Friday, August 12, 2016

Dangerous Ground - What Dangerous Ground

Cup of Suffering

Are you able (willing) to drink from My cup of suffering? This was the question Jesus asked of His disciples.

But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto Him, We are able.  [Mat 20:22]

Have you said that? We have the advantage of the Bible, to see just what following Jesus and making such a statement entails. It means surrender, commitment, obedience, trust; it begins with faith. It means becoming a disciple of Christ.

How many times have we heard, or repeated to ourselves…? ”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. Or perhaps this verse, “So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God[Heb 11:1; Rom 10:17]

Jesus told us that it only requires a mustard seed of faith to move mountains. He spoke in a hyperbolic manner to his apostles [Matthew 17], when they wondered why they could not cast out the demon in a lad. 

If God grants a thing, such as Jesus gave the apostles authority to heal the sick, cast out demons etc., then only the faith to ACT upon that authority is required and God does the rest. 

This is why we are told to pray in line with, or to pray for God's will to be done. We do NOT command God or tell Him how to do anything. He is God; we are not. Yet, faith believes; faith trusts; faith acts on trust and obedience to God's sovereign will.  

Beware of "word of faith" or "prosperity" teachers that teach you to speak things into existence without knowing what God's will is in a matter.  We cannot manipulate or force God's hand, or be independent of His will, as if our will can overpower His. 

It is HIS will that will be done, not ours. One example of true faith (emphasis mine):

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, o king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, o king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.  [Dan 3:16-18]

Notice that in their statement, the three men acknowledged that God is indeed able to deliver them, but also acknowledged that if it was not His will (but if not), they still would not disobey God's commandments.

There is the written Word of God, penned by our ancient forerunners, who were moved by the Holy Spirit of God. [2 Pet 1:21]  But there is also the word that God speaks quietly into our spirit man by His precious and Holy Spirit when we are born-again and Spirit-filled, although some have had encounters with the Lord that actually led to their conversion.

The ‘word’ that the Lord speaks into our hearts never contradicts His written Word, His commandments or His character, and it comes to pass, in His timing and in His way.  A true word from God will come to pass. 

Keep in mind that we do not command God or tell Him how things ought to be. Perish the thought! It is us who He may or may not reveal a thing to, for only He knows all things, past, present and future.  

On our own, we know nothing. It is us who obey God's command (or so we should be obedient children). He is King and Lord! Again (worth repeating), we cannot manipulate God's will through prayers, or by attempting to speak things into existence that are not His will.  God is not overruled, ever!

Would that not be akin to witchcraft which tries to manipulate and control people, situations and even God Himself?  Is that not what Satan and his armies desire to do? This is why we must seek God, through Jesus Christ and wait upon Him to answer us and direct our steps. [Prov 3:5, 6] THEN, when the Lord instructs us, we live by faith, trust and obedience.

Jesus is the Word that came and comes in the flesh (He came in the flesh, and He comes in the flesh (our flesh), abiding in us, once we believe and by faith receive Him). We must seek God and pray for the Lord’s will, not ours.

Sometimes the Lord would reveal a thing to me and say ‘soon’.  I used to think that meant tomorrow, or within a week, or a month, depending on what He said. The Lord has never given me dates, but at times, He has said "soon". However, I learned that God’s idea of ‘soon’ and my idea of ‘soon’ were two different things. 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways My ways. 
[Is 55:8]

Faith is a journey upon a narrow path that we must travel, a path that is not popular or well-traveled. This is why many are called (the Lord desires that "all" should come to repentance and be saved), but few chosen (how many will stay faithful when going through horrific and hard trials?).  We learn to trust and we learn to obey, as surely as Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered.  [Heb 5:8]

Through humility and brokenness by things we suffer, we learn to become obedient to the will of God. As much as we do not care to hear it, much less experience it, we are humbled through the furnace of affliction, through trials and tribulations. 

He is with us through it all.  In times past, He spoke to Israel, but it is applicable to us also today. Jesus promised never to leave or forsake us. He is Faithful and True [Rev 19:11] and does not waste words. He cannot lie. It would be us who would have to leave or forsake the Lord.

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]

Yet what did the faithful apostles (disciples) go through in a very critical hour? They had said that they were able to drink from the same cup of suffering that Jesus would drink from. What happened when they first witnessed the beginning of Christ's greatest suffering, when He was arrested?

His apostles (disciples) first fell into confusion and fear. The powerful men of their day (chief priests and Pharisees) sent a band of men (military), the captain and officers to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane [John 18:3 and 12].  His apostles panicked and fled, consequently abandoning Him.

Did they struggle with unbelief as they fled, wondering if they had believed a lie or whether Jesus truly was who they believed Him to be?  We do not know. We understand that they fled in fear.

The Son of God, the promised Messiah, had just been arrested. How could this be? Would they all be arrested too?  Desertion was the option they chose.

Peter had already struggled with fear and unbelief when he stepped out of the boat and onto the deep waters of the sea, in order to walk on water to Jesus. Was that why he reacted defensively by striking and cutting off the ear of Malchus, servant to Caiaphas, the high priest?  

Was he remembering his words to Jesus when he had told Him that he would die with Him, He would never deny Him? [Mat 26:35]  Though fearful, is that why Peter was the only apostle who followed Christ (even though from a distance), even to the high priest’s palace?

There was also a certain young man, who remains unnamed (anonymous) in the Bible, who was following after Jesus when the arresting party was leading Christ away. However, when some other young men grabbed hold of his garment, he too fled, naked, leaving the other men still holding his clothes in their hands. [Mk 14:51]
Peter warmed himself by the fire, hoping to hear news of what was happening or at the very least, to catch a glimpse of Jesus.  Yet, in his fear, confusion and uncertainty, Peter fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus (Yeshua) and denied Him (knowing or being with Him) three times before the rooster crowed. 
[Mk 14:66-72] Peter had indeed denied his Lord and he wept bitterly when he realized what he had done. [Mat 26:75]

One time when I read the scriptures where Jesus asked His disciples if they would be willing to drink from His cup of suffering, I pondered it deeply. Having the advantage of the Holy Scriptures before me, I knew that all the apostles had been martyred, except the apostle John (writer of the book of Revelation) and Judas, who committed suicide. 

Therefore, with trepidation, I softly said, “Yes Lord, I am.”  I had no idea some of the things He would ask of me. To begin with, that which the Lord required of me started small, just as a parent demands little of young children.

He would ask me to go speak to a perfect stranger on a street and say a certain thing, or He would ask me to give something, even if it was all I had. Yet, He always provided, always saw me through. These are wee examples.

I began to mature in my faith and walk. Each time I passed a test, the next one would be a little harder.  As difficult as it is to admit, there have been times where I failed in a test.  Consequently, a test would be repeated, but not in the same way, and not always immediately. 

Ofttimes, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that a certain situation or happenstance was a test, but there were other times that I had no clue, until it was over.

And He said unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father. [Mat 20:23]

Yes, all true disciples of Jesus Christ do indeed drink from His cup of suffering. Do we consider the cost?  When we are first born-again, we do not consider much more than our need for a Saviour when we become aware of our sins, our need for repentance with godly sorrow (humility and brokenness), and awareness of God’s astounding love, grace and mercy when our burden lifts.

“You weren’t born to fit in; you were made to stand out.” – Jim Caviezel, actor who played Jesus/Yeshua in The Passion of the Christ. We are to be in the world, but not part of it; the world will hate us because we are Christ's. [Jn15:19; Jn 17:16]

Even Jesus was in agony over what He knew He must do. “Saying, Father, if You be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. [Lk 22:42]  Will we indeed drink from the cup of suffering as Jesus did?  Most assuredly, we will suffer in this world and as believers, when circumstances and people seemingly come against us. Look to Jesus and eternity!

Faith Pleases God
We simply do not realize at first that sharing in the drinking of the Lord’s cup means trials, tribulation and suffering.  Yet as we mature, we come to understand. We must learn and choose to trust. When we love Jesus, we will obey Him. These things are interwoven with faith. 

Sometimes that obedience comes with great struggle, especially when it involves matters of the heart, or strongholds.  There is a great struggle in dying to self because instinctively the flesh fights to survive and to be satisfied.

When we pray to have faith to endure to the end, it will mean drinking from this cup.  Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns. [Lk18:8] This is a pivotal and climactic question for every follower of Christ. 

The dictionary defines ‘pivotal’: “Of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else; an important decision upon which a number of other things depend.”

But without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. [Heb 11:6]

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in Him. But we are not of them that draw back, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.  [Heb 10:38-39]

The book of Hebrews touches upon the importance of faith many times throughout its chapters.  Romans and Galatians make references to faith. Indeed, faith (as is trust and obedience) is mentioned throughout the entire Word of God in various books, with over 230 verses making mention of faith.

And He said, I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith [Deu32:20]

Behold, his soul which is lifted up (proud) is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith [Hab 2:4]

We see that faith is absolutely what pleases God. Exercising our faith will make it stronger and increase it. God, in His wisdom, allows our faith to be tested with trials, which also builds our patience. He watches over us carefully during these times. We are to learn to endure through trials, as they strengthen us and our faith. 

Yes, at times God is silent during trials; other times, He speaks to us in various ways – through His Word, by His Spirit, through other people (who may or may not be Christians), through dreams and visions, through signs and wonders – many ways.

Patience seems to be another hard lesson, once we have chosen to trust God. How often does it seem to go that when we choose to believe God and trust Him, everything seems to go against us, perhaps not immediately or all at once, but it does? Many examples of this are in the Bible (Job, Joseph et al).
We are told not to look at the circumstances, but to keep our focus on Jesus.  Any believer that has already been through their share of fiery trials and finds themselves in the greatest trial of all time will quickly admit (in all honesty) how very difficult it is to not be overwhelmed by certain situations, circumstances or tragedies…but especially when we have to wait, and wait, and wait even more, trusting God to move on our behalf, or to bring a promise to pass.

We will not be asked to sacrifice our son as Abraham was, but we will be asked to put all that we hold dear upon the altar, offering all up to God.  We will have our “Isaac” that we must release into God’s hand, fully trusting Him.

Our hearts will tremble and we may feel torn, perhaps even shattered.  We are humbled beyond measure, and hard-pressed to stay strong in trust and obedience. The violent winds and heavy rains will beat against our house.  We stand shaken to the core, but if our house is built upon the Rock, we will stand.

Our faith will be tested to the max, and the pain we feel within may threaten to consume us.  We may even cry out for death, in order to end the pain, anguish and helplessness we are experiencing.  "How long, o Lord before You move on my behalf?  How strong do You think I am? I cannot do this without Your help, Father." We grieve when we feel we have failed our Lord and Redeemer.

We will seek God.  We will repent of all that we know stands in the way of our absolute trust and obedience,or for our lack of faith. When we have to wait, it seems that a month is as the length of a year, a week is as a month and an hour seems like a day.  "Speak, I pray o Lord, speak and strengthen me, for I am undone."  We wait…and wait.

In a time and in a way when we least expect it, God will strengthen us. He does not take pleasure in our suffering, but sees the further good to come out of it.  He is doing a work within us that we cannot see for ourselves at the time, but in retrospect, we will.  

We hold fast to what seems like a mustard seed of faith.  We refuse to let go of the garment of Christ.  We seek His will and to perform our part in His plan.
If only God would come in the flesh and stand before us, hold us and comfort us. If only God would send an angel to us, with an encouraging message. Do you suppose that if we heard a donkey speak today we would think someone had spiked our food or drink, or that perhaps we have finally gone over the proverbial edge?  What a thought, a beast speaking our language to us!

We read His Word, looking for comfort…sometimes it seems as a blur and we must subdue our busy minds, emotions and feelings.  We listen closely for the Holy Spirit to speak to us, but what if God is silent?  We wait and we wait; with faith and trust, steeped in humility, being our portion. 

We strive to understand when there are no answers, when nothing makes sense.  We cannot reason out a hard trial. Our flesh wrestles against our spirit, obedience wrestles against disobedience, faith wrestles against fear and trust wrestles against unbelief. God goes before us. Victory is in His hand and His banner over us is love. He covers us from behind. He surrounds us. 

We remind ourselves of God’s love, which casts out the fear that will do all to torment us, if we do not remember God's love for us. We pray earnestly and search our hearts.  We pray like David, 

“Create in me a clean heart, o Lord, and renew a right spirit within Me.  Cast me not away from Your presence; take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation; and hold me up with Your free Spirit.” 
[Ps 51:10-12]

We begin to understand what James meant, in chapter one.  Do we count it all joy? How difficult that can be. Did we have any concept of how the trying of our faith would work patience?  Did we ask if God would teach us to endure to the end? Grant us wisdom, Lord.  He will…and we wait.

Scripture encourages us to ask of God, even asking Him to increase our faith. [Lk 17:5] [Mat 7:7-11]  Hebrews 11 is an excellent chapter to read about the faith of the patriarchs, prophets and others who trusted and obeyed God.  Jude exhorts us to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. [vs 3]

That means that we must stay true to the Word of God and the doctrine and gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jude warns us of ungodly men who creep in unawares, who pervert the faith and deny the Lord, Christ Jesus/Yeshua. 

We cannot compromise the Holy Scriptures or give them individual interpretation, especially those who twist the word of God like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, to mislead the people in order to sabotage their faith or turn them aside, for personal reason or gain, or for filthy lucre.

Scriptures cannot be fragmented or taken out of context, although many false teachers and others do. Reading each book through, we will come to learn and understand what is going on in that time of history, what the theme is, what God is saying and to who, what He is doing and why, and much more.
I recently mentioned to a sister in Christ how sometimes   
I get so excited when I discover a deeper meaning in a scripture.  In my enthusiasm, I become zealous to impart this wisdom carefully and in-depth in the writing of an article. 

Then, satisfied that I have shared some treasure with the brethren and seekers of truth, I come to find out that someone else discovered the same ‘treasure’, the nugget of wisdom, perhaps ten years earlier, or maybe even centuries before me.  Ah, the many ways in which we are humbled!

Always Hope

When it is appointed unto us to wait for a personal covenant, promise, dream or vision to be fulfilled, doubt can come to haunt us as an unwelcome guest. This has been the thrust in many of the articles written, and for good reason.

You see, what I have often said is that when the Lord gives me a word to share, the messenger receives the message first and must consider it carefully.  The messenger is not above any others, for all of us have struggles and shortcomings.  He chastises (corrects, disciplines) all His children. All of us have strengths and weaknesses, and every single disciple of Christ will have their faith tested by trials.

I too have been waiting for a personal covenant (a promise) to be fulfilled.  There have been times that my own faith seemed very little. In such times, I would wonder if I am a hypocrite or false in any way.  These are serious times of soul-searching, intense prayer, pressing in and seeking God for truth at all costs.
There are times that the enemy comes against us during these weaker moments, but there is also the battle of the flesh itself that will inundate us with a barrage of scriptures and myriad thoughts.  

There is a great challenge in discerning the difference between flesh or Satan, since the two can work together.  And what if we are rebuking God's will or a lesson of His? We must discern and if we are unsure, we ask of God, through Jesus.

Approximately a month ago (give or take), as doubts were challenging me, trying my very faith, I heard myself asking God if there was any hope, even a glimmer of hope, in the promise He had given me (I was considering my past failures and present struggles, when I should be considering His love, grace and mercy in bringing me through all of it).  Thanksgiving and praise belong unto the Lord. 

It was either later that day or perhaps the following day that a rainbow appeared over the lake which is seen from windows and from my backyard. Yet this rainbow was so faint that it could barely be seen, but seen it was.  I did manage to take a picture of it, but my cell camera does not have the greatest zoom or perhaps it is the camera's sensor. 

Nevertheless, it was almost as if the rainbow was going to fade completely, but then a moment later, it would appear again, howbeit, still dim or faint in depth of colour or distinction.  Therefore, the lens could only capture a faint haze and colours, even at the bow’s strongest shining.

I took a picture, but the colours are faint as you will see.  I came back into my apartment and looked out the window again at the rainbow, when suddenly, I burst out laughing at a realization.  

A person would have a hard time convincing me that our Creator does not have a sense of humour.  You see, in my prayer I had asked if there was even a ‘glimmer of hope’ (referring to my long-awaited promise), and the Lord had answered by providing a literal glimmer of the "promise". 
a glimmer of hope - the rainbow, barely noticeable over red truck. 
If you click on the picture, it will enlargen, but even then,
the rainbow will be hard to detect.

Definition of
glimmer: “- to shine faintly or unsteadily with a wavering light; to give off a subdued unsteady reflection; to appear indistinctly with a faintly luminous quality or feeble or dim perception; a gleam"
When God says that His ways and thoughts are not our ways or thoughts, He means it.  To me, the rainbow always means “promise”, simply because the first rainbow ever to appear was a token of God’s covenant, His promise to Noah and to all generations thereafter.  It is a reminder that He would never again completely destroy all living creatures (mankind and beast alike) by flood again.

So, in my prayer, I was asking God if there was a glimmer of hope for my promise.  He gave His answer in a way that only He could do, knowing that I understood that the rainbow was a token, symbolizing a “promise”.  He produced the rainbow as such a faint glimmer that my camera could barely pick it up, but my eyes could clearly see.

Our God is truly beyond our comprehension.  I believe that throughout eternity, we will continue to discover things about Him; He is so vast.  He has the most unique ways of strengthening us and restoring our hope.  He knows how to strengthen our faith and to bring us back into balance if we falter in confidence.

But the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.  [1Pet 5:10]

It was perhaps a week or so later, after prayer again regarding the promise (and after repentance for doubting), the Lord provided another rainbow, as if to reinforce His faithfulness, not that He has to prove anything.  My heart soared at His goodness. 

I took a picture of the rainbow at that time, as a gentle reminder if ever I should doubt again.  May the reader be encouraged by the evidence of God’s faithfulness and His love for us! I do not believe that it is by coincidence that you are reading this article. 
2nd rainbow few weeks later - strong promise
He knows that waiting on His timing can be difficult, but His wisdom is beyond ours.  This is the trying of our faith and the practicing of our trust and obedience in and to Him.

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.  [Ps 31:24]

Another interesting thing that happened on the day the second rainbow appeared was the appearance of a single pink orchid, the only flower in a bed of dirt between my apartment and the one next door.

It lasted only two days, but I got a picture the very day it opened. There are many colours of orchids, each having its own symbolic meaning. Pink supposedly means: grace, joy, happiness (What are the odds of coincidence?)

God speaks to us in many ways, if we but stop to see and listen!

pink orchid - August 2016

In all honesty, this past year has been the hardest trial ever, and those who read my testimony know that (just as many of you also have faced [or are facing] hard trials), I have had my share of trials (not a complaint, just a reality).  Even now, as I write this, I am speaking to myself also.

The circumstances are at their worst, but I keep subduing my flesh to look to Jesus.  Is it easy?  There are days it seems very easy, and days when I fight the flesh and thoughts again.  Soon, I will speak about “dangerous ground”, what I mean by it, and how it came to be the title for this series.

Forgiveness Follows Genuine Repentance

No matter what we have done, there is forgiveness available. There is always mercy. There is always hope. What is the key?  Repentance, godly sorrow, is the key that must first be used.  It is acknowledging and confessing our sin, coupled with a change of mind and heart, followed by surrender (submit, commitment), trust and obedience

Commitment - it may cost you everything to be obedient.  Are we willing to lay everything down and trust that God loves us and indeed has all things worked out, when and if we obey? 
It is absolute and utter foolishness to think we know it all, and to think that we know all about God and His ways, or how He thinks. The Father tells us clearly in His word that His ways are NOT our ways, and His thoughts are NOT our thoughts. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. [Is 55:8, 9]

If our waiting causes us to sin, such as dwelling in unbelief, anger at the seemingly unfairness of it all, entertaining fears, struggling with something that we must lay down in order to walk in full obedience, then we must repent.

The Lord will open our eyes to see if we are in sin, then it is up to us whether we repent or not.  God knows the difference between someone struggling to overcome and a person who justifies their sin and continues on in it.  He helps the former and (if you are His) will chastise you for the latter.

We have examples all throughout the word of God that reveal those who walked in fear and unbelief, which opposes faith and trust.  If we find ourselves in such a state, we must seek God, pray and repent, for He is merciful and very willing to forgive. 

Jesus Christ is the only way back to the Father.  It is through His sacrifice, His shedding and sprinkling of His precious blood that we receive forgiveness of sins.  It is true that God forgave sins before, but there was still judgment, for God is holy.

The Messiah Jesus/Yeshua took the punishment for our sins upon Him, when He willingly offered up His life.  He agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane to such a degree, He sweat blood. He understood fully that the shedding of His blood would mean a violent death upon the cross.

Through Jesus Christ, we seek the Father, calling out to Him, repenting of our sins, changing our mind about unrighteousness, to be cleansed by the blood of our Saviour and be forgiven because of God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice. 

God is holy and righteous.  In one hand is justice and judgment; in the other is mercy and forgiveness.

Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. [Is 55:6, 7]

As far as the east is from the west, so He has removed our transgressions from us. [Ps 103:12]

God understands our emotions and feelings; He knows full well how difficult our trials are.  He is not cruel.  He is doing a work that we cannot yet see; and in the end, if we will be patient (endure), we will see our character built, and fruit that will last into eternity.  We know this life is temporal, but that knowledge does not make these trials easier.

As Jesus did, we too learn obedience (to God's will) by the things we suffer.  We learn to do the will of God. Oh, what hard and challenging lessons, well worth it, if we don’t quit or give up. It is our faith, which is also a gift from God, that will see us through.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. [Heb 10:35, 36]

Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD listened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name.

And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves Him not. [Mal 3:16, 17]

If we do not believe Him, yet He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. [2Tim 2:13]

Mercy of God
Below is an excerpt from a commentary by Matthew Henry, regarding Psalms 103.  It seems appropriate to share his words and thoughts here.

The Scripture says a great deal of the mercy of God, and we all have experienced it. The father pities his children that are weak in knowledge, and teaches them; pities them when they are froward, and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them; pities them when they are fallen, and helps them to rise; pities them when they have offended, and, upon their submission, forgives them; pities them when wronged, and rights them: thus the Lord pities those that fear him.

See why he pities. He considers the frailty of our bodies, and the folly of our souls, how little we can do, how little we can bear; in all which his compassion appears.”

(End of excerpt)

Do you remember the parable of the seeds that Jesus taught?  There are some seeds (of the Word of God) that are sown in the heart, but the evil one comes and snatches away. 
Then there are the seeds that have no root, they fall on rocky ground.  At first, these hear the word and rejoice, but having no root, they do not last when tribulation (trials) and persecution come, they quickly fall away.

The next is about the seed that falls amongst thorns, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and make it unfruitful.  But we want the seed to be proven to have fallen into good soil, don’t we?  We hear the Word, understand it and (over time and season) produce a crop.

Jesus gave many parables, including one of the most popular one – the prodigal son.  Repentance is the key; a change of heart and mind, which will cause us to turn and obey.  God is faithful to show us where we stand with Him. He will show mercy and forgiveness when we repent.

To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.  [Dan 9:9] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  [1Jn 1:9]

What Dangerous Ground?
There is a ground that is dangerous to the enemy, but the same ground can also be dangerous for us.  Does that sound like an oxymoron? I will endeavour to explain.  It is something that I learned, and perhaps something many readers already know.

If you already know what I am about to say, then bear with me. Perhaps it will serve as a gentle reminder. Many of us have heard it often. We read about it in scripture, but it is another thing to put it into practice when all hell breaks loose around us and we are in the throes of a mighty trial or tribulation.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name. [Ps 100:4]

This is dangerous ground for Satan and his armies.  Why? It is because he cannot enter in; he is powerless and his weapons are of no effect when we are in God's presence.

When we are in the middle of very hard times, we may not 'feel' like praising God. We may wonder what there is to be thankful for when something crushes our heart, or answers to prayer are stalled and not immediately forthcoming.  

However, it is at this precise time that we DO give thanks and praise. There is so much to be thankful for, beginning with the fact that we draw our next breath. Think back upon the times God has blessed you and helped you in other impossible situations.

Think upon the good things in your life. There is much to be grateful for. It is amazing how it works, but once we begin to thank God, the thanksgiving seems to naturally flow into praise for such a good and loving Creator.

Think upon Jesus and all that He accomplished with His death, burial and resurrection. Remember all that He too suffered, rejection, mockery, false accusations, fasting, temptations, betrayal, abandonment, desertion, beatings, whipping, a thorny crown, beard plucked out, and so much more.

I promise you that when we stop and carefully consider, and put all feelings, emotions and circumstances aside, we will indeed find much to thank God for. We keep our armour on and enter into God's presence in prayer and worship. He is worthy of all praise, glory and honour.

Why is it dangerous ground for us?  It is dangerous if we do NOT do these things.  God, in His wisdom, has made thanksgiving and praise as weapons in the spiritual realm.  Hard to fathom, but these are things the enemy cannot touch when they are in use. 

 The best he can do is to tempt us NOT to worship God.  He will use whatever it takes, including temptations that are actually counterfeit offers that appeal to the lusts of our eyes, flesh or to our pride - he has learned our weaknesses and presents his best offers that appeal to those weaknesses. Think of all he offered Jesus (Yeshua) in the 40 day desert temptation.

He offered 'food' for the hungry soul; he challenged Christ to test His Father by jumping from a pinnacle (a very high point - perfect for suicide) because God's Word says that His angels would keep charge over Him and He would not even so much as dash His foot against a stone.

He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and the riches contained therein.  Who knows what else Satan tempted Jesus with. We are told He suffered as He was tempted in every way, but did not sin - in every way. [Heb 4:15]

Praise and thanksgiving will take our focus off of the flesh and place it upon the One who deserves our attention - Almighty and Sovereign God, our redeemer.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings have You ordained strength because of Your enemies, that You might still (silence) the enemy and the avenger. 

    [Ps 8:2]

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus will I bless You while I live: I will lift up my hands in Your name.  [Ps 63:3, 4]

Thanksgiving honours our Lord and God; a grateful heart pleases the giver of all that is good.  Praise can change things and bring the glory of God upon us; His holy and precious presence, Spirit and love consuming us.  

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and they praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endures forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud even the house of the Lord. 

So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God. [2Chron 5:13, 14]

Satan will do all he can to keep us focused on things so that we will not give thanks or praise God.  Our flesh and/or Satan may work on our feelings or emotions, in order to accuse us of being hypocrites or pretenders when we offer up thanksgiving and praise, if and when we do not "feel" like it.

We cannot go by our 'feelings'.  We must rise up, taking our eyes off of ourselves and what is going on around us and look to Jesus. (Yes, this can be incredibly difficult.) We must overcome by holding fast to God's hand.  His strong arm is not shortened that it cannot save. 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  [1Thes 5:16-18]

Know ye that the Lord, He is God: it is He that made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. [Ps 100:3]

Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks to the Lord for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can show forth all His praise?  [Ps 106:1, 2]

We thank the Lord for all that He has done.  We praise God for all that He is, and all that He has done for all of mankind, such as sending Jesus Christ. Our praise should never be empty, but full of the understanding of why we praise Him.  

Do you see why this is dangerous ground for the enemy? Not only is the Lord worthy of thanksgiving and praise, but it is also a powerful weapon against Satan and his armies.

It is when we are hurting, whether physically, mentally/emotionally or spiritually (body, soul, spirit) and enter into thanksgiving and praise that the Lord sees this as a precious sacrifice, with a fragrance that is sweet-smelling and pleasing to Him. Our love for Him will be expressed in our worship of Him, and we love Him because He first loved us. [1Jn 4:19]

We praise Him in humility, and we exalt Him above all else. In this, we discipline ourselves to walk in the fear of the Lord, and in the love in which we are to love Him.

    Now perhaps, you can see why this is dangerous ground for the enemy.  It is only dangerous ground to us if we allow the enemy or our flesh to deny us access into the gates and into the courts of our Lord, either by temptations, distractions or lies (accusations or 'feelings' of hypocrisy, hopelessness, unworthiness, etc). 

The Other Side

    I would like to share something from a brother in Christ and a reader of this blog. I am not betraying him in posting it here, as he left it as a public comment on the last post.  It can be viewed in the comment section at the end of the post here:  The Time is Now – The Promise Awaits

    However, if you missed what he wrote, I would like to share it.  Brother Darrell’s words were an encouragement to me, and I believe it will encourage others. He taught me something as well, when he shared scripture and expounded on it.

    Although I had read the scriptures several times before over time, I never had the insight or understanding that this brother had.  To me, it is a nugget of wisdom.  In sharing his thoughts with me publicly, brother Darrell has been a vessel unto honour in the hands of the Lord.

    His transparency in his struggles and his sharing of it came at the very time I needed to hear it.  This is what I mean when I write about the different ways that the Lord does speak to us.  I thank Darrell for his obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit and humbly ask the Lord to bless him and his family mightily, for the meekness and courage in which Darrell writes.

    (Note:  I did not change anything, except to break up the sentences for ease of reading, and colour of text for scripture, so that it would stand out. Hope you do not mind, brother : ) Bonita)

Great post. Very encouraging. He is truly on our side when we go thru storms. I have been stuggling with having faith in promises that the Father gave me three and a half years ago regarding my future.

He led to a long term temp job that eventually came to an end in July 2015. Much like Elijah at the brook Cherith, the water dried up. I expected to have provision awaiting for me as it dried up but nothing materialized.

I have struggled with a lack of faith in his promises until a few months back when I realized that I had to repent. And have to God and others. In His mercy, He has blessed my me through my wife who has had a very productive year at work, making more money than she had in previous years. 

As I deeply reflected on this post and what the Father has allowed (and directed) in my life, I was led to Mark 4:35-40. Never realized just how powerful this passage was, nor what a deep parable it was either.

Mar 4:35 And on that day, when even was come, he saith unto them (his disciples), "Let us go over unto the other side."

This is Jesus' way/method. He tells his "disciples" that He is going to go with them (traverse, walk, travel, pass thru, etc) to the other side (through, across, over, etc). The promise has been given. Jesus says "Let us go..." and then gives the promise about the destination, "unto the other side". The disciples could either accept or decline his invitation, but since Jesus was going, why not go too?

How many of us have willingly obeyed in a journey that we have been given a promise that He would walk with us AND get us to our destinations? Seems safe right?

Mar 4:36 And leaving the multitude, they take him with them, even as he was, in the boat. And other boats were with him. 

"And leaving the multitude"
is a phrase that suggests that this journey is only for the disciples. And again, "they take Him with them". Jesus was there. 

Mar 4:37 And there ariseth a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the boat, insomuch that the boat was now filling. 

"Wait, what? A storm?"

Mar 4:38 And he himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion: and they awake him, and say unto him, Teacher, carest thou not that we perish? 

This isn't what I expected! Why would He allow a storm to occur? Maybe I misunderstood Him? Maybe I did something to upset Him and He is trying to destroy me. Why is He so quiet? He used to encourage me when I first started this journey but now He is silent? What happened? His Words MUST NOT be reliable. Or they must be for everyone else but me? A flood of fear and unbelief....

Mar 4:39 And he awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 
Mar 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye fearful? (timid, cowardly) have ye not yet faith? 

Jesus basically tells his disciples that they are cowards/timid. Wow! He expected them to remember that He said "Let us go over unto the other side". Jesus hadn't given them idle words. They were just as powerful in the midst of the storm as they were in the beginning. Oh to be able believe this! 

Oh to be able to believe these words in the most furious storm. Oh to able to say "Jesus is here and said He'd take us to the other side". I can trust Him. I won't struggle with fear and unbelief...I will have peace because His words ARE TRUE.

Like Elijah who waited faithfully for God's voice for direction as the brook Cherith had dried up, I want to FAITHFULLY continue to grasp the promises that Jesus has given me for my future. They are only entered into by banishing fear and doubt.

Again thanks for your faithfulness in writing these words and your blogs. I am faithfully looking for His promises to be fulfilled in my life.


Trials and Tests

Below is an excerpt from an article written before, but it fits in perfectly.

Comfort zones have had their boundaries lifted and invaded; distractions and temptations have increased; persecution, violence, crime increases; relationships are under attack; areas of weakness are being exposed; and the list goes on.

Where people stand in their character, their heart and their faith is being revealed through various circumstances . and truly we begin to understand why Jesus/Yeshua asked if He would find faith when He returns. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

The Lord will allow things to test our obedience. He will put us in positions to test us, to see where our heart is, to see where we truly stand with God. The hardest thing God makes us face is ourselves. He will search our hearts and make us look at that which is deep within.

Faith will be tested for its genuineness. If we really love the Lord, then we must take our stand. We may be able to fool others, but we cannot fool God. He sees all and He despises deception in any way, shape or form. He will bring justice, and He will cause people to reap what they have sown.

There are believers who want to be the remnant without any cost. Some think that because they have been through some hardships in life that they are the remnant - however, even unbelievers go through hardships throughout life.

There is rarely anyone anymore who has not gone through something traumatic or difficult in this fallen and heavily corrupted world, although it is true that some go through much more than others do. We are at the end of ages and Y'shua/Jesus the Messiah is returning.

Let these trials come and purge the dross out because that is when the refined silver and gold is revealed. We give up our name and take the name of Jesus/Yeshua. 

We die to self, so that the King rules upon the throne of our hearts. We have to be seekers of truth, but doers of the word. We cannot manipulate God, nor can we trick Him into taking sides. He is Faithful and True; a holy God of justice and judgment. Stand back and wait upon the Lord.

Don't be like Saul and buckle under pressure. He was told to wait seven days for Samuel, but the Lord delayed Samuel's arrival to test the heart of Saul. He did not trust the Lord when he saw the Lord delayed. Fear entered Saul and he failed. He was impatient, angry and pouting; he had not learned to wait upon the Lord. He allowed anxiety and discouragement to control him and he disobeyed out of fear.

Be patient and wait upon the Lord, fully confident that when He has finished purging, cleansing, purifying us, we will be vessels unto honor. His promises, which some of us have believed for and waited for, for years, is almost upon us.

For many of us, sin, fear, unbelief or other hindrances stood in the way; for others, they merely were learning to wait upon the Lord. Faith was being stretched and tried. The Lord has ways to teach us to endure to the end. 

God is chastening many; others He is purging, purifying. if He reveals a thing, we repent and be done with it, for the glory of God. Wait upon the Lord not flesh - this is a test. It is a test of endurance, a test for the warriors of endurance.  Selah.

A Message

This is a time of intense spiritual warfare - be on guard against spiritual double agents, wolves in sheep's clothing. Temptations will appear as something from Me, but it will not be. Remember how Satan offered My Son all things in the desert wilderness; the adversary can only offer things pleasing to the flesh - lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life.

Cover yourself in a canope of love and offer up praise and thanksgiving, worshipping Me in spirit and in truth. Keep on the full armor that is provided and stand in the gap. Rise up and stand.

I gave you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, not to pick them up and play with them. Now is not the time to weary. Now is not the time to doubt, fear or follow after the lusts of the flesh and pride.

Come away from the entanglements of the world and allow Me to prepare you as a vessel unto honor - or hold fast to your life and be prepared for a vessel unto dishonor. My people are urgently alert in the spirit. I AM preparing the inside of the vessels. This purging is necessary - it is a good work. Wait upon Me, be strong and of good courage. Again I say to those who are going through the brokenness, the purging and cleansing, I say, wait patiently and trust Me.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. [Ps 27:13, 14]

for His glory alone


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