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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1189

Standing Firm in the Darkness
Part One

July 19, 2015

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1189 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well praise God! Good morning!

( congregational response ).

Good to see everybody. Thank the Lord for His mercy to us this morning. We are undeserving at our best, but God is so merciful and He’s faithful to come and to be with us and to reach down to us because there’s no way we could reach up to Him. He has come in mercy, and I appreciate His mercy and presence this morning.

I’d like to turn to a scripture. I’ve had some thoughts rumbling around in my pea-brain the last few days. As is so often the case, it shouldn’t amaze me but it amazes me when we I come into a men’s meeting, when we have one, and it just…everything I’ve been thinking is coming out. But that’s just as a witness of the Lord to us.

And I believe He longs to encourage us, just to point us down the right road and keep us, saying, don’t give up, trust Me. No matter what it looks like, I’m with you. I’ve got your back. I’ve got everything else.

But Carl referred to a scripture that has often come to me over the years and it’s in Malachi, chapter 3. I think it was in our deacon and elders meeting, if I remember correctly. But we were talking about the times in which we live, and how dark they are, and basically what God is looking for…it’s an awesome thing if we can have an understanding of our world and what’s going on, and where God is at, and what the real deal is, then I believe it’s much easier for us to flow with Him, and to cooperate with the things that He would do in us.

And Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. You remember how the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon for 70 years. They had reached a point where God had warned them, and warned them, and warned them, and warned them over the centuries, and they hadn’t listened, and the only thing left was judgment.

But He always had a purpose in bringing a remnant back, didn’t He? And so He did under Ezra and Nehemiah. They came back. They re-established the worship in Jerusalem. They built the walls. They built a temple under Zerubbabel. And so things rocked along.

But this was not more than something like a generation later, it wasn’t that long, and things were already going downhill. And so the Lord was speaking through Malachi and just sort of warning the people, because whereas they were continuing, perhaps many of these were the children of those who had come back, I don’t know, but they were continuing the form. In their hearts there was a restlessness, there was a complaining spirit, there was a ‘why-are-we-doing-this, this-isn’t-worth-anything’ kind of a spirit. There was, essentially, unbelief is what there was.

And, you see it throughout. I won’t take time to go through all of the particular issues. But I’ll just pick it up in the passage, beginning in verse 13, I think, of chapter 3, where the Lord says through the prophet to the people, “You have said harsh things against me, says the LORD.” (NIV). You know, a lot of things that we say, we don’t realize we’re saying them about the Lord. If we’re complaining about our lot in life and really upset about things, who are we upset at?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! Is He not in charge? Does He not love us? Is He not seeking our best interest in everything that He does in our lives? Yeah! And God was absolutely seeking to do something for His people, not against them. He had a glorious future. He had a glorious purpose. And we see that unfold about 400 years later when Christ came. And there was a remnant of people who actually believed and were ready for that, but most of the nation, again, just sunk right into that same persistent unbelief that they had experienced over the centuries.

So, but the people were perplexed by the question. You know, to them, they were continuing to observe the temple worship, they were continuing to offer sacrifices, they were doing, outwardly, most of the things, some of the things, at least, that they were supposed to do. And so, they’re in a condition where they don’t get it.

He said, “Yet you ask, What have we said against you?” You know, it’s very indicative of when somebody goes to sleep, or goes into a place of spiritual darkness, they can feel like everything is great and grand when it isn’t. You look at the church of Laodicea. They had sunk into a place of complacency, comfortableness in the world where they said, we have everything we need, we’re doing great. And the Lord says, you’re doing terrible. And I’m knocking at the door trying to get in, and you need to open your hearts to Me.

You know, I don’t want to ever get to the place where I think I’m doing great and God’s trying to get my attention. I want to have a hearing ear.

( congregational amens ).

I want to be among those who get it, who understand the times, and what God is looking for. But here the people were perplexed. He said, “Yet you ask, What have we said against you?” So God answers them. He said, “You have said, It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.”

So, what you see there is the place that, you remember Asaph, in Psalm 73, kind of started down that same path? He started looking at the wicked and how they seemed to be prospering and doing great, and all of a sudden he said, what am I doing here? This isn’t worth it. But thank God, the Lord rescued him, didn’t He? Opened his eyes and brought him back to see the real deal.

Because it’s one thing to look at the circumstance and evaluate it with your natural mind, and motivated by your natural desires, I might add, and to make some kind of evaluation that does not take into account the final end of things, and the big picture, and the fact that there is a God. There is an end.

And so that’s what was going on here. These people were beginning to look around them and they said, well look, here are people who aren’t living for God at all and they’re doing fine. Why am I doing all this? But what is their motivation? Think about it.

( congregational response ).

It’s self. It’s “what am I getting out of it?” In other words, I have the same motivation, basically, as all these wicked people who just want a prosperous, happy, successful life with lots of money and lots of fun, and I’m serving God, but I’m not getting what they’re getting. Well, my God. Oh, my!

( congregational response ).

Oh, my! What a place to be! God, deliver us from living for the desires that motivate this world! “…The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” (KJV). None of that’s of the Father. It’s of the world. What happens to the world, the world system He’s talking about? It perishes! That’s where it’s headed.

And so, it’s in this context, and this is what Carl was referring to, and what’s come to me so many times, it says, “Then…” (NIV). See, there’s a time element. While this was going on, while this was the common sentiment among so many, while they were in their hearts murmuring about whether it’s worth serving God, at that time, there were a people who saw things differently.

It says, “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other.…” Now, what’s their motivation? You see, they’re seeing something’s wrong. I see where people are going and I can’t hang with that. I’m not with…I don’t like that. I don’t feel it’s right. But what happened was you see a people being drawn together who were of like spirit.

You see the Lord’s wisdom in allowing circumstances to be like that? Here’s what’s going on. It said, they “…talked with each other, and the LORD listened.…” Do you know the Lord’s listening?

( congregational amens ).

Do you know His eyes run to and fro in the earth, “…beholding the evil and the good?” (KJV). Do you know His heart tries the hearts of men? He observes everything. You know, as He said to the prophet Samuel, He said, I don’t see like other people see. You know, it’s not just what people do on the outside, I search the heart.

He said to…there’s so many scriptures that are similar they run together in my mind but, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins.” There’s a God who is absolutely looking at men’s hearts, and it isn’t just in Bible times. That’s the explanation for what’s going on in our time.

( congregational amens ).

We are coming down, as it’s often been said, to the ‘little end of the horn’ and what we see happening in our society is a fruit of exactly what was going on here. It’s the condition of men’s hearts, and God allowing circumstances to seem to be a certain way, to do what? To test and to find out what was in their hearts.

Now, so the Lord heard. He listened. And what did that result in? He said, “A scroll of remembrance was written.…” (NIV). Now I guess, in our case, it would have been punched into a computer, or written in a book or something, but whatever it was, there was a divine record. God says, I am listening to what men say. I am looking for a certain thing among men. I want to find out people whose hearts are true to me, regardless of the circumstances. That’s what I’m interested in. And so, whenever God found somebody like that, He wrote their name in a scroll.

Now, do you think the people themselves knew anything about that? No! They were just doing what it was in their heart to do. They respected God enough to say, it doesn’t matter what happens. He’s God. I’m gonna be faithful. I’m gonna stand true. But the fact is, behind the scenes, God was listening. God was writing…taking down names. In this case, it was a glorious thing. Boy, that’s the list I want to be on! Praise God!

“A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.” So, what was that scroll about? “They will be mine, says the LORD Almighty, in the day when I make up my treasured possession.” There’s different ways to translate that…but in the day when I act.

There’s gonna come a time when I’m gonna wind things up, these are the ones. The ones that I’m taking note of now…I’m looking, I’m observing their heart’s reaction to everything about life. Those are the ones in whom there is true faith. I’m taking down names and they’re gonna be mine on that day. Anybody here want to be on that list?

( congregational response ).

Oh, my! “I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.” You think about a godly, earthly father who has a respectful son. Do you think he’s gonna watch out for him and be concerned for him? That’s how the Lord, only so much greater, thinks about us. Praise God!

“And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” What’s going on here is there is a time—there is a time of separation going on. God is allowing things to happen that are causing people to gravitate in the direction their hearts are pointing them. Some of them believed in God and they continued to be, “…stedfast, unmoveable…” as Paul says, “…abounding in the work of the Lord.” (KJV).

And it wasn’t that the fire was flying. It wasn’t that things were exciting. In fact, they were probably just the opposite. They were going along and the circumstances for them were exactly the same as they were for all these people who were complaining. The difference was in here.

Oh, my! We are not controlled by circumstances. We have a choice at every point in our lives. And they chose to believe and it wasn’t that they felt it. It wasn’t that they could see anything. It wasn’t any earthly, outward circumstance that could be discerned with the natural senses or with the natural emotions, but they had something as a bedrock conviction in their hearts. God is real! He is worthy to be served! It’s gonna come all right in the end if I serve Him. I don’t care what happens in this world.

( congregational amens ).

That’s what God is looking for in this hour! Do you think the circumstances of our county and the direction that it’s going have taken Him by surprise? They are a fruit of this separation process. It’s real. There is a darkness that is overtaking this world and if you think darkness is merely the absence of light, then you are badly mistaken.

( congregational amens ).

The darkness is not simply an ignorance, as though, well, people don’t know, and all we have to do is inform them and they’ll be okay. Oh, no! It is a wicked, evil power. It is…well, you see it in movies. How do they picture it? I’m just thinking about one of the Narnia chronicles where they had that cloud that was enveloping people. And boy, they got lost in there and things were not good.

But it’s so much worse than that. It is a power that just takes possession of men’s minds and blinds them to God and the truth, causes them only to react to this world. Jesus said, “Walk while ye have the light…” Why?

( congregational response ).

Darkness will…

( congregational response ).

…Overtake you, come upon you…different translations. There is something that is trying to take control. There is something that is trying to dictate your destiny. It will dominate you. Talk about the dark side, this is so much worse. This is just absolutely satanic power that is being allowed to overrun this world.

And what’s the reason? Why is it so successful? Why is it? Is God just dictating, I’m gonna dump this on you for no good reason? No! Men are absolutely being confronted in some fashion by light! You and I can look around and say, well, so-and-so just never had a chance. You don’t know what went on in their life. I’ll tell you, there are gonna be a lot of surprises on Judgment Day when God pulls back the veil, and we see how many times God has reached out in some fashion to try to awaken, to try to arouse, to try to cause people to think about God and their responsibility to surrender to Him. Oh, my!

And they’re always like this. Like so many of the Israelites. They were always gainsaying. No matter what God said, they had a comeback. They had an answer. They had a defense, self-defense. That’s the world we live in, folks. And God is absolutely looking for people who will trust Him, who will stand fast, who will not go by anything external, who will not say, well, look at us. We’re doing this, we’re doing that.

Do you remember Brother Thomas so many times talking about that time in his life, and I guess he was right here, in Southern…well, not here, down on Route 1 there in the old barn? And he was having to take care of some of you. See, I wasn’t here so I can say that.

( laughter ).

And he had had…early in his ministry, he’d had this wonderful, successful ministry as an evangelist. And everywhere he went it seemed like the Lord blessed, and there were people who were saved, and things were happening, and it was just…you know, we want that kind of a God where we can just do something and see something!

All of a sudden it wasn’t that way. He had been shown the door of the movement he was in, and in the providence of God, he came up here, and God gave him that revival meeting, whatever you call it…there were a series of meetings in 1953, and out of that the church was born…that, and a lot of prayer.

But you fast forward a few years…I don’t know what the date of this experience was, but he found himself just complaining to the Lord. And his complaint was, Lord, what’s wrong? The assumption is, nothing much is happening that I can see, therefore something is wrong. Nobody here would ever, ever fall prey to that.

( laughter ).

But he did, and he was human. And he’s complaining to the Lord. Lord, look at all that I used to do there. Here I am just tending a handful of sheep. Nothing is happening. I’m just coming to church. I’m preaching. I’m going home. I’m praying. I’m doing all the right stuff, and nothing is happening.

When you were young, you girded yourself, and you went where you wanted to go, but when you are old, you will stretch forth your hands, and another will gird you, and carry you where you don’t want to go.

I am convinced the more I go, that the real work of God is not done where the fire is flying, where things are popping, where emotions and excitement run deep. There’s so much of that that’s external. You can work that up in religion. People do it all the time. They measure God’s presence by the level of the emotion. Oh, my God! Oh, we had a stadium full of people. They were just worshipping God. I hope they were. I hope some of them were. You can do that in the strength of human emotions. Work it up. People have a good…come away feeling good, and nothing happened of a spiritual nature.

The work of God is most often done when the fire is not flying. When people are simply having to put one foot in front of another and serve God, and stand fast when it looks like the world…everything is going the other way. Nothing makes any sense. We’re not doing anything. God’s doing something!

( congregational amens ).

God is doing something! I am convinced, as I have never been before, that there is a work of God that’s going on in a lot of hearts, right here this morning. He’s doing it. It’s not the kind of thing that jumps up in your face and says, hey, wow, look what God’s doing. It’s just, there’s a depth to it.

And I’m just so thankful. God is bringing us to that place that he sought to bring Brother Thomas to where we stretch forth our hands and He girds us! We have no program! We have no agenda! We want to do one thing only! Lord, You are the head of Your Body, the Church! Come! Lead us! We don’t know what to do! We need Your power! We need Your wisdom! We just need You to come! Without You we are nothing but a bunch of people practicing religion.

( congregational amens ).

We need You, Lord! God is answering that cry. He gave us that cry! We can’t take credit for anything! But I want to be one of these people like this. Oh, my God! We communicate with each other. The sentiment of how we really feel about things is shared. We strengthen each other! And we just wait on God’s time and God’s plan. Because God had a plan here, too.

Listen…look at where this is going. It says, “And you will again see...” as I said, “…the distinction…” (NIV). Man, it’s hard to tell sometimes now. God’s gonna work circumstances where it’s gonna be obvious. There’s a separation. People are absolutely gonna be in one camp or the other.

How separate? “You will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” There’s no chapter in the original. The next verse says, “Surely…” Surely! There’s a certainty about this! “…The day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant…” Arrogant are people who say, instead of, not my will but thine be done, they say, not your will but mine be done.

( congregational response ).

“All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you...” Oh, thank God, it’s another one of these ‘buts.’ “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”

Man, you go to the end and you work back and you see that there’s gonna come a day when people will be in two categories, and there is a chasm between those two categories. Man, you look around today, you can’t even tell. You think about somebody like Demas. Anybody remember who Demas was? He was somebody who traveled with Paul. In one book, Paul says greetings from so and so-and-so-and-so and from Demas, a fellow laborer. Probably, the last book he wrote, one of them anyway in 2nd Timothy, he said, “Demas hath forsaken me…” (KJV). Why?

( congregational response ).

He, “…loved this present world.” All of those years there was something lurking down in his heart. There was what Hebrews 3 calls the, “…evil heart of unbelief.…” It was lurking there. It really did not believe God. It was going along, for whatever reason, there was some external motivation that kept the outward appearance of somebody who was serving God, but down in the heart they weren’t.

And I’ll tell you, God is watching in this hour. He’s not looking…let me back up and say this. When you preach like this, the devil loves to make us think in terms of, God is looking for performance. Oh, my God! Everything’s—everything is up in the air. It’s all dependent on me and my performance. Will I measure up? Oh, thank God it’s not that way!

( congregational amens ).

God is looking for hearts that just say, God, I’m yours. I’m trusting in You! The performers are gonna wind up in the Lake of Fire because they’re trusting in their performance. I’m trusting in Jesus! I have no power to save myself but He has the power to save me! Oh, thank God! I’m counting on that! I believe, like what Paul said. What did he say?

( laughing ).

( laughter ).

Don’t get old.

( laughter ).

He said, I’m persuaded, I’m convinced, “…that he is able.…” See, he wasn’t convinced…Paul wasn’t convinced that he, Paul, was able. Paul was convinced that He was able.

( congregational amens ).

To do what? “…To keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” But the problem is, so many people haven’t really committed themselves to Him. They haven’t let go of their lives, taken their hands off and say, Lord, I am yours. It doesn’t matter what the world…what happens in the world. I am Yours! I believe in You!

Man, there were so many scriptures that were shared this morning that just fit. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” was one of them that was shared. I’ll tell you, if there is a conviction in your heart that is unshakeable, that God puts there, Jesus is, not was, ‘is’ the reigning Son of God, that makes all the difference.

( congregational amens ).

Because He who sits on that throne knows every heart in this place, and He is able to take the weakest, the one who is the least able, the one who feels their utter destitution before a holy God, that’s the one that He’s the most easily able to save, because it’s His power. Oh, my!

It’s not performance. Don’t let the devil make something like this fearful. It’s sober. It’s serious. But it’s not something where we have to be afraid, oh, my God, that’s something I’ll mess up and I won’t make it. I just want to put my trust in Him. God is absolutely putting people to the test.

And the thing is, there wasn’t a person here…I guess they knew some of it, to the extent they believed Malachi’s words, but these people were not aware of what was going on in heaven. I believe God wants us to be aware that heaven is watching. Heaven knows what’s going on in this world. And He’s looking to see who really has the faith of Jesus Christ in their hearts. Oh, my!

Don’t you be afraid if the devil wants to minister fear to you right now. But if you’re…if there’s something in you that is just driving you to do your thing…this is a word for you. God is looking on. And this world is headed for exactly what He’s describing here.