Pressed Beyond Measure Into Christ

By Michael Clark and Susanne  Schuberth

Pressed Into ChristFor we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence [Grk, apokrima – an answer] of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead: (2Cor 1:8-9, KJ2000)

Susanne Schuberth recently took this picture on one of her prayer walks and sent it to me (Michael) and I cropped it to fit.

I (Susanne) thought about the biblical meaning of the number four. These four arrows represent the world system that puts those under pressure who eagerly want to follow the Lord. The two people with arrows coming at them from all directions seems to portray what we have been going through for some time with many attacks from the enemy causing afflictions in our bodies and our hearts. This sign depicts what it is like when two walk together in the unity of the Spirit and how the adversary presses in on them from every side. As we looked at the picture of the sign we noticed that these two are not alone, there is a third Person behind them as if He is looking over them with His arms around them. We are being pressed in from every side, but the enemy is actually pressing us into Christ! In the above verse Paul actually said, “we have the answer of death.” Death of our old self-natures is the answer to our prayers that we be conformed into the image of God’s Son.

As I (Michael) thought about what this sign depicts, many scriptures came flooding into my mind. Here are a few of them.

 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isa 30:20-21, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

When we experience adversity and are afflicted with bodily pains, our adversary does all he can to get our eyes off Christ who has not left us, and onto our pains and attacks. But in all this we have the promise that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, will continue to teach us in and through all these things. He teaches us and fine-tunes us to hear His gentle whisper and follow His leading in the most adverse circumstances.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Ps 23:5-6, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Even after we have passed through the valley of the shadow of death, we are not free of our enemies. Rather, God prepares us a banquet table of spiritual food in the midst of them and their attacks. It is here that we experience the anointing of the Holy Spirit on us and the goodness and mercy of the Lord in spite of what our enemy attempts to do. We start to dwell in the house of the Lord and His covering in all situations.

 Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. (Isa 59:15-16, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Yes, it seems like a very lonely walk in which we are made a prey of our enemy. As the sign shows, he comes at us from all sides in his attempt to overthrow our faith. We can’t expect any help from men and the world around us. The Lord alone will uphold us and vindicate us because He is with us.

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. (Ps 31:19-20, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Even in the midst of verbal attacks by others, we find that we can take shelter in Christ in heaven and He foils the evil plots against us. It is here that we discover the abundance of our Father’s goodness towards us.

 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. — Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Ps 57:1-3, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Yes, we can take refuge in the shadow of His wings! As Jesus said, “How often I would have gathered you together unto me as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” God lets adversity come upon us so that we will cry out to Him and fulfill His purposes in us. He shows His great love and faithfulness to us through it all.

 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Ps 34:19, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Jesus said:

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome (Grk. Nikao – to conquer) the world.” (John 16:33, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Have you ever wondered how the fact that Jesus has overcome the world is supposed to make us take heart in tribulation? We sure have. Just yesterday I (Susanne) was mulling over the frustration I have had with that verse above which tells us that Jesus had overcome the world. How disappointing for us miserable human beings to have to live in this world until we die and to not be able to overcome the world just as Jesus did! But wait a moment… Thinking about ‘death’… Jesus was still alive on this earth and told us that he had overcome the world already. How so? Because He was IN the Father where there is no death any longer. IN God and IN Christ there is only LIFE, and PEACE, and LOVE, and JOY etc., even in tribulation and suffering (Rom 5:3 ESV). If Jesus conquered the kosmos, the “world” system that is under the rule of Satan, why then are we still under his attacks? The key is found in the following verse where Paul wrote:

 Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the fragrance of his knowledge by us in every place. (2Cor 2:14, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors (Grk. HuperNikao – to totally conquer or totally overcome) through him who loved us. (Rom 8:35-37, ESV2011 – emphasis added).

We are more than overcomers in Christ because that is where our Father places us as His sons and daughters. As soon as we have died to our old Adam natures, this will become obvious. So it is truly a new life after ‘death,’ although we are still in this world when this happens by God’s grace. In Romans we read, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2, ESV2011). We stand in Christ. We also stand in faith because we stand in His grace. Here and there is no room for doubt. The enemy always gets us to sell short what is ours in Christ by getting us to doubt. T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

To prevent assurance of faith is the devil’s own work, it is his aim to get the Lord’s people unsettled; and doubt is one of his most subtle means of working. It was so in the beginning, “hath God said?” (Gen. 3:1), and it is still his method. The way, and the only way, to frustrate this is by being established in the faith (Acts 16:5; Col. 2:7). “Stand fast in the faith” (1 Cor. 16)…

The great need of God’s people is to be established in the faith, not just established in doctrine, in an orthodox gospel, or by acquiring knowledge of fundamental truth, but established by an inward knowledge of our standing in the Lord Jesus on the ground of His finished work and complete triumph over the devil and all his works. So many of the Lord’s children lack this assurance of their position in the Lord; yet it is written: “God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… in love having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself.” (Eph. 1:4,5)…

Stand on God’s facts and not on the quicksands of your own feelings. Some are doubting simply because of feelings! Salvation is not a matter of feeling, it is God’s fact – “It is written” – God hath said. The word of God is “no condemnation“. “There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” – Rom. 8:1. We are perfect in Christ the day we are born anew, that is as to our standing, we have good reason to be sorry for our state; but the word is “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 2 Peter 3:18. “My little children of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” – Gal. 4:19 A.R.V. Yes it is to be a day by day growing in grace…

Here we are passing through trial, adversity, sorrow, suffering, and we are tempted to think the Lord has given us up; the enemy presses in on every side with accusation, condemnation, question, doubts, fears. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable,” for beloved, this is the establishing principle at work, our faith is being exercised. We know anguish, travail. Remember the establishing work is done while our eyes are unto Him; when things are against us, seeking to press us down, then we look off unto Jesus now in the presence of God for us, having all authority in heaven and on earth, and a NAME that is above every other name, a title of Sovereignty above every other title of sovereignty…

This is the ONE unto whom our eyes are. Faith is thus exercised and enables us in the very midst of pressure and contradictory circumstances to rise upward and stand in Christ Jesus in the position He has given us, “seated together with Him in the heavenlies.” “Ye are made full in Him in Whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form.” – Col. 2:9.

So through trial, the establishing work is done; it is the manifestation of His Victory over all the power and pressure of the enemy, “God who giveth us The Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Cor. 15:57. Yes, it is HIS victory, a life that has conquered death – 1 Cor. 15:54. ~ http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002923.html

Wow! Did you get that? God has chosen us in Christ from before the foundation of the world. In His love, He foreordained us in our adoption as His sons and daughters into Himself (the Greek is clear that we are chosen in Christ and that as we have believed into Him and it is here that we have all the grace and love and faith we need – see 1 Cor. 3:22-23). It is all a matter of the faith of Christ working in us. The enemy does all he can to get us to doubt and live as if we are subject to this world instead of seeing that we abide in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, which is our inheritance now in Him. We are overcomers because we are in Him who has overcome the world. Everything that the enemy does to us only presses us further into our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:1-2, KJ2000)

Advertisements

21 comments on “Pressed Beyond Measure Into Christ

  1. Wow!! Michael, I had not read this latest version of our blog before (esp. the long TAS excerpt) and it has turned out a very good description of what we have been going through. Indeed, it is sooo difficult at times to turn from our bad feelings that belong to the soul back to the Lord and to the heavenly realm. However, with His power, it works! Nonetheless, we can only pray and wait on Him until we have been set free. If we are still insecure whether our ‘feelings’ have come from the soul or from the spirit, we could ponder on the following verse.

    For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:6 ESV)

    If we indeed feel LIFE in ourselves and are enwrapped in His PEACE, we can be sure that Satan’s attacks won’t be able to destroy us any longer for we have found our shelter under the shadow of His wings. Ha!! Michael, I just found out on the net that you had written a very similar thing I just did in one of your blog posts before (if you like, see https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/how-dose-god-define-sin/). I meant the peace wrapper here… 😉 You said,

    We can be sure if we are enwrapped in His peace right now, we are in His will, we are walking by faith and there is no sin so that there would be an open door for Satan to make us fear, worry, or a possibility to deceive or delude us.

    Hmm… Oopsie! I just realized that this was another joint article by us so I am not sure who wrote this paragraph back then, my brother. 🙂 Maybe, that is what is unity of faith is about? It is no longer about us and the little ME since “…all who believed were together and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44 ESV)

    In Christ,
    Your sister Susanne 🐱

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, that verse from Romans is really good. It seams to be very important as to what we set our minds on. Pain can be very distracting and so can concerns about how the enemy attacks our loved ones. I think that part of this dying we have been going through is so that we will not so easily be pulled down by our souls into these distractions. Like Paul said,

      “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:11-13, KJ2000)

      Yes, the unity of our common faith and life IN Christ seems to be what we are experiencing more and more as our old Adam dies, my dear sister. It is interesting that we no longer know who wrote what in our former joint blog articles. This is the way it should be, just as Paul wrote at the end of that letter to the Romans,

      “Now may God, the source of endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other as you follow the Messiah Jesus, so that with one mind and one voice you might glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.” (Rom 15:5-6, ISV144)

      May we continue to grow in one mind, even the Mind of Christ and write and speak with the One Voice of the Spirit in the days ahead. Amen. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Entering the Promised Land and commented:
    This is another joint article by Michael Clark and me. Our common spiritual experiences were the foundation of our deliberations and conclusions in this post. If you have ever tried to really follow the Lord closely, you might know that Satan does not sleep but keeps attacking you as often as possible in order to drive you only deeper into the arms of God. Of course, that was NOT the devil’s intention! Instead, he merely wanted to discourage and finally destroy you. But whenever Satan means evil against us, God always means it for our good (see Gen 50:20).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, what a wonderful Father we have IN Christ! He has had this all figured out from before the foundation of the world that we should grow in grace together in His great love. Like Paul said in Romans ch. 8, who shall separate us from His love? It is impossible.

      “What shall be separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? According as it is written that “On Thy account we are being put to death the whole day…” Nay! in all these we are more than conquering through Him Who loves us. (Rom 8:35-37, CLV)

      What a blessing it is to write with you in one heart, dear sister! ⭐ ❤ ⭐

      Liked by 3 people

      • Being put to death all day long…. Oh, that sounds familiar, Michael! 😦 But it is relieving to know that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God IN Christ! It is not our doing; it is all His work.

        Having been blessed with one heart and often one mind with you, I am eter- nally grateful to our Daddy in Heaven. You are a blessing, my brother! ⭐ ❤ ⭐

        Liked by 3 people

  3. David Murry says:

    Solid reminder for me. Thank you both. Wonderful illustration as well.

    Thank you as always.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. dimple says:

    Wow, the ANSWER of death. That gives a whole new meaning for me, as I had always read that word “sentence” as punitive…
    Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Louise, that is the exact Greek meaning according to Theyers and it makes perfect sense once we understand who the cross of Christ deals with the sinful old Adam within us. We die that we might truly live IN Christ and know the fullness of His saving grace in our new lives. “For me to live IS Christ and to die is gain.” Amen!

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you, Susanne and Michael, for sharing His word on the blog. I trust that reading it is not just pleasurable to me, but that I will have ears to hear.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As you say, we can expect to be attacked from all sides. Christ is our great consolation in suffering; being conformed to His image, our ultimate goal. In responding to suffering and persecution, however, there is one thing Christians often overlook. That is the positive impact our suffering may have on others.

    As you mention, Psalm 23 describes the Lord as laying a table for us before our enemies. This image suggests that our triumph over evil will be complete.

    I am reminded of Mordecai and Haman, in the Book of Esther. You will remember that Haman sought to destroy Mordecai. But his plan was thwarted. Haman was publicly humiliated, then hanged. At Purim, Jewish children eat cookies named for Haman (hamantaschen) to this day.

    More than satisfying us, however, the image of a table laid for us before our enemies glorifies God. Even when we are outmatched, even under the most hellish (and I use the word advisedly) circumstances, Christians can have hope because He is our God. That is a trumpet blast, a proclamation to the ends of the material and spiritual universe.

    Our response to suffering is, in other words, a powerful witness — both to those in this world, and those outside it. Ephesians 3: 10-11 speaks of powers and principalities in the heavenly realms. The very angels are watching this Redemption drama play itself out.

    Not all those aware of our suffering will make themselves known to us. Some will continue to ally themselves with evil, despite our suffering. But a few will see God’s hand at work in our lives, and be drawn to Him. Those who already love and serve Him will be edified and encouraged.

    We may feel alone and abandoned, in the midst of our trials. That is never though the case. Painful as it may be, the feeling of abandonment is simply an illusion, a parlor trick of Satan’s, one more of his lies.

    Thank you both, Michael and Susanne, for sharing another lesson with us!

    With love,

    Anna ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna,

      You brought up so many good points in your comment. Obviously you have learned many valuable life changing lessons brought to maturity in your own life of suffering. You wrote,

      “We may feel alone and abandoned, in the midst of our trials. That is never though the case. Painful as it may be, the feeling of abandonment is simply an illusion, a parlor trick of Satan’s, one more of his lies.”

      Yes, dear sister, it is an illusion and lie of Satan as Susanne and I are both finding out. As I read this I immediately thought of Paul’s curious words, “That I may know Him (Christ)… the fellowship of His sufferings…”

      Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father ever to make intercession for us. He is not “up there” relaxing after suffering once on the cross and glibly watching us do our suffering alone. He is our High Priest who is touched in every way by our sufferings and stumblings here on earth and has not left us alone to “gut it out” on our own. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” We have fellowship with Him in our own sufferings and the more we suffer, the deeper that fellowship grows. It is our love for Him that makes us willingly bear our cross and follow Him. THIS is fellowship with the Father and the Son.

      “And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:40-41, ESV2011)

      Only two chapters after this, Stephen dies at their hands seeing Jesus standing with the Father in His glory waiting for him to join them in heaven. Oh, what fellowship!

      We love you, too, Anna! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Wow! That is not all I can say of course. I too have been pressed from all sides very recently in more ways than one. And I too have been having some of the same scriptures come to mind as I was walking through the trials in the midst of mine enemies. I am so grateful now to have come out of that mess. But not so much physical pain. Something seems to be taking place within my mind and body. And when I read the scriptures given, all these things had passed through my mind already here and there as I am going through the fire.

    Ha! I have also been saying that HE who sits in the Heavens shall have the last laugh. God always delivers me in the presence of my enemies. This blog is amazing. I feel like I am one with thee. The unity of the brethren coming together. Amen and Selah!

    Thank you all for bringing me closer to Yahweh! I love TAS. I read him every morning.

    Love always and forever,
    Stacey

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Your are welcome, dear Stacey. It occurred to me as I read your comment that our Father places us in the midst of our enemies so we can intercede for them. He does not will that any man should perish, but that all might have eternal life in Christ. Jesus put it this way…

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:43-45, ESV2011)

      God knows that our trials are doing a good work in us and maturing us into full sonship when we truly love our enemies and pray for them.

      Bless you, dear sister. Thanks for all the “likes” and the comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. ken dawson says:

    What a post! That one phrase jumped out at me–It is all a matter of the faith of Christs faith in us–I would like to rephrase it like this–It is ALL a matter of the faithfulness of Christ Himself working inside of us!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Michael says:

    Yes Ken, that is it! Paul put it this way, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.” (1Thess 5:23-24, KJ2000)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. gmm21century says:

    As I go through challenges recently, this was word of encouragement to me.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Dan

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Michael says:

    Thanks, Dan. I know that it is not a word that everyone can accept. I am so glad that it helped you. Thanks for letting us know.
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s