14. Digging ditches for the year

The future has always been a source of fascination for most people. The uncertainty, almost mystical element of time to come, is weighed and reasoned. Tomorrow, next week and coming months are measured and counted, but our planning can only put a vague structure on time. Unplanned events can throw our life-map in disarray.

Knowledge and research are essential to responsible living, especially in a modern world where information is at our fingertips. We feel equipped and prepared for life, when we conscientiously prepare our circumstances, skills, money and even relationships for the future. Everything we do every day of our lives is future-driven. How can we live if we don’t know?

As children of God we live and move in a very privileged place. We are covered by the Shadow of the Almighty [Psalm 91] and

carried in His everlasting Arms [Deuteronomy 33:26-28], courageously journeying through life between His shoulders [Deuteronomy 33:12].

Our past, present and future are sealed and secure in Him, through Jesus Christ.

Our past sin and failure are under the Blood of Christ, removed as far as the East from the West and not ever thought of by God. [Psalm 103:12, 1 John 1:9]

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That is our past – the ultimate clean slate for our future.

Our past success builds our faith and becomes a beautiful royal robe, embroidered with precious jewels of answered prayer and miraculous outcome to wear with thanksgiving and praise for the future.

God says in Isaiah 45: 11:

Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;

And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.

The future is in God’s hands. He invites us to ask Him and put the uncertainty in His hands. We must realize that the content of our future is the promises of God. We are assured of the best, when we are surrendered to His love and grace.

In the second Book of Kings, third chapter is a very interesting story, full of lessons and miracles. We are in the time of Elisha’s ministry, the prophet who took over from Elijah and asked for a double portion of the anointing that rested on Elijah. Elisha did indeed do double the amount of miracles that Elijah did, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

After the reign of Solomon, the Hebrew kingdom split into the Kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem as capital and Israel in the north with Samaria as capital.

Moab, a kingdom southeast of Israel and Judah, bordering the Dead Sea, had to pay a tax to the king of Israel, because of a previous defeat by Omri, another king of Israel. The payment was made with sheep, but after the death of Ahab, the king married to Jezebel and who built Baal-temples for her in Israel, Moab decided to rebel and stop the sheep-tax.

Ahab’s son, Jehoram, decided to muster the help of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah as well as the king of Edom, who is not named in this story, to punish Moab. They had to travel through the wilderness of Edom to get to Moab. [3:8]

The three kings travelled with their armies through a barren land for seven days and came to a dry riverbed, where they obviously expected water for the soldiers and animals. It is a crisis. Thirst drives tempers high and the kings react. Jehoram cries out in despair that God wants to deliver them in the hands of Moab. He reacts out of the guilt and shame of his cold relationship with God and expects the worst, while admitting God is in control of things. [3:10]

Jehoshaphat, the godly king, asks if there is a man of God to consult. He reacts with wisdom and confidence in a word from God. The story is not clear whether he consulted God to join in the fight or not. It does not seem like it. He answers Jehoram’s call to arms with much conviction. [3:7]

One of the servants informs the kings that Elisha is nearby. How he came to be close is not explained, but I can imagine he was there on God’s command to stand in for the crisis.

One would expect the kings to summon Elisha to them, but they went down to Elisha. [3:12]. They find him in a black mood of defiance and anger. He lashes out against Jehoram and commands him back to his idol-worshipping parents. [3:13]

And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts lives, before Whom I stand, surely, were it not that I respect the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you [King Jehoram].

Elisha respects Jehoshaphat’s commitment to God and asks for a musician, probably to calm him down and bring him in a state of mind to hear the Word of the Lord. While the musician played the hand of God came upon him.

Music speaks to the soul. It calms our inner beings. Anointed words open our ears to hear the still, small voice [1 Kings 19:12]. So many times I got into the car and heard just the right song for my mood from my collection of spiritual music. I can recommend this. Favourite Gospel singers like Don Francisco, Hillsong and Chris Tomlin, to name a few, change the atmosphere of the space wherever you may be, into a temple of God where He can be worshipped. Faith grows in worship and praise. Sing with them and realize the greatness of our God.

In the calm of music the word of God came to Elisha: [3:16.17]

And he said, Thus says the Lord: Make this dry brook bed full of trenches.

For thus says the Lord: You shall not see wind or rain, yet that ravine shall be filled with water, so you, your cattle, and your beasts of burden may drink.

God’s answer – pure and simple – your need will be met. He commands action. You need activity in the face of need. The soldiers were still thirsty while they were digging without physical promise of outcome. They had to dig ONLY because God said so. They did not dig into water. They dug DRY trenches. The water came the next morning without the usual signs of rain or springs welling up. After the morning grain offering – your time of prayer and Word-meditation – the ditches were filled with water. Faith-action conquers doubt and despair.

Then the inspiring words at the end of the prophecy: [3:18]

And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.

Providing for the army and their animals is just the beginning of the miracle. Without even a word of prayer from the kings for the battle that lies ahead, God provides victory over Moab. The victory is a miracle of confusion on the part of Moab. [3: 21-25]

We believe ONLY because God’s word promises His goodness and love towards us. He promises that our needs will be met. Psalm 37: 4-6:

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.

He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,

And your justice as the noonday.

Your miracle is waiting. Hear the word of God and believe. Your faith will be rewarded.

Romans 10:17:

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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4. Be greedy – it’s good for you!

That’s the truth – there is good greediness. In our hour of need we are not timid. We ask for the full package, the whole promise – and that’s how it should be.

Before we explore this very exciting principle, let us establish a core principle for success in living the Word.

Write it down.

Whatsoever God communicates with you through His Word and the wondrous outcome of circumstances submitted to prayer, must be written down. Problems tend to manifest in scary disguise that robs us of faith. Panic wrecks our memory of God’s wonderful pathway of provision. The enemy will present as a unique and overwhelming flood of complications.

The miraculous power of our own testimony carries us through future crises. In your journal your unique description of the problem, the prayer and the promise will become the powerful encouragement that will remind you of miracles and answer to prayer. You will praise God through your journal and in the presence of the people.

Journaling is our pebbles of perpetuity. Every stone that is marked with a miracle is the foundation of our sacrifice of praise and gratitude. If you are quiet and stunned in panic, your stones will call out. They will remind you of your loving Father Who already have the outcome and answer ready. Luke 19:40: 

But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

In Isaiah 55 God invites the thirsty to come to the waters and drink to the full. This reminds us of the promise of blessing to those who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Matthew 5 promises an enviable happiness and life joy for those who are greedy for God. The blessing implies the full satisfaction of the hunger and thirst. This is not a partial promise; it is the full package deal. His Word will quench your very need and every desire.

Pause and absorb the full meaning of the word blessing as we find it in the Amplified Bible:

Blessed = happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions; with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace.

This is a promise that sustains us through life whatever our circumstances might be. It is not a mindless acceptance of every problem and negative circumstances. It is rather the submission of problems and circumstances to the powerful working of God’s blessing to change you and your circumstances. The problems we are facing will serve as the field of action for our greatest miracles. The process of spiritual and mental growth is mostly a greater miracle than the supernatural outcome and provision. We cannot leave a crisis unchanged. Deep within our spirit the Holy Spirit works to renew our thinking. This is a spectacular miracle.

In the second part of Isaiah 55:1 a purchase is mentioned.

Yes, come, buy priceless, spiritual wine and milk without money and without price; simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing.

Is redemption and salvation not free? Off course it is free, but never cheap. The cost was a life. Jesus died to purchase our salvation. We accept His cross and receive the full redemption of sin. This is the start of a process of growth in which we will visit the Kingdom store of Revelation 3:18:

Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be truly wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see.

There we will buy three items. This purchase is not made with money, but with experience. As we receive the special insight into the full measure of Grace that sustains us through our life, we will be rich with the gold that has been refined by the fire of our crisis.

Sin exposes us to the world. God covers us in beautiful heavenly robes of righteousness through the blood of Christ. It is not our own efforts that clothe us. The Cross declares us righteous.

Eye ointment will be our focus on the Word that reveals God in His almighty splendour. Our perspective – our inner eyes – changes so that the problem is diminished and fear is crushed.

The crises of life bring us to a place of hearing and learning. Here we are open to revelation knowledge. This is our gold, cleansed by fire. In the fire and pain of problems, God reveals His promise and encouragement. His word is alive and is spoken into our inner being. This is a rhema-word; the spoken word. It is words that will heal and restore you supernaturally, so that you can face life with the courage and wisdom necessary to change your circumstances.

As quoted in Pebbles number 2, I have to repeat the words of Jesus in John 6:63: [The Message]

Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life making.

All increase in life comes by His Word. Back to Isaiah 55 in The Message translation. This is what God wants for us:

Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, 
fill yourself with only the finest.
 Pay attention, come close now,
 listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.

Could we ever grow in God to a place where we will welcome the refiner’s fire? Problems tend to surprise me and catch me off-guard. Many times we live with constant pain and brokenness in our body, relationships or other circumstances. God will break the Bread (His word) daily for us to be strengthened and revived.

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.

[Hebrews 10:36]

But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. [The Message]

The Greek word for steadfast patience and endurance is a composition of two words: hupo + mone. Hupo means “under” and mone means “to remain”. It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resist weariness and defeat. [According to Strong’s Bible Concordance]

The promise of outcome is sure. Your victory is guaranteed. These wonderful words of Jude 24 are a joy to my heart – always:

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 —

There is no place for doubt. God said it. He will do it. And – He will do it for you! Philippians 1:6:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

There is no doubt. God said it. Psalm 91:14:

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

 

Isaiah 55 – the conversation continues…