Sunday, October 20, 2013

Barricades are Being Removed

Recently I was watching a facebook youtube video of a march of veterans and others in Washington, D.C. They were there to protest the barricading of the WWII monument, a previously open-air monument that honors those who gave their lives.  As I watched the video(below), I felt something stirring inside, but then in my busyness I forgot about it.  Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for the day, the Lord brought the scenario from the video to mind where I saw common people bravely picking up the barricades that blocked them from accessing the monument, and then marching them away.

As I recalled what I had watched, I felt I heard Him say, barricades are being removed.  Something about the quietness of the march and the purposeful strides of the group reminded me of another group that marched a long, long time ago, this time around a city called Jericho.  God had given Joshua specific plans for this march, and it, too, was all about removing the barricades or walls surrounding the city.

Things were tightly shut up (Josh. 6:1), a phrase that aptly describes where some find themselves in life at this very moment.  The Joshua passage goes on to say, No one went out and no one came in.  It's the enemy's plan to box us in.  He enjoys taking away our incentive and causing us to feel trapped and without options. But, God has other plans!

Our God enjoys the challenge and it's in this place of reduced options that He loves to display His glory.  He doesn't enjoy our pain, or our frustration and discouragement, but He knows that it is in this very crucible, this tight place, that we encounter Him in a way that we could not elsewhere.  This bittersweet place of encounter, and the victory of overcoming, quickly replaces the pressure that we felt in this barricaded place. 

You may have noticed that the story of Joshua 6 is full of sevensSeven priests with seven trumpets marched around the wall seven times, and on  the seventh day they circled the city seven times before giving the shout that brought the walls tumbling down.  So why all the sevens?  In scripture, seven means fullness, completion, and perfection.  God has a time of completion.  He is shouting from this story that his timing, method and ways are complete and perfect.  Likewise, He has an appointed time for you to cross into your land, and He has an appointed time for you to defeat your enemies. As we obey His voice and follow His lead, we step into the fullness of time concerning our own destiny. He is setting the stage for a great and glorious victory!

So, as we ready ourselves to move past the barricades in our lives, what things are important to acknowledge so that we are fully positioned to move forward?  Below are some things that will set you in place to move forward:

  1. Get the word of the Lord.  The Lord spoke clearly to Joshua when He said, "See I have delivered Jericho into your hands..."  He not only gave Joshua the command, but He also gave Him the plan.  We will need faith to move forward, but faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of the Lord.  Our faith must rest on what God has said.  Those who move in presumption will often be disappointed.  They often move forward without hearing the word of the Lord over their lives and situations, creating heartache and problems as a result.  This is not to say that you have to have a word for everything you do.  But, there are many times where we must seek God for His plans and strategies for our lives.                    
  2. Remember what God has done.  It's interesting that God had given instructions for the Israelites to create 'memory stones' after crossing the Jordan into their land.  The stones were to be a sign to them and future generations telling of the miraculous things that God had done on their behalf.  These stones were faith-builders.  Create the memorial stones in your own life.  I write my history with Him in journals and pick them up to read when my faith needs a boost. 
  3. Follow the Presence.  The priests carrying the Ark of God's Presence were the first to enter the Jordan and as they did the waters flowing downstream were cut off allowing the nation to cross over.  We will never cross over into our land apart from following His Presence.  Look for the mark and hand of God on your situations and circumstances.  Be like Moses who determinedly said, If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. (Ex. 33:15) God's plan to bring down the walls of Jericho seemed like total foolishness to many I'm sure, but Joshua chose to follow the word and Presence of the Lord.
  4. Be set apart and healed.  Setting the stage for the Jericho march, God required that Joshua circumcise those who had not yet been circumcised.  The entire nation of men were then circumcised, and God said to Joshua, today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.  Egypt represents slavery, and it was necessary that this act of circumcision was completed before they could fully conquer their giants and step into all that God had for them.  Verse 8 says ....They remained where they were in camp until they were healed.   Many times we are not moving past our barricades because we are not yet healed.  Redeem the waiting time and pursue healing and allow God to rid you of the shame and reproach of your past.  He wants to replace the old wineskins and mindsets that formed while you were still in bondage.  You will need a renewed mind to take your land.  The land will not be taken by slaves, but by sons.
  5. Receive the new land He is giving you.  Many times we are our own worst enemy.  Our beliefs about ourselves can cause us to feel unworthy to receive the land He is giving us.  As our mind is renewed and we come to see Him in all of His goodness, then we will also start to see ourselves as He sees us.  Just believing that He has a 'land' for you is not enough.  You must receive and step into it.  What land has He delivered into your hands?

Thank you Father that it is your good pleasure to give your children the kingdom. Equip, establish, and empower us for this season of moving past the barricades that have blocked us from taking the lands marked out for us.  May we be a generation of courageous sons and daughters, awakened by your love, who conquer lands and kingdoms for Your glory. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Seeding the Clouds

The clouds have really caught my attention lately. After years of drought in our region it is especially good to see the sky full of big fluffy clouds. I had never really thought much about it before, but clouds have been causing me to think about God's promises and even more than that, about faith.

There is a type of scientific weather modification practice known as seeding the clouds where scientists are actually able to enhance a cloud's ability to produce precipitation. Likewise, when we allow faith to have it's full place in our lives, then we partner with the Spirit of God to sow into the clouds of heaven the very promises that have been spoken to us. In doing this we are co-laboring in faith with God who Himself, calls things that are not as though they were. We are seeding the clouds of our own promises.

We often forget that our life here on earth is more than anything else, a faith journey.  God is very partial to faith. In fact, He goes so far as to say, Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Take a look at the Old Testament prophet, Elijah. Now there's a man of faith.  Just like us, the land was in a terrible drought.  Then the Lord told Elijah to present himself to Ahab and then he would send rain on the land.  This was no easy task for Elijah as he had been a hunted man every since Jezebel, Ahab's wife, had decided to systematically kill off the prophets of God.  But, Elijah would not be deterred by the threat of death.  He valued obedience over his own safety.

What follows is an amazing display of raw faith at it's finest. Elijah set up a very public challenge on Mt. Carmel where he invited Ahab to assemble the 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah.  They then each prepared a bull sacrifice, but neither was to set fire to it. Instead, Elijah suggested that they call upon their god, and He would call upon His God to set fire to the sacrifices.  Then comes my favorite line of the story......the god who answers by fire --He is God.

And the Lord God did answer by fire, and lots of it! And the prophets of Baal?  Not even a spark.

After all of this excitement, you would think that Elijah might have even forgotten God's promise to bring rain on the land after he had presented himself to Ahab. But, Elijah was holding on to his promise.  He boldly declared to Ahab, Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.   Now, there was no sound of a heavy rain yet, but Elijah was partnering with God and calling that which is not, as though it were.  He was prophesying what would be, before it was. 

Elijah then assumed a position of prayer all the time instructing his servant to watch towards the sea looking for the coming rain.  His servant must have been pretty perplexed because six times he was told by Elijah to go back and look again.  Elijah's faith would not budge, even though each time the servant reported that there was nothing to see.  But, the seventh time the servant saw 'a cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.' 

That was all Elijah needed to hear.  The tiny cloud was as good as a flood to him, because He was operating from a realm of faith.  All along the way, Elijah's obedience, faith, and declarations had helped to seed the clouds that would then release a heavy rain on their land.

So, I'm humbled, challenged, and stirred by this glimpse into Elijah's life.  I can't help but think of the promises of outpouring that have been released over our region and the responsibility that has been entrusted to us as His people.  May we, like Elijah, assume the position of prayer that seeds the clouds with the heart and desire of our Father in Heaven.  And may we, like the servant, have eyes to see the cloud as small as a man's fist rising over our own land.