Monday, July 27

Some thoughts.....

"With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Ephesians 6:18-20

George, of Worthy News Ministries came across this powerful story and shared it as part of their devotional today.....

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted them to learn to not judge things too quickly, so he sent them each on a quest to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. He sent his first son in the winter, his second in the spring, his third in summer and his youngest in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no - it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed, he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

After hearing all his son's responses, the wise father replied, "Sons, you are all right -- because you have each seen only one season in the tree's life. But you cannot judge a tree, or a person, or anything else by only one season. Most things can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons have come to pass".

We can neither cause the tree to grow or affect the timing of its seasonal growth. There is nothing, beyond tending the tree and allowing the created purpose for it to become realized in the fullness of time. If we try and circumnavigate the natural course of the tree's life, we will succeed only in destroying it.
And sitting near the tree, waiting for the visible signs of its growth becomes an exercise in futility, as we cannot see in linear time any measurable growth and therefore declare it a lost cause, dead and barren....and if we keep on staring, we are blinded to the growth that is evidenced in the larger passage of time...months and even years....that show that measurable growth…….. until the tree is ripe and drooping, full of life and fulfillment.

Many have witnessed to this example in my own life as I have come to faith (I believe it wasn’t a simple rededication, but a realization), heard the call to ministry, dealt with the process by which God, in the last almost six years, has developed and empowered me to do the work to which He would have me join Him in and come fully against the four opinions of my growth…..ugly, bent and twisted or budding with new life, sweet smelling and beautiful and even, in a small percentage of those in the body who would journey with me, ripe and drooping with fruit.

A sister in the Lord, with whom I've not fellowshipped for a while, sent me a reply to my request for prayer...and it wasn't the simple "I'll pray for you" automatic response that seems to be the staple of the Christian community. Rather, it was a call to refocus my attention not on the circumstances but the reasoning behind it and the ultimate glory that shall come from its testimonial resolution. Instead of trying to use 'miracle growth' upon the tree of this journey, I have to wait for the created purpose of the tree to be realized....and know its ultimate growth means a fullness of life that fulfills me to overflowing.

"When I read your email, it sounded like YOU were the one trying to fix your problem, running all of the scenarios and trying to make something happen." my S.I.C. wrote, "This is the time for you to press into the Father and LET GO AND LET HIM fix it. You can't do it and He does not want you to either. When you are leaning into Him, Seeking him with all of your heart, there are NO wasted circumstances! Everything can be used for Him to grow and develop us. So, the question should never be, why is this happening to me, it should be, what are you trying to show me and what should my response be."

She added a devotional offered by Bishop Keith Butler of Keith Butler Ministries, "Step back and Let God Fix It" written yesterday.

"For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." Hebrews 4:10 (KJV) is the scriptural reference that Bishop Butler uses for his devotional....

"When you talk about the rest of God, you're talking about activating God's supernatural ability." Bishop Butler says, "When we get out of God's way, His ability is enforced for us."

The argument given here is: "He who once enters rest, rests from labors; but God’s people have not yet rested from them, therefore they have not yet entered the rest, and so it must be still future." As Matthew Henry offers, "As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so he will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest..........This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires. The rest, or sabbatism, which is the subject of the apostle's reasoning, and as to which he concludes that it remains to be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven."

"God doesn't need your help." Bishop Butler declares, "He has enough force and enough power, and enough angels, and enough of everything necessary to take care of you and yours and far beyond what you could ever require."

Whitney Hopler, Contributing Writer's report entitled "11 Ways Jesus Speaks into Your Sorrow" on the practical applications of Nancy Guthrie's new book, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, (Tyndale House, 2009). In her report, Hopler discusses the harshness of life that can bring us to our knees and what we should, as people of faith, do about it.

"Many experiences can leave you struggling with deep sorrow – a loved one’s death, a job loss, a friend’s betrayal, a serious medical diagnosis, and more. You may often find that the people around you simply don’t know what to say to you in your sorrow." Hopler says, "But Jesus does."

"The wager of faith," Dan B. Allender says in his book, The Healing Path, "is that God is telling His story through mine – that He exists and He is good……the wager is played out each time I recall (that is, name my memories) and recollect (order them by discovering their meaning)."

"Is your burden a heavy burden; roll it on Omnipotence. It is your burden now, and it crushes you; but when the Lord takes it, He will make nothing of it. And if you are called still to bear, he will sustain you. It will be on Him and not on you." Charles Spurgeon was quoted in another devotional MTM that I receive from other brothers associated with Out of the Wild on-line community, "You will be so upheld under it that the burden will be a blessing. Bring the Lord into the matter, and you will stand upright under that which in itself would break you down."

To quote the Bible, I value and appreciate my brothers and sisters in Christ who speak what God puts on their hearts, even if it isn't something I desire to hear......."An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." (Proverbs 24:26)

In her report, Hopler describes the ways Christ speaks during the tempest of our 'perfect storms' that roll through our lives with no concern for our welfare. She gives a brief description after each but the main thoughts are:
* Jesus knew overwhelming sorrow...and he will be there.
* Jesus heard the disappointment of the word "No" from God.
* Jesus can heal our deadliest disease....spiritual unhealthiness.
* Jesus will save us from ourselves.
* Jesus will provide for our safety.
* Jesus has a purpose for our pain that defies the actual experience.
* Jesus empowers us with the ability to 'illogically' forgive those who may not 'deserve' it.
* Jesus' provisions for us are enough.
* Jesus gives life, not death, to those who believe in Him.
* Jesus is in control, no matter how it feels he is not, ruling over life and death.
* Jesus can provide us with rest from the burdens.

"He reveals deep and mysterious things and know what lies hidden in the darkness, though He Himself is surrounded by light" Daniel 2:22

There is nothing that the LORD does not know, whether it is in the darkness of our betrayal or the hiddenness of our sinful life...He is there in the midst of it, letting the freedom of our own will guide our paths...yet whispering of things yet unseen and unknown that we have been designed to utilize, distorted and stained with the sinful nature we inherited from Adam and Eve.

We can spend our days wondering at the reasoning behind the sorrow, trials and tribulations that beset us at the fullness of the day....from other broken people, mislaid plans or even our own struggle against the old nature that comes against what we desire to do and seem to be singularly incapable of doing.

"All you have to do is trust that He will do what He says in His word. I declare that He will open doors for you and your family and in the most supernatural way, you will see God in this and He will show you exactly what to do. As a result, you and many others will see and want to go even closer to the Father." my dear sister in Christ concluded her email with, "You will give major payback to the enemy because you are going to turn around and lead others who are in the same situation, out of the dark. Only God can use the stuff that He delivered us FROM, to help rescue others who are in the same circumstance. Only God!! We have Jesus in us and He does not lose, ever! You let that fool know Who is in you and you refuse to believe the lies that he continually feeds us. In Jesus Name!!!!!"

Sometimes the path that is lit by the glory of the Most High isn't a logical-seeming one; it looks dangerous and causes the hairs on the back of our necks to stand at attention as fear courses through our veins. Sometimes, as God shows us in the bible, it is only the willingness to step onto that fear filled path that He needs to reveal another, more narrower way....

"Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." --Genesis 22:2

As George of Worthy News said in another devotional, "To be willing to obey God even when the act of obedience is not only costly, but also illogical, is to have the greatest faith in God. The act declares that even though God may kill my dreams, He has the power to resurrect them."

To declare that we know fully what God has planned seems to me to be at the edge of prideful and willful disobedience and is the bane of the faithful. To say that we know what God has planned in another's impossible and outrageous visions is equally as disruptive and damaging. God doesn't indeed need us to do His work, but the story of His plan plays out the recurring theme of invitation and enticement....and our willful denial of its call.

“…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up I due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5–7)

In our quest for God, in this journey along the narrow path of His making and guidance, the closer we become in relationship with God is where we find ourselves living a life of the improbable and definitely impossible.

Christ understands the crushing weight of the call and the agonizing loneliness of forced separation, from the family who raised you, the friends who befriended you and the loves that are not returned in the harshness of the day....He shows us that even in the tempest of the raging storms, when it seems that God is the most silent, there is but one thing to do and that is to submit ourselves to the will of the Father, for the plans that He has for us are not for our harm but for the furtherance of His glory that our part in His story will only shine brighter with our inclusion.

God purposes for our lives, though maybe hidden from us because of sin or denial, is the greatest gift that anyone can receive once the Salvation offering has been realized and accepted, even within the most rebellious of the brethren. God won't give up on us, for He knows the process that it will take (good or hard) for us to be ready to take on the next thing that He has for us. It only requires us to leave behind a worldly life of comfort and pursue Christ, into an eternally powered life of significance.

And though temporary, worldly harm might befall us or the fragile corrupted bodies that we inhabit upon this broken world, there is no removal, no loss of the eternal soul for Christ has promised the eternal protection of His people. But it is not our plans for our service to God that will be assured and protected, only the eternal purposes of God as He entices us to live dead to the world and alive in Him. Sometimes it is without the understanding of the 'cause' of our suffering or confusion that God calls us out into the work that He has for us.....the stack of questions that I have yet to know the answers to about the events of my life hasn't dwindled, but I'm sure if I shift through the stack I will find the answers for some of them within the context of my story's interwoven part in the larger story of God's redemption of His people. Answered by others who look at the life I've had and the faith that has been shaped by its fiery furnace.

God promises not what we want but what we need and in the tempest of the pain, suffering, sorrow, grief and unfulfillment that hammers our 'lives' we find the tools to endure, to overcome or even to 'sit in the stuff' that we would rather not for the higher purpose of drawing closer to God and being more the creatures that He envisioned and purposed us to be......from the beginning. In the desperation of seeking relief from our trials and tribulations, we come to a place where we grow....into a more powerful person who has yet to endure sorrows unknown yet to come. And in that sorrow, to have unaltered peace and joy in the unrelieved situations of our lives because of the peace that doesn’t rely on the material, temporal things but on the everlasting….ever-lasting….peace that Christ gives to us.

In this journey, I have come to realize how much of the ‘commission’ and ‘purpose’ to which God has uniquely qualified me for and has enticed me to dare dream to do for the glory to which all of us work and pray for as the events of our lives unfold is not reliant upon my efforts, my understanding or dare I say my truthfulness, but rather based upon the power, effect and timing of God through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit, the less the stresses of the battles, the condemnation of others and the failures against my old self have dimmed my spirit or my faith. I have learned that I will never truly be free of the haunting nature of the old self, corrupted and self-protective, for it knows me well and the ‘puppet-strings’ are pulled by the Evil One….but I can, in the spirit that will flow through this corrupted body to be seen by the world, know my enemy and thwart his plans only through the ‘tallmudim’ posture that I have in the relationship with God, through who’s power, strength and peace I can overcome bit by bit the tendency to rely upon myself and my abilities.

In the tempest, if we are 'tallmudim' (Hebrew for students from the verb Lilmod...'to learn') as the disciples were, we are taught the awesome and unlimited wisdom, love and character of the God of our creation and our worship. The Truth no longer has to be defended, but spoken….the Peace doesn’t have to be prayed for, but dwelled in…..the Strength to move into this broken landscape doesn’t have to be feared, but empowered….. It doesn't come easily, in the terms of the world, for testing comes upon us as we grow deeper and deeper into relationship with Him. The Enemy cannot take our salvation from us so he does that which he knows he can only do, distract us from the powerfulness of being in relationship with God. For in that relationship, we cannot fail and we can do all things with a powerful and mighty effect….

It is only through study, prayer and seeking the wisdom God would impart through the Counselor, the Holy Spirit that we can become educated, transformed and equipped to move into the larger story of God's plan. The evolution of a believer in the context of the larger story comes from lesson-learning, the constant and evolving process of stepping into the tests by which He proves His faithfulness and our obedience. But even learning a lesson is useless unless we apply what we've learned for the purposes to which we are called by God.

The ultimate story-teller calls us to be story-tellers ourselves; not in ways that allow those who we weave our tales to deny that thread that God weaves within our tapestry, but through the personal and powerful tale of our lessons learned and the realization of God within the midst of our trials as woven in the tapestry of God’s ultimate story....not to convert but to entice, not to fantasize but to illogically excite and allow that whisper of the Most High to be heard in the fantastical stories of our lives, in utter defiance of the humanized and post-modern ‘truth’ that seems to pacify the worldly and distract the shallow.

Through prayer, we communicate and are communicated with God, by the trials and tribulations of our worldly existence are we grown into the warriors of God's plan, and through the bold proclamation of Him in the fabric of our story do we testify and empower those who yet to believe to listen for that small, still voice.......

Only then do we truly fulfill the Great preach the Good News and to make disciples.....not the willfully disobedient and shallow 'congregates' of today's modern and westernized 'church.'

May I, even in the midst of my crisis of belief, testify to the power of Christ and the overwhelming enticement of His work that He calls me to 'illogically' (from my perspective) join in with and the methods by which He has empowered me to walk in the darkness of this world.....

with a boldness that He once stood with upon this world and proclaimed....while His hands and feet were nailed to a cross of human cruelty and sin........even as we stood and mocked His illogical plan for the eternal redemption of God's people.

He's equipped me to do so with an illogical strength, a unshaken faith and the experience of His power, love and character that will not abandon me in the darkness of this world and the fight to which He calls me to lead.

And, even in the midst of the struggles, trials and tribulations…He calls me to stand and fight for the Kingdom……

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