Confident Stance

Luke 21: 25 – 28          GW

“Miraculous signs will occur in the sun, moon, and stars. The nations of the earth will be deeply troubled and confused because of the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint as they fearfully wait for what will happen to the world. Indeed, the powers of the universe will be shaken. Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand with confidence! The time when you will be set free is near.”

This momentous time in history in which we are living was prophesied by Jesus. We have certainly seen many signs in the heavens in the last couple of years including a total solar eclipse. We’ve also seen increased hurricanes and floods. The seas, indeed, have been roaring and tossing. Jesus said when these signs begin to appear that people will lose their heart, lose their courage. “People will faint” with fear. That is truly and well said. People are lost right now and immensely fearful, but Jesus has a message for you because you are set apart and different.

Jesus said that when these things begin to happen, as indeed they are, we should stand with confidence. We should be emboldened, not fearful for our redeemer, our savior, our sweet beloved is upon the wing ready to sweep us all into his loving embrace. He has prepared a place for us. Have courage, Jesus says. Be confident for your Lord is near.

It is important that you understand that you are set apart and less there be any confusion at all, you are loudly being called “apart.” We are to separate ourselves as God separated the Israelites from the rest of the world. He has a place of safety reserved for us, a land flowing with milk and honey. It is different this time though we are to follow the same glory which led the Israelites. Then God’s glory went before them in a cloud by day and a cloud of fire by night. Now, that glory lives within us but we are still told to follow the light. Follow the fire within. We are being called out of the multitude of nations to a state of divine love and protection.

So, stand with confidence. Call upon the name of your God. Do not fear but have faith in the love of the Holy One. This situation is no joke. It is serious, but so is your Father. He and Jesus saw this coming many years ago and have prepared for it. These are the days of promise. This is the time of your redemption. Do not sleep through them because though they are some of the most challenging days of our lives, they can be some of the most enlightening as well. Stand boldly in the confidence of the Lord and see the glory of our Lord Jesus and the Father he serves.

Cheer and Courage

Psalm 31: 23 – 24              Passion Translation

Listen to me, all you godly ones: Love the Lord with passion! The Lord protects and preserves all those who are loyal to him. But he pays back in full all those who reject him in their pride. So cheer up! Take courage all you who love him. Wait for him to break through for you, all who trust in him!

I hope some of you took me up on the idea of reading each of these psalms in their fullness as your daily Bible reading. I recommend you read this psalm in the Passion Translation. It reveals David’s emotions and the context of his lyrics better than any of the other translations. If you read the whole psalm, you will see how he arrives at this concluding statement.

He felt abandoned by the Lord, but then realized God was on the scene rescuing him. David hid himself in the Lord and was vindicated despite those who spoke ill of him and mocked him. In the end, David and Yahweh have again triumphed.

David learned something on this journey and what he learned he summarized and attempted to convey through this song. The morale of the story is, take heart, be of strong courage. Let your heart be fortified because the Lord, your God, is on your side and together, you will prevail. God has never forsaken you and never will. Like David, there may be times you feel very alone. You may wonder where God is. Well, I can tell you. He is right there with you. If you close your eyes and listen to the voice of your heart, you will find God’s presence there with you.

David advised us to love God passionately because he learned that this is the secret to life and success in all things. Jesus, referring to Deuteronomy 6: 5, said, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH,” (Mark 12: 30). See, I am guessing there is a huge life lesson in here from David and now Jesus. What are they telling us? David and Jesus are teaching from the same book here. In fact, if you want to see how tuned into the spirit of Jesus David was and how relatable Jesus found David’s writings, look at verse 5 where David wrote, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit,” the words famously uttered by Jesus on the cross. Both of these men knew suffering. They knew what it was like to face unprecedented tribulation. And now, in this seminar living in the breakthrough their combined recitation is love God with all you are, with all the strength of your body, mind, spirit and soul. This is how we get our breakthrough. This is how we live in the blessing of the Lord. We throw our whole selves into a love relationship with he who died for us and the Father who gave him up for us. He is the Lord of the breakthrough, the one who breaks through the barriers and problems for us. Our part is to love him passionately, and why wouldn’t we?

Strength and Courage

Psalm 27: 14

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
This is certainly a good verse for teaching about waiting on the Lord. I was really intrigued, though, over the line, “let your heart take courage.” I see in those words that we must make a decision to be encouraged. We have to decide to let our hearts fill with encouragement. You can choose to be discouraged or you can choose to be encouraged. Perhaps it takes strength to allow yourself to stand in courage instead of living in discouragement because David tells us to be strong. Certainly, in waiting on the Lord, you must decide to “faint not.” That means, don’t give up. Don’t give up on God or let your faith founder while you are waiting. Waiting in faith does take backbone. You have to decide to stand regardless of the appearance of the situation around you. You must decide to keep on confessing words of faith even when the circumstances appear bleak. You have to decide to let your heart be filled with courage. You can even learn to encourage yourself when you don’t have an encourager to do it for you. You purposefully decide to be of good courage. You purposefully decide to believe God and his word instead of letting your heart fall into discouragement. If you have felt discouragement lately, take heart; be of good courage because now you know that you can affect the condition of your heart. Allow yourself to be encouraged. Allow your heart to be filled with courage. The Word of God is the best encourager there is. Get in there and let your heart be full of the encouragement of the Lord.

Preserved

Psalm 31: 23 – 24

O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful, and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

This verse reminds me of Psalm 23 where it reads, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me.” What an amazing statement. God will sustain you, protect you and preserve you no matter what kind of situation you walk through. He will be with you even in your darkest day. He is not going anywhere without you. So even though you walk through some scary times and places, you can have confidence. You are secure in his care. Be strong, take courage, you are not alone. You have an attentive father who also happens to be the most powerful being in the universe as your right hand guard. Take heart. You are okay.

Made Strong

2 Chronicles 32: 7

Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed.

Here is a very important key in spiritual warfare. Be not afraid. If you want to know the key tenets of the Bible this is certainly one. I have heard it said that there are 365 places in the Bible where we are instructed not to be afraid. I have not counted them myself but if you take notice as you read your Bible, you will probably begin to believe that count is accurate. 

There is an interesting story in Luke 8. A synagogue official named Jairus entreated Jesus to go to his house because his daughter was ill. Before they could get there messengers approached him and Jesus with the news that his daughter had died. Before Jairus could take a breath or utter an exclamation Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she shall be made well” (v. 50). Jesus knew that the outcome of the battle hinged on whether Jairus chose faith or fear.

If you think about it, fear really is faith in the negative outlook. Belief is faith in the positive outcome. You wouldn’t experience fear if you thought there was no merit to the negative report. It is only when we begin to doubt God that fear enters in. The more we yield to that fear the harder it will be for us to move back in faith and faith is what fuels our miracles and even our everyday answers. We must look to God and expect Him to be bigger than every situation of life, even death. Fear contaminates faith so in every situation we must hear the Lord saying to us “Do not be afraid.” This is a spiritual key.

Come In the Water

2 Chronicles 34: 27

“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.

There is a huge revelation in this verse for those who can hear it. It is this; let your heart be tender.

I confess that I have experienced great difficulty in this but my difficulty has, in the end, made me a bit of an expert. I have experienced the strain of trying to connect with God through a hard heart and the joy of experiencing Him through a tender heart. I can say with no doubt that one cannot enter into a deep and meaningful relationship with God if one’s heart is tough and calloused. That is why I so often write about allowing God to heal your heart. I know that God longs to have close, personal, daily communion with you but that you cannot hear Him if your heart is not tender.

I cannot help but recall the great frustration I felt when I desperately wanted to hear God speak to me but just couldn’t. I thought He wasn’t speaking. It felt like I was living life in a barren desert. Then, by grace, I learned that if I would be brave enough to allow Him to touch my heart that He would come into my life in a way that would not only satisfy my great hunger but that would also fill me to overflowing with His love, mercy and grace. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that the deep relationship that we crave with our father requires that we have a soft, tender heart through which He can commune. He doesn’t abide in our brains. He abides in our hearts so we must be able to engage our hearts in order to hear Him speak and to enter into the love relationship that He wants to share with us.

Our society does not teach us to be tender-hearted, rather the opposite in fact. Yet, many of you long deeply, hunger even, for the kind of relationship with the Father that you hear other people talk about. Honestly, it is natural for you to yearn for Him in that way. Your spirit, that place where your life force resides, craves the connection with the Holy Spirit. It is life. So, we must go against our training to allow ourselves to feel, to be tender. Frankly, many people do not have the courage for this kind of journey but once we realize the prize the journey becomes so much easier. There is no need for fear really. When you touch your heart you will find God and He is well able to care for you. It is what He wants to do after all.

If there is one encouragement I would give you above all others it is to allow God to touch your heart. Allow Him to heal the fears, the injuries and answer all of the questions. When we allow Him to heal our hearts then the tenderness which is His nature begins to saturate our beings. I am not telling you that you will turn into a crème puff. Actually, it is just the opposite your heart will become tender but you will have more courage than ever before. Frankly, it is fear that causes most people to harden their hearts. Once you have touched God in your heart and have the truth of Him living there you will have the courage of David. You will find that you also have the tenderness of David as well. You are going to like the real you that is revealed as the walls begin coming down and trust me, the people around you will too. The real you is glorious but is hidden in the recesses of your heart. Open up your heart and let the glory shine out. In your tenderness you will find great power and you will find love. Come on, jump in, the water is fine.

God’s Logic

Joshua 6: 2                 NIV

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

Score massive points for Joshua. Not only did He register that God had spoken these instructions but he also followed them to the letter. I am glad for Israel that I was not the leader of the nation because I would probably still be sitting there saying, “That can’t be God.”

Sometimes we need to follow the Lord in spite of logic because His instructions do not always make sense to our mortal minds but they will deliver wonders and victory when we follow Him. You know the rest of the story. The priests, on the seventh day, blew the long blast on the trumpet during the Israelites’ seventh circuit around Jericho, the people shouted when they heard the blast and, as the song says, the walls came tumbling down. The soldiers did not have to file through a few gates but rather each person just walked straight up and they took the city with ease.

What do you think distinguishes Joshua from those of us who would have questioned the logic of God’s battle plans? Can you picture Joshua arousing this great multitude of people and getting them to march around the walled city of Jericho for seven consecutive days? He must have been very sure that he had heard from God. If you knew beyond all doubt that God spoke specific directions to you wouldn’t you also find the strength and courage to follow His instructions to the “T” just like Joshua?

In all the years that Joshua followed Moses one surmises that Joshua witnessed what was necessary in order to lead the nation of Israel. He must have observed Moses fellowshipping with the Lord and learned how to separate himself from the fray of everyday life so that he could hear the Word of the Lord. I am also reminded of the advice the Lord gave Joshua when he took Moses’ position. God’s sage advice was two-fold. First, be strong and courageous and second, do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth but rather meditate on it day and night being careful to do all contained therein (Joshua 3: 8 – 9).

In conclusion, having walled cities, or any other challenge for that matter, crumble at your feet comes from precisely obeying the Lord’s instructions. We can only have faith and confidence in those oft times seemingly illogical, nonsensical directions when we know beyond doubt that we have heard the voice of the Lord. That kind of confidence and faith comes only from fellowship with the Lord and in His word but fellowship in the Word and in the presence of the Lord yields the bold courage that frees one to follow uncharted paths, it emboldens the heart to do all that the Lord has spoken and it sees obedient zeal in place of questioning critical thought. It gives an ordinary human being the fortitude to do that which seems unreasonable to the human mind and to do such in confidant assurance of the prize.

So if what God is telling you does not seem to make good sense to your logic center, rejoice. You have joined very good company for no one who has ever done anything great for the Lord has not had to face the same fears, doubt and indecision. Just get alone with your Father and let Him confirm His will to you and don’t worry if His logic doesn’t agree with the world’s. That is where the fun begins.