“Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you?
This is an interesting story in the continuing saga that Israel journeyed through during the time in history where judges ruled the nation. Jephthah was in that role for this account and was standing his ground, defending Israel's rights of ownership to a land that the king of the Ammonites was claiming for his own. It was when I was reading this story (read it here) that the 24th verse jumped out at me. I felt God challenging me...
War was imminent. The Ammonite king was challenging Israel on the ownership of the land in question, saying that Israel had stolen it. Jephthah went through details of the Israelite's journey from the time they left Egypt, declaring that they had legally fought for the land and God had given them victory - God had given them ownership of it. Because of that, Israel would stand their ground - they would not give up the inheritance given them by their God. He challenged the foreign king saying that he would've done the same thing if this was a dispute of something that their god (Chemosh) had given them. (interesting dialogue from a judge of Israel ...) Then, Jephthah said; "Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess."
What does it mean to possess? (see Blue Letter Bible)
What has God given me?
As soon as I asked these questions, I was reminded of verses like these:
I asked myself; do I really possess what God has given me?
And God reminded me of something He allowed in my life several years ago...
I was experiencing intense back spasms, and this went on for about 6 months. The pain was terrible and most of my days ended up in bed. I had been diagnosed medically with scoliosis many years prior to this incident and, for the most part, had functioned normally despite the curvature in my spine. But this season was different.
We were leading a small congregation at the time and the Lord was taking us (and the church) through significant change. It was a revival of sorts in our church community. We were growing, and God's presence was significant among us. We moved to a larger facility and then this pain hit me. I remember feeling like it was a spiritual attack of some sort but didn't know how to verbalize that to people without them thinking I was a bit weird. So, I did what I knew that I could. I got physical attention... went to the doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, took the med's prescribed, etc. But still did not find relief. I got spiritual attention... asked for prayer for healing, declared promises of healing over myself regularly, confessed anything that I thought might be a cause to this happening to me, submitted myself to deliverance processes (I was desperate to be free from months of chronic pain!), etc. Some of this season is embarrassing for me to think about now, but I do not regret going through it! God taught me a lot (although it was kind of a hard way).
After exhausting all the avenues that I was aware of at the time, I had to wait it out before God. I fell asleep many times (and with much medication) listening to a lot of great teaching (like Joyce Meyer) and worship music. My spirit was fed by those who spoke and sang hope. I made a practice to, as much as possible, speak life over my body. I would declare the promises of God over and over. My back still didn't change.
I don't recall the date or circumstance when the pain stopped, but I suddenly realized that it had. There were a number of people who had been praying for me in this season and I knew instinctively that God had answered mine and their cries for His intervention.
And here's the part that resonated with me as I was reading the story from Judges. Something landed in my spirit the day God took the pain away and caused the spasms to stop. As I read, He reminded me of it. It was an understanding, a confidence that the pain would not happen to me in that way ever again... if I stood my ground, not unlike what Jephthah told the Ammonite king, or what is described in Luke 10:19. I became aware of the gift, the inheritance that God had given when He healed my back and innately understood that it was mine to keep. I felt an authority that I had not felt before. Any time I felt spasms starting up in my back again, I simply (and tenaciously) would say 'NO' and they would stop! The interesting thing to me was that I had done that many times prior to this moment of God releasing healing to me, but nothing changed. I had told the pain to go in Jesus' name and nothing had changed. Somehow this was different.
I was well for several months and then the headaches hit! They would travel up the right side of my neck and knock me off my feet for a few hours. I was getting 2 or 3 of these daily. The doctor said they were like migraines but not textbook as they were just as intense but much shorter. I went through all of the same process of what I described above and then, after about six months, God lifted it. How did I know it was God? I cannot explain that to you but I knew and, like the back spasms, I then had an authority over that kind of headache that I didn't seem to have before. Any time I felt the pain traveling up my neck in the same manner, I would say 'NO' and it would retreat. In fact, even as I was writing this article it happened... I said 'NO'!
I don't understand all of this other than I must stand my ground and walk in what God has given to me. Galatians 5:1 says; "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." That is my definition of this verse; I will gratefully possess and occupy the land of my inheritance. I will testify and allow fruit to grow from what He has given me.
What has the Lord given me? Oh my, how can I write that all here? He has given so much - life, salvation, healing, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, family, possessions, creative abilities, health, peace, purpose, heaven, His presence...
How great and how vast He is!!! I never lack adventure in Him. He is better than, holier than, greater than I can even imagine. He is always more. He is not a better love, He is love. He is not a brighter light, He is light. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and humility. He heals, delivers, and rescues. He is God - the one true God. I can rest in Him. I can trust His ways. He has given all this and more to me in Himself, in Jesus. I will praise Him forever!
"Whatever the Lord has given me, I will possess."
While reading this morning, I knew the Lord was speaking again to a very deep place in my heart...
I've been reading through a chronological version of the Bible and today's chapters were in Deuteronomy where God is giving Moses final instructions & reminders for Israel before they move into the promised land with their new leader, Joshua. So as I come to chapter 18, I glance at the sub-titles: Offerings for Priests and Levites, Occult Practices, The Prophet and dive in. After reading the previous OT books, a lot of this is beginning to look repetitious, but I move on. I resonate with the Levites, agree quickly with the avoidance of occult practices, and want the voice of the prophet. Oh, but I haven't noticed this before... Look at verse 16!
For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
I want His voice & presence to be near. I trust Him. I honour & fear only Him. I want Him to speak & move through me.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children...
I woke up this morning from a dream that was a flashback of three situations involving fast moving water and near death experiences.
As I recalled each one my heart went down to my stomach again, for the potential of disaster had been upon us. But, what I also remembered was standing on the bank, watching and praying. Let me rephrase that last line more accurately - I was literally yelling out, pleading for God to help, to send His angels, and shouting out encouragement to the swimmers so they would not give up! In each case, I watched as God intervened. The swimmers did not quit, a rescuer timed his entry perfectly to match the current and grab the victim. (I am not talking about a trained rescuer; it was my brother who jumped in to save the individual.) God caused another person to be drawn to the rocky shore, outside of the path of the crazy current, where they were able to grab hold and wait for help.
It is impossible for me to describe these scenarios so that you could envision them. But I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God intercepted and diverted disaster for all of us.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:7
So, back to today. As I opened my Bible my eyes fell on the above verses. On those days in my history, the voice of the Lord was over the waters. He looked past our ignorance and calculations of it for we did not see the danger, and He rescued us.
God is good. God does care. He saves His people ... even from their own folly. He rescues those who trust in Him. (Psalm 28:7-9)
With my song, I will praise Him!
By His Spirit, I will declare words of encouragement and words of life!
The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood,
And the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.
And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people. Acts 12:11 NKJV
There's an old song that says, "He touched me ... something happened and now I know, He touched me ..."
We've all been touched by God. We just might not realize it. We all got touched (so to speak) when we were created. God was hands on in the designing and creating of each of us. (Read Psalm 119:73) I just don't remember that one!
But, sometimes in life, God gives us a special moment, where we actually have a sense that He has come down and touched us.
Peter had that. He was in prison (again) and an angel jolted him out of his sleep. The image I have in my head as I read this is actually comical, for the angel was not passive. The Bible says that the angel 'struck' Peter on the side and pulled him up! Ha! So here's what my brain sees ... Peter sound asleep. An angel shows up with tons of light happening. Peter stays asleep. The angel gives him a boot in the side and yanks him up. He tells him to get dressed, put his shoes on and follow. Peter thinks he is dreaming. They go by the 1st and 2nd guard posts and when they come to the exit, which happens to be a large, iron gate, it opens all by itself! They walk out, go down the street a bit and the angel ... vanishes! Peter wakes up. (Read the whole story here)
Have you ever been touched by God? Has He delivered you from something that held you in a prison of sorts? I have. He has touched me. He has delivered me and led me past the 1st and 2nd guard posts. He opened the massive iron gates without me even lifting a finger. He touched me and healed me. And I wasn't dreaming.
So, I ask you again, has God touched you? If He has, tell someone about it. If He hasn't, ask Him to.
And I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, Who had led me in the right way... Genesis 24:48
I've just finished reading the story of Abraham's servant going to find a wife for Isaac (I'm glad times have changed!), and was so impressed by this man's reliance on God. He asked God for direction, was thoughtful in discerning it, and gave immediate credit and worship to Him when the answer came. No wonder Abraham could trust his servant with this huge task!
It's caused me to reflect on my own life and recall the several times that God has obviously directed me and our family over the years. A lot of these instances resulted in significant course changes for us. I remember the moment that Bruce & I knew we were meant for each other, the time when we knew we were to go to Israel, the way He led us to one of our homes, the purchase of a property for our church, etc., etc. I can also remember some instances that surprised us, but God has shown that He was closing a door (I think it was right on our foot!) only to open another one.
Do you remember such times? Why not take some time to write them down and worship God for His intervention in your life. Encourage someone else by posting a brief comment here to give testimony of God's faithfulness in your life.
Train me, God, to walk straight;
then I'll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
I've never kept secret what you're up to.
You've always been great toward me—what love!
You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads! A gang of thugs is after me—
and they don't care a thing about you. But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on,
save your dear, dear child! Make a show of how much you love me
so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet.
Psalm 86:11-17 MSG
What a title! This is exactly what God is. He breaks through with power for those who are seeking & running after His heart. He saves. He delivers. He redeems.
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5