Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Fight of Faith that Overcomes

This past year has thrown a lot of punches at many of us that we were not expecting. Whether it is a lack of finances, a relationship breakdown, sickness or even terminal illness attacking your body, many have sought counsel or prayer for what to do and how to get through. The crisis is real. So is the fear and pain. What do we do as believers to process through this? Here is what I have been sharing with people from my own experiences that threatened to undo me and destroy my faith in God.

Yes, you are in that place the Israelites were in with their backs up against the Red Sea and Egyptians moving in for the kill. Or when they were led out into the wilderness to a place where there was no water and the cloud stopped there (which means they were not to move from there, nor did they know where to go next - the cloud had always led them to a place of water and sustenance). It is the place of utter helplessness in our circumstances and a place of contradiction. Why would God allow this? What does He expect me to do? Would he really abandon me in this place of destruction? After all I have seen Him do to get me where I am through His blessing and favor, will He now give me over to the power of these things that have surrounded me, even while I was faithful to Him?

This is that place that no one wants to go through but every child of God is destined for - to test and reveal the heart. It is that place that God ordains for us (even if it is the enemy warring against us) where we have to dig in deeper than we ever have before to "trust the Lord with all of our hearts and not lean on our own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). It is that place where the goodness of God seems non-existent but we grab hold of that reality of God's goodness because we know it is true. But you don't know it is really true except in the midst of contradiction. It is the place where he have to face the fears that we have deep in our hearts that we have not yet seen. As well as the lies we believe about God and ourselves that we don't know are there. But our Father in His mercy brings us into that place to face ourselves so that we can be purified and set free of those things that will ultimately keep us from our destiny. Our Father knows that there are bigger giants ahead of us that will try to knock us off the path of our calling and greater glories of conquest as we pursue the Kingdom - giants that will take us out if we are not ready to face them - but will take us out if we still have these fears and lies in our hearts.

I have discovered that if in the midst of these kind of trials and contradictions, I do not have perfect peace and joy, it is because I have things in me that are not in alignment with heaven. I am still trusting in things that are not trustworthy. I am not seeing God's heart accurately, nor my own value to God as a son. I have not yet seen that unique aspect of God's loving character toward me that ultimately brings me deliverance.

The Israelites gained their biggest revelations of God's nature through their biggest tests. It was Abraham offering up Isaac (a total contradiction) that revealed to Abraham, and the nation that was yet to come from him, that God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Who provides (or the Lord Who sees to it). It was during the plague of sickness that the Israelites discovered that God is Jehovah Rapha, the God Who heals you. It was during the war with Amelek that they came to understand and trust that God is Jehovah Nissi, the God Who is my banner (of victory). The first time we see the revelation that God is The Lord of Hosts is when Hannah could not bring forth a child. It is while Gideon answers God's call to face the Midianites that he discovers the God Who is our peace. Jacob reveals to Joseph when he blesses him at the end of his life that God is Jehovah Rohi, the Lord Who is my shepherd. How did he come to know that except by all that he went through? But he certainly knew it at that moment when he was blessing his son who was not only alive but now prime minister of Egypt.

The fact that we are walking through what might seem to be the "valley of the shadow of death" is actually an indication that we are right on schedule with God's training in our lives for a promotion. Unless we can see that the circumstances we are in are a result of our own poor choices and bad attitudes, the reality is we are in an ordained test from God Who believes there is gold inside of us that will be revealed with fire. Deuteronomy 8:2-5 reveals to us that our Father in heaven is a good father who disciplines us (trains us to prepare us) through our overwhelming circumstances to show us what is in our hearts, making us totally dependent on Him, so that we will no longer trust in what is temporal but come into greater experience of heavenly power and provision not previously known to us (or others before us). But it is only those who humble themselves before God in this process who allow Him to expose and remove the dross of our hearts and bring forth the gold, the glory of His nature within us.

I wish I could say that most sons and daughters of God go through these times well and pass the test. Just like the Israelites, they did not, but died in the wilderness of their own grumblings, self-pity, judgments toward God and unbelief. It is so sad to see all those who initially trusted God for their salvation but could not trust Him for their daily lives. But rather accused Him of not being good or fair - not seeing their struggles or caring for them.

But it is only those who come to completely trust Him and know fully in their hearts, even through their painful hardships, that their Father in Heaven is their "Abba" or wonderful, loving Daddy/Papa, who go on to fulfill the greatest destinies prepared in heaven for those who love Him.

I have had to ask myself again and again, "Do I trust Him, is He good?" And if the answer is yes, then what do I expect to be the outcome of my present circumstances? It is my expectation that good is coming to me and that I will be cared for, that reveals genuine faith in God. It is my declaration and prophetic confessions over my future for a glorious end that indicates my heart is wrapped up in His loving heart for me, that I am secure in His care for me. I will either walk in fear or in faith. My expectation is either for possible bad things to happen or breakthrough into God's best for me. My words and attitudes will either attract demons or angels. I will either end up with a testimony of God's goodness or I will become a casualty and a stumbling block for others who would trust in God. I will either get stronger and more filled with the Spirit or I will drain others around me with my negative outlook and fear. I will either lead with my faith or I will be led by dark forces that I am agreeing with.

Ultimately, it is what you are looking at that determines where you end up and what happens. If I am looking at heavenly realities that speak of unfailing love and power on my behalf, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand", I will see something greater than my circumstances and know the outcome in advance, leading to peace and overcoming joy. If I focus on what is going on around me or in my body, or other people, I will become subject to what I fear they can do to me that I can not control. This is why Paul tells Timothy that he must "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12). It is those who fight this fight of faith that finish their course (2 Tim 4:7). No matter what we are going through, we always have a choice of what we think about, what we believe and what we speak.

The moment we give in to feeling sorry for ourselves in our difficulties, we are no longer able to see God for Who He is. We must be ruthless against self-pity, though it feels good for the moment and seems justified. It perhaps is the most deadly of poisons offered by the enemy to destroy our ability to overcome. When we fight against this deception, it often reveals the lies we have been harboring in our hearts that have been hidden to us.

In Mark 5, we see the story of Jairus, the synagogue ruler coming in desperation to Jesus because his daughter was at the point of death. He had faith for her to be healed if Jesus would come. But he did not have expectation for good to come if his daughter died. His daughter's death was the breaking point for him. Jesus agrees to come but He is not in a hurry, for He stops along the way to minister to the woman with the issue of blood. In the mean time, the little girl dies and the servants come and tell Jairus to give it up. It is now time to mourn and weep. Hope is gone. But Jesus, Who already saw a different end, because He saw what the Father is doing, grabs Jairus and speaks directly to his heart issues. Jesus knows that Jairus will cave into fear and hopelessness in the midst of his circumstances. And this is always the kiss of death for all of us.

Jesus speaks simple words to him that we all need to follow in our difficulties that threathen to crush us: "Do not be afraid, only believe". The Greek word Jesus used can be translated "keep on believing". "Maintain your expectation for good, for breakthrough". Jesus was exhorting him to fight the fight of faith so he could receive heaven's best. First, we must fight fear. We must make a choice to give no place to the feelings and thoughts of fear that connect us to an expectation for bad to come. Second, we must choose to see what our Heavenly Father can do and will do for those who love Him. If you can see it, or hear it, you can have it. What you have seen, you now know to be true. What you know is what you expect. What you expect is what you speak. What you speak is what you act on.

Jairus could see that it was not over. So he went ahead and brought Jesus into the situation of his daughter's death, looking for the Kingdom of God to manifest in a way he had not known before. It was because he refused fear and took action that Jesus was given authority to enter his house and bring heaven's power to overcome. Jairus had a lot of choices before him at that moment: fear, hopelessness, self-pity, anger, judgment toward God, OR belief and action. He would either be led by the fear and hopelessness of those around him or he would lead the way with his faith resulting in victory and God receiving glory. We are reading his testimony 2,000 years later and it is still leading us to believe for more from heaven.

The Israelites found out after they failed the test, that there was water in the rock right where they were all the time. God in His mercy revealed how to get the water, but they Israelites gained nothing from this. What would have happened if they fought the fight of faith, believing that their good God would never lead them to a place of death, and declared their salvation and provision in the midst of their life-threatening thirst? Moses probably would not have had to strike the rock with the rod. As they praised their God for His goodness and declared their salvation, the water might have burst forth in their midst by itself. What a testimony they would have had! Rather they hardened their hearts and never entered into the promised land of their destiny.

You may be in this fight right now. It is a test that you can pass and gain an incredible testimony. Your promotion into greater things of the Kingdom is on the other side of this. A revelation of Who God really is in His character and goodness beyond what you have known is in the midst of these circumstances. The miracle that you think you need right now is nothing more than a normal work of God on any given day for those who trust in Him and keep their eyes on Him. Your Father God is in a good mood. He who sits in the heavens laughs at your circumstances and your enemies (Psalm 2:4). Laugh with Him. Declare your good ending. Prophesy what the love of God will bring about for you. Refuse all fear. Do not entertain one thought of what bad might happen. Watch for angels who surround those who fear the Lord. Break forth into praise and thanksgiving. Speak to your circumstances from your heavenly position of faith. Wait for more revelation to come with instruction and strategies on what to do. Wait for supernatural doors to open up. Live under an open heaven. Lead others with your words of faith, grateful attitudes and actions of belief. Prepare yourself in advance to receive a testimony. This is what pleases the Father.

I will be looking for your testimony! Amen!!