Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

What do you think of when you think of the month of March? Because I spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I associate March with windy weather! I think of high-flying kites, fast moving clouds and gray skies. March seems to serve as a transition from winter to spring.

Wind can represent different things to the Christian. Most of us like to associate the wind with the gentle, yet awesome, power of the Holy Spirit. “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) This is the kind of wind we all long for.

But there is another kind of wind that every true believer in Christ will experience; that is, the wind of adversity. This kind of wind, too, may come unexpectedly, plummeting and shaking us to our very foundation.

I’m sure you can name some common winds of adversity most of us have been touched by such as sickness, death of a loved one, financial stress, false accusations, loss of friendships, rejection, personal failure, etc. As bad as these things are, they are minor compared to the winds of adversity that are about to blow upon this world, and especially upon America.
(See Endtime Visions).

Folks, it’s time to wake up! We have played church far too long! Jesus is coming for a bride that is glorious, holy and spotless. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26,27).

The definition of these three words according to Strong’s Concordance are as follows:  Glorious means splendid, noble, gorgeous, honourable. Holy means pure, sacred, blameless, consecrated. Spot means stain, blemish, defect, disgrace.

How do we become glorious and holy? How can we be splendid, noble, pure, sacred, blameless and consecrated without defect? Will we be ready when the winds of adversity blow in these last days? Will we be able to stand? Or will our foundations crumble and our faith fail? Consider these things.

Here’s the test: how have you responded to the winds of adversity that have already blown in your life? Be honest. Did you fall into the trap of self-pity? Did you secretly blame God for your misfortune? Did bitterness grip your heart because you were hurt and disappointed? Did anger come and then remain within your soul, thus opening a door for Satan to enter? Did fear replace faith? Did your love for God and others grow lukewarm or even cold? Ask God to show you. By the way, any one of these responses is sin. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) We have all failed God and missed the mark!

I am convinced God allows winds of adversity to blow in our lives so we will grow up; so we will get beyond ourselves and lean upon Him; so we will learn to trust Him and allow Him to show us where we really are as opposed to where we think we are in our pride and delusion. God allows winds of adversity to blow so we will repent, turn to His word and allow it to wash and regenerate us; thereby bringing us to that place of glory, holiness and spotlessness.

Beloved, remember the Word of God admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Notice that this verse tells us both the flesh and spirit must be holy. Christians today who hear the call to “repent” are usually left to interpret what true repentance means. Because we are so prone to delusion we justify ourselves by listing all the external sins we “don’t do”. Then, again, it’s so easy to convince ourselves we are holier than others who practice things we do not.

At this point I would like to take time out to interject that when God put Rayola and I together over ten years ago and formed Gentle Shepherd Ministries, our goal was to reach the lost both here and abroad. Instead, God redirected us back to the church. Why? Because God’s people are perishing for lack of knowledge. They lack knowledge of what constitutes true Christianity and what the real definition of sin is, and more importantly, the true nature and character of God Almighty! (Read Matthew 7:21-23) I must admit, I was disappointed with this hard assignment! Wrestling with half-hearted, stiffnecked, lukewarm, backslidden “believers” gives one a bigger headache than sowing and reaping in places where people are actually crying out for the Word of God! Why is this true? The answer is religious people have allowed their pride and self-righteousness to blind them to their sin.

Those who have either attended the Hidden Manna Seminar or read HIDDEN MANNA know we define sin as “doing it our own way”. In other words, Jesus isn’t Lord in those areas where we insist on having control. No wonder the Bible says the “righteous are scarcely saved.” (1 Peter 4:28) It’s not because God is weak, but because the sin nature is strong.

Outward sin such as fornication, pornography, perversion, adultery, stealing, lying, anger, hatred, lack of mercy, gossip, slander, covetousness and other forms of idolatry are easier to detect than the hidden sins of the heart. But Jesus is not returning for a people who are glorious, holy and pure outwardly only, but inwardly as well. He is coming for people who have pure minds and spirits. This takes character and integrity. This is where the winds of adversity have their part.

The greatest example of integrity and righteous in the face of incredible suffering, other than Jesus Himself, is that of Job. Consider the winds of adversity that tested this man. When sudden destruction descended on Job’s life, he lost his children, his wealth, his manner of living, the respect of his wife, his health, his friends and faith in his creed. (Not in God, but in his understanding of God; there is a difference.) Job found himself plunged into a dark pit of despair and loneliness. He was completely misunderstood and thoroughly persecuted for that over which he had no control.

Yet in all this devastation, which few people have experienced or even understand, Job uttered the most sublime statement of faith in the entire Bible. He declared, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” What was Job’s secret? Did the winds of adversity grant to this man of faith character and integrity? The answer is NO! Job was already a man of righteousness, uprightness and purity. Job kept the first commandment; he loved God with all of his heart, mind and might. To quote Oswald Chambers, “To say that Job was perfected by means of his sufferings is begging the question, for Job was perfect in moral and religious equipment before suffering touched his life. ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ Job suffered ‘according to the will of God’; he never knew the preface to his story.”

What do you fear from the strong winds of adversity? Do you fear the loss of your material possessions? The loss of loved ones? Do you fear loss of financial security? Do you fear for daily provision such as food, water and shelter? Do you fear sickness, suffering or death? I think all of us, in our frail humanness, have times when we fear part or all of these things. Bottom line, my greatest fear is denying Christ. How about you? Of course, we can deny Christ today by our conversation, choices of what we watch on TV, read, listen to or participate in via internet, etc. We can deny Christ inwardly while sitting in church or while participating in fleshly “worship”. We deny Christ every time we disobey God; when we fail to help those in need around us when we have the means to do so.

Where do you turn when fear grips your mind and heart? Are you free of pride and sin so you can turn with confidence to the Lord? Are you standing on the promises of God, or do you go your own way every day ignoring His Word? Could you stand today if every Bible in this country was suddenly confiscated? If this has happened in other places, it surely is a possibility that it can happen  here.

Is your foundation sure? Are you built on the Rock? Will you be able to stand when the storm comes?

Jesus repeatedly told those who belong to Him to “fear not”. But He also tells us what we are to fear in Matthew 10:28-31, “. . . fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Glorious, holy, pure. Ready to withstand the winds of adversity. Does this describe you?