One of the most vivid images in the first couple chapters of Genesis to me is the image of that Flaming Sword that God put in the hand of his angel to turn every which way to KEEP the way to the Tree of Life.
It's purpose was to bring ANYONE down in death who tried to reach forth their hand to eat from that tree and thereby LIVE FOREVER.
G. T. Haywood brought that point out so wonderfully!"Jesus the Victim of the Burning Sword!"
A long time ago I read another article from an old time preacher in Illinois who wrote that HE believed that there was a reason God designed that Sword of the Spirit which is the Word Of God with TWO EDGES instead of one. His thinking and the concept that holds the most water for ME is that the two edges REPRESENT something about the Word of God something INDISPENSABLE for us to understand to properly USE this sword of the spirit.
In his opinion (And MINE) those two edges represent THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD and THE PROMISES OF GOD. He felt (and again I concur) that you seldom are able to KEEP the commandments of God unless you have a revelation of the correlating PROMISE of God and vice versa that you Can Not RECEIVE the Promise of God unless you KEEP THE CORRELATING COMMANDMENT.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times this principle has bailed me out of some pretty sticky wickets to quote the British,
Once years ago back in the very early 1980's I had received "My Missionary Call" or rather, my APPOINTMENT (from God), I had ALWAYS had the call. But NOW I knew WHERE I was to go. Aleppo, Syria. In preparation I prayed "Well okay God HOW do I get THERE from HERE?" (Here being at the time a glamourous job as the manager of a Pizza Hut Pizza Parlour in the San Diego area.)
I felt strongly impressed of God to MOVE from Southern California back up to Stockton, California where I had gone (PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE DON'T HOLD THIS AGAINST ME!) to BIBLE COLLEGE.
I went to the district supervisor of the Company and told him I was wanting to TRANSFER to that area, "Are there any openings up there in Stockton for Pizza Hut?"
Well as things would have it they said "ABSOLUTELY! We are getting ready to open our first Stockton unit in about three months and we are LOOKING for an experienced manager to go in there and open it up!" I jumped on it! ME ! ME !!! CHOOSE ME!!!!!!!!!!
They did and so I put in my two weeks notice down there in San Diego and thought "Oh Praise God! I have enough money saved up to be able to move up to Stockton and actually take a few months vacation!" I thought I would just get involved in the things up there at the church, always so much going on, and I will just LOVE IT!
Well everything was moving SO SMOOTHLY! I moved up to Stockton, found a tremendous apartment, utitlities included, with beautiful landscaping just GREAT very cheap, and got to enjoy service after service of some of the greatest preachers AND singers in Pentecost!
After two months I was contacted by Pizza Hut "Things are not moving as fast as we had hoped so it will push back our plans by a month or two."
WELL "That's okay" I thought. I STILL had money saved up and NOT TO WORRY!
But after another month they got pushed up again and then AGAIN and pretty soon THEY CANCELLED THE OPENING COMPLETELY! They felt that the time was not right for opening a Pizza Hut in that location!
"You can always come back to San Diego your old job would still be yours!"
But there was NO GOING BACK! Stockton is where God told me to go and Stockton was where I would stay until he told me OTHERWISE!
Well again "NOT TO WORRY!" I mean I have worked since I was very young, Done EVERYTHING and done it well. My resume was great ! NOT one week here four days there an hour here, But rather long established track record with a good report from previous employers. "FINDING A JOB IS GOING TO BE A PIECE OF CAKE! I CAN WRITE MY OWN TICKET!!!!!"
famous last words
So I began selectively at first going out to look for a job, Of course going for management positions. I would go into the various job interviews and I knew it "THEY LIKE YOU JOE! IT'S IN THE BAG!" They would pour over my resume, making the appropriate "Wow's" and " Mans!" and then turn and say "This is fantastic! RIGHT NOW WE ARE NOT HIRING BUT WE WILL CERTAINLY KEEP YOU AT THE TOP OF OUR LIST!"
So I would go to the next place... SAME THING.... Next Place SAME THING!!!! Days became weeks weeks became a month then two months and I was ABSOLUTELY RUNNING OUT OF MONEY!
I went from asking for Management positions down to " I WILL DO ANYTHING! MOP FLOORS SCRUB TOILETS RUN CASH REGISTERS CLEAN PARKING LOTS ANNNNNNNYYYYYTHINGGGGGG!"
All to no avail NOTHING, NADA, ZIP as they say.
The day came when I closed out my bank account to get the last few dollars in it for food. And then THAT was gone! Being the resourceful guy I am I immediately went into action. Applying for work all morning long and then in the afternoon donning my BIB OVERALLS and going out with big old plastic Garbage bags through all the dumpsters all over the area picking out ALUMINUM CANS to then crush, and nobly cart off to the local supermarket where you could...
TURN YOUR CANS INTO CASH!!!
Oh how the mighty are fallen!
Anyway it never failed that brethren would see me in my shame picking cans out of the dumpster but by then there was really no choice! No one was hiring, I would rather DIE than ask for a nickel and since I was an able bodied person it left very little choice!
But cans can only bring you in enough for a loaf of bread some fish sticks and a pack of bologna THEY CANT PAY THE BILLS! And with the rent looming at the end of the month I was panicking WHAT AM I GONNA DO!????? WHAT AM I GONNA DO!??????
(my favourite mantra by the way)
I prayed and prayed and it seemed like there was no answer. Certain catastrophe was looming on my horizon! GOD WHERE ARE YOU?? I NEED HELP!
It was a Sunday night service with just one week to go before all my bills came due with nary a cent to be had! I had worried all the way through the service and for the life of me can't remember who preached or what they had to say! All I could think of was my "MANTRA"
WHAT AM I GONNA DO? WHAT AM I GONNA DO???????
The altar call was given and everyone came to stand around the front, they had the choir up there and they began singing a song that the music minister there at the church had just written. It was the very first time I had ever heard it. Indeed it may have been the very first time ANY congregation ever sang it. It is very familiar NOW but THEN it was electrifying!!!
"We've got the Power, In the name of Jesus
We've got the Power in the name of the Lord!
Though Satan rages, we can not be defeated
We've got the Power in the name of the Lord!"
As the spirit of God just rolled over the congregation they caught the song and it was just one of those moments you had to live through they really can't be described! To say it was HEAVENLY is an understatement!
I forgot all about my problems and just closed my eyes and raised my hands in worship as I began to sing along with the church.......
"I've got the Power! In the name of Jesus! I've got the Power in the Name of the Lord!"
And INSTANTLY I had a vision! Almost what I call a MINI VISION! Not with my eyes but there in my MINDS EYE! I***SAW**** IT!!! I SAW IT!!!!!!!!!!!
There in my vision I saw this hand attached to an arm that was only to the other side of its elbow. Just this disembodied ARM. It was not flesh coloured but rather WHITE AS MARBLE! DEAD! LIFELESS!!!!!
And it HAD something tightly gripped in its clenched fist!
"What IS that?" I wondered and in my vision I kind of ZOOMED in on it....
"Is that......is that A JOB APPLICATION?????" And in that SPLIT SECOND I KNEW IT!
That was not just ANY job application that was MY job application! In a milisecond it all fell into place ! AHA! NO WONDER I CAN'T FIND A JOB EVEN SCRUBBING TOILETS! Everywhere I go there is a spirit of opposition OPPOSING me trying to IMPEDE me trying to cause me to FAIL and I no sooner go into a place and apply for a job then it comes along and SCOOPS THAT APPLICATION UP AND BINDS IT SO I CAN NOT FIND WORK!!!!!!
And THAT is when the TRUSTY SWORD OF THE SPIRIT SPRANG INTO MY HANDS!!!!!!
I flashed on that principle for just a second! It is the PROMISE of God that Whatsoever I ask in Faith Believing I will receive BUT I NEED A COMMANDMENT TO HOLD ONTO HERE TO to make this thing HAPPEN! And WHOOMP there it was! I started praying in that moment against that spirit of opposition like this.....
"You listen to me RIGHT NOW DEVIL! MY GOD COMMANDED ME TO WORK! HE SAID THAT IF A MAN DOES NOT WORK HE SHOULD NOT EAT! AND THERE IS NO WAY THAT ****YOU OR ANY OTHER DEVIL****** ARE GOING TO CAUSE ME TO BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD! YOU TAKE YOUR HAND OFF MY JOB APPLICATION RIGHT NOW IN JESUS NAME! YOU ARE ****NOT**** GOING TO CAUSE ME TO FAIL TO LIVE UP TO GODS COMMANDMENTS!"
And just as quick as ya please (now to quote the Irish) the Lord spoke to me! He said "TONIGHT BEFORE MIDNIGHT YOU WILL HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!"
It wasn't just something I "THOUGHT" it was one of those rare times I KNEW it was going to happen.
Service was over, some of my friends came up to me at the altar and said "Hey Joe! we're going to Dennys! ya wanna come with us? we're buyin'!"
Well my first thought was NO! I have to go home ! Someones gonna call me with a job TONIGHT! But then I thought NO! I really BELIEVE THIS so HERE is what I am going to do! I told my friends how that God had spoke to me that before MIDNIGHT I would have a job that very evening! So I said I WILL GO WITH YOU ***BUT*** you have to PROMISE to have me home by eleven o'clock so that I can be there to answer the phone! I'm tellin' ya! It's GONNA HAPPEN!
They said "Brother, It's Sunday night! No one is going to call that late with a job! They will probably call Monday!"
I said " NOPE! In fact LET'S DO THIS! LETS GO TO DENNYS! THEN YOU GUYS COME OVER TO MY HOUSE AND SIT WITH ME! YOU'LL SEE! THIS IS THE LORD!!!!!!!!"
So we went out to Dennys, ate hamburgers or something, they did indeed get me home by eleven o'clock that night and all came in. I could tell they didn't think ANYTHING was gonna happen! They sat around making small talk! I just kept waiting for the phone to ring. Eleven fifteen NUTHIN'
Eleven Thirty NUTHIN'
Eleven Forty Five NUTHIN'
By then they were all sitting around kind of silent thinking what it was they were going to say to make me feel better when nothing happened.
At eleven fifty NUTHIN'
One of them started to say "Brother, sometimes....." And I just shot him the biggest grin! Brother It's not midnight YET!"
And then (And let me tell you the truth when It happened I just about jumped outta my skin!) because at Eleven Fifty Five THE PHONE RANG!
I picked it up my hands shaking!
" Yes is this Mr. Conroy? "
"Yes it is" I replied
"Sir we are SO sorry to call you so very late but we have an emergency here at our restaraunt. Tonight about ten o'clock we had FOUR of our employees quit and walk right out the door! We don't have ANYONE to open the restaraunt tomorrow! ARE YOU STILL LOOKING FOR A JOB?"
I HAVE RARELY SHOUTED SILENTLY WHILE HOLDING A TELEPHONE IN ONE HAND BUT I DID THAT NIGHT!
"Yes! Yes I am! " I said
"CAN YOU START IN THE MORNING?" They asked
"Well, let me see, yes, I can." I said.
Can I tell you , that restaurant was the most lucrative job I had ever had! It was a very VERY fancy restaurant and the tips alone every night that I would walk out the door with for just a few hours work were always between three hundred and five hundred DOLLARS PER NIGHT!
I look back over my life and think of all the horrible predicaments I had to go through to discover YET AGAIN that the word of God is true!
To quote an Old Andre Crouch Song....
"If I never had a problem
I'd never know that GOD could solve them
I'd never know what FAITH IN HIS WORD COULD DO!"
I thank God for the knowledge of HOW TO USE THIS SWORD OF THE SPIRIT! To claim the Promises I have to CLAIM THE COMMANDMENTS! And to keep the COMMANDMENTS I MUST KNOW THE PROMISES!
I MEAN I WON'T HAVE TROUBLE WITH " THOU SHALT NOT STEAL" WHEN I KNOW THE PROMISE IS "I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE RIGHTEOUS FORSAKEN OR HIS SEED BEGGING FOR BREAD"
And never NEVER to forget that the sword doesn't just have TWO EDGES but is ON FIRE WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD THAT BREATHES LIFE INTO BOTH HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HIS PROMISES FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM THEM!