Thursday, November 10, 2011

How do we prepare for hard times?

Given a choice, everybody would like to have a life that is like a bed of roses. However, it does not take us long to begin feeling the prickling pain of the thorns that accompany the roses. We are told in the Bible that, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all." Therefore it is wise for us to acknowledge from the outset that Christianity is not a form of escapism. We face trials, difficulties and challenges throughout our lives but in Christ Jesus, we emerge from such circumstances triumphant and as the Apostle Paul reminded us, "we are more than conquerors" for we know that our Lord and Saviour has overcome the world! What we would like to know is how do we appropriate such truths and promises in our lives so that our feet are firmly planted on solid ground and not on sinking sand when trials and crises hit our lives.

A very common scenario for most of us is that we are usually "pumped up" after listening to inspiring messages on Sunday mornings but when we are faced with difficult situations between the Sundays, we are somewhat lost and do not know what to do. In times of uncertainties that we live in today, many are living in fear and finding themselves under a cloud of confusion, depression and helplessness. When our physical senses are constantly bombarded with negative news and predictions, we begin to focus on the giants and mountains that seem to stand in our way. Just like the Israelites, when they heard of the giants in the land, they began to see themselves as mere grasshoppers and feared for their lives.

What do we see?
Firstly, it is important to know what do our eyes see? Not just our physical eyes but our imagination and inner eyes. Our vision determines our destiny.
  • Do we see the storm around us or our eyes are fixed on Jesus?
  • Do we see just giants or the rewards for slaying the giants?
  • Do we see the enemy troops or the heavenly host around us?
  • Do we see through the eyes of Lot or the eyes of God?
  • Do we see abundance or just 5 loaves and 2 fish?
All through the Scriptures, we read of examples after examples of how men and women stepped into the supernatural and lived their lives fulfilling God's destinies when their vision was corrected and brought to alignment with God's vision for them. Jesus Himself did what He saw the Father doing in His earthly mission. As long as He did that, no one could harm Him until the fullness of time when He was subjected to the sufferings and cruelty of death on the cross. Similarly, we can live our lives in the supernatural realm notwithstanding the raging storms around us if our vision is correctly aligned to His vision.

It is time to re-examine our vision. We are living in an age where God's children are re-discovering their inheritance of spiritual sight. We can be in the Father's perfect will when we see in the spirit and do what we see the Father is doing right now. Intellectual knowledge is not sufficient to equip us for the coming days but the army bride of God has to be armed with the constant flow of divine revelations and insights. When the eyes of the flesh are switched off, the eyes of the spirit are then open to access the heavenly realities.

A different spirit
Joshua and Caleb possessed a "different spirit" when everybody around them was gripped by fear of conquering the promised land. Daniel and his three friends displayed a "different spirit" from the day they were taken in to the king's courts and all through their lives in Babylon. These lives show us that when one makes a choice to live differently in obedience to God, no gates of hell shall prevail over them. God is raising a company of people in these last days who posseses a "different spirit" to live for Him and fulfill God's destinies in their lives.

Loren Cunningham in his book, "Winning God's Way" described such a different spirit as living in the opposite spirit, i.e. to act in generosity where greed abounds, fighting evil with good, etc. In fact, if we were to examine closely the central theme of Jesus' teachings which is fondly known as the Sermon on the Mount - it contains principles and values that are contrary to social norms. Such principles and realities have a heavenly origin and are the building blocks of kingdom living on this earth.

Another expression of such a "different spirit" is as described by Rev Susan Tang - to live lives that will be the antithesis to all that is happening.
"Can we hear God calling men and women to live lives that are the antithesis to the horrible system of greed, materialism and compromise that has defiled the church and the land? To live a life that is the antithesis to all that is around us is like a fish swimming against the tide."

Now is the time to heed the call to live lives that are the antithesis to all that is happening around us. To possess a different spirit, living in the opposite spirit or living the antithesis are all but different expressions of living the Jesus' way of life. No compromise. This way of living is likened to building our lives on the rock and when the storm comes, we are secure in Him.

God's grace is sufficient
The Apostle Paul could boast and glory in his weakness because he has discovered the secret of strength. He said that when he was weak then he was strong. He received a divine revelation of God's grace when he heard the Lord speaking to him, "My grace is sufficient for you." God is our strength when we are weak. The way to access such spiritual strength is by coming to the throne of grace. There are many who have been Christians for a long time but have never learnt to come to the throne of grace. God promised that we will find grace and help in time of need.

God's grace has been misrepresented by many as the license to sin. This is but one of the deception that the enemy has sown in the mind of many Christians. God's grace is a real, tangible spiritual substance that will enable its recipient to be overcomer in whatever trying situation. We can always access such spiritual strength as and when we approach the throne of grace. God's grace leads us to righteous living and enables us to be and to do all that God wants us to be and to do.

If we have never learnt to approach the throne of grace, it is a good time to draw near to Him today before His throne. It is a new and living way that is open to all blood-bought children of God. Once we have learnt to access the throne of grace, let us also spur one another to do the same. Come what may, once we have experienced the reality of receiving grace from the throne of grace, we will know where to find grace and help in time of need.

Always there
Living under an open heaven simply means, living in the manifest Presence of God. As much as we want to dwell in His Presence, God wants us to know that He is always there with us even when we fail to recognize His Presence. He was with us through our ups and downs and He will be with us all the time as He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. These are not just nice words and greetings to say to one another. This is a reality and a consciousness that must become a part of us.

One of the ways God has always shown Himself faithful in my walk with Him, especially when I am weak or when I stumble and fall is His constant reminder that He is always there with me. Each time God reveals this truth afresh in my heart, there is an infusion of divine life within me and I know that I can carry on and He will never fail me.

It is of utmost importance that we receive fresh revelations of Him being there with us all the time continually. Such revelations impart divine life into our spirits and empower us to walk victoriously on this earth. When you are weak or when you are weary, hear Him whisper to you, "My Child, I am always here for you." Let the consciousness of His Presence be a constant reality in our daily living.

A Closing Note
God is our strength when we are weak. The Lord allows us to experience the ups and downs in life for us to discover how helpless we are in ourselves and to seek our true strength and help in Him alone who lives within us. As we learn to live a life of dependance on God, we are also equipping ourselves for tough times. Genuine faith is one that can withstand testings and trials.

In the Bible, we read that God instructed Noah to build an ark before the Flood. God in His great mercies, spoke to Noah of what was to come and the task that He has prepared for him. Noah needed to take heed of what God had told him and obeyed each detailed instruction given by God. Noah was known as one who was righteous and walked with God. Do we know our God? The One Who is our Refuge, Redeemer and our Strong Tower in times of trouble. Do we walk with God?

There is an ark (a secret place) where we can find our safety and refuge when the storms are raging - this secret place is in Him. (Psalm 91:1 -  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.)  As we draw near to God He will give us specific instructions to prepare ourselves for what is coming to the face of the earth. Let us examine our lives in the light of the above discussion and ask the Lord to speak to us that we will find ourselves in the secret place of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty at all times.
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