“Though, I speak with the of tongues men and of angels, but have not love I have become sounding brass and clanging symbols.” 1st Corinthians 13:1
2020… right? The year that keeps on giving. From Corona virus, to riots, to wildfires, to catastrophic storms, to earthquakes, back to wildfires, then a little more corona virus, and then back to riots. Add a Presidential Election, and we have had quite the year… and we still have 3 months to go. This year has hands down been one of most trying years in history, and it has happened at such a rapid rate, many have been left stunned and shocked. I don’t know about you, but there have been quite a few times this year where I just wanted to wake up and have this all be over. I watch the news with my jaw dropped thinking how did we get here? When did we get here? When did people get to be so crazy? What happened? I have had to spiritually check myself more times this year, then I ever have.
As I was talking to my grandpa this summer about all of the political turmoil, riots, hate, and division, he said to me, “Tori, it’s not a matter of right and wrong, it’s a matter of love.” For the longest time, I could not figure out what he meant by that. How can we love right now? How do we love individuals that are tearing down our national monuments? Killing and hurting our police officers? Destroying small businesses? Telling us that we are systemically racist if we don’t support their cause? Establishments are being forced into supporting a cause that defunds our police, and wants to completely disrupt everything this country stands for. This terrorist organization is using fear tactics to get people to do what they want. Where does love fit into all of this?
Ephesians 6:12 says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This is a verse that I have quoted before, a verse that I have read before and used before, but the meaning has not truly resonated with me until now. You don’t have to be a bible scholar to see we are in one of the biggest spiritual battles the human race has ever seen. As Christians we are in the fight of our lives. This year alone we have fought constantly for our right to worship, for our right to gather, for our right to lay hands, to hug, to touch, and to sing. Church doors closed while street corners opened. Christians sat in their homes while others gathered in the street to practice their 1st Amendment right. How does one keep their cool when there is such a double standard? How do we fight this fight in love? How do we replace anger, resentment and bitterness with love?
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1st Corinthians 13:4-8. This my friends… this is where our answer lies. God is love. He suffers long and is kind for us. He does not envy, He does not parade Himself and is not puffed up. He does not behave rudely or seek His own. He is not provoked, and He thinks no evil. He rejoices in truth, He bears all things, promises all things, and endures all things. God never fails, so in turn, in Him we never fail. Psalm 138:7-8 says “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You WILL revive me. You WILL stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand WILL save me. The Lord WILL perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy endures FOREVER; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Four times in this verse, the word WILL is used. He WILL revive us, stretch His hand against the wrath of our enemies, and WILL perfect all that which concerns us. Take Him at His word. Rest in this verse as things rage out of control.
If God is love, and without God we are nothing, by that account without love we are nothing. It is not a matter of right or wrong, it matter of God. I’m not here to tell you how to love. I’m not here to tell you to stop being angry, and by no means have all the answers, but I do know there is no way out of this without God. He is the only answer. He is faithful, He is so good, and He loves us enough to bear all things for us. He loves us enough to suffer for us. He loves us enough to seek us and not His own. He is our protecter, and our Father. He will see us through to the finish. All He wants from us is our whole heart, not parts of it, but ALL of it. He wants us to turn to Him for answers, not to anger, bitterness and hate. He wants us to stand united as His body so He can raise us up. Through Him, we WILL endure ALL things. We will suffer long, but we WILL NOT FAIL.
What is love? Do we really even know? Google dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” But does what that really mean? God wants us to love one another, but that is difficult, especially in this day in age. Does God really want us to love the people who hurt us? Does He want us to love that family member who continually lets us down? Does He want us to love the people who tear us down, spread lies and slander about us? As Christians we know that the obvious answer is yes… but what isn’t always so clear is how. How do we do this? How do we love someone who has taken everything we have from us? How do we love the person who stole our family, or the “other man/woman” who stepped into our marriage? (not the case for me, but I am very close to multiple situations in which this has occurred) The answer is through Him.
As humans, I feel like we look at the concept of love too literally. “An intense feeling of deep affection.” That’s it. So of course you are not going to have a an intense feeling of deep affection to the people who hurt you or let you down. But what does God say love is? “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, promises all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV). Love is perfect, love is pure; in the flesh, we are neither of those things.
As stated above love suffers long, but it never fails. LOVE NEVER FAILS, is something we need to remember, especially when we deal with those who hurt us. At times it may seem or feel like love fails, but that is only in what we can see. God doesn’t allow us to see everything all at once. He is working for good for you, trust Him. We may be watching a family member struggle with substance abuse or an alcohol problem, but love never fails. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept what they are doing or the choices they are making, but we can love them through it. Even if that means loving them at a distance. It is okay to remove yourself from a potentially harmful or hurtful situation, but that doesn’t mean stop loving them. God doesn’t always accept what we are doing, but He loves us through it. He is patient with us, He bears with us, and He forgives us.
Pain casts a shadow over our love. Pain and un-forgiveness go hand in hand. When someone hurts us our walls go up, our fists go up, and our guard goes up. When someone hurts us we are ready for a fight whether it be a quiet one within ourselves or one with the person responsible. Love is not without anger. God gets angry with us from time to time. He is probably angry with the person hurting you. Allow yourself to feel angry, frustrated, and upset, BUT DON’T STAY THERE. Don’t wallow, don’t stew, and don’t allow that person to take anymore than they have already taken from you. A wise man once told me that un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. (Thank you Jerry Gorton)When you wallow, when you stew, the only person suffering from that is you, not the person who hurt you. Forgive, don’t forget. Forgive for yourself, not for the other person. Forgiveness doesn’t write off what that person did to you, but it cleanses your soul. Forgiveness and love go hand in hand.
When all else fails, love Him. His love for us is beyond our comprehension. Love Him and be patient. He will soften your heart if you allow Him to. Give Him your resentment, your bitterness, your anger, and your pain. He will take it from you, and He will free you. Allow Him to be your anchor in the raging water. You are who He says you are.
“A person who has Christ as his Master is the master of every circumstance.” Streams in the Desert. L.B. Cowman
I was raised a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 5 years old with my Grandpa Jerry. I wouldn’t say that I was raised in church, but I was raised in the faith. My family regularly held fellowship sessions in our living room, or living rooms of close friends, and family. Every time my family got together, we would fellowship, pray for one another, lay hands on each other, and let the Spirit lead. From what I could remember, there wasn’t an agenda we followed for fellowship, there wasn’t a to-do list, we just gathered. We sat in silence, and let the Holy Spirit move through us.
Fast forward to January 2019. I was at a retreat in Pismo with SoCal AG women’s. Up until then, I had grown spiritually stagnant. I was reading, and praying…. But I wasn’t really reading and praying. I was doing it more out of obligation, and habit than out of true yearning and need to spend time in His presence. I had allowed the obligations of everyday life to take the forefront of my mind. I wasn’t seeking Him for decisions, I wasn’t praying about situations the way I should have been, and I simply had become lazy. I wasn’t listening, because I didn’t truly believe that God spoke audibly. But trust me friends, He does. Something incredible happened to me in Pismo, something that is too long to share in this post, but it was something incredible. I was freed from things that I didn’t know I needed freeing from. Since then I haven’t been the same.
All of this to say that since Pismo, I have prayed for a word for the upcoming year. When I prayed for 2020, the word UNITY came to me. I thought the word was fitting given some family circumstances I am currently in. I compartmentalized the word so it fit my situation, but little did I know what 2020 would bring.
Webster’s dictionary defines unity as “the state of being united or joined as a whole.” Christians, WE WERE CREATED FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS! Our time is now. This is a call to action! It is time for us to do something. COVID is only the beginning of the labor pains this nation is going to endure. Fear has swept through this nation in a crippling way. From riots, to death tolls; N95 masks, to National Monuments burning. Our enemies are standing united, so what are we waiting for? Fear needs an explanation. Fear creates division. Fear has planted division in the church. Should we meet? Should we worship? Should we wear masks? Should we hug? Is this really church anymore? What is the right way to do this? Some individuals think one way, others think another. In all the disagreement, fear becomes more intense and begins to stem blame. When we are scared, it is human nature to need a reason, or an explanation for what is causing the root of this fear. Desperate for answers, we create our own rationale instead of waiting for His answers. We recruit others to jump on our blaming band wagon, instead of accepting His will and His word. I have news for you friends, it is not our job to figure everything out. Have you noticed the more you try to figure out what you’re going to do next, the more things change or spiral out of control? GOD IS TALKING TO YOU!!! He is showing us that He is the answer. He will reveal to us IN TIME what we need to know to get through each day.
We are tired. We are tired of the inconsistency… so be consistent. In all the inconsistency, be consistent in your walk with Christ. Be constant. In Acts chapter 12, Peter was placed in prison by King Herod for proclaiming the gospel. Acts 12:5 says: “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but CONSTANT prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” After constant prayer, an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter while he was sleeping in prison, and freed him. Be consistently constant my friends. Be in constant prayer, constant praise, constant faith, constant trust. These are the things that will see us through these times. Be in constant belief of His almighty power, and His capabilities. Be constant in Him. He responds in ways we can never imagine. Be united, not divided with your fellow christians. Don’t let trivial things plant the seed of division in your relationships. This is exactly what the enemy wants. A church divided cannot stand united.
With church closures sweeping our nation for a second time, I encourage you friends to meet in small groups. Fellowship weekly in your living rooms. We are the church, not the building. We are the body of Christ. He is calling us to rise up. I also encourage you to be in constant prayer for the leaders of the nation.
Pray for President Trump. You may not agree with what he says or does, but he needs our prayers. Pray for guidance and peace as he faces the toughest Presidency in history. Pray for those you want to support and encourage, and pray more for the hearts and souls of those consumed by the darkness. Stand united as the body of Christ, and pray against the fear, anxiety, division and torment this nation is facing. Do not be silenced by your circumstance. We live in a fallen world, but His peace is present in His children. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior then you are His child. His peace is present in our lives, in our comings and goings. His peace surpasses all understanding because it is from Him and not from this world. Unity in Him, and in His perfect peace will calm this chaos. Now, more than ever, the church must stand united in prayer and peace. As one body of Christ, we will conquer. We will be victorious.
“They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable.” Psalm 82:5
His way is in the whirlwind and in the storm;
It is here He calls us to perform.
The clouds come in, and the winds rage;
This is where He opens our cage.
We step out and stand in the eye;
Watching all the pain and heartache blow by.
Thunder booms, lightening strikes, rain begins to pour;
His love washes over us, as we cry out for more.
We look up to the sky,
Knowing it is not our job to ask why.
Spirit filled with resurrecting power;
We go forth not allowing evil to devour.
Step by step He leads us through,
Filling us with the strength to pursue.
It is here in the eye of the storm,
His love and mercy allows us to transform.
I am weary, but I am here,
Listening as You draw me near.
I am weary, but still I trust,
As the world chases in lust.
I am weary, but still I walk,
Against unbelief as it mocks.
I am weary, but still I know,
The light you gave me will always glow.
I am weary, but still I pray.
From the Voice of my Shepard, I will never stray.
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And those who have no might,
He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord,
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
It has often been said that character is who you are when nobody is looking. We all have character. It is an amoral word, void of meaning until it is attached to a specific individual. What we do defines our own individual character, more specifically what we do when nobody is watching. When there is no praise, no correction, no judging eyes of man, who are you?
Having strong principles, and moral conviction are always of high value. People look up to others who practice what they preach, who are genuine, and are all together real. As Christians we look to the bible as our guide to morality, and right living. God seeks a personal relationship with us, one deeper and with more meaning then what we could build by pleasing others. So, imagine if instead of worrying about what other people thought of you, you only cared about what God thinks of you.
I am someone who has built a lot of self-worth on the approval of people I hold high, so this is hard for me. If our focus is on God then the character people observe will no longer be what we want them to see. They will be merely bystanders watching you develop your character, through relationship with God. A character forged by your constant communion with our Creator, the God who saved us out of His endless grace.
Mathew 6:16-18 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Here in Mathew we see that God only cares about our heart toward Him, and that to do something to appear in good character is wrong. When we are no longer attempting to please people, fleshly beings that are rarely ever fully satisfied, we discover something; We discover freedom from the anxiety of what other people perceive us to be, and in that freedom God will do His greatest work in your life. We must take the leap in faith to trust that our character is better with Him then with man.
We can all respect that person who stands up when all are sitting, who speaks when all are silent. Think about that man for a minute and picture him in your mind. I like to think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer a pastor who died in the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1945. Read about his amazing testimony if you haven’t. So does this person you are thinking of care about popular opinion, about the opinion of the public around him or her? No! I can say with certainty although it may have taken time, and there were certainly struggles, the great Christians we look up to are focused on what God sees. His eyes are always watching, ever vigilant. Caommune with your creator. He is watching you right now, smile and know strong character follows deep relationship with our Lord.
“Faith has nothing to do with feelings, impressions, outward appearances, nor the probability or improbability of an event.” Streams in the Desert. LB Cowman
When all of this started God pressed on me that “This too shall pass…” I rested in that, I became confident in that. So confident in fact, that I slowly morphed it into “this too shall pass… quickly.” As more time went on I morphed it more into “this too shall pass…. by Easter.” Well, as we all know, Easter has come and gone, and we are still here… sheltering in place, social distancing, wearing masks anytime we leave our house, and trying to home school our way through the end of the year. As I was sorting through all of this, it soon became clear to me that although I had been praying and surrendering, I hadn’t been surrendering everything. I was still putting expectations and constraints on what God had told me. I was wanting to SEE a change on my timeline. I thought that by standing in “this too shall pass.. by Easter,” I was being faithful… but faith is not resting in the confidence that you are able to predict a circumstance, it is resting in the Word of God and what He has promised to us.
I don’t know about you, but for me the struggle in this, is that there is no end date. There is not a concrete time as to which everything will be lifted. There is also uncertainty as to what will happen when things are lifted. Are we all going to get infected? Is our healthcare system going to be overrun? Are we doing a disservice to our immune systems because we are being so overly cautious we aren’t exposing ourselves to anything? Will my kid EVER go back to school? In these times we are feeling like there is no end in SIGHT… because we can’t SEE the finish line. Things have happened so quickly and drastically, how are we every going to carry on? Are there going to be sporting events? Concerts? Crowds? Are we going to pick up where we all left off at the beginning of March? All of these questions got me thinking about what we as humans expect. We want to SEE things happen, we want to SEE results, and we need VISIBLE evidence that things are going to be okay to curve our anxious feelings.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.” I don’t know about you… but I don’t think it a coincidence that the ENTIRE WORLD is in a situation where we are not given a choice but to focus on the things UNSEEN. From a worldly perspective there is not an end insight. However, from a spiritual perspective, as visible evidence of a solution is taken away, believers and even some nonbelievers have stepped stronger into their faith, and the spiritual realms are booming. More and more people are turning to prayer and faith, because they can’t SEE another way.There has been a secular silencing in the world, giving everyone a unique opportunity to call out to Him, and for people to HEAR Him.
Deuteronomy 30:20 says “that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His VOICE, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;” His voice is our guide. We can’t see Him, but we can hear Him. Our faith is grown by HEARING God, (Romans 10:17), by taking Him at His word and what He has promised. I believed that this would all magically disappear on Easter. I believed that our new normal would immediately surface. I was humbled to say the least. As I mentioned earlier, what God revealed to me was that faith is not resting in the confidence that you are able to predict a circumstance or an out come. It is not speaking in absolutes, and it is not trying to figure everything out, it is simply taking God at His word. It is believing and praying for something to happen, and also accepting when it doesn’t happen. It is accepting that His way is the way, the truth and the light. It is believing that ALL things work together for good for those who are CALLED according to His purpose. It is knowing that He is with you always, and He will never place you in a situation you can’t handle because you can do ALL things through Him who strengthens you. Faith is taking God at His word, and resting in His promises.
God has silenced the earth, so that His voice can be heard. He is demonstrating His almighty power in a way most of us have never experienced. God CALLS His people. Revelation 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone HEARS MY VOICE and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and He with Me.” We are His people and He is our Almighty God, and loving Father. He is CALLING! Can you hear Him?
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust Him.” Psalm 37:39-40
Covid-19 hit our little town this week, and it was a wake up call for the entire town. Like everywhere else, our little town is not equipped to take this pandemic on. We have limited resources, and limited healthcare providers. If you look at our population versus our hospital’s capacity, the odds are not in our favor. Then, if you add all the climbers, hikers, and backpackers that have decided to vacation here during this crisis, the odds even more are not our favor. This has been a hypothetical for us for weeks, but when I saw notification from the health department with our first positive test, reality soon set in.
I began looking at the numbers, and what this could mean for this little town I have grown to love so much. The more I thought about it, a nagging fear started to creep in. That fear grew into anxiety, and worry. I felt my chest get tight, my skin began to hurt, and my heart began to pound. I started to get mad. Mad at God… why God? Why now? There are so many seniors graduating from highschool, colleges are shutting down and students aren’t getting reimbursed, weddings are being postponed, and funerals cannot be held. Our little town full of small businesses, has been shut down. These small businesses, the heart beats of our town, are facing potential bankruptcy. What is this going to mean? How are we ever going to get back to normal after this? Is our new normal wearing masks when we leave the house? Gloves to get gas and push a grocery cart? Zoom dates? Social distancing? Elbow bumps? Not hugging those we love most when we just need a hug? Really God? Is this what our normal is? In all of this I began to clean my house, something I do when I am stressed and weighed down. As I was ranting, He gently reminded me of the two things He had spoken to me before all of this hit: “This too shall pass, and you were created for such a time as this.” I want to say that these gentle reminders snapped me out of my anxiety attack… but they didn’t. I pushed back. Well, when God? When will this pass? I don’t want to do this. I don’t want things to be like this. I don’t want Cole’s T-ball season to be cancelled. I don’t want Maci’s kindergarten graduation to be cancelled, I just want things to go back to the way they were. This is too much for me, so no thank you, I decline. Well my friends, “declining” is not really an option when God places you in a situation… and we have all been placed in this situation. After I “declined”, clearer than I have ever heard His voice before He said to me, “Tori, I have never doubted you, why are you doubting Me?” And just like that, I snapped out of it.
Here is what He revealed to me. GOD DOES NOT DOUBT! Here are some examples:
- In Genesis, God told Noah to build an ark… and then FLOODED THE ENTIRE PLANET… do think Noah had some doubts? God didn’t.
- In Exodus, Moses went up against pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, and brought water from a rock… WATER FROM A ROCK. Moses had doubts… God didn’t.
- In Judges, God told Gideon to conquer the Midianites. Gideon doubted so much that he asked God for a sign… more than once. God cut his army in half, and sent him out and he was victorious. God didn’t doubt.
- David took on Goliath with a rock.
- Esther stood up to King Anasuers for the sake of her people.
- Jonah went to Nineveh.
- Job had his entire life stripped away.
- Peter walked on water.
- Jesus’ disciples cast out demons.
- Jesus fed 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
All this to say that all of these people had doubts when God called them to do the seemingly impossible, but not once did God doubt them, and He doesn’t doubt you either. This virus is here, and things look grim, but we were all created for such a time as this. He doesn’t set us up for failure. Ephesians 1:4 says “just as He chose us in Him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD…” He knew this was coming, and He placed you right where you are. So if you’re staying home, pray. Pray for our front-liners, pray against this virus. If you’re on the front-line, pray. He is with you in all of this, and He knows how this all ends. The power of prayer is incredible. Even if you don’t feel it, pray, and keep praying until you feel it.This virus seems impossible. It seems impossible to conquer and get back to normal, and if you look at things logically this may not end well. Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Look at things logically so you know the facts, but don’t fix your mind on it. He is setting us up for a miracle! It is okay to have fear and doubts… Those emotions are what makes us human, but we must not let them run our life. The Bible is not a hypothetical. For any of you reading out there that aren’t believers or that are skeptical, or think I’m completely insane, start believing, a miracle is coming… just wait for it.
Daniel 3: 1-3 KJV, Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations and languages, that at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worships the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up: and whoso falleth not down and worship they shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Mischach, Shadrach and Abed-nego had just been set over the affairs of the province of Babylon by way of Daniel’s request to the king. These three were among the most talented captives of children of Israel. Daniel found favor with the King and his request for their promotion was granted. They graduated to the highest positions of leadership in the kingdom. One would think that they had gained everything possible they could have achieved as captives. All they were required to do to insure their safety and authority under the king was to comply with the king’s edict and bow down to the image of gold. Scripture indicates that they would not submit to the king’s edict and when they were accused before the king by certain Chaldeans for their failure to comply, they put everything they had achieved in that physical kingdom at risk. Their accusers told the king, that these men did not listen to the king or worship his gods, nor bow down to the golden image.
Daniel 3:13-19 KJV, Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said to them, is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; do not you serve my gods, nor worship the golden image, which I have set up? Now if you be ready that at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the image which I have made; well; but if you worship not, you shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace: and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up.
The term used by the three young children of Israel, “We are not careful to answer thee”, should cause us to reflect on our personal convictions before the Lord. The king had given them a way out. They had only to bow down from that point on, and all past infractions would be disregarded. They could have done so and remained in their positions of influence in the kingdom. They probably could have faked it, knowing in their hearts that they believed in the true and living God. They may have even concluded that they could be used more effectively by God for His purposes in the positions they had attained to, and therefore to condescend to the kings wishes would be something they probably should do in order to assure the greater good that would be derived by their remaining in authority. I think one could categorize this type of thinking as “the end justifies the means.” All kinds of options and alternatives must have gone through their minds when confronted by the king. Most of these options could probably be justified in their natural mind through natural reasoning. They could have been careful in their answer to the king, considering their very lives were at stake. Their reply to the king was, “we are not careful to answer you in this matter.”
I wonder how many times we, as Christians, are careful in our answers to the kings and rulers of this earth. How many times do we employ carefulness in our replies to men in order to insure advantage for ourselves? How many of us would choose to be careful rather than risk our life in obedience to God. How many would be careful in order to maintain reputation in the world and honor among men, a better life in the here and now. How many times have we compromised the truth of the Lord by being careful? Careful for our flesh, careful for the temporal, careful in appearance to influence what men think, careful not to offend. Careful in the reply of the three to the king is another word for fear. They were not fearful, for they trusted in the God they said they served. Their actions validated their faith. It was not about doctrines, or traditions, or survival. It was about believing and obeying the God they served. It was all about the truth. Are we willing to daily walk in the truth, or have we decided it is well enough to make mental accent to the validity of it, without applying it to ourselves in reality. When Jesus said in John 8:32 KJV, You will know the truth and the truth will make you free, He was not speaking of knowing the truth as in intellectually knowing it. He was speaking of knowing Him. John 14: 6 KJV says, I am the way the truthand the life and there is no way unto the Father but by me. This is saying we must do more than have understanding of the truth; He is calling us to become the truth in word, in action, in reality.
Let’s examine the results of the decision of Meshach Shadrach and Abed-nego to not be careful in their answer to the king. Daniel 3:19-25 KJV, Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abned-nego and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. And these three men, Meshach Shadrach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True O king. He answered and said Lo, I saw four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
The obedience of these three revealed to a heathen king one like unto the son of God. They loved not their lives unto death, and their willingness to be true to their God reaped great dividends. As believers today, we are similarly offered alternatives to the truth. Little compromises here and there, the chance to be careful to protect ourselves at the expense of the truth. This is acceptable behavior in the world in which we live, but this kind of obedience will never reveal one like unto the Son of God to an unbeliever. Just as God was revealed in Christ to the king when these three were in the fiery furnace as the fourth man, He will be revealed in us every time we walk through the fiery furnace of life in obedience to His Word. The Lord always absorbs the consequences of our obedience. I believe whenever the Lord directs us into risk circumstances that will bring glory to His name, the enemy always provides an alternative that is wrapped in compromise. It usually will make sense naturally, and appeal to the flesh, but it will not be of God. In Romans 7:21, Paul said, I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. We can count on the enemy giving us alternatives that he will use to attempt to persuade us are just as good as the obedience God is calling us to. This of course is a lie. Paul warned both the Galatian church and the Corinthian church that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump. Man’s wisdom added to God’s direction is leaven of the worst kind. It is steeped in half-truth. These two make an unblendable emulsion. They are opposed to one another. It was the willingness of Meshach, Shadrach and Abed-nego to go into the fiery furnace without consideration for their lives, even when they were provided opportunity to escape, but fully trusting the decision of God as Holy and Just to be their strength. What is the result of this kind or obedience? It is found in the final verses of chapter three in Daniel.
Daniel 3:26:30, Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, you servants of the most high God, come forth and come hither. Then Shadrach, Mechach, and Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke, and said, blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s work and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed –nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed, nego in the province of Babylon.
It will always be an easy thing for believers to compromise when standing at the edge of the fiery furnace with the flames licking at our heels. The enemy will always provide an alternative way out, one that will appeal to the flesh. If we will stand firm in our faith, as the three young Israelites did, I believe the same results will occur. We may not be called to physically go into the fiery furnace as they were, but we will all have our fiery furnaces in the spirit. It is here, at the edge of the furnace that we must make the decision to go the way of the world, or to stand in obedience and reveal one like unto the Son of God through our faith.
Deliverance is from the Lord, not from man. Man will not calm this chaos, but He will. Fear is a feeling from Satan himself. Fear creates isolation, irrational behavior (buying Costco out of toilet paper and Clorox wipes), blame, anger, confusion, panic, stress, and anxiety.
In fear, we ask why? Why God? Why is this happening? Where are You? The real question friends is where are you? Are you rooted in this fear the media, news and social media is creating? Or are you rooted in Him? Are trusting Him with this? All of the strategies, tests, plans, and precautions are great, but are you crying out to Him in all of this preparation? Are you looking for His guidance or are you trying to control things? (again referencing Clorox wipes and Toilet paper seems appropriate here) STOP TRYING TO CONTROL THE UNCONTROLLABLE. All that is going to do is bring life to the spirits of stress, panic, and worry. No amount of Clorox wipes and toilet paper will change this situation… but you prayers will. This is not a battle of flesh and blood but a battle of principalities and powers. So my question to you is are you going to be fear’s captive? Are you going to feed into this frenzy? The fear of losing something God has entrusted us with is not having faith in Him to fulfill His promise in our life. It’s time to ramp up our faith my friends and change the way we look at things.
The spirit of fear is on a rampage, and it’s time to END IT. Ephesians 6:18-20 says: “ praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Calling all prayer warriors, join me! SPEAK boldly in your prayers! Speak boldly against this virus! Speak boldly against the spirit of fear! Speak boldly against the spirits of panic, stress and chaos!! HE HEARS US and HE WILL DELIVER! By His spirit we will RISE from the ashes. We just need to KNOW it, BELIEVE it and PROCLAIM it out loud! Let’s send Satan running with his tail between his legs. Who’s with me?
Do you ever have days when you don’t feel Him as much in your life.? You know He’s there, because He’s always there, but you don’t feel His presence as strongly as other days. Usually when I have one of these days, I ignore it and try to fill the void with things of this world. I would get on my phone and scroll through instagram, watch something on Netflix, or do just about anything BUT pray. Recently when I felt these feelings creep up, these feelings of isolation, or these feelings emptiness, I felt Him gently nudge me and whisper “focus on what you know.” So if you are struggling or just having an off day, here is what I know: I know that even when you can’t feel or see it He is working. I know that what He starts in you, He WILL finish no matter what detour you may take along the way. I know that He smiles when He looks at you, and He loves you beyond your comprehension. I know that you are forgiven and you are chosen. I know that you are living out His calling and that you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. I know He is always with you. I know He speaks softly to you when you are still and listening. I know that WAITING IS WORKING and He will never stop fighting for you. I know that in the midst of all the unknown, you are known and loved by Him.
So when you don’t know, focus on what you do know. Your confusion will fade away, your anxiety will be replaced with unexplained peace, and your questions will be answered in one way or another.
I see where you are,
Let Me drive the car.
With Me your fear will flee,
Let Me take away your agony.
Let go and Let Me work,
Wipe away the enemy’s smirk.
Your cup runneth over; you are My fountain.
Let Me move your mountain.
“Who am I?” You ask.
Let Me give you your task.
I have chosen you to lead.
Let Me determine the speed.
My work results in prosperity.
Let Me give you the clarity.
-“Then Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.’” 1st Chronicles 17:2
– “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you name like the name of the great men who are on the earth.’” 1st Chronicles 17:7-8
-“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God?’” 1st Chronicles 17:16
What are the weeds in your life? What are you struggling with? Pause and think about it for a second. Quiet your mind and quiet your heart. What is the Holy Spirit bringing to the surface? What whispers are attacking you? What is tormenting you? Really take a second to pause and think about it.
What came to the surface? Focus on that as you read the following. What is the weed in your life? It could be the only weed, it could be one of many weeds. However, what came up is what the Holy Spirit wants you to deal with right now. Really focus in on this weed right now. What is it doing to your life? Is it overpowering you? Is it suffocating you? Are you watering it? Are you listening to the whispers that are trying to torment you? Is it filling you with anxiety? Is it crippling you? Are you stressed, directionless and desperately trying to control things around you? Are you trying to control the weed? Really press in right now and recognize everything this weed is doing to you and the impact it is having on your life. Take a minute. You have time. You stopped to read this post…. So really read it, and take a minute to reflect.
Is this weed creating tension in your life? The more tension you have in your life without God, the more suffocated you feel. The more you water your weed, the more you isolate yourself. You may not even realize it. Stress, depression, and anxiety breeds isolation. Isolation is weed fertilizer. If the devil can get you alone in your anxious thoughts, he will torment you. He will validate you and tell you whatever you are thinking about doing is okay because of A, B or C. I am here to tell you friends, that IT IS NOT! I know you know deep down that whatever you are wrestling over is not okay, and no amount of self justification or validation from others will make it okay.
Now, introduce Jesus to your weed. He is the seed of your life. Water your seed, not your weed. He is your ultimate Gardner. If you allow Him to, He will remove your weeds starting with the one you are focusing on right now. When you are suffocating, He gives you breath. When you are crippled by your situation, He tells you to get up and walk. Come to Him with a humble heart. He wants to help you. He desires harmony with you. Let go of your control and give it to Him. Choose Him, and everything will be okay. Choose Him and He will see you through this. Choose Him and you will overcome. He has fought this battle for you already, and has won. Choose Him, not the ways of the world. Choose Him, not what society is telling you. Look to your spirit, not your flesh. With Him you have already conquered your weed. Just choose Him. Lean on Him. Bring it all to Him. Lay it at His feet. You are victorious, and He will guide you through the unknown.
Go back to the basics my friends. Take day by day, moment by moment. Take things as they come. We are not designed to conquer everything at once. God designed us to lean on Him and to need Him. He wants to help us, and our difficult circumstances are not always from the devil. Sometimes they come from Him. He is trying to get our attention.. be aware of that. Press into your circumstance… whatever it may be. Learn from it, and grow. God will never leave you stranded. You are not abandoned. What He started in you, He WILL finish.
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” Hebrews 2:1
“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” Proverbs 18:1
“Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” John 5:5-7
He has given us an authority like no other.
With it, the grips of hell we smother.
He has given us the authority to change our outlook,
And trust what is written in the Good Book.
His authority keeps us afloat.
It is what keeps us in the boat.
He has given us the authority to trample the enemy’s power.
In our faith, we will not cower.
He sends us out as lambs among wolves,
In Him, we have the authority to fight the world’s pulls.
He has given us the authority NOT to seek out a fight,
But to stand when the time is right.
He has given us the authority to speak His word.
To willing ears, it will be heard.
He has given us authority deep within our soul.
Rendering the enemy’s authority null.
* “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18-20
* “Go your way, behold; I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3
What if I fail?
With Me, you will succeed.
What if this is not what I was meant to do?
You are fulfilling the calling I have on your life.
What if I am making a mistake?
There are no mistakes with Me.
What if I can’t?
With Me, all things are possible.
What if I don’t meet other’s expectations?
With Me, you will exceed all expectations.
What if I heard wrong?
I have given you discernment. Listen to Me.
What if people don’t like what I say?
Let Me sow the seed.
What if I cause conflict?
I am resolution.
What if I become stagnant?
Step into My current.
What if this isn’t what I thought it would be?
Through Me, it will be more than you ever thought it would be.
When God is calling you to do something, do it. Walk out in faith and do not listen to the negative “what if” that pops into your head. When you do what you are supposed to do you, “what if” will be replaced with “what will.” You WILL have conflict because without conflict there cannot be resolution. Without conflict we cannot grow into who Christ has called us to be. You will have trouble, but YOU WILL NOT FAIL. Christ will never put you in a situation that you can’t handle. You will succeed. You will make mistakes, and He will guide you through them. You can and WILL do all things through Christ who strengthens you because He chose you to do it. Say yes until He says no. Be you and you will exceed all expectations. Be humble and be aware. Step out in the confidence He has already given you, and be brave. Say what needs to be said WHEN it needs to be said, and BE SILENT when you are led to be silent. When you speak the words He gives, you will be heard by those He wants to hear. Your job is to plant the seed and step back and allow Him to be the Gardner.
Ephesians 3:8-12 “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the churches to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”
Ephesians 4:1-2 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech you to walk worth of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Most nights I read my kids a story before we go to bed. Lately they have both been into the children’s bible we bought them a while back. One particular night this week I was tired, and didn’t feel like reading to them… I was trying to push for an extra few minutes of the TV show they were watching, but they were relentless. Mom guilt sunk in, and I conceded and sat down with their story. We opened up to the story of Moses parting the Red Sea. As I was reading this story that I have read and heard a bunch of times, I was filled with conviction, and revelation. You see, I have been going through some transitions in my life right now. Nothing major, nothing big, just transitions where I have been having to set my “idea” of control aside, and trust that God has it under control, knows where I am going, and what will become of all I am going through. In full transparency I personally struggle with anxiety, and the need for control. I struggle with stepping out in blind faith, and with doubt. What is so calming to me though is He sees that. He knows my heart, He knows my struggles, and He wants to help me. He knew I was going to read the story of Moses to my kids that night, and He led me deeper into to what He wanted to reveal to me through it. All I had to do was listen.
I took it upon myself to re-read the adult version of this story in my bible, and it spoke to me in a way it never has before. For those of you who don’t know the story, or just need a quick refresher here it is. God called Moses to lead the children of Egypt and into the wilderness away from the wrath of Pharoh. The Egyptians, angry that the Isrealites left, pursued with avengence. When the Egyptians came upon the camp the Isrealites were staying in, the Isrealites were filled with fear and looked to Moses saying, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, and He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” Exodus 14:11-14. The Lord than told Moses to “Lift up your rod, and stretch but your hand over the sea and divide it.” Exodus 14:16. Without hesitation Moses did just that, and the sea was divided allowing the children of Isreal to cross through to the other side. As soon as the Egyptians followed The Lord created chaos for them. Their wagon wheels fell off, their horses fell down and The Lord told Moses to stretch his hand out again, and return the waters to what they were, killing all of the Egyptians.
Who wants faith like Moses? I know I do. Moses never once said to God “are you sure?” He didn’t say “Well God… this is an ocean… and I don’t think I can do that…” NOO!! He just DID IT! He stepped out, in blind faith in God, and DID IT. No questions asked. We can do that! We have the same power! Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” The same God that worked through Moses to do this, is THE GOD WE SERVE! I believe that we all have more power than we even realize, and we need to just tap into that. We need to BELIEVE. We need to BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD, because He is, and He is so unbelievably powerful. YOU are so unbelievably powerful… realize that, walk in that, and HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THAT. Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must BELIEVE that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” It is so overwhelming to realize that. In His name we come alive, and in Him WE WILL NOT COME UP SHORT. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of THINGS UNSEEN.” Seeing is not always believing my friends. Believing is believing, and knowing in your heart of hearts that He loves you more than you know, and HE WILL NOT FAIL YOU. Be still and listen. In stillness, He will reveal what He has for you.
Be limitless. Don’t cap your excellence with doubt. Focus on who God called you to be, not on who God called your peers to be. God is limitless, and through Him you are limitless. We are the ones who limit Him by placing our doubts on what we can do. We doubt Him in our circumstances because we are afraid of being let down, or we are afraid of not getting what we want. Allow God to be limitless through you. Break away from that doubt. ASK HIM to take it away from you. Surround yourself with people who you love and trust, who can speak truth over you. You are enough. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Don’t let your circumstance determine your spiritual posture (Jerry Gorton). He sees you right where you are. He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to believe in what He can do through and in you. You my friend… you are limitless. Know that.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Have you ever prayed for something you really wanted and not gotten it? Have you ever tried to rush things so they happen on your timeline and then the end results weren’t quite as satisfying as you thought they would be? Have you ever been frustrated with God because He is not doing things the way you think He should do them? If you answered yes to any of these questions… congratulations you are a normal human being. However, it is important to recognize that need for control, that need for things to happen on a certain timeline, are all things of the flesh, and we must die daily to them. He knows what is best for us and He has our best interest in mind. When we try and control things, and try to do things on our timeline we are hindering His plan for us, but when we let Him use us where we are, and completely surrender… COMPLETELY… not kind of.. we are given the opportunity to flourish and shine in EVERYTHING we do.
I began a prayer journal when I was in NICU with my oldest child 6 years ago. I filled this journal with letters to God about my worst fears, about my hopes for the future, and what my life was going to look like after bringing this baby home. Journaling and writing letters to God is still something I do everyday. I have notebooks filled of things I am still praying for, things I thought I wanted, and things I have gotten.
When I started praying about what to post this week, I came up blank. I usually have some sort of an idea, but this week I didn’t have anything. Today I was off, and I decided to really sit in silence and listen to what He wanted me to write about. I felt led to go through my old journals. As I began going through my entiries I was overwhelmed with humility and gratitude. Everything I walked through throughout the years, He was right there with me. Things I thought I wanted, He said no and protected me from them. Things I wanted and were good for my life, He blessed me with them. I had entries where I thought things in my life would never be the same, things I thought I would never get through, and here I stand today… with Him. It is so humbling to realize that He loves us that much. He loves to walk through everything with us, to pick us up when we fall down because we think we know best, and to forgive us for all that we do.
Reading these old journals caused me to really take a look at myself. Why do I question Him? Why is there ever a shadow of doubt in my mind?…. That is when He gently reminded me that I am human, and that is human nature, but if I die to self daily, open my mind and heart to Him, my questions and doubt slowly fade away. He will never fail me. He will never leave me. He will ALWAYS go before me. He never lets go. When I was pulling all of my old journals out of my closet, I noticed the Bible verse on the cover of one of them was Jeremiah 29:11. If we really break down, and look at this verse we see that He knows our thoughts and all He wants for us is peace. He wants us to have hope and knowledge of His promise for us. His future for us is so much better than the future we have set out for ourselves. When you call upon Him, He is always there. You will always find Him. He hears us, and He listens to us… He just doesn’t always give us the answers we want because He truly knows best.
God always meets us where we are. Sometimes I wonder why He doesn’t tell me all the things I want to know when I want to know them, but then I remember He doesn’t because He is protecting me. Think about the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Now go 10 years before it happened. Would you have wanted to know what was going to happen to you? Would you have wanted to go through those 10 years, waiting for this tragedy to happen? Anticipating it? Agonizing over it? It would take away your hope. Your entire life would revolve around this tragedy that was in your future. God created us. He knows how delicate we are, and He knows how strong we are. This is why He reveals His way to us… only in small pieces at a time. Pieces that we can handle, and pieces that equip us to handle what is in front of us. He controls time, He is time, and all things will be revealed in His perfect time.
“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:18