A Perfect Work
“Adversity doesn't build character…it reveals it.” - James Lane Allen
Character is like the sweat that is released from our pours when we find ourselves in the hot sun, or the heated sauna, or under the physical stress of exercise, or under some type of stress when our nerves are wound up. The adversity we experience in life causes to come out from us, what we have no control over… who we are. For some we find the most bitter, angry, spoiled, cantankerous person you ever want to meet. In others, we might find the most laid back, docile, or unassuming person whom you would never know anything was going on.
Yet, our responses to adversity reveal to us what state of man we truly are…
Psa 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
David somehow understood what the Lord was doing with man, with himself and he didn’t shrink back from the challenge set before Him.
Another prophet of the Most High, Jeremiah, recognized that He tries the reins and the heart, specifically the righteous.
Jer 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.
Jer 20:11-13 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. (12) But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. (13) Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
Psa 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
In these the last two verses you see that in the process of trying the hearts and reins, there is justice established for the righteous, deliverance of the just, and judgment upon the wicked.
The Lord was the mighty terrible one that defended Jeremiah amongst all his persecutors. For any and all those that come against the prophets, this is their lot. The Lord tries the righteous and sees the reigns of their heart.
Do you understand what is the purpose of Him proving you?
Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Examples of hearts that were tested and failed:
1. Israelites in the wilderness
a. Heb 3:6-19 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (7) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
What was the conclusion of the matter regarding the LORD when the Israelites tempted, tried, and proved the Him for those 40 years? God was found FAITHFUL!
(10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. (11) So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (12) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
What was the conclusion of the matter regarding the Israelites when the wilderness experience was all said and done in contrast to the LORD? They were found most UNFAITHFUL and UNWORTHY to enter into the promised land. Faith was not found within them. What was found in them was an evil unbelieving heart.
(14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (15) While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (16) For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. (17) But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? (18) And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? (19) So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Notice, the promised land is not attainable if you do not hold fast unto the end. You can not enter into that rest with a heart of unbelief. The warning for us today is to not harden our hearts when we hear His voice let we should fall as the church in the wilderness fell. It is crucial that you be found faithful and worthy to enter in.
b. 1Co 10:6-13 (6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. (9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. (10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. (11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
All of these Old Covenant accounts are written to us for our examples, teaching and admonishing us not to walk as they walked; as idolaters, as fornicators, as those who tempted Christ, as those who murmured against the One who delivered them from the bondage Egypt and saved them from the pursuing enemy. Knowing this is what happened to our ancestors we are warned to take heed, lest we fall in the same manner. The proving of us is really the exposing of our faith to us. Are we really any different then they? Remember, God is faithful and in trying you He will always provide a way of escape.
2. King Saul
Both of these two seemed to start off on the right foot, but if you follow their stories to their bitter end, when the pressure came on to them, they both ended up committing suicide.
4.Wicked in the last days
a. Rev 6:15-16 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; (16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
As you can see here, even in the final days to come, the wicked will not repent… they will not turn to the Lord in humility, but would rather hide from the judgment to come. Hence, their trial will reveal how unworthy they are of the kingdom of God and His saving forgiveness. Their demise will be proven, a just act.
Examples of hearts that did not fail:
a. Job 1:7-11 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. (8) And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
You ever notice that the LORD was the one that brought up Job? It was the LORD that used satan as his instrument of proving to try the reins and the heart of Job. Notice also, the LORD already knew and declared the type of man that Job was… nobody like him in all the earth, a perfect and upright man that feared God and turned from evil. We also see here that the LORD knows how to push satan’s buttons to get him going.
(9) Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? (10) Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. (11) But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Satan, here, questions the LORD about Job because up to this point in Job’s life, he is protected on every side, everything he touches is blessed and he is increased in all ways because of the LORD’s great favor. But Satan believes if He withdraws His hand from Job’s life, so that he is no longer untouchable, then Job will curse Him to his face.
But now see what comes out of Job when he is squeezed…
b. Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
In the midst of his great loss, Job responds, “Blessed be the name of the LORD!” What happens when Satan tries to tempt Job through his own wife with the same words he spoke before the LORD?
c. Job 2:9-10 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. (10) But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
When Job is squeezed by the fire of tribulation, grief, and suffering he is found to be steadfast, retaining his faith in God. He retains his fear of the LORD and he does not turn away from Him, as the Israelites did time and again in the wilderness. Job has been proved before his own eyes and found faithful. You ever ask yourself how will you respond under pressure, you have never experienced? Now Job knows.
a. Gen 22:11-12 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. (12) And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
b. Gen 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Remember the trying of your faith is not for the LORD… it is for you and so it was with Abraham. In Genesis 18, The LORD declares who Abraham is because the LORD already knew him, knew what he would do in regards to his house and children… already knew He would perform His own word that He spoke to Abraham. Abraham was driven to the brink… between a rock and a hard place… and the conclusion of the matter for Abraham was that he would remain faithful and obey the LORD his God.
3. Hannah (1 Sam 1-2:10)
To make a long story short, let me highlight the issues that pertain to this message. Hannah was wife to Elkanah, but Elkanah also had another wife, Peninnah. Already you have a problem… you are not the only woman in the man’s life. Even though Peninnah was the only wife to bear Elkanah’s children, it was Hannah who had his love. Not only that, it was said the the LORD had shut up Hannah’s womb. In those days, what brought a woman favor and great pride was the fact that she brought forth many children. So you can imagine, that Hannah was not looked highly upon, but rather looked down on for she had no children. Here we see Hannah being squeezed by the Lord. “I know you want children, but when I withhold children from you, how will you respond to me?”
Elkanah was faithful to attend the feasts of the LORD, year by year. This time was especially hard for Hannah, because though the feast were supposed to be a celebration, Peninnah made sure Hannah celebrated nothing and provoked and vexed Hannah sorely. After they had eaten and drunk, she snuck away from the feast cried deeply and bitterly before the LORD in prayer. In the sorrow of her soul, she prayed. She vowed that if she would bear a man child she would dedicate him to the LORD all the days of his life.
Unbeknownst to Eli, she spoke the Word of the Lord to her in answer to her prayer and the next time she bed with Elkanah, she conceived, because the Lord remembered her. Hopefully, you know the rest of the story. She remained true to her word, and a few years after Samuel’s birth she gave her son to serve the LORD all the rest of his days.
Notice what exuded from Hannah when she was pressed… instead of turning away from the LORD, she turned to Him. She sought His face and favor. Read for yourself, what she declared the very day she gave up her only son, Samuel…
1Sa 2:1-10 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. (2) There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. (3) Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (4) The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. (5) They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. (6) The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. (7) The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. (8) He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. (9) He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. (10) The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
So much can be said regarding her declaration, but suffice it to say, she recognized and declared the absolute sovereignty of the LORD in all situations and circumstance, concluding that “He will keep the feet of His saints… and exalt the horn of his anointed.” She learned by experience that God is ever faithful to His people. God was proven faithful before her eyes.
If the heart of one responds in the right manner, it will result in singing praise to the Lord for delivering us and trying us according to His mercy, lovingkindness and righteousness.
a. Heb 5:7-11 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; (8) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (10) Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (11) Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
There is a work of perfection that only comes about through God ordained tribulation and suffering. Even the man Jesus, in the days of His flesh, prayed and supplicated with strong crying and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death. The man Jesus was heard of Him because He feared the LORD. Though He was God, albeit in a self-imposed limitation from His Glory, He learned obedience through His suffering and was made perfect, becoming the prototype for all that would follow after Him in His footsteps in obedience.
He is the author of eternal salvation. He was called an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. If He was the prototype, the first in the assembly line, the Son of God, then all the sons that follow after Him would be made in His very image. He set the example to love the Lord… not by blowing Him kisses or hugging Him with great big hugs, but loving Him by perfectly keeping His commandments.
Rom 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Paul learned and tried to teach others that we should glory in our tribulations because it works patience in us. We learn to wait on God, whether it be for a day, a week or seven years. As He develops our patience, we are taught by experience that God remains ever faithful. And when we learn that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, that God is faithful, it leads us to hope in God that He will bring us to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. In our hope, we will not be ashamed. We will not be let down or disappointed for we know in whom we have believed and when He says He will do something, He always does it.
1Pe 4:12-14 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (14) If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
Peter teaches us that our attitude, paradigm and expectation must change. We should rejoice to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings because when His glory is revealed, we will be with exceeding joy. Question is, when, where and how is His glory revealed?
2Th 1:3-11 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; (4) So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Does a muscle in our body grow without the adversity of exercise? Does it get stronger without repeated resistance? Anyone who has ever been involved in this type of exercise knows exactly what I’m talking about. What I’m saying to you is that when God tries you, you need to see it as God is strengthening my faith. He’s making my heart of love steadfast in Him. When faith is tried and perfected it leads to charity, love perfected, not only toward God, but toward everyone.
(5) Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
The Kingdom of God must be earned! You must be counted worthy of the kingdom of God through the things that you suffer by being found faithful.
(6) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; (7) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (8) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (10) When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Here’s the kicker in answer to the question: when, where, and how will His glory be revealed? His glory will be revealed in His saints. His perfect work is Christ in you, the hope of glory! There is no higher calling in the Kingdom than to be conformed into the image of His Son. The glory of God is revealed in us. Don’t talk of being an apostle, prophet, king, or priest or any other office gift given unto men for the perfection of the saints. Jesus, formed in me, is the target and the standard of perfection and all else falls woefully short of the mark, of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There is a manifestation of God that is going to take place on earth through His saints, specifically the manchild, the fully mature and perfected sons of God. It’s going to take place on earth, not in heaven. This is the paradigm shift that must come to the body of Christ. He will be glorified IN HIS SAINTS!
(11) Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
Paul continues Peter’s paradigm shift by speaking of the Lord Jesus being revealed in His saints, but you must be counted worthy of this calling. To be counted worthy, members of the body of Christ must wake up from their laid back, complacent "christian" lifestyle and become heavily immersed in the purpose of God in their lives and the work of God here on earth. They must wake up from their delusions and errors involving their destiny and the work of God here on earth in the last days. The latter days are nigh upon us, and those members of the body of Christ who have
Amo 6:1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
There will be bitter disappointment for those members who are asleep concerning the revelation of Jesus Christ in and through His body here on earth. Like the foolish virgins, they will not be ready at the coming of the Lord, the coming of the son of man, at the revelation of Jesus Christ through His saints.
1Pe 1:5-9 (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The salvation that we are all waiting for will be revealed in the last days and it will come through manifold temptations and trials of our faith. Our faith must be found true, tried in the fires of adversity.
(6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
The appearing of Jesus Christ is Jesus being glorified in His saints. God fully revealed and perfected in you is the salvation of your soul.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” (Charles Swindoll)
How do you respond to the tribulation that God puts on you? How do you respond when He squeezes you?
Zec 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. (9) And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Didn’t Thomas say, “My Lord and my God!”?
From the movie, “A League of their Own”:
Baseball coach: “Baseball is what gets inside you. It's what lights you up, you can't deny that.”
Player quitting: “It just got too hard.”
Baseball coach: “It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.”
Imagine all of the trials and tribulations that you have gone through, are going through, will go through… imagine making it to the end… finishing the race… all those trials and tribulations will make the end, the victory, ever so sweet! Think about if God never made anything difficult, or dangerous, for you… would it taste as sweet?
What’s an action movie, without danger? What’s a drama movie, without conflict? Boring. You watch it because the trial, the struggle, the danger, the adventure, the action, the conflict engages you and grips you. So that at the end of the flic, when it is all resolved, it makes it all the more sweet because of what was overcome. So what God is working out in you, through your trials and tribulations is how you need to look at this. You must see beyond your present circumstance into the realm of future glory and be able to say now, “How sweet it is.”
The attitude must be developed that says, “I will not quit. I will not relent. I will not give up. I will see this through to the end.”
Rom 8:18-23 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Paul had a vision of revelation of the glory to come, revealed in us, and it was not worthy to be compared with our present circumstances.
(19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
The redemption of our body is the glorified body, the righteousness of Christ, that clothes us for eternity. This is the end of our faith… the salvation of our souls… and it doesn’t come easy… it doesn’t come without pain, it doesn’t come with getting wounded in battle, or struggle, or obstacle, or any temptation… It doesn’t come without a fight, and that fight is the good fight of faith.
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
And if Jesus, a man, overcame the world, leading by example of what it is for a man to be fully dependent on the Spirit of God for his victory, then brethren, be of good cheer… so can we.
© copyright 2010 Jesus M. Ruiz