The Way of the Cross

The way of the cross is more than historic drama that occurred on a hill far away. It’s more than a conflict of conscience because of the terribly large discrepancy between Christ’s holy standard and one’s faulty example of it. Something must happen to us on the cross. It must be the position of our faith to die on the cross.

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One of the most humbling things we can do for our Lord Jesus and for His Kingdom is to have Him call us to do any kind of service for which we are all unqualified and unworthy, and it would have gone so much better if He would have done it Himself, but He has chosen people like you and me to do it. It’s our desire that when this weekend is over, for some strange reason, some heavenly visitation upon our hearts, we can do it better than we would have done it if we would not have been here. So, we ask the blessing of God upon each one that is present. And this is not a voice of accomplishment that is speaking. You will find out before this service is over, that it’s an extremely weak vessel that is sharing these few thoughts with you in these next 45 minutes.

The phrase, “The Way of the Cross,” as we have it here on the board behind me, is not found in the Bible, as far as I know, with those exact words, but the truth and the concepts are certainly found there. There is “the way of the cross,” and as it was said here in this introduction, there is The Calvary Road. (And there was one long before Roy Hession wrote that book with that title.)

We have in our English Bibles phrases like this (we’ve already heard this one tonight): “the preaching of the cross” from 1 Corinthians 1:18. The Bible speaks to us about “the offense of the cross,” in Galatians 5:11. I’d just like you to think about some of these phrases. I’m not turning to these verses tonight. The Bible speaks even more specifically about “the death of the cross.” That’s in Philippians 2:8.

But I’d like you to turn tonight to Colossians 1. Here’s another phrase that will then introduce for us our thoughts for this evening. We’ll read verse 20 here. This is only part of a long sentence here. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Peace through the blood of His cross.

The way of the cross is more than historic drama that occurred on a hill far away outside of Jerusalem. It’s more than a conflict of conscience because of the terribly large discrepancy between Christ’s holy standard and one’s very very faulty example of it. That is a well-understood meaning of “cross” in many evangelical circles – the conflict of conscience because we didn’t live up to it, and it crossed our will, and it violated the way we would have done it. And so that’s the “cross” there that somehow has to make up for this difference between what I would have wished and thought I should have been doing, and what seems like God would have expected. The cross is more than that. It’s more than a holy will of God in stark contrast to our human persuasion, to our natural tendencies. Something must happen to us on the cross. We must participate with what happened on the “old rugged cross.” That something that took place many years ago is something that must take place tonight. It needed to take place throughout the day. It will need to take place this weekend, and when this meeting is over. This work of the cross, the way of the cross, is a way of life.

We find Paul’s understanding of this way of the cross in the book of Philippians, (and your Bible is very close to that right now. You were in Colossians 1.)  Philippians 3, starting at verse 7, gives us this testimony of Paul:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Philippians 3:7-11

It’s interesting that he speaks of the resurrection here before he speaks of His death. But this death on the cross, this way of the cross, this preaching of the cross that is foolishness, is what happens to you and me if there is ever going to be a resurrection. If there’s ever going to be in your experience and in mine the evident power of the presence of God, the evident anointing of the Lamb of God upon us, it’s because there was a death first. Then what results from that, when self is gone, and the carnal man is not fighting, and there’s no resistance to divine will, what happens next then is the work of God in our hearts.

Christ was brought forth from the dead. There was a tremendous power that brought Him forth when it was His decision to bow His dead and die. After that happened, the rending of the rocks and the graves lifting up, and the Lord Jesus coming forth – that was power that was way beyond anything that this world has known. And it’s when you and I have made that surrender to Christ; it’s when you and I have yielded to God; it’s when you and I have taken that way voluntarily and volitionally and intentionally. In the midst of that thing, there was another option. And I think one of the reasons why we don’t experience the broken and contrite heart is because we have too many other options that are available to us, especially in our time. There are so many things we can do besides surrender and yield this thing completely to God. There is so much more we can do. But Christ also had more that He could have done, but He bowed His head and died.

So, something must happen to us on the cross. It happened to Paul here, and he chose to do it; he wanted to do it; it was his pursuit to do it; it’s what he “followed after” to do; it’s the goal he set before him. This is not something that happens to you and me once. Yes, there might be that crisis experience when there was a true consecration made and we made a total abandonment of ourselves. There may have been that crisis moment in your life or my life, when God did a work in us that had not been complete as it should have been prior to that. That could very well be. But that is not the end of what you and I have to experience.

I could ask you tonight, “Are you and I completely consecrated to God?” And there’s probably no one here that would want to try to answer that question. And certainly no one who is a spiritual man would answer that in the affirmative. And I’m going to tell you why. It’s because you have not had enough experience yet to answer that question. Yes, there’s a lot you have given to the Lord. There are a lot of decisions you have made. There was a tremendous opportunity given you, in who knows what kind of business, or what kind of political system, or what kind of opportunity there may have been for you, and you surrendered that. But there are things before you in life, and before myself, that we have not yet surrendered. We have not had those opportunities; they have not yet come to us. We do not yet know what that might look like when it does come. And so, we are careful about saying that yes, yes, everything is God’s, because there’s a test coming, and we don’t know what it is, but it will soon be here.

And so sometimes we write these four words – these four little short words. (If you are a note taker, it would be well worth your remembering.)  One altar, many trips.  Just think about those four words.

Our brother Curt Wagoner has tried to help us understand that our spiritual transformation does not take place at “the foot of the cross.” The foot of the cross – there the soldiers rolled dice. There, there was gaming. There was wagging of heads, the Bible says. There were mockings and railings, it says in various other Gospels. Though, as that was happening, some wept as the sword pierced through their soul. But you and I are not only carrying a cross, and we don’t simply fall down at the foot of a cross. It must be our intention and the position of our faith to die on that cross! The way of the cross is a holy testimony for those who have experienced that. And the rest of us need to experience it too.

So, I have three points tonight. The first one is: What is the way of the cross?

(And this has already been introduced to us in the opening comments and introduction and welcome, and what we’ve said here.)

Our text speaks of the peace – “peace by the blood of His cross.” Our peace. And that is because of the blood of the cross. But it is ours by faith, by believing, by voluntary identification. I’m going to go back to Colossians 1 again where we started, and read a bit more here of a very very long sentence from Paul. It starts in verse 19. I’m not going to read the whole sentence; I’m going to stop before the sentence is finished.  The long sentence starts in verse 21. But may we begin reading at verse 19. Would you follow in your Bibles?

For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church.

Colossians 1:19-24

I think we will stop reading there. It’s a very long sentence. The preaching of the cross is the message of the Gospel of peace. It’s not only the message of the Gospel of peace; it is the life of those who believe the Gospel of peace. The way of the cross is a life of peace.

Now we have that in our English Bibles two times in Romans 10, that beautiful passage there about the preaching of the Gospel. It calls it “the Gospel of peace” there. If you go back to Ephesians 6 in that record of the Christian’s armor, we have “the Gospel of peace.” “Our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” That’s an outstanding thought.

The Gospel of peace is more than a gospel of pacifism. It’s even more than nonresistance. Let me explain to you why. It’s because the Christian life is not the absence of bad fruit. The Christian life does not consist of the wrong things that we don’t do. We’re not a Christian because we don’t smoke; we’re not a Christian because we don’t wear a mini-skirt; we’re not a Christian because of some improper thing that we’re not doing. We’re Christians because of that powerful force and blessing of God upon us that moves us to do His will. We’re Christians because of the fruit that’s produced there. We’re Christians because there’s a “dove” abiding here. We’re Christians because the Holy Spirit is upon us. We’re Christians because we are the image of Christ in this world. We’re Christians because the lamp has light in it. We’re Christians because there’s a living flame in our hearts. That’s why we’re Christians.

So, this Gospel of peace is more than simply refraining from grabbing a sword or a rifle or an M-15. It’s more than simply refusing military service. It’s far more than that. You don’t have to be a Christian to do any of that. During the Vietnam war, I was working in a hospital in the state of New Hampshire. Many atheists were given a nonresistant status, were given a pacifistic exemption from war because they did not believe in taking human life. It made none of them Christians because of it. There was nothing Christian about their lives whatsoever, but they were too humanistic to take another person’s life. That does not make a Christian out of any of us. But pull out in front of them when they are coming out of a parking lot, and listen to that horn blow. Get them irritated about something, and you’ll find out that peace is not there.

But what happens if in the Christian church that’s the way it is? And the irritations of life, and the unexpected, the uninvited circumstances that come up, and the effect that it has on us. Why does it do that? Because this peace, “the way of peace they have not known.” The way of the cross is the way of peace.  The way of the cross is the way of peace.

I’d like you to turn now to Ephesians 2. It’s very close to Colossians. We were in Philippians. Ephesians 2 is very close to there. I’d like to begin reading, if you will, in verse 13.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Ephesians 2:13-17

We see the cross there in verse 13: “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” That’s what’s on the cross.

“He is our peace,” it says here. But is He our peace? Is He my peace? And if there’s no peace there, He’s not my peace. If I don’t have peace in my heart, He’s not my peace. If I don’t respond to the difficult and uninvited things in life in a peaceful way, in a non-resisting way, not fighting those circumstances – if I can’t do that, then Christ is not my peace. There’s something about walking with Jesus; there’s something about the way of the cross that I have not learned.

But What does peace mean?

Now in this Greek language in which this Bible was written – “He is my peace.” This time I’ve got a math problem in the Greek language. The word peace means “of two one.” Turning two into one. I’m going to show that to you in verses 14, 15, and 16.  We have that Greek definition three times in these three verses.   

Verse 14 “made both one.” He made both one. (While I’m doing this little exercise, you ask yourself, what does he mean by the “both.” What are the two that are made one?)

Verse 15 says, “to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” Of twain making one.

Verse 16 says, “reconcile both unto God in one body.” Both one. These are definitions of peace in the Greek language.

What does that mean? What is the both? Well, we have gained a tremendous growth in the Christian life when once we have learned something – when we have learned that there’s no accidents with God. When we have learned that these details, and these experiences and circumstances, and unexpected events that we never would have chosen, we never would have invited them, we never would have wanted that in our lives – when we come to the place where we understand that God was back there! God was doing something with that. Maybe God wasn’t the cause of it, but God is planning to use it. Maybe God didn’t design for this to ruin you, or affect you, or destroy you, or give you that loss, or give you that upsetting experience. But God is choosing to use it.

And when we take this thing, instead of fighting against it and resisting it, and defending ourselves that we’re going to get out of this somehow, and we’re going to prove it to the rest of the world who we are! And we’re going to let them know we don’t deserve this!  When we get to the place that we see that God was here doing something in my life. And I come over to God, and I say, “Your will is my will.” And I come to God, and I choose for myself what God has chosen for me to experience. And these two become one! Peace comes in no other way. It’s a decision, a voluntary decision in that moment.

Christ made a lot of decisions here that He did not make here. And decisions He made back here did not take care of what was coming up in front here. Yes, Christ made an outstanding decision in the temptation in the wilderness for forty days, but all that surrender and all that yieldedness to God was revisited when He made another trip to the altar in Gethsemane. He did it all over again. And so do you. And so do I. Those who learn to do that, and learn to do it on time, and have learned to do it without resistance and fighting against God, and knew it was time for us to give that whole will, and surrender that entire purpose over to what God has designed for my life right now.

And you and I have no idea who is watching. The Bible says we are in this arena, and men and angels are watching over us to see what we are doing. And you thought you were out here and it was a traffic accident. You thought you were out here and it was a mistake the banker made.  You thought it was out here and a customer took you across. You thought it was out here and someone wrote you a bad check. And you thought it was just simply some happenstance in life.  You’re in an arena; the grandstands are filled with people watching you. It’s God’s holy moment in your life and my life, and how we respond to that. Someone is looking on, and you know who is watching? Your wife. You know who is watching? Your children, and your grandchildren, and your neighbors. They know all about it. They know how you are responding, how I’m responding. When we get to the place when we realize that God is involved in this, it makes a tremendous difference.

The Bible does speak of “the way of peace,” though it does not speak of “the way of the cross.” It speaks of the way of peace, and the way of peace is the way of the cross. For us to live in peace with each other, means that the same thing has happened to both of us – wait a minute – has happened to both of us, almost. Almost.  But listen again: It must have happened to one of us.

It doesn’t matter who it is that’s in this audience. You might be the most irritable and difficult-to-handle person, and impossible to live with than anyone else who lives on your street. You might be the most difficult person to handle in this assembly tonight, but when you run into someone who lives the Gospel of peace, there will be order and harmony between you and that person.

No matter how you are mistreated, no matter how you are spoken against, no matter how you are defrauded.

No matter how you’ve damaged and endangered another person’s life, if that other person is yielded to Christ, he’s under the authority and dominion of God, and they’re living the Gospel of peace, all will be well between you.

It takes one person to bring peace to a very unsettled situation. And that’s you. That is me. That’s what Christ has called us to.  “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).  And here’s a spiritual experience that very very few people are living tonight.

How can this experience, this way of the cross, be my own?

How can we experience this way of peace?It’s not a physical death for most of us. At least, not right now. Though we are willing for it to be that. And as we have heard already this evening, the death of Christ ended on the wood, ended on the old rugged cross. The death of Christ stopped there, but it did not begin there. The death of Christ began long before that. You say, when did the death of Christ begin? At least, when He was twelve years old. It began at least that far back. That’s where His death began, but it’s not where it ended. You and I don’t know where our death will end. We only must be sure that it has begun. We don’t need to decide when it quits. We need to decide that it’s started. We need to decide that this death has begun in my life. We don’t need to worry about where it’s going to take us. We only need to decide that it’s over with in my life. I am finished. It is finished, because I am finished.

It’s something we voluntarily choose to experience, as Paul did, and as many other saints of God have done. The death of the cross that results in perfect peace is a position of faith. It becomes ours the same way that all spiritual power and all spiritual life becomes our own. We heard about it; we read about it in the Bible. We heard it, and these ears of faith believe what they heard. “Faith cometh by hearing.” And we hear this way of peace; we see how people live that know how to respond to the most extenuating circumstances that come to a person’s life, and we wonder how they ever did that. We say, “If they can do it, then Christ wants it for me.” And that’s where faith is born. But we want that to happen to us. And that doesn’t come until that happens to us. We heard about it. We see it in the life of our Lord Jesus, and we desire it. And we cannot go on without it. And we’re not going to stop here; we’re not going to get off our knees until we are satisfied that God heard our prayer and He’s going to do it to us. That’s the way faith comes; that’s the way surrender comes; that’s the way the way of the cross comes through our daily lives. And then we bow our hearts when God chooses to answer that prayer.

We see that in Jesus in Isaiah 53 (and I see that clock is not going to let us finish this), but in Isaiah 53 Jesus was “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken” (Isaiah 53:7,8).  And He chose to do that. And I choose to do that. Our Lord Jesus left us that example. There was no resistance that came out of Christ. There were no words, and no defenses. He could have brought plenty of accusations. He would not have even needed to stand there. But He opened not His mouth.

I see it in Philippians 2 when “He made Himself of no reputation.” That’s a difficult expression for you people who have learned English to know how to understand. But if you read it in Greek or read it in Spanish, it makes perfect sense. In Spanish, it says that He se despojó a sí mismo. [He dispossessed Himself.] That is, imagine Jesus having a container, and this container is His own life, and Jesus took this container and anything that was in it, and He dumped it all out. He emptied everything out of there that was in there. That, in Greek language is called the kenosis, the complete emptying of Himself.

Stephen did that. Back there in Acts 7, Stephen did that. When you dumped him upside down, everything came out. There was nothing more in there; he emptied himself. The reason why we fight and resist and demand for ourselves what we think we have to have is because we’re not emptied. We’re important, and we’re defending, and we want people to know it, that I’m in charge of this, and who do you think you are? And don’t you know who I am?

We didn’t learn that from Jesus. That self-emptying – He poured that out.  You can do anything to Jesus you want to do – you can put thorns down in there; you can smite and pull the beard off. You can do anything to Him. It was gone. It was gone. The self-emptying of Christ. Then in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but Thine be done.” This is the story of our Lord Jesus. This is how He lived.

How can we see that without saying, “Dear God, is that in me? Dear God, do you see in me what You saw in Your Son?” Is that part of my life and part of my testimony? His death to self, His life of brokenness? A choice to live as He did in total humility and surrender, with no resistance to divine will, with no carnal effort to find against our circumstances and refuse to yield in the difficult intersections of life’s journey. You know, there are “Yield” signs at intersections. You come up there, and you see that there’s a yield sign, and you yield there, or there are terrible consequences if you don’t. And life is filled with those intersections, (and not on Interstate 81 and Pennsylvania turnpike, either). There are intersections with your wife; there are intersections with your job, and your customers, and your employees. There are intersections, and there’s a “yield sign” there. And we surrender to that; we bow our head and say, “Yes, Lord.” We bow our head and say, “No fight.” That’s the way God does in our hearts.

Now, my wife has shared this with me. Our difficulty does not come from the uninvited stresses and pressures of life; it does not come because something difficult has happened – some great loss, some financial issue, or some health issue, or some accident, or some fire or hazard. Those are not our problems. Our problems in life, and where we lose our peace is our resistance to those circumstances. We can yield; we can bow our hearts; we can put our heads into the empty flour barrel and sing the doxology. We can stop the murmuring and complaining. We can stop the irritation and the anger in the voice.

Life has not been for me the way I deserve, is the way we tend to think. That’s not the way of Christ, and that’s not the way of the cross. We don’t experience a true resurrection until we have learned to die. Accept it. It’s over. No one owes me anything. It’s just fine, just like this.

I’m sorry, but we don’t have time to give you illustrations. I was preaching in the states one time. In fact, I was in the state of Pennsylvania quite a few miles from here, but it was in Pennsylvania. It was the time of year when ladies are canning peaches. Now, my wife will not be able to understand this illustration, and our girls in Costa Rica would not understand this illustration, but you people here in this audience will every one of you understand this illustration. I was invited to a home for dinner, and there were two ladies in the home, and the one was complaining to the other, and she said, “I went to the market today to get peaches.” And there was a certain kind of peach that she wanted to buy, and they didn’t have that kind of peaches. The kind of peaches that she needed to have, and just had to have, because it was a special thing to her, but it was not available, and she just could not have it that she could not have that kind of peach. I thought to myself, dear lady, please take your peaches home, and enjoy your peaches. If I could have your peaches in Costa Rica, I don’t care what kind they are. Bring me your peaches.

But here we are – we’re so used to life the way it has to be! And life the way I deserve it! And life the way I’ve become accustomed to do it, and life the way my culture said it’s got to be, and life the way others are doing it. And we think we deserve that. We didn’t learn any of that from Christ. It’s not the way of the cross. Don’t let our Costa Rican girls hear you fuss about your peaches. Don’t come to Costa Rica and do that. There’s something seriously wrong in our hearts.

Practically, the way of the cross is submission to divine will.

It’s choosing moment by moment what God has chosen for me. It’s resignation of the trials of life. It’s another trip to Mount Moriah, placing another choice offering upon the altar there. It’s what Romans 12 calls, “a living sacrifice.” It’s a life of total consecration to God. That’s what this is. It’s life under the mercies of God. “I beseech you . . . brethren, by the mercies of God.” (I want to speak about that just before we close.)

The mercies of God – I’d like you to think about that. You mean an illness in your wife – mercies of God? You mean that financial loss – mercies of God?  You mean God was there with mercy? “I beseech you, by the mercies of God.” It’s a voluntary offering.  I don’t know if it was Abraham’s offering or if it was Isaac’s offering on Mount Moriah. I think of Jacob’s offering at Jabbok. I think of Joseph’s offering in Potiphar’s house. I think of two missionaries in a Philippian jail at midnight and the offering they put on the altar there. I think of what they did instead of resisting those circumstances and fighting against those furrowed backs and those awful stocks – the hymns and the prayers at midnight.

There is no peace until I’ve learned the way of the cross. The power of the Lord Jesus is nonresident in my life until I’ve chosen to die, until I’ve chosen what God has chosen for me. “He that saves his life will lose it, and he that loses his life will find it.”

Just a few words yet of personal testimony. The year was 1969. It was June. I was chosen to the ministry. I was 21 years of age. My wife was 5 months pregnant with our first child. A few months later, all the ministers of the congregations in our state had a meeting together. That was in the New England states. They had a meeting and they didn’t invite me to come, and they contacted the bishops of the state of Pennsylvania that were in charge of those churches and asked them if they would ordain me to be the bishop of the churches of the state of Vermont. They didn’t want to be connected with Pennsylvania. They wanted a local bishop. So, the bishops asked me if I would go to college and get an education, because they didn’t want an uneducated bishop. So, I took college entrance exams, and was planning to go to EMC (EMU now). Sometime after that, I was silenced from the ministry, and began a very very difficult journey in my life. I’ve been called to the responsibility of bishop three times in my life. I’m not going to take time to tell you what happened the first two times.

These things happened to me, and I always had a way out of it. I could fight through it, get through it, try again, make an adjustment, make a change, try a different church. We’ll do some way to get through this somehow. We were dairy farmers with three years of drought. The summertime was a worse drought than the year before. I rented more land; we borrowed more money; we tried to put in more cows. We were going to make up for the losses. The last year we rented more land than ever and had the biggest loss of any year.  We tried by finances, tried by working more hours, tried by renting more land. Tried, tried.

We moved to Costa Rica and were there seven weeks when we had the death of a son. I braced up to that; I’m going to face this; I’ll get through this. No one is going to find out how much this hurts me. I can make it. I’ll get through this somehow. And then, a short time after that, there was the most devastating thing that has ever happened in my life, and fighting did not help. I had no resources to resist it. There was nothing I could do about it. I was a total failure; there was no way to explain it. Nothing I could do would change it. And I fell on a rubbish heap, and there I broke, and there I lost, and there I died, and there was no fight anymore. God was trying to do that all the time. That’s what God wanted all the time. That’s what God wanted through all those years. That’s what God wanted to see.

You say, well, that was pretty rough, Dale. (And that was a real quick journey. I didn’t take you along very closely there.) But I was preaching a few years ago in the state of Tennessee, and an aged bishop there that I deeply respect came the last night of the meetings. He walked up to me when the sermon was over. (I want you to be listening right now real closely.) He said, “Brother Dale, you’ve experienced a lot of trials in life. But I want you to know something. The most severe test that you’re ever going to face is still before you. I want you to be prepared for it. I want you to trust God in it. You’re going to have a very very difficult thing coming up in your life here. Your most severe test is yet to come.”

Surrender is a way of life. It’s living before a continual “yield sign.” The yield sign is always there. There’s only one person that can do it, and that’s you. You and I must yield. I’ve experienced things in the last eight months that were some of the most difficult things that I’ve ever gone through. This past week was very difficult, especially Monday. We’ve had the biggest financial loss in this period of time that I’ve ever had in my life.

I know what it’s like to lose two thirds of all the dairy cows and two thirds of all the heifers to a brucellosis infestation in the herd. I know what it’s like to see earthquakes shatter the buildings and kill the animals. I know what it’s like to see robbers come and take whatever they choose to take. I know what it’s like to have health problems. I know what it’s like to have all kinds of difficulties and wrecks, and things like that. But the past eight months was the largest loss we ever had in life. What does God want there? Why does God do that?

I will tell you that this is what I have done. Back about nine months ago, I was doing some numbers there, and doing some things there at the desk, and I felt the Lord speaking to me, and He said something like this to me, “Dale, are you sure? Isn’t this just a little too close to your heart, Dale? Isn’t this something that I should put my finger on?” I got on my knees right there and told the Lord that He has the right to touch anything He wants, do anything He wants to do. As long as it helps me and others, it’s ok, whatever He does.

So, things began to happen. One, two, three, four things happened within a couple of weeks. Not all the same things. But wait a minute. That’s only part of the story. The way of the cross will not destroy you. God is not trying to take it away from you. He’s not trying to make it difficult for you. He’s not trying to ruin you. It’s not going to ruin you! Yielded to God, there’s only one thing that’s going to happen – the mercies of God! 

The Refiner’s Fire

He sat by the fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore.
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test,   (that’s your life,)
And He wanted the finest gold,
To mold as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems of price untold.

So, He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we fain would have said Him, “Nay.”
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter, and yet more bright
And our eyes were so dim with tears,
As we saw the fire, not the Master’s hand,
And questioned with anxious fear.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above
That bent o’er the fire, though unseen by us
With a look of infinite love.

Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause a moment of pain?
Ah, no, but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.

So, He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure!

Author unknown

That is all God will ever do in your life. If it’s yielded to Him, it will turn out for His glory. If it’s yielded to Him, it will be for your good. If it’s yielded to Him, it will be a testimony and a light in your lantern. And you need to realize tonight that the reason we fight and resist these things in life is just for no other reason – (and if you get this tonight, you got the whole message, and you can forget everything else) –we do it because we think we’re qualified. We fight and resist and get angry, and we get irritated and murmur and fuss because we think we were qualified to do it, and we know how to do it. When if we only would realize that we’re completely incapable, and we’re completely dependent, and we can’t do a thing without God!

I’m going to give you this little illustration as I close, so that you understand how weak and absolutely incapable we are, and when we yield it to God, the tremendous strength that’s in heaven. It happened yesterday in the airport in Miami. I don’t ever like to travel through Miami airport, especially not with a wife that’s in the condition mine is. And she walked for nearly a mile in the Miami airport yesterday. We had to do something in an airport that I don’t like to do. We had to change from one airline to another airline in that airport. We came in on Avianca and were leaving on American. “Concourse D,” the monitor said, “Gate 36,” at least a mile away from where we were. I checked that monitor. My wife was coming behind me. She has a roller bag, so she can use that for a walker, and she leans on there, and trudges along behind me. So, I go down to the next corner, and look back to see if she’s still there, and I go on because I want to try and find it, and maybe get there before the gate closes and to keep the door open for my wife to come, so that’s the way we do business.

And I was way out ahead there, and way down the line, it says, “Concourse D,” and when you get that 200 meters down there, then the sign says, “Concourse D” that much further on ahead. And I was going on, and going on, and going on, wondering when I’m ever going to get to Concourse D. And about that time, I felt this tapping on my shoulder. I turned over and looked, and there was a young lady standing, panting. She had been running, and she was panting. She was trying to catch me. She said, “Sir, way back there, you dropped your passport.” I looked at this passport. When did I drop it? I don’t drop passports. I’m a traveler. I’m experienced with that. I don’t drop passports. But wait a minute. There’s only one. I was carrying two.

“Oh, oh,” she said. Another girl came running up behind. She was panting. She had been running. She said, “Here’s the other one.” And the girls were gone. I don’t know where they went. I don’t know who they were. Miami airport has thousands and thousands of people. There’s not one person in that airport that has time to pick up passports and run down to Concourse D and find someone who lost it. How they knew who the person was that dropped it, how they knew what to look for, I have no idea. All I know is, the next thing was to get through a screening area, and I would have reached for the passports, and they would not have been there.

“Helpless, vile, weak,” we sang tonight in that song right before I spoke. “Spotless Lamb of God is He. Full atonement, can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior.”

So, it’s not because we can do it. It’s not because we have the capacity; we’ve been there; we’re gifted; we can handle these things. It’s not the way it is. Why do we resist? Why do we fight? When He that is all for us, and His mercies every day are rich towards us, will supply everything we need.

Doesn’t someone need to make a trip to the altar tonight? God bless you.