Joseph Herrin (04-02-2013)
This writing follows up on the previous post that looked at the economic meltdown that is occurring in Cyprus.
I want to tell you about one Christian from Cyprus who did NOT suffer any loss in the recent bank heist pulled off by the international elite. Like myself, this brother’s name is Joseph.
Some years ago Joseph had an encounter with the resurrected Savior. Although he was a Jew living in Cyprus (he was actually of the tribe of Levi), the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to behold the long awaited Messiah who would deliver His people from their sins. Joseph was gloriously born again of the Spirit, and immediately began to testify to others about the risen Messiah.
Joseph was not poor. He owned some choice real estate on this sun drenched Mediterranean island nation. Cyprus contains some of the most beautiful land in the world. It has mountains that receive heavy snow in the winter and beaches that attract droves of tourists in the warmer months. Sea breezes, blue skies, blue waters, fertile soil, sandy beaches, a renowned shipbuilding industry, and ancient copper mines have all made Cyprus a land of beauty and value.
Joseph spent much of his life on Cyprus and acquired property there. Yet, when he had an encounter with the risen Messiah and was born again of the Spirit, he devoted himself to service to Yahshua. He sold his property and gave the money to be used in the service of God’s people. Some of the money went to the care of Christian widows and orphans. It went to help feed the hungry. Some would consider it money wasted. It was a considerable amount and he could have used it as a retirement fund, or to spend on his own comforts. Joseph, however, was overcome with joy and gratitude at having met the resurrected Messiah, and his heart was filled with a passionate desire to share the love of Yahshua with others.
You know how much money Joseph lost in the recent bank brouhaha? Not a dime. Joseph had already divested himself of his property, and had surrendered to follow the Spirit of Christ wherever He chose to lead him. The Spirit led Joseph across Turkey, the Middle East, and parts of Europe on missionary journeys where he was used powerfully of the Spirit to establish churches, and make numerous disciples for Christ. Everywhere he went, he had a reputation as a great encourager.
Because Joseph sold his property and disposed of the money according to the Spirit’s leading, in gratitude and thankfulness, and with a strong and vibrant faith in Yahshua, he not only avoided losing that which he possessed in turbulent financial times, but he now has treasure in heaven.
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”
If you have not realized it yet, this brother named Joseph from the island of Cyprus has his story recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament.
And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
People of God, I share this story because I believe the fact that Joseph (Barnabas) was from Cyprus is as relevant as today’s news headlines. This disciple of Christ reveals by his life and testimony a sure way to not only avoid great material loss in the financial upheaval to come to the nations, but how to store up treasure in the ages to come.
To walk victoriously through the coming days will require that Christians adopt a radically different view of Yahweh’s purpose for this age. I have described this mindset in a chapter from the book Christ in You – The Hope of Glory. I will share these words here:
In order to enter into the glory of a resurrected son of God one must
be conformed first to the image and likeness of God. This image and
likeness is one of character. Christ must be fully formed in us before
we can reign as members of Christ over the kingdoms of the earth.
This conforming process is difficult. Yahshua described it in the following way:
by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that
leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
most common English translations of the Scriptures say “the way is
narrow.” The word rendered “narrow” is the Greek word thlibo, which the
KJV has rendered in the following ways: afflict, narrow, throng, suffer
tribulation, trouble. The most common rendering of this Greek word is
“afflicted,” and it is fitting to translate it this way in the verse
quoted above. The way to life is an afflicted path.
II Timothy 3:12
And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.
is no other way to mature a child of God than to subject them to
distresses and difficulties. Much sin is bound up in this flesh, and it
is with the utmost difficulty that the spiritual creation formed within
us by the power of the Holy Spirit comes to a place of ascendancy over
the clamoring passions and desires of the flesh. Pride must be humbled.
Selfishness must be replaced with a total selflessness. Lust must be
crucified. Hatred must give way to love. Irritability must yield to
patience. Fear must be conquered by faith and peace.
can only make the transformation from fleshly beings to spiritual as we
are placed in situations where our character is tried. We must be
brought into a variety of circumstances where the natural man will
always respond with lust, fear, anger, and a host of other unrighteous
thoughts and actions. In each instance our Father, by His Holy Spirit,
urges us to arise as spiritual beings in His own image and put down the
flesh in order to manifest the glory of God’s character within us.
years ago I was brought to a particularly difficult trial. I was
perplexed, and grieved and discouraged, causing me to cry out to the
Lord for some encouragement. At that very moment He had a family member
stick a prophetic word in my hand that they had just received in their
e-mail. It was a direct and explicit answer to my cry of anguish. This
prophetic word contained the following sentence.
matter what the circumstances look like, I am able to work My glory in
them, and to make you come forth into the calling and anointing that I
have for you.
As I looked at my trial I wondered very
much how God’s glory could be manifest in it. There was nothing that
appeared glorious to me, for my trial was leading to my being subjected
to false accusations and unrighteous judgments of condemnation. In my
shortsightedness, the only glory I could envision was for God to
vindicate me before my detractors.
Since then I have
come to understand that God is glorified whenever we manifest His holy
and righteous character in the midst of our trials. Although outwardly
we may be subjected to shame, God is glorified if we bear up under the
trial patiently, crucifying the flesh with its evil passions. When we
are slandered and seek to conciliate, when we are reviled and do not
revile in return, when we are insulted and speak forth a blessing, then
Yahweh is glorified. The greatest glory we can bring to the Father is
found in the moments of our most extreme trials.
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.“
was faced with two choices when He saw the cross before Him. He could
say, “Father, save me from this hour,” or He could say, “Father, glorify
Thy name.” Yahshua chose to glorify His Father’s name by going through
the trial and manifesting the meek, humble and loving character of God
as He was being subjected to terrible abuse and scorn. The Father was
glorified beyond measure as His Son was being crucified and He declared,
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” This single
act was a triumph over the rebellious and self-centered attitude of
Satan. By the righteousness, humility, and love of the Son of God all
sin was shown to be exceedingly sinful. The nature and character of God
was revealed to be infinitely higher and worthy of praise than the
fallen nature of man.
In order for you and I to be made
ready to receive the glory, power and authority reserved for the
glorified sons of God, we must first become mature sons in the image and
likeness of our Father. This conformity is proven through many trials
that seem grievous at the moment, but they yield the peaceful fruit of
For consider Him
who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you
may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the
point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have
forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do
not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are
reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He
scourges every son whom He receives. ” It is for discipline that you
endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his
father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which
all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not
sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we
respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of
spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed
best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His
holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but
sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it
yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
will always subject us to the optimum circumstances to produce in us His
righteous character. He rarely chooses to subject His sons in training
to ease and comfort, riches or worldly acclaim. When life is
comfortable, the sons of God tend to be at ease. When men and women have
plenty, their tendency is toward pride and careless living. Yahweh
knows our frame, and the waywardness of the flesh. He therefore chooses
circumstances that are humble and which keep us focused on Him.
1999 I surrendered to the Lord to follow Him wherever He would lead me.
This was a departure from the manner of my Christian walk prior to that
time. I had previously lived according to the manner of all the other
Christians with whom I was familiar. I remained in control of many of
the decisions of my life, fearing that a total surrender to His will
might lead me to experiences my flesh and soul dreaded.
I crossed through the narrow gate of surrender to His will in all
things, I found myself entering an afflicted path. I had known
afflictions in earlier days, but they were much less, for I was still
directing my way in many decisions. My growth in Christ was also much
slower during those former days. When I entered into the path of
affliction of God’s choosing my spiritual growth entered into a greatly
Yahweh directed me to quit my job as
a computer professional at a local hospital and begin ministering
full-time. I had no savings, and I had a wife and two children. I
actually anticipated that the Lord would honor my faith and obedience by
supplying me with an on-time abundance of provision and allowing me to
maintain my former manner and standard of living. This was not to be the
Over the course of the next six years I lived
day by day in dependence upon my heavenly Father. He supplied our every
need, but our provision was very meager in comparison to what we had
known when I was working as a computer professional. There were many
days when there was no food in the house and we were dependent upon God
sending provision that very day or we would not eat. He always sent a
provision! We never went hungry, but we did not eat steak either. We
were blessed to have a simple meal, a sandwich, or something very basic
to fill our bellies. In hindsight, we could have eaten a much better
diet if we had educated ourselves in the preparation of inexpensive
wholesome foods such as dried beans and whole grains and vegetables.
never suffered hunger, but I felt a kind of suffering in these
experiences. I knew I could go out and get a job and buy whatever my
heart desired to feed myself and my family. Yet the Spirit of Christ
constrained me from doing so. He showed me that He wanted me to write
books, minister to others, and trust Him for all things during these
years. I knew that taking a job would be a violation of the Father’s
will for me, for He was testing me and seeking to teach me many things
by keeping me dependent upon Him.
It was not the
Father’s will that I have an abundance of money at that time. He could
easily have provided it had He chosen to do so. He can open up the
windows of heaven and pour forth a blessing at any time. The best
environment for my spiritual growth was not one of material prosperity,
however. It was an environment of daily dependence for that days need.
learned something through this experience. I discovered that when I had
been making decisions for myself that I was consistently choosing a
path that was much more comfortable to the flesh. I didn’t realize how
much this was true until I gave the direction of my entire life into the
hands of my Father. His choices for my family and I were not nearly as
comfortable as what our own soul would have led us unto. This truth is
certainly a major portion of what Yahshua was indicating in His words in
Matthew chapter 7. Wide is the gate and broad is the way to
destruction, and many are on that path. What path does the natural man
choose for himself? With little exception man chooses the easiest way.
Few would choose to walk through a thorny hedge if there was a clear way
around it. Yet God will lead His sons and daughters through the thorny
hedge that rips and tears at their flesh.
to choose for ourselves a comfortable path, determining what sacrifices
we will make, and which ones we will avoid, is a pathway to
destruction. The Lord has given us clear examples of people whose lives
were ones of ease and comfort, and rather than producing righteous men
and women after His image and likeness, the abundance of their situation
led them to careless living and sin.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease,
but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and
committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw
God knows that it requires a path of affliction to
provide an environment for spiritual growth and righteousness. The
majority of Christians, failing to allow God to choose their path and to
lead them in all decisions, are also failing to gain in conformity to
Christ. At best they have greatly slowed their growth to spiritual
The disciples of Christ were amazed when Yahshua spoke the following words:
I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
have misunderstood the message of Christ in these words, for they have
mistakenly equated “the eye of a needle” with a sewing needle. Camels do
not go through the eye of a sewing needle, so this makes little sense.
In the days of Christ cities were surrounded by walls for protection
against invading enemies. Gates were set in the walls to allow people
and materials to come and go. These gates were closed at night and in
times of danger, but it was still necessary to allow a limited flow of
people in and out. Therefore, built into the large gates was a small
door which could be opened to let a man in or out. This small door was
called “the eye of the needle.”
Camels at the time were
used for transport of goods. They would be piled high with merchandise
and goods to be traded. If a man came to the gates after they had been
closed and needed to enter, it was possible to go through and take his
camel along, but it was very difficult. The master of the camel would
have to take all the merchandise off of the camel, and the camel would
have to go through the gate on his knees.
This is a
picture of how a rich man must enter the kingdom of heaven. Getting on
one’s knees speaks of humility, and removing all the goods from the
camels back speaks of the necessity of a rich man giving up all his
Yahshua said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,
go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard
this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much
The word rendered as “perfect” in this
Scripture is the Greek word teleios. This Greek word means “perfect,
mature, of full age.” What Yahshua was telling this rich young ruler of
the Jews is that if he wanted to come to maturity as a son of God, then
he needed to free himself from all his wealth which was making his life
very comfortable and easy, and then come follow Christ. Christ would
lead this young man down an afflicted path, but it would lead to
spiritual maturity. Holding onto his possessions, and clinging to his
comfortable lifestyle, would hinder this man from coming to a perfect
conformity to the image of Christ.
think that the Lord’s words to this young ruler were exceptional. They
have been convinced by preachers of prosperity that this young man had
an inordinate affection for the world’s goods and therefore he was
required to give them up, but not all Christians need do so. What the
saints have not understood is that the Lord is revealing a very general
principle through these words, a principle with application to all of
the lives of Yahweh’s sons and daughters. A life of material ease and
comfort will hinder all men from coming to maturity in Christ. “The way
is afflicted” which leads to life. Comfort and affliction are opposites.
We cannot choose to live comfortable lives and expect to find the life
of Christ revealed in us at the end of our journey. It will not happen.
am convinced that a life of very humble circumstances provides the
optimal environment for the maturing of almost all of the children of
God. God wants us to be dependent upon Him. He will not lead all men to
quit their jobs, as He instructed me to do. I was a minister of the
gospel and the Scriptures declare:
I Corinthians 9:14
So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
God does have a specific plan for every son and daughter. He would have
them submit their every decision to Him. Yahweh wants to be the One to
choose where you work, where you live, and what you spend your money and
time doing. If all saints submitted all these decisions to God I
believe that most would find themselves living in daily dependence upon
God. When the Lord taught His disciples to pray, He began this way:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
people come up to Yahshua saying they wanted to be His disciple, He
would counsel them to sell all they had, give it to the poor, and then
come follow Him. This always placed a person in a position of complete
daily dependence upon the Father. The Lord’s instructions in this regard
were not to a select few, but to all who expressed a desire to be His
So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there
is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or
children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many
times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life. “
this last passage we see a parallel to the afflicted path that leads to
life. Yahshua tells His disciples that all who have left the comforts
of house and possessions and relatives behind will receive “eternal
life.” Because they accepted the afflicted path, these will receive
There are few Christians today who have given up
all their possessions to God. I am convinced that God would have
everyone who would be a disciple of Christ to surrender all things to
Him that He might direct them in all their worldly possessions, the
choice of where they live, and how they spend their time and money. He
may not tell you to dispose of all things, yet if Scriptures provide any
pattern at all in God’s dealings with those who would be sons of God,
He will require this of many. He laid this requirement on me. He reduced
my worldly possessions down to nothing. For a time He led my family and
I to live and travel in a 20 year old motorhome and I am convinced that
had the rest of my family stayed the course, this would be our manner
of living in this hour.
If we make our life choices for
ourselves, we will inevitably choose circumstances and conditions that
are comfortable to our flesh. This comfort stands as a hindrance to
spiritual growth. Even having a home can afford so much comfort and
insulation from the trials we need to mature, that Yahshua will call us
to surrender even this which many find to be an absolute requirement,
and non-negotiable with the Lord. Yahshua spoke to a Scribe who wanted
to follow Him as a disciple. Scribes in Israel had comfortable lives,
and nice homes. He told the Scribe:
“The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
although being the Son of God, was content to live far below the
standard of living of the people He dwelt among. Most Jews had a home of
some kind, but Yahshua lived as a homeless man. God could have provided
a house and a nice ministry center for His Son. Yet He chose that which
was optimal to teach Him obedience, and to perfect Him.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…
order to enter by the narrow gate, and to travel the afflicted way
which leads to life, it is mandatory that we allow our Father in heaven
to direct our steps. The vast majority of mankind seek to direct their
own steps. They have certain desires and requirements that they feel
this life should provide for them. Yahshua said that this path of
self-direction is wide and it leads to destruction.
know that to Western Christians, this message is very radical. It was
radical in the day of Christ. The rich young ruler went away grieved,
probably reasoning that what Christ demanded of him could not possibly
be the will of God. Most Scribes in Christ’s day would also have balked
at giving up the requirement of having their own home, thinking such a
sacrifice was totally unnecessary. The apostle Paul very plainly
affirmed the words of Christ, however, revealing that he was not only
willing to accept this afflicted path, but he instructed others that it
was right and necessary.
I Timothy 6:6-11
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and
many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and
destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and
some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced
themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of
All the body needs to survive is food and
covering. These are the necessities. All beyond this are comforts. A man
doesn’t need a house filled with furniture. He doesn’t need
televisions, stereos, game consoles, a swimming pool or jacuzzi, a pool
table or other forms of entertainment, two cars in the garage, or walls
adorned with decorations, and closets filled with the merchandise of
this world. I once had many of these things, back when I lived as most
Christians do today, making my own choices concerning the path I would
walk. I did not understand that choosing for myself a comfortable life
was hindering the maturation of the spiritual man.
may provide all of these things to you at some point in your path. At
other times He may reduce you to nothing. The key to growth in Christ is
being content with whatever Yahweh chooses for us. The apostle Paul did
not always know lean times. There were seasons of plenty.
have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how
to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in
prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of
being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering
need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
have found that the Lord will lead us to experience seasons of material
blessing and comfort. These often serve as intermissions in much longer
seasons of leanness and difficulty. There are seasons where He places
us in the fire of refining, and times when He takes us out of the fire
for a season of refreshing. What is certain is that He will not choose
for us the uninterrupted comfort and ease that the majority of
Christians have chosen for themselves.
II Corinthians 11:27
have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in
hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
II Timothy 2:9
I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal…
II Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Yahshua.
II Timothy 4:5
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
some should argue that the apostle Paul was giving these instructions
to a fellow minister, and they don’t apply to all Christians, I will
provide a couple examples of similar instructions to the churches.
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of
God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with
Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
apostle makes it quite plain to the saints that being an heir with
Christ is inextricably tied together with their willingness to suffer
with Christ. There is an afflicted path that leads to life for all the
sons of God. It is a sobering truth that the Lord declared when He
uttered the words, “and few there are that find it.”
we fail in conformity to Christ, a conformity that only comes by
walking an afflicted path, then we will not attain to the number of the
firstborn sons of God. Consider again, the story of Joseph. When all of
Joseph’s brothers were living as free men, living as they pleased,
Joseph was a slave and a prisoner. Joseph could not choose anything for
himself, and he serves as a type of those who are overcomers in Christ.
the past four years I have lived alone. My children are grown and my
wife has chosen to not allow the Lord to order her steps, for there are
certain things she desires, even requires in this life. I do not condemn
her for this. I know, however, that I must not choose my lifestyle and
activities for myself. I must surrender to the Father in all things.
After my wife left me, Yahweh chose for me to live at a homeless shelter
for a year, then to work as an employee of the homeless shelter for a
further two years. I was not paid much, and though I have no debt and
live a simple life, I found myself living constantly in dependence upon
the Father to meet all of my needs.
Several months ago
He directed me to leave the employment of the rescue mission, and to
enter into full-time ministry again, trusting Him for every provision.
He has been faithful to meet my every need. I am lacking for nothing,
but by most American’s standards my life would be appalling. I have no
home. I live out of a small camper/van. I have very few possessions. And
I am dependent upon the Father for all of my needs.
many would not choose to live as the Father has directed me, I am
content with what He has chosen. I know it is the optimal environment
for me. In times past I have wondered why the Father didn’t pour out a
great financial blessing upon me. I now know the answer. Financial
wealth leads to independence. If I had much money in times past I would
have made decisions that would have led me away from what was best for
me. I would have sought to ease my way and make my flesh more
comfortable. Comfort was not what I needed to grow, therefore God
withheld His abundance.
Having an abundance tends to
make men and women less sensitive to God’s leading and direction. They
begin to make decisions influenced by the desires of their soul, rather
than seeking to know the mind of Yahweh in everything. Perhaps the day
will come when I have matured enough spiritually so that the Father can
trust me with an abundance, knowing that I have learned the discipline
of waiting on Him before I move in any direction. This maturity has to
be gained by much discipline at the hands of our Father.
me end this chapter by inviting you to look at the Scripture which
serves as its basis once more. Consider what the Spirit of Christ is
speaking to you, through these words. Ask Him to reveal the application
to your own walk.
A day is close at hand when judgment
is coming to the church. Many who have had an abundance will be reduced
to great poverty. Is it not much better to freely surrender to the
Lord’s direction in your life, than to have Him take what you have by
force? There is great reward for those who release their possessions of a
free will, for as the Lord told the rich young ruler, “and you will
have treasure in heaven.” There is no reward if you cling to that which
your flesh cries out for until it is suddenly snatched out of your
“Enter by the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction,
and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
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