PREPARING FOR THE PREPARER!

Publicado em: 12/09/2012 Categorias: Articles in English

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

 “…the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3-4).

The need for preparation

The Lord Jesus may come back in our generation – but who can see God?  Only the pure in heart. We cannot  face the return of Christ as an event for which no preparation is needed. It wouldn’t be good if he were to come back and find us in this condition; if we don’t have pure hearts, the consequences will be catastrophic. The fire that comes from his eyes would fulminate us!

Knowing this, he promised to send a ministry – the “Ministry of Elijah” to prepare the way for him before his coming. This is essential not only to avoid the disaster for us if he came back and nobody were ready, but also because it would totally frustrate the purpose he had in mind when he created us. Can you imagine the disappointment if he came back after all those years retained in heaven and there were no pure in heart to receive him? We would all be destroyed by his presence!

Therefore, God’s exhortation now is for us to be prepared to be prepared (by him and for him)! We desperately need the Lord to give us a burning desire for a pure heart, so that he can come back. When speaking about the last days, Jesus always stressed the need to be prepared for his return.

There is a good example of this in Luke 21:34-36: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.   For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Note the words that he uses: “Take heed to yourselves,” “watch,” “pray always,” “to stand before the Son of Man.”

This is the emphasis in all the passages that speak of the second coming. Be careful to not be ashamed, to not be caught unawares, to not flee and cry out for the mountains to cover you. May we be found in peace, walking in the light, with our lamps lit, fully dressed, on guard, looking forward to his return. Let us not be found with unconfessed, unforgiven sins; let there be nothing in us that displeases our Master; and when the Lord looks deep into our eyes, may he not see the slightest trace of darkness, iniquity, or unclean desire. Then he will be able to say, “Come, you blessed of my Father, enter the kingdom that has been prepared for you.”  Let there be no shadow, no doubt, no murky area, no hidden moments  sitting in front of the computer watching pornography, no attitude motivated by ambition, slander, pride, arrogance, greed or by the desire to seek other things in opposition to his kingdom, and so on and so forth.

The Holy Spirit is fully able to pinpoint exactly everything that is wrong in our heart. Many times we have the wrong motivation even when doing the “work of God.” If he were to appear, we would blush with shame. Nobody is prepared for the coming of Christ, but he has made arrangements for us to be prepared. Are you ready for the preparation that he is going to send? Are you anxious to be prepared?

Desiring the preparer

Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. [The way is not outside us – it is within us.] And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming”, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? and who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap.  He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old, as in former years (Malachi 3:1-4).

This passage presents a promise and a threat. He says that the “Lord will suddenly come.” He was not speaking about the second coming of Christ. From the context, it is clear that the prophet is referring to the coming of the messenger before the return of Jesus…This messenger will come when we begin to desire  the Lord, when we start yearning for his return, when we say, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come and purify your Bride so you won’t be embarrassed upon your return – and so your Bride won’t suffer even greater embarrassment. Lord, we can’t stand the church the way she is, we can’t stand our life the way it is, we can’t stand our family the way it is. Thank you for the good things we have received and have experienced, but there is so much more! Lord, you can’t return to the Church in this state!”

Today, we have but scattered rain drops; what we want is abundant rain, we want fire, we want the salvation of millions, not just one or two here and there. We don’t want prayers that proceed from well-intentioned hearts but never make it past the ceiling. We want prayers that are hot potatoes that will scorch the hands of the enemy, reach the heart of God and be answered with fire from his throne. We want to exude holiness, that will make people stop on the street and ask us, “What is your secret?” Holiness that will make people want to hide from us, like they hid from Moses when his face was shining.

We aren’t satisfied with this meager measure of grace we have achieved so far. We want our shadow to heal people like Peter’s shadow healed them. We want our personal handkerchiefs to bring people deliverance from their infirmities and oppression like Paul’s handkerchiefs did. We want discernment, faith and power to strike people who rise up against the work of God with blindness, like Paul did.

We can no longer accept a Church that has the power to heal thousands of people, but, at the same time, is involved in financial scandals of gigantic proportions. We don’t want to see our brothers and sisters living in sin and criticizing their fellow-servants, while the world looks on and says, “See the Church of Jesus Christ? How they hate each other!”  We don’t want multitudes filling the churches to overflowing, while scandals fill the newspapers and social networks. We want a Church that is holy and pure, where no man receives the glory – only the Lord Jesus Christ. We want a Church where people say, “No man could ever have done that miracle! It was the Lord Jesus himself!”

Malachi said that this messenger promised by God is the one “you seek.”  What have you been seeking in your prayers? If you have been seeking to be prepared for the coming of Christ, you can rest assured that you are hastening the coming of this Messenger. Do you expect the Lord to suddenly appear sometime soon in one of your church services? Do you believe that he will come in, that you will melt in his presence, and be completely transformed before you leave?

That’s exactly what happened in the Azusa Street revival. There were two brothers who prayed together regularly before the revival broke out. On a certain night, Jesus walked into the place where they were. He didn’t say a word, but they both felt his presence, and had a wonderful, unforgettable experience.  They felt much more strength to pray after Jesus appeared to them and later on, during the revival, many others experienced his wonderful presence and received songs from heaven.

The grace of God will not be restricted to just a few people who are praying, but will spread out till it covers the face of the earth. Never pray to satisfy your own sense of self-righteousness; nor should you pray to deserve or earn anything. You are never going to be given a trophy for praying.  You should only pray with the motivation of participating in a great cry that will grow stronger and stronger in the midst of the people of God. “Jesus, we long for your coming, but we are not prepared! What can we do? Come quickly, and prepare us! Send the promised Messenger that will make us a perfect and pure bride for you!”

The promise of  the “suddenly”

And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,says the Lord of hosts.” The promise is very clear: he is coming. However, the greater our anxiety for his coming, the longer it will seem to us that he is taking!

I was recently praying with a brother and we were feeling desperate, discouraged. I started to pray, “How long do we have to pray, Lord, before you answer us? What’s taking you so long? What’s the reason for the delay?” Then I remembered the question of the prophet Habakkuk: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). And then he says, “I’m going to stand my watch, and wait until I hear the answer” (Habakkuk 2:1 – summarized in my own words). And God answers, “Write the vision … for the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Although it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:2-3).

What an enigmatic answer! After all, is it going to tarry, or not? And for how long? And God says, “It’s not going to tarry, but if it does tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry!” An answer like that still leaves one in the dark, but what matters is that God answered! When God answers, you receive new strength to pray and persevere.

Now, praying just for the sake of praying, praying because it’s pious, praying as a religious act won’t get us anywhere. We need to pray to seek the Lord, with a deep desire to receive the answer to our prayer. And then we have this wonderful declaration in the passage in Malachi: “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.” There is the promise of a “suddenly” here! Do you believe this? Do you long for it to happen?

So, there is this process where we seek anxiously and nothing ever happens. A growing frustration with a burning hunger for God and an ever-increasing dryness in our souls. The more earnestly we pray, the worse the situation seems to get. However, we can feel comforted – this is not how the story ends. There is a “suddenly” that God has promised.  We don’t know where or when, but it will surely happen!

Jesus is returning, and we need to be ready; however, we are unable to prepare ourselves! That’s why he is going to send a preparer.  It’s up to us to desire the coming of this preparer. “Jesus, I want you to come back, but I know that I am not ready yet. I want to have a pure heart, but I am unable to purify myself. You promised to send a messenger. He is coming… but when? And how? Slowly? No, suddenly!”

He may tarry, but we are seeking, we are longing for his coming, and suddenly… he will appear.

The process of purification

But then, right after the promise, there is a question: “But who may endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?”  Will his coming be a blessing or a threat? The first touches of the presence of God are like the rain: refreshing. Feeling the love of Jesus, receiving healing, deliverance from guilt, relief, forgiveness, salvation – all that is wonderful!  But those are blessings for the multitudes that stay at a distance. To the disciples that draw near to him, Jesus says the following, “If you don’t deny yourself, and abandon everything, you cannot be my disciple.”

Do you want to remain at a distance, receiving scattered drops? Or do you want to draw close to the Master and enjoy intimacy with him? If you want close fellowship, that’s great, but who can endure it? Because he’s coming with fire and launderers’ soap – a bleaching agent with aversion to anything that has color. A bleaching agent persecutes the tiniest trace of color. Only white cloth is free from its attacks. That’s how Jesus will come – with an “anti-sin” acid that will ferret out things you never even knew existed in your life. He is going to reveal your past to you from God’s viewpoint. You will get so disgusted with yourself that you will feel like vomiting. “I thought I was such a nice person…” That’s why he asks, “Who may endure?” Having one’s smug self-image destroyed is a terribly gruesome experience.

Furthermore, it’s a drawn-out process. The verse says he is going to “sit.” He’s not going to stand because it’s going to take quite a while. He is going to burn like a refiner’s fire that melts the gold and removes all impurities. He is going to take the clothes that we are going to wear on that last day, when we stand before the throne of God, and makethem immaculately white. We are going to come out of this process so pure and holy that fire will start coming from our eyes too. Jesus will then be able to come back because there will be a glorious Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish waiting for him. Do you believe that?

Over and over again, during these last weeks in our prayer group, the Holy Spirit has quickened the words of this passage to my heart. I feel God is speaking to us. I don’t know when this suddenly is going to happen, but I long for it. And when he comes, we will stop criticizing and slandering each other; we will have such disgust for ourselves that talking about others will be meaningless. This disgust, according to the Bible, is an important and permanent aspect of the New Covenant (Ezekiel 16:61-63; 20:43; 36:31). Though unpleasant, it is not such a bad feeling; on the contrary, it is a blessed trauma that rids us of our pride, the worst plague that exists. We will never feel arrogant again, because we’ll know who we really are. And we will not feel depressed or discouraged with this “revelation,” since it will set us free. Every time the devil tries to threaten us, saying, “I’m going to show people what an imposter you are,” or “I’m going to show people who you really are,” we can immediately answer, “Go ahead, show anyone you want; if you want, I can provide even more details, because I know a lot more than you about my wickedness!” We will thus be freed from all the spurious things in our life, free to belong to Jesus, by his merits rather than ours. This is the promise of God; this is true salvation.

In the beginning, however, it’s kind of scary; that’s why he asks, “Who may endure…?”  The church will pass through a sieve. Those who are seeking nothing but blessings will be cast aside, but those who really want the Lord Jesus will remain and be refined. There will finally be a people who will announce to the world the coming of the King, Jesus Christ. Glory to God!

The theme of this issue of the Impacto magazine is “Push the Envelope.”  This is not for people who are happy with the way they are, who think the Church is fine the way it is, who think life is wonderful the way it is. “I just want to go to the services to hold onto my salvation. I don’t want God to send me to hell. I want to preserve my talent; I’m going to wrap it in a piece of cloth and bury it.” It that is your case, this message is not for you. You can stop reading it right now because you are not going to get anything profitable for your life out of it.

But if you want to be purified, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness; if you think you aren’t hungry enough and want to increase your hunger; if you aren’t satisfied with your spiritual life, your prayer, your testimony to the world, with the church meetings, or with the leaders; than you can continue reading, because this message is for you. (To be dissatisfied doesn’t mean that your prayer life, or the church services are bad; but rather that the level of the presence of God in them is insufficient.)

Would you like to go beyond anything you have ever achieved in all areas of your life? Would you like your church meetings to be completely different in a year’s time? Would you like your life to go through a radical metamorphosis? Would you like the Lord to stir such a passion in your heart to pray that you won’t be able to sleep at night? If you want your hunger and thirst to increase, and to be stirred in your innermost being by the Spirit of God, if you want to push the envelope, please, take a short break in your reading and pray the following prayer:

“God, I desire much more than what I have experienced up to now. Look upon me now, Lord, and don’t allow me to feel satisfied with this pitiful life I am living today. Make me a deeply dissatisfied person, a person who cries out, who weeps, who intercedes for my neighbors, for my family, for my children, for the situation in the world. Make me a person who weeps, who knows what it means to shed tears. O God, look upon me now. Don’t let me continue the way I am; I don’t want to go on like this. I want to have more hunger, more thirst, more longing for you. I want this, Lord Jesus, in your name, Amen.”

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