Newsletter for Apr 2009
Many years ago a young lawyer in the Midwest became so deeply depressed that his friends were quite concerned about his mental stability. Discussing his condition among themselves, they concluded it would be best to keep all knives and razors away from him. As he struggled through the darkness of this time, he wrote, "I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not." Yet emerge from the depression he did, going on to become one of our nation's most honored, revered and God-fearing presidents: Abraham Lincoln.
How many times as Christians have we faced mountains so high we can't see the tops because they are covered by clouds of adversity? How often have we traveled the road of God's direction, only to find it filled with potholes of problems? And then, here come the questions: "Does God really love me?" "Is he really watching over me?" "If I am so special to Him, why is He letting all this happen?"
Even though we realize we aren't the only ones to experience problems, and we understand there are people in worse conditions, that knowledge doesn't give us the comfort we need. We want answers and we want them now! We want deliverance and we want it now! If most Believers spoke what was really running through their minds, they would probably say, "Phooey on everybody else and their problems! I want this to end now!"
These types of emotions are understandable. The problem is, we aren't God and we cannot see what lies ahead. We are not the Alpha and Omega; we do not know the beginning from the end. We are not omniscient, knowing all the surrounding circumstances. All we know and can see are the immediate problems and we don't like them. Instead of trusting in God and His infinite wisdom and power, we tend to focus on the circumstances.
Have you ever made a "domino snake" where you line up lots of dominoes, then knock the first one over and watch them all fall in sequence? If you were to reach down and remove a domino from the middle of the snake, the only thing it would know is that you removed it from the safety and security of its nearby domino "friends and family." It couldn't see that tragedy had struck when an ambitious seven year old flipped the first domino, resulting in no dominoes left standing.
If you were to pick that middle domino up, put it in your pocket and walk away, it would never know what had happened to the other dominoes. If it didn't trust your judgment, it would live in resentment the rest of its life, distressed over what you had done to it.
Now, I realize dominoes do not have personalities and they do not communicate, but I think you get the idea. Many times God does something to protect us, but all we focus on is our perception of inconvenience, struggle, and hardship. Consider the nation of Israel as an example. For hundreds of years the Israelites had lived in Egypt, experiencing slavery and hardship. God raised up Moses, and through a miraculous sequence of events, the people were set free. Exodus 12 and Psalm 105 reveal that when they were released from captivity they took the riches of Egypt with them, and none of them were sick or afflicted.
However, Egypt's Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Jewish slaves go free and he began to chase after them with his army. Because of the direction God had led the Israelites away from Egypt, they set up camp on the bank of the Red Sea. They looked behind them and in the distance they could see the Egyptians, fully armed and ready for battle, charging down hard upon them. What was their response?
And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11-12)
The hot, arid stench of the Egyptian slave camps had been replaced by the fresh air of freedom, yet they were actually complaining about being led out of captivity! Ignoring the fact that they were all living in miraculous, divine health and that not one of them remained sick or injured from the harsh treatment of the Egyptian slave masters, they were declaring it would have been better for them to have remained in Egypt!
For centuries they had cried out to God for help. Now that He had produced miracle after miracle to secure their freedom, they wanted to again yield to slavery. And even more amazing is the fact that the power and glory of God was right before their eyes…
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)
Think about this: Here were the Israelites, camped where God had led them; the Red Sea in front and the greatest military force in the known world bearing down on them from behind. They were seemingly trapped in a no-win situation. Yet, what God knew that they didn't know was the fact that if He had led them along a shorter route they would have faced even worse conditions:
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:17-18)
How many times have we faced a "Red Sea" flooded with trouble and it feels like the heat of Satan's foul breath is blasting down our necks? We know we've been obedient to God and that we're right where He wants us, but it seems like everything has gotten worse. Yet, even though we've experienced His blessings and power in the past, we still look up to Heaven and cry out, "Why God? Why did you put me in this mess? Why did you let all of this happen?" But have you ever considered that if He had led you in a different direction you would be facing enemy forces too great for your current level of faith? You see, God has given us a wonderful promise concerning the struggles we face,
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
He may lead us in a way wherein our faith is stretched to the limit, but it will never be beyond that limit. We will never face any problem that our faith cannot overcome to claim and experience victory.
Another fact to consider is that the enemy of our souls never stops plotting and planning attacks on our lives. Just because we're walking the path God has set before us does not mean Satan will stop. When Satan went after Jesus in the wilderness, the Lord shut him down each time. Did the devil then decide it wasn't worth the trouble to attack Jesus any more? Scripture gives us the answer:
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:13)
Though we may win a major victory over the devil, he will be watching and planning another season of attack. He hopes to get us to respond like the Israelites: become so overwhelmed by the present attack that we forget every past healing, deliverance, victory and miracle, and just give up.
One important key to remember about Israel and their predicament while encamped at the Red Sea is that they just saw the enemy. There had been no actual attack and no battle. The sight and sound of the enemy army caused them to begin painting mental pictures of what they thought was going to happen. This is exactly how Satan operates; he will kick up a lot of dust and make a lot of noise to try and influence our thoughts and imaginations. He wants to produce a mental motion picture of catastrophe and mayhem.
If he is successful, he knows we will start confessing all the events of our mind's academy award-worthy production of spectacular disaster. This is important to him because he also knows that…
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21)
If we begin talking about all the bad things that "are going to happen," we've just given the devil permission to start operating those things in our lives. God, however, has provided a solution:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
When the devil begins stomping and snorting all kinds of threats to try and fill our thoughts with defeat, we can declare, "Satan, I am not afraid of you or your threats. In the name of Jesus, I do not have a spirit of fear. I have a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I have the mind of Christ. In Jesus' name, my mind is filled with things that are true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely, of a good report, of virtue, and are praise worthy!" He doesn't like it when we talk like this, but he can't stop us and he knows his plans will have once again been thwarted.
Yes, Satan will try to work his plans in our lives. But consider the following promises from God:
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. (Psalm 91:14-15)
Make a determination to develop your relationship with God. Put forth the effort to know Him better than you know anyone else. He has said He will be with you in trouble, deliver you, set you on high, answer your prayers, honor you, satisfy you with long life, and show you His salvation. Furthermore, Jesus summed this up in John 16:33 when He said,
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
He doesn't deny the existence of problems; but He declares that, in Him, we will have peace because He has overcome the world. Romans 8:17 reveals we are joint-heirs with Christ, which means the victory Jesus won has been given to us. The Apostle John confirms this in 1 John 4:4 and 5:4-5,
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
Don't let Satan deceive you into thinking the worst. God knows exactly what He is doing and He will never lead you into a position of sure defeat. He is with you every step of the way, and if you keep your eyes on Him you will see the salvation of the Lord! Praise the Lord…in Jesus, we cannot lose!
Your servant in His love,