God Is Looking for Men

Few verses of Scripture have more powerfully influenced my personal life than Ezekiel 22:30. After having given my life to Christ in an act of repentance, and receiving His free gift of salvation, a few short years later I accepted the call to preach the word.

However as a young adult I let selfish personal desires and worldly decisions turn me away from the promise I had made to God. Though God kept that promise which I had made to Him ever before me, in rebellion I lived only for myself and like a tornado left a path of destruction which affected the lives of everyone with whom I came in contact. But, even in my immorality and wickedness God still loved me, and desired to draw me back to Himself, and to obedience to His Will.

After many years in disobedience, I had reached a point at which God in His mercy had allowed me to be completely broken. I was broken materially, emotionally, and most of all spiritually. I was jobless, homeless, and had lost all respectability and integrity. Like the prodigal son I had wasted everything God had ever given me and destroyed every relationship with those who mattered to me. However, even at the depths of my depravity, and despite my unrepentant attitude, there were those who never ceased to pray for me. In doing so, they kept the illuminating and purifying light of Christ shining into my life and exposing my sin.

At that low point in my life, as a result of those prayers and through the efforts of my mother and oldest daughter, I began to be exposed to Godly men who, in the love of Christ, began to council and then disciple me. After a few months I cried out to God for forgiveness and gave Him complete control of my life. Believing completely in His power and ability to change my life, I again turned to His Word to show me His Will. I began that process of sanctification, daily endeavoring to be more like Christ, which yet continues even to this day. Late one night while reading, I came to this passage in Ezekiel and God began to show me, to teach me, just what He would require of me.

Ezekiel was a prophet of God to the nation of Israel during the Babylonian captivity. Because of Israel’s wickedness and disobedience God had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the nation. In the process of the conquest, the destruction of Israel took place over a period of years and included three separate periods of destruction during which the people of Israel were either scattered into other nations or were carried into captivity to Babylon. Ezekiel had been a part of the second captivity and his prophecies were both for those in captivity, and those who yet remained in Jerusalem, to turn from their wickedness and ask for restoration before God. Ezekiel chapter 22 details the depths of wickedness to which the nation of Israel had fallen, and what His judgment on them would involve. Having reached this point, God told Ezekiel;

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31 KJV)

God had looked for one man, just one. It would have only taken one man to step into the breach in obedience, one man completely committed to God to make a stand for God before the nation of Israel. One man who was steadfast and loyal to God, to stay God’s judgment on the nation. But, the Scripture says, He found none.

As I read and studied that passage I was struck by two thoughts; first, how tragic it was that God could not find even one man willing to stand for Him in all the nation of Israel; and second, I was overwhelmed and captivated with the realization that God is still looking for a man. That, in fact, throughout history, in every generation, God has looked for a man, Today, God is still looking for men willing to be His steadfast and loyal watchmen, warrior servants, and leader servants, willing to stand for God, for Christ, before this wicked world, calling for repentance and declaring His righteousness.

As the meaning of this passage and its significance became clear to me, especially as it pertained to my own life and to my walk with Christ, I realized that incredibly, God still wanted to use me. I realized that He wanted to use me not because of who I was becoming in Christ, but because of who I was before I turned to Him.

This realization compelled me to begin a study of the men God chose to use, both in the Old Testament and New, to accomplish His goals. And while this study revealed the character and characteristics of the type of man God is looking for, most importantly I began to understand not only why He still wanted to use me, but also what He was going to require of me.

Many years have passed since Christ in His mercy restored me to Himself and allowed His Holy Spirit to indwell me, protect me, teach me, and empower me to be His obedient servant. The process of sanctification continues in my life, and each morning as I rise I hear the call of the Holy Spirit in my heart saying “I sought for a man among them” and I pray to my heavenly Father; “cause me, make me, enable me to be that man.”

God is still looking for men! But God is not looking for perfect men, He is not looking for the wealthiest, or the best looking, or even the most intelligent men.

What kind of man is God looking for?

  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and love Him more than they love the things of the world.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because their hearts desire is to serve Him in obedience.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because as men they are dependent on Him, humble men who trust him completely to lead them.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and not compromise the Word of God to the popular culture or the ideas of man, who will not tolerate unrepentant sin, yet who will love sinners just as Jesus did.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and love, lead, comfort, and protect their wives just as Christ does the church.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because they are more concerned about their children’s souls than their athletic abilities or popularity.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and lead by the way they live rather than by what they say.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and pray, who current in their prayer life, are intercessors praying for the lives of others.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap as watchmen, warning His church of apostasy and infidelity, who will be defenders of the faith.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap having put on the whole armor of God, and having done all to stand, will stand therefore!

The most important thing that we must understand is that God is looking for men not only willing to die for the cause of Christ, but more importantly, He is looking for men whose lives are yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit and who are willing to live for Jesus Christ!

Is He looking for You?

 

Why Would He?

Why would a loving God allow suffering in the world? That can be a difficult question to answer when you are in ministry, especially when asked by someone who is suffering in illness and pain, or is watching a loved one do so. If the person is a believer, it may be testing their faith as they struggle to cope with something that is incredibly hard for them to bear. If the person has not trusted Christ as their Savior, it may be asked in great anger. At times like these, hitting someone with a Bible verse is not necessarily going to cut it:

 As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one – Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23

Try one of those on someone who has just lost a parent, a spouse, a child or a sibling and you will probably be called an insensitive fool or much, much worse. Probably with good justification. Let me be clear, I am not saying not to share the Gospel with those suffering or in need. If they do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, if they do not have a personal relationship with Him, they need that more than anything else. But understand the context you are talking to them in. Suffering people need comfort and companionship, not verses thrown at them at a time of weakness or despair. They need the Gospel that is certainly true, but they need the Truth spoken in love, they need a sensitive approach that will open their hearts and not close their ears.

Take a look at the second chapter of Job, when his friends, after hearing of the adversity that had beset Job, came to visit. For seven days they just sat with him, for they recognized the depths of his grief, and as friends, just being there was some comfort to Job. And as you look at the subsequent chapters when all three try to give Job an answer for his suffering, you realize they were all much smarter when they just kept their mouths shut and sat with Job as he struggled with his anguish. They seemed more intent on proving themselves right than with helping Job through his difficult time. In the end, God had nothing good to say about them as He reminded Job who He was, and who was Job to question Him.

The plain truth of it is that there is pain and suffering in the world, at some point we all face a tragedy in our lives. I can tell you from personal experience that facing it without Jesus to lean on and call out to is no easy matter. God loves us more than we can truly comprehend, loves us enough to allow us to make choices. Sin entered the world through the choice of the first members of humanity, and we have dealt with it ever since. But God loved us enough to allow His Son to suffer on this earth as well, and as a result we have a choice to accept Christ as Lord and Savior and so avoid eternal suffering separated from the divine Presence. But that love allows choice, even if choices (our own or those of others) permits incredible amounts of suffering into these short, temporary lives (or so they are when compared to eternity). As children of God we are promised an eternal life in the very presence of God. As children of God we are not promised an easy life while in this world. We live with our choices, and we live with sin and evil, and all the attendant pain, as a result of that first choice made in the Garden.

There must be something in the personally choosing Christ that makes the joy awaiting us in eternity fuller and richer. Something we cannot comprehend now, but one day will, and when we do, it will be forever. Something that in God’s perfect plan allows suffering today as He permits the sin that is in the world and the sin nature within us to continue as He works forward in His purposes. There is divine purpose to the fact we are given choice.

So if dealing with that question, either from a believer or a non-believer, try to show God’s love, try to share God’s love. And when the moment is right, give them the Gospel if they haven’t trusted Christ; remind them of the Gospel if they have. But most of all, be there for them. Seek the Lord and ask that the Spirit give you the right words to say at the right time. We can be wise in Christ, and we can draw upon that as needed. But I believe the most important thing to start with is to remind those suffering that God loves them; a believer can rely on the promises made to all children of God, one who has not accepted Christ can draw comfort from the fact that He wants them to accept Him. A rock solid belief that a loving God loves me is the most powerful thing for anyone to draw upon when working through a trial, when dealing with suffering.

If it asked by someone more interested in debating your beliefs or denying the one true God, the question of why does God allow suffering will most likely be asked in a mocking tone. Something along the lines of how can a loving God allow people to starve, allow children to be harmed, allow bad things happen to “good” people. Starting with Bible verses may not be the best approach either. I find Bible verses work best when the person asking the question is sincerely seeking answers, is craving the wisdom and comfort of Truth. If you are seeking the Lord’s guidance, you will know when to turn to His Word directly. For the mocker or the derisive, dismissive type you may want to start in another place that will eventually lead to Scripture as you engage in conversation and people see your belief is sincere, even if they don’t agree with it. Passion for your belief and sincerity to share what you have may overcome the objections to your quoting from the Bible. An atheist may respect you more if your integrity is obvious, or at least be willing to hear you out. Engage in conversation, question how they arrived at their beliefs (or disbeliefs), explain a bit how you arrived at your current place in the journey that is your life. Scripture will fall into the conversation as and when it should, trust in the Spirit, trust in the Lord’s timing.

As I think about engaging in those type discussions my mind sometimes goes in a different direction from when I am speaking to someone dealing with the immediate effects of pain, with suffering. (But I believe the mockers are dealing with pain, but it may be from the past or at least not so directly obvious at the time). When you look at what has gone on in the world from those first days in the Garden to now, you may want to ask why didn’t the Lord wipe the slate clean and start over again. Love. He loved us too much to do that. But beyond that you would have to ask the following question, which is of paramount importance. Why would a sovereign God allow His perfect plans be defeated? God cannot permit evil to win, it is not in His character to do so. God also has His own timing, which we cannot begin to understand. And given the choice He has allowed us, and how we chose to use it, we will struggle with sin, with pain, with suffering until Jesus returns to restore God’s Kingdom on earth and right the wrongs in the world. God loves us too much to have made us robots. We are made in His image, and one day that will be restored as it should.

Do I wish I had the perfect answer to give someone when they ask why would a loving God…

Yes, but I do not. But I know that He is Lord.

That is good enough for me.

But I pray that when faced with someone’s pain and suffering, I find the words, placed in my heart and mind by the Lord, that enable them get take some comfort and strength from what I say, to see that knowing the Lord is who He says He is good enough for them too. And if it is someone who appears to be mocking my Lord, I try to remind myself that they are blinded by the God of this world, and I pray that their eyes may be opened and they may feel the drawing call of the Spirit upon them.

Why would He do anything in this world? Because of His love for us and His wish that all come to His Son. For once there, no one can pull them from His grasp.

No one, not ever.

Just Living!

Some of my fondest memories, are of driving from one cow pasture to another, or from one farm or ranch to another with my grandfather and a car full of boys, my cousins. Wherever we were going, it seems we were always singing. God had blessed all of us boys with good voices and a natural aptitude for harmony. However that was not the case for our grandfather. My grandfather, R. H. Marlin, could not carry a tune in an oil tanker, but he loved to sing and did so at the top of his lungs. Some of his favorite hymns were; “Heaven Came down,” “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” and “Living by Faith.” As I consider his life, and the lessons I learned from it, I believe these three hymns sum it up pretty well. Having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, heaven had come down to fill his soul; and he knew because of this, that when the roll is called, his name will be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of real significance to me, is the fact that he truly lived his life by faith. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, even now I can see the index finger of his right hand keeping time as his craggy voice sang;

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know rules o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.                 Wells and Winsett 1918

Living by faith is; “Just Living.”

Now over the next few paragraphs I’d like to expand on that statement. But first let me say, I love words, or more to the point semantics, and so as we expand on the statement; “just living,” I hope we will find in it, two meanings as it relates to faith in the daily life of a Christian.

What is faith?

In Hebrews 11:1 we find this statement written; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence and not on emotion. Faith is acting on what you believe to be true, not what you feel to be true. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we find written; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So then, walking or living by faith is the opposite of trusting what we see, hear, or feel (physically or emotionally). True faith, is to express belief in God who gives us faith (Romans 12:3), in Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and His Holy Spirit who keeps us in faith (2 Timothy 1: 13-14).

Faith is the pathway God has set before us, to bring us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love for us, we receive faith from Him in the form of a gift. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The fact that we are justified in the sight of God by the faith which He gives us, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And in his letter to the Galatians; “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Because we have been gifted with faith by God, it should be clear that we can do nothing to earn either grace or faith, that we have received them because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Only by faith in Christ can we be made righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16) and John wrote in his gospel; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). True faith in Jesus Christ involves more than just believing in His existence, it is believing that His atoning work on the cross is sufficient payment for our sin debt.

Positionally, the risen Christ Jesus is our Savior, and therefore is the object of our faith as we develop a personal relationship with Him. We are brought to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit who acts on behalf of Christ. He originates the process of faith in us by convicting us of our sins (John 16:7-10), and draws us to the Savior regenerating our unbelieving hearts. If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then positionally you are in Christ, and if you are in Christ, then you have been given the gift of faith by God. You have been saved by faith.

The Bible, God’s Word, has been given to us as the instrument of our faith. It is the tool which God uses to establish, build, and strengthen our faith and within its pages we find everything which “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1-3). Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict man of sin and bring them to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed which germinates into faith. And the psalmist writes that the Word is a lamp and light to keep him on the path of righteousness (Psalm 119:115).

Living by faith

Three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) we find this phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 quoted; “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk is making the point that only man who is just in the sight of God, can and will live by faith. The three New Testament passages are repeating the same thought. So who are the just? They are those who have been made righteous by the faith which God has given them in Christ Jesus, they have been justified by God through faith (Romans 1:12; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, 19; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11, 24).

Living by faith is what Christian life is really all about, placing our complete trust in God to supply and meet our every need. Truly living by faith will take our lives out of the realm of the ordinary world into the realm of the extraordinary, supernatural world.

At one point the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could tell a sycamore tree to replant itself into the sea and it would obey, or they could tell a mountain to move from one place to another and it would (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). The lesson wasn’t that they needed more faith, but that they needed to exercise the faith which they already had. If they would do so their faith would grow.

Living by faith moves beyond merely believing in God, to having complete trust in Him to accomplish everything He has promised in our lives. This faith is essential for the Christian life, for without it we cannot please Him and certainly won’t receive His promised rewards (Hebrews 11:6). He promised if we ask we will receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:14), and He tells us to ask in faith believing without fear (James 1:6).

Living by faith is standing on God’s honor and integrity, and acting on His promises to us, learning to trust Him in every part of our life. Living by faith involves believing that absolutely every bit of God’s Word is truth, and that in it we find everything we need for life, knowing that God has given it to us for that reason.

Living by faith is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and sanctification, which draws us ever closer to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit. God desires each of us to be living a life of faith, to be in that process, and that can happen when we quit doubting Him and trusting in ourselves. Imagine how much might be accomplished for the cause of Christ in these last days if we would simply trust God, live by faith, and let Him live through us.

How do we accomplish this?

Read the Word! Study it! Memorize it! Pray over it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and teach you the precepts found within it!

Pray for wisdom! Pray for boldness to share the Word! Pray for God to show you His Will for your life! Pray for Him to give you strength to accomplish it!

Be a disciple, find someone who is living by faith and ask them to disciple you! Learn to disciple others yourself! Get involved in a local church which is teaching the Word of God and the Word of God only! Surround yourself with friends who also desire to live by faith!

Living by faith is not for the faint hearted or those weak in character, but it is for those who realize that strength and character come from God, and that living by faith, is living in complete dependence upon God. Living by faith is something that only can be accomplished with the strength and power of God in your life, surrendering your will to His Will. Living by faith is truly life in Christ, and for the Christian, it really is; “just living.”

Just living = having been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Just living = what the normal life of a Christian is, when he is Living by Faith!

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.

Yes grandpa, I was paying attention.