Monday, September 19, 2016

Crowd of Witnesses - Power and Might of God

Part 2 of Crowd of Witnesses  (if u missed it: Part 1 here)

Jesus was Transparent
What are the purpose, intent and motive behind transparency?  I can share my thoughts on it, and someone else could very well expound upon it or perhaps even differ in their understanding. I just prefer to keep it as simple as possible.

The word itself can be used to take on different meanings, dependent upon the context with which it is used, such as computing, physics, business etc. However, for what I am referring to (transparency in a person) here are a couple of Oxford dictionary definitions:

Transparent: easy to perceive or detect; having thoughts or feelings that are easily perceived; open, free from pretense or deceit: not secretive

Jesus the Christ was a transparent person. Macquarie (Australian dictionary) gives a keen definition that can adequately define Jesus/Yeshua and his life. 

Transparent: that unique property, when possessed, allows the transmitting of rays of light through its substance, so bodies or objects situated beyond or behind can be seen distinctly
Jesus is Light, and if ever a man allowed “the transmitting of rays of light through”, it is Christ Yeshua (Jesus). The words ‘transparent’, ‘transparency’ and ‘authenticity’ have become popular words, even in the secular world, but some use the words as a cloak for deception and lies.''

We are in a time where people are hungry for truth, but it is getting harder and harder to find. Isaiah warned that darkness would cover the earth and gross darkness the people, and we are seeing that as each day progresses, but the glory of the Lord will be seen upon His people. [Is 60:2]

Unprecedented and increased violence, perversions in astounding proportions, natural calamities becoming more frequent and intense and lawlessness are abounding. Yes, great darkness is upon us, and gross darkness foreboding, but we must hold fast our faith and trust in God.

How transparent was Jesus? Philip asked Him (Yeshua), "show us the Father, and it will suffice us (be sufficient). What was the Lord’s response?

Have I been so long time with you, and yet you have not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father? Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, He does the works. [Jn 14:9, 10]

God is pure and holy. He is righteous, and He cannot lie. He is Faithful and True, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Is 9:6] These are only some of the Lord’s titles and attributes. Jesus told his apostles that when they see Him, they see the Father. That is how transparent Jesus was.

I believe there has to be balance in everything. Ecclesiastes says it best: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: [3 verse 1] In verse seven of chapter three, it says: “[…] a time to keep silence, and a time to speak […] a time for war, and a time for peace. [vs 8]

There are times that we absolutely need time alone, alone with God. Sometimes we can be affected by legalism. What do I mean by that? In the Bible, we see where God’s people, from Moses to Abraham, to Elijah to all the prophets, to King David and onward, we see where they poured their hearts out to the Lord.

They were transparent before Him and He did not chastise them for it. Yet many times, these men did not speak to others about their situations. They poured out their hearts to the Lord…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

Yet legalism had touched me to the point where I was afraid to tell the Lord that I had fear, that I was stressed and in great pain in my heart, but He knew. There were times I had no words even to the Lord; I simply did not know how to pray about what I felt inside.

The Holy Spirit was working with me, as I struggled with what to say to God and how to say it. It comes down to trust. Does God know us and love us or does he not? He does and He is patient. He knows our heart’s cry, even when we cannot vocalize it.

Refining and Purifying
When I came to understand the words in 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter about love, I came to know that we can and must be truthful and transparent before God. He knows more about us than we know about ourselves. He knew us in the womb. He created us.
What do you think the “dross” is that surfaces when the Lord is refining us? Dross is the scum or the impurities that lie hidden deep within are heart. At times, we are being pruned, purged and purified as silver.

Other times, our faith is being tried as gold. And there are times that it is not a test at all, but we are experiencing the results of living in a fallen world and sinful people. God will see us through our confusion, feelings and emotions.
Have you ever watched a documentary on refining silver or gold and how it is tested? Did you know that the best way to refine silver or purify gold is with the hottest fire? The metal has to be placed directly in the center of the fire, where the hottest flames are. If the fire is not hot enough, the end result would be impure silver.

The impurities, called dross, will rise to the surface, and the refiner must methodically skim it off, being careful to take as little of the silver as possible. The silversmith has to remain with the silver during the entire process and bring it out of the fire at just the right time, in order to keep the silver from being destroyed.
In the ancient days, the silver had to go through the fire process seven times, perhaps because they could not get the fire from wood to the degree we can today or perhaps because they did not have the protective gear that is available today. Nevertheless, the metal was refined seven times.

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver is refined in a furnace of earth (clay), purified seven times. [Ps 12:6]

In some parts of the Middle East, clay ovens are still used to purify silver. We are the clay, and our bodies (hearts) are the ‘oven’; the work of the Holy Spirit is the purifying fire. The number ‘seven’ represents ‘perfection’ or ‘completeness’.

The dross is our impurities, any contaminates that will affect us in body, mind and spirit. The purer gold is processed longer than lesser gold. Those of us who have been seeking God and walk in deep intimacy with Him may find the fire a time of confusion, yet the Refiner is keeping a careful eye on us and He hears us when we call out to Him in our affliction.

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.  [Zech 13:9]
Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, even for My own sake, will I do it: for how should My name be polluted? And I will not give My glory unto another. 
[Is 48:10, 11]

As things got very heated in this trial, I had forgotten the above verses. My trial is not over yet, but now the Holy Spirit has reminded me of these things. When we cry out to God, He truly is faithful and hears us. When we lack wisdom and we ask of God, He does grant it and gives it to us liberally. [Jam 1:5]
One last thing about silver that was shown in the documentary I watched. When the silver is purified, the ‘refiner’ knows it is the best quality when he can see his reflection (image) in it.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (molded) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. [2Cor 3:18]

Purpose of Transparency
The purpose of transparency is to give glory to our Father in heaven through Christ Jesus in us. Jesus (Yeshua) will be magnified; He will be exalted. When we worship Him (with thanksgiving and praise - a MUST anytime, but especially in the hard trials - that is faith in action). The purpose, motive and intent in transparency is to "reflect Christ" and to glorify God.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [Mat 5:14-16]

The Lord can handle anything we may think or say. Nothing catches Him off-guard. Jesus sees us no matter where we are and He knows what is in our heart. An example of this is found in verses 45 to 50, in the first chapter of the book of John.
Philip went to his friend Nathanael and told him that the man that Moses and the prophets wrote about was found. His name was Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and said of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile (deceit)!

Nathanael said to Him, Where do you know me from? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.

Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, you believe? You shall see greater things than these.

Our transparency serves as a gentle reminder that:

(a) God sees all things and is with us through all our trials 
(b) we are alone in our afflictions; our brethren suffer too 
(c) Jesus meant it when He said that He would never leave or forsake us 
(d) we are not victims of Satan nor are we his prisoners 
(e) there is hope and a future, to give us an expected end

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. 
[Jam 5:10, 11]

Is it not hard to be patient when we are going through hard times? We just want the troubles to be over with, but we are told to wait and be patient. We have no choice but to endure, yet the Lord will see us through, if we will seek Him and cleave to Him. God will deliver us!

There are times, we have to admit, that no one can fully understand what we are going through. How can we find the words to adequately describe what we are experiencing when we are confused and unable to comprehend what is going on, the how it came about or the why behind it. Nothing seems to make sense, but it has become a reality.

There are times we must go through things with God alone; none can help. Brethren can pray (and hopefully not judge), but it really comes down to just the Lord and us alone, period. Sometimes we become anxious and despair over the trials and tribulations that come into our lives.

Trials may be a troubled, intimate relationship, health, finances, career, loss of home or possessions, death of a loved one, war. Perhaps only one or two areas are affected, or perhaps everything seems lost, much like what happened to Job.

A pastor once shared that when his daughter was in the hospital being treated for cancer, and he saw his wife pounding her hand on the wall outside the hospital room in frustration, helplessness and fear, he became so overwhelmed that he drove to a remote place.

For over two hours, he poured out of his heart, his anger, his frustrations, his lack of understanding, his grief and pain, his fears, how overwhelmed he was, how unfair it all was and much more. He vented until everything that he was feeling and thinking was expressed.

When he was done, God spoke to him and strengthened him enough to continue on. His daughter was healed in due time, but he still had to endure to the end and until victory was seen. Yet when he cried out to the Lord in all transparency, God heard him and answered.

Come, and let us return to the Lord: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.

Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. [Hos 6:1-3]

We have to come to the place where we fully trust God, no matter what. We must rise up in again. Our faith is tried, but if our house is built upon the Rock (Jesus), our house will stand in the winds of adversity and the storms of life. We must wait patiently for God’s promise of deliverance. He is for us and not against.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord; thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. 
[Jer 29:11-13]

Corrupted Files
I already shared how this trial began just over a year ago, when someone very close and dear to me was in an accident. It is not necessary to repeat what I have already written. The trial, as stated, began slowly but enough to keep my attention and divert my focus.

It began with the writings on my external showing up as corrupted. When the new external hard drive was returned, I began the task of going through the files. My interest was not so much in the music or the PDFs, as they can easily be restored from other sources.

My main interest was the nine years’ worth of my writing that I had lost. It began to look hopeful and I began making new file folders on the new external, separating the readable, good files from those that remained corrupted.

After over two months of going through the two million files, I had managed to go through 40,000, which is just a dent in the overall remaining files. It is a tedious and laborious task and one that has to be done in any spare time that I can find.

However, when I decided to open and print up the good files that had thus far been recovered and separated into folders on the new external, they too were now reading “corrupted” and “unreadable”, or they would not open at all. I could hardly believe it.

After doing much hard research on my own, I came to discover that there is a Trojan virus called Ransomware that encrypts documents (particularly Microsoft Office docs) on a computer and then demands a “ransom” to unlock the encryption with a specific key.

This virus can be sent via an attachment in emails (which I never open unless I am sure of the person who is sending an attachment), or when you visit a bogus website, which sometimes looks like an official agency such as the FBI, but it is fake. A blue screen pops up and the computer freezes. There is also a Cryptolocker virus that does not ask for money ransoms, but still corrupts your documents.

I was hit three times with a blue screen, in which I merely shut down the PC and rebooted. All seemed well, but obviously, I did pick up a virus that was not detected by scans, which ultimately crept through and corrupted my files.

The type of virus I have seems to corrupt files after they have been opened and then closed. That is why I have been able to open files which appear fine, but when I return to them, they are corrupted.

So, that was one area that was hit in my life, but that was just a tiny part of this trial I find myself in. Shortly after I began checking files, my laptop began revving very high and at times would freeze. Then a “black” screen would appear, until finally the laptop would not turn on at all.

I had been in the middle of writing a small series on the blog, and bam! no computer. A brother in Christ and friend purchased a refurbished desktop for me. Yet, when it arrived, it had problems. Desperately, I turned on the laptop and it worked. What was going on?

The problem with the desktop was fixed, and then I was having problems with my internet. There were hours that would pass with no internet service, a service which is included in my rent. It turns out that it was the router and the problem was rectified.

Yet, no sooner was the internet problem fixed when the desktop began making bizarre noises every time I turned it on. It needs to be checked by a technician, even now, but praise God, my laptop is working. The computer problems occurred over a 3-week period.

Then my car began having problems. Suffice it to say that from March until August, I had one costly repair after another done to my car. In July, I purchased four winter tires, as the tires I had were bearing steel.

It was only by the grace of God that I did not have a blowout, injuring myself and others, or worse. When I had the steering pump hose replaced, I had asked the mechanic to check the tires. He assured me that the tires would be good for the summer.

It was not truth. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that he had not checked the tires whatsoever. Below are the tires that I was driving on, so you can see how the Lord spared me in my innocence.
One thing that must be added is the reality that the Lord provided enough money for each monthly repair, usually just enough, but still, enough.

Humility Lesson

The corrupted files were discovered in March. Although this last trial began at the very end of August, 2015 (as previously mentioned), greater problems began to present themselves at a faster pace beginning in March. What was I to be learning through all this? What was my attitude?

At first, as far as the corrupted files were concerned, I did weep at the realization of the years of work lost, the seemingly wasted hours of grueling research and the loss of many articles and messages from the Lord.

By the end of the first week after the discovery, I began to hope that perhaps all could be recovered. Yet with the countless phone calls speaking with a representative, the experience was beginning to make me feel like a yoyo.

One call was filled with hope, whilst the next call dashed hope against the rocks. Problem, solution, and on it went without rhyme, reason or consistency. I will spare the reader the details of the many steps involved in the process of recovery with the technicians, but I will say that no sooner had one problem been resolved, when another would arise.

During this confusing time, the Holy Spirit was working with me. Many prayers went up from me, asking the Lord to please help the technicians recover my material. One thing that greatly troubled me was not so much the writings on certain current events or other various topics, but rather the loss of prophetic words that the Lord had given me over the years.

Please do not misunderstand me. There is no way that I am suggesting the prophetic words were akin to scripture because they were and are not. In fact, the Lord would offtimes use scripture and characters or lessons contained within scripture in the messages He gave me.

His messages never conflicted with His character, ways or his Holy Scriptures – ever. If several individual authors wrote a book about you, readers would come to know your character, your accomplishments and ways by reading what the authors wrote about your actions, words and experiences with you.

Yet, one book would not reveal everything you do, or everything you think. Readers would come to know your character and ‘some’ of what you said, did or thought. I hope that I have explained that properly. We learn about our Creator, His words and deeds thru His Word.

Therefore, if a prophetic word is given, we should be able to discern if it is from our Lord or not, unless it is an extremely clever counterfeit. Yet, the Holy Spirit will quicken us to truth. Jesus said, My sheep know My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.[Jn 10:27]

Yet we are also forewarned to not believe every spirit, but to test the spirits, as many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1Jn 4:1] The spirit of prophecy bears testimony to Jesus. [Rev 19:10]

I do not consider myself a prophetess, but the Lord has given me many prophetic words, just as He has countless others.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: [Acts 2:17]

Nor do I consider myself a teacher, but I eagerly share many lessons I learned and findings that I have uncovered through exhaustive research.

That being said, one time after prayer over the corrupted files and years of work, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the story of King Nebuchadnezzar. He had built a mighty and impressive kingdom, full of riches and the glory of spectacular workmanship.

Pride and False Humility
Nebuchadnezzar was exceedingly proud of all he had accomplished. He wanted the people to worship him, not God. He had built an image of himself that people were to bow down to. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to do so, he became infuriated, commanding his soldiers to throw the three Hebrews into the hottest furnace to be burned.

Afterwards, God gave the king a dream that could only be interpreted by Daniel. The prophet explained many things, but emphasized the king’s self-love and his great pride, his propensity for dominating people and demanding that they worship him instead of God.
His punishment was that he would be driven out of his kingdom by men and made to wander seven years as a wild animal, eating “grass as oxen”, until he learned that it is God who is Sovereign and rules, not him.
A year passed since Daniel’s interpretation and the king forgot the warning. One day he stood, admiring his kingdom. The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”  

Immediately, a voice came from heaven telling Nebuchadnezzar, “Your kingdom is departed from you.” [Dan 4:30, 31] The seven years of humility began for the wayward, proud king.

How well I remembered the story. The Holy Spirit brought another scripture to mind. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had labored to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”  [Eccl 2:11]

Seven long years passed. Nebuchadnezzar's sanity returned and he repented, having learned that in all of his accomplishments and majesty, God still ruled over him. He had learned his lesson. God restored him to his kingdom.
If I said that panic set in as the Holy Spirit reminded me of these scriptures, it would be an understatement. I was searching my heart, my motives, everything. I was grieving over the loss of my hard work over the years, but who led me in all I wrote? The Lord!

When I wrote, my discoveries from research and resulting articles were to point to the times we are in, the evil that is manifesting throughout the world, the Biblical prophecies that are unfolding and also things that I have learned from studying scripture and listening to pastors, teachers etc.

But who was it all to point to? The fast-approaching return of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ! Who gave me messages for people? Who led me in what to write? Yet I was grieving over my lost work?

Had I been proud of my accomplishments and all the hard labour that had been put into it? Oh no, forsooth! Was I being pretentious? Why was the story of Nebuchadnezzar brought to mind? Pride can be so subtle; it can present as false humility. I repented, just in case.

One more story came to remembrance, that being the story of Elijah when he had run from Jezebel. He had been ready to meet death, even telling the Lord that “[…] it is enough! [1Kin 19:4]

An angel ministered twice to Elijah, with food. Elijah journeyed for forty days and nights to Horeb, after he was strengthened. The Lord asked the prophet what he was doing there.

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. [1Kin 19:10]
Elijah thought that he was the only one left of God’s holy prophets. The Lord brought a great wind, an earthquake and then a fire, but God was in none of those things.
Afterwards, the Lord instructed Elijah to anoint Hazael to be king of Syria, Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to be anointed as a prophet. Then the Lord said,
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel (prophets), all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.”  
[1Kin 19:15-18]

I understood the reason behind the reminder of this part of Elijah’s life. Again, I had been lamenting over the loss of the prophetic words the Lord had given me over the years. The Father was reminding me of the thousands of people He has given prophetic words to, for generations upon generations, all of whom love Him and have not bowed down to any false God or any false Christ.

Indeed, I was humbled. After over two months of sorrowing over my lost work, a valuable lesson was taught me. How subtle is pride? Subtle! I repented over any pride that was within me and asked forgiveness. A great peace came over me, and although I still go through the files to recover what I can, I do not panic or grieve if files are forever lost.
My heart was being tested. Was I guilty of false humility? The Lord did question me on why I grieved over the work. I explained the hard work and that there were times His messages often comforted me, but now they were lost. I opened up about the labour put into the news articles and shared lessons that I had written.

The purpose behind reminding me of Nebuchanezzar was to reveal that all of man’s labours are vanity. What is important is the kingdom of God, not any “kingdom” or ‘work’ we accomplish here on this earth.

My work was always for the glory of the Lord. The focus was always Jesus and how quickly things are lining up for His return. What about the lost prophetic words? The Lord has thousands that He has spoken through. That was the reason for the reminder about Elijah. The only “word” that is important is God’s Word; Jesus is the Word come in the flesh.

After all, the day will come in the future that none of this will matter. We who are saved will be living with Christ throughout eternity and all of creation will be exalting and worshipping Almighty God! I am only a voice, only one vessel…one of thousands.

It is God that is exalted, not me. This is only one of many tests in this granddaddy of all trials thus far. Dross is being removed to the glory of God alone!

The Cost Continued

Each month, some problem presented itself with the car. At times I had to wait for money to come in (I do ghostwriting and editing to try and make ends meet). I replaced the thermostat, water pump, starter, power steering hose (a hydraulic hose with a chip, which was a pretty penny), new battery and finally, four winter tires (from March to August, a six month period, these things were replaced.) 

The Lord had gone ahead of me and I “just happened” to have “just enough” funds each time. I knew that the Lord was trying my attitude, but He had taught me well through previous trials. He provided each time, but before money came, He would try my attitude.

He had taught me long ago to trust Him in such things, but the constant problems were starting to drain me.  Food was depleted, so I decided it was the right time to fast and pray about all the things happening. We are to thank the Lord in times of plenty and in times of lack. He had taught me these things in previous trials.

Then at the end of April, something happened that caused me to come undone, a complete shattering of the heart. It was completely unexpected and most certainly unwelcome. What was happening? Things were coming at me hard and heavy.

The dark cloud that hung over me from my shattered heart would not lift. Not a day went by when I did not weep and could barely find strength to go about my day. It seemed that emotionally and spiritually I was in a downward spiral. Meanwhile, I was still dealing with the car problems, as well as the PC and internet issues that were previously mentioned.

It was the shattered heart that began a real crisis in me. How I struggled to be strong and not focus on what was happening, but I was losing the battle. There was no time for self-pity, not yet. The greatest challenge was the mighty wind I felt as I cried out to Jesus, “Save me Lord!”

Matters of the Heart
June was a time of lack, in that the car had taken all extra money. It did not matter to me if I did not eat much because my appetite was depleted due to the situation that had shattered my heart. My hope was deferred and my faith was being greatly shaken.

It was also in June that I was sitting with the landlady and a neighbour relaxing, after having cut the grass on the lawn. The neighbour and her husband are Wiccans, and I have been witnessing to them as opportunity presented itself for over a year now. The landlady believes in God, but has no commitment toward Him.
As we were chatting, a great pressure developed in my chest and the intensity of it must have caused me to gasp and make some strange face because both the landlady and my neighbour asked me what was wrong.

I tried to make light of it, but they were insisting that I go to the hospital. They were sure that I was suffering from a heart attack. My neighbour’s husband suffers from angina, even though he is in his early forties. I kept them at bay because I was not convinced that it was anything serious. The pressure lasted for about ten minutes and then subsided, yet the ladies were urging me to go to the hospital.

I managed to convince them that all was well, so they calmed down and the rest of the visit went well. Later that night, when I was laying down praying, the pressure in my chest returned, but it subsided after a couple of minutes.

Confusion came over me, as I did not know if it was a spiritual attack or an actual physical problem. I decided on the former and rebuked the enemy. The thought kept occurring to me that I was being punished because I had been struggling with something that I was to let go of.  

Each time God mentioned it, I obeyed Him, but then a new problem would arise. My focus was redirected and overcoming seemed out of reach. I prayed heavily. At times, God was silent and the silence seemed deafening. How weary I was.

The enemy would condemn me and speak many negative words. Sometimes I knew it was the enemy and other times I could not tell if the thoughts were mine or fiery darts from Satan. He is the father of lies, but he will come at us when we are in a weakened state.

Later the next day, when speaking with a friend who happens to be a nurse, she too insisted that I at least go to a doctor and have some tests done. Doctors are scarce in the town close to me, so most of the people go to a walk-in clinic or the hospital.

I was weakened from fasting, and spiritually, my heart was in great pain. A little convincing from my nurse friend and I went to the hospital, spending six hours going through a series of tests. My breath had been shallow when I went in, so the first thing the doctor ordered was an oxygen mask with medication in it to open up the airways.

The usual procedure was done, temperature taken, blood pressure and pulse counted. My blood pressure was registering slightly high. Then I had an electrocardiogram, a chest X-ray and finally a CAT scan. Dye had been injected intravenously so that the veins in my chest could be seen. The doctor wanted to check for blood clots.

At the end of it all, it was determined that nothing was wrong. Physically, all was well. At least I could put my friends’ minds at ease.

The doctor explained the high blood pressure as anxiety, since it was back to normal by the time he discharged me six hours later.  I was told that the pressure in the chest was likely acid reflux or indigestion. I felt like a donkey, but at least all was well and I was grateful.

Was it a spiritual attack or was it a result of the brokenness I felt in my spirit, in my spiritual heart? The question was unanswered, but I did know that I had to keep pressing into the Lord, regarding the matter of my (spiritual) heart.

Between grieving over my lack of overcoming, combined with my broken heart, the thoughts that raced through my mind made me feel like I was either going crazy, or had gone over the edge but did not yet realize it. Scriptures seemed to fly through my mind; some were uplifting, others seemed to condemn me. It felt like a war zone in my mind.

I kept praying, kept pressing in. “Lord, you will have to let me go because I cannot let go of you. What is happening?” I shared part of my journal earlier, but that was only a hint of the battle of the heart and soul versus my mind and flesh. Am I going to make it through this?

Car Graveyard
How I prayed that the Lord would bring an end to the endless costs going into my car. How often have we heard to be cautious about what we pray for? End of August, my car overheated. I had noticed the temperature gauge rising and pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway.

Three army men stopped to assist. Since I had replaced the water pump and was not using air conditioning, it was concluded that the water on the ground was likely from the overflow. After twenty minutes of waiting for the car’s engine to cool down, it started and the soldiers waved me goodbye. It was kind of them to wait to be sure the care would start.

Once home, I filled the car up with fluids and all seemed well. However, during my next trip back from town (I live on the outskirts), the temperature gauge malfunctioned. The motor overheated to such a degree that the car shut off automatically.

I managed to pull over off the highway. Praise God that I was only about a mile from home. But this time, the car would not start. The landlord and a neighbour got a towrope and towed the car home.

Unfortunately, the head gasket (and possibly the motor) was blown. The car is officially off the road, as it is an older car with high kilometers. Even if I replaced the motor, which is out of the question, there would still be too much costly repairs to do. The car has to be scrapped and is sitting in the apartment parking lot, stripped of its plates.

I will not go into further detail as to other things that have transpired, but undoubtedly, every area was hit. It seemed that anything and everything that could go wrong was doing so. But for the Lord! He alone has held me through it all, but I cannot pretend, as I have stated earlier, that it has been the granddaddy of all trials.

Dragon Tailspin

Looking to Jesus, I had begun this trial with great faith, high hopes, bravery and courage. Yet as the trial persisted and problems intensified, my focus shifted from Jesus and towards the adversity and affliction presenting itself.

Fear came with a great sinking feeling. “Lord, save me.” Jesus indeed extended his hand and took hold of me. Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 
[Mat 14:30]

Some years ago, I had a dream where before me stood a great giant, possibly ten to twelve feet tall. He was dressed in black armour. I stood before him. He then began to shrink and before I knew it, he had sunk into the ground as dust, ashes. Not a hint of him remained.

Perplexed, I stood there looking at the ground where he disappeared, when suddenly a great red dragon came up from the very spot where the giant had disintegrated. He lifted a foot and managed to press it upon my back and down I went under its heaviness. I awoke.

Indeed, a great heaviness was upon me, but there was nothing going on in my life to bring about any such heaviness. I looked out my window over the strawberry fields and felt no desire for life. I was not suicidal, just that the heaviness was that severe.

A friend in the United States prayed for me and I thanked her before she hung up the phone. Yet, the heaviness remained. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me to ‘put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’. [Is 61:3] Truthfully, I did not feel like praising God.

After some wrestling between my flesh and spirit, I lay down prostrate on the floor, forcing myself to speak praise. The best I could muster was “praise You Jesus, praise You Lord”, over and over again, repetitiously, like a parrot.

It felt like an eternity, but it was only five or more minutes before I literally and physically felt the heaviness life. Yes, it was if the foot of the dragon had been removed from me. It was then easy to thank God and praise Him for His direction and wisdom in the matter.
That night the dream continued. I was standing before the dragon, dressed in white and with a sword in my hand. Before I knew it, the dragon lifted its tail and swung it at me, knocking me into a tailspin.

I fell hard and was laying there on my belly. I could not tell if I was dead or alive, but I was not moving. The dream ended. The next morning when I awoke, I remembered the dream, but I felt fine. Time passed and nothing happened, so eventually I forgot about the dream.

Years passed. A couple of months ago, I saw myself down on the ground, just as I had been in the dream years ago, dressed in white, on my bell with the sword still loosely in my hand, but I was either out cold or dead.
Then I saw a man, wearing a white robe approach me. He lifted me up, turned and was carrying me. I could only see the man from the chest down, but somehow I knew that it was Jesus. He was carrying me.

When I awoke I thought about it, but pushed it away. Yet, as I write this, it strikes me that it is no coincidence that I remembered the dream or the fact that it comes to me now. For I realize as I write this that although my trial is not yet over, the Lord Jesus is carrying me.

Distractions
Another thing that presented itself for the past three weeks or so are distractions. They are the type of distracctions that cannot be ignored, and they come fast  and furious. Please hear me when I say that through all this, I am not complaining (I went through that stage and repented). What I have made sure of, despite these unavoidable distractions, I make sure I find time to pray to God. I have learned, guaranteed, that I cannot do this without Jesus (Yeshua), nor do I want to.

Even if it is briefly, in the morning, throughout the day, at night, (even if they can only be what I call "arrow prayers" - quick and to the point), I will not (cannot) let a day pass without involving Jesus and praying to God. I need Him in all of this, now and forever! Yes, waiting is hard; patience is a hard lesson. It is tempting to think that God has forgotten us, or that we are tares or false, or crazy, or too far gone to be forgiven... or, or , or...but the devil is a liar. 

We ourselves must cast down our own negative thoughts and any high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring it into obedience to Christ. Remember, Satan can only work with our flesh, but he cannot touch our spirit. We are children of light; children of obedience. 

If we have disobeyed, repent! Repent quickly and sincerely! This life is temporal and there is no THING and no ONE that should ever take precedence of first place before GOD. Eternity is never-ending; this life is temporal. Remember that!

Satan will do anything and everything to try and keep us from prayer, or to try and rob us of our faith. He will try to convince us that all is hopeless and that God is either punishing us or He does not care. He operates in the negative, presenting doubts and fear.

He is the author of confusion. Satan is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came that we may have life, and that more abundantly. 
[Jn 10:10]

We may go through a gamut of emotions, but like our brethren in days of old, and as scripture advises us, call out to God. Seek Him and we will find Him. Pour your heart out to Him and trust that He will answer, in His way and timing.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears. 
[Ps 18:6] 
Have mercy upon me, o Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but You, o Lord, how long? Return, o Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for Your mercies' sake. 

For in death there is no remembrance of You: in the grave who shall give You thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

My eye is consumed because of grief; it waxes old because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. 

The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all my enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly. [Ps 6:2-10]

Yes, Satan and his cohorts are liars. They have no power over our King and Lord Jesus (Yeshua). Trust, believe the Word of God; believe and hold fast to faith!
A storm always passes. We must weather the storm. A trial always comes to an end. It is the lessons we learn in faith, trust and humility through the trials that are of importance. If we consider ourselves faithful, we can be sure that our faith will be tried when all seems lost. We have to know our own strengths and weaknesses.
God has given each a measure of faith, yet the apostles asked the Lord to increase their faith. We can ask the same. Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. [Heb 12:2]

If we say we trust God, be sure that it will be proven whether we do or not, when we are in a crisis, a hopeless situation or face impossibility, at least as far as the world or our logic is concerned. With man it may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible. [Mat 19:26]

Some distractions can be avoided, but what about ones that are pressing matters, things we simply cannot avoid. No matter what, we cannot lose our focus, meaning we have to keep pressing in to Jesus. If the distractions are emergencies at work, or family situations, or landlords, or out-of-town, unexpected company arrives, keep the Lord in mind.

Pray that the distractions will end, even if it is a quick, silent prayer. One time during a past trial, my phone began ringing off the wall from the first thing in the morning, until late at night. Sometimes the calls came during the wee hours of the morning. It went on for perhaps a week or more, day in and day out, nonstop.

I was fairly new in my commitment to the Lord, and when people called for prayer, I had been taught that we are not to turn down any opportunity to pray. Well, I became overwhelmed. When I say the phone did not stop ringing, it is no exaggeration.

At the time I had the option to get a notice if another call was trying to come in whilst I was on another line because I was dealing with some important matters at the time. The beeping that alerted me to an incoming call was surreal. If I had a switchboard, all kinds of lights would have been flashing.

Finally, in desperation, I cried out to God. “Lord, I am not you! I can’t possibly handle all these prayer requests! I care, Lord, but I am only one person.” It was not a complaint so much as it was exasperation.

I was completely drained, but I did not have the heart to turn anyone away. However, it was not just the phone calls. Keep in mind, I already had other very serious issues going on.

Whether I was being tested or whether the enemy was causing all the disruption, I still cannot say. But what I can say is that no sooner did I call out to God than the calls stopped coming. I had not said anything to anyone, so I knew the Lord had intervened.

Perhaps it was similar to the time Moses uttered his grievances to the Lord, asking why God gave him the burden of all the people. [Num 11:11] I am in no way suggesting that I had the same burden Moses had. The poor man had two or more million people to contend with, whereas I only had a couple of handfuls, but many repeat calls.

What I am saying is that I became overwhelmed and had a hard time dealing with the burden by myself. It is my firm belief that the Lord desires that we bring everything to Him, no matter how foolish or insignificant we think it is.

He wants us to trust Him and to look to Him for all things. He will help us when we trust Him enough to simply ask Him. So once again, I have taken the matter (of these distractions) to the Lord and they have greatly diminished. There are still a few things that have to be taken care of, but once again, the Lord has faithfully helped.

In the Hands of the Sovereign God
[God] Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high [Heb 1:2, 3]

The Lord is amazing in the ways that He perfects His work in us. It is written that we can be confident in this very thing, that He who began a good work in us will perform (perfect) it until the day of Jesus Christ. [Phil 1:6]

You see, when I began this article, it was my desire to encourage others who were going through heavy trials. But I came to realize that it was important to share my own trial, not for sympathy or any such thing, but in to let others know that they are not alone.

I felt that it was important to lay aside all pretension, all pride, and to remind readers that Jesus Christ is our hope. I knew that I would be speaking to myself too; and that I too needed to be reminded that God is fully in control, and to wait patiently and trust Him.

When I began writing, how I was going to accomplish these reminders or explain them, I wasn’t sure, but in my heart I know that we can only make it through the hard times with the help of the Lord, in ways that will matter in eternity. Also, the reminder that He works it out.

For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and are the called, according to His purpose. [Rom 8:28]

Well, in the writing of this, God, in His wisdom, grace and mercy has revealed even more to me and a great peace has come over me, even though I am not out of the furnace yet (in a manner of speaking). Jesus walks with us in our fiery trials. He is the fourth man in the fire, so to speak.

Remember when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in the fiery furnace because they would not bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image? The king was astounded to see not three, but four men in the fire; one who appeared as the Son of God [Dan 3:25]

I know now that Jesus/Yeshua has carried me thus far. He will stand me on my feet and remain with me. He will remain with you in your time of need also, in your time of great trial. Even if you cannot see Him, He is there. He speaks to us when we least expect it, and in ways that we do not anticipate. He would have you know right now that He is with you.

Do not despair or be distressed in your troubles and perplexity. He has not forsaken you. We have to align our vision with God’s, and keep looking to Christ. What does He say? ‘Look to Me. You are right where I want you to be. 

Surrender it all. Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in morning. Gird up your loins. The rainbow only comes after the darkness and violence of the storm passes.’

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  [2Cor 4:7-10]

This is part of the purification process. So much is happening around us, in the world and in our personal lives. We need not fear world events because they do not and should not define us. It is our walk with God that defines us. We may feel that we are not strong, but the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Yes, I know. When we are going through horrific things, joy seems non-existent. But knowing that God is with us, no matter how we feel or how things look, that is the secret joy – the joy that no devil and no person can take from us.

Having the joy of the Lord does not mean that we walk around with a perpetual smile, and we cannot rely on our feelings because there will be times that we will not ‘feel’ an ounce of joy. But our joy is in remembering and in trusting that we are in the hands of the Sovereign God. He will see us through every situation. None can take us from His hand.

Did you ever pray that you would endure to the end so that you would be saved? [Mat 24:13] Did you ever tell the Lord that you would watch and pray, so that you may be found worthy to escape all the things that are coming, and to stand before Jesus? [Lk 21:36]

Did you pray that the Lord might send you out as a labourer for the harvest? [Mat 9:38] Did you ever pray to be a profitable servant [Lk 17:9] or to be purged so that you would be a vessel unto honour? [2Tim 2:21]

Did you ever ask the Lord to help you fight the good fight of faith? [1 Tim 6:12] Or did you ever ask Him to help you to persevere so that you could run the race, to finish it? [Heb 12:1]

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. [1 Cor 9:24]

He is answering such prayers by the refining and purification process. When He reveals a thing, we confess it (not deny or justify sin) and genuinely repent (change of heart and mind). 

There is a brokenness involved in repentance, a godly sorrow. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1Jn 1:9]

Cloud of Witnesses

I have learned (and the Holy Spirit continues to remind me) that it is paramount that the focus remains upon Jesus, and not the circumstances that are staring me in the face as a threatening giant. Yes, it is hard and it takes practice, determination and discipline, but it is part of overcoming. It is not impossible! The Lord helps us when we humble ourselves and call upon Him, especially during our trials and tribulations.

Satan would like nothing better than to shift our focus onto him or on our tremendous trials or tribulation, or to what is going on in the world around us (current events), especially in these turbulent, fast-paced, chaotic and evil days. 

Satan deserves no glory! He wants us to fear and to fall into unbelief. He will try to plant every seed of doubt in our minds as he can, but we must not allow ourselves to become obsessed by what he is doing, or all the global events.

Yes, we are to be aware, but not overwhelmed. Watch and pray. [Mat 26:41; Lk 21:36] We have the advantage of the Word of God and thereby know what is coming upon the world. Satan will try to ensnare us, to hinder us from running the race and enduring to the end.

Let us not allow ourselves to become entangled in his traps, and let us be faithful to endure our hardships. Every child of God has gone through great trials and tribulations. We only need to read the Holy Scriptures to see the incredulous things God’s people had to endure.

Yet, we should be encouraged by the great cloud of witnesses that went before us. Those of us who abide in Christ and cleave to God through Him, are filled with His precious and holy Spirit. If we can remember to not lean on our own understanding, trying to use logic and reason to figure things out, God promised to direct our paths, if we will trust Him.

Part of the deep sorrow, regret and shame on my part in this trial has been my struggle in overcoming something, combined with the pain in my heart (spiritual, not physical heart). Yet once again, another lesson is learned. I was led to Deuteronomy, chapter 8, versus 16 and 17.

The Lord is speaking to the Israelites through his servant, Moses.

Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that He might humble you, and that He might prove you, to do you good at the latter end; And you say in your heart, my power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.

The Lord was revealing a few things to me in those two verses. Firstly, He was confirming that He does humble us to prove us, but that it is to do us good in the end. Secondly, He was showing me how He warned the Israelites not to think in their heart that “their power” and “their might” (strength) accomplished a thing. 

He planned to prosper them and warned them not to think that it came about because of them doing it in their own strength. I have learned; I finally got it. I had to be shown. There are things that I can not do in my own strength. Yes, that is humbling because we want to be independent and do things our way.

Yet, we have to learn, we have to die to self, all that pride and independency has to be nailed to the cross. We have to humble ourselves and admit when we cannot do a thing. We must be as Jesus - not MY will but YOUR will, Father.

When we are real; when we are honest and admit that we have a struggle and humbly ask for God to help us, He will. Be patient, patient for His way and timing. Believe and give Him thanks and praise. He will do it. Victory is in HIS hand and the banner over Him is love!  Selah

I have been grieving and condemning myself for some time now about not overcoming something. He was telling me that I was not to think I would do it in my own strength, but when I do overcome (and I will), it will be because of HIS power and HIS strength. 

Halleluah! I just needed to allow the humbling and admit that I cannot do it on my own. It is time for sweet surrender. He reinforced the point.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called:

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; [1Cor 1:25-27]

Matthew Henry had a commentary about the Lord’s statements in Deuteronomy. Even though God was speaking about prospering them, Henry’s comments took things to the spiritual level.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Deut 8:16, 17] (If you follow the link, be sure to scroll down.)

Forget not God's former dealings with thee. Here is the great secret of Divine Providence. Infinite wisdom and goodness are the source of all the changes and trials believers experience. Israel had many bitter trials, but it was to do them good.

Pride is natural to the human heart. Would one suppose that such a people, after their slavery at the brick-kilns, should need the thorns of the wilderness to humble them? But such is man! And they were proved that they might be humbled.

None of us live a single week without giving proofs of our weakness, folly, and depravity. To broken-hearted souls alone the Saviour is precious indeed. Nothing can render the most suitable outward and inward trials effectual, but the power of the Spirit of God. See here how God's giving and our getting are reconciled, and apply it to spiritual wealth.

All God's gifts are in pursuance of his promises. Moses repeats the warning he had often given of the fatal consequences of forsaking God. Those who follow others in sin will follow them to destruction. If we do as sinners do, we must expect to fare as sinners fare.

(End of commentary)

So, my hope is restored, no longer deferred! God has strengthened me in His mercy and grace. It is my prayer that if you are going through a great trial right now, that you too will have your hope restored and your heart strengthened! As for my broken heart? It is still healing, I cannot pretend.

The difference is that now I am no longer afraid. The Lord carried me when I could do nothing by myself; when I was undone, or down for the count - however one terms it. I was hit hard and spun twice by the dragon's tail (Satan) and I felt as if I could or would never rise again, nor did I care to. 

God could just take me home as far as I was concerned. But since I am not suicidal, even in my brokenness and despair, I somehow knew deep down inside that my heavenly Father understood and would see me through, and save me from my misery. That was the depth of my groaning and inward pain. 

Yes, I had to work through it, but I tell you that it can only be done through the LORD! There is no way that I would be even this far, if it were not for Him! I am giving Him the glory and all praise because what I am saying is truth.

The Lord is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves such that be of a contrite spirit. [Ps 34:18]  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. [Ps 147:3]  

He gives power to the faint (weary), and to them that have no might He increases strength. [Is 40:29] Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time. [1Pet 5:6]

For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations. [Ps 100:5] 

He collects every tear; He holds our heart in His competent hands as surely as He holds the universes, the stars and the planets, and everything there is in the heavens. He is God; I am not. He loves me and now I finally truly believe it


Yes, I doubted...and I repented wholeheartedly once He proved it. No, He did not have to prove anything, but in His compassion, understanding and wisdom, He took the time to show me - and do you know, that when I humbled myself, He truly heard me and yes, He lifted me up. How I love Him. How He loves us!
He has been carrying me, for I had no strength, hope or desire. Yet, over the time and course of the trial, He has strengthened me; He has restored my hope and my desire is for Him. Yes, and He puts desires in our hearts, and as we have faith and obey, He gives us the desires of our heart, for we learn to desire only that which is the Father's perfect will for us. Glory to the King!

Am I through this trial yet? No. Today as I write there is little food (6 eggs and a little butter), but please hear me, I have food! Do you see? The widow woman had only a little oil and a little flour, enough for one cake. But what happened? God provided!

This is what I am desperately trying to shout out to any reader who may find themselves in a situation. Don't LOOK at the circumstances; keep the focus on Jesus. He has never, and I DO mean never, let me down before. He will not now either. Those eggs will do me for two more meals. Tomorrow is another day. 

Brethren...reader...do you understand what is going on? Our wise and precious Creator is preparing us for what is coming. He is testing (proving) our love for Him, our faith, trust and obedience.  He knows already, but WE need to know where we truly are because we can deceive ourselves, or be deceived by the adversary. Whether you believe we are in a spiritual battle or not will not change the fact that we have invisible enemies working behind the scenes to take us down, but GREATER is He that is us than he that is in the world. If God be for us, who can be against. We should not be concerned with those who can kill the body, but with the One who can kill both body and soul.
So we today have a great advantage. Not only are we filled with the Holy Spirit when we repent, believe and receive Jesus Christ, but we also have the blessed Word of God. Our ancient brethren went ahead of us, and if they were here, they would be cheering us on to run the race, and to endure to the end as they did!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with endurance [patience] the race that is set before us, [Heb 12:1]

Yes, indeed! We have a great cloud of witnesses, and undoubtedly, these will be the ones returning with our Messiah. Look up, look up, for our redemption draws nigh. Everything, but everything, is in the hand of the Sovereign God.

Be exalted Lord, in Your own strength: so will we sing and praise your power. [Ps 21:13]

for His glory alone



Bonita                          dovesofthevalleys4@gmail.com

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