153. Supernatural and extraordinary – it is for me!

“He is not the soul of Nature, nor any part of Nature. He inhabits eternity: He dwells in a high and holy place: heaven is His throne, not his vehicle, earth is his footstool, not his vesture. One day he will dismantle both and make a new heaven and earth. He is not to be identified even with the ‘divine spark’ in man. He is God and not man.”   

C.S. Lewis, Miracles

The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah are poetic.  Reading in English would not make it clear, but to the scholars who can appreciate it, the Hebrew text is quite phenomenal.  Isaiah was a singing prophet.  I can only imagine how he would sing the sharp judgments over idolatry, godlessness and sin over evil cities and hardened hearts in a deep angry voice. On the other hand I can hear him in an anguished cry to repent and a passionate joyous call declaring the loving promises of God over his people.  Isaiah feels like my dear friend, sometimes the wise and loving grandfather I never knew and most often the trusted mentor I desperately need.

I wonder how the words of Isaiah 61 would have sounded in his voice and words.  It is words of magnificence about the healing, salvation, liberation and restoration for the loved ones of a miracle-working God who has everything under control.  Can you “hear” him in you inner being?

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidingsto the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim libertyto the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beautyfor ashes,
The oil of joyfor mourning,
The garment ofpraisefor the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Just these first verses stir up a passion in me to experience the Spirit of God and speak the words of God.

All the heartache, desperation and destruction of a broken world could find solace, comfort and salvation from these life-changing words of Scripture.  It is significant how much emphasis is on mourning and tears.  The promise of freedom from the limitations of spiritual imprisonment by the evil woes of life is a powerful promise of deliverance.  Life breeds fear, anger, sexual sin and other kinds of wickedness to enslave us to the devil. Supernatural release and restoration are promised to all who seek salvation in the grace of God.

And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

The brokenness of our world is a ruin of tears and depression.  Fear and bondage of any kind keep us locked up and limit our potential. The good news is that the century old remedy for all oppression still stands as the powerful solution to all desolation of life.  It is the outstanding theme of the Psalms.

Praise God!  Look up and praise your Saviour and Lord.  Know that He will deal with the ruins and misery of your life.  Grab hold of his greatness and goodness like a drowning man in a raging sea.  “See” yourself as a tree of righteousness.

In the words of this same prophet as few chapters earlier, God says to you:

O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
(Isaiah 54:11)

You are the jewels in his crown. (Malachi 3:16-18)

You are the afflicted one who are going to rebuild, who will surrender control to the Holy Spirit to initiate peace and restoration of the walls of your city, your family relationships and all the wreckage of life around you.  You will announce freedom to the prisoners and live in the comfort of your loving Father.

Think with me through the details of this Word from God.  The consolation of God’s presence and intervention is to be found in the reality of daily living. It is the oil of joy and the garment of praise that heal and cover.  Oil is what we take into our bodies for nourishment and medication.  A garment is what we wear on the outside.  We do not go naked.  Our world is obsessed with clothing.  Just think of the percentage clothing stores in any shopping centre.

A garment of praise is probably the most beautiful and most elegant clothing possible.  Think of a cloak embroidered with the finest gemstones and silk thread.  Your foundations in sapphires…

Years ago my mother had a dream about my husband and I.  She was in our driveway with her car, struggling to unload a heavy chest from the trunk.  We stood on the front porch and did not offer any assistance.  She knew she had to open the chest and show us what is inside.  When she opened it, it was full of the most beautiful cloaks she has ever seen.  My mother was a seamstress herself and appreciated fabrics and embroidery. She told me of the dream and announced that she will pray for an interpretation.  Early the next morning she phoned.

God said: We had to wear our testimony and Word revelation so that others would be blessed by it.  The jewels and gold were the tests that refined us as people and our Rhema-words were the jewels that we spoke when we testify of the goodness of the Lord.  We had to “look” the work of God in our lives.

What can I say?  I would be most flattered if the people say of me: Oh, here comes old Praise the Lord again!

Dress up Pebble pal!  Wear your praise.  Break loose from the bondage of depression with a constant awareness of the gemstones in your heart.  Every tear is a diamond of victory and joy, recorded by God.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? 
(Psalms 56:8)

Let our words be the words of Jesus of whom is said:

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.  (John 3:34)

 

 

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152. The arm of God.

“There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (man’s search for God) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” C.S. Lewis, Miracles.

It is a most miraculous moment if you want it.  The instant that time stands still and you know the God of the universe has cast his all-seeing gaze on you.  He has seen your fear, He has answered your call, He reacts to you and acts on your behalf. You see his arm moves… in your favour.

The Lord has made bare His holy arm
In the eyes of all the nations;
And all the ends of the earth shall see
The salvation of our God.
  (Isaiah 52:10)

Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him
. (Isaiah 40:10)

God is baring his arm for you.  It is as if I see the action of rolling up his sleeve.  It is the action of somebody who is ready to work.  All his power and goodness flow into his arm and hand that He stretches out to touch you.

Moses sang about God’s hand and arm with his powerful touch on his people.

“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces
. (Exodus 15:6)

The Psalmist had a lot to say about God’s arm and hand.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. (Psalms 98:1)

Many centuries later Mary sang about God’s arm in her song of praise when the angel brought her the news of her pregnancy.

He has shown strength with His arm…  (Luke 1:51)

You might say this is all good for Biblical times.  What about today?  Can I still rely on a miracle when I live in fear of the day?  Our struggle against all the evil around us: destruction, divorce, deception, disfigurement, dishonesty and so much more can be overwhelming.  We try our best in the world given to us with what we get to equip us for a daunting task.  If we look around us we might doubt the possibility of a miracle – rightly so.

The post-modern wailing about the non-existence of God casts a dark shadow over the faith of our childhood, if indeed we were so lucky to grow up with faith.  So many children grow up in a godless and god-cursing environment.  Is there extraordinary support available?  Might there be something like a miracle?

The only way to meet the God of miracles is through Jesus, whom He sent as the incarnation of himself to reveal his heart and mind to humanity.  What is the most notorious fact about the life of Jesus before his death?  His miracles- of course.  In our world with the squeal of New Atheism the miracles are attacked in a mocking and scoffing way to ridicule anybody so naïve to believe them. Water into wine – come on! A virgin pregnant – we all know where babies come from!

Christians often draw back and think they do not have the answers, or their answers suddenly feel inadequate.  The counter argument is that of science and the superiority of all that can be explained in real terms.  There are however, so many things that science are still grappling with.  They can describe energy, but not explain it.  They can define consciousness, but not explain it or the origin of it.  They cannot deny the existence of both energy and consciousness and therefore they have to accept the existence of something they cannot explain.  Why should they demand an explanation of the claim that Jesus was both God and man at the same time?

It is very important to acknowledge and know the normal course of business, to concede a miracle.  If the dead regularly came to life, it would not be extraordinary.  If 5000 homeless men are fed from one picnic basket every week, we would soon be very familiar with it, and it would be nothing special.

A miracle is God’s supernatural – above and beyond the laws of nature that rule our world daily, action in our lives.  It is his extraordinary intervention into my specific situation.

Often the most significant miracles take place inside us when fear and anger in the deepest crevasses of our heart and thoughts are stirred and healed by the Holy Spirit.  God rolls up his sleeves and get to work to heal me.

Circumstances are a field of action for miracles.  How would we ever know what a miracle is, if we never need one?  There, in the corner of discouragement and panic, we feel God’s hand touch us from an outstretched arm to reach us, however far we might have wandered off away from him.

 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm;therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)

Crucial in these processes of God’s action in our life is to see, to acknowledge and to remember the miracle, in order to make it part of our testimony of praise to God.  Miracles are often judged and categorized in our mind.  We think of small and big miracles. It is important to see all of them and express your gratitude to the Lord.  The insight of the Holy Spirit alerts us to the awesome work of God in our lives.

The testimony of miracles is the gold refined by firementioned in Revelation 3:18.  The Psalmist warns against a superficial attitude when God’s intervention is to be taken seriously.

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. 
(Psalms 106:7)

Even the disciples did not hold the miracles in high regard.

For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. (Mark 6:52, AMPC)

Strong words indeed!  Let us hold the intervention of the mighty arm of God in high esteem and lift our testimony up on the altar of our pebbles of perpetuity on the banks of the Jordan (Joshua 4).  Then when people ask: why is this altar of testimony built, we can answer with the high praises of God in our mouth.  In doing so we will avoid the harsh insult of callous hearts and foolish, superficial lives.

 

 

 

 

151. Look… and see the mystery.

We live in a visual world these days. To children and adults alike, education and entertainment are visual, dramatic, dynamic and constantly improved.  In classrooms and boardrooms the new tech is used to make people understand and remember as well as stimulate creativity and initiative.  The days of dusty chalk on blackboards are long gone.

Long, long ago, the Greek philosopher, Socrates, was opposed to “the art of writing”.  He thought that writing everything down would spoil the ability to memorize facts.  People would be complacent when information is available in writing and not make the effort to engage the retaining faculties of the mind. [I include his reasoning at the end of this piece – interesting to think about it in terms of our modern day “wisdom”.]

Screens in all shapes and sizes are all around us, in the workplace and in our homes.  Just think for a moment what was available a half century ago. Going to the movies was a special night out.  The drive-in was the go-to place for the latest Hollywood productions.  Now all of those are available on the couch with the world of Holly- and Bollywood and so much more at the touch of the remote button. Students study online in virtual lecture halls at their own convenience.  Where are the days of small tape recorders in the front row of university classes?  (Not that I long for any of this – I enjoy the world of information at my fingertips.)

Time travel with me, not to the days of Socrates or even the beginnings of writing in Egypt – further back.  Take the big steps, like only our God-given imagination can, to the days of Noah – yes, so far back.  To Noah, God set up the screen of the universe and said: Look!  He displayed the heavenly splendour in a colour-arch to serve us to this day, as steady and beautiful as ever.

“Hear” the surround sound and “see” the biggest screen of the firmament to “read” God’s art of writing. He says:

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you,

 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 

 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:9,12,13,16)

When God says: look, it is not a casual invitation to take a quick look.  When God says: look, your life depends on it.  Take a look, pause and calmly think about it, understand and invite the insight of the Holy Spirit into your mind for the quickening of your inner being and live – truly live!

To hear and see have never been so important.  To look with your mind and heart fully involved, is to receive the instruction of the biggest screen ever – the heavenly skies of unending majesty stretching further and wider than you could ever imagine over past and future in a moment of eternity.

Look at the rainbow!  Know what it means!

It is vital to know that the rainbow is always there, always visible.  We need the right optical elements to see it.  We need a prism to see God’s light “divided” into colours.  That is what a prism does.  It divides light. The rainbow gives us a taste, so to speak, of the manifold power of the covenant promises.   Just think how lovely it is to see the rainbow when the light shines through the shower door, or the kitchen window, or the water drops on the bricks.

Just the other day I stared in wonder in the bathroom when the chandelier caught the first sun of the morning and the bathroom was bathed in colour.  I rejoiced and asked God for a chandelier in my spirit to always see the full spectrum of his covenant.

What do I need to “see” the rainbow at all times?  I need a life-prism.  The life-prism is faith.  How do I get faith when my circumstances toss me in the stormy seas and I feel I am sinking?

I need the glasses, or contact lenses of the Word of God.  I need to hear the Word – it is the faith building bricks of a godly life.

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17)

The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.  (Romans 10:17, The Message)

We all experience fear very real and very physical.  We never have to fake fear.  It is there and it makes itself known in no uncertain terms.

As physical and real fear presents, as physical and real the rainbow is our sign of outcome and relief.  To see and be filled with the peace of God we need to grab hold of his Word, to know and understand what He has said.

Please read Genesis 9 to hear the beautiful words of God when He gave us the rainbow.

It the golden thread that guarantees the Covenant promises to the end of time.

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.(Revelation 4:3)

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.(Revelation 10:1)

 

 

 

 

 

Socrates:

In fact, it [the art of writing] will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own. You have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding; you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality. Your invention will enable them to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing. And they will be difficult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so.”

 

150. Look… and receive understanding.

It is easy to look. It is difficult to see. I am sure you have had the experience that someone says: look! and you have to say: where, what?  To see what needs to be seen is the not always simple and obvious. We need a looking glass, a special instrument or someone to point it out, to look and truly see.

On a deeper level, we need insight and understanding to discern the true nature of things.  We need to see the invisible. How often do we jump to conclusions when we know one side of the story?  Another witness or the other person involved in a situation could give us a new perspective that could completely change our judgment.  We need to think about it every time we read or hear the news.  One side could be a lie.  To add the other side could bring truth and understanding.

We do not always understand what God is doing in our lives.  To us it might feel that circumstances rule, when they are working in our favour, seen from a different perspective.  There are so many scriptures to support our unqualified obedience to God and his Word.  He is our loving Father and we can trust him fully.  Hear, Pebble pals, as I write, my verse of the day from Bible Gateway slides in. Here is the heart of our blind trust in God always and in all things.

For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. (Psalms 33:4,5)

Praise God!

We need discernment – a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Our looking glass is the Word.  In our secret place with our Dad, in prayer and study, our deepest fear and panic is answered with the overwhelming goodwill of God and his promises to act supernaturally on our behalf.   He can do anything you know.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27)

It is in that secret place (any place where you invite the presence of God in prayer) that the ink on the page comes alive and is “spoken” into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  It is the ultimate source of peace and release from fear.  It is the rhema word that changes us from the inside out. It should be written down and memorized to become part of us.  In Bible language – eat the Word.  Eat and digest, take some time to chew and let it be in your mouth as honey, so sweet.

He told me, “Son of man, eat what you see. Eat this book. Then go and speak to the family of Israel.”

 As I opened my mouth, he gave me the scroll to eat, saying, “Son of man, eat this book that I am giving you. Make a full meal of it!”

So I ate it. It tasted so good—just like honey. (Ezekiel 3:1-3, The Message)

Eat it, because of the devil can, he will steal it away immediately and rob you of the peace and joy the Word of God bring.  All circumstances become misty and small in the light of the living words of God.  Give attention to his Word.

Why?

Fear angered Jesus.

I have already written how I experienced the Holy Spirit as a disciplinarian.  My fear as a serious distrust in God and his intentions to keep me safe, was underlined by a random verse in the New Living Translation that I casually picked up and opened.  [Pebbles 147]

Let us consider the words of Jesus.

And He did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus). (Matthew 13:58)

And He marvelled because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in Him). And He went about among the surrounding villages and continued teaching. (Mark 6:6)

Jesus was shocked by their unbelief.  He knew what He could do if invited and welcomed.  It is exactly as true today.

Afterward He appeared to the eleven apostles themselves as they reclined at table; and He reproved and reproached them for their unbelief (their lack of faith) and their hardness of heart, because they had refused to believe those who had seen Him andlooked at Him attentively after He had risen. (Mark 16:14)

Jesus speaks strong words to his disciples.  There is nothing else that could exert such strong correction from him.

Then He said to Thomas, Reach out your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in My side. Do not be faithless and incredulous, but stop your unbelief and believe! (John20:27)

How big is your storm today?

Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass. (Matthew 8:26, The Message)

It is the contrast between an insult and a compliment.

Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.(Luke 7:9)

My heart cries out to live the faith that Jesus will praise.  It will be my ultimate worship.  I want to be strong and believe in the gust of the storm, when I am tossed and scared. Please Lord, help my unbelief.

Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”(Mark 9:23,24)

What is the answer and solution to fear, doubt and unbelief?

Surrender in prayer – not a greater effort in thought or deed.

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the Word so that it lives in you.  His words are spirit and life.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

 

 

149. Dismembered and dissected – divide and rule!

We cannot fight fear effectively if we do not know what we are up against.  Do we shoot, kick or shout, hide, be silent or argue?  We need knowledge and insight – that clear picture that emerges when we truly see and wisdom to know exactly what to do at the right moment.  We need weapons and words and a strategy for their use.

As I write these words, I recognize them. They are burnt into my heart. Every aspect of the fight is easily categorized as gifts of the Holy Spirit.  We read about them in 1 Corinthians 12 (also Romans 12). They are named and explained to give the reader an unmistakable and understandable layout of the full impact of the Holy Spirit in action within us.  Paul names them in a certain order but explicitly states that they are available as needed.  Let us look at this special endowments of supernatural energy”.

All these gifts are the most effective weapons against fear.

Wisdom and knowledge will bring calm and reason into panic and crisis.  Knowledge sharpens insight to help us understand fully what is going on.  Wisdom paves the way for our action – the right thing at the tight time in the right way.

Then we have access to the gift of faith that strengthens our inner being with focus on the Almighty God who loves us.  Healing and miracle power are readily available to resolve any impossibility. For peace and encouragement we have the gift of prophecy or prophetic insight, our love language of intimacy with the Father – tongues and the possibility of knowing, interpreting the unknown tongue in which we pray.

Fear is unbelief – the direct opposite of faith.  Fear and doubt are synonyms in a spiritual sense – going hand in hand as a powerful strategy of our enemy.  Fear is frequently addressed in spiritual as well as secular literature. It is the illness of the day, and probably always has been.

Fear is not rehearsed; it doesn’t need practise.  It is the natural, instinctive, intuitive reaction on circumstances.

We know that the adrenalin rush of fright gives us options – fight, freeze or flight – when our action is determined in a split second.  It is very necessary and secures our survival, but as soon as that state of fright becomes a way of living and the associated anxiety a constant, we live dangerously on the edge of mental and physical health issues.

Fear, our topic, is not fright or being scared. A quick scare is a good reaction to set us in motion to get ourselves out of a dangerous situation.  Fear is the prolonged state of stress that impacts your life on every level and ultimately determines your decisions. [Pebbles 148]

There are two words in Hebrew and two in Greek for fear. Fear of the Lord, that denotes reverence and awe for a holy and powerful God, is used in Isaiah 8:13. [Hebrew = morah.]

The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;

Let Him be your fear,

And let Him be your dread.

 

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of  knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)

Only God is to be feared.  Fear of the Lord is the antidote for doubt. Unbelief offends God.  Read carefully how the Amplified explains Isaiah 8:13:

The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him].

We cannot risk disappointing the Holy Spirit with our fear in things this world throws at us.

The other word for fear in Hebrew [pachad] is also used with regard to God and the fear of the Lord.  It means scare or sudden fright.

 They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:5)

 In this case God’s goodness is to be feared. So many people hear about the love and goodness of God and choose to ignore it.  In the end, his goodness will judge the rejection thereof.  Let us live in awe and respect, and therefore expectation of the goodness of the Lord. Expectation of his goodness will drive out fear and doubt.

In the New Testament two Greek words are used for fear: phobia and phobos in the sense of panic to make you flee.

So have no fear of them; for nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, or kept secret that will not become known.(Matthew 10:26)

 Jesus talks about the fear of men.  It is so much better to fear God, as it will liberate you from any fear of what people can do to you.

Fear of men is destructive and fear of God is constructive.

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.(Proverbs 29:25)

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

God’s love drives fear out of our mind and even the sub-conscious.  It is your choice to believe it and trust him fully.

But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you
   and trust in you with all my heart.  (Psalms 56:3 TPT)

Make the decision – trust God.  Your decision to trust him is as powerful as the decision to surrender your life to him that has given you new life.  It will have far-reaching and lasting consequences for your life.

Here is the last word on fear – God’s word.

Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. (1 John 4:18, TPT)

 

 

 

Next time we will have a look at Jesus’ response to fear and unbelief.