When No One Else is Watching…

Everyone knows that God chose a shepherd boy to slay a giant, but why a shepherd?

God chose David and displayed His glory through David’s life, making unconditional covenant promises,  “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”  (II Samuel 7:16)  But why David?

David did not ‘score points’ with God by slaying Goliath or championing God’s honor in the face of scorners.  God was watching what David was doing when no one else was watching.  

Most of us know that David was the youngest son of seven and given the lowly job of tending sheep out in the fields.  We’re familiar with his bravery, fighting lions and bears who attack the lambs.  Who doesn’t want that courage and strength?  I really believe though, that God’s eye was on much more…

David was outstanding in a job that nobody wanted.  A shepherd extraordinaire who:

  • never bragged or broadcasted his exploits.  No one in his family seemed to highly regard David – he was initially excluded when his brothers were presented to Samuel.  In fact, his father Jesse could say nothing about David except, “he is tending the sheep”.  David’s fierce courage only became known when he sought to convince King Saul that he could slay Goliath.
  • risked his life with no apparent motive for reward or acknowledgement or even possibility of promotion!  No sheep would celebrate when rescued, neither would David receive an award, trophy, or bonus.
  • worshiped God in the dark and lonely places, praising and exalting without audience or witness except God alone.   Although gifted, David did not perform, he worshiped.

I believe there are such ‘young Davids’ in the Body of Christ who may risk their lives as a servant extraordinaire for their Father.  They may also risk reputation, position, and livelihood and find themselves in lowly places but it doesn’t matter.  They have a task at hand and will excel even when no promotion is possible, no one acknowledges or esteems them and in fact, no one is even watching.   And out in that field they will worship, without choir, without musicians and without special effects.  

Perhaps we won’t meet these brethren until we get to heaven and even then they may be far closer to God’s throne!  There we may find caretakers to the infirm, single parents, elderly believers, disabled brethren…and some whose only ministry was to pray – and giants fell because of them!

Most everyone imagines being a hero, catching the applause, and receiving an award.  Only the Lord though, can change hearts to be like this David’s – fixed to excel at whatever task the Father entrusts,  a heart that worships the Lord with exuberance, just because He’s with us and worthy to be praised.  

God bestows gifts and talents to us all, perhaps they come forth and bear fruit through faithfulness in those lonely fields.  But this communion with God prepares us…when the giant looms overhead, when the enemy encroaches, when crisis arises we’ll know as David did: ‘victory is mine’!

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep….”  

What a resume!  What God is fashioning and refining in us may be unseen to the whole world but He gives life to the given gifts within us…and He will be exalted through them, even if no one else is watching.  

Well, IS a Minute a Long Time?

 

stopwatch IIMiss Chafe, my 4th grade teacher, always gave an easy ‘bonus question’ at the end of every test, something impossible to get wrong.  To this day I remember this one, “Is a minute a long time?”  Who wouldn’t say ‘no’?…but the class was divided!

Well, is a minute a long time?

Unfortunately, our culture so highly values immediacy that any downtime or ‘waiting’ is seen as wasteful loss…inefficient and unacceptable.  Mental pop-ups condition us to cyber-check and multitask.  We wouldn’t dream of waiting a minute to hear from Google or any of the ‘answer gizmos’ of our day.   Fastest car, quickest download… instant camera and telegram = instagram.  

But God’s best – His strength, His revelation, His indwelling – only come to those who wait!

I remembered Miss Chafe’s question while praying.  Do I get up upon my last request and start my day?  Can I linger on, for one minute, and wait for the Lord to speak to me?  Can I pause, even a minute, during prayer time to allow the Holy Spirit to align my prayers with God’s will?

Can I meditate upon a verse for 60 seconds, allowing the Holy Spirit to bring it to life in my heart?

God awaits us and often draws us in through fiery trials, unmet needs, and challenging griefs.  But ‘suffering’ is not the designated time to wait upon God.  The Bible calls that designated time ‘Today’. 

Take the ‘minute challenge’ but with reverent trepidation…who brings a stop watch when meeting with a King?  Sixty seconds exposes what’s in our hearts, the importance of our agendas and priorities.

Could taking a minute before praying make all the difference?

“Once you are sure that you are talking to the One who loves you intensely and the One who has all power to do anything in this universe, i.e. once we see the greatness of God, the greatness of His power, and the greatness of His love, then we are ready to pray.”   Zac Poonen

Oh Lord, let one minute turn into two, into three…let us lose track of time in Your presence.   Lord, let us linger not for just ‘an answer’…but to to know You and fellowship with you.  What burdens Your heart?  “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening…”

cropped-oil_lamp2.jpg

“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning…”

 

He is Sovereign Over All Our Enemies

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12                   

The problems you are having with your husband, your in-laws, your co-workers, and your kids, are not with them. No, they are flesh and blood. The battle is really with powers and principalities, Satan and his demons. You must fight spiritual enemies with spiritual warfare.  (Excerpt from 4 Rules For Fighting Your Enemy, http://www.amountainoffaith.com )

We don’t often think of “powers and principalities” or “Satan and his demons” as the cause of so much distress, calamity and grief.  The article quoted above holds important truths worth meditating upon.

Our faith in God will deepen exponentially as our trust finds deep roots in His sovereignty over everything – including our enemies.  The word of God demonstrates this most profoundly when God Himself lets down a protective hedge, allows the enemy to encroach, and shakes our heart to rise up in faith.  In this way He reveals Himself to us, His faithfulness and power – a great reward indeed.  

The Lord showed this again to me during a long distance drive last weekend…..

Although my husband had repented from a period of backsliding in our marriage, he is plagued by attacks of darkness,  partly due to entanglements with those who practice witchcraft.  I see and experience evidence of this witchcraft.  One minor occurrence he reports happens in his agency truck – hazard lights will go on, A/C will turn on or off on its own, warning lights will flash for no reason.  

It was inconsequential to me until in our own car with our two cats and lots of stuff on that long distance drive….

The A/C went on high and cold.  When I complained to my husband, he insisted, “I didn’t touch it! Maybe this is like my vehicle, things going on and off on their own…”  

“Well”, I drove on, “I don’t care if the A/C, the hazards or anything else flashes on as long as nothing touches the engine or brakes!”

Shortly thereafter, while in a middle lane of a major highway and with 30 miles left to our journey, the car started shaking and jerking.  Bob immediately laid a hand on the dashboard and we both prayed.  The shaking and jerking stopped, occurred again and we continued praying for the Lord to bring us home safely.  

Which He did.

Mechanical? Supernatural?  Intentional or not, our trust must be in the One who claims total ownership of our lives.  We are His “treasured possession”, we “are bought with a price.”    (Deut 7:6, 14:2;  I Corinthians 6:20, 7:23)

Remember that our Lord has paid all the price for us; there is no mortgage or lien upon us; we have therefore no right to give a portion of ourselves to Satan. And he has bought us entirely from head to foot, every power, every passion, and every faculty, all our time, all our goods, all that we call our own, all that makes up ourselves in the largest sense of that term; we are altogether God’s.   Charles Spurgeon, “Bought with a Price” excerpt

Yes, our life is not our own, we are to surrender and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice unto God.  But our Owner takes full responsibility for us, providing, defending, and seeing us through every situation.   

In these end times, may the Lord teach us how to spiritually battle, lead us to dig deep into His word and stand firm behind His living promises to us…..waiting upon Him for the appointed time of victory.

 

Can Animals Preach the Gospel?

Can they proclaim the Good News and the glory of God?

Lovers of scripture can indeed find numerous examples of God expressing His great power and divine purposes through His creation.  At God’s command insects, animals, and forces of nature plagued and destroyed the world power of Egypt.  Balaam’s donkey spoke, animals obeyed the call to the ark, and at Christ’s call schools of fish arrived to the disciples’ boat.

“For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.  (Psalm 50:10-12)

Creation declares God’s glory and He reveals it to us through the most minute details as well as the vast and endless universe.  He reveals so that we may acknowledge His awesome power.    God knows us…His will is that we come to know Him.

God’s creation reveals His glory but also His great love and divine providence.  God uses His creation to intervene into the lives of people often as divine appointments, impossible to plan or replicate.  Reigning over creation, His will often supersedes natural order, such as a ravenous bird delivering food…

 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”  (I Kings 17:4)

Or perhaps a tiny kitten going forth in the rain.  This five minute video expresses such ‘divine appointment’….

vet saved by kitten

Desperate  soldier saved by kitten

View video here

There are countless true heroic stories of dogs and other animals rescuing, guiding, and ministering to people.  Martha Thompson is one blogger and author with such a story to tell in her book,  Giving Paws, where an unlikely service dog enables her to face the many life challenges of a hidden disability.     

giving paws book

The story is as beautiful as the cover photo

There is no way to schedule such divine appointments nor could we ever arrange to have our deepest needs and hidden grief so touched through them.   These stories and perhaps even our own move us to laugh, cry and marvel.

Looking deeper,  marvel at this – God intervenes in our lives through His creation, gifting us with His mercy and revealing His greatness. As a cherished gift conveys the love of the giver, so even animals given to us can express – even silently preach – the good news of God’s love reaching into our lives.  The Lord ministers, heals, and intervenes into our lives for the divine purpose of drawing us to Himself.

When creation intervenes it is an living invite from our Creator.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, is the One holding dominion over all creatures and creation…

For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1:16

Our furry friends, designed and often gifted by God, can teach, guide, love, rescue, and befriend…and perhaps they can preach as well!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:7-10)

Lord, reveal Yourself to us today through the gifts of Your hand.  Let thanksgiving lead us on a journey to acknowledge You and seek You in all circumstances.  Draw our hearts to look beyond every gift and “fix our eyes on Jesus”, “the Author and Finisher of our faith”.   Amen.

 

What Kind of Grass Are You Eating?

God made King Nebuchadnezzar one of the greatest kings to rule the world.  Unlike Pharaoh of Egypt whom God raised to display His power and awe (Exodus 9:16) and later destroyed in the Red Sea, King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful pagan king with ordained purpose.  God chose and empowered this world ruler to exact judgment upon His chosen people.  He witnessed supernatural power through godly exiles such as Daniel but none of this ‘favor’ changed the king’s heart nor brought him to a saving revelation of God.

He had to be separated – stripped of all position, honor, power and even stripped of sanity.  Although led to eat grass like an animal, King Nebuchadnezzar was covered by God, “drenched with the dew of heaven”.  Appointed suffering and deprivation prepared this king to know God and proclaim God’s glory to the world.  (see Daniel chapter 4)

This is not just a fantastic testimony of a world power, it is a revelation of God’s way.   Our Almighty God still chooses to reveal His power and glory through frail and faulty vessels and most often to do so He separates us, strips us, and deprives us of worldly and fleshly pleasures and positions.   With divine purpose, God can drive us to eat the grass of illness, deprivation, anguish, and ‘dethronements’ of all kinds. 

The ‘dew of heaven’ is evident upon the lives of many believers such as Terri Nida.  While fasting and seeking God’s will, she fainted with a precise fall that would leave her a quadriplegic.  Separated and ‘dethroned’ from her old life, she testifies of God’s divine purpose and sustaining power in her site, Diary of a Quadriplegic.  In her most recent post, To Live Is Christ, (9/29/17) she extols and praises God…

 

terri nida“Praise be to God for my wheelchair. I believe through this trial, he is saving my soul. I believe through this trial, he is making me whole. God is making me into the woman I always wanted to be — maybe not externally, but by leaps and bounds internally. All those years I felt sorry for myself and tried to drink my troubles away because I felt so empty inside. I’d rather be sitting in this wheelchair than sitting in a dark apartment drunk on wine. I’d rather be sitting in this wheelchair than mindlessly going to work every day wondering who I am and what is my purpose; always wanting more, more, more from my life. I’d rather be sitting in this wheelchair than living as a lost soul in this world without a relationship with God, stuck in a rut with no way out, wondering why am alive?   Read whole post here:   To Live Is Christ

Through whatever ‘grass’ we are compelled to eat – physical and/or emotional affliction, deprivation, grief, or loss, may we be “drenched with the dew of heaven” –  God’s presence and favor – and find encouragement by trusting in God’s sovereignty over every detail of the appointed affliction.  I pray that the Lord reveal Himself in greater measure, refilling us with the joy of His divine purpose.

Before He answers let us “acknowledge that Heaven rules”.

 

 

God in the Midst of a Jail Cell

200183103-001

The Lord revealed important truths to me as I shared the Gospel with parolees and inmates.  One is eloquently expressed by Charles Spurgeon in “What the Farm Laborers Can Do and What They Cannot Do”  Farm Sermons, The Spurgeon Archives. (great article, can read:  here)

Let us now think of what you cannot do. You cannot, after the seed has left your hand, cause it to put forth life. 

I learned this best when working with Ms. “M”, who was on parole for manslaughter.   Ms. M was very receptive to parole and a positive working relationship was easily established.  She was also very receptive to the Gospel and was grateful to receive a Bible, sermon tapes and church invites.  Home visits were meaningful as her two children were happy to see me.  Ms. M brought her children to special church events however, while she wanted her children to learn of the Bible, she herself remained carnal and unsurrendered.

I became a bit really discouraged, it seemed that two years of counsel and prayer yielded little. In fact, things worsened…Ms. M relapsed into drug use and became non compliant to treatment.  I was very concerned as a violation for a violent felony offender would result in significant jail time, a hardship for a single mother.  After a two years of community living, would she now go back to jail?

Finally, there was no choice.  Arresting her unleashed a torrent of drama, tears, and even anger….then pleading….but the die was cast.

I transported her to Rikers Island, shut her in a holding cell, and lodged the warrant.

Normally a VFO (violent felony offender) would be mandated to minimum one year incarceration however, it seemed that an exception was happening for Ms. M.  In fact, she was released within several weeks, mandated again to a program, and reported to my office.  I was ready for the same-old same-old…..but things had changed.

Her heart erupted as she shared….

When you locked me in that cell I sat on that bench crying, my head in my hands…I was so angry and felt like such a failure…when I opened my eyes I noticed a torn piece of paper on the bench.  It was just a scrap from a Bible tract….on it was half a verse from Acts.  When I read it I broke down and gave my life to the Lord!

I was speechless.  After all the sharing, inviting, godly counsel and admonishments, a half a verse in a jail cell brought her to repentance and surrender!  I could see how the Lord moved on her behalf, expediting her release, returning her home to her children, and revealing to her His faithfulness.  She planted herself in church and opened her life to serving God.

I often share this testimony with others to encourage them (and remind myself!) that we cannot “make anything happen” but God Himself takes action when we are faithful to sow seeds, serve as He calls, and pray for Him to intervene.

I am so grateful when the Lord confounds me!

 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  (I Corinthians 3:7)

plant growing

Only God Can Make It Happen

 

When God Keeps Us Waiting….

The work of God in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for…

Tremendous and miraculous works of God, the testimonies of the saints, and the glory of God’s creation all build and grow our faith…and rightly so!  The stories of ordinary men in the hands of our extraordinary God  bring hope to our challenges and trials.

But rarely does our spiritual focus point to the faithfulness of the spiritual giants while waiting for God to move, to rescue, to answer their prayers.  Who really marvels at Joseph’s patience and endurance while waiting years in a dungeon?  With plenty of days and months for discouragement and unbelief, Joseph retained God’s favor by excelling while waiting.

True faith believes that waiting is never wasted or futile but rather a prescribed time of unexpected service, preparation and testing without which God’s perfect will might not go forward.  

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
(Phil 2:13)

Simeon waited years, perhaps his whole life, to meet the Savior of the world and was not disappointed as an elderly man, holding God incarnate in his arms.  Did Simeon imagine that those seemingly endless seasons of God’s silence would mark him for eternity in God’s word?

Waiting often tests us and often weeds out unbelief.  Exodus 32 presents the tragic story of people who refused to wait on God….they foolishly created a ‘god’ and missed the greatness of God’s plan for their lives.

The hardest part of faith is the last half hour….Pastor David Wilkerson

Faithful- even if not always perfect- waiting upon God yields much for God’s people, whether they are waiting for urgent deliverance, miraculous healing, an open womb, or the Savior of the world.   And so I pray…

Lord, encourage those of us who are heavy hearted… dog sad

Renew our hearts with anticipation….

dog at window

Keep us steadfast at our assigned post….

Sasha at TSC cropped

no matter how small our post may seem.

Lord, help us to study your great promises and commit to remember:

The Promiser Keeps His promises.