Whet the Edge
“If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).
These are such critical days we live in, that we cannot afford to waste strength and time. It is my observation that one thing the Body of Christ needs, desperately is to be more efficient in the ministry God has given us.
I want you to see a picture of a man with two axes, going out to out some trees. He needs the lumber to build a house. Other workers are waiting for him to bring in the lumber so they can get their jobs done. He has two axes in case one breaks, he would not have to waste time returning home for another one. But one of the axes is dull, and one is very sharp. Which one do you think he will use first to cut down the trees? Unless be is very stupid, he will of course use the sharp axe. For with the sharp axe he would be able to cut down and trim eight trees in eight hours (depending on the size of the trees). But if he used the dull axe, he would have to work much harder, and in ten hours he would only be able to cut and trim five or six trees, or less. Yes, he could still get the lumber, but it would take more of his strength, and it would hinder others from getting their part of the job done. His inefficiency would be very costly indeed.
Apologies to woodcutters, if the above figures are too optimistic. What I am really after is the comparison. I used to work in the woods of southeast Minnesota, cutting trees to be used for pile drivers in the conservation of farmland. Every morning we would load up to go to the woods to cut trees all day. It has been more than 45 years ago now, and I don’t remember how many trees we cut each day. But one thing I do remember, and that is that we made sure our axes were sharpened to a razor’s edge. We knew that with a sharp axe we would not have to work so hard to get our quota. For one thing those young men did not want was to have to work harder than was necessary. So we sharpened our axes every night. There is one important thing to remember… the sharper the axe, the more careful you have to be in using it. An axe with a razor sharp edge is not for children or novices. It is for those who know how to use it without seriously injuring themselves.
The methods in using a sharp axe is important. Many a foot or leg has been critically sliced in the trimming of a fallen tree, by carelessness or wrong methods. Our instructor was very stern in dealing with frivolous or careless workers. And so it is with the Gospel of Christ. For this is what the Bible is speaking of in our scripture. “Doth God take care for trees? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written” (1 Corinthians 9:9-10 paraphrased).
“God’s Battle Axe”
According to the prophet (Jeremiah 51:26), we are God’s battle axe and weapons of war, to break in pieces the nations, and to destroy Satan’s kingdoms. But God will not use a dull axe. So He is now sharpening those whom He will use in these last days for that great battle of the ages. In many cases He is using our brethren to bring our lives and ministry to a razor’s edge in the sight of God. It takes a lot of friction for this sharpening process. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV). Love is the oil that is applied during the sharpening process to keep the friction from producing too much heat and ruining the temper of the edge. Thank God for the friends you have who are able to point out, in love, your shortcomings and failures.
They are the means by which God can deliver you from the dullness of your ministry, and make you more efficient for the Kingdom of God. It is not a destructive criticism, but a ministry of love to cause you to come to your full potential. We once had a young lady in our church who had received a gift of the Spirit. She was delighted, and very zealous in her gift. But her administration of that ministry was so lacking in wisdom, that it became ineffective and offensive. So I tried to help her by instructing her how to move in her ministry in a more effective way. She was enraged, and accused me of “putting your foot on the Holy Ghost.” I was not to interfere in what she did with her gift. She unsuccessfully tried to split the church over it, finally quit the church, and she and the gift was heard of no more. She would not let her axe be sharpened, even though much oil was used in the process.
Some Swords to Sharpen
There are many areas in our lives and ministries that need to be improved. I know that God will use you even if you resist the sharpening process. But the results will be limited and hard to come by. God says in Deuteronomy 32:41 “I lift my hand to heaven and declare; as surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries.” And again in Psalm 7:12 we read: “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses His wrath every day. If He does not relent, He will sharpen His sword…” And in Ezekiel 21:9 the prophet speaks to us: “The Lord says: A sword, a sword, sharpened and polished, sharpened for the slaughter, polished, and flashing like lightning.” The Word here is not talking about killing people or women and children. It is speaking of the slaughter of sin and demonic powers. Satan’s kingdom shall fall by this sword, and utter destruction shall come upon all his works. And you, dear friends, are the swords God has chosen to sharpen for this great endtime work.
Sharpen Your Hearing
The prophet Amos warns us (8:11) that the day is coming when God will send a famine for the hearing of the words of the Lord. People are starving today for the word of the Lord, not because He is not speaking but because their ears are dull of hearing. The Bible says they have ears but will not hear. Their hearing is dull and needs to be sharpened.
Those who are to be His battle axe need to be sharp in their hearing of His Voice. Hearing covers two areas: (I) Our obedience to Him; and (2) The revelation of His Word. If we cannot hear, we cannot obey. A rebellious spirit brings deafness. When we hear and do not obey, soon we will not hear. Our ears will be deaf. The Church today is full of deafness.
God has leadership in the Church who will sharpen our hearing and obedience if we let them. They will deal with our rebellion. They will bring discipline to our hearing. We obey those whom we hear, those to whom we listen. A gold ear ring was put through the ear of a slave to signify that his ear belonged to his master and he would hear and obey him. When Israel broke off their ear rings in Exodus 32 and gave then to Aaron to make a golden calf, they thus signified that they were no longer servants of God, but servants to that religious thing they were building with their own hands. So It has been with the religious systems of our modern day. People cannot hear from God, for their ears belong to a religious system, and they can only hear what headquarters’ tells them. Thus truth is rejected, and manmade traditions are substituted. It was this way in the days of Jesus when the scribes and Pharisees designed their religion, and so it is today. When the real Purpose of God came to earth in reality, they crucified Him, and they are still doing it today. They cannot hear. They claim to be obedient but they are obedient to a monster created by man. The Word of God touches them and their rebellion is manifested. Dull of hearing.
Divine revelation comes from being able to hear what God is saying in our time. Good hearing brings light. Those whom God will use in these closing days, will be sharp in their hearing of the Word of the Lord. And God has ministries who will sharpen us, as iron sharpens iron. Please notice that those who are obedient to bless others in this way, will even themselves be changed and sharpened in their efforts. A new word will sometimes cause such upheaval and turmoil in someone who is hooked into a strong tradition, that much friction will result. But if they sincerely want to be more effective for the Kingdom of God, they will want to be sharpened in hearing. Many times I have had calls from preachers asking forgiveness for having fought this message of sonship, only to have God show them that it was truth and life.
Greater Power for Deliverance
Does the world need deliverance from demonic powers? Certainly! Do God’s people need deliverance from the powers of darkness? Absolutely! I have ministered in deliverance for many years, have seen many demons cast out, and have rejoiced greatly in the results of God’s grace. But one thing I have noticed in all deliverance ministries… we are using dull axes. Many books have been written, and many tapes sold on how to cast out demons. But demons are populating faster than we are getting rid of them. Have a good deliverance service where demons are being cast out with great manifestations and you will have half the church lined up for ministry. HALF THE CHURCH! Most of the other half are just too proud to admit their need. And sometimes hours are needed just for one person who is really possessed. Thank God for the deliverance that is wrought, after hours of prayer and sweat. I have spent all day on one case, and. rejoiced in the beauty of a soul set free from Satan’s power. I have had the demons shout at me that they were not coming out, argue and plead, and finally scream as they left for the pit. I have come to the conclusion that if we are to cleanse the Church, and set creation free, our axe is too dull. God will sharpen His glittering sword. Jesus is our example of a razor sharp ministry of deliverance. With little physical effort or time, but with a mighty slash of God’s sword, He set the prisoners free! He is my example, and I will settle for no less. He said “the works that I do, shall ye do also.” With the same results.
The Word of the Lord is Sharp
An entire book could be written about the tongue, and how God will use it in dealing with the nations. But just a short word here to make you want to get sharp in your words. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) tells us: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Psalm 64 says that “evildoers sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.” So it’s our responsibility to be even sharper in speaking life. The Word of the Lord coming forth from the mouth of His sons will restore creation.
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