Search:

HE GOES BEFORE ME

May 11th, 2012

 

Fear seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it.  One day all is well and the next day, I discover that an alligator of a problem has grabbed hold of my leg.  In looking back, I can always pick out its slithering path, and I scratch my head in wonder that I could have been so oblivious to that thing creeping up behind me in the shadows.  By the time that particular fear is exposed, it has already managed to get a hammerlock on my soul, and I know I am in for a battle.  I will immediately jump into the fray, and for sure I will win – no doubt about that.  The biggest challenge is in getting to the bottom and draining the swamp.  Things are never quite like they seem, and in order to close and seal that open door; I must expose and dig up the root.  Rarely is the presenting issue the source of my problem.  It all seems like so much work, and for a minute I dread having to clean up one more mess.  But when I remember the blessings that always follow a victory, I am encouraged to go for it, full speed ahead!  Recently I had an encounter with another one of those alligators.

My husband and I love to take road trips, which is a good thing since all of our family is out of town.  The two of us have always traveled well, and we enjoy each other’s company in such a sweet way.  Every winter we drive to Florida and back, and during the year we make many trips around the Midwest.  Often when our children call, they will ask where we are at now.  One grandson even asked his dad if we really had a home of our own.  So, you can imagine my concern when I began to experience anxiety from driving in heavy traffic.  It seemed to me that my husband was continuously following the car in front of us much too closely, and I was developing a huge fear of having a collision.  To make things worse, if I was working on a cross-stitching project and happened to look up as we were gaining on the car in front of us, my heart would pound and I would gasp, and that would startle my husband.  Not a good scene!  We would talk about it and he would promise to leave more space between us and the car in front of us.  And I would promise to do a better job of trusting his driving.  After a while I came to the realization that the problem was mine, not his.  Oh no, the alligator of fear had me by the leg!

So began the draining of the swamp.  As I pressed in and asked the Lord for revelation, He showed me a spiritual door I had allowed to open that gave a spirit of fear access into my soul.  Two winters ago while we were in Florida, my husband made an unwise decision to cut across a busy lane of traffic, and that move led to a small fender bender.  It was actually such a small collision that we did not even need to involve the insurance company.  However, it was the very first time I had ever experienced his being irresponsible behind the wheel, and I lost trust in his driving.  He is, and always has been, an incredibly safe and responsible driver, but in that moment he apparently lost credibility with me.  Intellectually, I knew that was extremely unfair; however, logic does not automatically trump feelings.  Now I knew where to begin. I forgave him for his error, I repented for having lost trust in him, and I commanded that spirit of fear to leave me.  I walked away feeling pretty good about having won that battle so quickly, and I set in motion a plan to be at peace while we were driving, even if I had to occasionally close my eyes.

Some weeks later I was riding in my daughter’s car, with her at the wheel.  As the traffic increased, I became aware of how close we were to the car in front of us, and once again fear took hold of me.  I renounced that spirit and decided I was going to remain at peace.  But a few minutes later fear was gripping me again as traffic continued to increase.  As I told my daughter what had been going on with me, the Lord showed me that the root of my fear went much deeper than my husband’s little wreck.  Now, it is always good news and bad news for me when I discover that I still have more work to do in a particular area.  On one hand it is “oh crap, I have more stuff to work on.”  But on the other hand it is “oh good, I am on the verge of feeling much better than I do right now!”

I asked the Lord to walk with me, reveal the deeper root of the problem, and help me get free from it.  It did not take Him very long to begin the process.  First, He reminded me of the story of Job.  When Job lost everything, he lamented and said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me.”  When we fear a particular thing, we focus on it so much that we often bring it to pass.  The Lord showed me that if I did not get this fear out of my life, it would grow and grow until I would not ever feel safe in a car, and that would be the end of our road trips.  Unchecked fear could impact my life in such a way that I could become obsessed with my safety, and that could completely shut down my destiny.  When I realized how crippling this could become, I immediately thanked God for showing me truth, I bound that spirit of fear, I repented for allowing it to grow in my soul, and I declared that I would not rest until I had victory over it.

Then, on my way home from that particular road trip, which I had taken by myself, on two occasions I changed lanes on the interstate, only to look in my rear view mirror and see that I had just cut in front of another car.  I thought I had been driving responsibly, so in both instances, I wondered where that car came from.  In both instances, I was amazed that I did not cause a serious accident, and in both instances, my heart was pounding as I thanked God for watching over me and keeping me safe, even in my apparent carelessness.

Immediately the Lord downloaded this message into my spirit:  “I wanted you to see that I go before you, and I make a way for you.  I will never leave you nor forsake you.  When you chose to listen to the voice of fear, even more than losing confidence in your husband, you lost confidence in Me.  In this area you seem to have forgotten that you are in My hands and I will always make a way for you.  Remember when I picked up your car and moved it out of the way of an oncoming truck.  Remember those other times you know about when I saved you from disaster, and know there were many other times I went before you, when you did not even know you were in danger.”

That pretty much said it all.  Broken and humbled, I repented for losing trust in the One who is most worthy of my trust, and I began to reflect on some of the times God had indeed saved me from certain disaster.  You can read about my experience when God picked up my car and moved me out of the path of the truck.  That piece is called Testimony to Psalm 91 and was published on my website on November 20, 2008.

My head flooded with memories of times God had snatched me from the clutches of death and delivered me to safety.  I remembered an event where, without God’s intervention, my four young children and I would have frozen to death one bitter cold and snowy February night.  My children and I were headed to my sister’s farmstead when I realized I had turned off the main road one mile too soon.  I stopped the car and was turning around to head back to the highway when I turned too sharply and backed into the ditch.  Down we went, into a very deep and snow-filled grader ditch, and when the car stopped, we were in a vertical position, looking at the stars.  I knew we were in a precarious position, late at night on a deserted country road with no farmhouses anywhere near.  Even if a car did come down that road, they would never have seen us way down there.  My sister was expecting us to be late, and we lived four hours away, so it would have been morning before anyone began to look for us. 

I remember sitting there for a few minutes, trying to come up with a possible solution.  The kids were nervous, but I don’t think they realized the gravity of our situation.  After all, life was never dull at our house, and drama was not uncommon.  The car was still running, so I hit the gas and we moved an inch or so.  I put the car in reverse and we moved back a few inches.  Impossible as it seemed, I continued to rock the car back and forth, turning the steering wheel slightly.  We were making progress, and after a while, we actually drove out of that ditch.  Everyone cheered, and I was a hero.  Sadly, at the time, I actually believed I had accomplished some great feat.  It took years for me to realize that it was only by the grace of God that we had survived.  Looking back, I realized that I did not even think to clean out the exhaust pipe that no doubt would have been filled with snow.  I get a catch in my spirit when I think of all the lives that would have been impacted by such a tragedy, and all those grandbabies who would never have gotten to be born.  Oh God, it touches my heart to remember Your love and Your grace, and I thank You for Your covering and protection, and for continuously extending my life here.

The previous year the kids and I went to that sister’s wedding.  I dreaded the trip because my family was not too happy with how I was living my life, and I was not quite ready to hear them out.  So, a ‘friend’ sold me some pills that would help me get through the weekend.  About an hour into our trip and after taking the first pill, I was very sleepy and having troubles processing my thoughts.  Right then I spotted a hitch hiker and I picked him up – something I had never done before – and I even let him drive!  He was heading for the same area as we were, so I slid over in the seat and fell asleep, leaving this stranger in control of my car, my children and me.  Several hours later he woke me up because he had reached his destination, and much to my shock, we were less than a mile from my sister’s home.  At the time I thought it was a wonderful coincidence.  Today I know God had sent an angel to get us there safely.

A few years ago I attended an out-of-town gathering, and on my way home, somewhere I made a wrong turn and found myself heading north instead of west.  By the time I got back on track, I had lost about forty-five minutes of time.  Shortly after getting back on the right highway, I came upon a terrible multi-car accident.  Traffic was barely able to get past all the vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and highway patrol cars.  I immediately began to pray for the victims, and as I drove by the wreckage, something came over me and I began to sob uncontrollably.  As soon as I got past all the vehicles, I pulled over, laid my head on the steering wheel, and I cried until I was completely spent.  I had never experienced anything quite like this, so I asked the Lord what it was all about.  I cried even more as I pondered His words spoken into my spirit.  He told me that He had caused me to make the wrong turn.  Had He not done so, I would have been involved in the accident, my car would have been smashed, and I would have been killed.  I thanked Him and praised His goodness, as I wondered how many other times He had spared my life.

I remember a number of years ago when a well-known prophet was invited to speak at our church.  We were relatively new to this congregation and, having been raised in a more traditional denomination, I was a bit undone when the prophet walked over and pointed his finger at me.  He told me the demons have hated me and tried to take me out many times, but God has always prevailed.  I see now how true those words were, and still are. 

Today as I write this piece, I cannot decide if I am more amazed at the goodness of God and His incredibly loving watchfulness over me, or more amazed at my denseness that I would even give a spirit of fear a platform to speak to me.  Here I am:  Holy Spirit filled, washed in the Blood of Jesus, a child of the Most High God, strengthened, equipped, anointed, and empowered to take authority over the hordes of hell.  I shake my head and declare, “Oh Father, after You have watched over me so diligently, and You have so lovingly preserved my life over and over and over again, forgive me for ever doubting Your presence, and for having given a spirit of fear even an inch of me.  I am fearless, I am a conqueror, I am an overcomer, and I am determined that every day I will launch headlong into the fullness of life.  Fear has no hold on me; it isn’t even allowed to speak to me!  I overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the words of my testimony.

 

Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Romans 8:15

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Hebrews 13:5b

…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:2

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Job 3:25

For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me.

Revelation 12:11a

And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the words of their testimony…

 

 

THIS SIDE OF THE CROSS

May 4th, 2011

 

Recently I curled up in my chair in our prayer room, and I asked the Lord if He had a word for me.  Instead of saying something about me (you know that was what I was after!), He brought to my mind a certain young man I know, someone who struggles with physical disability.  The Lord spoke to my heart, and prompted me to ask this person if he was living on this side of the Cross.  I tell you, that made me stop and scratch my head.  As I pressed in to the Holy Spirit, needing more discernment to be able to grasp this saying, He gave me a better understanding of the gifts that the Cross made available to His children.  Then, during the next few weeks, the Lord led me to a number of ministry teachings focused on physical healing, and I began to look more through my spiritual eyes than through my natural ones.  Those messages also brought conviction to my sometimes stubborn heart, one that too often gravitates toward the teachings of the world, rather than to the truths declared by the Word of God.  I will attempt to share this adventure with you in a way that makes sense, because ever since my heart lined up with Scripture, my attitude about supernatural healing has been significantly changed.  Although the word from the Lord initially pointed to someone else, no doubt the lesson was for my benefit.  I must admit, there is no new message in this writing, simply an old message seen through new eyes.

The Cross changed everything.  Before the Cross, man knew that God loved him and had more in store for him than what he had so far experienced.  He waited expectantly for a savior to rescue him from the ravages of all that sin had brought into the world, looking forward with anticipation to the day of his salvation.  He used God’s commandments and the prophets’ declarations as measuring sticks, but hope was difficult to sustain. Judging  himself according to those words, he would have always come up short.  In truth, those commandments and declarations were accomplishing exactly what God intended: to show the depth of his sin and provide proof of his desperate need for a Redeemer.  Although the prophets foretold of the Savior and the Passion that would lead to the Cross, man was not able to adequately grasp the meaning in their messages.  Consequently, I suspect most were never really sure of their eternal status.

Then came Jesus, and the Cross, and the old way of measuring one’s righteousness was turned on its head.  Through the sufferings and death of Jesus, and His Resurrection, man was offered the free gift of eternal salvation – the act of being saved, delivered, and healed.  At the moment man individually acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life, and he believed the gospel message, that free gift was made available to him.  Now he could look back to the Cross and see that the measuring stick had been transformed into an instrument by which Jesus paid mankind’s debt in full, providing for his salvation, his deliverance, and his healing – He bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, and by His stripes we are healed, according to Isaiah 53.  So now, when I assess my own spiritual condition, I can see that I am indeed in right standing with my Father God, because at the Cross, Jesus paid the full penalty for my sin.  And because of my right standing with the Father, sickness and disease do not have a legal right to hold onto me.  However, I must know that truth before I demand my legal rights.  The devil does not play fair and will continue to harass me until I command him to leave me alone.  When I have taken authority over the enemy, and when I am walking in righteousness, I can command my body to come into alignment with what the Word of God says.  At that place, physical healing is available to me.

During His time on earth, Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, cleansed the lepers and raised the dead.  After the Cross and before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus instructed His followers to do likewise.  That means:  Jesus has instructed me to partner with Him to preach the gospel and to minister according to His Word. 

Upon receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was empowered to lay hands on the sick and command their bodies to be healed.  So, as I pray for my friend, I am reminded that on this side of the Cross, Jesus has already provided for his healing.  That means instead of pleading for God to heal him, I am to use the power and authority given to me by the Most High God, and command his body to come into agreement with the Word, and be whole.  Sounds pretty simple, and indeed it is – – assuming his and my faith are also in alignment with Scripture.  Do you know what Believers do? They believe.  And do you know what happens when Believers believe the full gospel of healing and speak accordingly?  People are healed, lives are transformed, and we become a living testimony to the love of God for His children, and His desire to see us walking in wholeness:  saved, delivered, and healed.

We ‘believers’ often have a difficult time believing.  We struggle to get our arms around these truths, partially because we apply our worldly minds and our natural senses when trying to understand supernatural concepts.  And partly, we struggle because much of the modern day church no longer teaches or walks in the supernatural.  Because of their unbelief, they do not see many healings or miracles, so rather than attempting to explain their lack of power, they simply remain silent or else tell us healings and miracles no longer happen. 

When we lack faith, or when we are ignorant of God’s Word, we walk without power or authority.  When we truly believe, we speak out truth and we act with power.  Jesus said that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can tell the mountain to fall into the sea, and it will obey.  I fully believe He meant that literally (which speaks to me about my desperate need for a lot more faith than what I presently have!).  

In the event you are still scratching your head, here is an analogy:  If you have very little money in your bank account, you will live frugally.  If I were to ask you to take a shopping trip with me, you will decline the offer because you have no money to spend.  If I deposit a million dollars into your bank account, you now have enough money to live a much different lifestyle than before – so long as you know that money is in the bank.  If you are not aware of the deposit, you will continue to live in poverty, even though you are rich.  Once you see your bank statement, your life on this side of the deposit will look much different than it did before the deposit.  Likewise, our lives should look much different on this side of the Cross than they looked before we knew about the Cross.  We should be making full use of the ‘deposit’ Jesus made for us.   

I have seen the power of God flow through the hands of His servants, including mine.  I have seen people get out of wheel chairs and walk, and I have seen many be delivered from the oppression of the enemy.  But I have experienced nowhere near the number of victories I am expecting.  In these last days, it will be imperative that we who believe walk in faith, lay hands on the sick, and command their bodies to be healed.   If you do not see immediate results, continue to stand in faith.  Are you a believer?  Then believe.  Are you faithful?  Then operate in the faith you have, and continue to ask Jesus to give you more faith.  After all, He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.  If we want to see nations come to His light, then let’s get out there and let His light shine through us.  Do we want to see miracles take place?  Then, let’s lay down our pride (shyness is pride) and begin to call down miracles from heaven.  As for me, I am determined to live on this side of the Cross.  Jesus, thank You for the Cross.  Thank You for the price you paid – for me.

 

Romans 7:6-7

But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.  What shall we say then? Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

Romans 8:3(a)

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin

Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Acts 3:6-8

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping and praising God.

Mark 16:17-18

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. 

Matthew 10:8

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.

John 1:17

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

Suggested Healing Ministry teaching: 

     David Martin: Spiritual Preparation for the End Times

     Keith Moore: By His Stripes

     Dr. Nasir Siddiki:  Various teachings on physical healing

THE OCEANS OF LIFE

December 18th, 2008

 

Recently another one of those pesky things we sometimes call ‘challenges’ came knocking at my door.  Challenges seem to have a way of sneaking into my life, tempting me to become troubled and let go of my faith.  Even more compelling is the temptation to take matters into my own hands, relying on my own feeble human efforts to save myself.  After having been tripped up way too many times, I have settled it in my heart that in the midst of trials, I will continue to press in and hold on.  I am determined that I will not fall into the sin of fear or the foolishness of implementing worldly schemes.  My heart’s desire is to stand squarely on the foundational Rock of my faith. 

 

Lying awake later that night, I envisioned myself in the middle of an ocean, and I penned the following parable:

 

Drifting along in the ocean waves, wrapped up in my protective wetsuit, I enjoy the peace of a mostly calm sea – I just love basking in the warm sun, my body buoyant in the salt water.  I watch in wonder as the ocean waves swell and recede all around me, while beautiful sea creatures swim by.   I bob along, thinking that this moment in time is so representative of the daily routine of life itself.   The ever-moving waves are like life’s little ups and downs, carrying me along as I go about my day.  Life is good indeed!  (However, you know how life will change in the blink of an eye, often just about the time you lean back and relax.)

 

Suddenly the soft ocean breezes become stiff winds.  The waves grow stronger, tossing me around a little more than I would prefer.  My peace gives way to uncertainty.  In fact, I am becoming quite unsettled with the rising and swirling of the water.  I am having some trouble keeping my nose high enough to avoid the swells, and I can feel a slight bit of panic creeping into my soul.  Instinctively, I reach out and grab a nose plug and a life jacket, which immediately make me feel more secure.  Ah, now I am mostly comfortable in my situation, even though my surroundings are for the most part uncontrollable.  I smugly declare that once again, life is good indeed!   (However, you know that temporary band-aids are short lived.)

 

All too soon white caps begin forming, waves are crashing all around me, and I am once again frightened in my surroundings.  Although the nose plug and life preserver are greatly appreciated, they simply are not going to provide adequate protection for the situation in which I find myself.  Still desiring to control my own course, I reach out for a small life raft and climb in.  My rowing and navigation skills will allow me to guide the raft through the waves, still holding onto the illusion that I am setting my own course.  I take a deep breath and proclaim that life continues to be good indeed!  (However, you know that a bigger band-aid will still fail under increasing pressure.)

 

As I lean back in my raft, and I roll with the bouncing and swirling of the waves, I begin to feel a chill in the air as the gathering clouds darken.  All too quickly the clouds empty themselves of their payload.  I am drenched and shivering, my muscles and bones ache from the rowing, and water rapidly invades my life raft.  Peace gives way to fear and pain.  Terror threatens to well up in me, and I must admit that I need a much larger boat in order to stay on course.  Survival suddenly becomes an issue as I acknowledge my need for greater security.  In desperation, I row to a larger vessel that can carry me safely through the raging storm and the treacherous waters.  Safely aboard a large and luxurious yacht, I am now truly able to chart my own course, navigating the waters with ease.  Storm clouds gather, but I have invested well and I am the master of my own destiny.  I stretch my arms out in celebration because life is good indeed!  (How often do I buy in to the illusion that I am self-sufficient, simply because my most recent idea appears to be working?)

 

I settle into a cushioned deck chair, more than ready to enjoy the rest, a good book, and a bubbly refreshment.  Moments later, I find myself once again in danger. Who could have anticipated that this storm would develop into a hurricane?  Scanning the horizon, the illusion of safety gives way to the reality of the situation in which I find myself.  Could I really be in danger, even in this ocean-ready vessel?  My answer comes quickly as a huge wave laps over the railing of the deck, claiming everything in its path.  Hopelessness engulfs me as I scurry to a place of safety, no longer interested in holding onto any confidence in my own strength.  Sliding across the deck, I surrender and begin to pray, grabbing hold of the Rock that cannot be shaken.  The moment I cry out for mercy and protection, I find myself immersed in the peace of God that passes all human understanding.  I rest in His arms, and thank Him for His remarkable method of teaching me life-saving lessons.  The roaring of the ocean will forever remind me that God is my refuge in the storm.  Once again, life is good indeed!

 

Later, as I studied the lessons of the parable, the Lord showed me that the wetsuit represented how I came into the world, protected but devoid of props.  So long as the oceans of life were calm, I had the luxury of bobbing in the water without a care in the world, in need of nothing.  But as the waves became stronger, I suddenly needed protection from harm.  The nose plug and life preserver represented self-help aids we often seek for answers to life’s little problems.  The life raft represented the gaining of knowledge and education to plan and set my own course in life.  The yacht represented the search for power and wealth to insulate myself from the larger storms of life.  All of these things temporarily gave me a false sense of safety and security in my own strength.   I was in danger of becoming my own god. 

 

Until I am completely humbled, with all props removed from my grasp, I have no need for a savior.  So long as I can make it on my own, living out my self-made and self-centered plans, I will do just that.  However, it was never God’s plan for me to live my life outside of His care and protection.  The challenges and storms in my life remind me of my desperate need for a Savior.  Over and over, the Lord reminds me that He is my Rock, and my strength is found only in Him.  So, when I learn that valuable lesson, and when I run to Him every time challenges come knocking at my door, life is truly good indeed!

 

 

Proverbs 3:5-7a

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes;

 

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.

 

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

II Corinthians 4:7-8

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.

 

Psalm 89:9

You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them.

 

Psalm 107:29

He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.