Bible Study

All posts in the Bible Study category

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Published March 16, 2020 by Dawn

I have a good friend who’s been causing quite a stir on Facebook with some unpopular thoughts on biblical interpretation lately. I trust this man’s heart, but I don’t always agree with him. I do always pray about everything that he shares because I know how much time he spends studying the Word of God and sermons from centuries past when the preaching was less polluted with humanism. Sometimes, I find that I disagree with him because what he shares challenges what I’ve always known to be true. I often find in my prayer and seeking that he’s right and I’m … wrong. I had an experience like that this week that I wanted to share.

I’ve been dealing with some issues in my right hip for almost a year now. I’ve spent countless hours on my bed to avoid painful activity, but if I want to eat, I gotta work. I purchased a sacroiliac belt to keep my hip in place and worked through gritted teeth. A month or so ago, I had a week of virtually no pain, so I took off the belt and walked around like everything was normal. Everything was normal for a two weeks.

Then it happened.

My hip didn’t just slip out of place. My spine went with it. I started experiencing excruciating pain in my right leg and knee especially, along with the pain in my lower back from my spine being out of place, and the pain in my hip. I was leaning while standing upright. And I couldn’t walk far without bursting into tears from the pain. This past week, by the grace of God, I was sent home from work two days in a row because I was no good to anyone. I’m a teacher, so I thought I could just get to a chair and avoid the pain of moving until the final bell. But getting to a chair was horrendously painful.

I called my chiropractor last Thursday and he answered the phone … from Navarre, FL. He wasn’t home! Said he wouldn’t be home until the following Monday. Today. I hung up the phone, buried my face in my arms and screamed. The thought of having to deal with the pain four days more without help was unbearable. Little did I know how bad the pain was going to get …

I will spare you the details of sleepless nights and days of trying to get comfortable on my bed. Walking to the bathroom, less than twenty feet from my room, required me to stop halfway there, sink to my knees and cry until the pain subsided enough to keep moving forward. Last evening, knowing I would be seeing the chiropractor shortly after waking up this morning, I knew I had to finally bathe, and because I was up, I went ahead and made something to eat besides toast. I sautéed some veggies, threw a couple eggs on top and steamed them, while running a bath. The trips between the fridge, stove and bathtub were so painful, I had to stop several times, again sinking to the floor and screaming through the pain until it subsided. You might wonder why I didn’t just ask someone to help me. I live with two teenagers. One came upon the sight of me trying to make something for lunch earlier that day and said, “Mom, go sit down. I’ll take care of you.” It was about 12:30. I needed to take some medicine for the pain, which required a stomach full of food.

Around 3:30, I made my own lunch while he was gone.

I kinda gave up on the idea that I have people to help me. When they do, I thank them profusely. When they don’t, I just thank God for every step I am able to take, and every moment that goes by without excruciating pain.

So back to dinner and a bath: I am sharing all of this so you will understand how bad the pain was yesterday. I took my dinner … into the bathroom … and set my plate …

I don’t even want to say it.

… on the closed seat of the toilet. And I sat next to the toilet and clutched the sides while eating my food and waiting for the bath to fill.

Can we just agree that this was the worst moment of my life?

I started to read Acts the other day and got caught on chapter three. I’m sure you can imagine my prayers have bombarded heaven this past week, and my name has encircled the throne of God as my friends and family have lifted me up to the Lord. God is not unaware of my situation. In fact, right now, I have over 100 scriptures pinned to my wall in my bedroom for a book I am working on, and I laid there several days reading through them. One in particular wrapped me in confidence while pain wrecked me.

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:24).

God was hearing me. But He wasn’t healing me. He led me to Acts 3, and left me to wrestle with the story of the man outside the temple who hollered out to Peter and John for money. Peter told the man he didn’t have any money but would give him what he did have: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). He helped the man to his feet, the man straightened up immediately and not only walked, he jumped for joy!

The people saw this and were amazed. They ran to Peter and John, ready to deify them for the miracle they had just witnessed. I can only imagine the disdain on Peter’s face as he said to the crowd, “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his son Jesus … By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see” (Acts 3:12-13, 16).

This all hit me so hard because I have previously bought into this word of faith movement that tells us to speak to the illness, speak to the demon, speak to the poverty and watch God move. It comes from the scripture where Jesus tells his disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed, they can speak to the mountain and tell it to move from here to there and it will (Luke 17:6, Matthew 17:20). Over the years, I have shouted at illness, brokenness and demonic activity to little or no avail. You will say to me it’s because I have little to no faith. I will tell you confidently you are wrong. I quit my job once because the Lord told me to, and watched him pay my bills for several years while completely rearranging my life and building my faith. I know God is able, but with all that faith, I still have all these problems. Why?

I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and gradually moved into the charismatic churches. But I have always been very disturbed by the commanding of illnesses and spiritual brokenness with seemingly little to no results. I have taken this frustration to the Lord so many times. He told us to speak to it, right? The problem with the Word of Faith movement is that people are making commands toward money, illness and circumstances with a faith based on their own perceived righteousness. An inner pride that says, “I have enough faith, therefore, I have power over this.”

No, friend. Jesus has power. It is his power and his authority. The disciples didn’t just use his name, they knew him. Jesus told a crowd that in the last days, there would be people say, “Lord, didn’t I cast out demons and work all sorts of miracles in your name?” and he’s going to say to them, “depart from me, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22-23).

You must know more than the name of Jesus. You must know the person of Christ. You must know that the power is not in you or your godliness, but in Christ and his righteousness before the Father. If we want real power back in the churches, real power that can see prisoners set free and the lame walking … if we want the spiritually blinded to see and the dead to be raised, we must relinquish our foolish hold on this prideful idea that we have anything to do with any of this. We must get back to the beautiful, personal relationship with Christ that He desires with each one of us, and we must pray with faith in His name, not in our own abilities, our strong beliefs, or any other thing we have set up in place of Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for people who point out our subtle shifts in scripture that create false beliefs. I am thankful for men and women of God who are brave enough to confront false doctrine. I would encourage anyone who feels their long-held beliefs under attack to pray and seek the Father’s face over it, before jumping down someone’s throat in defensiveness. There are men and women of God who have been called to confront lies within the church. They aren’t doing it to hurt you. Trust me, it causes more pain than you know as they wrestle with the Lord, who has asked them to be crucified in public opinions to set captives free. Pray for revelation. Read your Word passionately and diligently and don’t ever assume that the person preaching to you is preaching the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Be like the Bereans, who were considered more righteous because they did not accept everything until they knew it lined up with the Word of God in its entirety (Acts 17:11).

To the men and women called to confront false teaching: be brave! God has a crown of life waiting for you! Pray over what you share and make sure it comes from the heart of Christ. It is easy to become scornful of others who believe fallacies but remember that scripture says that the god of this world has blinded people. Some simply cannot see the truth. Paul says you can have all kinds of knowledge, but if you don’t have love, everything you say and do is worthless. That’s a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13. Pray until your only motive in telling the truth is love for a wayward sheep. Not disdain. Not frustration. Not to be puffed up with divine wisdom. But to love others and guide them into truth.

One day, we will all behold the Lamb of God who was slain for us. Some will stand before him tattered and broken because of the heavy mantle and calling they received to preach to a hardened people. Let us pray He finds them faithful. Others will stand before Him and hear, “Come, thou good and faithful servant.” And they will enter the kingdom of rest because someone was kind enough to confront the lies within the church and set that captive free. All glory and honor to a God who loves us enough to want to spend eternity with such as you and I.

 

Ten Virgins, Revisited

Published August 29, 2018 by Dawn

As I climbed into bed early last night, the Lord laid a story on my heart that promised I’d be up learning from the Holy Spirit for way past my bedtime. It was the parable of the ten virgins.

Recap for those who need it: these ten women were awaiting a wedding party. They all brought their lamps (I guess because they didn’t have electric at the time), and they all fell asleep waiting for their friends to show up. When they awoke at the sound of a wedding celebration heading into the venue, five of them were ready to go in and celebrate. The other five were mortified to find that their lamps were useless! They had neglected to prepare and had to run into town for more oil, while the party started without them. When they got back, they couldn’t get in!

I’ve always read this story with a vague understanding of what it meant. I hope I’m not the only one because that’s embarrassing, but when I read the part about the oil and being unprepared, I just took it to mean you have to be ready when Jesus comes … whatever that means. As I laid in bed listening, the Holy Spirit reminded me that in scripture, the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit’s presence and anointing in one’s life. Suddenly, I realized what it meant to be prepared!

The Holy Spirit is a friend of fellowship. You don’t walk in with the Spirit just because you asked Jesus into your heart. You walk with the Spirit as you get to know the Spirit. How do you get to know the Spirit of God? The Word of God. Because according to John 1, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Akin to this verse is the whole of Proverbs 8, which I believe is the Holy Spirit’s autobiography. The narrator of that chapter is Wisdom, and Wisdom claims to have been with God from the beginning as well. Our spiritual wisdom is imparted through the Holy Spirit, because who knows the mind of God? The spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11). We can only know God through His Spirit, and we can only get acquainted with the Spirit of God through prayer and Bible reading.

This parable, then, isn’t an ambiguous statement about being prepared for Jesus’ return. It’s a parable that highlights the importance of fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. According to this parable, if we aren’t prepared with the oil, we’ll miss it. We’ll be left outside the gate, which symbolizes eternal damnation.  Our time in the Word and in prayer prepares us for our eternal fellowship with Christ. If we aren’t fellowshipping with the Spirit of God now, why would we ever think we’ll be comfortable in Heaven? Because in truth, God makes flesh uncomfortable. To the point of death! If we walk in the flesh here, we’ll not be prepared for the presence and atmosphere of God. We’ll be unable to partake in His gift of eternity.

I think this parable is so important. It’s a warning, really. If you aren’t in your Word, and don’t have a strong prayer life, you will not be ready when Jesus comes to take His bride. I certainly do not want Him passing me by and telling me He doesn’t know me when I come knocking! Do you?

Conquered by God

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

I took a moment this morning to ask the Lord where in the Bible I should read, to be ministered to according to His will. I felt the need to go back to Joshua. I love Joshua and read it A LOT, but this morning, the Lord pointed out a group of words I had never mulled over before: “the reproach of Egypt.” The scripture, Joshua 5:9, says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” I couldn’t move past the promise of this scripture.

It was a pivotal moment for the Israelites. They were on the cusp of walking into their Promised Land. All that they had been wandering about in the desert hoping for was about to become a reality. They were about to capture the first city in the land God was releasing to them in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham somewhere around 500 years before. They were about to step into battles they didn’t even have to fight. Walk into houses fully furnished for their arrival. Settle into a land that they had never known, but had envisioned through the wistful smiles and dimming eyes of their elders. Their castles in the sky were settled into a land called Canaan and spread out before their ever-wandering hearts.

Let me set the stage a little for this verse: Moses had died and Joshua was roused by God to lead the people forward. The dust had hardly settled over the grave and God was telling Joshua, “It’s time to get up and move into the land. Prepare the people to walk through the Jordan.” I find it interesting that they wandered 40 years between two large rivers that held them captive in the desert until God was ready to make a way for them.

Three days later: the Israelites had been instructed. They had consecrated themselves and packed up. They were waiting for further direction. Joshua told the Levitical priests to pick up the ark and move forward. The people were instructed to follow the priests because they had never been that way before. Don’t miss the fact that someone else was supposed to lead them. They were not to rely on their own understanding. “Clearly, we walk forward.” No. Clearly, you follow.  The leaders of the tribes were to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan to build a memorial with. When they all crossed, the priests moved forward and as soon as their feet were out of the water, the river returned to flood stage.

On the other side of the Jordan, they were officially in Canaan. They camped under the stars beneath the shadow of the walls of Jericho. Here, in this foreboding position, God told them to circumcise themselves. Not just their hearts, but their physical selves. It’s curious that God would lead them to such a vulnerable position their first night in Canaan and then command them to make themselves easy prey by undergoing circumcision. Encroaching on Jericho was an act of war and here they were signing their death warrants … except God had already stepped in. Every warring faction in Canaan was afraid of them, even while they were helpless. The Israelites, in a radical act of obedience, physically disabled themselves from fighting and their first week or two in the land, had to trust God for protection from unknown enemies while their bodies healed. From the start, they were utterly dependent on God for survival there.

Their obedience led to their freedom in this new place. Because of their obedience, God removed their reproach. They would not be slaves in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their slave mindset into the land. They were going to be victors in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their victim mindset into the land. They were going to see new things in the land, so they had to forget the old things. God removed their reproach so that nothing of their old life would follow them into Canaan. He removed their shame. He removed their insecurities. The men in the camp had never seen warfare, but they had been raised by a generation who had only known defeat and captivity. God had to remove that from their hearts and minds. Instead of scorning the Israelites for their past, the nations in Canaan were filled with awe and dread because they knew God was moving the Israelites in, one victory at a time.

This one verse signified that God was removing all the former shackles in their hearts and minds so they could walk into Canaan as free men in their hearts and minds so that they could be victorious. They needed to see themselves as God saw them. As Beloved. As warriors. As owners and not beggars. You see, for forty years, Egypt might have speculated that God had led the children of Israel out into the wilderness to kill them off (Deut. 9:28). But God was about to exalt this nation that had been bowed down in defeat for so long. His glory was tied up in them and He honored them so that all people would honor Him in their hearts. After the Israelites were settled into the land, all people would look at the progression of victories and be unable to deny that these were a people God loved and cared for. Before they were conquerors, they had to be conquered by God. Their obedience was an act of surrender. Their faith was set in motion. Their God was about to deliver on His long-awaited promise.

Perhaps you’re there, friend. Poised on the edge of your promise. I was reminded of my promise the other day and I’ll be honest: it really ticked me off. There was no humility as I approached God’s throne in open defiance. “I am sick of hearing about this promise! Stop telling me that just over this mountain is the Promised Land because I feel like I keep getting to the top only to find it’s not the top and I still have climbing to go. I’ve been trudging toward it for so long! I’m weary and I can’t keep getting my hopes up!”

Maybe this is why the Holy Spirit led me back to Joshua today. Clearly, there are some things in me that God needs to deal with. You too? For instance, I can clearly identify that I’m throwing shade at God for promises I’ve been waiting on a long time. Not anywhere near 500 years, but for me, it’s felt like FOREVER.

Remember the two large rivers they crossed? The Red Sea separated them from Egypt, the place of their captivity, and the Jordan kept them from their promise until God was ready to release them. God had created a way of getting these people to look to Him for everything. Their waiting period was divinely orchestrated to draw them closer to God and prepare them to have all that He wanted to gift them. Us too, friend!!

One last thing before Jericho: they had to be circumcised. They had to cut away the things God said to cut away. They had to rely on Him for healing, and not only, but for safety in their time of healing. They had to become reliant on God for everything. They had to know who gave victory. They had to know the sheltering of the Almighty in dangerous places. They had to experience the truth that victory was not on them, it was on Him. Looking back at the last few years of my life, I can easily recognize that this has been God’s purpose; to destroy the fiercely independent woman I have become and create in me a heart that relies solely on Him for everything. To remove the things that can’t go with me into His Promised Land and heal me. I can’t take insecurities into His promises. I can’t take past defeats, or fear. I can’t take a victim mentality, or any abandonment issues I’ve had. I can’t take my own strength. His glory is tied up in honoring His promises in my life and He has to fulfill His promises because He cannot lie! Your life too! Be conquered by God, friend, so He can bring  you into the Land overflowing with goodness that He promised you so long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pharisee Within

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 14:37)

All four Gospels share this exchange. Peter vowed to Jesus that he would go with him to prison and even death, rather than disown him. What a friend, right? Of course, we all know what happened just a few hours later. In what must have been the scariest moment of his life – and probably the most disappointing as well – Peter watched Jesus be lead away in chains and then tormented in every sense of the word. He no doubt felt the loss of every hope he had of seeing Israel restored to God’s favor and liberated from the tyranny of Roman rule.

What exactly was Peter getting at when he said, “Even if all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29)? Furthermore, what did Jesus mean when, later in John 21:15, he asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Allow me to share what I felt the Lord laid on my heart a few weeks ago in regard to these scriptures.

There was something undone in Peter that had to be exposed and removed before he could effectively do what God had purposed him for. His question, “why can’t I follow you now?” was a foreshadowing of the hindrance God was about to uncover in his heart. When Peter told Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not,” what he was baring for all to see was the Pharisee within. Peter thought there was something in everyone else around him that he could never be guilty of. He thought his devotion to Jesus eclipsed that of his partners and friends. In essence, he thought he was incapable of falling in the same way everyone else was destined to do that night, per the prediction Jesus had made. Christ gently affirmed Peter’s eventual course, which Peter again refused to acknowledge his propensity toward.

Peter couldn’t avoid the falling away. He was destined for it. His weakness was about to be exposed. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). How wonderful that Jesus knew his failure before it even occurred and had already interceded for him!

I can’t imagine how painful the next few days were. Peter had to live with the guilt of his betrayal while he mourned the loss of his best friend. They had met eye-to-eye as the rooster crowed. Peter had wept bitterly knowing that Jesus hadn’t missed the sign he’d spoken of. The guilt must have been very burdensome, because when the disciples saw Jesus on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection, Peter jumped overboard and swam to Jesus while the rest of them rowed the boat back in. He was miserable, I’m sure, until he could repent at Jesus’ feet. Later, they walked side by side and Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” I never understood that question before, but now I think I do: Jesus was addressing the original thought in Peter’s heart, where Peter thought he loved Jesus more and that was why he believed himself utterly incapable of sinning in such a way.

Peter was hurt. Ashamed. Still comparing himself, as he nodded toward John and said, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus simply said, “Don’t worry about him. You follow me.”

I believe it’s true that many Christians are really good at watching their lives and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16), and that’s scriptural. Nothing wrong with that. But I think we can also become so focused on our own efforts and our perceived goodness that we look at others and think, “Oh, I would never do that.” This attitude can be a hindrance to our ministry to love others because it’s not humble, and just as surely as Peter had to get that out of his system before he could see thousands respond to the Gospel, we will also stumble on all the things we are certain will never trip us up, until we hang our heads in shame, seek forgiveness and walk in humility among the people God has called us to minister to.

We can take heart in the fact that Jesus is never disillusioned about us. He knows what we are capable of far better than we know ourselves and intercedes for us according to his foreknowledge. He’s never surprised. There’s incredible comfort in that!

Ultimately, we must acknowledge the truth of Galatians 5:17, that the spirit and the flesh are at war and we are fallible to our fleshly nature at any given moment that the Holy Spirit is not leading us. But thankfully, there is redemption written for every failure because Jesus was victorious. He prayed for us so that we can be strengthened in our areas of weakness. God loves the humble, and these failures bring us nearer to the heart of God rather than further away, if we are willing to be guilty before him, as Joshua was in Zechariah 3. There are so many tremendous examples of failure followed by God’s forgiveness and redemption. The Christian should be relieved to know this, as the Pharisee within must be removed before God can use us like He used Jesus. Lift your head, friend, redemption draws nigh!

Conquered by God

Published August 22, 2018 by Dawn

I took a moment this morning to ask the Lord where in the Bible I should read, to be ministered to according to His will. I felt the need to go back to Joshua. I love Joshua and read it A LOT, but this morning, the Lord pointed out a group of words I had never mulled over before: “the reproach of Egypt.” The scripture, Joshua 5:9, says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” I couldn’t move past the promise of this scripture.

It was a pivotal moment for the Israelites. They were on the cusp of walking into their Promised Land. All that they had been wandering about in the desert hoping for was about to become a reality. They were about to capture the first city in the land God was releasing to them in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham somewhere around 500 years before. They were about to step into battles they didn’t even have to fight. Walk into houses fully furnished for their arrival. Settle into a land that they had never known, but had envisioned through the wistful smiles and dimming eyes of their elders. Their castles in the sky were settled into a land called Canaan and spread out before their ever-wandering hearts.

Let me set the stage a little for this verse: Moses had died and Joshua was roused by God to lead the people forward. The dust had hardly settled over the grave and God was telling Joshua, “It’s time to get up and move into the land. Prepare the people to walk through the Jordan.” I find it interesting that they wandered 40 years between two large rivers that held them captive in the desert until God was ready to make a way for them.

Three days later: the Israelites had been instructed. They had consecrated themselves and packed up. They were waiting for further direction. Joshua told the Levitical priests to pick up the ark and move forward. The people were instructed to follow the priests because they had never been that way before. Don’t miss the fact that someone else was supposed to lead them. They were not to rely on their own understanding. “Clearly, we walk forward.” No. Clearly, you follow.  The leaders of the tribes were to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan to build a memorial with. When they all crossed, the priests moved forward and as soon as their feet were out of the water, the river returned to flood stage.

On the other side of the Jordan, they were officially in Canaan. They camped under the stars beneath the shadow of the walls of Jericho. Here, in this foreboding position, God told them to circumcise themselves. Not just their hearts, but their physical selves. It’s curious that God would lead them to such a vulnerable position their first night in Canaan and then command them to make themselves easy prey by undergoing circumcision. Encroaching on Jericho was an act of war and here they were signing their death warrants … except God had already stepped in. Every warring faction in Canaan was afraid of them, even while they were helpless. The Israelites, in a radical act of obedience, physically disabled themselves from fighting and their first week or two in the land, had to trust God for protection from unknown enemies while their bodies healed. From the start, they were utterly dependent on God for survival there.

Their obedience led to their freedom in this new place. Because of their obedience, God removed their reproach. They would not be slaves in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their slave mindset into the land. They were going to be victors in Canaan, so they couldn’t take their victim mindset into the land. They were going to see new things in the land, so they had to forget the old things. God removed their reproach so that nothing of their old life would follow them into Canaan. He removed their shame. He removed their insecurities. The men in the camp had never seen warfare, but they had been raised by a generation who had only known defeat and captivity. God had to remove that from their hearts and minds. Instead of scorning the Israelites for their past, the nations in Canaan were filled with awe and dread because they knew God was moving the Israelites in, one victory at a time.

This one verse signified that God was removing all the former shackles in their hearts and minds so they could walk into Canaan as free men in their hearts and minds so that they could be victorious. They needed to see themselves as God saw them. As Beloved. As warriors. As owners and not beggars. You see, for forty years, Egypt might have speculated that God had led the children of Israel out into the wilderness to kill them off (Deut. 9:28). But God was about to exalt this nation that had been bowed down in defeat for so long. His glory was tied up in them and He honored them so that all people would honor Him in their hearts. After the Israelites were settled into the land, all people would look at the progression of victories and be unable to deny that these were a people God loved and cared for. Before they were conquerors, they had to be conquered by God. Their obedience was an act of surrender. Their faith was set in motion. Their God was about to deliver on His long-awaited promise.

Perhaps you’re there, friend. Poised on the edge of your promise. I was reminded of my promise the other day and I’ll be honest: it really ticked me off. There was no humility as I approached God’s throne in open defiance. “I am sick of hearing about this promise! Stop telling me that just over this mountain is the Promised Land because I feel like I keep getting to the top only to find it’s not the top and I still have climbing to go. I’ve been trudging toward it for so long! I’m weary and I can’t keep getting my hopes up!”

Maybe this is why the Holy Spirit led me back to Joshua today. Clearly, there are some things in me that God needs to deal with. You too? For instance, I can clearly identify that I’m throwing shade at God for promises I’ve been waiting on a long time. Not anywhere near 500 years, but for me, it’s felt like FOREVER.

Remember the two large rivers they crossed? The Red Sea separated them from Egypt, the place of their captivity, and the Jordan kept them from their promise until God was ready to release them. God had created a way of getting these people to look to Him for everything. Their waiting period was divinely orchestrated to draw them closer to God and prepare them to have all that He wanted to gift them. Us too, friend!!

One last thing before Jericho: they had to be circumcised. They had to cut away the things God said to cut away. They had to rely on Him for healing, and not only, but for safety in their time of healing. They had to become reliant on God for everything. They had to know who gave victory. They had to know the sheltering of the Almighty in dangerous places. They had to experience the truth that victory was not on them, it was on Him. Looking back at the last few years of my life, I can easily recognize that this has been God’s purpose; to destroy the fiercely independent woman I have become and create in me a heart that relies solely on Him for everything. To remove the things that can’t go with me into His Promised Land and heal me. I can’t take insecurities into His promises. I can’t take past defeats, or fear. I can’t take a victim mentality, or any abandonment issues I’ve had. I can’t take my own strength. His glory is tied up in honoring His promises in my life and He has to fulfill His promises because He cannot lie! Your life too! Be conquered by God, friend, so He can bring  you into the Land overflowing with goodness that He promised you so long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pharisee Within

Published August 13, 2018 by Dawn

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 14:37)

All four Gospels share this exchange. Peter vowed to Jesus that he would go with him to prison and even death, rather than disown him. What a friend, right? Of course, we all know what happened just a few hours later. In what must have been the scariest moment of his life – and probably the most disappointing as well – Peter watched Jesus be lead away in chains and then tormented in every sense of the word. He no doubt felt the loss of every hope he had of seeing Israel restored to God’s favor and liberated from the tyranny of Roman rule.

What exactly was Peter getting at when he said, “Even if all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29)? Furthermore, what did Jesus mean when, later in John 21:15, he asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Allow me to share what I felt the Lord laid on my heart a few weeks ago in regard to these scriptures.

There was something undone in Peter that had to be exposed and removed before he could effectively do what God had purposed him for. His question, “why can’t I follow you now?” was a foreshadowing of the hindrance God was about to uncover in his heart. When Peter told Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not,” what he was baring for all to see was the Pharisee within. Peter thought there was something in everyone else around him that he could never be guilty of. He thought his devotion to Jesus eclipsed that of his partners and friends. In essence, he thought he was incapable of falling in the same way everyone else was destined to do that night, per the prediction Jesus had made. Christ gently affirmed Peter’s eventual course, which Peter again refused to acknowledge his propensity toward.

Peter couldn’t avoid the falling away. He was destined for it. His weakness was about to be exposed. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). How wonderful that Jesus knew his failure before it even occurred and had already interceded for him!

I can’t imagine how painful the next few days were. Peter had to live with the guilt of his betrayal while he mourned the loss of his best friend. They had met eye-to-eye as the rooster crowed. Peter had wept bitterly knowing that Jesus hadn’t missed the sign he’d spoken of. The guilt must have been very burdensome, because when the disciples saw Jesus on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection, Peter jumped overboard and swam to Jesus while the rest of them rowed the boat back in. He was miserable, I’m sure, until he could repent at Jesus’ feet. Later, they walked side by side and Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” I never understood that question before, but now I think I do: Jesus was addressing the original thought in Peter’s heart, where Peter thought he loved Jesus more and that was why he believed himself utterly incapable of sinning in such a way.

Peter was hurt. Ashamed. Still comparing himself, as he nodded toward John and said, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus simply said, “Don’t worry about him. You follow me.”

I believe it’s true that many Christians are really good at watching their lives and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16), and that’s scriptural. Nothing wrong with that. But I think we can also become so focused on our own efforts and our perceived goodness that we look at others and think, “Oh, I would never do that.” This attitude can be a hindrance to our ministry to love others because it’s not humble, and just as surely as Peter had to get that out of his system before he could see thousands respond to the Gospel, we will also stumble on all the things we are certain will never trip us up, until we hang our heads in shame, seek forgiveness and walk in humility among the people God has called us to minister to.

We can take heart in the fact that Jesus is never disillusioned about us. He knows what we are capable of far better than we know ourselves and intercedes for us according to his foreknowledge. He’s never surprised. There’s incredible comfort in that!

Ultimately, we must acknowledge the truth of Galatians 5:17, that the spirit and the flesh are at war and we are fallible to our fleshly nature at any given moment that the Holy Spirit is not leading us. But thankfully, there is redemption written for every failure because Jesus was victorious. He prayed for us so that we can be strengthened in our areas of weakness. God loves the humble, and these failures bring us nearer to the heart of God rather than further away, if we are willing to be guilty before him, as Joshua was in Zechariah 3. There are so many tremendous examples of failure followed by God’s forgiveness and redemption. The Christian should be relieved to know this, as the Pharisee within must be removed before God can use us like He used Jesus. Lift your head, friend, redemption draws nigh!

Mighty Weapons, Mighty Warrior

Published April 26, 2018 by Dawn

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4).

David walked into camp and handed over the goods, sat down and began to chitchat with the mighty men of war. A booming voice interrupted them: “Are you still here, Israel? This day, I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” Goliath taunted and caused a wave of fear to crash into the Israelite camp. The mighty men of war ran away in fear while David looked around in bewilderment.

His brother ran out from around the great boulder that shielded him and grabbed David’s arm, yanking him out of view. Anger painted his face red and he clenched his teeth in rage.

“Does this happen every day?” David’s nonchalance made the others ashamed and all they could do was nod their heads.

“What’s to be done for the man who defeats him?”

“What man?” Eliab sneered. He pushed David’s shoulder roughly. “I know you are conceited, but come on. You cannot defeat that gigantic phlegm-wad. Sit down and shut up.” David steeled his body against the blow, shoving his heels into the ground for stability against his brother’s attack. He knew his oldest brother was prone to jealousy, but this was bitterness he had not seen before. Perhaps the weeks of cowardice had sown that bitterness. David could see that fear had taken inches off his brother’s majestic stature as he cowered there with the rest of the men.

When the bellowing died down, the soldiers crawled out from their hiding holes and scattered once more across the hill. They could see the Philistine army in the distance, but they had evaded the war for one more day.

“You there! Come!”

David was shoved toward a captain who had called out to him, and he fell in beside the man as they rushed up the hill. Before he knew what was happening, he was standing in the tent of Israel’s warrior king.

“What’s this I’ve heard, boy?

David exuded a youthlike confidence that was somewhat comical against the backdrop of a cowardly army. “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine. Your servant will go and fight him.”

Saul eyed him suspiciously. He hadn’t the heart to stand against this magnificent threat, nor had any of his other men, or even his own son, who had once defeated 20 men with his armor-bearer beside him.

“You’re just a boy. He’s bred for fighting. It’s suicide.”

“With all due respect, you misjudge me. I have killed both lion and bear to protect my father’s sheep. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Resigned, Saul waved his hand disparingly. “Go, and the Lord be with you. Only …” He signaled his armor-bearer, who jumped to attention scurried toward the chest in the back of the tent. David watched as the man pulled up coats of mail and shields, heavy swords and breastplates of the highest quality.

A few minutes later, David stood awkwardly, burdened down by the clanging metal suit and hardly able to stand, much less move around. “I can’t wear this into battle. I’m not used to them.” The men around him watched in horror as he took the armor off and piled it next to him. Brushing off his tunic, he picked up his staff and nodded to the room before walking out unencumbered toward the stream that lay between Israel’s camp and the camp of the enemy.

David studied the streambed as he walked slowly through, picked up a few stones and put them in his satchel. Then he continued forward to the edge of Israel’s camp. The Philistines mumbled as he drew nearer and nearer, and Goliath stood solemnly to greet him.

“What is this? Am I a dog, that Israel would send a boy with sticks? Come here, and I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”

David stopped and smiled. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Goliath moved menacingly closer to the edge of camp, shortening the distance between he and David at a terrifyingly rapid pace. David, unperturbed, ran toward the edge of Israel’s camp as Goliath lumbered toward him. He reached into his bag and pulled out a smooth stone from the bottom of the stream. He deftly fitted the soft leather pouch of his sling around it, swung it smoothly through the air with surprising force and released the strap. No one knew what had happened until the evidence of victory lay bleeding at his feet. The stone had hit with such monumental force, it sank into a self-made cavern in Goliath’s forehead and instantly, David had defeated the Philistine’s boasting. Running toward the body, David ignored the rumbling around him and drew out the sword from Goliath’s side. He stood above the giant’s head and slammed the sword down through his neck. Goliath’s head lopped off to the side and rolled toward the towering warrior’s feet.

********

We discussed this verse last night in Bible study and immediately, I knew I had to share what the Lord impressed on me this week as I read 1 Samuel 17. The chapter starts out with an innocent trip to see his brothers on the battlefield. David was sent with provisions for his brothers, as well as a gift to the commanders of the army, who were all encamped on a hill opposite the Philistines. Little did Jesse know what he had asked of his youngest son. Little did he know it was the last time David would be home tending the sheep. Little did he know his shepherd boy was about to make all the hearts of Israel captive.

This battle was David’s battle. Saul was a mighty warrior who had no reason to be afraid, yet his heart was melting in fear. His son Jonathan had proven his mighty faith in God by defeating an entire outpost of soldiers not long before, but we don’t see him stepping up to challenge Goliath. In fact, no one except David even dreamed of doing such a thing. It was a God moment, and David was to rise to the calling of the warrior within.

His brother, mistaking David’s courage for conceit, chastised him angrily. His cowardice resented the courage and conviction of his little brother. Here, he and all Israel’s great men had cowered for forty days under this verbal assault, and his youngest brother who had never known war was defending God’s honor and making them all look bad? Eliab was indignant.

My favorite part is when Saul tried to fit David with the armor. It’s symbolic of Saul trying to prepare David in man’s best wisdom and best effort. David knew that wasn’t how he was supposed to walk into battle, so against all better judgement, he shrugged it off and walked out just as he walked in. But when he got to the battle lines, we find he wasn’t undressed. The Bible says that David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord. Kinda like I’m in my favorite pair of jeans today … David was literally cloaked in the name of Christ and he wasn’t backing down because he knew that God’s name was enough! His confidence wasn’t in any man-made preparation. It was in the name of the Lord.

I love how David went into battle looking like a fool just to prove to Israel that their strength wasn’t in their numbers or their training. It wasn’t in their weapons or the wisdom. All their victories depended on God, and all they needed to do was remember how powerful and faithful God is. David, unwavering in his strong convictions about God, smote a man everyone else hid from, including their king.

No, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are not devised by men with limited wisdom. They are mighty! They tear down strongholds. The enemy cannot prevail against the name of Jesus, for our God is the same today as He was then, and therefore, we have access to the same victorious power. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31).

There’s a battle for each of us, and I pray you show up to yours with grace and unwavering confidence in God. I pray you act out of a heart of obedience instead of fear, trusting in the powerful name of Jesus to save you. I pray you defend God’s honor and ignore the shameful ignorance of those around you. I pray you go forward in peace and assurance that God will supply all your needs and deliver you from all evil, as He said He would. I pray you walk unencumbered by the burdens others try to weigh you down with, knowing where your strength lies. I pray for you, mighty warrior. In Jesus’ name!

 

*I took some artistic liberties with this one, so please read 1 Samuel 17 for the unembellished version. 🙂

 

Trials with a Tea

Published January 18, 2018 by Dawn

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Hot cup of tea in hand, I retreated to my bedroom this morning, set a fifteen-minute timer and sat down with the Lord for what was left of my morning before I had to leave for work. There’s not usually anything left of my morning, so this was a rare treasure I gave myself by getting up just a smidge earlier. I should really do this every day…

I’ve been quiet before Him for two days like this, purposefully. I cleaned “the chair” and took care of the laundry-in-limbo so I would have a special place for my time with the Lord. I just needed a newness because things have been stale and I’d become complacent. So I cleaned “the chair”, rearranged my room a little and now I have a quaint sitting area where I can have tea with Jesus.

Ok, now that you can visualize  … teatime this morning, the Lord shared something with me that really lifted a burden. I’ve been a victim to bad theology, and although I easily recognized it was false, some of it got into my heart. It’s that junk about God only having good plans for us, based on Jeremiah 29:11. We’ve created an entire doctrine based on this one scripture and I’m afraid it’s hurting people in the church. You see, the church is in a dangerous rut of delivering inspirational/motivational, me-centered sermons that convince people that God only wants them to be happy. Such a misguided notion tends to make people think, when things get uncomfortable in life, that it’s just an attack of Satan or a punishment for wrongdoing.

According to scripture, sometimes, hard things that break us are the will of God. I mean, it was in Jesus’ life. Also in Paul’s. And John. James. Peter. The list, people, is long. Many men and women in the bible endured hardship as the will of God. And do you know what’s missing in this scripture in Luke where Jesus, weeping droplets of blood, asks his Father to remove the cup because it’s a hard one to swallow? God’s reply. I checked all four Gospels and there isn’t one. God didn’t respond to him. Luke 22:43 tells us an angel came and strengthened Jesus, but he was strengthened to endure the road ahead. Golgotha. Betrayal. Torment. Death. All the will of God.

God did not even utter a word. I wonder if He was weeping just then. He knew what was to come. He purposed it. And Jesus didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t punishment. It was for a greater good. God’s greater purpose.

I desperately want people to understand that, while God desires our ultimate good, He is more concerned about working things out in conformity to His will than He is about rescuing us when things don’t feel good. Sometimes, He requires hard services and acts of obedience that take us beyond our own abilities and make us cling to Him as He teaches us how to walk the hard road. We cannot say that because something feels right, it must be what God wants because I have found that sometimes, things don’t feel right or good, but when I pray, God says to me (like he said to Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

God sometimes brings us to places we don’t want to be. Asks us to be obedient in things we don’t want to do. I believe He does this to humble us, so we see our weaknesses. So we reach out for His strength. So we learn to depend on Him. One of Satan’s many lies is that God never gives us more than we can handle. Sure does make us feel strong, doesn’t it? But it’s a lie. God often gives us more than we can handle because He wants us to turn to Him and usually, this is the only way to get us to do that.

I share this from my heart, friend. I pray this word brings relief and leads to healing. God really does love us, and while He has good things in store, He also works mightily through trials and tribulations. The Bible says that “he comforts us in all our sufferings so we can comfort others with the comfort we received” (2 Cor. 1:4). Such trials are precious when they cause us to run to God. Those tender moments of being comforted eclipse even the most harrowing circumstances and remind us just how good our God is. I hope you run to Him, friend, and climb into His daddy-lap. He longs for you and is patiently waiting, even now, to tenderly gather you under His wings where you can find refuge. Be at peace!

Paul, A Prisoner of Christ

Published January 7, 2018 by Dawn

I sat down with the Word of God this morning, specifically praying that God would transform my heart and mind (Romans 12:2) and make me holy by cleansing me with the Word (Ephesians 5:26). I’ve needed it, as I have felt overwhelmed by the battle lately, abandoned in acts of obedience, and left alone to bear the burden of life.

My last long study session, I read most of Acts so I pulled the satin strip of a bookmark out as I flipped open my Bible and began where I left off at Acts 25. Paul was imprisoned and had been handed down from Felix to Festus. It seemed the will of God kept Paul captive to a succession of administrators who needed to hear the gospel. When Festus questioned him and thought to send Paul back to Jerusalem so he could finally put an end to Paul’s trial, Paul appealed to Caesar. This appeal guaranteed his continued imprisonment, and we later find, after Paul witnesses to King Agrippa, that if he hadn’t made his appeal to Caesar, he could have been set free. The men who had accused him years before had lost their fervency and forgotten their accusations.

I wonder, if Paul had known how close he was to freedom, if he would have went back. This man, whom God continually gave wisdom to and great discernment, did not have this one piece of information that could have been his get-out-of-jail-free card. The truth is, God had kept this information from him because it was God’s will that Paul go to Rome. Paul never questioned God in this because he knew that the fulfillment of his vision for ministry, the vision God gave him, was that he should minister in Rome.

I find this truth slightly discomforting: God’s will for Paul was a purposed captivity. We find through the next few chapters that God provided a relative amount of freedom and comfort, and even safety, in Paul’s service, but at the end of the day, Paul spent years in captivity – years as a prisoner – because it served God’s purpose.

In Acts 27, Paul’s captors defy logic and reason, ignore Paul’s discernment, and set out on a ship with 227 men during the worse time of the year for sailing. Their zeal to finish their assignment swept them headlong into a massive shipwreck. Fourteen days on a harrowing, turbulent sea. Days without food, living in constant fear for their lives, these men could have avoided all of this if they would have just listened to Paul’s Spirit-led advice. Because God, was gracious, though, the storm eventually drove them to Malta where all survived, although they lost their ship and all their supplies.

Almost as soon as they had reached the beach, Paul began to build a fire and a viper latched onto his hand. He should have died, but instead, he just shook it off and kept going. This part of the story has awed me for years. I marvel at Paul’s faith, but to him it was a simple thing: God had said he was going to Rome, so he was going to Rome. There was nothing that could keep him from God’s plan for his life, no matter how scary and deadly. Paul was settled in this knowledge and it carried him through every attack of the enemy to make him fear otherwise.

Not one to waste a moment of His minister’s life, God used the shipwreck on the island of Malta to bring healing to the nation there, spread the Gospel of Christ, and replenish His missionary-in-chains. He used every bit of the shipwreck – used Paul in that place – and prepared him to go on in God’s ultimate plan.

Chapter 28, verse16, tells us that Paul arrived in Rome, in fulfillment to the vision God had given him. This fulfillment came through captivity. Clearly, it wasn’t Paul’s plan; who plans to live his life in captivity? It was God’s plan which Paul submitted to because he saw himself as an obedient servant, not a master of his own life. This plan was good, even if it didn’t feel good.

The end of Acts, the end of 28, tells us that Paul was a captive in Rome, preaching the gospel unhindered in his own rented house. I just can’t get over this. He was fulfilling God’s ultimate plan for his life as a captive, but living as a free man in his own rented house and preaching the gospel without hindrance. That blows my mind! God fulfilled Paul’s vision and used everything Paul endured. He encouraged Paul through others and kept him safe by posting guards outside his house. Otherwise, Paul was “free” to minister to the Romans.

As I read all of this today, I was astonished. Never did Paul waver in his faith. Never did God waste a moment of suffering. And never did God allow Paul to be harmed as he fulfilled God’s plan for his life. Paul was obedient. He didn’t complain. He took everything that happened with such a deep conviction that God could use it and all he had to do was yield in all ways to God’s will. Everything that happened was an opportunity for Paul to minister and he did. He never worried about himself. He endured discomfort for the sake of the lost, and was led in chains everywhere God wanted him to go. Satan had no power in any of this. Anything that might have been the work of the devil was thwarted and repurposed by God.

Father, I want that kind of faith. I desire an obedient heart like Paul’s. Give me ears to hear and a strong, steadfast belief in your love and ability. Increase my faith, increase my love and give me a heart that desires your will above all things. If your will for my life requires me to be uncomfortable, I pray for a love for you that surpasses my own self-love, so that I can do your work unhindered by my selfishness. Thank you for your Word, that brings healing and comfort, that renews us and helps us to continue. I love you.

For the Hopeless

Published December 20, 2017 by Dawn

“Jesus wept.”

His dusty feet were following the mournful cries of Lazarus’ family and friends along a winding path to the outskirts of town. He heard their accusing whispers. “Couldn’t he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” His heart broke. For them, not for himself, because he knew what was to come. His heart broke for them, who saw every sign of ending and loss and watched every bit of hope be wrapped up in grave clothes and laid to rest days ago.

Mary and Martha had sent word, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Jesus had seemed passive about it then. “This sickness will not end in death. It is for God’s glory, so that God may be glorified through it.” Yet here they stood, next to their crying Friend, overcome with grief that death had once again triumphed. Lazarus was gone.

I want you to understand something, friend. It wasn’t that God had failed them in that moment. Their perspective was limited to what they knew. They knew sickness led to death. They knew death was a finale, not an interim. They knew Lazarus had breathed his last, was in the grave and experience told them his body would stay there. They had never experienced an act of God so great, so logic-defying, that they could hope in something more in that moment.

Jesus cried because he saw their despair. Their utter hopelessness. Their devastation. They knew what he was capable of and in that moment, they were disappointed in him. Lazarus’ friends and families had all the faith in the world that Jesus could have saved him from death. In their hearts, Jesus had disappointed them.

Jesus knew death was not the final curtain. He knew Lazarus had an encore. He restrained his power so that God could bring Himself a greater glory out of the situation. He allowed his best friend to die. He understood their grief as they poured it out at his feet. He understood their unasked pleas: “Why weren’t you here, Lord? Why did you allow this? You are able to change this situation. We do not doubt your ability.”

But then death came, and like a massive earthquake, it shattered hope and toppled their faith. It shook everything that could be shaken and exposed the weaknesses of every structure that wasn’t built on the solid foundation of God. In the wake of such agony and inner destruction, Lazarus’ friends looked at Jesus and wondered that he could stand by without uttering a word, without panic or fear, with seeming indifference, while their hearts were torn from the loss.

“This sickness will not end in death.” But it had.

Until Jesus prayed.

He wept while he climbed the hill to the sepulcher. Then he stood there at the stone-covered entrance, gave one last look at the hopeless faces around him and raised his eyes Heavenward. He prayed, not for his own benefit, but so that those around him would know and understand the connection Jesus had to God. The immediate, powerful, life-changing connection of the Son talking to his Abba Daddy. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

The sickness, the death and decay, the days of mourning, it all happened so that they might truly believe. Which means one thing: they didn’t yet.

Mary and Martha spoke to Jesus about their faith. They knew he could have healed Lazarus and they affirmed their belief in his ability to do so, but then death came and their faith seemed useless. They did not believe that Jesus’ ability to heal Lazarus transcended the grave. Not because their faith was weak, but because it was only so big. Their faith had grown naturally to include all that made sense based on their experience. But this new experience was beyond their ability to believe. No one had ever been raised from the dead, so how were they to know it could ever happen? It was a preposterous thought!

Until He spoke.

“Lazarus, come forth!”

When Lazarus walked out of the tomb, still wrapped in grave clothes but very much alive, those standing around watching in despair were raised to a new level in faith. As they walked home with Lazarus, laughing and rejoicing to have him back, they knew Jesus differently. They had hoped in him before, but now they KNEW him. There was nothing in life, not even death, that would cause them to distrust Christ again. Their faith was solidified. Rock solid on a foundation that cannot ever be destroyed. A little while later, as they watched him on the cross, this was the group that knew he could rise up. Knew that he would rise up. They had seen his power manifest in the impossible. Nothing could stop what God had ordained. Nothing.

There’s probably something in your life that is dead or dying. A hope that is dim and fading fast. A hope that has been dead a while, or even a hope you intentionally buried to keep it from hurting you. You don’t know how to believe because you have cried out to God and it seems like He is indifferent. He’s quiet. He hasn’t shown up in your time of despair. It’s tempting to give in to it. I get it. I’m there too. I sat down to read my Bible and this story wouldn’t let go of me. Jesus disappointed his friends the same way God seems to be disappointing you and I right now. We’re crying out, “God, why?”

His glory.

If we hold on long enough, God will do something. It might be after all our natural understanding lies broken all around us. It might be well after we have abandoned all hope. It might be when absolutely nothing makes sense. That might just be the place God is taking us to. Our faith can’t grow if we are still only experiencing things we’ve experienced before. But it can grow. It just might hurt a little. Something might die. It might feel like its us. When you’re there, friend, crying out with what little strength you have left, and it sounds like you are screaming in an echo chamber because your prayers are coming back to you unanswered, I want you to hold on to two things: Jesus wept and Jesus prayed.

He understands our pain and suffering. He understands our despair and the inner turmoil we feel. He sees the restraint of God and he feels for us. He is our advocate and as he sits on the right hand of God, he looks down with love and weeps. We are His. He loves us. He didn’t die for nothing. He died for us. He prevailed over death, hell and the grave to have us. He loves us tremendously and we matter to him. So in our pain, he weeps with us.

If that isn’t comfort enough, know this: He’s speaking to the Father on our behalf. He sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). Our cries reach his ears and he turns to the Creator of All Things and mentions them with a trembling voice and tears in his eyes. When God restrains himself, He is growing our faith. He is taking us to a new level, spiritually speaking. Our fleshly hope will be turned into a knowing that we know, because God will do something supernatural and beyond comprehension.

We have this hope and an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19).