Archive for the ‘running the race’ Tag
We could have been born in any generation. But God chose us to be born in this last day generation, to have the honor of fighting in the last battles and to be worthy to usher in the Kingdom of God. Obviously most of us would call ourselves unworthy and unqualified to fight such a battle. But the choice was not ours. It was His and He always chooses rightly. Receive this as hope. He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ( Phil. 1:6 ) He will finish what He started, not only in the earth but also in each of us personally … if we remain faithful to Him.
So in addition to placing us in this time period, He has also poured out grace and gifts that the former generations knew little of. Not only did He save us for this time but He also saved specific anointings and giftings because we need them desperately now. We have also been gifted with advanced technology to send the gospel around the world in a moment by common every day people through the internet. And to whom much is given, much will also be required. (Luke 12:48b)
Take courage. The days you were born for are upon you. Courage is already within you, in the form of the Spirit of the Lord, the Victor, the Champion. Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world. (1 Jn. 4:4) Courage is not necessary when we are sitting by the fireplace drinking tea. In fact, it’s difficult to muster much of it in that instance. But when the battle comes, it will be activated and we will find there is more within us than we knew. This, of course, is not for the purpose of pride. Pride goes before a fall. (Prov. 16:18 )
It is very difficult to write a blog post of this nature and not refer to “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit”. Jesus often speaks clearly to me through movies and Tolkeins writings are full of prophetic significance for this present hour and that which is to come. Those of you who know these movies will agree. But for my purpose here I will simply refer to the general underlying theme that it is often the small people, the unlearned, the insignificant in the sight of the world who find great courage, become great heroes and end up saving the world in these stories. And as a side note, it also requires those at odds with each other to finally join together to fight and defeat a common enemy.
In our day it comes down to this: There are only 2 choices … for God or against Him. We choose to be for Him when our thoughts and beliefs and attitudes agree with His. This will require our knowing what He actually did say and not just what we thought He said or what we were taught by others. The Word of God just became even more important.
Don’t make survival your goal. You are destined to be an over-comer. Much of what you have to overcome is on a personal level and it counts. Without that you would never make it to the higher levels of the battle or the higher ranks of the army. Hopelessness must be defeated. There is always hope in Christ. The fear of man must be defeated as well and replaced with the fear of God. In fact, the fear of God is a positive cure for the fear of man. Just ask Isaiah or John in the book of Revelation. This is a time to arise in intercession and also make a strong stand for God and righteousness. He is with you.
There is much more that could be said but I will refer you back to a previous article in this blog called Stand and Be Strong from Feb. 24, 2014. https://comeawaymylove.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/stand-and-be-strong/
Our definition of success and Heaven’s definition of success are two very different things. Too much of the world’s mindset has made its way into Christian thinking and we have adopted it as our own without even realizing it. How do we judge success?
From a business perspective, success is usually the amount of money being made. It also would have to do with the number of sales, contacts, how far reaching our influence is etc. It’s about how wealthy we are, who we know and what we do. It’s about us. This same concept applies in other areas of our lives and largely focuses on how much we seem to be accomplishing and what other people think of us. Sadly, there is far too much of this in ministry as well.
But from Heaven’s perspective we usually have it upside down. It’s not about the ‘secret of the successful life’. It’s about the ‘success of the secret life’. The life that is hidden in God, where our goal is to make His name famous instead of our own, carries far more weight in Heaven. It’s a life where He is seen and we are not … where much of what we do is behind the scenes, to advance His Kingdom instead of our own.
Many of you will have read Rick Joyner’s book The Final Quest years ago. Since that time he has completed that trilogy and started another. (See my Recommended Reading list) But if you haven’t read that book for a long time, I’d highly recommend reading it again. It’s one of those things that only gets better and more relevant as time goes by. Here are some quotes from that book regarding success from people who lived their lives on this earth then died and went to Heaven. Here is the truth they found there:
“What looks good on earth looks very different here. What will make you a king on earth will often be a stumbling block to keep you from being a king here. What will make you a king here is lowly and not esteemed on earth.”
“The more influence that you gain by your own self promotion, the more striving you must do to keep your influence, and the more dark and cruel your life will become. Anything you do because of political pressures or opportunities, will only lead you to the end of your true ministry. If you do not live what you preach to others you disqualify yourself from the high calling of God. Love the Savior and seek His glory alone. Everything that you do to exalt yourself will one day bring you the most terrible humiliation. Everything that you do out of true love for the Savior, to glorify His name, will extend the limits of His eternal Kingdom and ultimately result in a much higher place for yourself.”
Doesn’t God use people to build His Kingdom? Yes, of course. We get to help. God is not afraid of heroes. He builds them Himself. But up to this point in time, too many of those who are called to large public ministries have fallen prey to the power, the prestige and the occasional wealth that may bring. This has largely been due to spiritual immaturity. However, there is a new breed arising on the scene now. They cut across all levels of society. Age and gender are not an issue. These have been tried in the fire and are coming forth as gold. They are like David, with the courage of a lion and a heart of intimacy with the Lord. They care neither for the criticism or the praise of men but seek only the approval of the King. They stand for His truth, even under threat of death. ( Rev.12:11) T hese are going forth to build His Kingdom, an unshakable Kingdom that will never be stopped. Will you be one of them?
There may seem to be a conflict between the hidden life and a truly successful (from His perspective) ministry in building His Kingdom. But they are really 2 sides of the same coin. Fruitfulness flows out of a deep intimate relationship with Him. We will discuss this aspect further as it relates to success in the next posting.
True success in this life depends largely on how much of Christ is formed within us. This is what the Father is looking for. (Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18, Gal.4:19, Rom.12:2 ) Everything that we ‘do’ here will only be an outflow of that foundational relationship. Christ in us. ( Gal.2:20, Col.1:27)
God speaks to us any way He can get our attention! We are wise to learn to listen to His still, quiet voice so that He doesn’t have to shout. Sometimes people say to me, “Everything is not prophetic.” And my reply is usually , “Most things are, if we can only hear or see them.”
Our family has made a cross country move this week. Part of that journey took us through the mountains of Western Canada. Amazing! Spectacular! I have loved these mountains for the last 7 years that I have lived among them. So often I find myself thinking of the words that David penned about lifting my eyes to the hills where my help comes from – from the Lord who made Heaven and earth. And I often hear the voice of the Lord as I gaze on His handiwork. Being in the mountains on this trip was no exception.
Many mountain roads are on such a well planned grade that it looks as though you’re on a somewhat level road. It’s difficult to see that you’re actually ascending. The clues are that the RPMs are increasing, the speed is decreasing and it’s hard to hold your neck in an upright position since it’s being pulled backwards as if you’re on a roller coaster! Another clue is that the outside temperature is dropping and there is snow on the ground. All those waterfalls and rushing streams you passed half an hour ago at the lower levels are now frozen and glistening in the sun. Suddenly you come to a place where you can look down and see how far you’ve climbed. The view is spectacular and there are eagles flying overhead, calling you ever upward to the higher snow capped peaks still ahead.
Life in the Spirit is this way as well. There are times when the incline is so gradual you don’t even realize you’ve been climbing. But there are other times when you suddenly realize that you have just passed a particular test that you had failed many times before. This time something was very different and you hear Him whisper “Well done” with a smile in His voice. You have not only passed a test but graduated to a higher level. The testing now will be more difficult but you will be able to handle it. It doesn’t get any easier but you get stronger, so it seems easier and you begin to look forward to the challenges.
We cannot rightly judge ourselves or our fruit here in this realm. It is only there in Heaven after the final term when we really find out what our marks were. But if we live to love Him instead of just trying to make the grade, our lives will be so full of Him that the marks won’t matter so much to us here. We live to love Him and spend so much time with Him that we simply absorb and reflect His glory.
Recently I had another encounter with the Cloud of Witnesses. (Heb.11,12) This brought more understanding while (as always) bringing even more questions at the same time. This is one of the Lord’s ways of nudging us along the path, gently luring us into the deeper things of God. The more we discover of Him, the more we want to know. The more we know Him, the more we love Him.
Jesus took my hand and immediately we were flying. He carried me away to a place I’ve come to call ‘the great high mountain at the edge of eternity’. The wind of the Spirit is always moving in this place, blowing our hair and our garments. It is a fresh wild wind filled with creative purpose and destiny. At times one can look down from here and view eagles soaring. Gazing even further, far away below, there may be a glimpse of tiny forests and mountains and oceans. At other times the view reveals another realm, quite unknown. It seems to be a place where He can reveal whatever He chooses, whether past, present or future, in this realm or beyond.
This time there was a large crowd of people assembled that I immediately knew was the cloud of witnesses – my witnesses. My Mother was there along with an old friend of hers that I remembered from decades ago. I also saw Rev. and Mrs. Shumway, missionaries in Nigeria that the Lord brought back to the U.S. to pastor a small church in Oklahoma. This was not even their home State but God brought them there to plant the seeds of Africa and missions in my little 6 year old heart. Others watered and tended those seeds and they grew.
In this large crowd were some I recognized and some I did not, but all played a part in my life somehow. There were writers whose works had mentored me and others whose prayers still affect me. They were individually speaking to me but not with words. This was spirit to spirit communication. As I looked in their eyes I saw all they had endured and overcome in this life and I felt a great deal of shame at my laziness and discouragement. I saw what my Mother had endured and overcome. I always felt that one day in Heaven she would have a chest full of medals. But here, the medals and battle scars were internal and worn with grace and humility for all to see.
Looking at all of them now I had a very strong sense that they were depending on me! The way I finish will add to their “perfection” there (that without us they would not be made perfect … Heb. 11:40). I felt I had let all these people down and I was ashamed.
But they were not condescending. They were encouraging me and also warning me. “Get up, don’t stop, don’t be lazy… you must fight and win and overcome the things in your own life that need to be overcome. Pick up the torch and finish what we began.” Then each of them laid their hands on me to impart things to me. As they filed past, Jesus was standing beside me with His hands on my head. I was humbled and overwhelmed.
In an effort to understand this experience further, I found this in Rick Joyner’s book Torch and the Sword (p. 139). Jesus led Rick into a great hall with a line of people on either side as they passed. They were all dressed in various clothes from different eras. The Lord said “These are the ones who helped to prepare you for your purpose. You have received from their teachings or stories. They are your witnesses. You are representing them as you are Me, just as those you have a part in preparing will also represent you. We are all one in the great purpose of the Father – the restoration of man and the earth to their purpose. They are not complete without you. Neither are you complete without them. This is also true of those who are to be called through you and the messengers in your time.”
And one more quote from Rick’s new book The Path, which I highly recommend. On page 60, Rick is being challenged by one from the cloud of witnesses who says to him, “I am but one of the ‘great company of witnesses’ who have been watching these times unfold and watching those of you who have been given the honor to live in them. The righteous and prophets of old desired to see these days and they are now seeing them. You live before an audience far greater than you can imagine. If your eyes were open as they should be, you would see the great host of Heaven that is with you. Right now you could not bear the gravity of these times, but you will grow in stature and vision until you can.”
May God strengthen us and give us wisdom to be the over-comers He has destined us to be in this age.
This will be a great part of our testing in these last days: to overcome the lies of the enemy against God and His goodness.
We are entering times when mans own choices have lifted the restraining hand of God against evil in our nations. In some cases those choices are bringing His righteous and holy judgment as His Word said. Some things will be very clear. When a nation is being judged or disciplined to bring it back to God, everyone in that nation will be affected in some way.
Other things will be far less easy to understand. Why does disaster strike? Why do our friends and loved ones die or experience such hard things when we have prayed and believed? Once when I was questioning the Lord about many of these things He said to me,
“My bride will have to be so in love with Me that she trusts Me even when she does not understand.”
Of course He loves us individually and has our best interest at heart. But this is not just about us as individuals. It’s much bigger than that. It’s about His eternal plan, of which we have a part.
Fundamentally, at heart level, we must believe that God is good and just and righteous at ALL times in ALL He does. We must stop blaming God for the works of the enemy! To misunderstand this could be fatal. Since we are finite creatures, this will require an ever increasing depth of relationship with Him to bond us so closely that we cannot be separated. (Rom.8:38,39) This will require much more love than we now possess. We must ask Him for His love which cannot be shaken. ( Rom.8:35-37 )
Once in a vision the Lord encountered me on a seashore. He pointed toward a beautiful ship and said to me “That’s my ship and I’m the Captain. I make the decisions. The question is, can you sail under My command?”
If this sounds hard and contrary to the nature of a loving God, we have only seen a part of the many facets of His character. He is the lamb and He also is the lion. In the midst of the battle you’ll want the lion on your side. All of those blog posts under “Intimacy with the Lord” are true. In fact, it is that very depth of intimacy that will cause us to keep on holding tightly to Him no matter what happens. You learn to trust the One you love and love the One you trust. Because of His deep love for us and ours for Him, we know that we can trust Him and His leadership. Incidentally, in the last part of the vision I spoke of, Jesus looked deeply into my eyes and opened His hand to reveal my name tattooed on His palm! ( Isa.49:16 ) I was undone once again by His love.
There were times in my life many years ago when I was just beginning to learn these lessons. When things went from difficult to impossible I fell back into immaturity and began to blame God. I had prayed and fasted and declared and believed but still He did not answer my prayers. One day when I was literally yelling at Him He stopped me. I could hear the pain in His voice as He said to me,
“It hurts me when you publicly disgrace and dishonor Me in this way.”
Silence and shock! What did He mean by that? Quietly now He began to explain what I had absolutely no concept of.
“When you rail against Me and blame Me for your trouble it dishonors and disgraces Me. And yes, it is very public. You think you are alone here in your room. But all those in Heaven and the realms below hear what you say. You disgrace Me before the enemy and all of his hosts. And you dishonor and accuse Me before all of Heaven, the angels and the great cloud of witnesses.”
That understanding solved something for me and I repented deeply. When it hits us personally as it has so many times before, when our needs are not met or disaster strikes, the thing of absolute importance is our response to Him. Will we trust that He loves us and His will is best even when we are hurting, even when we don’t understand? There are only 2 choices here. The middle ground is running out.
Obviously I am not suggesting that we sit back and receive everything the enemy throws at us, presuming it is God’s will. We do have authority given to us from the Lord over the evil one. But what about the delays we don’t understand or the circumstances that we just cannot line up with God’s Word no matter how we try? We need wisdom to separate these things properly. However, when it comes down to the bottom line question of “Is God good or has He failed you?” our response must always be in allegiance to Him alone. Otherwise we find ourselves on very dangerous ground and create much more trouble than we already had.
Help us God! Give us Your grace to make it! Strengthen us Oh God!
By the way, there are times when He does just give us strength that we did not possess before … His strength. However, the #1 way that we gain strength is through testing and training! Paul talks about exercising to strengthen our mortal bodies to run the race and then compares that to our spiritual life. (1 Cor.9:24-27, Phil. 2:16 ) He also refers to our being soldiers in the army of God. ( 2 Tim.2:3,4, 2 Thess,1:4, Heb. 12:7 ) A General in the Army started out as a Private. He became a General through rigorous, hard training and also the battles he fought in.
These last day battles will require God’s people to be high impact and low maintenance. If we search our hearts and find that is not the case then let us run to the Lord and not away from Him. Let us repent for our weakness and submit ourselves to Him for His training. He is the only source of our strength. He is the goal and He is the reward for those who overcome.
This entire company of people is relying upon us to become everything God called us to be so that they are made perfect. That is a huge responsibility!
We have been studying the great cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. (See the previous 2 postings for more on this subject.) This group is composed of all the over-comers who died in the faith from Adam to the present time. They fought and ran the race but did not receive the promises. They only saw and embraced them from afar. (Heb.11:13) The last 2 verses of chapter 11 always puzzled me. It says they “received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (complete).” While I don’t pretend to fully understand this, recent prophetic experiences along with study and revelation have begun to shine some light on it. Let’s look at some other scripture passages referring to this group.
Dan. 7:21,22 says that the horn of the adversary will wage war with the saints and overcome them … until … the Ancient of Days comes and renders a verdict in favor of the saints and they take possession of the Kingdom. For thousands of years our enemy has been waging war against us. Millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been martyred along with all their gifts and callings. All that they would have done for the rest of their earthly lives was stolen from them and those acts of injustice by the enemy were recorded in the God’s books.
Rev. 8:3-5 ( the vision of John for a future time) talks about a great angel who has a golden censor in his hand. Much incense was given to him so that he might add it to “all the prayers of all the saints.” And the smoke of the incense, which is the prayers of the saints, went up before God. Then the angel took the censor with the fire from the altar and threw it to the earth and there followed peals of thunder, flashes of lightening and an earthquake. All the prayers of All the saints – this cloud of witnesses that prayed and prayed and did not see it in their time. All their prayers have been captured in Heaven along with their tears and God will repay. He will render a verdict in favor of the saints and they will take possession of the Kingdom forever. (Dan. 7:21,22)
This is the eternal perspective of the cloud of witnesses. The enemy will be judged and they will be rewarded. But how do you and I fit into that picture now? How do we help to make them perfect or complete?
What God is in the process of doing in these days is amazing! We are going to be the beneficiaries of things we haven’t even sown, of centuries of prayers of martyred saints and those who didn’t see the fulfillment. God is pouring out all the gifts and anointings and commissionings that have ever been stolen from the Body of Christ back into this generation! Jesus said in John 4, those who sow and those who reap rejoice together. Millions of our brothers were sown like a seed and now that’s coming to harvest and we will reap the very things that the enemy stole from them.
Saul of Tarsus and the stoning of Stephen is a good example of this principle. Stephen was a member of the early church who was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit and did great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts 6 and 7) He was falsely accused and stoned to death. Saul, who was holding the coats of the people who were throwing the stones, was wrecking havoc in the church at that time, persecuting them and casting them into prison. So as he was consenting to the death of Stephen, God picked him out for an object lesson. It was as if the Lord said to the enemy, “You took one of my best men so I’m going to take one of your best men – and turn him into the Apostle Paul.” When Saul was converted he began to make 10 times more trouble for the enemy than Stephen had. If satan had understood that principle he might have left Stephen alone. Can you imagine Stephen, who had now joined that great cloud of witnesses, watching Paul do great exploits for the Kingdom of God and cheering him on? Paul was now operating under the same anointing that Stephen carried and finishing what Stephen began to do when his life was cut short. Now Stephen would be ‘made perfect or complete’ by what Paul was able to accomplish. Stephen would reap the reward along with Paul. “Those who sow and those who reap rejoice together.” (John 4:35-38)
Of course we also have our own callings to fulfill, not just to finish what someone else began. But the point is that it’s pay-back time now and God is freely giving us all that we need to finish this great task. Ask and you shall receive! He can take the anointings of the great men and women of old and multiply them and then pour them out on a body of people so that when they achieve the fullness of that mandate the cloud of witnesses will share in the fruit of it.
Remember that they surround us and have a vested interest in what we do. (Heb. 12:1) May we run this race and finish well, accomplishing all He put us here to do … for them, for our children and grand-children, but most of all for Him.
* Much of this weeks posting has come from the studies of Paul Keith Davis. I am including the link to his archived webinars where you will find more on this topic and many others as well. http://www.whitedoveministries.org/index.cfm?zone=Docs/WebinarArchive/WebinarArchivePage.htm&page=LiveStream
In the previous post we began to look at the cloud of witnesses that Paul describes in Hebrews 11 and 12. Let’s take a closer look to see who they are, who they are not and what role they play in the times we are in and the times to come.
The first thing necessary to understand is this … it is God alone that we are to seek. While He often chooses to minister to us in many different ways through people or angels, our focus is to be on Him and not them. Just as we do not pray to angels or worship them, the same applies to the cloud of witnesses. 1 Tim. 2:5 tells us that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Christ Jesus. He is the only one worthy of our worship and He is the only one to whom we pray. But this does not mean that there is no interaction with them. There are times when we are permitted to see angels, to receive the messages or the help they come to bring us. The same is true of those in the cloud of witnesses. They can be used as messengers as well. These are not people you are apt to see on a regular basis even though Paul tells that we are ‘compassed about’ or ‘encircled’ by them. But there are times when the Lord chooses to just let us have a glimpse of them as I did in the experience I related in the last post. This was crucial to my understanding at the time and very precious to me. It gave me courage to know I had made the right decision.
Who is this cloud of witnesses? Paul describes them in the previous chapter. In fact, if you read Hebrews chapter 11 and keep going into the first few verses of chapter 12 it will be self explanatory. They are those who overcame and died before us. They are from every generation from Adam up to the present. Paul only listed and referred to those up until his own generation but the books were not closed and have been added to in every generation since. They are not angels or other forms of Heavenly beings. They are men and women, flesh and blood who were born and lived on the earth, became over-comers, died in the faith and have now gone to Heaven.
They have been given the right to watch us and see how we are running this race. (Heb. 12:1) It’s like a relay race and it’s now our turn to run. They are cheering us on toward the end but much more than that. They are also messengers whom God will use on occasion. The whole book, The Final Quest by Rick Joyner, is basically about experiences that Rick had with these people in Heaven. They told him about their own failures and cautioned him to avoid the same traps. Many of them explained that they should have had a higher rank in Heaven and why they failed to achieve it. Their messages to him were crucial to help keep him on the right path. And his writings of those experiences have been instrumental in helping us stay on the path as well.
There is a call going out now to “rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way and of the sin which holds onto us so tightly, and to run with determination the race that lies before us” so that we will not be ashamed at the end. (Heb. 12:1 Good News Bible)
This subject will be continued in the next posting.