Witness Him Now
Yesterday, when we got home from church, we found out that a young man that morning had gone into a small Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot and killed at least 26 people and injured many others. My heart is hurting for the people in this small town and for many others who identify with the people who died and with the people left behind. I live in the heart of the bible belt, so this tragedy hits me where I live. But, I don't think like most people think, and I don't react like most people react, so I want to blog. I want to share with you what is going on in my heart and in my mind. And even though I know that many of you will not understand what I am saying, I want to say it anyway.
First of all, I believe with everything that is within me that "all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) So I know that as tragic as this is, God is going to do something good for His people because of it. I also know that God always has good plans, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and I know that no plan of His will ever be thwarted, so somehow or another this gruesome incident is part of a bigger picture that God has to bring redemption to His people. He says, "Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has planned it?" (Amos 3:6) This disaster was part of His plan. (Revelations 14:13) also tells me, "Blessed are those who die in the LORD from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work: for their good deeds follow them!" Those who died are in a good place, a place of rest. But what about all of the rest of us? That is what I want to talk about.
None of us can change the circumstances of life. It is not in our power. Other people make choices that rock our world. It does not matter how smart we are or how strong we are or how prepared we are, things happen - things we cannot change. The thing we can change, however, is how we respond to the circumstances. That's what I want to talk about.
With everything that happens, God is trying to teach His people to trust Him. But we all have an enemy, a very real enemy. This enemy wants to kill us, steal from us, and destroy us. It is his goal. He hates us, and he will take the circumstances of life to bombard us with lies. He wants us to question God's goodness and God's purpose. He wants to torture us with guilt and fear and sorrow. He wants to trap us in a prison where there seems to be no escape. He wants to make "Trust" look impossible.
So when I look at this tragedy, I ask myself, "Where will the enemy attack?" And the answer is varied. For some, it will come in the form of hatred and rage. It will cause people to want to get revenge, to point the blame at someone else to ease their own conscience. For others, fear and terror will come. For others, extreme guilt - like it was their fault that this happened. For others, the attack will come in the form of a cry to take up arms - as if we are fighting an enemy who is flesh and blood. And then others will be attacked by extreme, crippling sorrow.
So how do we fight the forces that are against us, that are trying to kill us, steal from us, and destroy us? We turn to Jesus. We open our hearts wide to let Him come in and hold us and keep us. If there is anger or fear or guilt or sorrow in there, we let Him have it. We say, "God, I am so sorry for letting the enemy in. I am guilty of being angry and afraid. I am guilty of allowing guilt and sorrow in. Please take it away." And He will. Then ask Him to fill you with His peace. That doesn't even make sense - that we could experience peace in the midst of the storm, but we can. Now that doesn't mean that these things will not try to attack our heart again and again, but it does mean that there is a very real savior who whats to set us free.
Isaiah 61 gives us a glimpse into what our Jesus has come to do for His people. "He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
I don't understand it all, but God says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) God has come to heal and comfort His people. Vengeance is His, not ours. Our portion is peace and joy and praise, even in the middle of tragedy. We will be called "trees of righteousness" so that our LORD may be glorified. But I want to leave you with a word of warning. (Hosea 10:12-13) I said, "Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.. But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of lies - trusting in military might, believing that great armies could make your nation safe. Now the terrors of war will rise among your people, and all your fortifications will fail."
God is calling His people to believe and to trust Him. If we choose to take matters into our own hands, trusting in our own strength and might, terror will be our portion. Terror is the spirit that is about to be loosed upon the whole planet. It will come to all of those who refuse to turn to the only One who is able to save us. Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep."
My dear friends, it is my prayer that you will find peace and joy and praise, even in the middle of all of the tragedies of this life. The only way this can happen is if our eyes are on Jesus and our heart is wide open to receive his mercy and grace. We have to let Him help us get through this. We cannot do it on our own.
When the LORD gave me the message four years ago that judgment was coming and then He showed me in the scriptures what was about to happen, I said, "LORD, Your church is not ready. How are we going to make it?" He gave me four scriptures that day. I memorized them, and I tried to give this word to others, but I did not truly understand. It was not until this past year that God revealed to me the significance of those words. I will share with you those scriptures and and how we have to apply these words to our lives. With every point I make, I will come back to these words until this becomes our default response to every situation.
The first scripture God gave me was, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. I thought, "OK, no matter what happens, we have to seek God's kingdom." What I did not understand until recently is that this whole passage, starting in verse 19 has to do with money and provision. So the first thing God wants us to know is what we do with our money.
The first thing He said was, "Do not store up your treasure on earth where moths eat it and rust destroys it, but store up your treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy it and thieves do not break in to steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. So I believe with all my heart that our savings account and 401K and all the things that we want to put our trust in are not going to be there, and if they are, we need to reevalualte what we do with them. Remember, our money and our heart are tied together, and if we choose to store our treasure, thieves will break in and take it...inflation, the collapse of the dollar, a collapse of the stock market...the list could go on and on. Take your pick. Right now we get to choose where our treasure goes. After the theives break in, we won't be able to do that.
Next it says that if your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. If your eye is bad, your whole body is full of darkness. And if the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness is! I really never understood this passage until I saw that it was sandwiched between scriptures on money. So what it is really talking about is...what are we looking at? If we are looking at Jesus, our whole body is full of light. We know where we are going and we know what to do, but if we are looking at money, we are full of darkness. We will not know where we are going or what to do. But listen to this, what if the light we think we have is really darkness...how deep that darkness is. What if we think we are looking at Jesus, but what we are really looking at is money. Oh my goodness! I have had to reevaluate everything I am doing. Is my work on the mission's committe really about money? What about all the fundraisers? Garage sales? Bake sales? What about concerts? What about Women's Conferences? What about camps? I am not going there anymore. I will fix my eyes on Jesus. I will give when He says give. That is God's way. God says He will give us bread to eat and seed to sow, but we have to plant that seed, we can't eat it. I think we have been eating a lot of our seed, but not anymore. It is not our money anyway, it is God's. All of it belongs to Him, and one day we are going to have to give an account for what we have done with His money.
Then it says...no one can serve two masters. You are going to hate one and love the other. You cannot serve God and money. We are going to have to choose. Wow! This is going to be hard. We have spent our entire life following after money and things, and now God is saying that we have to choose. We can't have them both. How do we do this? It reminded me of the story of the rich young ruler. He loved God, and he wanted to please Him. When He met Jesus, he said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? Jesus said, "If you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments: you must not murder, you must not commit adultery, you must not steal, you must not lie, honor your father and mother, love your neighbor as yourself." "I've obeyed all these commandments," the young man replied. "What else must I do?" Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I'll say it again - it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"
Because we live in America, we all fall into the category of the rich young man. This choice is going to be as hard on us as it was on him. I don't know what God is going to ask us to do in the coming days. In the early church, they sold all of their property and distributed the money to the churches. Will He ask us to do this? Is He asking us to do this now? What will we say? Will we have an excuse for this like we have had an excuse for the other things we have failed to do? This is the pearl of great price, but do we understand the value of the pearl that is in our hands? I can't choose for you and you can't choose for me, but we are each one going to have to choose. Do we go and sell all we have to buy the pearl? Or do we think the money in our hand is worth more? Who will we serve, the Creator of the Universe or money? I don't know how to get out of this point because it is so huge, but I will proceed as if we have chosen to give it all.
Then God said, "Don't worry about your everyday life, whether you have enough food or drink or enough clothes to wear. Life is more than food and your body is more than clothing. Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why do you worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for the wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will most certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things saying, "What will we eat?" "What will we drink?" "What will we wear?" These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
There is so much in this passage. Don't worry. God knows what we need and He will take care of us. We don't have to worry about these things. God has our back. We pray it, and we expect it..."give us this day or daily bread". In the past I never thought this verse applied to the people in America because we have such abundance, but in the coming days, this verse is going to be very important. God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. So we can't worry about what will happen tomorrow, we have to be thankful for today.
So how do I sum up this lesson on finances? Fix your eyes on Jesus. If our eyes are on money, we won't make it. Don't withhold any of your resources from God. It's all His anyway. And DON'T WORRY! God will take care of His people. It is written, and God cannot lie.
I don't know about you, but I see healing scriptures so clearly in the Bible, but I rarely see God stretch out His hand to heal. I see in Isaiah 53 what Jesus paid for with His stripes and on the cross: our transgressions, our iniquities, our peace and our health. He already paid the price. We should have free access to all that He paid for, yet what I am seeing is that people I know and love continue to suffer day after day while God presumably remains silent. Then the last few weeks, the LORD has begun to download things into my spirit that I never understood before. I think what He is giving me is pure, unadulterated truth. I want to share with you what He has given to me.
First of all, God is the one who does all things, so if sickness comes, it is God who does it. This made all the difference in the world to me to know that everything that happens is from God. He is just using Satan to accomplish His purposes. So what are His purposes? Most of the time in scripture I see that the purpose of sickness is to bring us to a place of repentance. (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28) So the first thing I would presume is that God is trying to get my attention. So what I would do is ask God in to search my heart. I would let Him into every corner. Whatever He brings to the surface, I would "humble myself and accept my guilt and confess my sin". I would bring whatever God reveals into the light. If it remains in the darkness, the darkness has control, but if it is brought into the light, God can heal us. James says, "Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed." The Bible also says, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." So it is God's purpose to bring us to a place where we put our sins under the blood and turn away from them. Then He can cause our soul to proper and bring us health. Most everything I see in scripture points to this.
However, there are two other scriptures that make me think that sickness is not always connected to sin. There was a blind man, and the disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parent?" Jesus said, "Neither. This sickness is for the glory of God." So there was not sin involved in this, only God's glory. Then there is the story of Job. If you are like me, I have stayed away from this story for a long time. It is hard for me to understand a man who is righteous in every way, who "fears God" and "shuns evil" who went through all that this man went through, but it happened. Then I got to thinking that the there was no way for the enemy to attack this man. He feared God, and he shunned evil. There was a hedge around him that was so "high" and "wide" that the enemy just went around him. He didn't even look his way until God said, "Have you considered Job, my servant." OK, so here we go...God did it. He opened the door for the enemy to enter Job's life. Why? What was His purpose? At the end of the book, after God challenges Job, Job said, "I had only heard of You before, but now I know You."
I believe that in the coming days we are going to "get to know" God in ways that we never dreamed possible. So what does that mean. It means that we "fix our eyes on Jesus", "we guard our heart" so that no enemy comes in, and "in everything we give thanks for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you". Once we cross over to praise and thanksgiving as our "default" response, we will be victorious in all we do and God's holy name will be "hallowed" among the nations. Praise and thanksgiving opens the door for God's mighty arm to descend with power on our enemies to defeat them. (Psalm 150 and Isaiah 30:29-33) The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!
I started writing about the eye of the storm a few weeks ago. I thought I would get back to it sooner than I did. Sorry. I know most of you are waiting in anticipation. :) No, really. The reason I write at all is because I want you to be ok in the coming days. Devastating things are about to happen. For some people it already has. Look at Sandy Hook, Boston, West, Oklahoma, and then last night we got an email from a lady who is selling her son's motorcycle. He and his fiance were killed two months ago by a drunk driver while on the way to his little brother's birthday party. When things like this happen, our heart will be attacked from all directions, and we have to know how to find peace in the midst of the storm.
God's covenant with us is to give us life and peace. (Malachi 2:5) This only comes when we reverance Him, but we have so much garbage in our lives that we barely even take note of the God of the Universe, so He is about to turn our hearts back to Himself. Everything that happens to us in the coming days is meant to train us in righteousness (to believe God). That means that God has to expose the lies we have believed our entire lives. Once exposed, we can choose: life or death, blessings or curses. The choice is ours, so the trials of the coming days are coming to expose the lies and then one of two things will happen.
Either the trials will purify our hearts. We will learn to trust God in ways we could never dream possible, and we will know him in ways we could never imagine. He is going to do this by taking away everything we have ever trusted in (Micah 5:10-15) so that we will never again worship the work of our own hands. Think about that one. Romans 1 says that we traded the truth for a lie and worshiped the creation more than the Creator. So God is about to turn our hearts back to the truth and to the Creator. We will no longer value things over God. This will come as a refining fire to purge us so that we will once again offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:2-3) This doesn't sound like fun, does it? I don't think it is going to be, but if we will allow every circumstance to train us in righteousness (to believe God), we will make it. If we allow bitterness, anger, hate, revenge, covetousness, greed, jealousy, etc. (you get the idea) to enter our hearts and control us, we will not make it in this life or in the life to come. We have to purge our land (heart) of all enemies.
Or the trials are coming to bring judgment on people who refuse to turn and live. The same thing is going to happen to the just and to the unjust, but it is written, a wise man builds his house upon the rock, and when the floods come, his house will stand because he trusts Jesus, and he is a "doer of the word" and not just a "hearer only". Those who are wise find refuge in their Savior. Those who are foolish run the other way, and it is written: "Because the rest of you have forsaken the LORD and have forgotten His Temple, and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny, now I will 'destine' you for the sword. All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned - before My very eyes - and chose to do what you know I despise." Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says, "My servants will eat, but you will starve. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be sad and ashamed. My servants will sing for joy, but you will cry in sorrow and despair.. Your name will be a curse word among My people, for the Sovereign LORD will destroy you and will call His true servants by another name." (Isaiah 65:11-15) Terror, famine, disease, and destruction (Ezekiel 14 and 21) will come upon those who turn their hearts from the living God in the coming days, but the suffering that will happen in this lifetime does not come close to the suffering that will happen throughout all eternity. That is why God is going to do everything in His power to turn our hearts back to Him. HE DOES NOT WANT ANY TO PERISH!!!!! He knows what will happen to those who do not turn from their sins, and He does not want that, so like any GOOD Father, He is going to do everything in His power to try to save us.
I don't know about you, but when I read things like this, I'm like...I want to be prepared, but how do we prepare? First, open your heart wide to God. Ask Him to come in with the light of His great love to search out every dark, hidden, broken, shame-filled, bitter corner. Ask Him to reveal what is inside of you. Then as He reveals it, accept your guilt (don't point the finger at someone else) and tell Him you are sorry. Say this outloud and say it to a friend. Do not let the things inside your heart remain hidden. Once it is in the light, it has no more power. Once you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Say outloud, "LORD, forgive me for not forgiving myself. I am sorry." Then the peace of God which passes all understanding should enter your heart. If it doesn't, ask God to come in again and to expose the lies you have been believing. Confess it as a sin. Remember that condemnation is an enemy, too. If you have confessed your sin, and you have turned from it, you are clean. If condemnation comes in, confess it as a sin. Say, "God, please forgive me for condemning myself." Peace should enter. Seek peace and find it. This is the "eye of the storm". We have to stay here. We won't make it if we don't.
So whatever happens..."Fix your eyes on Jesus"..."Guard your heart"...and "In everything give thanks." If we do this, we will make it. We have to have our eyes on Jesus, though. If we are looking at anything else, we will not be able to maintain peace. Now I am going to give you one of my favorite scriptures. It is in Phillippians. "Don't worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done, and the peace of God that passes all understanding will GUARD YOUR HEART AND YOUR MIND in Christ Jesus.
Blessings, my friends. May you enter and find rest in the "eye of the storm".
I know that I am not off on what is about to happen - I see it everywhere. I see it when I open my Bible, it shouts at me from every page. I see it when I look at the news, I watch Glenn Beck and we keep up with Drudgereport and TheBlaze. I cannot believe what is happening right before our eyes, and nobody cares. Nobody is taking notice. It is crazy. What I don't know for sure is the time period. But let me tell you, in the spirit, it feels like the wind has picked up and the first pelts of rain are hitting windows. It feels like the windows should already be boarded up and we should be hunkering down to weather the storm.
I want to first tell you the purpose of this storm. It always helps when we know why something happens. The purpose of God's covenant is to bring life and peace, but this requires reverence from us. We will greatly revere God and stand in awe of His name. Then we will pass on to the people the truth of the instructions that we receive from Him. We will not lie or cheat, we will walk with Him, living good and righteous lives, and we will turn many from lives of sin. (Malachi 2:5-6) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and we really don't fear God much right now, but we will. The LORD says, "Look! I am sending My messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me. Then the LORD you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple (us). The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. But who will be able to endure it when He comes? Who will be able to stand and face Him when He appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to Him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as He did in the past. (Malachi 3:1-4)
So the storm that is coming upon the whole earth (Isaiah 24) is coming to test us and to purify us. Malachi 3:5-6 says, "At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreighers living among you of justice, for these people do not fear Me," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
The scripture says, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."