When God Moves the Hedge: Conclusion
March 10, 2019
Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1379 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text
— Brother Phil Enlow:
We are bought with a price! What we have signed on for is not a wonderful, earthly life and heaven, too! What we have signed on for is to lay down our lives for one another and for Him. It belongs to Him, however He wants us to live.
Now, He may allow you to live to be 100, and use you in an earthly journey. He may take somebody else out early. He may take some through great suffering! He may take some through great riches! But everyone has a journey. That was mentioned this morning, we are on a journey. That journey is very individual. And yet, of course, it’s all integrated with one another.
But the underlying reality is, your life and mine, they’re not our own. We have turned them over to Him. And He has the right to take them at any time. Is that a bad thing? If we get it, if we understand that He’s put something in us, the only thing that can ever live or ever survive, it’s there.
And there’s a Devil that He allows to tempt us, that He allows to attack and put us through all kinds of difficulties in this world. He can’t touch this!
Now look where Peter goes. Because it doesn’t sound like it fits. It says “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (NIV). Uh-oh. “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
See, right there, you get this picture. Gold is a wonderful thing but if it’s got a lot of impurities in it, it’s not quite what it should be. So how do you get rid of the impurities? That’s a terrible thing, fire? It’s gonna burn up and destroy stuff! That’s not good! Yeah, it is good in this case, isn’t it? Because what is burned up and destroyed needs to be.
And every time the Lord pulls the hedge back and lets the Devil attack us in some way, regardless of what way it is, His purpose is that something in us should die. All that stuff in me that needs to die, God’s going to use the Devil as an instrument of death.
Just like He did with His own Son. I mean, we see it encapsuled in one event. But Jesus carried His cross daily, didn’t He? And that’s what He’s called us to do. And so all these little things that we wonder, where did that come from, why did this come?
And all this stuff — oh God, I’m tired of all the bad stuff. Instead of saying, God, you have allowed the Devil to do this to do me good, because there’s something in me that You want to kill. And the reason You want to kill it is because it’s an impediment to what You’re trying to do. It’s in my way. It’s part of — it’s something that I am so imprisoned by. I’m hindered by this. I don’t even know it. I’m clinging to something, I don’t even know what’s going on, until all of a sudden it boils out under the right circumstances and I see this thing.
So now what am I going to do? I’ve got a choice, don’t I? I can sit there and stew over what I’m missing and how my life is being messed with! I can blame the Devil or I could even blame God. Or I can say, I can look beyond that and say, I get it, Lord. You love me enough to touch the thing that I don’t want touched. You love me enough to put me in the fire, because what You put in here is the only thing that’s gonna last. Lord, help me to put my focus where it needs to be. Help me to trust You in the middle of this thing.
And here you have one of these amazing things that just don’t seem to fit. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Praise God for the fire! I mean, do you see how those things go together? He talks about fire and the difficulties, and yet at the same time that you’re going through some of these things, there is a joy! How is such a thing possible? Is this just wishful thinking? Is this just happy talk? No, this is based upon a reality, an understanding of what God is doing, and why He’s doing what He’s doing.
Do you think maybe we just need this, even though we’ve heard all these things before? There’s nothing new here. But I’ll tell you, we are in a time — you talk about the Devil as being God’s instrument in our lives. That’s true on a personal level. And that’s where I see God wanting to encourage. And that’s part of what I sense.
There are two sides, I guess, to this today. I sense the Lord’s heart wanting to reach out with a word of truth, with a word of encouragement. Don’t you listen to the lies of the enemy who wants to interpret whatever bad thing it is you don’t want to be going through right now, whatever you’ve heard about it, whoever you’re burdened about, and nothing seems to be changing, all these things that we’re weighed down with. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy! Be encouraged! Lift your vision above all this!
Understand what’s happening! Don’t you get it? Your earthly life is just — it’s a vapor! It’s not gonna last. And all that I’m putting you through has everything to do with getting you ready for something, where you’re going to look back and say, wow! I was so — I can’t believe I was so caught up with this or with that, and so bummed out about that and the other thing. And, I thought my life was over when such and such happened. And all You were doing was setting me free and burning up stuff that could never last anyway.
Oh, I’ll tell you what, child of God, whatever you’re going through today, lift up your heart, lift up your eyes. Understand that there’s a God who would not be allowing the Devil to do what he’s doing if He didn’t love you enough, if He didn’t have the management of it.
You know, there’s a scripture that I guess we’ve referred to many times. I’ll just refer to it, I don’t think we need to turn there. But I believe it’s 1st Corinthians 10, and it talks about, it talks about there’s no temptation that has taken, or seized you, first of all but such as, “…is common to man. And God is faithful.” All right, what does that faithfulness, what form does that faithfulness take? He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able. “But will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (KJV).
There’s a lot of truth buried in that, isn’t there? In the first place, he talks about a temptation that has seized you. Now, think about Job. There’s the perfect example. Job was minding his own business and this just happened to him! He didn’t do anything. It just happened.
This is a picture of how, many times, it’s not because we did something. We’re walking along, doing our own thing and the Lord says, here’s an opportunity. I need to work on that thing. All right, Devil.
And we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. We don’t understand. Why would such a thing happen? If I’m serving God, if I’m doing right, shouldn’t I be blessed? But what are we calling blessing? To us, blessing is far too much earthly comfort, ease, smoothness, pleasantness, all those kinds of things. And God wants to bless us with something that’s much more valuable, and much different.
You know, you get into your older years and the further you go the more you’re gonna see, this ain’t where it’s at. Some of you are young and you feel your oats right now. Just wait, we were all there. We know how you feel. But see what’s coming. This life is just — it’s a vapor.
But I’ll tell you, that simple truth is locked up in what he says there. There’s no temptation seized you. This is something, like I said, that just happens, because God allows it. God gives the Devil permission to do something because He wants to accomplish.
And so, the picture I see in this scripture is of God allowing something to happen to accomplish a purpose! It seized you! It’s nothing unusual. You’re not different from everybody else. Don’t listen to that stupid lie. You’re not being singled out because you’re bad, or at least any worse than anybody else. But God is allowing something to happen. But it’s never going to be beyond what you’re able. Now, we better define that just a bit. What is it that we’re able and how are we able?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. We can do all things through Him that strengthens us. You see, there’s always an ability that God gives. He, “…will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” Well, what’s the way of escape? His strength, His grace. Always, there’s this awesome balance between everything that God allows in our lives and the provision of grace that’s available to every single one of us if we’ll lay hold on it.
He is so faithful! Oh my God, the problems we bring upon ourselves are that we focus on the “thing.” God, get rid of “the thing”! God fix it! Oh God, make me feel good, instead of saying, Lord help me to humble myself under Your hand and just accept it, however you dish it out.
Yes, You could heal me, and He does sometimes. But you cannot make a formula out of what God’s gonna do in a given situation. We’re going to have to walk with Him and trust Him and look to Him, and believe that He is going to give us the strength.
Because a lot of times — I’ve certainly made this point many times — this way of escape — we think of escape “from.” But this is an escape “through.” This is not that we might be able to escape it but that we might be able to bear it. In other words, there’s gonna be a strength that will be imparted to this inward man that will give us the courage and the strength to push forward, in spite of what may be continually happening.
God is gonna be — God is doing stuff that is of eternal value. And oh, do we fight it. Oh, do we have our value system so inverted as to what it ought to be. May God help every one of us.
And you could go on and on talking about principles that we know, how God wants to build stronger faith and all of that. And that’s all true. He wants to purify it.
But there is a — there’s another aspect to this. And that is the time in which we live. It’s true in a personal sense. I don’t care where you are in history, God is going to be pulling back the hedge and allowing the Devil to work on us for His eternal purpose.
And I’ve said this before, it must be frustrating to be the Devil. No matter what you do, when it comes to God’s people, it just serves God’s purpose. You can’t win for losing. You leave them alone or whatever, or you try to turn the screws and make life hell for them, do something terrible, and God just turns it right around for deliverance and victory.
Man, if we lay down our lives for Him, how is that bad? How is that bad if we have to get leave here and be with Him? Praise God! The Devil can’t win, can he?
But the other side of this is a larger time. There are times in history when God has literally pulled back the restraint upon the Devil. You see it in the flood. When God finally says, I’m just taking my hands off. And the imagination of every man’s heart was only evil continually. And finally, there was a salvation.
You see it in the end of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, when the people had heard Christ, they had seen Him, they had seen the miracles, they had seen the apostles, and the growth of early church, and they rebelled against it, and said, no, we will not listen! We don’t want Him to rule over us! And the Lord just took His hands off and allowed the Romans to come in and destroy Jerusalem in a terrible…what was it, a two or three year siege. Horrible circumstances…the judgment that fell.
We are at the end of an age, folks. I don’t know where, exactly. But I don’t need a special revelation to tell me what’s going on in the world. But God gave us one so many years ago. The Devil is loose. We are in an hour when the Devil, when the restraint upon the Devil is being taken off progressively.
And, can you not see it? Can you not see what’s going on, especially those of you who are older? You see how things have deteriorated. You have no idea what’s happened in the world. And God has called us to live in such a time.
It’s more than just the individual at some point in history. This is the climax of the age and God is looking for a people who will trust Him, who will serve Him regardless of what comes, who will have such a reality of God in their life, that we will stand.
“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Or grow cold. We’re gonna see the effect of the Lord allowing the Devil to come forth in great power. We’re gonna find out which side everybody’s on. That’s what happens.
Do you remember in Malachi how things were deteriorating spiritually? What did it say? Then those who feared the Lord spoke oft one to another, and a book was written. There’s a record being kept in heaven right now, where everybody stands, how people are responding to truth, whether their trouble caused them to turn to God or not.
And you think about human nature. If God just stands back and lets everybody be blessed — that’s the concept that a lot of people have of blessing, how would that help? All He’d be doing is feeding the cancer. So if the Lord takes His hands off and allows some disaster, oh God, how could a God of love allow such a thing?
How could He not? If He wants to get man’s attention and cause him to realize what’s the reality of the world we live in and how temporary it is! That’s what we’re seeing in this world today. God is reaching out and it’s a last overture to people. There are places in the far reaches of the world where God is reaching people in amazing ways.
But boy, you look at where our nation is at. I’ve said this many times. What’s gonna happen if the Lord really pulls back his arm of protection against — that’s been holding the things back in America? What if He allows things to take over, evil forces to take over and suddenly we’ve got to go underground? How many people that are going to church this morning do you think will still be serving God?
There’s gonna be a trial of every human being on this planet. One way or another, God’s gonna show those that are His and those that are not. That’s what is says in Malachi. Then will you return and you’ll know, “…those who serve God and those who do not.” (NIV).
Folks, the Lord is wanting to encourage us. The things that He’s allowing in our lives right now are building the very things that will enable us stand in such an hour. Do you remember that incident that Daniel prophesied about how evil was gonna just come in and just take over? There was gonna be this terrible desecration of the temple and many were gonna fall. “But the people who do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (KJV).
There’s only one way that you and I are gonna be able to stand in this kind of hour. We’re gonna need the Lord. And He’s going to be more than enough. What He has put within us will stand everything, will stand the fire. But what He’s wanting from us right now, lift up your heads, be encouraged.
You know, it’s hard not to go to the scripture that Brother Cymbala used the other night when he talked about Paul’s perceptive and all the terrible things, seemingly terrible things, that were going on in his life and how the perplexity, the trouble, all of that. But he said, he showed the perspective of the temporariness of this existence, everything you see.
I mean, do you get this? We talk about it. We know it in a theoretical sense. Everything you see and touch with your senses is gonna burn up. It’s gonna be gone. This bodily existence that we have, it’s going to die, it’s going to — one way or another it’s gonna be gone. If we don’t have something that’s eternal, we’re gonna be gone with it.
So we’ve got two perspectives this morning. One is the personal, where you and I are at in our personal journey. But folks, we exist in a time in history when God is pulling back the restraint. Don’t look to this world for your salvation. Don’t look for things to get better. Look for God to carry us through and to build in us a light and a purity in our faith.
And He’s going to do it by letting stuff happen. We might as well suck it up and realize that’s the simple truth of it. But the God who lets it happen is going to be with us and give us the strength, no matter what it is. He’s going to be with His children. He will never leave us, never forsake us, never put us in a situation we can’t handle by His grace.
And I’ll tell you, one day we are gonna stand there in shining glory, not because we did something or we were strong or we were worthy, but because He is — because of His love and His power and His promise and His mercy.
And He is going to be glorified on that day. That’s what Peter was talking about in the first chapter there. That’s what we look for!
That’s why we can, in the middle of feeling those things and experiencing those things, that’s why we can have joy, because there’s something happening in here that’s real! We can have a perspective that transcends all this junk that we have to experience in this world.
And I’ll tell you, we serve an awesome God, don’t we? Has He pulled back the hedge on you lately? Well, He’s done it because He loves you. And I’ll tell you, the Devil loves to cause us to be discouraged in such times.
But if we could only get it, if we could only understand, instead of being a cause of discouragement, it’s a cause of encouragement! God is allowing the Devil because He loves me enough to do something to help me! If I was the Devil’s, he wouldn’t bother. There’s a lot of stuff that I believe we could sail through and it wouldn’t bother us if we were serving the Devil.
But I’ll tell you what, if you’re gonna step out and serve God — how many times have you come through something where the Lord just blesses it? Oh, that was a great weekend, that was a great — and you come back and, wham! Do you think the Devil’s happy about that?
You think the Lord — but how could the Devil do that if the Lord didn’t say, all right, time for another lesson. But oh, I’m gonna help them. I just want them to look to me. I want them to praise me in the midst of the storm and stand fast. And I’m gonna do something that’s gonna last forever.
And this is gonna turn out for victory, because after all, are we not sheep to be slaughtered? See that’s just another way of the Lord saying the same thing. When you give your life to Him, it belongs to Him. If He wants to take it right this minute, it’s His.
And what would I want to cling on to here? What’s so important here? Oh God, give us a heavenly perspective. If we live, we serve Him. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What a simple perspective. If I live, okay, I get to serve the Lord. If I die, praise God, I go to be with Him. What an awesome God we serve. Praise God!
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