The Man God Uses

by Mike Ratliff

Our friend Sherry sent me the following piece by H.L. Roush last week. I was in the midst of several battles at that time and as I read it the Spirit encouraged me greatly. There are times that it is as if those mythical creatures from Hell called Harpies are surrounding us, tormenting us, and doing their all to frustrate us. Of course, there is no such thing as Harpies, but there are demonic powers and our enemy who hates us. They do their all to try to rob God of His glory. They cannot touch Him, so they attack the Church and each individual in it who is actively living for God’s glory. These things can cause us to get our eyes off of our Lord and the prize that awaits in eternity. We become distracted in our frustration and this causes us to become self-focused and on the road to defeat.

Be of good cheer, however, because God is on the throne and all of His are His forever.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.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 through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:26-39 ESV)

In our last post, Ridley and Latimer, we saw two men whom God used mightily to bring the Protestant Reformation into England. It cost them their lives. Never forget that all of our Lord’s Apostles but one died a martyr’s death. We must not look at these things as defeats nor are they victories for our enemy. No, these things are part of God’s plan and His ways are higher than ours. He may indeed allow His beloved children to be treated as the dregs of this world if it brings Him glory and accomplishes His will. If that be so then there is a higher good that we cannot perceive in our temporal state. However, those who suffer much for the sake of their Lord will receive their reward where it really counts, in eternity.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

Now, keep these truths in your heart as you read this awesome piece by H.L. Roush, and thank you Sherry for sending it to me. 🙂

” The Man God Uses ”

“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy Way for he is a chosen vessel unto me,
to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of
Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s
sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

There is no man on the face or the earth who lives such an unusual life as
the man God would see fit to use for His glory and praise. If he is to be
God’s messenger, Christ’s shepherd, the Spirit’s vessel, then he of
necessity must be an instrument prepared by the hand of God in any way
needed to make it fit. The message he bears is a living message, for it is
the life of Christ Himself, Since it is a living message, he proclaims by
the Spirit’s power, then he, of necessity, must be made to “live” this
message within the confines of his own experience. He may soar to the
heights of Mt. Zion’s glory today that he might proclaim that he has seen
God’s King on the holy hill of Zion, and tomorrow he might find himself
sinking in the depths of despair that he might learn and reveal to others
the sweetest LILY that ever graced the valley of defeat: JESUS! He may
meet with Jesus and Moses on the mount of transfiguration today and
tomorrow be laid bleeding and dead in the streets of Jerusalem and made a
gazing stock to a Christ rejecting world, He may wax bold one moment among
the philosophers of this world as he eloquently tells the riches of Cod’s
grace and in a moment’s time be found in weakness and in fear and
trembling, having contemptible speech and looked upon by others as a false
apostle. All this that God might mold in his soul an unshakable
determination to preach Christ and Him crucified.

God tunes his emotions like a fine harpist before each concert that be
might pluck from them the music that thrills the soul and fills his
hearers with joy. It may require a tightening on one, a loosening of
others, but when all are under the skilled hand of the Master, each one
brings forth its hidden message. He is lifted to some height of truth to
be smashed on the rocks of unbelief a moment later that he might feel the
hopelessness of his hearers and preach to them with a compassionate heart,
He is constantly on the forge, and ere the heat of one battle be passed,
the hammer and the tongs begin to fashion a new tool for the glory of God.
These experiences try the man of God and often make him a monster of
unreasonable proportions. All these violent dealings and his business with
God in deep waters tend to turn him without apparent cause to depression
and almost unbearable seasons of despondency. His anchor in every storm is
the solemn truth that the power of Christ’s resurrection can only be
transfused through the fellowship of His sufferings.

That these “things” are the work and will of God cannot be denied in the
words of Romans 8:28. It might do well to remind ourselves of dear old
Elijah, who one day while walking with God, found himself nearer heaven’s
home than earth’s and went on to glory. When he was missed by the clergy
of his day, they wrote his obituary in the ironic words, “. . .
peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon
some mountain, or into some valley” (II Kings 2:16). Thus had been his
earthly portion, and in the end his homegoing in the whirlwind brought him
the answers to the unanswerable experiences of his soul, for they were
found unto praise, glory and honor, Elijah is gone, but his mantle
fluttered to earth, and Elisha wore it for a season and went on to glory.
But the rough garment of the wilderness prophet has been handed down from
age to age, and yet it is the same. Let the man who would wear it lightly
beware, for with the mantle goes the juniper tree experiences, the hatred
of all earth’s Jezebels and Ahabs, the indifference of the Obadiahs, and
also, bless God, the double portion of Elijah’s spirit! The chariots and
horses of fire and the smiting of Jordan’s waters! But let all concerned
remember that when the hoary head of the prophet hangs down in defeat, and
he weeps under his juniper tree with a homesickness for Heaven, that none
less than an angel of God can touch him.

Depression without reason is a monster that cannot be reckoned with. Were
it not for the cakes and cruse of water in a needy time, these vessels of
God would succumb in the death grip of that
undefinable…intangible…unexplainable…unspeakable cloud of gloom and
mist of darkness, called DEPRESSION. There are, as the angel said, times
when the journey is too great for him, and he must sleep until God
ministers to him and enables him to go on for 40 days and nights more in
the strength of that ministry.

Our brother Peter warned that we should not think it “strange concerning
the fiery trial which IS to try you, . . . as though some STRANGE thing
happened unto you.” No, this is nothing strange to who have gone onto
glory before us. This common lot of them all. We cannot take too lightly
Paul’s solemn words that he had “trouble” in Asia………that he was
“pressed out of measure”…… far “above strength”, and that when this
tempest had reached its zenith, the great heart of the man that shook Rome
“despaired even of life!” We cannot soon forget this testimony that while
in Macedonia, his flesh had no rest. He was troubled on every side,
Without were fightings, and within were fears. Drink deeply from the cup
of his sufferings drawn from the well of experience when he says that he
was cast down and in desperate need of encouragement. See Elijah after
routing Baal’s prophets, weeping like a child and trembling like a leaf in
the fall wind. See Moses in his tent, telling God that he can go no
further with this stiff-necked people. Harken to the many witnesses that
compass us about and see if every man God saw fit to use as a polished
shaft in His quiver of arrows was not straightened in the press of
circumstances too great to bear and tempered under the weight of despair.
Luther often leaped from the mountain peaks of joy into the fathomless
depths of discouragement and, I am told, sobbed himself into his last
sleep like a frightened child. Some of the means employed in these trying
times might give us some insight into the burden of them.

“HE LIVES A LONELY LIFE”

“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.” (2Tim.
4:16). “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2Tim.
4:10). “Elijah wept…I, even I only, am left: and they seek my life to
take it” (1 Kings 19:10)

The man God would see fit, by grace, to use for the blessing of others and
the glory of Himself must be made to stand alone in the presence of God.
Only a man, who has been ALONE in the wilderness for three and a half
years, will ever have what it takes to face an Ahab and a Jezebel. The man
God uses to call down fire from Heaven will have to submit himself to the
discipline of loneliness, If a man would have the revelation of Jesus
Christ shown to him, he “must accept the loneliness of Patmos’ Isle. The
revelation of the grace of God is almost always and surely learned in the
solitude of Arabia, when even the brethren withhold the fellowship of a
handshake for 14 years. A man, who would know God in the burning bush,
must suffer rejection at the hands of the world and brethren alike and
retire to the backside of the Midian desert to be ALONE with God. He is
called upon to leave “all” to follow Jesus. This often requires that he be
forced further outside the camp than others that he might challenge the
saints to a higher walk He learns to worship, leaning on his staff with a
look of apprehension at all who would offer to “support” or strengthen
him, lest it turn out to be only another broken reed and it pierce his
often-pierced hand. This walk and schooling called “loneliness” brings two
results in his life.

(1) When he tries to explain the source of his sorrow in order to find
sympathy or relief, he finds that the inner conflicts cannot be revealed
to others, lest men count him mad and God be robbed of the glory of being
ALL to him. He must suffer with it alone like a fire that burns in the
bones that only God can know, understand and quench. This gives him a
tendency to sense no human sympathy or understanding.

(2) His burden becomes heavier when, like the Lord Jesus in Gethsemane, in
His greatest agony, He looks in vain at sleeping brethren unaware of His
dear soul’s fear and need. He is often shocked by the apparent
indifference of the brethren and returns to unknown agony with a burden
heavier than ever. This often leaves him exposed to the sin of a critical,
fault finding heart.

“HE LIVES A BURDENED LIFE”

He carries about in his heart, if he be the Lord’s vessel, a burden none
can share but those who know it firsthand. The great weight of divine
responsibility makes him cry, “Who is sufficient for these things?” He
oftentimes would quit his post and flee to a lawful occupation for relief
and rest but is bound by an inescapable, “Woe is me if I preach not the
Gospel.” He groans in his earthly house, being burdened, and would forsake
all and go fishing if it were not for the constant reminder that there
will be a day when he must come dripping wet out of the sea of life to
face a heavy-hearted Lord and hear Him say, “Lovest thou Me?” This burden
the man of God tries from time to time to carry for himself He cries,
“This people be too much for me.” He would sink beneath its load until he
learns that the burden is the Lord’s and His burden is light and His yoke
is easy. The constant burden to study the Word of God tends to make him
weary as the Preacher said in Ecc. 12:12, “Much study is a weariness of
the flesh.” The word wearied conveys to us the thought of exhaustion and
fatigue. A Demas, who forsakes us…a brother, who must be withstood to
the face…a professed brother, who lifts up his heel against us while
eating bread of love and fellowship with us can take from us in a few
hours what ten years of honest toil with the hands could not.

“HE LIVES IN WEAKNESS”

Then consider that Romans teaches that we all have infirmities, else why
would the Spirit of God help us with them? These weaknesses may be
physical fountains of despondency. These bodily weaknesses may gnaw at our
reservoir of strength until in our weakness we are driven to His strength.
If we really knew the heat of the furnaces in which some men labor and
walk, we would realize anew that GRACE still has her martyrs being burned
daily as living sacrifices at stakes unseen to men. If we could see the
inner conflict under which men often preach and labor, we would marvel at
the Grace that sustains him and not at the spasmodic depression that
overwhelms’ him. We would glorify God for His many victories instead of
magnifying his few defeats. The saints sit at the feet of the man of God
as he ministers, and they feast at the spring of living waters; and some
never know that those refreshing waters were digged from the rock of his
own soul.

He is engaged constantly with a hidden struggle that rages between two
convictions, (1) That his body is a living sacrifice to God and as such is
the temple of the Holy Spirit and must be cared for as such; (2) That as a
living sacrifice, he must spend and be spent…… poured out on the
sacrifice and service of the faith of the saints. He is badgered by the
thought that his Lord’s body was broken for him and that he can do no
less. While conflict rages, and each passing day he is sure he will
reconcile these two opposing thoughts, he drives himself at an unnatural
pace. He is driven hour by hour with the incessant whiplash of a burden to
know more of God’s Word, until sometimes the study becomes a prison and
his books iron bands that shackle him to the pillars of responsibility. He
forgets, or no one reminds him, that every beast of burden must eventually
be turned out to rest and that every field must lie fallow or become
fruitless. He forgets that every workman must have a time to sharpen his
tools and refresh himself, and often the sweet reasonableness of caring
for his body is swallowed by the zeal of the Lord’s house.

“HE SUFFERS FRUSTRATION”

This is such a fountain of discouragement. Suddenly the man of God sees so
much to do . . . so little time to do it in. He may be in sweet fellowship
in and with the Word of God and suddenly blazing from its pages comes the
message that “Just one life.. ’twill soon be past, just what’s done for
Christ will last.” He looks upon so much yet undone and sees himself as a
grasshopper” in his own eyes. He falls prostrate in helplessness. He looks
upon such a large field (the world) to be plowed and sees how dull his
plow point is and how hot the sun and how rough the plow handle. His
little efforts seem so futile and he judges himself unfit as he looks back
in despair. He hears the Lord God say, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy
voice like a trumpet and shew my people their transgressions, and the
house of Jacob their sin. (Isa. 58:1). And he puts feeble lips to the
trump and too often the trump gives forth an uncertain sound. All this
results in a seething torrent of frustration suddenly released upon his
soul, and it requires the patience of Jesus and the balm in Gilead to
restore him to his place of service.

“HE IS ATTACKED BY SATAN”

Like Paul at Philippi, as they went to prayer, a demon possessed girl
disturbed them, and this satanic interruption had to be dealt with before
there could be any prayer. Wherever there will be a Job, there will be a
Satan to falsely accuse him and beg God for the chance to bring unusual
trials into his life. The man of God daily wrestles with principalities
and powers and learns early in his ministry to recognize that unseen
struggle in every innocent appearing in his life. (He sees it at work
through his own children, other believers, enemies and friends. Good and
bad things alike are scrutinized for the unseen attack and snare of the
Devil. But many times, instead of watching and praying, he, like the
disciples of old, sleeps, and is overcome and carried off captive. These
attacks take their toll on the vessel God uses. He may stand before a
murmuring multitude one moment and go to his tent to sob himself to sleep
in loneliness. Just when he feels that God has blessed his ministry, and
he finds himself preaching to multitudes, the thousands suddenly turn away
and reveal that they did not really want the words of Eternal Life, and he
turns in disappointment to the twelve that are left and realizes with
sinking heart that one of them is a traitor, and sometimes it is more than
he can bear for an instant.

He withstands a volley of arrows shot from the bow of an infidel only to
fall mortally wounded by a dart from the mouth of a brother. He is
constantly being accused of one thing or another and the steady drips of
criticism and fault finding falls upon the great rack of his heart with
apparently no success day after day, and then without warning a single
drop sends it crashing in upon him.

“WHY DOES GOD ALLOW ‘THESE THINGS’?”

I find three unvarying principles at work in this matter.

(1) God allows Defeat to Follow Victory:
David slew his ten thousands, but the Word of God declares that he waxed
faint in battle. Jacob wrestled all night but leaned on his staff the next
morning. Elijah prayed fire from heaven and put Satan to flight, and the
brook ran red with the false prophets’ blood. See him the next day. He is
not bragging in his works…see him with his face to the ground…… hear
him as he sobs in humiliation and fear……hear him as he cries for
deliverance. It is God’s balance. God’s way of bringing His servants low
before Him, humbling them under His mighty hand that He might exalt them
again in due season. There seems to be a season for victory and also a
sanctified season for apparent defeat. I say “apparent,” for it is only so
to the untrained eye of flesh. Flesh cannot see that the man of God is in
the school of discipline and is in the furnace for perfecting…is on the
wheel being made a new vessel. Only faith can lay hold of that. Read John
16:20-22 and see God’s unchanging rule. Sorrow before joy. He must hide
Himself that the revelation of Himself will be even more glorious.

(2) Victory is Oftentimes Preceded by a Crushing Defeat:
He is many times made to stand at the borders of Canaan and see himself as
a grasshopper in his own sight and made to tremble in fear, but another
day comes and rightly and properly humbled, he marches on in victory, He
looks upon a Ninevah and is ready to flee like Jonah, if only a convenient
ship would come along and swiftly and quietly take him to some far away
Tarshish. Then he pays the fare in defeat and discouragement and is
brought back by the whale’s belly in shame and vomited out of his
circumstances into the lap of the will of God to deliver a city into His
hands.

(3) They are Necessary So That We Bear One Anothers Burdens:
So our brother Peter assures us. Fiery trials… manifold heaviness…
great temptations…if NEED be. Yes, praise God, the man God uses must
have a thorn from time to time to keep him from being exalted above
measure. You, to whom he ministers, would have a tendency to exalt him
above measure, if God from time to time did not allow you to see that he
is also a man of like passions. You are driven to prayer by the frailties
of him, whom you supposed to be strong. You feel keenly the need of
watching in prayer for your own well being and you fear that if the
Shepherd falls, the sheep may also fall from their own steadfastness.
These times are needed that we might bear one another’s burdens.

The man of God has the things of Christ revealed to him from time to time.
Paul said the abundance of revelation secured for him a constant messenger
of Satan to buffet him into humbleness. Oh, praise God for these
messengers of mercy and gems of His grace! These, who speak the oracles of
God, must be brought to the emptiness of their own devices. These, who
would be vessels of glory, must be broken often on the wheel of the
potter. If a man would be led by the Spirit, he must of necessity be
tempted of the Devil as our Blessed Lord was. He who would be lifted into
the third heavens of revelation, must of necessity be brought to the
limitations of his own resources by a thorn in the flesh. He, who would
share in any measure the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, must be
brought to the death of the cross in his own heart and life. He, who would
watch the sheep of Christ, must share the love of the Shepherd, who said,
“I lay down My life for the sheep.” Even though there is suffering, it is
not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. Even
though he shares for a moment the fellowship of Jesus’ suffering, it shall
be followed by the power of His resurrection. Even if he, like Peter, is
for a season in great heaviness and many temptations, it shall be followed
by joy unspeakable and full of glory. Even though his world be engulfed in
a flood of forty days and nights, there will be a bow in the cloud, and
God will remember His covenant, and he shall come to rest on holier
ground. He is more than conqueror through Him, Who loved him. The sweet
words of Jesus’ promise purge his sorrows in a holy flood of joy, “Blessed
are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)

Hear the conclusion to the whole matter as Paul freely speaks of his own
ministry: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the
excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. We are pressed
closely on every side, but not cramped; we are unable to find a way out,
but not in utter despair; pursued for the sake of vengeance but not left
in the lurch, smitten down, but not killed; always bearing about in the
body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made
manifest in our body. For we which live (live unto God, that is) are
ALWAYS delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life also of JESUS
might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us,
but life in you… (2Cor 4:7-12)
–H.L. Roush

Praise be to God for all eternity! My Lord God, You are the Most High God, the living God who is above all. We come to your throne of Grace at this time in submission to your will in all parts of our lives. Teach us to be humble, change us and do your good work of removing us from the presence of sin. Use us to bring the truth to those all around us who know not You. Use us in shining your light into the darkness of their hearts to bring them from death to life. Your will be done Lord. In Jesus Name – Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “The Man God Uses

  1. I liked the last part of it about the loneliness. There was a prosperity pastor telling everybody that loneliness is a choice. He was wrong in saying that this applies to everyone. Most of the major and minor prophets had to go through long periods of loneliness as well as “dry seasons.” This is where the word, “long-suffering” comes from. God will bring men into the wilderness, out of Egypt, or into a desolate place for our maturity. This crucifies our flesh by removing any or all of the distractions which are occasions to glorify in the flesh. It is a rude awakening when the bottom falls out, but it is a sovereign work of God himself which is really going on. God is the refiner, the molder, the breaker, the decider, the judge and jury, and the sustainer.

    It is in the lowly uncommon places that we find God. Our flesh says the opposite. Our flesh looks for material blessings, popularity, status in the world, praises of men, and constant comfort for confirmation of God’s seal of approval. As bizarre is this may sound, all of these do not confirm salvation. Salvation is confirmed when God reveals himself to the individual through sanctifaction. Sanctification is a process which involves fiery trials, difficulties, hardship, and of course loneliness. During sanctification, God calls you out of the world, and has to seperate you from distractions of the world. His goal is to mature you spiritually. This time can be painful, desolate, bizarre, and very different than what you were used to when you walked according to the lusts of the flesh. The valley is an uncomfortable uncommon place of course, but that is where we mature in the Lord. That is where we earnestly seek God. Praise God for the fiery trials. Fiery trials are evidence that you are being molded by the great refiner.

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  2. Pingback: Possessing the Treasure « Bennie2015’s Weblog

  3. Mike – As you know I will not discourse with any harpies and in fact anyone who has a observable unorthodox Biblical vew. I delete any negative e-mails but I will answer those who have a question couched in Christian etiquette even if the question is significant. When I post a comment I now post my view and will not get into these mindless back and forths.

    Of all the orthodox and reformed bloggers I still contend you have the most humble as well as scholarly spirit. I still stand theologically where I feel the Spirit’s leading, and I respect the same from men of God like you. I have benefited from discoursing with you and men like you. We must keep our humble eyes on the prize of His high calling and never looking to the left or right, and our ears must be tuned to Him and never being swayed by the opposition. We must pray that God will deliver them from their error and we must always keep ourselves in the love of God (I find this hard sometimes).

    To be attacked is a privilege and I contend that I am attacked much more than my commitment deserves. I mean I am pressing and I never consider myself and my ministry worthy of such attacks. I am as of yet not a candidate for martyrdom.

    Many people are edified by your heart Mike, keep writing what he tells you to. I am your staunch Arminian friend!

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  4. Thank you Rick, I am not worthy of any praise for if what I do is good, it is God working through me. On the other hand, if what I do is not then it is me taking control.

    I get discouraged more often than I let on, but I believe that is part of God’s work in me to humble me and make me more dependent upon His grace.

    I pray that you and all who read these things will be seeking God’s will in them and that you see Him, not me, through Him working in His truth.

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