In Jeremiah 19, God gave his prophet a word to speak to Israel. Then he sent him into the temple court to prophesy. Jeremiah spoke these words: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words” (Jeremiah 19:15).
The apostle Paul instructs us, "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Then he says more specifically, "As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members...being many, are one body: so also is Christ" (12:12).
Paul is telling us, in essence, "Take a look at your own body. You have hands, feet, eyes, ears. You're not just an isolated brain, unattached to the other members. Well, it's the same way with Christ. He's not just a head. He has a body, and we comprise its members."
"Then Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:1). What an incredible verse. Matthew boldly states that God's Spirit led Christ into a desert experience, where he would have to undergo severe temptations."
As we read the words of David in Psalm 38, we find this godly, righteous man at the end of himself. He was downcast and discouraged, and his struggle had drained him of all strength. Listen to his distraught cry:
Jesus came to earth as a man to redeem humankind from our sins and from every kind of bondage and imprisonment. That fact has been established in the minds and hearts of most Christians. But Christ also came to earth for the purpose of revealing to us the heavenly father.
First he told his disciples, "...The Father hath sent me..." (John 5:36).
Then he said, "I can of mine own self do nothing... I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (verse 30).
And finally he stated, "...I go unto my Father" (14:12).
DAVID boldly declared, "...God ...is the health of my countenance ..." (Psalm 42:11). And he repeats the same statement in another psalm: "...God...is the health of my countenance..." (43:5). In the original Hebrew, the proper rendering of both these verses is, "God is the salvation of my face!"
Imagine this scenario from Luke 17: Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem as the time for His crucifixion drew near. As He passed between Samaria and Galilee, He approached an unnamed village. And outside that village, ten lepers were encamped in terrible squalor and shame.
Evidently, nine of these lepers were Jews, and one was a Samaritan. Now, the Jews of that day did not even touch Samaritans, let alone live with them. But apparently the common distress of these ten had brought them together in a shared misery.
I want to tell you about three men whom God used mightily — and how God used failure to produce godliness in each of them.
We hear so much talk today about how to be successful. It is time the body of Christ learns to recognize the scriptural pattern God uses to produce His chosen servants. And the hard truth is this: Pain, torment, sorrow and failure have produced the men and women of God who have stirred their generations.
"For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.... Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 6:13,15, KJV).
There is a portion of Scripture that convicts me deeply. It involves a great and terrible responsibility that no true disciple of Jesus Christ can ignore. Jesus said, "I am the vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit...If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned..." (John 15:1-2,6).