate for that verse. That’s for you. You’ve come to the end of your own, you’ve lived a very full, long, active, rewarding life. Now if you’re to have any strength, it’ll have to be supernatural. It’ll have to come from God.” And that’s in God’s hands. I’m not testifying to make God do something, let me tell you that. I don’t believe God has an arm that can be twisted. I’m just transmitting to you what I believe the Lord has been teaching me. I’m just believing that this is the true, eternal, unchanging word of God. The only anchor that we have in a shifting, stormy world: the truth, the eternal truth of God’s word.
Let me give you one other scripture and that’s in 2Corinthians 4, and I’ll read from verse 7 through to the end. I think this says very vividly what I’m trying to communicate.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (KJV)
Before God can reveal his power to us and in us, we’ve got to come to the place where it’s very obvious to us and everybody that it isn’t we who have got the power. As long as there could be any possibility of people attributing the power to us, God will not commit his to us.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair...” (KJV)
I said to the brethren before the meeting this morning, the city of Fort Lauderdale today reminds me of the city of Shushan in the book of Esther. It says the city Shushan was perplexed. And to my way of thinking, the city of Fort Lauderdale is perplexed, that’s the way I see the city. But Paul says we are perplexed, but not in despair;
“...persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (KJV)
Those two verses end with a most tremendous statement that the life of Jesus is to be made manifest in our mortal body. And in case anybody should merely attribute that to the resurrection, it says in the next verse: “In our mortal flesh.” Right now God wants to manifest the divine, eternal resurrection life of Jesus Christ in our mortal flesh. But there’s a condition. The condition is submitting to the cross. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in us. We have to come to the end of our own carnal strength and life. There’s got to be a death before there can be a revelation of God’s life. When we come to the dying, we make room for the manifestation of the life of God. I believe that not only divine healing but divine health is there in that verse. I do not believe you can have the life of Jesus manifest in your mortal flesh and be sick. I see no place where the two can occupy the same room. But the condition is the cross.
“So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” (KJV)
I’ve learned this also in experience. If ever I’m to minister life to anybody, death has to work in me first. If I minister out of my own life, my own carnal nature, all I’m ministering is carnality. But if I come to the end of myself, then out of me God can minister his life. I find this almost always happens anytime before I go anywhere to minister. I go through an experience where I’m ashamed of my own weakness, my failures, the temptations and the pressures that come upon me. And when I go down into that death, God brings life out of it. But as long as I believe I have enough in myself and I can do it, well, God leaves me to do it. And the results are very different. If you want to minister life to others, you must accept death in yourself first.
“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak...” (KJV)
And I want to say that’s true this morning. I do believe and that’s why I speak. And I’m not working faith up. Believe me. God has worked it in me.
“Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes...” (KJV)
Do you believe that? That’s a sweeping statement. The rain, the sun, the weather, the economic crunch, inflation, the government, jet airlines, television... who are they for? Us. All things are for our sakes. We’re the center of all God’s dealings in the earth. We’re the apple of his eye. Every main purpose of God centers around you and me.
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not...” (KJV)
Can you say that? For which cause we faint not? Can you say that, or do you faint? Even the youth shall faint and grow weary. And the young man shall utterly fall. All natural strength will fail. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sixty or sixteen. It makes no difference.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (KJV)
And do you know what that means? There’s an inner thought here. And if that’s in contact with God, no matter what happens on the outside, there’s enough on the inside to undo the ravages of sin, sickness, fear or whatever it may be. There’s a continual inflow of divine resurrection, victorious life.
When God created Adam he breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul. But when Jesus revealed himself to his apostles after resurrection, he breathed into them. He said receive the Holy Spirit. But what’s so real to me is that he breathed into them a new kind of life. A life that had gone down into death and conquered sin, death, hell and the grave, and Satan. And that’s the life that’s in you and me.
Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world. Anything that’s born of God is undefeatable. It’s unquenchable, it’s unshakable, it’s irresistible. Praise God. Alleluia. Now we’ll look at the last two verses.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment...” (KJV)
Now remember that Paul was beaten four times, stoned once, shipwrecked twice, and remember that he says, “our light affliction.” So before you start to complain about your heavy afflictions, just measure it by that standard.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
See, we are always getting this contrast between the temporal; the flesh, the grass, and the eternal; the unseen, the word of God, the truth that never changes, the life of God which is always the same.
And this is a very important practical application. Our light affliction works for us only while we do what? We look where? Only while we look at the things which are not seen. The moment you take your eyes off those, you’re affliction isn’t working. Our affliction only works while we look not at the things which are seen: our sickness, our problems, our financial difficulties, the strife and disorder in our homes, the criticism and opposition that we meet in doing the Lord’s work. If we look at those things, our affliction is not working for us.
But our affliction works for us a far more and exceeding eternal weight of glory while we look at the things which are not seen. What are those? The eternal things: the word of God which abideth forever, the power of God, the love of God, the faithfulness of God, the mercy of God which never changes. Everything depends on where you’re looking. When you go down into trouble and pressure and affliction, you take your eyes off the eternal things and the Holy Spirit stops working. He can do no more for you until you get your eyes back where they belong which is off the temporal onto the eternal. What is God doing? He’s wooing you from being a creature of time to being a creature of eternity. And that doesn’t happen in five days or five years. In my case it hasn’t happened in thirty-four years. But it’s happening. It’s happening.
Let me give you one last scripture which I love. Hebrews 11:27. This is the faith chapter. No, I’ll give you two or three scriptures out of that because they’re all related. See, what does faith look at? Verse 1:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence [or assured conviction] of things not seen.”(KJV)
What does faith relate to? The temporal or the eternal? The eternal, all right. So faith only relates to the eternal. Faith has only got two objects: God and his word.
Now, one of the themes that the Lord has been dealing with me about is endurance, I’ve preached on it at the Tennessee camp, I’m not going to preach that again. But endurance is something that God has to work in every one of us. We’re not born enduring. We’re unstable, fickle, easily moved. A brother who is here this morning worked close to me, said this to me. I don’t think he really realized what he was saying, but he said—and I hope you’ll accept this. I’m not blaming him for it because I’m quoting it. But he said, “In the prophets [I think it’s Jeremiah], it talks about light and treacherous people. My experience is most Christians are light and treacherous people.” I don’t know whether you accept that, but a lot of my experience confirms that. David is here, my son-in-law, and we were talking about a firm we were going to give a contract for for some paperwork. And David said at the end apologetically, “Of course, they’re not Christians.” I said, “Praise the Lord.” I mean, that’s true. I’m not boasting of it, I just said, “Thank God we won’t get any spiritual anguish. We’ll get our bills paid, we’ll get action.” Well now that’s not the whole truth. But basically I think the big problem with Christians today is summed up in those words light and treacherous persons. “God bless you brother, but if I feel like stabbing you in the back, I’ll do it.”
Now I mean, I have a wide experience and I’m not a cynical person. Very rarely do you hear me being cynical. But I have to say basically I do not trust Christians. And I’ve met thousands of them. Now I don’t say that to be negative, I say God has got to do something in it. What is it? Endurance. Stability, reliability.
There was an old saying that used to be accepted. Of course, I’m quoting all the members of my family today. But Joska said to me the other day, “Were you alive when the Brontosaurus was here?” The answer is no! But I see there’s a generation gap. But anyhow there was a time when people used to say “A man is as good as his word.” And I believe that’s true. God is as good as his word. When God says a thing, he stands behind it. If we have the nature of God it will show in us. We’ll be as good as our word and no better.
So, to come to my last scripture. And that was a little parenthesis. I didn’t mean to say it, but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit wanted me to say it. I find God is working endurance in me. I used to be very, very moody. There are people here that were members of my congregation in London and I don’t know whether they were aware of it, but I was terribly moody. Up one day and down the next. I fought depression. I fought a sense of loneliness, of being shut in, of defeat. Praise God that’s gone. I can even give this testimony when my wife is here. Basically I am no longer a moody person. God delivered me from the spirit of depression and he taught me to retrain my thinking and my emotions. And I do not indulge in negative thinking. I can, but I don’t. God doesn’t stop me, I stop myself. When negative, depressing, defeating thoughts come to me, I turn to the word of God. I wake up in the night and say, “With God all things are possible. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. All things are possible to him that believeth.” For years, every time I saw any kind of sickness approach my body I said, “Thank you Jesus, you took our infirmities and you bore our sicknesses. And with your stripes we are healed.” It’s good to have faith to get healed. But I think it’s much better to have faith to stay healthy.
So my testimony is that God has worked in me a measure of endurance. Not all that I need. Let me say something else. I don’t know whether you’re afraid of being a martyr, but I don’t think ninety-five percent of us are qualified to be martyrs. We’re just not ready. The early church regarded it as an honor to be a martyr. The Lord Jesus told Peter by what death he should glorify God. Well most of us just don’t think that way. Even the early Methodists have got some things that we haven’t arrived at yet. I read in John Wesley’s journal about an old Methodist sister that had died in the Lord. And Wesley’s question was did she go in glory or only in peace? The Methodist standard of dying in those days was glory. Peace was, you know, grade B. Many of us are not there yet. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of these things. I don’t want a second rate exit. But I’ll probably not qualify for the first. What I want to say about being a martyr is this: if you don’t lay your life down daily, you’re not fit to be a martyr. I think being a martyr is something you have to practice.
And let me say this also, I said it at the Tennessee camp but I’ll just repeat it. Many religions and systems have had their martyrs. Don’t think that Christians are the only ones. The Muslims have had thousands of martyrs. The Jews have had millions of Martyrs. Communists have had millions of martyrs. You know the only way we can be different? Is loving the people who are killing us. That’s the only difference we can show the world. Are we qualified to do that? Just ask yourself, don’t ask me.
All right, I’m coming back to the Hebrews 11. Verse 27:
“By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, [how?] as seeing him who is invisible.” (KJV)
What’s the secret of endurance? Seeing the invisible. Our light affliction which is for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we are looking not at the things which are seen, because they’re temporal, but at the things which are not see, which are eternal. And God will wean you from the temporal. He’ll give you things to love, moments of blessing, moments of happiness, situations that will linger in your memory, and then he’ll take them from you. Why? Because he wants to wean you from the temporal to the eternal. It’s a painful process. I tell you, things have died inside me in the last few months. I’ve been through a real kind of inner death. I’ve relinquished my wife to the Lord. In all sincerity I said, “Lord, if it’s your time, she’s yours before she’s mine. You take her.” I didn’t use idle words, I meant it. That’s something. There has to be death before there can be life. The measure of life that we can offer is the measure of death we’ve experienced. Death worketh in us, but life in you. By nature I’m a very self centered, selfish person. You’ve probably observed that so I didn’t need to tell you. But I know that I can only minister to others when that thing in me is dead.
So if death comes, embrace it. If affliction comes, welcome it. When you fall in divers temptations, do what? Count it all joy. Praise God. Thank you brothers, God bless you.
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