What about that big thing that overwhelms you; that thing you bring before me nearly every hour of the day? I know you wish it weren’t there, that I’d reach out with a sweeping wave of my hand and remove it. You are frustrated that I don’t do it when all power is mine.
I told my people when traveling through the wilderness to Canaan, “Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” (Deut. 23:30) My plan is for each child of mine to become mighty in wisdom, strong in muscle strength, fluent about the spiritual skills of the kingdom. Slaying one giant at a time in my name will build into your life the things which are critical for your future. Never underestimate what is gained when you walk with me and see progress ‘little by little’.
I am not stingy nor is my power limited. My love restrains my hand from completely rescuing you so that I can do what is ultimately best on your behalf. I know that this mountain makes you tremble, even despair. But by dealing with your fear, you are being transformed into a champion. When you can’t see your progress, I can. And I have. You have already changed more than you know.
I have allowed you to walk in dark places over much of your life. It was your ‘Red Sea’. There was no deliverance unless you turned to me to cry out in faith. The wind was howling and you tasted the salty air. You heard the Egyptians roaring in their chariots, bearing down on you. Your precarious position dictated your certain doom. Every bit of personal strength vanished in that moment.
Ah, but then You turned to me. You took hold of me as I commanded you and then I came. What appeared to be impassable began to open up before you.
Never has your testimony been more powerful. You speak with conviction and cause many who hear you to tremble with spiritual hunger. No message is more powerful than, “I have seen the power of the Lord! He is glorious!”
Do you live in fear of embarrassment and humiliation?
Do you struggle to find enough comfort to feel better?
Do you hide your pain because there’s no one to turn to?
Listen to Christine’s interview where she shares ten orphan ways of living. She knows. She wrote them. She lived them all.
HOW BOLD ARE YOU?
And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem and from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. Genesis 33:18-20
Imagine moving to India, and just outside a major city, you erect a monument with the inscription, ‘The Mighty God Of Israel.’ As you do it, you know that everyone around you is a Hindu. Your proclaimed affiliation with any God other than Hindu gods marks you as different. In today’s world, that invites retaliation, even death.
Jacob’s boldness is a challenge to every modern-day Christian. Timidity will not serve God well in these days when opposition is growing. While many have enjoyed walking in neutrality, never revealing their beliefs for fear of not fitting in, the time is here when we are being forced to choose publically whom we will serve.
In Mosul, Iraq – this Saturday at noon – every Christian is facing a deadline imposed by ISIS. They have three choices. Pay the Jazeera tax and convert to Islam, renounce their belief in God, or die by beheading. This ultimatum was given less than 10 days ago and as I’ve been praying for our brothers and sisters, and their children, I’ve been envisioning what is transpiring behind closed doors. Parents are preparing their children for the end. They are comforting them with the promise that they will see Jesus in a few short days but also getting them ready for the short burst of horrific persecution.
It is prudent for us to put ourselves in their place. By doing so, our heart is stirred to pray with an intensity born of identification and empathy. It also enables us to role-play for what may be coming our way. Are we bold enough to display our altars to the God of Israel in the midst of Shechem?
How long, Lord, before You come and reign? How long will the blood of martyrs spill on our streets? For Your honor and glory, may only Your sovereign plans for Your people prevail. Amen
WHOSE FACE DO YOU DREAD SEEING?
Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Genesis 33:8-10
The last time Jacob saw Esau, he feared his murderous rage. He threatened to kill Jacob for stealing his inheritance. Now, years later, it is clear that Esau moved on and relinquished his need for revenge. He accumulated a degree of wealth and saw prosperity as God’s favor. Only a shalom with God could prompt him to say, “I have enough favor. Keep what you have, my brother.” This moved Jacob so deeply that he called Esau’s face – the face of God.
This wasn’t just poetry. The night before this meeting, Jacob had actually seen the face of God in his all-night wrestling match. When it had ended, Jacob named the place ‘Peniel’ which means ‘I saw God’s face and lived.’ What did Jacob wrestle with God about? Considering the timing, it was probably over Esau. Jacob was afraid of his brother, suffered from regret and shame, and needed peace in his soul. Before he could find peace with Esau, he needed peace with God.
From whom are you estranged today? When it’s someone in the family, the fracture wears on you and takes years off your life. Continue reading
SHOWING OFF YOUR ‘STUFF’
And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” GENESIS 33:5
How humble Jacob was as he introduced his family to Esau. The unspoken message was this ~ “God has been very gracious to me even though I sinned greatly against you.” You might ask, “How could he feel differently? Look at what he did!” True. But entitled people overlook their own sin and expect to be blessed anyway. Many years earlier, Jacob had felt entitled to Esau’s blessing so it would have been natural for him to have an attitude when introducing his family.
Humility is becoming. How do I view everything I enjoy today? Just because I’ve always had it doesn’t mean I always will. God does not owe me. Every good thing comes from above from a gracious God who gives me, not what I deserve, but what I don’t deserve. Every breath is a gift. My salvation is a gift. Momentary grace to live in the difficulties of these times is a gift.
Spiritual arrogance is unbecoming. Perhaps you’ve witnessed it in others. They talk about themselves and their family incessantly. They brag on each member and are quick to tell you everything they did right in raising them. Continue reading
AM I SMALL ENOUGH?
Who has known the mind of the Lord, and who has been His counselor? Romans 11:34
“I am the Lord and there is none other,” God would tell His children repeatedly. Why? Because they were not small enough. Their disobedience and worship of other gods exposed their arrogance. They had decided who was worthy of their worship, whom they would honor and obey. The God of the universe got the short end of the stick. Oh, how man elevates himself and how absolutely ludicrous.
William Beebe was a biologist, explorer, and author, and he was also a personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt. He used to visit Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill, his home near Oyster Bay, Long Island. He tells of a little game they used to play together. After an evening of talk, they would go outside onto the lawn and search the sky until they found the faint spot of light beyond the lower left corner of the great square of Pegasus. One of them would recite: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as the Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin at Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.”
If there is an issue about which I’ve decided not to obey, I am not small enough. If I tell God He is shortsighted, I am not small enough. If I tell God that He doesn’t rule well and life will never be fair, I am not small enough. Continue reading