Today as I was in the Book of Joshua, meditating on the miracle of when the children of Israel passed through the Jordan River on dry ground— finally to stand in the land promised to them. Can you imagine the joy and praise as the last one crossed over? This was a sea of people so vast that they would become a great nation. Twice now, God had parted water— the Red Sea for their parents and now the Jordan for the sons and daughters. As I read this story, I kept hearing the words, “Tell my people, I will do it again.”
I see before God’s people, a sea of opposition that has come to threaten them, accuse them, and overwhelm them. Fear and confusion has struck the heart of many as the governments of nations have created laws that have been formed to keep God’s people from advancing. The natural “reasons” for these laws may differ from nation to nation— but the spiritual reason remains the same. Satan does not want God’s people to advance in victory.
But God has raised up those like Joshua and Caleb who will not look upon the threats or what their eyes see— but they will listen to the Lord and believe in his promises of old with unshakable faith. Though their knees make shake, their hearts are set firm to move as the Lord directs, no matter the opposition ahead.
These ones, who possess a spirit like Joshua and Caleb, will lead God’s people forward to take what has been promised to them. God will do it again— he will part the waters of opposition and provide a way of advancement. He will topple the walls of fortified cities as his people partner with him in trust and obedience and he will bring forth victories from what appeared to the natural eyes to be certain defeat.
If fear has usurped your faith— now is the time to ask the Spirit of God to come upon you with the revelation of the fear of the Lord that is greater than the fears of your soul. We all, without exception, have had to face down soulish fears, shock and disbelief at things we have seen or personally encountered over the past two years. Even if we knew something was coming— we didn’t know what it was or how vast the landscape of our world would change.
But now is the time to put on the armor of God and allow faith to rise up and overcome our fears. Some may have to be carried, as their pain and losses are fresh, but God has strengthened others to carry the weak who remain willing to move forward.
He wants you to know that HE WILL DO IT AGAIN! He will perform miracles, signs and wonders because he is a God who keeps his covenant promises from generation to generation. His faithfulness is sure and never changing. Though the enemies of our day look different than the enemies of old, God remains the same and victory is in his hand.
The coming revival may look like the fear of the Lord coming upon mankind that causes them to see his holiness and turn from every wicked way. It has been coming upon many of his people even today— the fear of the Lord is coming first upon his Church and they then the world will look and see and believe. I hear the words from Zechariah 3:2 over both Israel and over those who appear to be embracing an unholy fire that will lead them to an eternity separated from God,
And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Even the Lord, who [now and ever] has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is this not a log snatched and rescued from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2)
God will snatch many out of the fire and they will become heirs with Christ. God will do what he did for Joshua the high priest once again! He will do what he did for Joshua and Caleb again. He will do what he has always done— he will be faithful to his promise!
Begin to pray and declare, “Do it again, Lord! According to your covenant promises and faithfulness, do it again!”
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We are all familiar with the story in the Book of Numbers of how Moses sent the twelve spies into the Promise Land (the Land of Canaan) to assess all aspects of it. Out of the twelve spies, only two— Joshua and Caleb— came back with a good report of the bounty in the land and a declaration of faith in God’s promise to give them the land. But the people believed the bad report of what was seen by the eyes of the other ten spies, who embraced and imparted fear rather than faith. They focused on giving a report that brought fear by saying that within the land there are “men the size of giants”, fortified cities (strongholds) and vast people groups that had great strength and could not be overcome. In contrast, Joshua and Caleb believed that God would help them succeed and overcome impossible odds, because He had promised to give them the land. Still, the counsel of Israel chose to believe the bad report which caused them never to enter the land of promise, but to die in the desert. Their children would inherit the land along with Joshua and Caleb— who were the only men from their generation permitted to go into the Promised Land after the time of wandering for forty years.
We are in similar time. Every report regarding the days ahead and the promises of God are met by ten bad reports. Though the “enemies” are no longer called the Hittites, Jebusite, Amorites, Perizzites and Canaanite— the message of fear and defeat remains the same. Yet, the promises of God have never changed for his people. He remains true to his covenant promises even when men do not.
We need to remember that God did not change the landscape or strongholds of what the ten fearful spies reported. The fortified cites remained with great armies who understood the land even when the time came for Joshua and Caleb to cross into the Promise Land. But God’s promise to give the children of Israel the Land of Canaan remained true as well. Under the leadership of Joshua and Caleb, who had more faith in God’s covenant promise than fear of the opposition, they would lead the people forth in the confidence and trust.
If we look at the current landscaped four world today, we once again see giants, fortified nations (strongholds) and opposition. We, too, can become overcome by fear and hopelessness if we do not look upon the promise of a “land of milk and honey.” We must believe the promise and not believe the reports that grip us with fear. It is time to remind our hearts and our brothers and sisters of the covenant promises that remain true even today— then we will be like Joshua and Caleb. We will lead a great procession of God’s children into the inheritance and victory.
Trust and obey is key in 2022 and beyond. We must trust in the promises of God and put asunder every vain imagination that slanders God’s covenant promises. We must trade fear for faith and hopelessness for confident hope in God alone.
“If God is for us then who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
Yes, there are giants— but young David proved that when you put your trust in the name of God that a small stone of faith can take down even the greatest giant. Yes, there are strongholds, but Gideon and his small army of 300 (in the face of a vast army) were victorious as they obeyed the steps the Lord gave them. Trust and obey— it is the only way forward.
We do not want to wander for forty years, only to die a desert land, never obtaining our promise. We want to be see a vast procession of Joshua’s and Caleb’s, who along with their sons and daughters, will go forth together in his name and in his might. Their trust is in his strength— not their own!
It is time to declare the good report! Of course there are battles and strongholds ahead that we will face but we can face them with faith and confident hope in God’s promises. Declare the good report to your family, your friends, to your neighbors and over your nation. It is time for the great procession of a Caleb company to arise and take the land of promise back from the giants and to set it free from fortified and demonic strongholds.
On New Year’s Eve, during a worship service, I was taken into the Spirit and I saw a great procession of God’s people marching forward as one great army or company. Directly in front of this sea of people was the name of JESUS. I didn’t “see” Jesus— only his name. It was going before us— clearing the way and directing us like the pillar of fire or the cloud that directed the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt. His name directed them, cleared the way, brought protection, provision and victory.
There has been such a powerful move of God in worship and prayer over the past months that is centered around his name and the power of his name. Often, I will find myself in my prayer times merely declaring his name(s) over and over— and every burden and every prayer and all of my worship becomes enveloped in his name.
As I was reading through the letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation today, I was enthralled by the names of Christ that each letter begins with. They are declarations of who he is and they became my declarations today in prayer.
I encourage you to read this list of his names and to declare them as worship and declare them over your life, your family and your nation.
• The One who holds the seven stars in his right hand • The One who walks among the seven gold lampstands • The First and the Last • The One who was dead and came to life • The One who has the sharp double-edged sword • The Son of God • The One whose eyes are like fiery flames • The One whose feet are like fine bronze • The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars • The Holy One • The True One • The One who has the key of David • The One who opens doors that no one can close, and closes doors that no one can open. • The Amen • The faithful and true witness • The Originator of God’s creation
These are merely the names mentioned in the letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation! Throughout the Word of God there are so many more that reveal who he is, his nature and character, his acts and wonders, his power and purity. Names like: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Savior, King, Messiah, Teacher, Lion of Judah, Captain of Angel Armies, Deliverer, Friend and Bridegroom.
His name is powerful as it announces who he is and what he does. His name goes before is like a double-edged sword to remove all that hinders us and to lead us on paths of righteousness.
There is a roar that comes forth from God’s people as they declare his name— a sound that silences the Accuser! We are clothed by his name and we are redeemed by his name. It is the name above every name that is powerful to save and deliver.
“All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Revelation 3:5-6
How many of you have been waiting for a promise of God or a prophetic word spoken over your life to come to pass? If that’s you, then you are in good company! Just read the Bible and it will bring some perspective and understanding that confirms there is most often a “journey” to the fulfillment of promises. Often the journey is so difficult and long that we begin to doubt that it will happen or we begin to try to make it happen. Abraham and Sarah were perfect examples of trying to help (or force) the hand of God. Yet, God even redeemed their disobedience.
This long journey is an effective and important one. It produces character, endurance, faith, obedience, trust and reveals God’s faithfulness— even when we stumble into unbelief and disobedience. There is a divine timing to many of the promises given to us and God’s hand cannot be forced to change that timing.
As we have crossed into 2022 there has been a deep awareness in my spirit that we entered into a new era. I saw promises falling like New Year’s confetti upon God’s people. Though we know that the challenging times will continue to shake everything that can be shaken; there is mercy falling in the form of promises fulfilled simultaneously.
This past week I personally had a door close and within eight hours a gateway, that is a long time promise, open up to me. It was completely unexpected and unsolicited. It is much bigger than I could have asked or imagined. I believe that we will be seeing this happen to many in the days and months ahead.
We have been in a time of preparation to be made ready to steward the promises that are being fulfilled. We have been being prepared to carry them with integrity and faithfulness “for such a time as this.”
“May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you.” Deuteronomy 1:11
These words were not only for Israel but for you and I today! It is an ageless and eternal promise. There is a swell of holy expectation rising in the heart’s of God’s people— the expectation that “was and is and is to come” is beyond what we can ask or imagine. Isn’t it amazing that God pours out blessings such as this in a time of great darkness and despair for most of the world! What a faithful Father!
In the midst of darkness God is pouring out a midnight release of promises fulfilled which will bring much rejoicing to his sons and daughters. He will light up the darkness with light and with great joy. Raise a HALLELUJAH!
In March 2019 I was taken into a vision where I was shown a wooden table with numerous items on it that I knew were significant regarding the days and years ahead. I did not understand them at the time but as the months, and now years, have passed I am beginning to see the significance in the items I was shown. Over time I will go through the many items but today I wanted to share the first items that I saw upon this wooden table. They were a very old pocket watch with a Roman soldier upon it and the time reading 8:20, a modern military watch with a digital reading that read 20:20 and a harvesting sickle.
I believe that this pocket watch was revealing a number of things that we even now are experiencing. Let’s begin with the most obvious. Romans 8:20 says,
“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,…” (NLT)
The Passion Translation reads (I will include vs. 21 here),
“For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the empty futility resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children.” Romans 8:20-21
We surely are living in a time (era) where all creation is suffering from the consequences of human sin. The longing for freedom from deception, death and decay is felt like few other times across the entire world. There is a deep hunger and hope that has come upon the Church to experience the freedom that is promised to us as heirs with Christ.
Romans 8 is filled with the hope that is “yet to come.” It reveals that there is no comparison between our present suffering to the glory that is yet to come. Christ Jesus is the heir of “all things” and we have become joint heirs with him of “all things.” Though we suffer now, we have great hope of what is to come– which cannot decay but it eternal. The longing for the temporary comforts or the treasures of the earth are being replaced by the longing for the eternal. This is resulting in the saints storing up their treasures in Heaven.
For many, the past two years have not only produced in us a longing for what is yet to come but we have been joined to a new awareness and hunger for our eternal promises. Prior to this time, many looked for earthly promises and rewards with far greater anticipation than they did their eternal promises. I believe that we longed for the earthly treasures to a far greater degree than we realized. The veil between heaven and earth has become very thin.
The Roman soldier upon this old pocket watch (which was set next to a modern military soldiers watch which displayed the numbers 20:20) was showing us that a government or ruling force, which can be likened to the Roman rule in the time of Jesus, was coming upon the earth. We can learn much from the life of Jesus as he walked the earth during the Roman rule about how we should live today. The modern day military watch reading 20:20 that sat next to this pocket watch signaled the time where wars and rumors of wars would accompany this tyrannical rule. It also points to the army of God taking it’s position to rule and reign with Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, there will be some (who have previously followed Christ) that will deny him and go their own way.
“If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” 2 Timothy 2:12
Let’s look at the modern military watch that read 20:20. I believe that this not only spoke of 2020 beginning a new era but it also pointed to some key scriptures.
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.’” Exodus 20:20
The Lord has allowed a great testing to come to his people so that the fear of the Lord would be the standard that we live by. He has been and continues to be strengthening us in the fear of the Lord so that we will not deny him or turn to the temptations of sin. If you have found that your faith has been shaken or your heart has grown cold, it is not too late to return to the stronghold of hope and to the refuge of the fear of the Lord. Repent and turn back– ask the Holy Spirit to blow his breath upon the spark that remains; igniting a refining fire that restores you to the fear of the Lord. He is our strong tower, our refuge and our hope. The fear of the Lord is the place of saying, “I put my whole trust, my hope (both now and eternally), my life and my future in Christ alone. I trust in no other thing and devote myself fully to him.”
I will share some other 20:20 scriptures here and include brief thoughts on them but will write more at another time so that this is not too lengthy. Please pray into these verses.
“They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”” 2 Chronicles 20:20
A quick note that if you want to be established in the fear of the Lord (which will protect you and preserve you), “put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established.” If you want to succeed in all that you are doing, “Put your trust in His true prophets (both of old and today).”
“He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.” Proverbs 20:20
Pride, arrogance and rebellion proceeds dishonor and releases a demonic spirit that causes people to curse their fathers and mothers. We must pray for the youth and young adults of our day. Many will turn away from the teachings and truths that their parents taught and it will cause them to lose their way in times of darkness. We must honor those who have walked in the fear of the Lord and instructed us in truth. We also must not curse our natural or spiritual fathers and mothers. Though they were not perfect, honor keeps our lamps lit in times of darkness.
“‘Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’” Ezekiel 20:20
We must honor the sabbath by resting! There is refreshing that is needed and a rest that we enter into by observing a days and times of rest.
“And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20
Jesus will once again reveal himself as the resurrected Christ amid darkness, trauma and unbelief which will open blind eyes. They will embrace him and a great rejoicing will occur. Many of his “disciples” that are doubting and in despair will encounter the resurrected Christ and they will rejoice once again, knowing that his is victorious over death and the grave.
“…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,” Acts 20:20
Much of the Church did not shrink back as 2020 brought about “orders of isolation” and “stay at home” mandates. As 2022 has begun, we see that even those who initially shrunk back are now arising and standing up to declare the truth of the Kingdom, to teach publicly and to go “house to house.” I believe that house groups and open air meetings will increase in the days to come.
Last, the third item that I was laying alongside of the two watches was a harvesting sickle.
“When the grain is ripe, the man starts cutting it with his sickle, because harvest time has come.” Mark 4:29
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.” Revelation 14:14-19
My sense was that we have entered a final era (an era can be a very long period of time) where the Church will pick up the harvesting sickle and gather the ripe grain that is waiting to be harvested– SOULS SAVED. This will not only be in the hands of evangelist but of all of his disciples; some will gather, some will disciple, some will go forth to gather the nations. It will be the gathering of souls yet to be saved as well as the maturing and ripening of the saints of God (growing up among the tares). All of this will be concluded with the sickle in the hand of the Lord to reap the harvest of the earth.
There were many other items on this table that I will share in other writings. I pray that you will take the time to study each of these things on your own as well and that together we will better understand the days in which we are living.
In our world of constant exposure to social media, perfect family pictures in “house beautiful” backgrounds, it can leave even the healthiest people feeling less than or weak. Who wants to scroll through a social media site to see a picture of someone’s kid having a fit, their sink full of dirty dishes or the chaos that accompanies real life?
Of course we’ve all been bombarded by the heartbreaking photos of those suffering from Covid or cancer or some other devastating sickness, but for the most part— we scroll to escape reality and have our Hope renewed by seeing beautiful things. I love to post photos of my family having beautiful moments and I love to take pictures of beautiful things— especially my home. But what you don’t see is the real time, real life struggle between the beautiful moments. It happens! Just like my all white furniture gets soiled by dirty hands touching it— so my seemingly all “beautiful” life as portrayed on social media gets soiled by messy moments in the “in between.”
The messy parts of life are often when we feel weak, incompetent, chaotic, guilty or like a fraud. Quite frankly, the mess may be more frequent than the moments of pure beauty. So what are we to do during the “mess?” What are we to do when there is a spiritual battle all around us and all we feel that we have is weakness and tools that merely maintain the mess?
Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” Joel 3:10
Spiritually you may feel that all you possess are coping tools rather than weapons that can win the battle that rages around you. But you can use those tools to be forged into weapons of war and stand up (even in the midst of weakness) and say, “I am strong in the Lord!” God had me take my “coping tool” of journaling and letter writing and turn my pen into a weapon of war to defeat discouragement, lies and defeat. My pen has become a sharpened sword of truth in my hand. What is your tool that can be beaten into a weapon of war against the enemy?
As for weakness, the Apostle Paul boasts in his weakness— even claiming to be the weakest of all men. Why? So that his life could declare the strength of God amid mortal weakness and mess.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
Behind the veil of social medial posts and pictures exists the weakness of every man and woman. The photos of frail people fighting sickness may be more accurate of the “state of men.” Yet— God calls to us to take what is in our hand and “beat it into a sword.” You may feel like a useless tool, only useful for cleaning up messes or pruning thorns, but it is time for you to know that in the hands of the Lord, you can become a sharp sword that is fit for battle— you can stand up and say, “I am a strong warrior.” Of a matter of fact, it is time for you to do this. Boast in your weakness but put on the strength of our Almighty God and watch your life begin to tear down strongholds, defeat giants and overcome great armies. It is time to have your strength renewed!
“But they who wait for 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.” Isaiah 40:31
We must stop running from the Lord because of our weakness and begin to wait on the Lord until we receive “strength from on high!” He gives strength to the weary and power to those who feel like fainting (Isaiah 40:29). He did not choose you because of your strength or even because of the gift in your hand. He knows your weakness but he looks for you to posture yourself in waiting and yielding to receive his strength. He receives your offering of what seems useless and transforms you a great warrior with sharpened swords and spears. He is the one who turns useless vessels into victorious warriors.
One thing that I have discovered in my journey with the Lord is that often when I feel my weakest— beaten down by pressure and the poundings that this life brings— it is actually then that I have been being formed from a plow into a sword. The plowing through turmoil and adversity is turning my shovel into a sharpened sword or spear and the declaration of “I am strong” is changing my identity from slave to son.
If you feel faint, weak, or beaten down— wait a bit longer and then look at your life because you are about to see a shining double edged sword appear that is mighty in the hand of God! It is time for the weak to declare, “I AM A STRONG WARRIOR!”
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31-37
You are more than a conqueror through him who loves you!
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God’s people are and have been in a great time of preparation. We are preparing for things that we do not know, nor even understand— but our Father in Heaven knows and in his love and mercy he prepares his sons and daughters. It may be that revival is coming and it may be that greater judgements are coming— or both. Yet, we do not know what either will look like when they manifest on earth. We surely did not expect the past two years, nor did we believe that it would continue for two years with no end in sight. Yet I believe that these past two years have been a great time of preparation and training for the days ahead. Some of that training has come through the discipline of God.
When we, as parents, raise our children, we prepare and train them for both the good times and the hard times. We teach them through example and training how to be thankful and humble in times of blessing and we train them through discipline and even momentary pain how to trust and obey in hard times. We do this so that they will honor their parents, honor authority and most of all honor God.
Children rarely understand why their parents make the rules that they make and then enforce them through the means of discipline. Yet, as parents, we know that we have made rules for the sake of safety, right-living and love for our children. As children, they don’t need to understand— but they do need to learn to “trust and obey” their father and mother. This will benefit them ALL the days of their lives. It is so much harder to learn discipline and honor when it was not taught to us a children than when it was instilled at a young age.
God has set up “rules or ways” that he has asked us to walk in as well. These commands include how we give money, how we love others, how we gather together and how we put him above all else. Within his Word we are shown how not to judge and how to serve others with their well-being put before our own. But also within his Word, it is made clear that we will know that we are his rightful sons and daughters when we receive his discipline and chastisement.
For days now I have had the Lord revealing to me the greatness of his love for his children that comes through training and discipline. He showed me that many have been in a season of experiencing the “discipline of the Lord.” He has been revealing wrong attitudes, misaligned focuses, wrong thinking, judgmental hearts, lukewarmness, and sin. This is his mercy toward his children. God has been parenting us— but are we listening— are we trusting and obeying?
I had a vision of many who were “in the valley of decision” about which way they would go in the days ahead and who they will serve. Some were leaning toward going their own way and rebelling against the discipline of the Lord, yet I knew that they were walking into a trap of death and deception. I also saw those who were receiving the discipline of the Lord and humbling themselves to allow their hearts and actions to be purified and aligned to put him first in every way. They were walking into his refuge of life and truth.
We all have been in a restaurant or grocery store where we have seen children that are out of control— or rather have taken control of their parents. We cringe when we see the parents do nothing and allow disrespect and disobedience to control the child that God entrusted to them. Yet, somehow many of God’s sons and daughters expect God to ignore their bad behavior. Do we think that when we sin or have a wrong attitude that he should just looks the other way?
Could it be that some of the “pains” we have gone through are part of the discipline of the Lord because he loves us so much? We know that the wages of sin are death and that Jesus took the wages of our sin upon himself so that we can receive mercy. But we also know that in the last days that even some the “elect” will fall away. God is girding us up with love and discipline so that we will not fall away.
The other thing that I heard him say was, “Many of my sons and daughters have turned my loving discipline into accusations against me.” How that broke my heart to hear! And how much more it breaks his heart.
It reminded me of when teenagers rebel against their parents rules and curfews. They will enter into accusing their parents of being unfair, controlling and shout things like, “I hate you.” Will God’s children hate him for loving them enough to discipline them and teach them to live within the safety of the commandments that he put in place? Will some rebel and accuse him of being unfair, even while knowing that he went to the cross for them? Will some dare to accuse him just because they do not understand why he is asking them to keep all of his commandments (not just the ones that they like)? Or he isn’t doing what they want, when they want? May it never be that his children turn away from him to serve a god that they created in the image that suits their desires.
IF you’re still reading this— well done. Some will have stopped because it does not say what makes them feel good— but this is good news!
Let’s look at what God says about the discipline of his sons,
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:5-11
There is a reward for those who respond to the training of Lord’s discipline: peace, fruitfulness, and righteousness. He is training us up in the way we should go! Just as every earthly parent should have in the forefront of their minds when raising their children (train them up!), so God is training us to walk in a way that will guard us, protect us and teach us to live.
For me personally, 2020 was like a “spiritual time-out.” During the few months in which almost all activity (ministry events, outings, normal activities) were stopped, I found myself sitting with the Spirit of the Lord as we took a spiritual inventory of my life and my heart. There was so much that needed to be put aside and simple but profound truths that needed room to become the center of my heart. Then 2021 has been for me a year of uncovering hidden fears (often hidden from even me), evaluating all that was inventoried in 2020 and of storing up my treasures in heavenly places. My sense for 2022 is that I will be buying oil— refined, pure, and processed by pressure, time and surrender— prepared in the crucible of discipline, training, trusting and obeying.
I will finish by telling a short story of a conversation I had with my precious eight year old grandson. The other day he was feeling angry with his daddy because he felt that his daddy was being unfair by not letting him win a game that they were playing together. He thought that love looked like giving him a “win” that was not legitimate. Then, in a passive/aggressive way this little boy began accusing his daddy of “being mean.” I gently took him into my office and sat him on my lap and we began to have a conversation about the negative result it would have on his life if his daddy always let him win and how to learn to face momentary defeats with a grateful heart and proper attitude. We prayed together and he seemed to understand. The next day, his little brother beat him in a different game. This time he appeared to be gracious and showed a good attitude about it. A few minutes later his little brother came crying to us saying that his brother whispered in his ear, “You cheated!” Once again, his daddy and I sat down to first discipline him but second to explain why this hidden area in his heart would harm him if he didn’t change this attitude. He had tears and apologies— which will have to be consistently reinforced with discipline and training. This is one of the sweetest boys I’ve ever met and yet this little “root of anger and bitterness” is trying to find access into his heart. As parents and grandparents we are cutting it off again and again. It is painful for an eight year old but if he will respond it will bring peace and the fruit of righteousness into his life. God is doing the same thing for us. He is finding all of the “little foxes” that can ruin the fruit in our lives.
“Catch for us the foxes—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.” Songs 2:15
I want to challenge each one of us to stop and ask if there is any area that we have accused God of being unfair? Have we rejected his discipline because we do not understand and refuse to merely trust and obey him? Have roots of anger or bitterness come and taken root in any area of our hearts? Or, do we cry but continue to demand our way and accuse our brother rather than dealing with the speck in our own eye? Are their little foxes trying to spoil the blossoms in our lives? Or even spoil the blossoms of revival?
Let us enter 2022 by allowing (inviting) the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Let us repent of any root of anger or bitterness. Let us leave behind every rebellious way and return to God with a determination to trust and obey. And let us repent of any and every place that we have accused God! May we receive his discipline as love and training so that we can live in peace and receive his the fruit of righteousness in the days ahead.
Proverbs 23:13 says that if we discipline a child, “he shall not die.” In other words, “Discipline brings life!” Let us choose life in 2022 and beyond. For the Lord disciplines those whom he loves and considers his legitimate sons and daughters.
It is easy to say, “I trust God” until that moment when life’s circumstances are out of your control. It is in those inevitable times (that we all want to avoid) that our trust is challenged.
I remember many times in our younger years, when first doing missions work, where money had run out and we had four kids to feed, bills to pay and could not work to earn money in the country we were living in (our support came from donations only). We began our adventure with the posture and declaration, “Our trust is in the Lord!” But when we would reach those times when we were down to “nothing but trust”, I’d often find my “trust account” even lower than my bank account. I’d have knots in my stomach, lose sleep, lose joy, and begin trying to figure out what I could do to make something happen. My trust went only as far as my circumstances dictated.
God wasn’t trying to hurt me or leave me lacking— and I honestly cannot say that our “lack” was from the hand of God. Yet, he allowed it and often would use it to show me where my trust truly was. My trust, or at least my peace, was in the number of dollars in my bank account. This was not because I was looking to be rich— I merely wanted to know that I could pay our bills and feed our children— that is not unreasonable or extravagant. But, did I trust the Lord to come through where my means ended and his began. Did I believe that he wanted to provide for us even more than I wanted to be provided for? Yet, he knew that I had to learn to trust him and believe in his goodness.
I will say that he was my only hope but I needed to attach my hope to truly trusting him. My faith needed to connect hope and trust as an anchor for my fearful soul.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
It is easy to have confidence and conviction in what you can see but trusting in the unseen hand of God for something unseen requires the work of the Holy Spirit to in your life. I honestly am overwhelmed by the patience of his Spirit in my life because I was a slow learner!! The fear of shame and calamity was far greater than my trust in God. In those early days I was fairly certain that God was frustrated with me and always wanting to teach me “the hard way.” Yet, in his patience and love (not his frustration), he always came through— we never were homeless and our children never went without a meal. His faithfulness was proven to be true time and time again.
Often, following the Christmas holiday people find themselves in lack from from lost work as businesses close for the holidays and from the many demands that come during this time of the year. This can bring about a sense of shame, panic and guilt. It can rob people of their peace, comfort and joy. Their “trust account” may show a negative balance even more than their bank account.
This is when you need to ask the Holy Spirit to deposit peace, trust, comfort and joy into your soul. He loves to make deposits into your life. When our comfort and joy comes from what we have more than from our relationship with God then we will find that our spiritual lack will manifest during times of natural lack. In God’s kindness, he often will reveal these areas so that we can realign our hearts and lives— and invest in intimacy and dependency on him as the most important thing. He will also provide for your needs as you put your trust in him.
As I’ve matured and learned from the times in my youth, I’ve discovered that “soul crisis” are not much different then health crisis. A health crisis will often reveal an area that needs attention— likewise, a soul crisis will do the same. Once again this is where our amazing Holy Spirit comes in and helps us in our weaknesses. We can ask him, what in my soul needs attention? What is lacking and has become unhealthy? He will reveal the areas and as you yield to his hand, he will help you to regain strength in those areas.
This life is a journey of learning to have faith in an unseen God, to trust in his unseen hand, to wait patiently when you have unanswered prayers and to have hope when you do not understand. Not one of us escapes this journey or these life lessons. Yet, if we do not learn from these experiences and exercise our spirits to strengthen these areas, we will find our lives in ongoing cycles of chaos, fear, frustration and unhappiness.
No matter what you are facing today, check your “trust account.” If it is at a deficit then sit with Holy Spirit and let him deposit what you need. Know that you are loved and cared for and that God will provide (spiritually and naturally). There is beauty and joy that awaits you as you put your trust in the unseen hand of God. He who made the stars, the snow capped mountains, the trees, the animals, the colors of a sunrise— he is able to do abundantly more than you could ever imagine. His hand is seen in all of these things.
What makes us righteous? The Book of Romans makes reference to our faith in Jesus being the single thing that makes us righteous throughout it. In ourselves, not one is righteous, but through faith in Jesus we have been made righteous.
It is no wonder that there is such an attack against God’s people’s faith. If the enemy can get us to abandon our faith and trade it for unbelief, causing us to live in accusation against God’s faithfulness, then he has succeeded in destroying the very thing that calls us, “Believers.”
I felt a deep stirring for all of those who have had their faith attacked to the point of struggling with unbelief and believing that God has failed them. As I prayed for them I cried out to each one saying, “Hold fast to your faith above all else!” This is your our precious possession! Faith is our secure posture— for the Word says that those who put their trust (faith) in the Lord will never be put to shame…and never disappointed. The world and life may bring disappointments but his love will never leave you in lack.
At the end of my life— I want my faith to be the confident assurance that I enter eternity with. There is is no disappointment on this earth that will compare to the glorious riches we will receive when we stand face to face before him.
If your faith has been attacked— take it back before the end of 2021! Begin the New Year with your faith fully intact. It does not have to be feeling— but a declaration and decision that becomes your unmovable posture. No matter what happens— good or bad, joy or pain— hold fast to your faith!!
Take a moment today to pray for those who are wavering and questioning their faith. Unanswered prayers, losses, disappointments are hard and can wear down even the strongest— but we must hold onto our faith as our most precious treasure! Let no one and nothing rob you of your faith in Jesus!
My heart and prayers are with you to be strengthened in your faith and in your love. I pray that in every place that 2021 has brought you pain and confusion that you will be comforted; receiving grace and healing. He loves you and nothing can take that from you.