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.”

 

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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.

148. What then…how is it possible?

What do you live for?  How do you live for it?  The answers to these questions are the mainstay of a life of excellence.  Yet, we do not spend enough time to contemplate, meditate and pray about the big picture. Often corporations do the exercise.  Strategy sessions they call it.  Management getting together to hammer out a plan, the bigger picture, goal setting as well as tactics for people and placements to reach the goal – the goal being profit and ever increasing profit growth. The people and placements would only be a means to reach the projected targets.

What about the people?  We, the people, need our own strategy sessions, personal growth seminars, goal-setting for a purposeful life and guidance on how to live the life we think we ought to.  Whether we are part of a big corporation or work as an entrepreneur in a much smaller environment, we need life-coaching – a very popular career these days.

How will we know we are on the right road? How then will we not succumb to the pressures and pains of normal life in our world?

There is only one way – THE Way.  We have talked about it often enough in our Pebble-discussions through the years.  There is only one man in the entire history of mankind who has ever said I AM the truth, the way and the life.  He is the same God who said to Moses, centuries ago at the site of a desert bush burning, his name is I AM.  He is the EVERYTHING – the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and everything in between.  He is the source of every possible enhancement for your life – all that is true, noble, right and pure plus all that is lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  Here you are – you have it all.

Good, you might say.  It probably sounds good on paper, but that is not how life is in reality.  We contend with the cruel, the vile, the lie, the ugly, the bloody and every horror in between. Added to that we live with frustration, disappointment, destruction, disgrace and a deeply rooted fear that everything might just go much worse than now.

I would be the first to agree that just reading the headlines might suck me into a deep pit of depression and fear. That is exactly the point. Where is my eye for hope? Where do I look for the elevated life, the higher life?  Which atmospheric vibes are my senses communicating to my brain for comfort and hope?

I don’t blame you if you feel quite despondent right now.  Yes, those lives of the rich and famous without worries or fears look so good in the glossy magazine or Google link to the gossip page that huffs and puffs about the glitz and glamour out there.  After all, the shutter of the camera captures a split second of a person usually when they are all dressed up and professionally prepared. That split second is then appropriately photo-shopped to portray the best possible image.   In all this, have you ever seen a heart or mind? Our cameras and even interviews do not reveal the true thoughts and deep inner life-guiding principles of a celebrity or admirable personality.

Every individual needs to establish these guidelines deep within.  It is personal and private.  It is usually driven by long established perceptions of upbringing and education, or a life-changing decision to choose a particular way of life.  When you choose Jesus, your life is elevated to the higher purpose of God.  His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways.  He says so himself:

I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.
God’s Decree.
For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think. 
(Isaiah 55:8,9, The Message)

How then are we brought so low?

One of the more successful strategies of our enemy is fear and doubt.  Fear is unbelief – the direct opposite of faith.  Fear is the disease of our time and from it springs a well of illness, mental and physical.  It is an inexhaustible source of trouble.

Fear is not practised – it is the natural, instinctive reaction to circumstances.

Fear in this sense is not that initial fright or panic in an alarming situation.  We all know the feeling of the adrenalin rush when our brains switch to panic mode and we make the swift decision to freeze, flee or fight. This reaction is survival and very necessary, but it is not a life style.  When this physical panic mode is prolonged and ultimately determine our decisions, it is a recipe for crippling stress and malady.

Fear is not shock or superficial fright. To be frightened is good. It propels you into action to get yourself out of a life-threatening situation.  Fear is the prolonged, nagging state of stress and anxiety that settles in your inner being and determines your decisions and life choices, like an inner badass to be placated and satisfied with constant trembling submission.  When fear is the source of plans for the future and not the promises of God as it should be, we succumb to dread and a bleak perspective marked by the negative expectation. This is not a victorious life.  The Holy Spirit is powerful and able to release your inner being and set you free to live boldly and courageously.

Our source is Jesus…

for in Him we live and move and have our being… (Acts 17:28)

For a child of God fear is stirred by the raspy, gruff voice of the enemy, planting thoughts of dread and alarm in the darkest hours of panic.  This literally happens mostly at nighttime when everything seems worse than daytime.  This state of crisis should put us on our knees with the Word open to allow the words of Jesus to heal our inner beings.

The best way to open up the channel for Holy Spirit ministry is confession.  It is a liberating and powerful act to defeat those thoughts of fear. Recognize thoughts of worry and stress for what they are.  It is the repetitive milling reflection on worst-case scenario and the source is hell.  Submit the thoughts to the authority of God and confess the sin of fear.

Confession brings instant relief.

Confession breaks the hotbed of that fortified hellish attack thrown at us, called fear.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4,5, AMPC)

 

 

We continue our discussion on fear in the next piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

147.  Oh the shame, the dreadful regret!

I know I shall be so disappointed, so full of reproach, blaming myself when I find out just how I could have lived. The day I see Jesus face to face and fully grasp his character will be the day I will realize what my life could have been if only I believed the words He spoke in Scripture.

I will be embarrassed over all my fear, I will hang my head in humiliation because of hours of worry and curl up in shame when I think how my thoughts circled in desperation for plan B to Z regarding dreams that might not work out and other twisted plans mulling over worldly solutions for my circumstances.  Regret and self-pity will overwhelm me when I “see” the life I could have lived.

It is utterly worth it to get my life in order right now to live a life of liberty and victory as promised.

On a few occasions in my life I experienced the Holy Spirit’s discipline.  I say this hesitantly.  God works in every person’s life individually and will guide you with his eye in his own way, that relate to your life in a very unique manner. (Psalm 32:8)  I write my experience as a testimony and not as a lesson.

My husband was a corporate executive and traveled often.  Company policy allowed me to accompany him once a year on a trip of our choice.  My three boys were getting a little more independent and with the support of a good friend who could help with the school run and my mother close to keep an eye on them, my friends and family encouraged me to take the opportunity to get away.  We spent a lovely week in Germany.

Back home the news hit me hard.  My youngest (five years old and in the last year of pre-school) became very ill, shortly after I had left.  The whole family rallied around him, the family doctor diagnosed and treated him and he was healthy and happy when I arrived.  They told me the whole event with my family’s usual animated drama.  I was livid.

I was angry that they kept his illness away from me in order to give me a holiday.  Sure, it is a good thing and they were being nice, but I was fuming.  Guilt made me respond in angry reproach.  How could I jet set around the world while my son needed me?  I felt that I utterly failed in my role as a mother and will never let that happen again.  I made a decision there and then not to go away again until my sons are big enough to look after themselves.

Three times the opportunity came to go again. I refused.  I made a decision and stuck with it.  This is my sacrifice for being a good mother. No debate necessary!

One day, three years later, my husband came with a special request.  It would have been a unique opportunity to visit an island.  Neither one of us had ever had an island experience. My first thought again was no, because of my “vow” to stay home with my kids.  One of my friends encouraged me to go and promised her support.  My mother was more vocal and even sharp about the matter.  She and I had a series of discussions on the subject of fear and she knew very well how deeply my fear was rooted.  She knew my fears around my children; she knew how upset I was about anything to do with my children.  One afternoon we discussed the whole thing again and she instructed me to read Revelation 21:8:

 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (NKJV)

But for the rest—the feckless and faithless, degenerates and murderers, sex peddlers and sorcerers, idolaters and all liars—for them it’s Lake Fire and Brimstone. Second death!(The Message)

I sat stunned for a while.  This is serious.  Am I a feckless unbelieving coward?  Is my destiny the lake of fire, second death?  It could not really be any worse! Fear cannot be so bad!  God, are you serious?  Is this how you see me?  Are you angry with me?  I am only being responsible.  Is that so wrong?

I announced that I shall seek the Lord on the matter.   In my heart I was upset and confused.  I needed to know what the Lord says.  On a previous occasion I realized that I did not take the instructions in the Word of God seriously enough.

I “saw” Jesus in my mind’s eye, standing in front of me asking: What is going on here? Do you trust Me?  Do you know that I love you and keep you in My embrace?

I got home and grabbed a Bible lying around.  I opened it and was stunned at what I read.

 The Lord has given me a strong warningnot to think like everyone else does. He said,

“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do,

    and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. 

Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.

    He is the one you should fear.

He is the one who should make you tremble.

    He will keep you safe.  (Isaiah 8:11-14, NLT)

I ran up to my bedroom, locked the door and fell flat on my face before God. I confessed my fear and surrendered my life, to Jesus AGAIN, every aspect of it.  I stayed there until I felt the burden of my sin lift and the Holy Spirit minister to me with release, peace and joy.

The end of the story, you might ask?

My husband and I enjoyed a lovely week in Bermuda IN hurricane season.  When we phoned to confirm the hotel late August, they were nailed up for a fierce tropical cyclone in the Atlantic.  We enjoyed perfect weather and explored the two islands on mopeds. The week after we came back, the winds of Hurricane Nate took the little beach where we sat in a restaurant with our feet in the sand and were served exquisite seafood.

We both felt God’s loving imprint on the holiday, keeping us safe, keeping our children safe.  How could I ever doubt Him?

 

144. The command to live by.

We are talking about the brain-bug: fear. How can we live boldly and fully? How will our lives epitomize the elements of the Christmas Advent: joy, peace, love and hope when we are crushed by the issues and dangers of modern living. All that Jesus came for, lived to exemplify and died for are rendered meaningless when fear floods our system.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with youwherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

The SECOND fear defeating principle is the command in the Word that rings throughout: Do not fear!

The writers of the Psalms are all struggling with fear.  They pour out their hearts before the Lord.  He is to be trusted. (Psalms 62:8)

Jesus repeats this principle with extended examples, repetition and warnings against the meaninglessness of worry.

Jesus forbids worry – not responsible future planning.  (Matthew 6:25-34) He does not ask for a reckless denial of the demands of life.  He is talking about that fear-filled, windmill of repetitive thoughts that robs all inner joy and peace.  The word he uses is merrimna– anxious worry.

Jesus emphasizes that God is the source of life and therefore the maintainer of life.  He creates the body and provide for the body.  He illustrates with the birds of heaven and the lilies of the fields, things that humankind does not maintain or make grow.  He cares from an inexhaustible source.  His examples are significant as they illustrate abundance and beauty.

He underscores again and again the worthlessness of worry.  He makes it ridiculous; that one might think you can grow taller by worrying. Then He makes it an insult and compares a worry-sick person with a heathen, someone who does not know God. A heathen has no God or he might have an angry God who does not love him or cares what happens to him.

He contrasts God the Father with an angry and distant god, and calls him DAD.  God is a close, loving dad who cares and provides everything necessary. It should be easy to obey this command and eradicate all worry and fear from our lives – but HOW?

Here is the THIRD fear-defeating principle.   In Matthew 6:33 is the principle of fearless living.

Jesus says:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

What will be given besides?  The abundance and beauty that Jesus mentioned in the previous verses will be yours because of God’s favour and not your own good works.

What is righteousness? It is the conformity to the revealed will of God in all respects; the surrendering of your life and desires to the One who died for you. The revealed will of God is the revelation of who Jesus is.  We find all this in the Word.

 It does not mean that every worry and experienced fearfulness are sins of disobedience.  Often worry prompts us to act and do something constructive. The worry that will make us sick and considered a sin is the whirlpool of anxiety about things we cannot change, things that can only be managed through prayer to the Almighty whose trademark is the supernatural.

God promises supernatural peace.  Here is the recipe for windmill and whirlpool thoughts.  Let us again enjoy the Amplified translation.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

 And God’s peace [shall be yours, thattranquil stateof a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothingfrom God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace], which transcends all understandingshall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 I am blown away by the faith knowledge that God is guarding my heart from anxiety.  This is not only fear-defeating.  It is so much more. It is the experience of peace that cannot be explained; peace and joy within the storms of life.

 The story of Mary and Martha in Luke (10:38-42) worries me a bit.  Well, I can honestly say, if one “worries” about the principles in a Bible story and how to apply it to one’s own life, worry is a good thing!

I am a homemaker.  I sort of identify with Martha, keeping things in order and especially feeding Jesus when he comes to visit.  I would have probably cooked up a storm and served a feast for him.  I know Martha loved him and served him with her talents.  In common language the “insult” to say you are a Martha, cuts deep for me. I might even say it of myself.

However, the story has a deeper line.  It is not about the daily, the superficial and the fleshly. It is all about conviction of the deeper principles to live by.  It is about life priorities.  Tending to the everyday cares of life can distract from the search for the deeper kingdom principles that the words of Jesus brought into their house. Mary sensed that and sat at his feet, not sidetracked by the ordinary.

There is no freedom from fear in the ordinary.  There is victory in the “eating” of the Bread of Life, the words of Jesus.  In the prayerful digestion of the words of the Bible, freedom from fear is guaranteed.

Just as a reminder we are promised to know what is important according to Philippians 1:9 (discussed in the very first Pebbles).  The Amplified translation defines the gift of discernment as follows: keen insight, greater depth of acquaintance, and more comprehensive discernment. So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value.

This is a life-goal worth pursuing.  It is wise living.

How do you perceive God in your most anxious moments?  Is He close and accessible? Do you feel He hears your cry?

 I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalms 32:8)

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s loving eye on you to your imagination.

Let us live boldly into our future with the word of the priestly blessing in Number 6.

The Lord bless and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Receive these words in the promise of Isaiah 26:3:

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.

Lastly, remember what Jesus said at the end of Matthew 6:

 

So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

 

 

[BK 23]

 

 

143. A most luxurious life.

It is the bug in every brain – fear. Somehow, somewhere and in some or other circumstances it will paralyze you, give you that hollow feeling inside, even sweaty hands and palpitations with an added dread of rumination, visualizing the scenarios over and over in your mind.  Who can say they are not familiar with every symptom of fear?

The next two shorter pieces are focused on some Biblical teaching on fear, but they are by no means exhaustive.  Every circumstance, every state of alarm or constant anxiety should be directed to our loving Dad in prayer for His Spirit-guidance in the Word for those miraculous “life” -words of “peace that surpasses all understanding”. (John 6:63; Philippians 4:7)

Somewhere I have heard that the phrase: do not fear, is repeated 366 times in the Bible; one for each day and en extra.  I don’t know exactly how I can confirm this, but it makes so much sense. One of the most important strategies of our enemy is fear.  It will rob you of a meaningful, joyous life. It will overwhelm your thoughts and limit your potential in so many ways.  It is a trap set in hell to trip you up and make you suffer in the cruel, sharp, iron claws of your own thoughts.

When we talk about a strategy from hell, we have to remember that the devil is not creative and cannot do anything new. We have all his plans and actions recorded in the Bible for our knowledge and equipping.  The Bible is truly our textbook for life.

The stories of the Old and New Testaments are the examples of men and women living on this earth with the same life issues that we have to contend with so many centuries later.

  • Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had to live the consequences of disobedience to the directive of God.Eve has not heard from God directly, only second hand through Adam.  Satan approaches her to plant doubt in her mind as to the exact words of the command from God.  He will always sow doubt about what God said and promised and whether God will do what He has said He will do.

 

  • Abraham gets impatient with God’s timing in giving him the son he so desires. He takes action himself and Ishmael, Hagar’s son is born with all the complications that action brings.

 

  • David is tempted and weakened when he should have been on the battlefield with his men.

 

  • The kings of Israel are a study in pride and arrogance, succumbing to sin in the pursing of greatness and standing.

 

  • All his sneaky tactics to tempt Jesus in Matthew 4 where he quotes Scripture out of context to make it a lie of motivation and purpose.

 

If we can dissect his strategy and prepare ourselves to withstand the temptations of evil, we might be able to live more boldly.

One of his most successful traps is fear. So much of our modern illness and physical symptoms of discomfort is related to fear and anxiety.  Our toxic thoughts make us sick.

We can give it many names, label it in any which way and prescribe the pills and therapy to fight it – all of which is good and necessary as we fight on all fronts against the destruction of life, but in the end we know we cannot fake inner peace.  We know what that tight grip of cold fear feels like.

Let’s go back far, back to Abraham.  God promises him:

 Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

This is a covenant promise.  God said that all the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham.  In Romans  (4:13) Paul states that this promise is ours, not through our good works measured by the law, but through FAITH.

The promise covers our past and future. God’s shield is our protection for today; His reward is the guarantee for future success.  There is nothing that can happen in this life that God cannot turn around for good.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  This is the first principle for victory over fear.

You are safe in his hands.  In Exodus 34 God describes himself as abounding in goodness and truth.  Jeremiah 29 confirms his plans for our future.  The Psalms is full of promises of outcome and protection and so are the prophets and epistles.  Just think for a moment about the life of Jesus.  He healed and encouraged the lowliest of society.

However,our God turned the curse into a blessing. (Nehemiah 13:2)

And we know that all things work together for goodto those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.(Romans 8:28)

These are promises to remember and live by when things go “wrong”.  I deliberately write that in quotation marks, because things might look “wrong” in our eyes when God in his mysterious wisdom works them out for our benefit.

Could we live in the knowledge that when we have surrendered our ways to the Lord, our lives are governed by the principles of God and will never end in defeat. So many times I thought my life has taken a wild side road, when I realize that this is the way God has made as I recognize his loving guidance.

We have a guarantee:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present you unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation, with unspeakable, ecstatic delight —    (Jude 24)

The first fear defeating principle is: Rest in the arms of God and his plan for your life.

 

 

Next time: Do not fear – the command of God that should be the foundation of our life.

 

 

[BK 23]

 

 

 

42. Everything that matters – our God is great.

After a month of self-imposed holiday it is such a joy to write again. Together with the dear friends of the Bible study here in my home, we are diving deep into the fascinating world of the book of Revelation – a rich, inspiring experience. It is not the fist time I embark on a study of this book and it will not be the last. It is the true Word of God and just like the rest of the Bible it can be interpreted on multiple levels by a variety of scholars who unfolds the truth with Holy Spirit wisdom.

Come and join us on this journey into the apocalyptic wonder world of God’s secrets. Make a vow to study this book again and again, because the richness of the vision is not for one time only. We will embark on a roller coaster ride of the majestic and the celestial, often in awestruck wonder, often with tears of worship and hopefully with growing insight into the mystery as the veil is lifted. Every word is meant to be understood, to encourage and to inspire as the purposes of our Father are revealed and His almighty and sovereign rule over the universe is clear.

The name of the book says it all. John describes the indescribable in an effort to explain the riddles of our existence in this world so that we will not be engulfed in the darkness and chaos of world politics, war, terrorism, natural disasters, cruelty and suffering. Within all the consequences of sin, declared in the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls, we will see our Father’s heart and the kingship of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is active and alert over the Word to explain and interpret to our hearts and minds.

The core theme of the whole book, in which so much of the symbolism of the rest of the Bible is used over and over again, declares God’s love and sovereignty, the indisputable rule of Jesus and the reality of full redemption from sin and all evil, illustrated by the church.

Revelation reveals. John’s vision explains and declares so that we are equipped with the knowledge we need to stand strong against the full onslaught of evil in our day.

Revelation is the ultimate answer to all insecurity and fear.

How beautiful and delightful on the mountains  are the feet of him who brings good news,

Who announces peace, who brings good news of good things,

Who announces salvation,   who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7, Ampl)

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! (Revelation 19:6, NKJV)

We, the church, the new Jerusalem, avert evil on every level of society. The church, the Bride of Christ, is not a denomination. It is the blood bought children of the Father with a testimony on their lips that overcome the beast, the dragon, the gleaming serpent or whatever else this raging monster of destruction is called.

Our victory is not to be found in organized religion. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). We are the martyrs, the remnant that carries the crest of the Cross and endure the persecution.

Be aware that we are persecuted and surrounded from all sides. Apart from the physical persecution of the early church and Christians today in many parts of the world where their testimony is a death sentence, we, who enjoy religious freedom, are battered with constant assault on all levels of society, whether it is in the realm of family, education, government and politics, the media, the arts, philosophy, business and religion, not to mention the garbage and pollution that threaten our earth.

Revelation is the forecast so many centuries ago of the overwhelming outpour of all that God’s adversary, Satan, can throw at us. All the consequences of sin are pronounced under the time, times and half a time as Daniel verbalized the time period of oppression, indicating a limit and full control of the One who sits on the Throne. The golden thread of prophecy in perfect harmony and agreement over several thousand years encourages with a time limit to all evil.

Let us first declare our motto for the study of this book. In the words of Richard of Chichester:

To know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly.

The glorified Jesus in all his splendour of kingship is the central theme. He is in control as righteous and loving ruler, ready to save and redeem, restore and reward. Judgment comes clear and unbiased with one purpose only: to clear the way for blessing.

Nobody can say they did not know. No ignorance can ever be an excuse to reject life itself. We know and receive understanding from the Holy Spirit to recognize the false Trinity and the consequences of worship to it. It is impossible to remain neutral. It is either false worship or true worship. Nothing is not an option.

While prophecy proclaims redemption by a loving God with restoration to an elevated existence within the present dispensation, common apocalyptic literature condemns this world to a catastrophic end in titanic tragedy with no hope. The book of Revelation in the Bible stands in stark contrast to other apocalyptic literature as an expression of hope in a future of comprehensive salvation, guaranteed victory over sin and evil and a majestic ending in the Presence of our Bridegroom, Jesus as the king of the universe in all its grandeur and brilliance.

Revelation is written for two time periods – the present and the future while using the symbolism and historic imagery of the past to describe the glory and splendour of the unseen. The present offers a choice to accept the grace of the Cross. The future presents an unavoidable intervention of God to bring an end His adversary, Satan.

In terms of the history of Israel, things went from bad to worse. After the climax of the Hebrew civilization when the Temple of Solomon was built, it is a tragedy of backslidden and corrupt kings, war, exile, struggle and bloodshed. Nothing is as it should be and the Jews live with an intense sense of loss and longing for restoration under the prophesied Messiah. By the end of the second century AD Judah is a hated outpost of the Roman Empire, the Empire in Daniel’s vision described as the feet of iron and clay. Jerusalem is in ruins after a cruel siege and a frighteningly brutal war in which the Romans avenged decades of frustration with the Jews. Jews and Christians alike are either dead, or slaves or in hiding.

History for the Jews was a catalogue of disasters from which it became clear that no human deliverer could rescue them”. [William Barclay]

 Apocalyptic literature was popular as an expression of rebellion with the hope of total annihilation of oppressors and enemies. It was often written in code under pseudonyms to keep it secret, to be deciphered only by those to whom it was intended.

Revelation is not a chronological chain of events. It is a summary of the entire history of mankind with a climatic end for those who choose to accept the salvation of grace and love. This study is not an effort to summarize all the possible interpretations of the vision. The content is far too rich and comprehensive. It is also not a dispensational interpretation to serve as an itinerary for events associated with the second coming of Christ.

It should serve only as a first step for some information on the symbolism and references in order to decipher the “code” or Bible-speak if I may call it that.

First and foremost – the key to Revelation is Ephesians 1. Jesus is everything… in the words of Paul in The Message:

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Jesus is the Prince of heaven, the Redeemer on the Cross, the Victorious One over death and hell. Our study will focus on Him and Him alone. Evil and sin might appear overwhelming, but it is limited and under control. There is victory within this sorry state of our world, in Christ.

Johan writes under his own name as authoritative messenger of Jesus to encourage and build the church. The key to all the metaphors and images is our Old Testament – the Law and Prophets of the Jews. It is quoted 245 times in Revelation. The detail is astounding and the golden thread is meticulously guarded. John is apostle, prophet and pastor – widely respected in Ephesus where he lives with Mary, the mother of Jesus after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Ephesus is a pagan city, the seat of the Temple of Diana, an architectural wonder of the ancient world. Diana is the goddess of fertility, worshipped with sex provided by scores of prostitutes “serving” in the temple. Just reflect on the severe contrast that Christian morality presented.

John calls himself brother to the reader. He uses dramatic and descriptive Greek. His Gospel that he wrote after the Revelation is acknowledged under the most-respected literature in all of history.

Paul pleads for respect to the Roman authorities. Often the Roman administration and law helped against the persecution from the Jews on the young Christian church. During this time, however, there is open hatred towards the Romans. Rome is seen as Babylon, a symbol of all evil. During the first century, worship in Rome was relatively free. Gaius Julius declared himself Caesar and ruler forever. His military conquests and the widespread rule under the Pax Romana – Roman law and government bringing peace, make a big difference in the lives of ordinary citizens, who can go about business and general living in peace, with roads, infrastructure and local government that applies the law. Gratitude towards the Caesar develops into worship and the people spontaneously elevate him to being a god. It was a simple step for successive Caesars to think they are indeed gods.

This all led to a system where every non-Roman resident of the Empire once a year had to go before the magistrate (local government) and declare Caesar is God. For this he received a certificate and could worship whomever he wanted for the rest of the year. For the Christians and Jews, this system brought arrest and death or constant hiding from the authorities.

Not all the Caesars are set on worship. Tiberius (Caesar in the time of Jesus) stop it altogether, Caligula is a crazy sadist and demands his own statue in the Holy of Holies, but dies before it is executed. Claudius is against Caesar-worship; Nero does not require it, but blames the Christians for all his failures and weakness. Vespasian stops the worship, but destroys Jerusalem; Titus demands no worship. Dominitian is the worst. He truly thinks he is a god. He calls non-worshippers atheists for the first time. He bans John to Patmos, but Nerva, his successor, do away with all the mad laws and frees John – a miracle, since a Roman penal colony was more often than not a prelude to death.

It is against this background that we can begin reading. John introduces himself and pronounces a blessing on every person reading, most probably a public reading, and HEARING the words of the prophecy. Hearing implies a heart reception, to mark the disclosures to be made in this book. It is not technical theology. It is truth from the Source of Truth, our God who sits on the Throne of Grace. Jesus is God’s Truth.

The Greek for Revelation is apokulupsisapo means to take away and kalupsis means veil. The veil is lifted for us to understand. It is always a work of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:17. Revelation knowledge is a gift from God for the discovery of man.

The history of the world is not random – it is purposed and under control. The end time is near (1:3) means that it folds out immediately. Revelation describes history in motion. We are not ignorant of what is happening around us. This precious vision is our future map and time machine.

 

Until next time: Revelation 1.

41. Everything is wrong!

Oh! It’s so easy. Pick up a newspaper and start reading … and read until a deep, dark mood decides nothing works out right. Unpleasant, angry feelings fill your inner being. You know that your standards for good living, good government, good decisions and good environment are down the drain with no apology, no compensation. Self-pity and anger, harsh words and abrasive comments burst from you exactly there where the fountains of living water should flow forth to a broken world. What exactly did Jesus say?

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)

Jesus said it, so it is true and the consequences guaranteed. Trouble and tribulation will come. Would you like to choose your trouble? Lord, not this thank you. Oh no! I would like to surrender my life again and know that He will not allow anything to overwhelm me.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV)

This world is a challenge. Maybe we tend to divide our lives into spiritual and fleshly things. We feel justified to criticize world politics, our own politics and the decisions of authorities that we cannot change outside occasional elections until we fall into misery that bar the courage and strength of God’s word and work in our lives.

This is not a life of faith. Faith and the challenge to live fearless are the basis for our whole existence in imperfect and dangerous circumstances. The greater challenge is to look deeper and know that our God reigns over everything and in every possible condition. The purpose of our life is to be made perfect in Christ and respond to life in spiritual maturity. If worry and fear do not lead us into prayer, revelation and testimony of miracles, we live a tragedy.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:3-4, NKJV)

There is a place, Pebble pal, in the Garden of His presence with green pastures and still waters lacking NOTHING. It is all yours, now, this moment.

Paul also had trouble with the politics of the day, aimed against the new movement called Christianity and executed by his own people, causing “tears and trials”…

… serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; (Acts 20:19, NKJV)

Well, let us have a look at Nehemiah’s regional politics and the trouble it causes him. His response to devious plotting by his enemies was his characteristic quick prayers – resulting in constant communication with God. His narrative is meticulous, leaving the reader under no wrong impression. The wall is finished but the doors of the gates are not done. (Nehemiah 6.)

His enemies are active. Their activity is motivated by their own fear. Jerusalem in ruins with no defense and without organized residents suited them just fine. The picture is changed and they are afraid. Fearful people become bullies – we know that. They try to get to Nehemiah himself, knowing that if they can keep him busy or stir fear in him, the project will suffer. Four times they send messages to get him to talk to them. He refuses to get down from the place he is building. His response illustrates insight into their strategy.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave to come down to meet with you?” (6:3)

The fifth time Sanballat wrote a letter, which was not sealed. Did he want the people to see the content and spread the rumors, so that Nehemiah would be alarmed? Sanballat’s words in the letter were carefully chosen to spread rumours of rebellion against the Persian king, the very king who supported Nehemiah’s project. (6:6)

“It is reported among the neighboring nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king.”

Nehemiah answers short and sweet, not wasting time on lies, with a quick one-liner to God: (6:8,9)

I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.”  For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

 Every temptation to draw us from duty should quicken us the more to duty.

Then the attack came from inside, fueled by betrayal. Not everyone is on the same page as Nehemiah, determined to finish a God-ordained project and tapping into the source of quick-prayers. He sustains his courage and inspiration by constant communication with God. Semaja entices him to take refuge in the Temple, since Nehemiah’s life is threatened by Sanballat and his cohorts. Nehemiah answers: (6:11)

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!”

Semaja was bribed to help neutralize Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s insight into enemy strategy revealed empty threats and fear could not get a foothold.

Fear blooms in doubt and insecurity. Nehemiah’s steadfast dedication to the work, his unwavering trust in God’s protection and provision enables him to push for completion in record time. This is a precious principle of life.

The fear-strategy is so cunning; it is even launched among the prophets active inside Jerusalem. Nehemiah bemoans them all to God. (6:14):

My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

The result is undeniable success. The wall is finished in record time – 52 days. The consequences of this achievement in the enemy camp are a joy to read. (6:16):

And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

When the enemy looses self-confidence is a day of triumph for me. God’s miracle is acknowledged through grit teeth!

What does it mean for us today?

If you are busy with a great work in the name of our Lord, you do not waste time on fear and intimidation.

You might say you have only an ordinary job to earn money. You are not serving in ministry or any such high and lofty calling-stuff. It does not matter. Everything you do, you do as unto God.

After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.

(1 Samuel 10:7, NLT)

Every job is a calling. Being a parent, a friend, a sibling or a child to your parents are the stuff a calling is made of. Live it as unto our Father. Do not give in to fear. God has great plans for your life and He promised to be with you always. In Jesus’ own words:

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NKJV)

The key to knowing our enemy’s fear strategy we find in Psalm 37 with the answer of trusting God. Read with me in The Message:

Don’t bother your head with braggarts

    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings

    and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,

    settle down and stick to your last.

Keep company with God,

    get in on the best.

This is our life attitude, developed in the strength of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We have not received a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) We have peace when the rest of the world withers in worry and dread. We cannot allow ourselves to listen to the fearful intimidation around us. We must respect the high calling of God in our life.

Our calling is our family and closest relationships in the first place. See what God has given you and build your wall. Further on in Psalm 37 is encouragement against the negative forces of life.

Less is more and more is less.

    One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,

For the wicked are moral weaklings

    but the righteous are God-strong.

 

God keeps track of the decent folk;

    what they do won’t soon be forgotten.

In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;

    when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.

 What is the last word on Nehemiah’s success?

A jolly feast with a live band! Do not forget the feast in God’s honour.

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. (12:27, NKJV)

Just read about the choirs and trumpet-playing priests, marching around the wall from gate to gate, giving thanks, feasting and singing at their handiwork.

Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. (12:43, NLT)

Yes indeed, the enemy heard their rejoicing.

Nehemiah closes his narrative with a full report on sustainable management with focus and diligence. (12:44-47)

39. Lights, camera … action!

Our world craves leadership: a man or woman who could lead in the brokenness and chaos of destruction and disappointment. We need someone to trust, so that we could follow with confidence and work together towards the greater good. The European crisis and the American election threaten to cause panic when terrorists and politics only bring confusion and fear.

One of the most beautiful compliments in the Bible was made to the sons of Issachar.

Of the tribe of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do… [1 Chronicles 12:32]

It my hearts cry for the world. Lord, please give us a Nehemiah who would seek Your face in prayer and would be able to influence the most powerful empire into acting on behalf of Your people. We need that wall, Lord. We have fierce enemies who fight with fear to ruin our cities and values. We live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and need a holy, spiritual wall.

Then I heard what the Spirit said to the church. Jesus has called us, His church to be the Nehemiah of this world. We have everything we need to build the wall and make repairs if necessary.

Nehemiah serves the emperor of Persia for many years already. He stayed behind in the palace when the first waves of returning exiles left Persia and returned to Jerusalem. He was in a position of great trust to the King and was often in conversation with him. His sadness over the situation in Jerusalem was noted by the King. The king addressed it, to Nehemiah’s consternation; since one was not supposed to burden the royal pair (he mentions that the queen was also present) with one’s personal worry.

He states his case and receives miraculous favour and support, travels to Jerusalem and meets the local leaders. After his nighttime look-see of the extent of the damage, he inspires the people into an astonishing show of unity and cooperation.

Nehemiah 3 describes this Spirit-inspired unity. It is the church in action with confident and strong leadership. Even in these circumstances, not everybody is on board, but it does not influence the successful outcome. Just listen to this part of the report!

Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. [Nehemiah 3:5]

The chapter reads like an official, detailed report on a triumphant project. Some groups built big parts of the wall, restored the gates, with hinges and capstones up to 450 meters. Other groups built in front of their own dwelling places. Archeologists found a wall of 2,5 meters thick. It was an awe-inspiring task completed with supernatural unity and inspiration.

It is significant that the small contributions of individuals find their place in this report. Every input counted and contributed to the completion, however small compared to the vast scale of the project. In the same way each Christian’s spiritual commitment is part of the whole to stand against the enemy. One person can make a difference. Esther is the shining example of one orphaned girl who was called for a specific time to save her people.

Who dares despise the day of small things… [Zechariah 4:10]

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, [1 Peter 2:5]

We are part of the whole, and only to the degree that we work together on the whole will our contribution count, however small.

The unity and show of power from the church sent the enemy into an almost comical rage.

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,  and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” [Nehemiah 4:1-3]

It sounds like desperate efforts to discourage, as if they sense the victory in the spiritual realm. The church is the light bearer in the dark world. We build the wall, even just in our own homes. We are the ears that hear what the Spirit says to the church. The church is the lamp stand of Revelation 1. We are not the light – Jesus is – but we are the stand that carries the Light. His voice calls: Lights, camera…. action!

He took the scroll in His hand to roll out the history of the world. He was worthy to break the seals. History is not random. It is part of the plan. Just like the churches in Revelation we need to remove the obstacles to receive the blessing and reward.

How daunting this task may look, we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to stand in the gap.

The wall of Jerusalem had to protect the city. It had to keep the enemy out and through the 10 gates; the right people were let in. We also need to guard our gates to only allow the right influences and people to speak into our lives.

The wall is also our witness to the world. It is the testimony of our restoration in Christ, resurrected with Him into a new life.

The wall is also an awareness of hostility. The devil is satisfied with lukewarm Christians, powerless and neutral. As soon as your intentions of living a powerful God-life is clear, he attacks.

The enemies are clearly defined in these passages.

 

  • During the years of foreign influences the people of Israel oppressed each other. According to the law, a person could be sold into slavery, even his children with him, if he could not pay his debts. Sharp business practices and usury cause many people to serve their own nation. We also make slaves of the people around us with criticism and humiliation, even in the church when we judge and condemn. When our own status and interests weigh heavier than the need of our neighbour, we forget what love is.

I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” [Nehemiah 5:7]

Hear what the Spirit says to the church.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. [Philippians 2:3,4]

At the foot of the cross the sin of pride and oppression will be rooted out.

 

  • God’s people live lives of virtual insolvency, oppressed by debt and interest. God is our source of financial provision. Debt is not a sin, but the slavery to it, is. Bring your financial decisions to God to submit to His wisdom and provision.

Build the wall with the principle of tithing and the joyful giver of Corinthians.

Hear what the Spirit says to the church.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. [Malachi 3:10]

Be obedient to the Spirit as a joyful, spirit-filled Christian.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. [2 Corinthians 9:6,7]

Spiritual insolvency is rife. We cannot feed on what we hear according to hearsay from others. We need to hear God’s voice ourselves. We need to know Him in the power of His resurrection. [Philippians 3:10,11 Amplified]

Do you live in poverty with regards to the spoken Word of God?

Uncommitted Christians will be separated from the true flock, who hears his voice. The fire of crisis will divide the sheep who hears the Shepherd from those who belong to the “synagogue of Satan”. [Revelation 3:9]

God himself will purify his Church. He explained this to his disciples in the parable of the tares. [Matthew 13:30] We are not to judge, only to discern between the true and the false.

In the days of Nehemiah, the Sabbath was violated. To us in these times, the Sabbath is the person of Jesus. It is only in Him that we could ever find true rest. Please read Isaiah 58 to know the blessing of rest in God. Verses 13.14:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

    and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,

and if you honor it by not going your own way

    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

 

then you will find your joy in the Lord,

    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land

    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

God does not fit in with our lives; we change to live in harmony with Him and His principles. There is a wonderful blessing on a physical day of rest and a break in routine to celebrate the goodness of God, even if it is not a Sunday. Hear from God how you must take a Sabbath and be renewed.

The church carries the Light. We have everything we need to build and protect.