Monday, December 14, 2009
Get Ready for the coming move of God!
God's Gracious Dealings: Another Great Move of God Will Be Birthed in Great Humility
"All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."—Deuteronomy 8:1-2
"Why, God?" are two words that both of us have heard and spoken many times this past year. Since 2009 began, it has been a year of "whys" for many of God's people who have gone through a deep and extended time of testing—lasting years in some cases. But, for all of our questioning "why," the only answer the Holy Spirit has given us has been, "Trust Me."
Deep within our spirits, we knew that God's people were being tested and prepared for the days ahead. But what we haven't understood has been the severe and total stripping of resources. For our family, we are experiencing a life of praying and watching for our daily bread, since every natural resource has dried up. We never have the comfort or security within our own strength to know where the next meal or next day's provision will come from. After seeking much counsel, after countless hours of prayer, and after exhausting all human reasoning, over and over we still hear: "You are right where God wants you to be; continue to wait upon the Lord."
But now, the last month of the year, it seems that the Lord is giving us greater understanding into the work that He has been doing within our hearts. The answer is found in chapter eight of Deuteronomy.
You Are Not a Failure
Recently we were with a Christian man whom we know quite well. He stated that he had failed his family because of circumstances they have encountered. This man has worked hard all of his life and has followed the Lord in all that He had asked of him, but still has lost his job and all of his resources to provide for his family. We knew that this man was not a failure, but he believed it so strongly that it began to be the reality of his identity in his own eyes, rather than what his family knew to be true. It was a devastating conclusion. God loved this man deeply as a dear son, but he was not able to perceive that love, or really recognize his sonship.
As we have thought and prayed about this, we realize there must be many other men and women dealing with similar thoughts. They look into the eyes of their loved ones and realize they have nothing within themselves to offer their families or change their painful situations. (This is especially discouraging during the holiday season, when the pressure to have provision escalates.) Many others have stepped out in faith, believing for great things, only to find their best efforts have seemingly produced no fruit.
In trying to find some insight regarding the difficulties in our lives and the lives of others, the Holy Spirit led us to Deuteronomy eight as an answer to the question, "Am I a failure?"
Let's read further into Deuteronomy 8 and see what the Lord says: He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord... (Verse 3)
Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.
When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and you have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Verses 5-14)
Here's the dilemma: if you believe that your weakness can make you a failure, then you probably also believe that it is by your strength that you can be a success. The people of Israel were disciplined and humbled by their time in the wilderness, but were they failures as they followed the cloud and pillar of fire, or gathered manna for their daily sustenance? Then, was it their strength that ushered them after forty years into the Promised Land and won the battles they fought to posses the land? No—it was God's strength that provided for them, led them, and gave them victory and prosperity.
Does a parent discipline his child because he believes his child is a failure? No! We discipline because we know that our children were created for great things, and we want them to know how to listen and obey our words so that one day they will listen and obey the word of the Lord. So, to all of you men and women who have believed that this season of discipline has been due to your failure: You are not a failure. You are a loved Son or Daughter whom the Lord is teaching to hear and obey His voice.
God Alone Gives the Power to Make Wealth
In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth." But, you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Verses 16-18)
This season, in which many Believers have wondered if it was their end, has actually been the threshold to the greatest move of God we have ever seen. The wilderness has been the beginning of the move of God we have all been praying for; it has just come differently than we expected.
Why did people have a hard time receiving Jesus as the Messiah? Because He came in very humble means. His life began in a manger made for animals and ended on a cross made for thieves and murderers. His coming was the pivotal point of history for all mankind. But many did not see, and still have not seen, who He really is.
Will we not see that we are in the beginning phase of another great move of God that has been birthed in great humility, as well as adversity? Whether we are entrusted with great wealth or many souls saved (or both), our hearts must be prepared in humility, so that we can truly say in the midst of what many would categorize as "success" that it is God alone who gives us the power to do all things! We have been and are being tested so that in the end we will not believe that it was our strength or power that caused these things to come about.
Do Not Touch
"It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God." (Verses 19-20)
We cannot count the times in raising our children that we used the words, "Do not touch!" They wanted to touch everything and own everything. It seems one of the first words all of them learned was "Mine!" Everything we owned was "mine." In their little perspectives, all items in the house were theirs to touch and possess. It took our parental discipline to teach them not to handle something when we said, "Do not touch!"
The same is true of us during this time. God is teaching us what He means when He says, "Do not touch!" We are not to say, "Mine!" about the move of God that will bring forth salvations, wealth, and influence. We are to remain humble and not become our own gods or worship the success.
The story of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 4 is an illustration of the results of claiming honor for ourselves. The Lord graciously gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream warning him against pride. Daniel interpreted the dream and offered the king sound wisdom as to how to avoid the scenario he had seen. Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar did not take the warning seriously enough to allow any lasting heart change, for as the story continues, we read what happens to him:
Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?"
While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from Heaven, saying, "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind...until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes." (Verses 29-32)
We all know what happened next. After the voice spoke, Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity and lived like an animal for seven years, as the Lord had warned him. When that period of humbling was completed, Nebuchadnezzar's reason, his sovereignty and his splendor were restored, but he now had a completely different perspective:
"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of Heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride." (Verse 37).
Most of us have not come to the place of testing because we were overtly proud and cruel, like the king. Nevertheless, God knows the preparation that must take place within us before we are entrusted with great success in any arena. The most seemingly humble men and women have fallen prey to the seductions that come with power, wealth and accomplishment. While it is true that God desires to work in us and through us for astonishing purposes, it is by His power that we succeed. Because we are in the beginning of an unprecedented move of God's Spirit, it is absolutely vital that we understand this truth. He will not allow us to carry any trace of pride in our own efforts or strength into this new season.
So, we would say to you: if you feel that you have been stripped of everything, and all your best efforts seem to amount to nothing—rejoice! Begin to thank God for His discipline and humbling because it proves your sonship. Ask Him to forgive you for believing the lie that you are a failure, or that He has failed you. He is preparing you for the greatness that was always meant for His children. Remember, it is in our weakness that He manifests His strength.
In my weakness manifest Your strength
In my pride manifest Your humility
In my lies manifest Your truth
In my need manifest Your power
In my poverty manifest Your riches
In my sickness manifest Your health
In my hunger manifest Your fullness
In my loneliness manifest Your presence
And in my death manifest Your life!
Merry Christmas. Rejoice in this wonderful season—Jesus truly is the humble King!
Jeff and Kathi Pelton
Light Streams Ministries