In my previous post on Monday, I talked about the “good people” aspect of this question. Today I address the “bad things”. To subscribe to my videos go to my Youtube Channel, Stirring the Deep.
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
I feel we have entered into another degree of spiritual warfare; perhaps because the time of judgment is near or upon us??
In the past month, I’ve been seeing the warfare in my life, the lives around me, in the blogs I read. We are facing struggles and tribulation on a spiritual level that is affecting our daily lives. (the physical and the spiritual are connected – one affects the other.) We feel overwhelmed, burdened, discouraged, or depressed. When we are attacked at our core in our spirits then it makes dealing with the day to day stuff much more difficult. Proverbs 18:14 It makes small things seem big. It throws things out of perspective into the wrong perspective. Our trust in God wanes. Our steadfast belief that He is in control and will provide and protect us diminishes. His love feels distant. We begin to turn to the world’s wisdom instead of His. We can become fearful, timid, aggressive, or ineffective.
Then in my quiet time the other day I read Nehemiah 4:17 “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.” It struck me that what this verse is saying is what I had been feeling and what we need to do. We are being attacked to such a degree that we need to be ready for battle daily. Each day, we can no longer just focus on building the temple but we have to fight the spiritual battle as well. If we don’t recognize the attacks and fight the enemy we won’t be able to build. There has always been spiritual warfare, but lately it seems it has intensified.
As for building the temple, it’s not a physical temple we are building. It is a spiritual one and we, our spirits together, are the temple, the temple of God. We hold the spirit of God. The part of us that is a part of Him holds His spirit. Each one of our spirits is like a pillar. If our spirits are mal-nourished and lacking in truth, then they become like rotting broken down pillars.
We build by stirring the deep (spending one-on-one time building intimacy with God through His Word) each day. This is our work. John 6:29 Our work is to believe – to live in God’s wisdom and truth. Because our beliefs are the core to every thought and action. When our spirits are thriving and strong, then God’s spirit is strong within us and works through us in mighty ways in our lives and the lives of others. When we succumb to the attacks because we don’t recognize them for what they are, we become weak and neglect to be steadfast in our beliefs, which negatively impacts everything.
I believe that the time is upon us, where we need to build the temple with one hand and hold a weapon in the other.
The fantastic news is and what I am experiencing in my life is the mighty power that Jesus Christ gave us in the spiritual realm to defeat any and every enemy. Luke 10:19 However, we have to be aware of that power, use it through faith and prayer, and use it right when we need it, not wait.
Lately, as I have experienced more attacks, I’ve been prepared with the knowledge of the power that I have in Christ. When they come, I call upon God the enemy backs off. It is tremendous!
Who is the enemy? Most often ourselves, our flesh nature. We have an external evil warring against our spirits but even that enemy usually uses our weaknesses, our lack of knowledge of truth, our issues, our temptations, our desires, and our self-will to discourage and lead us astray.
These are challenging days, but God has laid out the tools before us to be more than conquerors in all that we face. It is our part to learn what tools are there and to pick them up and fight so we can continue to build.
One of the most difficult areas for me to learn to trust in God has been internal change. I am bit of a perfectionist . . . and when I don’t like something about myself I try my best to fix it. Before God became the center of my life, I was a slave to self-improvement. I tried endlessly to be a better and stronger person prompted from a past that left me passive, withdrawn, defensive and closed off.
I can fix me. How hard can it be? Isn’t that the one thing we do control? Isn’t that what the billion dollar industry of self-help is all about? In my stubbornness and impatience of wanting to be different right now, for years I carried the burden of trying to change and never sought God’s help. The uncertainty of His timing and if He would help at all was too great a risk. Sure, I would superficially ask for His help, but I continued to hold on to and trust my latest instant gratification scheme. We either trust Him or ourselves. Blindly, I opted for me because I didn’t know Him enough to trust Him.
As the years passed, I set out to know Him. Then one day the power of these verses drew me in and set me free from the endless unsuccessful attempts to inner transformations.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Psalm 29:1-2a Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 2 Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
God showed me how tightly I was holding onto my power to change and not attributing power to Him. He was the one to work in me and I needed to trust in His power to do so and stop trying to develop my own strength and glory. With this new awareness and finally admitting my efforts had been in vain, I vowed to stop. I started to sincerely ask for His help.
Surrendering to His timing and His methods wasn’t easy. It felt like letting go of a steering wheel going 60 miles an hour and trusting someone you can’t see to grab a hold. But I got rid of all my books, stopped trying to do it myself and let Him take the wheel. He probed into the depths of my soul and traversed places I didn’t know existed. He went to my core and worked outward. In time, I started to change for the first time, one layer at a time. My soul has become a fountain of praise for all the afflictions He has healed. Once I saw His work in a few areas it became easier to trust Him with the rest.
We, the problem, can’t fix ourselves because we are the problem. We can masquerade temporary alterations, but true change is only possible by someone outside ourselves who is bigger and more powerful working in us. We go to the symptoms and God goes to the core, a core whose details we are rarely consciously aware of until He shows us. With new awareness, I stepped aside and started giving God strength in my life by believing He would and could work in me in all areas. That journey set me on the path to freedom and continues today.
I still have to remind myself when things come up to leave the work to Him. And today I write to remind myself to let go. He works in me. It is His job. Mine is to trust in His work, rest in His promises, follow Him His lead, surrender to His timing and be still and know He is MY God.
God loves us more than we can comprehend. He doesn’t want us trapped in afflictions and states of mind that bind us. Afflictions are to motivate us to search for Him and His ways that are perfect in love and truth and set us free. He wants us to be free, healthy and thriving. But He is the one to take us there. He is the only one who can. I have pushed, tried and work long and hard enough to know my efforts are fruitless and in vain.
The greater the possibility of defeat, the greater the victory.
Soon after we moved to California my husband and I were at a point of having spent all our savings on trying to start a business. We had no jobs and a house mortgage that could cover three houses the same size in Tennessee, where we moved from. Yet, we believed that God put us in this house. A steadily draining bank account with no replenishment in site seemed to be a pending defeat waiting to consume our lives. The waves were crashing into the boat and starting to sink us.
You can look at this experience two ways; one stupidity for not selling sooner or an opportunity to witness the power, mercy and care of God. We opted for the latter. Still green in our Christian walk, this trial went to the depths of our souls. Did we trust God was our provider and not ourselves? Did we truly believe He was in the details like His Word says? Were we going to rely on that still small voice telling us He would provide and there was no need to sell our home? Did we honestly think He cared that much about little ole’ us? Did we think He could provide the money we desperately needed? When you have to act on your beliefs then you know if you truly trust what you say you do.
A month from going under, we took a break from our job search and headed for the beach. We spent a couple of hours talking about our situation, God, and the possibilities of what would happen. There was no question we weren’t selling. We decided to rest in the promises of God we had been studying. No action, no faith. If we not now then when? If we don’t trust Him with our lives, then what is everything we had been learning for? Is He our God or isn’t He? Several times, we paused let the water dash over our toes and wondered at the amazing peace we felt. Shouldn’t we spend every waking hour trying to find some income? Shouldn’t we be nervous wrecks?
We followed the whisper.
God provided. We didn’t have to sell our home. The blessings started to pour into our lives. We trusted Him and He was faithful. That trial put our relationship on a different level with God because acting on our trust in Him breathed life into His promises.
Looking back the choice was between; believe God and enter into His land of promises and rest or stay wandering around in the desert until He provided another opportunity to demonstrate our trust was in Him and not us.
The possibility of defeat was huge as it banged at our back door, but looking back the enormity of the defeat made the victory all the greater and sweeter. It is a time in our life that we often reflect upon to give us peace, a time we felt the caring perfect mighty hand of our Lord.
Our ultimate purpose is to be one with God in truth, will and desire. Everything we go through is for that purpose. These moments when the possibility of defeat are great are the most powerful in increasing our union with Him. We have to call upon like no other time, we have to expand our trust and depend on Him with all that is within us and those acts take us deeper into His presence.
In a boat the waves crashing all around, I sit starring into Your eyes. The storm is great, but You control the storm. It is only a matter of time before You calm the waters. You look at me; what, who am I trusting? Am I scrambling to and fro, calling to others to rescue me, or paralyzed with a panic stricken stare? My eyes remain fixed on you. I see nothing else but you and your love and care for me.
2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect
Now that I am here in the midst of God’s presence enjoying His kingdom, it astounds me how deceived I was about this life and resisted it for many years. Fear kept me at an arm’s length. I thought my life would be boring, miserable and no fun. I thought I would be chained to should to’s and have to’s, and live a life of suffering, lack, discipline, regulations, because it was good for me. Therefore I wore a Christian shell. I didn’t want God that close.
Where did I get this impression? Mostly from churches and other Christians who wore a forced smile while their lives were miserable – it wasn’t very compelling. Despite what they said, I wasn’t convinced they had much to rejoice about, therefore I believed what God was offering outside of eternal salvation wasn’t that desirous. I made judgments about God based on man. Stupid and nonsensical I know, but most people, Christian and not, do the same thing.
After coming to several low points in my life, when I felt I didn’t have much to lose anyway, I decided to give God a try. I found a life totally unexpected, nothing what I imagined and it had been waiting for me in the Word the whole time.
I had to look in the Word to find the truth, not others. Many churches and Christians portray a wanting life because they are living by manmade doctrines. Man’s ways bring death, God’s life. Just because someone says they are speaking God’s truth, doesn’t mean they are. Fear blinds us, misconceptions deceive us, and a lack of seeking keeps us in bondage.
The life He is offering to those who are willing to give up living their way and seek His is nothing but tremendous and desirous; a life of provision, protection, mercy, truth, peace, rest, joy and love. You don’t need hell to scare people into His arms. He is offering what everyone wants unconditional love. What God desires above all is love; to love us and for us to love Him. Mark 12:30 How incredible of a God is He.
Instead of hell fire that doesn’t foster love, but fear, what we need is truth about God and what He is offering us. Look at what God desires; freedom, love, rejoicing souls, overflowing joy, and sincere praise for all His goodness toward us. He doesn’t even want us to try to earn His affections with good works, but asks us to rest and trust His work in us. No other god is like Him.
Many believe this wonderful life is only on a spiritual level and in the physical realm we continue to suffer like everyone else. Believing this lie kills our witness and dishonors God’s love for us. My experiences don’t support that thinking and neither does His Word. It is replete with examples, physical examples, of how He desires to bless and does bless His people; healing sicknesses, restoring lives, delivering from fears and afflictions, providing for needs, and helping in troubles. He is all consuming. His care is very real and active in our lives, if we trust Him.
Believing God’s blessings are mainly spiritual not only kills our witness, dishonors God but also blinds us to what God wants to do in our lives. If our lives are lacking and yet we believe that is how life is then we never probe deeper. Our problems are to wake us up that something needs attending to. Manifestation of pain is the beginning to the path of freedom. Fears, troubles, and afflictions are to drive us to seek and draw near.
For example, learning His ways verses ours takes time. Often we think we are doing things His way when we are serving our manmade religion. When we serve the wrong thing we experience lack or discomfort because God is trying to get our attention that something is off.
Also, God tests us. We are going to be in situations that test what we really believe. Our finances will run low, we will struggle with an illness, and a relationship will be strained. God is asking; do you believe I am your provider, healer, and deliver? How we respond, who we go to, what we trust in will give Him our answer. Believing those things are just life, also gives Him an answer.
And then there is that a constant battle in our souls between our beautiful new spirit and our decaying flesh that gives heartache and frustration.
All these things cause discomfort, pain, and frustration but that is not were we are to stay, they are all opportunities to witness the power of God, to increase our trust in Him, and to draw near to Him in a way we couldn’t if we didn’t have them. If we accept them as life, we miss out on their purpose, to push us into the presence of God and to experience His mercy and love.
We have a constant hope which fills us with a deep lasting joy. God is on our side. When He is our trust we are victors. What gives God glory? Not defeated miserable lives, but triumphant ones and He has given us everything we need to be victorious, if we will surrender and do things His way. We are our own worst enemy, if we can learn to humble ourselves under His hand – we will find true peace and rest, then our lives will glorify Him.
For most of us, our lives aren’t reflective of the life God wants to give. The road is narrow and few find it, therefore, we can’t depend on others to show us what a life in God’s kingdom is about; we have to go to His Word, the pure Truth. When we read it with a heart to know and not prove our own philosophies or some else’s, we will discover the path of life.