Courage to Continue the Battle

Hanging out with a few of my Divine Mentors this afternoon. Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. 

They have really given me a lot of wisdom in a situation over the past couple of weeks and I’m very grateful that I have friends and mentors in the Bible that I can turn to for sound advice when I need help.

They have given me the courage to walk out my faith in the face of adversity. But, today as I spent time hanging out with my friends again it was King Nebuchadnezzar who encouraged me the most and solidified in my heart that every decision I’ve made made to be single minded in my faith has been the perfect decision.

King Nebuchadnezzar said to me today about my friends and mentors: “They trusted in God and defied the king’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s) command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God…” He further said of our God: “No other god can save this way!”

Withdrawing my entry from the rat race

Between ministry and work I travel often and what I have noticed most about people is that they are stressed. Today I am in the DFW International Airport on my way to San Diego and just 15 minutes prior to boarding time an announcement rang out over the intercom stating that there was a gate change from gate A39 to A17, which happens to be on the opposite end of the terminal.

I watched as people with worried looks on their faces hurried to the other end of the terminal in order to get to the new gate in time to board the flight. The path to the new gate included a trip on the “Skylink” which is the airport’s internal shuttle system that brings passengers from terminal to terminal within the security gates. These shuttles are automated cars without drivers that stop at one-minute intervals to pick up and drop off passengers.

Amazed, I watched as an entire plane full of passengers attempted to cram into one shuttle car in order to get to the new gate quickly. As the shuttle threatened, “Please step away from the doors. The doors are now closing.” People continued to cram into the car. One man actually squeezed into the door as it closed and got his bag and his leg caught in the door forcing the door to open back up. Upon opening back up, more people packed into the car.

I stood on the outside of the car and watched the doors close while the people on the other side looked at me fearfully. I just waved at them and said, “It’s okay. I’ll catch the next one.” Remember, the shuttles pass in one-minute intervals as per the overhead announcements that keep saying, “The next shuttle will arrive in one minute.”

What’s the point? Why do I tell this story? To illustrate that people are overwhelmed. This leads to anxiety and fear over things that don’t deserve the energy. Think about this scenario with the gate change. People were in a state of panic over a simple unplanned change. They were worrying about missing their flight because of a last minute blip. A heightened state of anxiety made them all bypass logic and go straight to fear. “Oh no, I only have 15 minutes until boarding time! How am I going to make it to the other end of the airport in time to get on the plane?”

As I watched 150 people panic, this is what passed through my mind: 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Instead of panic, I reasoned, “Fear does not come from God so I know that fear is an unacceptable response to this situation. Worry and anxiety only lead to fear so I know that this is not the reaction that I need to have to this sudden change. I have power over my actions, reactions, and thoughts so I am going to make decisions regarding how I react, act, and think right now. I am not going to be frustrated with people or this situation because God has given me a spirit of love. And finally, God has given me a spirit of a sound mind. That means, that I have the ability to think through this issue logically and act in a logical manner.

1) The airline has announced a gate change. That means that they are aware that the entire passenger manifest has to move to a new gate even though boarding time is 15 minutes away, 2) It does not take 15 minutes to walk to the other side of the terminal even if it is 20 gates away. It does not even take 15 minutes to take the Skylink to a completely different terminal. 3) The plane boards 30 minutes prior to take off and the crew makes multiple calls for passengers that have checked in and not boarded prior to closing the plane door all the way until take off time. You can actually wait until 5 minutes till take off to board the plane and still get on. 4) Even if I miss this flight there are two more flights tonight that can get me to my destination.”

There is power in walking in the peace of God. God has not created me to walk in fear. He has not created me to walk in anxiety. He has not created me to be stressed. He has given me a sound mind. He has given me peace that surpasses all understanding. I don’t have to worry. Worry has never added a moment to any of my days – worry has only accomplished adding fear to my life. God has not given me a spirit of fear. God has not created me to be a part of the rat race. He has created me for peace. I choose to withdraw from the race and walk in peace.

I will boast of the things that reveal my infirmities

In the Old Testament if a priest had an infirmity they could not function in their office as a priest.  Even though they were created to and placed in a particular place to perform a particular duty, they were unable to fulfill the responsibility of that role because of the infirmity.

An animal that had an infirmity could not be used as a sacrifice, even when it had been set apart to be sacrificed to God, because the infirmity disqualified it from being able to fulfill the duties of the sacrifice.

An infirmity is something that is crippling.  It is weakness, lack of strength, an inability to walk in power.  In the New Testament this word was hardly ever used in a purely physical sense of the word.  Instead it refers to mental crippling, a lack of moral strength, an inability to walk in emotional power and health.

Infirmities in themselves are not sins, but they do undermine our resistance to temptation and sin.  Infirmities are qualities in human nature that may predispose or incline us to sin – sometimes without any conscious choice on our part.  Emotional hangups, inner conflicts, pain, frustration, anxiety, depression, hurts, fear, abandonment, loneliness, isolation, rejection – these are infirmities – the things that cripple us from being what God created us to be.  From walking in the power God created us to walk in on a daily basis.

2 Corinthians 11:30  says, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that reveal my infirmities.”

2 Corinthians 12:5 says, “I’ll brag about this person, but I won’t brag about myself unless it’s about my infirmities.”

Don’t misunderstand the power of what this scripture is describing.  This scripture is not describing some sort of false humility where we manipulate people into petting our egos by telling them how worthless we are.

It is not describing a sense of powerlessness where we believe that we have no value because of a long tick list of things that we can point to in ourselves that make us unqualified to be what God has already called us.

It is not describing scenario where we come into agreement with people who have spoken curses and abusive words over us where they have called us worthless, stupid, incompetent, handicapped, rejected, unloved, or other things that go against what God has already specifically declared in His Word about us.

Rather, Paul is teaching us here how to walk in the power and confidence of God with our words. He is teaching us to come out of hiding and face the mental and emotional accusations that rise from within us openly and victoriously.

Understand that when you brag and boast about something there is a confident reason for the boast.

This is not a state of moaning and complaining. This is not a place of defeat.  This is a place of victory.

We don’t talk about our weaknesses and infirmities from the perspective of them having power over us and invite people to join us in our pity party because satan is more powerful than God and our life is ruined because we are depressed and afraid and lonely and rejected.

This is the progressive walk of freedom.  This is the cry of freedom that says, “I refuse to hide in this dark corner and rejoice in my weaknesses in a way that celebrates defeat.  Instead I recognize that kingdom of God inside of me is under a violent attack and I choose to stand up and take by force the power of God’s grace over this infirmity that God has given me!  I may be weak but HIS strength is made perfect in my weakness so I’m going to forget about my weakness and walk in His strength instead.”

The revealing of our weaknesses is what keeps us from falling backwards.  The revealing of our weaknesses is what gives us the strength to continue to move forward.  Because we don’t hide from the enemy.  We call it out.  We stand firm.  We face the enemy head on.  We say, “I’m afraid – but I’m moving on.”

I was so proud of one of the women I pastor the past week.  I talked to her on the phone and she said, “I’m really afraid to tell you this but you said to stop being afraid and just tell you stuff so I’m join going to just say it.”

That’s how you get free.

That’s how you overcome these infirmities.

That’s how you come out darkness and walk in God’s marvelous light!  You boast about things that reveal your infirmities and you just keep moving forward.  Don’t let the infirmities stop you.

Nehemiah’s Prayer – See My Prayer Lord

Nehemiah 1:6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before they now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee:  Both I and my father’s house have sinned.

Nehemiah goes on through verse 11 and continues his prayer to the Lord but this particular verse gives so much revelation to the state of Nehemiah’s heart as he cries out to God.

He wanted God to hear his prayer – his words.  He wanted the passion and the emotion in his voice and the sincerity and honesty of his words to reach the heart of God.  But even more, he asked God to judge his words by his very actions.  He said (in essence), “Don’t just hear my prayer but see it.”  When Nehemiah prayed for the people of Jerusalem asking God to intervene because of the state of the city and the condition of the walls he didn’t just expect God to hear his prayer and move.  He expected God to look at Nehemiah and see that Nehemiah believed passionately enough in the words he spoke to God that he was willing to take action and believe God to also intervene on behalf of the people.  Nehemiah believe in his prayer enough to sacrifice to see it come to pass.

The authenticity of Nehemiah’s prayer was exposed by the actions in his life.  He asked God to judge the prayer he was about to pray by the subsequent actions he was going to take.

How much we believe in our prayer is shown in how our actions line up with our words.  We cannot pray and ask God to do something we aren’t even willing to come into line with.  We can’t say to God, “Send people to take care of our pastors” if we are not willing to take steps to take care of them.  We cannot pray lies from our hearts and expect to see God move on our behalf.

One of my favorite examples of actions lining up with prayers that I love to share is that of my friend who loves the Lord faithfully.  She is above what many would consider to be the common marrying age and has never been wed.  However, she believes that God is preparing a husband for her so she waits on Him.

Every night before going to bed, she takes a final pass through her house and makes sure that everything is picked up and clean because she says that she doesn’t want her husband to live in a messy house.  She is developing the habit now so that she will be ready when he comes.

Every night she shaves her legs before getting into bed.  EVERY NIGHT!  She says that she knows that no man wants to lay in bed next to a prickly woman and her husband should have a wife with smooth legs to rub against.  So, she shaves her legs every night now in preparation for when she has a husband because she want to be in the habit for him.

This is her way of showing God that she is serious about trusting Him to send her a husband.  She knows that God is preparing a husband for her.  If she believes that God is preparing a husband for her then she also has a duty to prepare herself for her husband.  For her to not take steps to prepare herself for the husband God is sending her would be to display a disbelief that God is actually going to answer her prayer.

See my prayer Lord.  Watch my ways to see if I believe enough in what I am asking of you to modify my own behavior to prepare for your answer.