Testing 1, 2, 3, 4

By Kathi Pelton

The words, “Testing 1, 2, 3, 4” are most often heard when a person is doing a microphone sound check. It is to check clarity, levels and balance. So, it was interesting to wake up hearing these words. It is like a heavenly sound check is taking place. I then heard these words from the Book of James, chapter 1, verses 2, 3 & 4,

“2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I wonder if too many of God’s people are trying to figure out what is going on by gauging the world around us? I hear statements like, “This is what I heard but this is what I see.” I surely understand and I get why there are questions, concerns and confusion. Personally, my world has been altered on so many levels but then I remind myself of Bible story after Bible story where absolute defeat turned into a greater victory than expected when the narration of events was written by God and not man. Here are just a few…

Young Joseph was given a dream and a coat of many colors that promised him authority, honor and favor but the promise did not play out like Joseph thought they would in his young mind. God’s narrative quite honestly seemed at best cruel and harsh; betrayal, slavery, isolation, abandonment, false accusation, imprisonments— but then the promise came to pass. The journey looked nothing like the dream but the outcome was so much greater and saved a nation in a time of great famine!

Then there was Moses. He went to Egypt as a deliverer of the Israelites but I guarantee you that each time he told Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” and the Israelites labor was increased and plagues came upon the land that they most likely not only questioned his authenticity but also did not view him as a deliverer. I imagine the accusations against Moses and Aaron were numerous. But God’s narrative once again played out much differently than even Moses expected. Not only were they delivered but their enemies were defeated.

Let’s not forget Lazarus! He was a personal friend of Jesus; a family friend where he found a home. Basically, Lazarus was an “insider” and counted among Jesus’ inner circle. When he gets sick his sisters know what to do…go get Jesus! Surely he will not let his personal friend die. He will come quickly and heal his friend. But no. He delays and almost seemingly strolls without any urgency to the home of his friend. He’s not only late, but Lazarus has been in the grave for days. The pain felt by all is real and raw. The questions of “where were you” and “if only you had been here” were intermingled with such deep grief. Yet, once again our God was not late but He was narrating a different story than anyone understood. The natural was not going to dictate the sovereignty of God or His ways. Although Lazarus was dead and it appeared final (nothing could be done)— then Jesus showed up and spoke, “Come forth!”

Last, Jesus came through a virgin birth, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands with only a small lunch and raised the dead. His disciples knew He was their long awaited Messiah. They had such hope, such promise and so much confidence in Him. They had seen the miracles and watched power flow from His hands. They knew that victory had come into a world of oppression. But then their precious Jesus was arrested, betrayed, beaten, crucified and put into a gave. Can you imagine the grief, the shock, the confusion and the questions. I am sure that there were many moments of great division as His disciples and followers tried to figure out what had just happened and who was at fault. I would imagine that there were fingers pointed at one another and accusations made. Pain often looks for a reason or for “what went wrong and who is to blame?” It was not a pretty sight…where had love and unity gone? But then the third day came…God’s narrative once again prevailed in the greatest victory known to mankind happened in the greatest moment of division and despair.

Here we are again…

2021 has begun with what many are perceiving as the greatest defeat they have seen in their lifetime. An increasingly horrific global pandemic, oppression and evil manifesting like the plagues of Egypt, economic ruin for so many and the shock in America upon a church that prayed, repented for the sins of their nation, humbled themselves before the Lord and walked in faith regarding what they heard the Spirit speaking to them…then the opposite happened. But even when the narrative on earth looks nothing like what we thought it would— does that mean that we have been defeated? It surely looks like absolute defeat (for our freedom, for the unborn, for our children, for our safety and for righteousness to prevail). But God…

In this place of what appears to be contradiction to our faith suddenly fingers are pointing at one another, people are in pain, in grief and in confusion. They are looking for someone to blame or clinging to the narrative that they thought would occur. But God’s narrative always has a deeper work to be done.

What if the “testing of our faith” is upon us so that we become steadfast, complete and lack nothing? Maybe in the midst of emotional turmoil and deep grief we should stop trying to figure out the Almighty and begin to “count it all joy” that our faith is being tested. Maybe we should stop pointing fingers and instead raise our heads so that we see the face of God. Maybe…just maybe, a much deeper work is being done.

For me— my personal losses and pain is bringing up dross that needed to be removed. Places that I didn’t even know that I had held unresolved issues have suddenly been uncapped so that I can be washed and purified by His blood.

This is my “sound check” moment. It’s like God has put a stethoscope to my heart and is saying, “Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4.” I believe this is happening for all who are willing. He’s clearing and purifying the sound of our hearts. He’s balancing and aligning us to His heart, His ways and His pure sound. He’s removing every obstacle that blocks the pure sound of His good news and perfect love.

This is our James 1: 2,3,4 time. Let us count it all joy and then watch a greater victory than we ever imagined come forth as we see a bride without spot or wrinkle emerge. We have not been defeated…we are having our faith tested and it is time to allow Him to make every adjustment needed.

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Two Types of Wrestles: One With God and One Against God

By Kathi Pelton

Two months ago the Spirit of the Lord told me that 2021 would be a “wrestle or a dance” for his people. He extended an invitation to enter the dance with him but he also made it clear to me that many would not receive his invitation. The ones who do not take his hand and dance with him will walk according to their own steps (and wisdom) resulting in a painful wrestle. This word helped me to continue to fully yield and surrender to his invitation to follow his lead and keep my eyes fixed on his.

We are less than two weeks into 2021 and I keep hearing people say how they are wrestling with what it happening in our world, with what is true, what is from God and what they are seeing with their eyes. Quite honestly, I don’t think that there is anyone who hasn’t had a bit of a wrestle because the world is shouting at us to look upon the “things of the world” and we wrestle to keep our eyes on things above. What was once familiar in this world has suddenly become unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Yet, God has not changed and he is still our Comforter.

When I began to find myself wrestling to “keep my eyes on things above”, I asked the Lord a very serious question, “Have I left the dance that you are leading and entered the wrestle that you warned us about?”

He responded by revealing to me that there are two types of wrestle— one that rebels against his leadership and one that wrestles down the flesh to enter into full submission and surrender to his leading.

After Jacob wrestled with God his name was changed from Jacob to Israel. Israel means, “The one who has prevailed with God.” His wrestle changed and aligned his life to prevail with God. To prevail means: To prove more powerful than opposing forces; to be victorious.

God has prevailed over his enemies! He has prevailed against sin and death; he is inviting us into “prevailing with him!” While this is our desired posture- often we first have to wrestle down the narrative that this world has written upon our souls. The narrative of doubt, skepticism, unbelief, defeat and fear always fight against God’s prevailing victory like a boat tossed about by a raging sea.

Those carnal narratives can lead us to hold back from God, to manipulate, to rebel and to enter into a “flight” rather than a fight mode. The Lord revealed to me that the wrestle against that which would prevent me from “prevailing with God” is part of the dance that we are in. We are wrestling down the flesh that rebels against God for the sake of allowing surrender to make us one with him. As we are one with him, we become one in prevailing with him. No longer do we battle from a hope for victory but we battle from victory that has already been established.

The wrestle that we DO NOT want to enter into is the wrestle that causes us to walk according to the flesh rather than the Spirit. That posture doesn’t wrestle with God but against God. It tries to wrestle down truth, covenant, love, righteousness and oneness. It could be compared to when a married couple postures themselves against one another and begins to demand their way to the point of breaking the bond of oneness, defiling the covenant and eventually walking away from one another.

Marriage can be compared to a dance in which we have to learn steps that submit to one another, prefer one another, lay down demands and change our ways as needed. Sometimes we step on one another’s toes until we get down the steps so that we can move in unity and oneness. Marriage can feel like a wrestle at times while we learn to surrender to love but when you “fight for prevailing together” it transforms the individuals into one flesh; yet, many prefer flight from the fight for oneness…and just walk away. Just like in marriage, to wrestle (fight) for oneness through a surrendered heart and feet that follow his lead is a fight worthy of entering into. It is the fight against all that is within us that rebels against God and his ways. This will end in a name change! You too will be called, “One who prevailed with God!”

Be careful to not fix your eyes on this world or become overwhelmed by all the chaos in it. When that happens most people enter into one of two postures. One is to become enraged and bitter, causing them to focus their eyes on the world and charge forward in their own zeal and opinions (which is foolishness to God). The other is to completely disengage. For instance to stop praying, worshipping, reading the Word and to comfort themselves with a posture of denial and distancing themselves from both the things happening in the world and from God. Neither posture will allow you to “prevail with God!”

For those who want to walk in their own ways, live in their own opinions and lead their own steps (and who call themselves believers), they will find themselves tripping over God’s feet and wrestling with rebellion.

I normally find writing such an easy form of communication in my life and yet trying to describe these two different wrestles is proving difficult. I only pray that I have communicated it clearly. 2021 can be a dance, but sometimes we will have to wrestle against the temptation to create our own steps or move according to our natural tendencies. We have never been this way before! Especially for those of us in the United States- we have never even dreamed of walking through what we are suddenly facing.

Know this, the dancefloor for this dance that “prevails with God” is in the heavenly realms, not the earthly realm (although it will greatly impact the earthly realms). Our eyes must be fixed on things above and our thoughts must be upon those things that are “praiseworthy.” I want to remind you of one key that He gave me when He asked me to enter this dance, he said, “Keep your eyes fixed on mine and your feet will follow.”

YOU CAN WRESTLE WITH GOD BUT DO NOT WRESTLE AGAINST GOD! The wrestle with him will cause you to prevail with him. The wrestle against him will cause only pain and defeat. Fight for oneness with him!

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Our Bill of Rights Renewed Through Thanksgiving

By Kathi Pelton

I had an experience yesterday while resting that came in an unusual and unexpected way. It came as I was watching a very innocent older TV series that had similar scenes as what I am about to share. The Lord came upon me while watching this and it and turned the very scenes that I was watching into a “now encounter” that was deeply significant to his heart.

In this time I watched American Christian couples in their homes grumbling and complaining about what is happening in our nation (obviously, not without cause). Father’s were enraged and mothers were fearful. The atmosphere was one of defeat, fury and despair. In one home the children were in another separate room from their parents and they were sewing an new American flag. As their father shouted in anger they wondered if they should hide the flag that they had planned to raise. The children looked confused and fearful as their father continued cursing their nation. Then, in another home, there was an immigrant family who had come to America for freedom from a communist nation. They understood the great loss that was taking place but rather than cursing they began to bless our nation. This immigrant father began to quote the words of Article 1 of the Bill of Rights (pictured below) and he was leading his family in a song of thanksgiving for a nation that was founded upon these freedoms and rights (freedom of worship, religion, speech and press). As his voice went forth it was heard by households near and far causing repentance to touch the hearts of the fathers. They wept in repentance for complaining and even cursing our nation. Then they began to thank God for the blessings of America. They began to once again bless our beautiful nation and the children’s tears ceased and smiles of joy came upon their faces. A spirit of heaviness was replace by the oil of gladness. Then all of these families gathered together to bless our nation and thank God for the freedoms we have enjoyed (the freedoms that men and women have given their lives to uphold). This posture of thanksgiving and blessing caused a white flag pole to be raised. Then the children brought the new American flag that was then raised upon this flagpole. Together they began to sing, “America the Beautiful.”

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

After seeing all of this I saw God hold up our Bill of Rights and I could hear him decreeing article one over our nation. I believe that we are to decree and pray for it with him. We are to close the mouths of cursing and open the mouths of thanksgiving and praise. May God shed his grace on our nation and crown us with brotherhood from sea to shining sea! May the flag of freedom be raised by those with childlike faith and joyful hearts. May father’s words turn from cursing to blessing and mother’s hearts move from fear to courage. Lastly, may we protect what many immigrated to our nation to enjoy…FREEDOM!

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