Beverly Loechel - Stay in the Workshop - 1st Maroota, 2006

1 Timothy 1.19; Ephesians 6.16, "Above all, taking the shield of faith..."

"I am having a real struggle trying to hold on to faith" ... she had heard some wonderful things and now, a few weeks later, she was having a real struggle trying to hold onto faith. That is one struggle that is common to every child of God. What we need to understand is that our faith is going to be tested.

Peter wrote about "the trial of our faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." I need to understand that my faith is going to be tested as I go out to face the future. You need to understand that also. But we don't know from what angle our faith is going to be tested. That is unknown to us. It is wonderful when we can just hold onto faith in every experience.

Maybe, we don't have much struggle keeping faith in the way of God, faith that this is the way of God, that Jesus is my only hope, only one way that leads to heaven; He is the only One that can forgive my sins. I do have trouble with "holding faith in the workshop." We have all entered into a workshop, where God has begun a work in our hearts, a work of weaning us away from this changing scene, a work of getting us to set our affections on the things above, a work of transformation, making us like His Son. Sometimes when we are in that workshop and the years go by and we don't see too much done in our hearts and lives, we can feel discouraged.

One of our conventions in Argentina is held in the workshop of a mechanic. When it gets near convention time, we all help him scrub the grease off the floor, the walls, and the lights. One year, one of our brothers thought he would be very helpful. While our friend was absent, he started gathering the nuts and screws and bolts off the floor, put them all together in a box. Our friend came back, put his hands above his head and said, "Where are my nuts and bolts? They all have a very special place and I need to know where they are." We need to keep our clumsy hands off God's work! That brother thought he was being helpful, but it wasn't one bit helpful to the mechanic. That man knew where every one of the bolts and screws went. That brother was just frustrating the work. Paul was confident that the One Who had begun this work in them.- would finish it. We can have 100% confidence in the One doing the work.

Joseph was in the workshop. Young lives are an encouragement to us, willing to put their lives in God's workshop. There was Joseph, a very young man, his father loved him more than his brethren and they envied him. Maybe, things went along smoothly in the life of Joseph for a little while, but he soon came against envy. Joseph was, no doubt, trying to do everything to please his father and he was up against this battle.

Maybe, we have been trying to do what is right in the sight of God and maybe, we come against a spirit of envy. I do not know exactly why they envied Joseph, but I think Joseph was living closer to his father than they were, his heavenly Father too, because God was able to reveal to Joseph things concerning the future, His plan for the future. If somebody is doing better than we are in the way of God and living closer to God than they are getting more bread than we are getting, how do we feel? I hope we don't envy them in the sense Joseph's brethren did. I hope it inspires us to get closer to God ourselves, more in the will of God than before. That is the effect God desires it should have, but not as the brethren in the workshop. They hated him and wanted to sell him. He had that revelation of the sheaves of wheat and his sheaf stood upright and his brothers' bowed down. He could have felt: what's all this about ... they want to sell me. Joseph kept faith in the workshop because he had seen a revelation of the overall plan of God. If we can get a revelation of the overall plan of God, to make us like His Son, to present us faultless on that day, it will help us to keep faith in the workshop, though we may not understand.

He was falsely accused, imprisoned. What happens when someone falsely accuses you and me? Something you have not done. Holding faith and a good conscience, when someone accuses me of something I have not done and I can feel in my conscience that I wasn't guilty. I don't need to defend myself one bit, because God knows I am not guilty. What about when I am guilty? Have I got a good enough conscience to accept the blame? Is my conscience good enough to say, "I am guilty?" I need to make this matter right before God. Holding onto faith and so God will take care of it. When I have done something wrong, my feet have strayed, my conscience brings me to repentance straight away, is holding faith and a good conscience, a faith that if I repent in true sincerity, that the blood of Christ will cleanse me from that sin. That is holding faith and a good conscience.

David knew how to hold onto faith and a good conscience when he was in the workshop. He wasn't a man without sins and failure. We all know about David's failures as well as his victories. David, in the time of failure, held tightly onto faith and a good conscience. When he numbered the people, that was against the will of God, a step outside the will of God. I don't suppose there is one person in this shed, this morning, who has not taken a step outside of the will of God. What do we need to do when we do that? Hold onto faith and a good conscience! David said (2 Sam. 24.14), "I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man." David didn't take himself out of the workshop just because he had failed. That is no excuse to take us out of the workshop, because of a wrong decision. "It is better to fall into the hands of God." There is mercy and pardon if we just fall into the hands of God, with a good conscience. I have sinned, I want to be different.

Another time, he was in the workshop. Maybe he wasn't as sensitive to the Spirit's voice as he should have been. Nathan told him about what had happened. David didn't feel straight away, "I am the man!" He thought that man should be killed. Nathan said: "Thou art the man." You are the man who has done this. "I have sinned against God"... "the Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die." When a good conscience was restored, it wasn't hard for the Lord to forgive David. "I have sinned; I am not worthy to be in the family of God... I am guilty." The Lord hath taken away thy sin." Doesn't that give us confidence to just keep ourselves, in the workshop?

Cain and Abel brought an offering. God had not respect to Cain and his offering. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" If Cain had kept a tender enough conscience, he would have repented straight away. He would have said he didn't understand, maybe willfully, but if only Cain had kept a tender enough conscience and said, "I need to repent." He would have been in the workshop till the end of his life. He lost faith as well. These two, faith and a good conscience, go together.

"Judas went out and it was night." It doesn't say that Jesus put him out. He went out and it was night in his experience. No more forgiveness, no more faith in the blood of Christ. If Judas had kept a tender conscience, the end of his life could have been so different. A tender conscience and faith can make all things so different.

Peter failed, but never put himself out of the workshop. Peter walked to Jesus on the sea and began to sink. He could have felt: this is the end of it. He didn't lose faith in the saving power of Jesus. He lost faith in himself and maybe that is why he had the experience. Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus had said to him earlier, "Thou savourest not the things that be of God" ... He had said, "To Whom Lord shall we go, Thou hast the words of eternal life." He knew his only hope was to stay in this workshop. Even when Peter denied Jesus, he looked at Jesus and wept bitterly. The flesh failed, but Peter had a very tender conscience and a very repentant heart. "Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that thy faith fail not." Jesus knew well enough that Peter would fail; He knows the end from the beginning. I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. When we have been overcome, don't we need faith more than ever, to get up and try again? ... faith to believe in the atoning blood of Christ and in the power of God to help us forward. Have faith to keep ourselves in the workshop; with confidence that He Who has begun, will continue and finish the work; with a tender conscience so that we can be guided by His Spirit.