December 25, 2008

When the Enemy Comes In Like a Flood

When we've been hit by the floods of the enemy, there's something that will cause the Spirit of the Lord to come against those floods in swift defeat. The Confession given by the remnant of Israel here in Isaiah 59 is all too appropriate for each one of us, esp. when we're overwhelmed by darkness. First off, there's a genuineness in their confession. You know they mean it. I wonder how often we try to fool God with a quality impersonation of true repentance. I know I'm guilty, anyway. Those times when I don't really want to deal with my sin and issues. Sometimes - thankfully not anytime recently - it's taken the Spirit of God to viciously remind me of how far I've fallen and just how desperate my condition really is. Once I'm serious about confession, though, everything changes. It's like the light illuminates every ounce of my darkened heart to reveal the weighty redemption of Christ. Redemption that so quickly soaks up, like a sponge, my deep regret and heart of error.

The beauty of true confession is that it always comes with two very distinct and supernatural works. The first is that it redeems us to our Father through the forgiveness of the Son. Confession prompts the heart of God to take pity on His kids and puts into practice the power of the cross. Secondly, it Heals us. It restores us to a place of worship, experience, understanding, and softness of spirit in such a way that we're once again set free in liberty. I'm such a proponent of true confession. I've seen it so powerfully at work in my own life but also in the lives of so many others.

I have no idea why this passage in Isaiah came to me again today, on Christmas Day, other than maybe the appropriate reminder it is to each of us that without the gift of Christ, none of us would even have an ounce of hope. Through confession and repentance, we have not only hope for our own lives but hope for a brilliantly bright future. Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 59: 9-21

Therefore justice is far from us,
Nor does righteousness overtake us;
We look for light, but there is darkness!
For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
We grope for the wall like the blind,
And we grope as if we had no eyes;
We stumble at noonday as at twilight;
We are as dead men in desolate places.
We all growl like bears,
And moan sadly like doves;
We look for justice, but there is none;
For salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the LORD,
And departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter.
So truth fails,
And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

(Note: This is a frightful but great reminder that when you turn away from evil, and confess your sins, you should expect an attack. There's also a great promise in Isaiah 59:19 below).

The Redeemer of Zion
Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
(God, would you raise us up to be both true man and intercessor?)
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies;
The coast lands He will fully repay.
So shall they fear
The name of the LORD from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.

(Note: This "lifting up of the standard" is also translated as "To put to flight" or "to drive out hastily". After doing a little research I found a commentary that suggested the idea here was the high rushing waters coming down a narrow river canyon, wiping out everything in it's path and rushing towards you. God, in His power, simply stands with you and breathes out towards the oncoming waters. They instantly are forced to retreat back up the mountain from which they came. Amazing)

“The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
Says the LORD.

“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”

So, two things that are with us always and forever. The SPIRIT of the Lord and the words (or Word) of God. My prayer lately has been: "Jesus, I request more of the Spirit and more from your Word, regardless of the cost". It's been a dangerous prayer but i wouldn't change it for the world. Come in your power, Almighty Spirit of God!

December 19, 2008

The Riches of Jesus

"Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor" (2 Corinthians 8:9)

The poorest man that ever walked the dirt roads of earth! Born in poverty, reared in obscurity, yet He enriched all mankind! For twenty years He worked as a carpenter in that village which bore the scorn of men: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"

As far as we know He never possessed the value of one penny. In the wilderness without food, by Jacob's well without water, in the crowded city without a home-thus He lived, and loved and died!

"The foxes find rest, and the birds have their nests in the shade of the forest tree, But they couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God, in the desert of Galilee."

He preached without price, and wrought miracles without money. His parish was the world. He sought breakfast from a leafing fig tree. He ate grain as He walked through the fields of corn. Without money, did I say? He sent Peter to the sea for the fish that they might have money for the tax! He had no cornfields or fisheries, yet He could spread a table for five thousand and have bread and fish to spare! No beautiful carpets to walk on, yet the waters supported Him!

So poor was He that He needed bear His own cross through the city, till fainting He fell. His value was thirty pieces of silver-the price of a slave, the lowest estimate of human life. But, on God's side, no lower price than His infinite agony could have made possible our Redemption! When He died, few men mourned; but a black crepe was hung over the sun. His crucifixion was the crime of crimes! It was not merely human blood that was spilled on Calvary's Hill!

- Chas. E. Cowman (Springs in the Valley, 1939)

He did not have a house where He could go when it was night - when other men went down small streets where children watched with eager eyes, each one assured of shelter in the town. The Christ sought refuge anywhere at all: A house, an inn, the roadside, or a stall! He borrowed the boat in which He rode that day. He talked to throngs along the Eastern lake; It was a rented room to which He called the chosen twelve the night he bade them break the loaf with Him, and He rode, unafraid, another's colt in that triumph-parade. A man from Arimathea had a tomb, where Christ was placed when nails had done their deed. Not ever in the crowded days He knew, Did He have coins to satisfy a need.

They should not matter, these small things I crave.
Make me forget them, Father, and be brave!

- The Transient by Helen Welshimer

I'll pose the question: if the greatest example of generosity relied fully on His father to provide for his every need (even when it seems He went without), how dare we expect a life of comfort & plenty? In a world loaded up with selfishness and greed, God help us to live generously!

(Photo: three boys in the hood - taken at a sugar plantation in the Dominican Republic this past summer with Compassion. These were my boys!)

December 16, 2008

File Under: Mind Blowing

My friend sent this over to me today and it def. blew my mind, hope it does the same for you.

It's taken from the book that every believer should read; "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers.

You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in prayer is unscriptural. If you ever do wrestle with God, you will be crippled for the rest of your life. If you grab hold of God and wrestle with Him, as Jacob did, simply because He is working in a way that doesn't meet with your approval, you force Him to put you out of joint (Genesis 32:24-25). Don't become a cripple by wrestling with the ways of God, but be someone who wrestles before God with the things of this world, because "we are more than conquerors through Him..." (Romans 8:37). Wrestling before God makes an impact in His kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you, and I am not complete in Christ, my prayer accomplishes nothing. But if I am complete in Christ, my payer brings victory all the time. Prayer is effective only when there is completeness --"take up the whole armor of God..."

Always make a distinction between God's perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God's perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God..." (Romans8:28) - to those who remain true to God's perfect will...His calling in Christ Jesus. God's permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, "Yes, its is the Lord's will." We don't have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength. - Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost For His Highest" Dec. 16.

December 10, 2008

Sailing the Seas by Faith

"For We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" - (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Faith is taking God at His word. Faith is not belief without evidence. It is belief on the very best of evidence - the Word of Him "that cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). Faith is so rational that is asks no other evidence than this all-sufficient evidence. To ask other than the Word of Him who cannot lie is not rationalism, but consummate irrationalism - Dr. R.A. Torrey

When we can see, it is not faith but reasoning. Look at the faith of the master mariner! He looses his cable, he steams away from the land. For days, weeks, or even months, he sees neither sail nor shore; yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite the desired haven toward which he had been steering. How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted in his compass, his nautical almanac, his glass, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not changed a point to enter port.

It is a wonderful thing - that sailing or steaming without sight. Spiritually it is a blessed thing to leave altogether the shores of sight and feeling; to say "Good-bye" to inward feelings, cheering providences, signs, tokens, and so forth. It is glorious to be far out on the ocean of Divine love, believing in God, and steering for Heaven straight away, by the direction of the Word of God (and the instruction of the Holy Spirit - cj's note).

- Charles Spurgeon

December 2, 2008

Faith is the evidence

....of things not seen (and the substance of things hoped for). - Hebrews 11:1

This image is riveting. The vulture appears to just be patiently waiting for the minute that this child lets go so of life in eager anticipation of swooping in on an easy meal. It's eerily similar to how I've been feeling over the last few days. A sense of darkness has permeated my world. I told my wife a couple of days ago that I felt as though the enemy was making every move he could to steal, kill and destroy my faith. God's enabled me with incredible faith to believe Him for the impossible as I step out into a deeper calling, but lately I've found it more of a challenge to cling to His promises.

Last night my 3 year old woke up in the middle of the night complaining of knee and stomach pain. We prayed the Lord would heal him and about 30 minutes later put him back in bed. He slept through the night and woke up feeling fine. Thank you, Jesus. I found it hard to fall back asleep once we had put him back down and spent nearly an hour just praying. On several occasions I felt a clear presence trying to make it's way in. Like a black veil being gently tossed down on me from behind. I prayed fervently against whatever was trying to come against me. Now that I think about it, I had even asked that some friends at our church pray over us as I felt we were going to experience a spiritual attack this week. There is so much I can't explain but one thing I can is that wherever the Lord is leading me, the devil seems eager to interfere. One of my favorite passages is 1 John 4:18 - Perfect love casts out fear. It's amazing how praying the name of Jesus will instantly cast fear out of my spirit and cause His enemy to cower. Such power is in the Name that I doubt we'll ever fully realize until we're home. All that to say that I awoke this morning feeling really sleepy but entirely refreshed and renewed.

My encouragement to any of you that may be going through something similar in terms of stepping in faith even when you're not seeing the end result is to cling to the promises of His word and to pray Jesus over any attempts of the darkness trying to steal your faith and your joy. Be reminded that "without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He IS, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 4:6)

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. - Hebrews 11: 30-40

Live by Faith!