Who Do I Listen To???
I've had several conversations over many years with people who were not sure whose voice to listen to and act upon.
Who has the final say?
Whose in charge?
What voice do I listen to?
I admit it, from a human perspective it can get confusing! We have hierarchal systems from government to schools to how our families run. There are cultural differences among ethnicities and nations to name just a couple.
This is not a post to dissect these differences, but it is to help us hopefully see things from a greater (or more focused) perspective.
So, here is where this question came from... As I was reading in Acts, God reminded me of something that happened to Peter and John not long after Jesus had risen and returned to heaven. My attention was grabbed when I came to these verses...
>> Acts 4:19-20 <<
The temple leaders were indignant that Peter and John were confidently healing and relaying eyewitness accounts of Jesus not only rising from the dead, but now living in power and healing others through them! They thought they had silenced this conversation by killing Jesus!
So, they tried to silence these guys by putting them in jail and then bringing them before their inquisition the following day.
“By what power or what name did you do this?” they asked.
(And here is where the Holy Spirit started to yank on my heart strings...)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (from Acts 4:8-12)
It's really a fascinating picture of ordinary people who had spent quality and quantity time with Jesus, waited and received the gift He promised to them (Read Acts 1-2), and subsequently moved in boldness, power and wisdom without Jesus standing (physically) beside them! Thousands were coming to faith in Jesus and being baptized because of the disciples. (Read Acts 3-4)
The bottom line is to hear the words of Peter and John as they responded to the command of the temple leaders... (and, by the way, they used the same tactic as Jesus did - - they answered with a leading question.)
"But Peter and John replied,
Hmmm. You be the judge. I leave that statement for you to think about.
As for me, I felt the Holy Spirit challenging me and saying:
"Don't allow the voice of fear and unbelief to dictate your voice and actions. Your children, spouse, friends, co-workers, people you lead, and leaders need to hear and see the testimony you carry. Don't allow His voice and ways to be silenced."
I guess you could say that God got my attention. I am so glad that He continues to lead me back to His ways, truth and presence. I love Him for that!
So, my friends...
I will Possess.
“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."
God stands by His Name.
A friend put out a public prayer request asking for a non-believer's healing. It was given with her consent and with the assurance that God is a healer, has been doing some great things in people's lives lately, and that we will ask for a miracle to happen ... that she has a full recovery.
I found myself praying for the individual and then, I thought, "God, Your name is being put out on the line today." And just as quick as the thought was out, was this realization: God is His Name!
We serve a great God; One who actually personifies His name.
Healer Lover Provider Redeemer Faithful Friend Powerful Merciful Just Compassionate Forgiving
Let them know that You, whose name is the Lord —
that You alone are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18 NIV
God stands by His Name.
Live what you Lead
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.
Today I went to a funeral for someone I had never met... someone who really lived. (http://www.danielroberthall.net/) Having known Robert's in-laws for many years, we simply came to quietly stand with them in their pain.
I sat, stood, listened, pondered, cried, sang, reminisced, repented and worshiped for almost 3 1/2 hours. One of the very last things spoken was that there was a sense that this had truly been a 'significant' time. I think that says it in the best way for me. I am still digesting.
Even though much was said to describe this life so sorely missed, I walked away reflecting that this had definitely been a service that commemorated our Lord. I listened as many gave testimony that Rob Hall was a man who loved well and left the fragrance of Christ where-ever he went. Without anyone obviously striving, it was Christ was ultimately honoured as His characteristics & purposes were described through the life & actions of Rob's. Magnificent!
Thank you. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. Thank you for the truth spoken midst the pain.
Katie & the kids, I will keep praying for you.
Jim & Kathy, I am praying for you as well. You are loved.
The LORD leads...
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
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5