264898981_0514e29018.jpgIn these last days, the LORD is preparing His Church for a manifestation of His glory.  Intercessors are crying out for Him to do whatever is necessary to prepare the way.  There is a lot of shaking going on (so that what is left will be unshakable; Hebrews 12:27).  After much shaking and intercession (if they only knew what we have been praying for), the fellowship at New River Community Church is being called to a Hebrews 13 walk, particularly:

12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  

I believe many fellowships are receiving the same call; and while going out to Him sounds like a blessing, this idea of bearing His reproach will give pause to even the bravest saint.  But this is the LORD way for this time in the history of His Church.  We must trust and obey – and encourage others to come out of the camp with us.  As an Elder, I have been asking the LORD how I can encourage the fellowship so that not one is left behind, inside the camp. 

The LORD has answered that prayer with a word from Isaiah 50 and 51.  These chapters contain Messianic prophesies that were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming.  They also contain encouraging words of protection, and instruction for our response to the reproach that will accompany our going out. 

An Encouraging Word… 

The key verses for this discussion are Isaiah 50: 4-10 and 51:7-12.  Let’s begin with Isaiah 51:

7 Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,you people in whose heart is My law:  Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults.  8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.” 9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LordAwake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.  Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart, and wounded the serpent? 

Clearly, we are commanded to “not fear the reproach of men”, but to have confidence in the LORD, who is eternal and everlasting.  We must look and listen to Him, not to those that would distract and discourage us from His calling to come out.  He reminds us of our strength in Him; even over the serpent. 

He continues by reminding us of His awesome power to save and comfort, that we might come to Him with joy and gladness. 

10 Are You not the One who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; that made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over?  11 So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads.  They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

He concludes by challenging us to consider the silliness in fearing man, given who we are (His called out ones; children of the King).

12 I, even I, am He who comforts you.  Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 

So, let us put aside the fear of man, and replace it with a healthy fear of the One who delivers, protects and sustains.

…And A Proper Response 

We know that reproach will come; we are even promised persecution.  It is through many tribulations that we enter into theKingdom of God.  But, we know that God works all things to the good of those that love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  And in this reproach, what Satan means for evil, God will turn to good – all the more, if we can learn to respond to the reproach in light of His Word.  Here is some direction based on Isaiah 50:

First, allow the reproach to test you.  Is the LORD trying to show you something that requires redemption?  Yes, the LORD is able to use others to open your spiritual eyes.

1 Thus says the Lord:  Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce, whom I have put away?  Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you?  For your iniquities you have sold yourselves, and for your transgressions your mother has been put away.  2 Why, when I came, was there no man?  Why, when I called, was there none to answer?  Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?  Or have I no power to deliver?  Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink because there is no water, and die of thirst.  3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.” 

Second, look to the reproach as a prompting to press into Christ and His word for you during this season of testing. 

4 The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He awakens Me morning by morning, he awakens My ear to hear as the learned. 

Third, see the reproach as an encouragement – you are on the right path.

5 The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. 

Fourth, recognize the reproach as an opportunity to be like Christ – suffering on behalf of those that persecute.  Have faith in His desire and power to protect you, even in the most difficult battles. 

6 I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.  7 For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.  8 He is near who justifies Me; who will contend with Me?Let us stand together.  Who is My adversary?  Let him come near Me.  9 Surely the Lord God will help Me; who is he who will condemn Me?  Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up. 

Whatever you do, do not return evil for evil.  “Vengeance is mine”, says the LORD.  Be very careful not to judge, lest you be trapped by the Evil One.

10 Who among you fears the LordWho obeys the voice of His Servant?  Who walks in darkness and has no light?  Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God. 

Lastly, keep moving out of the camp; trusting only in the LORD for the fire that pierces the darkness and warms the soul.  Do not settle for a counterfeit. 

11 Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks:  Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled — This you shall have from My hand:  You shall lie down in torment. 

365339158_266fe1d16c_m.jpgThis verse reminds me of movie scenes of concentration camps. No, not Hogan’s Heroes.  These are scenes of deprived, sick and oppressed souls, crowded around camp fires trying to find warmth.  Having given up the hope of escape, they have found comfort in their misery.  They have become numb to the hope of life outside the camp.  Their little fires are vague memories and counterfeits of the fire that would warm both body and soul.

 

Regrettably, these are the reproachers and discouragers.  They would have us stay in the camp.  Their cries are,

“There is danger on the outside!” 

What about the dogs and the guards?” 

Where will you go?  Who will help you?” 

Give me a break; He doesn’t want you out there with Him.” 

“He’s not even out there.  I saw Him just the other day, right here with us.” 

Mixed in with them are the persecutors.  Yes, the whole of God’s lost and wandering children are captives in the camp.  Seemingly oblivious to their condition.   

 

But, praise God, we know the truth!  In His reality, the gate is unlocked (even standing wide open).  The dogs and the guards have no power over us!  And we know that the One we would go to, is also our Helper!  We hear Him wooing us to come. 

He is the one who baptizes with (real) fire and the Holy Spirit!!! 

He is the one who not only invites, encourages and commands us to walk out to Him, but calls us to deny ourselves for the very ones that reproach, discourage and persecute; Matthew 16:

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  

As ambassadors and peacemakers, we are called to intercede for them, knowing they are not the enemy – for our battle is not against flesh and blood – but the very captives Christ desires to set free.  We can bear their reproaching and persecution because His burden is light.  We will bear it because we are Christ’s, and He is ours. 

 

We must answer the call to come outside the camp because we love Him, and in loving Him, we love our brothers and sisters – His lost and wandering children.  We must show them the way, and prove His faithfulness. 

 

 

Hoping you will join us,

 

Rob