Sunday, March 28, 2010

Overwhelmed - by Circumstances

Overwhelmed - by Circumstances
By Victoria Boyson

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing—James 1:2-4 NLT

The story of Cinderella is a poignant one, because many of the key elements in the story can be found in the lives of people God has raised up for His glory and purpose.

Note to all men reading this: Now, before all you gentlemen quit reading because I've mentioned Cinderella, please stick with me and I'll show you a Cinderella-type man in Scripture.

Cinderella was a girl whose mother had died when she was young, but was dearly loved by her wealthy father; she lived well and was favored and loved by him. Truly, her life was blessed and she had everything she needed, but her father didn't think so. He married again to give her a mother and family. But shortly after he remarried, he died.

Her father, I'm sure, had no way of knowing how he would devastate his daughter's life by the decision he made to take a new wife. Suddenly, at her father's death, her life was tragically altered. She not only lost her father, her home and her position in her family, she was also stripped of her own personal identity.

She, herself, had not changed. But, through the actions of her step family, she, who'd once been a loved and favored daughter, now became a servant. She was no longer loved and honored, but rejected and abused—a continual outcast in her own home.

It's one thing to be robbed and cast out, but to have to stay and serve those who robbed you is quite another. To sit and have to watch them enjoying or even mistreating things you once cherished would be extremely difficult. And the longing to feel a part of the family, yet never having that longing fulfilled is like experiencing a continual wounding with no time to heal. It would force you to try anything to get them to love you. Yet, the more you would try, the more they would despise you.

According to some versions of this classic tale, Cinderella attempted to go to a royal ball at the palace with her step-mom and sisters in an old dress of her mother's. Her sisters, being spurred on by their mother, tore her dress to pieces, leaving her in rags. They literally and emotionally stripped her of all she knew and was in life; they left her nothing. She was stunned, emotionally numb, alone and devastated by their actions.

But here's where her story takes a surprising turn. At the moment she'd reached her lowest point, she met her fairy godmother, who begins at once to transform Cinderella's world. The fairy godmother came to her in her moment of despair and showed her love, which is what Cinderella needed the most.

"Cinderella Man"

If you remember the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 and Genesis 39-45, he was a most beloved and favored son of his father, Jacob. His mother died giving birth to his younger brother, but he still had the love of his father, and oh how Jacob loved him. He gave Joseph many privileges and gifts his brothers did not get. Most importantly, he gave Joseph his love (Genesis 37:3). This created heated jealousy in his brothers toward him; they hated him for it, so much so they planned to murder him (Genesis 37:20). Through a twist of fate, instead of murdering him, they sold him as a slave—perhaps a fate worse than death (Genesis 37:21-28).

Joseph spent 13 years as a slave—as someone's property and a prisoner. He was accused of being a degenerate going after his master's wife, when in reality, the opposite was true (Genesis 39:6-20). His life had been stripped from him physically and emotionally. No longer a most beloved, favored son—now owned and wrongfully imprisoned.

If anyone had the right to become angry and bitter, it was Joseph. The Lord had shown him amazing visions and dreams of all he would do in his future (Genesis 37:5-11), yet his life went in the complete opposite direction for years. It could have seemed to him that God had tricked him or lied to him, but Joseph clung to his faith in God (Genesis 39:2-5 and Genesis 39:21-23).

All that was taken from him and done to him turned out to be the preparation for the fulfillment of his dreams. As he said to his brothers, "Don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives" (Genesis 45:5). He continued, "So it was God who sent me here, not you!" (Genesis 45:8).

Reflecting over the years Joseph had spent in Egypt, instead of blaming his brothers for all he'd endured, he saw their hateful actions as tools in the Lord's hands to prepare him to rescue millions (Genesis 45:6-7). Joseph's life changed dramatically, went from being the favored son of his father to a lowly slave and prisoner, and then suddenly became second in power over the world he lived in (Genesis 45:8).

Cinderella's transformation was as swift and as telling. From beloved daughter - to - slave - to princess who ruled alongside her husband. They were both stripped of all they knew and held dear, but we see in the end that the ill treatment they endured prepared and equipped them for their great destiny.

Why did God allow Joseph to go through such severe testing you may ask? Well, in Scripture we find examples of those raised to greatness without the preparation, only to fall and lose sight of what really mattered.

King Solomon, son of King David, was the richest, wisest man in history (1 Kings 3:11-14). He inherited his father's kingdom, which was great indeed, and God blessed him with even more (1 Kings 3:11-14). However, he did not have the preparation for the throne that his father had. David went from shepherd (1 Samuel 16:11) - to warrior (1 Samuel 18:5-7) - son-in-law to the king (1 Samuel 18:17-27) - escaped fugitive, running for his life (1 Samuel 19-24) - living in caves (1 Samuel 22:1-2) - pretending to be a madman (1 Samuel 21:13) - having his wives taken from him (1 Samuel 30:1-5) - being despised and rejected (1 Samuel 4-8) and then suddenly to be made king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5).

We see however, in King Solomon's life, that because he didn't have to endure what his father did, he fell away from God later in his life (1 Kings 11:4-6). "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36 NAS). What benefit were Solomon's vast wisdom, riches and fame if it cost him his relationship with God?

Clinging to God's Love

Many of you have been going through a similar stripping process. You are confused and hurt, you may even feel at times abandoned by God. What often hurts the most is the continual betrayal by those who should love you, but don't. It hurts to see the hardness of other's toward you as though you don't matter. At times, you've felt psychologically numb due to the actions of others.

Yet, though you've been stripped, robbed or betrayed you still cling to God, because going through your own personal anguish without Him is even more unthinkable. In the midst of your desperation, you find you still have the one thing that truly matters—you still have God. And, He then, becomes your everything and you feel like the wealthiest person in the world.

Indeed, through all your trials, you are being prepared for your destiny, and it will be great. One day you will look back on this time, like Joseph, and see that God has used it all to prepare you for your future. Knowing your destiny was great, He wanted you to be prepared, so you would not fall when the real test comes: the test of success.

And so He wouldn't lose you in the midst of all the blessings He longs to give you, He needed to make sure your foundation was solidly grounded in Him, that your faith was thoroughly tried.

If you find yourself in similar circumstances, then know: you are truly loved by your heavenly Father, resting in the palm of His hand. Your life belongs to Him and He will see that you are ready for the untold blessings He's kept in readiness for you, anticipating your destiny. You are His beloved and favored child - you belong to Him - His special creation.

Maybe you can see images of your own life in the story of Cinderella, or perhaps Joseph's story is far too familiar to your own. To whatever degree you can relate to him, remember his story changed as he clung to God. Our story, too, takes on a new and rich purpose when we meet with God. He makes all things new, even the painful events of our past. He makes beauty from the ashes of our lives (Isaiah 61:3). So, wherever you are, surrender your ashes to Him and watch Him make something beautiful of your life.

Please pray this with me: Dear Father, I need You. You are all I have, You are everything to me. Comfort me and make something beautiful from my life. I surrender all that I am into Your hands and I ask that You fill me with all of You. Whatever You have for me, I receive with open arms because I know it's from You and I trust You with my life.

Angry, Angry, Angry

Angry, Angry, Angry
By Francis Frangipane

It's hard to remember a time when people were more angry. A civilized person ought to be, first of all, civil. Yet, today there is no discourse, no respect for another's opinion, no reasoning together for the common good. I am concerned, especially for the church.

One may argue, "Our society is decaying. We should be mad." Yes, but we can be angry yet still not sin (see Eph 4:26). Of course, I feel anger that the underpinnings of our culture are being dismantled by unprincipled men. Our souls should be vexed at the darkening cloud of demonic infestation in our culture, especially when children are caused to stumble or the weak are exploited. If we don't take a stand, the advance of evil ultimately means more people will die without Christ. So, if we are angry, it does not necessarily mean we have sinned. It can simply mean we care.

I am not surprised by the increased anger. My concern is that, unless this anger regenerates into something more redemptive, more Christlike, we will not see our world renewed. Indeed, anger that does not awaken in us redemptive action ultimately degrades into bitterness and unbelief.

A Two-Pronged Attack
While hell advances into our world on many levels, I want to discuss two primary areas. The first manifestation is brazen, widespread and alarming. For example, a corrupt law gets passed or gang violence breaks out; or it might be that a beloved public figure is scandalized. It's on the news and people are talking about it. The shock waves caused by this demonic intrusion smash against our hearts: we're disappointed, offended, stunned and, often, outraged. In this state of mind, hell launches the second area of attack. There is no newscast featuring this next stage of warfare. On this front, the devil does not come openly flaunting himself, but quietly. In seething whispers he stirs the pot of our discontent until it boils. Ultimately, where once the heart of the Christian was full of faith and love, now bitterness, hatred and malice churn in the souls of God's people.

So while we must fight the culture wars of our times, we must preserve our capacity to love if we will actually win our war. We must remember we are not fighting against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12 KJV).

Sadly, I have heard many people say recently that they've lost their vision for America. What they actually lost was not their vision, but their love. For love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).

The Goal Of God
I will tell you how I look at this. I believe that if the Almighty's highest plan was to end evil on Earth, He could do so in a flash. Why does He wait? He desires to bring believers to Christlike maturity. In a moment evil would be gone, as it was with Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must never forget: Jesus did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

What God waits for is us. Our Christlike perfection is the harvest upon which the Father waits. He desires to bring many sons to glory, and this world, with all its evil, is the perfect setting to bring us to Christlike maturity. Here, we have real enemies that God can use to perfect our love; in this environment, we have actual foes whose persecution helps to perfect our prayer.

Yes, we should be angry about what's wrong, but we must be Christlike in making things right. We cannot just be political; we must be spiritual, like people from another realm.

Rightly there are times when we must defend the helpless among us, but concerning ourselves, let us consider again what Jesus commanded:

"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:39-45).

You see, God desires mature sons and daughters who, while fighting for their world, open the door of love into His world. To see our nation transformed, we ourselves must be transformed. Otherwise, we will risk becoming Christian hypocrites: angry that the world is not Christian but untroubled that we are not Christlike.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A New Day Dawns

A New Day Dawns
By Junior deSouza

A New Day Dawns - Biblical Basis

In Scripture, the dawning of a new era in God's plan is illustrated by the rising of a sun. Such "dawns" or "mornings" can pertain to a single person (Ps 57:8, 108:2, Isa 38:13), God's people (Mt 4:15,16), or even the entire world (Isa 26:19). However, the metaphor is consistent: a glorious sunrise terminating a long, dark night. Here's a few examples.

The incarnation of the Messiah dawned a much-awaited new day. Matthew, quoting Isaiah the prophet, said of Jesus' arrival (Mt 4:15,16, underline added): "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Zechariah, in his prophetic celebration of John the Baptist, spoke similarly (Lk 1:78,79, underline added): ...the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Jesus, the Morning Star, was dawning the New Testament era. Notice the providential metaphor...He resurrected at dawn (Lk 24:1-3), and birthed the church in the morning (Ac 2:15).

Isaiah and Hosea prophesied a new day would dawn for Israel, a day when the Lord would relent from His judgments against her and restore her completely. Isaiah 30:19-26 is the entire passage with several promises, but notice the illustration used in verse 26 (underline added): The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted. Hosea foretells likewise. The entire passage is Hosea 6:1-3, but once again, notice the illustration used in verse 3 (underline added): Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.

The dawning of new days can also be personal. David said weeping would last throughout the night season, during the momentary anger of the Lord. However, joy would come "in the morning"--when a new season dawned--and that favor would last a lifetime (Ps 30:5).

Hezekiah, in the midst of his agonizing illness, said (Isa 38:13, underline added): I waited patiently till dawn, but like a lion he broke all my bones; day and night you made an end of me. After eating some boiled figs, he recovered miraculously and his new day dawned (v21).

Song of Songs refers to Solomon's bride as a "sunrise". Song of Songs 6:10: Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? The friends could see that her presence in his life was a brilliant sunrise to him. She dawned a new day for Solomon.

The Lord God is a sun, dawning new days of shielding, favor, honor, and good things for those who walk blamelessly with Him (Ps 84:11). He is the Morning Star (Rev 22:16), and that very nature demands that He manifest as a sunrise somewhere. Will you be that somewhere?

A New Day Dawns - Prophetic Rhetoric?

I present this message to you today in childlike sincerity and divine seriousness. I say this, because, numerous prophecies are presently circulating about a coming "new day" or "new era", in this arena or that. Some of these words are 100% authentic, while some are hand-me-downs reissued in the spirit of prophetic rhetoric. The phrase new day has a high voltage, charged with sensation and hope, capable of being exploited simply as a mesmerizing catch-phrase.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the depths of my heart, I assure you this message is not prophetic rhetoric, spiritual sensationalism, Charismatic mesmerism, or trending/fadding. This is not a bandwagon prophecy. I have enjoyed several enlightening experiences the past few weeks that verified the Lord is truly revealing the dawning of a new day. A giddy excitement has filled my heart as this hope trickles down into my core!

As with all prophetic messages, I urge you to prove this word in your own secret place with the Master. I urge you to prayerfully wait on Him and the various confirmations He will provide in the coming weeks and months. And as He does, rejoice! I am so happy for what the Lord has scheduled! Many of His weary warriors and faithful fighters have waited long years for this good news.

In writing this, the Spirit urged me on joyfully from Isaiah 40:1,2: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

For those of us who thought/think our warfare would never give way to a new era, the Lord cries from Isaiah 66:9, "Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God.

A New Day is Dawning

I do not speak for literally every Christian, but I do speak for MANY. Around May/June of this year (beginning of summer), and also September/October (beginning of fall), many Christians, churches, ministries, and other kingdom segments will enter a significant new day, a new era. The Lord has scheduled other dawnings, but this word is graced only to address these two in particular. Some will dawn in May/June, some in September/October, some at both.

This new day is not simply "a new season". This will be a new mega-season, one that will mark the end of a very long and distinctly undesirable period in an area(s), and begin an even longer one marked by the fullness of rewards and inheritance in that same area(s). This is that glorious new day many have labored for, battled for, waited for, and only dreamed about from the prison cell.

Generally speaking, this day will be marked by the following (obviously, some will experience certain ones more than the others):

An Era of Peace from War - The Ending of Heavy Warfare

The day is coming when many will no longer look over their shoulder for fear of the enemy's flood. The bullride will be over. It will be a day of peace from war, a day of rest on every side, a day when mega-seasons of brutal warfare have resulted in victory and subjugation of the enemy. David entered this era personally (see Psalm 18, the caption).

In that day many will quote the following scriptures (Ps 9:6 NKJV, 18:37,38, 46:9): O enemy, destructions are finished forever!...I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet...He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. Their prayer from Psalm 7:9 will finally be answered: Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just.

An Era of Successful Building - A Time to Build

The circumstancial peace will allow for settling down and the development of God-inspired projects. The enemy's resistance will be minimal and quickly manageable. It will be a time to focus energies not on warfare, but on building. Important progress will be made and God-dreams will become reality.

In that day many will have the experience of King Asa and Judah (2Chr 14:5-7): He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest. "Let us build up these towns," he said to Judah, "and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side." So they built and prospered.

An Era of Long-awaited Second Chances - The Redemption of Major Mistakes

Waiting for a second chance to redeem colossal mistakes can be torturous. The humiliation and reproach weigh heavy on our souls, imposing a necessary sanctification on our pride, motives, and goals. For those who cooperated with the humbling, a new day of long-awaited second-chances will arrive.

In that day many will sing from Joel 2:19,26,27: The LORD will reply to them: "I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations...You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

An Era of Unusual Confidence - Fearless and Sure, Finally

Insecurity and hesitation are pandemic in God's people. Heaven and earth are overwhelmed by the opportunities missed, relationships passed up, expressions suppressed, destinies delayed. This new era will be one of great inner strength and confidence, where insecurities and hesitations no longer restrain the faithful from the risks and adventures of the Christ-life. The faithful will assert and initiate in ways that terrified them before. Fear of rejection will be replaced with fear of missing the blessing.

In that day these once-fearful ones will praise from Psalm 65:5 (NKJV): O God of our salvation, you who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth.

An Era of Surprising New Work - Unexpected Vocational Reordering

Work will be reordered in a major way. Many will be surprised, even shocked (pleasantly), at the unexpected new tasks and projects the Lord appoints them to. Major portions of many destinies have been kept carefully concealed until this time. This has been for both lofty and practical reasons. The dawning of this new day will dawn abrupt and unforeseen work assignments that will reorder many Christians' vocational lives completely.

In that day many will testify with the words of Amos (Am 7:14,15): "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'

An Era of New Demarcation Lines in Conscience - Expansion of Personal Liberties

The Lord will be greatly expanding the personal liberties of many in this new day. The demarcation lines of their conscience will widen into a broad place (1Co 8:7-12, 10:25-29, Ro 14). Many who were under divine "restriction" and testing will be released from seasonal prohibitions. Many who were legalistic in certain areas will be illumined to the overstrictness of their convictions. A widespread relaxation from divine permission is dawning.

In that day many will say (Ps 16:6,11, 84:11, Ro 14:17): The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places...with eternal pleasures at your right good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless...For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

An Era of New Authority Spheres - New Leadership for the Next Mega-season

We are on the brink of a new mega-season in God's plan, corporately and individually. Corporately, God is establishing new spheres of authority that will remain untouched and unchanged for many years to come. This is why we have seen the deaths and public exposures of many previously-established leaders. (If this is happening on a global scale with the highest leaders, imagine how much more at the regional and local level!) "Musical Chairs" is being played, authority seats are being rearranged and reset, and God is establishing His leaders in crucial new seats for the new era.

In that day the words of Job 12:19 will be well understood: He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established.

An Era of First-century Churches - Rebuilding the Ancient Ruin

The chastisement of both the lukewarm and religious church is fast approaching. Conversely, the rebuilding of authentic, first-century, New Testament churches is already underway. However, this new era will see church growth explosions in the spirit of Acts, as the kingdom and the church finally reunite in that magnificent first-century precedent.

In that day the brethren will run with the inspiration of Isaiah 58:12: Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.

--Song of Songs 4:6