A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Wandering in the Wilderness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wandering in the Wilderness. Show all posts

June 5, 2024

"Everybody Wants the Mountain; But Nobody Wants the Wilderness"

The title of this blog is a quote by Pastor and activist Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, who appeared on the docu-series, Jonathan and Jesus, which records a pilgrimage of faith by Jonathan Roomie, who stars as Jesus in The Chosen. The comment is made in response to a conversation the two had regarding what it's like to experience a season of testing in your faith.

First, I want to clarify what it looks like when you're in the midst of a mountaintop experience. For many Christians, the subject of faith is academic -- we intellectually know all the theological language about faith ... it is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). We can also go through the motions of getting baptized and doing all the religious sacraments that we are asked to do as evidence of our faith. But all this can be a cerebral understanding of faith [or head knowledge]. God seeks a heart understanding of faith. 

To have a mountaintop experience requires that we have a very real encounter with the living Christ. It is a moment of revelation and supernatural disclosure from Heaven, where our spiritual senses are overcome with the reality that He is near; that you are feeling His touch and absolutely know [and are convinced] that He is with you and for you. It's like the experience Moses had with YHWH on the mountain; coming face to face with the knowledge that Jesus is truly your Savior and the King of the Universe.

For some that happens easily and quickly; for others it takes diligent practice of your faith -- lots of prayer and studying of the Word; seeking daily communion and relationship with the One who Saved you. Whether your mountaintop encounter happens quickly or slowly and gradually, it will happen, if you are consistent and persistent in seeking it. But here is a truth that you must discern whenever that blessed encounter happens ... everything that God anoints and approves, He tests. And that's when we often will find ourselves undergoing our wilderness experience.

So, what does that look like? It's interesting to me that both experiences are often linked. After enjoying your spiritually transformative experience on your mountaintop, you may suddenly find yourself in a period of intense isolation and trials. Think of the Israelites, who having been set free from 400 years of slavery and bondage in Egypt, suddenly found themselves being tried and tested in a desert-like wilderness. They were to take possession of the Promised Land, trusting God to provide a way for them. But through their doubt, unbelief and lack of faith, their disobedience led to the wrath of God and a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until that unbelieving generation died off.  

The Bible also tells us that Jesus, Elijah, Job and Paul were among many other Biblical figures who experienced their own wilderness experiences. And it can look different for different people. Personal struggles can come in the form of temptations, personal loss, physical attacks, and extreme isolation. You can experience profound burdens upon your body, soul and spirit. It is a severe testing of your faith and you are forced to surrender to God, relying on [only] Him to mature you and grow you in your walk with Christ. As Paul says, when you find yourself in your wilderness of testing, you will "be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed". But if you can surrender to the work that God wants to do in you, your life will be a testimony that it is the unsurpassed power of God [in you] -- and not by your own power -- that He accomplishes a renewal and strengthening of your faith and accomplishments for His Kingdom.

I can personally testify that as wonderful and joyous as the few mountaintop experiences have been to grow my faith, it is the wilderness episodes that have had the most dynamic effect. I experienced a particularly trying time when I spent seven years in what I call my "most personal and difficult wilderness encounter with God". I have shared it before on this blog, but I hope that this latest depiction will resonate with someone and they can learn something from my experience. 

God had ordained the steps of my husband and myself after we married, and sparked a desire to know more about the Word and what our relationship with the Lord should look like. He led us to a small group of older, faith-filled Believers in a big church in Austin, where we found the discipleship and equipping that we were desperately seeking. I cannot say that we were anywhere close to gaining the maturity in our faith that God desired, but we were growing in our knowledge of the Lord and His heart for us to step into our purpose for His Kingdom on earth. Just as we were feeling confident that we were "going places" in our faith, we found ourselves moved to 129 acres west of San Antonio in a small, rundown farmhouse that needed lots of repair, and totally isolated from everything that had fed our "comfortable" lives.

We not only found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, but removed from everything and everyone that had provided all of our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs... no big grocery stores, no movie theaters or bookstores, no church family, and what felt like solitary confinement away from God, Himself.  We tried the small country church in a nearby town, but the rigid, religious spirit in that church only served to make me feel even more alone. I was also confronted by fear, doubt, and unbelief that we would be able to prosper in this place. It was right after September 11th, 2001 and our financial situation was dire, to say the least. My husband was beginning his career as a professional artist, still in the phase of "paying his dues", and we struggled to pay the bills each month.

I praise God, to this day, that He gave my husband a firm faith that never doubted that God would take care of us. I, on the other hand, was struggling to remain established and settled in my faith. I fought against doubt and unbelief and the whispers of the Liar that I couldn't count on God to be my Jehovah Jireh. Yet, each time that God provided and a painting sold, I would praise Him and believe in His goodness towards us -- until the next month when things got tight again. I never doubted that we were following the path He had set before us, I just found myself trying to solve our lack of resources myself, instead of trusting that He would not abandon us. But He never gave up on me! I would stumble, then renew my commitment to trust Him, and with every step backwards, I found His grace to take two steps forward in my faith. And then one day, after fervent prayer and telling Him I was tired of the doubt with which Satan tempted me, and I wanted to let it go for good, I heard [in my spirit], "If you will be faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you". 

From that day forward, it has been a journey of surrendering to Him and trusting in Him. And I can now say that I know my Jehovah Jireh [the God who provides]!  I don't just know about Him, but I surrendered myself and allowed my spirit to be put in a place where I had to meet Him in order for my faith to survive. My wilderness journey lasted 7 long years, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! It's where I learned to live in quietness, solitude and intimacy; a place where I heard Him speak to me and received His reassurance that He has me and will never let me go. Yes, the Mountaintop is a glorious place to be; full of the magnificence, splendor, joy and wonder of being close and connected to Almighty God. But the Wilderness offers the opportunity to fight for that relationship and grow in your identity in Christ in order to understand that God-ordained testing comes when you have been approved for His purposes. His goal is to refine you, strengthen you, and prepare you for a life of service to Him. My advice is to enjoy the mountaintop, and embrace the wilderness. He will meet us in both places! Hallelujah!

Psalm 63:1    O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You; My soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.                

November 24, 2023

Can There Be Victory Without War?

As a Christian, I know the messages of Matthew and the Book of Revelations ... there will be wars between the advocates of Evil and God's servants of Good. The Lord tells us so. But His revelations to the Apostle John also promise us Victory -- not only because of what He has done for us, but because we have served Him well through the tribulations and sorrows that come with warfare. And we know there will be a final war in which Evil will be defeated for a thousand years, before Satan is once again released to wage the final battle with Jesus. 

So, how are we, in this generation, to view the state of the world today? You have to be totally blind not to see that the world sits on the precipice of WW3. Once again, Israel is at the center of worldwide conflict which is being waged over possession of the land, as well as the prodigious oil fields, which the world powers covet. No matter how much you hear that other energy sources will eventually surpass our appetite for oil, don't you believe it -- the world operates on the production of oil. But lest we forget, or misunderstand, God is the ruler of the world; all its resources in both sea and earth are His. He owns the heavens and all their galaxies, and He will provide the benefits of those resources to whomever partners with Him in His Kingdom ministry.

So, what are we to make of the war in Israel today, and what does it signify for our future? There is a Latin phrase, by Roman author, Publius Flavius Vegetius Rentaus, which says #Si Pacem, para bellum, which translates "If you want peace, prepare for war". That was during the 4th or 5th century. In more recent decades, our own political leaders have voiced the #peace through strength motto; most notably proposed by Ronald Reagan in a 1980 campaign speech against Jimmy Carter. In that speech, Reagan said, "We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations. George Washington's words may seem hard and cold today, but history has proven him right again and again. "To be prepared for war," he said, "is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." Well, to those who think strength provokes conflict, #Will Rogers had his own answer. He said of the world heavyweight champion of his day: "I've never seen anyone insult #Jack Dempsey". Since that campaign, the phrase and ideology has become a mainstay in the Republican Party platform.

But taking politics out of the argument, does this idea of peace through strength apply to our faith and the Church? Surely, we have seen that the Church has been much more comfortable operating in compromise and concessions, rather than consistently and purposely fighting for God's principles. I dare say that is why we have abortion, lawlessness, skewed ideas of marriage and gender, and so many other legal and social issues. It's simple ... We cannot say we are "for" good, if we are not "against" evil. That axiom applies to cultural standards, military codes of operation, and spiritual precepts. 

Unfortunately, we have gone through more than two generations since we, collectively, as a nation, agreed on "no compromise" when it comes to our standards. Here is a Biblical reference [made by #Pastor Asher Intrater, a Messianic Believer in Israel] of why we need to take a good hard look at our Belief System in these chaotic days. He asks the question, "Why did the Israelites spend 40 years wandering in the desert? The old “exodus” generation had to die out, and a new generation take over. What was their problem? The “Ex” generation was not willing to fight in the war against evil". 

Exodus 13:17 tells us the story ... So it happened, when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war [that is, that there will be war], and return to Egypt.” As Asher Intrater explains it, "They could have gone directly from Egypt into victory in Canaan-land. But they weren’t ready to fight. So, they were redirected into the wilderness to wander for a full generation, until the next generation could be raised up. There were three stages: salvation from slavery; then wandering in the wilderness; then fighting for victory".

I found it interesting that [in his writing] he also insinuated that Israeli society was struggling with this concept of war vs compromise. I believe our own nation, and especially the Church, must come to terms with it themselves. That leads me to asking you this question ... do you believe that God wants us to live in victory and His fulfilled promises? But if there is a battle between Good and Evil, doesn't war eventually become necessary for victory? Is it not true, that we can't enter into victory if we're not willing to fight? We can't compromise or concede our way to a complete and fulfilled victory! As much as we don't want to admit it, learning warfare is a necessary step to gaining faithfulness and moral character.

And there is a statement that the good Pastor made that will shake many Christians to the core; those who only see Jesus as #the Prince of Peace, and not in His full identity which includes a #Warrior King and #Commander of Heaven's armies ... "God wants you to know war. That is hard for some to grasp. Fighting in moral, spiritual, and military warfare is part of walking in faith. To fear God is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13). If we haven’t been through war, we miss some basic aspects of faith: Fighting a war demands obedience, discipline, holiness, faithfulness, courage, sacrifice, a victorious spirit, punishment of evil, justice, and salvation. Messiah Yeshua is not only the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6): He is also the Commander of the Armies (Joshua 5:13, Revelation 19:11)".

This statement comes from a Believing and Confessing Jewish Pastor, whom I believe is part of the remnant of Israel that God is calling upon to restore His Name in His Holy Land. And I believe it is a statement that all Christians need to embrace as well! the Bible tells us there is a war that has been waging from the beginning of time between God and the devil; between Good and Evil. And the climax of this war is coming soon! It is time to regain the knowledge of what it means to have a fighting spirit. It's time to be victorious once again as God's army on earth. Let us leave this vapid and feeble wilderness, and raise up a generation that knows how to fight for the Lord! 

God had to send a generation of Israelites to wander in the desert because they didn't have a fighting spirit. Their years in captivity and slavery had robbed them of their true identity and their desire to war. But God had a mission for them to do, and it could not be done through compromise or concession. We have a decision to make -- are we ready to change our paradigm from #lukewarm Church to #warring Ekklesia? Do we recognize that there is a time for war and a time for peace, and for the sake of the lost, it is our time to fight? Are we ready to leave the wilderness behind and cross over to the victory that awaits us? Remember: it is Jesus Christ, the royal King and Warrior who leads us against our mutual foe, and we will be treading where the saints before us have gone. It's time to leave the wilderness!

NOTE: I ask that as you go to the links provided in this post, that you seek the wisdom of the Lord as you read these various opinions. I do not present myself as in agreement with them all, nor propose that you agree with them, but rather take them to the Lord and listen for His voice to direct you to His Truth. As always, I suggest that you "eat the meat and spit out the bones", trusting in the Lord and your own discernment. They are meant as a starting point for your own research. 

#peacethroughstrength; #AsherIntrater; #PrinceofPeace; #WarriorKing; #HeavensArmies; # LukewarmChurch; # Ekklesia; #WanderingintheWilderness; #Warvscompromise #EndTimestheology; #WarsandRumorsofWar; #EndTimesProphecy

Revelation 19:11.   And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who was riding it is called Faithful and True (trustworthy, loyal, incorruptible, steady), and in righteousness He judges and wages war [on the rebellious nations].