I began this blog just before Easter based on things God had been speaking to us since last Fall, but never posted it due to confusion that followed about whether God was still giving us this directive or changing course due to so many setbacks, failures, roadblocks, and delays. After seeking the Lord about it more intensely again, Saturday and Sunday we believe we received the confirmations we needed. Thank you Jesus! Hope this blesses others going through this same test… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As we’ve cried out to the Lord for wisdom and guidance for our situation, the spiritual warfare has been brutal. It’s not that we’ve been unable to hear God. True to His Word, He’s faithfully poured out His answers in amazing ways as we’ve sought. And if those were the only words we’d received, we’d be set. But unfortunately, the enemy has consistently fought against clarity by bringing other words that completely contradict God’s. If we could see the Source/source behind the words we receive, this wouldn’t be a problem. We could simply dismiss every word that defies what God has spoken. But since we’re dealing with the invisible realm, we have to discern which of the words are truly from God and which are not. This has often led to continuing to seek until God pours out His true counsel in such an overwhelming deluge that all counterfeit counsel is drowned and destroyed and His true path is clearly revealed.
During such a time of intense seeking last Fall (2015), asking the Lord to expose which voices were the counterfeits, He began to do just that. One of the voices He exposed was the voice that tells us to “come down from the cross.”
As we walk out our own crucifixion process on the way to fulfilling God’s call, this voice can come blatantly, just as it did to Jesus, through those who consider themselves our enemies, who don’t believe what God has promised us or called us to do.
“Those who passed by hurled insults at him [reviling Him and reproaching Him abusively in harsh and insolent language], shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Mark 15:29-32
It can also come through the enemy himself in the battlefield of our mind or through the hellish circumstances he arrays against us to mock everything God’s promised, tempting us to walk away from God’s call in an attempt to save ourselves.
But God also showed us how this voice can come more subtly as well, not from the taunts of our enemies and circumstances, but through the concern and counsel of friends and loved ones. After all, they’re pained by seeing us led like sheep to the slaughter and can’t understand how the suffering and sacrifice of “the cross” could be God’s plan. Because they want what’s best for us, they may counsel us to go a way they believe will spare us from hardship and challenge, not knowing their advice would lead us away from where God’s calling us to be.
The voice of Peter may immediately come to mind in this category, in that infamous moment he thought Jesus surely misunderstood God’s will and needed his correction. It wasn’t that Peter was completely spiritually out of tune with God and could never be trusted to speak in line with truth. Only a moment before Jesus confirmed that he had received genuine revelation from God. Perhaps after such a success, newfound confidence in his ability to hear God’s voice emboldened him to challenge Jesus’ seemingly ill-advised plan to go to the cross.This demonstrates just how quickly we can go from speaking the counsel of God to the counsel of the enemy if we’re not careful. Jesus revealed Peter’s mind was now on the things of man rather than God. As we’ve all been guilty of at times, he was thinking and reasoning according to his natural human perspective rather than God’s higher one.
The Lord also showed us the voice of Naomi in this category, who out of concern for her daughters-in-law, urged them to “turn back” to where they came from for a chance to find happiness again, rather than remaining with her (since she seemingly had nothing to offer). Orpah acted on this advice and we never hear from her again. But Ruth was faithful to Naomi, and though they endured some hardship for a while, we see God’s Ephesians 3:20 plan eventually unfold.
We also see this test played out through Elijah on the day he was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire. Three times on his journey he urged his protégé, Elisha, to stay behind while he went on. But each time, Elisha refused, insisting that he would not leave him (just as Ruth insisted with Naomi). His reward for persevering to the very end by his master’s side was a double portion of his spirit.
From this, God began a “Don’t Turn Back” series of words, along with the “Don’t Come Down from the Cross” words, admonishing us not to turn back from His call or give up because of the obstacles, attacks, and hardships the enemy brings to stop us, but to be “steadfast and immovable.” He surrounded us with words about sacrifice, laying down our lives, and choosing “commitment over comfort” and “purpose over profit,” lest we make the fatal mistake of Judas, who traded God’s will for his life for some silver coins.
If Jesus had been more concerned about His comfort and convenience, or about defending His reputation and proving His identity, than He was about paying the price for our redemption, He could have come down from the cross. And like Jesus – in certain areas, it will be within our power to escape our “cross” too. After all, we only got there by surrendering to God’s call (“Not my will, but yours be done”), so failure to continue to surrender may, in some cases, be able to get us out. But in this moment, God doesn’t call us to escape, but to endure. Jesus willingly stayed in that place of humiliation and suffering, not only for the sake of those who loved Him, but even for those who mocked and insulted while He died for them. And, like Him, though we may despise the process of the “cross,” if we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the greater good that’s being accomplished and the fulfillment of God’s promises on the other side, we too will be able to endure. We must pass the test of this temptation to come down from the cross, if we want the resurrection on the other side.
“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]” John 12:24-25
“(our body in death) is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory. It is sown in infirmity and weakness; it is resurrected in strength and endued with power.” I Cor 15:43
Though this last passage in context refers to the death of the natural body, it’s a profound prophetic parallel to the death of the flesh we experience as we endure the crucifixion process that comes with following God’s plan. Dishonor, humiliation, affliction, and suffering are the hallmarks of the cross ~ not things we normally willingly sign up for, yet things we’ll endure for a higher purpose ~ for our love for God and others ~ holding onto His promise that the rewards on the other side will make it all worth it.
One thing I love about the Mark 15 passage above is that, in the enemy’s attempt to mock Jesus on the cross, he inadvertently reminded Jesus of the prophecy/promise of resurrection to follow His painful death (You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days – see John 2:18-22). And God will continue to remind us of His promises too as we endure the crucifixion ~ giving us the words we need, even through unexpected sources, to sustain our hope and faith all the way through to victory.
If you know you’re following what God said, no matter how hard it gets or what the cost ~ Don’t Turn Backand Don’t Come Down From the Cross.
This brings us up to date, where during our recent seeking about whether God was still giving us this instruction, He began giving a series of words about “what we VALUE.” Right after He began speaking about this, TD Jakes, our pastor, and another pastor I’ve recently listened to some, all spoke about VALUE. This past Saturday, God gave us another “commitment over comfort” confirmation, stating that He “requires SACRIFICES and a willingness to be UNCOMFORTABLE” in order to do His will. Then Sunday, TD Jakes continued his theme about value. As I listened, I was amazed by how God tied the value theme together with these previous themes – showing that what we valuedetermines what we’re willing to sacrifice. When we value doing God’s will above all else, we will choose “commitment over comfort” and “purpose over profit.” We’ll stay on the cross, willing to sacrifice all to follow Him. Here’s a clip of some of the beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt confirmations at the end of TDJs msg:
As I prayed about whether to share this word, God gave me this word from Rick Renner that blew me away with its confirmations of the insults Jesus endured on the cross, how the enemy comes at us through people, circumstances, and in the battlefield of our minds to stop us, and the mandates DON’T BACK DOWN and DON’T BACK UP (aka Don’t Come Down from the Cross and Don’t Turn Back): A Fight Always Follows Illumination #WeHearYouLord #HelpUsJesus