Category Archives: Lessons in Wilderness

LESSONS IN THE WILDERNESS

GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I?

Knowing and Experiencing God by His Hebrew Names

PART 2 – eBook 2

And the Lord said to Joshua . . . “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.'”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God [lessons in the wilderness]. . . . ”     Joshua 3:8-9

Part 2 is comprised of the second three modules of the book and is Part 2 of the FREE eCourse Bonus on this Web site. They are:

Module 4 – Chapter 6: God is Jehovah-Shalom [The Lord is Peace]

Chapter 7: Because God is Jehovah-Shalom, I am Like a B-E-A-R

Module 5 – Chapter 8: God is Jehovah-Rohi [The Lord My Shepherd]

Chapter 9: Because God Is Jehovah-Rohi, I am Guided

Module 6 – Chapter 10: God is El Shaddai [The All Sufficient One]

Chapter 11: Because God is El Shaddai, I Am Blessed

M5E Counselors Guidance Because Lord is Shepherd

HARBOR LIGHT #2: HOLY SPIRIT AND OTHER COUNSELORS – 10%

Guided by Lord My Shepherd

Nothing can take the place of getting into God’s Word ourselves. But what if we are new to the Bible and have little experience in testing inner impressions against Scripture? This is when it is helpful to know Godly Christians who live the Word. If we know someone like this, we need to ask them to be our spiritual mentor. The Word tells us, “Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14 KJV).

The First Counselor is Holy Spirit

The first counselor we have is the Holy Spirit in our heart. The question is, “What does our heart tell us?” The Psalmist writes, “I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel . . . .” (Ps. 73:23-24). “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Ps. 119.24).

Again, we see the Word as our main counselor. When the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the Word, they bring peace to our heart, and we know we are on the right track.

Still, there is a need for other counselors. Even mature Christians continually need confirmation from others in Christ’s one body to help solidify decisions of guidance. The Bible tells us we should seek confirmation in order to let every matter be established by the testimony of two or more witnesses (see Matt. 18:16). God honors these requests for confirmation to make a wise decision. This is all a part of asking God for His wisdom in the matter and then not second-guessing it when He gives it; yet, we are not to test God.

Both Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ words to not put the Lord to a foolish test (see Matt. 4:7 and Luke 4:12). This can be likened to asking God to cause a blue car to drive by next if we should do such and such, or like the lady who altered her drive to work to avoid passing her favorite bakery. She accidentally forgot one morning, approached the bakery and prayed, “Lord, it’s up to you . . . if you want me to have any of those delicious goodies, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery.” Sure enough, on the eighth time around the block, there it was!

Godly Counselors can be God’s Vessel to Bring His Guidance to Us

Multitude Counselors Safety

Marlene waited for God’s voice of confirmation. She had her first harbor light–God’s Word. But, her initial attempts at finding a publisher failed and she found it hard to finish her task. Well-meaning friends only discouraged her more. Next, a leader at a writer’s retreat which she had not planned to attend, said, “God chose you. As you abide in him, your life will bring forth fruit.” Marlene knew in her heart God was speaking directly to her through this speaker. She was challenged to make a goal of completing her book in one year, which she did.

Followers of Christ can be God’s vessel to bring His word to us. For those at the river’s edge, the officers, God’s messengers, relayed the words of guidance to the people. After the three days were complete, they went into all the Israelite’s camps and commanded them, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it” (Josh. 3:3). The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments on the tablets God gave Moses and the people, and it represented His presence. In the wilderness, the people followed the cloud that went before them. Now, they were to follow His Word.

“Keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it,” (Josh. 3:4) the officers told the people. They had to wait still longer until they could visibly see the ark before taking one step. If they got too close and touched the ark, they would die. We have to be ever so careful not to be hasty. Running ahead of God can be fatal. It is a serious matter. If He is not in a situation, we can lose everything: finances, friends, family, and freedom. Haste truly does make waste (see Prov. 21:5).

This point of haste cannot be overemphasized. This is what God personally explained to Joshua, Chapter 1:3-4 . Satan is constantly attempting to side-track us from our divine destiny by distracting us with “things” on the right and left-hand sides. These temptations of hasty major purchases such as a new house, a new car, more of this and more of that–time-consuming “toys” take our minds away from pursuing God’s purpose for our lives. Major changes in life are always necessary, but only with prayer, patience, and rational research processes do they bring peace. Wise King Solomon gives God’s wisdom, “The plans of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue” (Prov. 16:1 Amplified, emphasis mine).

Satan uses three areas to tempt us: the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, then he says, “You deserve it. Do it now!” This do it now urgency is no less than being pursued by the Egyptians who pursued the Israelites crossing on the dry ground of the Red Sea.

This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13).

M5D Guided Because God is Jehovah Rohi

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days, the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people. When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it. Joshua 3:1-4

Guided by Lord My ShepherdJoshua Must Be Guided by Jehovah Rohi

Joshua and the second generation of the children of Israel finally came to the time of crossing the Jordan River to possess the land God had given them. In order to do so, they still had a vital lesson to learn. As we have seen, their parent’s choice to follow their own ways resulted in their own death. Now that Moses was dead, Joshua’s challenge was to teach them a whole new way–how to follow the Lord and be guided in paths of righteousness (see Ps. 23:3). What was he going to do?

Joshua and the Israelites could be compared to the “cast sheep.” They were at a critical time where they were unable to survive without the help of their Shepherd. They desperately needed to be guided. They needed a miracle to get across the river at flood stage. If they had been able to do this in their own strength, the previous generation would have done it. Likewise, in our lifetime, we have many rivers to cross that require a God-sized miracle.

Only through experience, do we learn to hear the Shepherd’s voice more distinctly and to follow His will as He goes before us (see John 10:4). Three lights show the way: His Word, the Holy Spirit’s nudging in our heart which includes counsel of Godly Christian friends, and circumstances. These can be easily remembered as three harbor lights. For our purposes, the ship is our life, and the harbor lights are three specific guiding points we must be aware of for every decision we make. If we, as pilot of our own ship, disregard these lights our ship will crash.

Guided Lighthouse

Lighthouses, or harbor lights, are landmarks for sailors, serving as big street signs for the ocean, and all are different, depending upon what their harbor is like. The lighthouse purpose is to keep boats and ships from running ashore or crashing into rocks. Each one has its own distinct signature light, allowing the ship’s pilot to pinpoint where he is on the map by the particular signature lights.

We are the Pilot of Our Ship as it is Guided by Our Captain

Before we look at the harbor lights, we need to understand what it takes to be a maritime pilot, because that is who we are. He is “a person who is qualified to assist the master of a ship to navigate when entering or leaving a port. He guides the vessel through traffic, rocks, reefs, shoals and narrow channels to its destination.”19

“The first step to becoming a pilot is to first be a professional mariner with drive and determination. There is no direct path. There are no ‘pilot’ schools or any training system that takes a totally unfamiliar person off the street and turns them into a maritime pilot.”20 The only way to learn is by gaining knowledge through experience–having been placed in a situation of need to know. In Oregon, only individuals who have hands-on knowledge of currents, tides, soundings, bearings and distances of shoals, rocks, bars, points of landings, lights and fog signals are allowed to direct large vessels on certain waters of the state.21

The next requirement of a pilot is to trust in the captain (our master, Jehovah-Rohi) completely. Kathleen’s father had been a pilot. She was flooded with memories when she entered a ship. The captain welcomed her, and then turned his attention to the pilot. She said, “Their immediate trust in each other was evident. The captain is always in charge of his ship . . . . A trusting relationship is critical to a successful docking.”22

The final attributes of a good pilot are summarized by what Kathleen says of her father. “I learned much from his lifestyle: patience, a matching love of water, respect for weather, and listening skills. Dad was never in a hurry . . . the pilot’s work is never routine.”23

Likewise, following Jesus is never routine when we are willing to risk all we have to follow. A disciple of Jesus Christ must leave behind old familiar ways, the ruts going around the same old mountain, pulling up anchor and embarking into the unknown, uncharted waters. The only way to know which way to go is to listen to the master captain’s voice. He promises us, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isa. 30:21). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isa: 43:2).

We are Guided by three Harbor Lights

The value of pilots is realized when they judge an approach correctly, anticipate accurately and react effectively. One particular harbor has three lighthouses that guide to a safe docking in a narrow channel. The lining up of these three harbor lights, over time, reveals God’s will and our Shepherd’s guidance:

HARBOR LIGHT #1: THE WORD – 80%

The Lord spoke to Joshua. He initiated the conversation, as He always does. Joshua listened, as he always did:

Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. -Joshua 1: 7-8

God can do whatever He wants to do–by speaking as He did in the Old Testament, or sending an angel to give encouragement or instructions; however, the main way He speaks is to “cause our thoughts to become agreeable to His will” (Prov. 16:3 Amplified). Of course, this is when we have committed and trusted our works wholly to Him. His voice comes to our minds, as a still, small voice.

The problem lies in deciphering other voices. One is the loud voice of “self.” Another is the demanding, urgent voice of the Evil One. The only way to discern which voice we are hearing is by searching whether it contradicts Scripture, and waiting to see if the other lights line up, giving us freedom to act on the intuition or impression we think we have heard from God.

It has been said that God speaks from His Word to us in our everyday need for guidance at the rate of 80%, 10% by the counsel of the Holy Spirit and Godly counselors, and 10% through circumstances. Experience proves this true.

Many times though, problems of knowing God’s will lie in not knowing what the Bible says. The ideal would be to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but how many have? It is also not always wise to take a Scripture out of context, by pulling one out that speaks to our need.24 However, this is a way God speaks to us today. The Bible is “God’s effort to reveal Himself to humanity.”25 Jesus is alive, and He can get His Word and will to us however He desires, especially if we are seriously seeking and asking Him to speak to us. Even Billy Graham says he can open his Bible anywhere and God will show him something.

Marlene was Guided by The Word

The Lord spoke clearly to Marlene and guided her from the pages of her Bible. She was writing a book, and was halfway through. She kept procrastinating until she was discouraged, doubting her ability to write it. Satan taunted her, “And what makes you think you can find a publisher if you get it finished?”

One spring day, she sat down beside a stream, “God please speak to me,” she prayed. The wind blew the pages of her Bible to 2 Corinthians 8:10-11: “I want to suggest that you finish what you started to do . . . . Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equaled by your realistic action now.”26

What happened to Marlene is the quickening of the Word. Webster’s dictionary defines it as, “to cause to burn more intensely; to cause to be enlivened; to come to life.” When we are using the B-E-A-R Facts of Faith, B-elieving God will speak, E-xpecting Him to speak, A-sking in faith that He will, we will R-eceive His word to us. Remember, Jesus tells us, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

When it was time to cross the river, Joshua and all the Israelites rose early in the morning, and “set out from Shittim, and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over” (Josh. 1:1). What were they going to do? “Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God'” (Josh. 3:9).

Rising early with the Lord comes before getting to the river’s edge. Lodging there with Him comes before passing over. Removing ourselves from past endeavors has to come before arriving somewhere better. The only way to get there is by scheduling God’s Word as number one priority in our day; thus, our life.

After three days, Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Josh. 3:5). Consecrate means “to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony.”27 It is hearing the Word of the Lord that brings this devotion and commitment to obey–leaving all self interest to follow Him. With consecration brings a cleansing from the Word where our heart’s desire is to ask and, “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:24).

ENDNOTES
19. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/BMP/becoming_a_pilot.shtml (accessed April 18, 2006).
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. http://www.atlanticpilotage.com/main/content/newsarticle03.htm (accessed April 18, 2006).
23. Ibid.
24. Every Christian needs to learn to study and correctly handle the Word of Truth (see 2 Tim. 2:15). For the new student of the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook is a must. It was the first Bible help published (1973) and has been a best seller since. Dr. Halley’s goal was to help Christians to not only know about the Bible, but to get to know the God of the Bible. Anne Graham Lotz teaches one of the best ways to read, study, and apply a passage of Scripture in order to know what God is speaking to us personally. Her method is outlined in The Vision of His Glory workbook of the  seven-session video series of the Book of Revelation-only one of her many studies available.
25. Halley, Henry Hampton, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000), p.11.
26. Marlene Bagnull, Write His Answer (ACW Press, Phoenix, AZ, 1999), p.120.
27. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p. 265.

M5C Jacob to Joshua And More Sheep

Sheep Need a Shepherd Because:

They are Creatures of Habit

Today’s lesson brings us to Joshua’s story. We’ve already seen how Jacob, as a shepherd working with his father-in-law,  worked with Laban for twenty years before he moved on. In that regard, he was like sheep. If Laban had been easy to work for, Jacob could have become a creature of habit and stayed there his whole life, but that was not God’s plan.

Lord our Shepherd

Phillip Keller grew up in East Africa where he made his livelihood as a sheep owner and sheep rancher. In his classic book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, he describes the way of sheep, “If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites. Many of the world’s finest sheep ranges have been ruined beyond repair by over-grazing, poor management and indifferent or ignorant sheep owners.” 13

“Because of the behavior of sheep and their preference for certain favored spots, these well-worn areas become quickly infested with parasites of all kinds. In a short time a whole flock can thus become infected with worms, nematodes and scab. The final upshot is that both land and owner are ruined while the sheep become thin, wasted and sickly.”14 Therefore:

Sheep Must Be Kept On the Move

sheep on move

Sheep cannot be allowed to stay on the same ground too long. Keller says, “There must be a pre-determined plan of action, a deliberate, planned rotation from one grazing ground to another in line with right and proper principles of sound management . . . . No other single aspect of the ranch operations commanded more of my careful attention than this moving of the sheep. It literally dominated all my decisions . . . . The success I enjoyed in sheep ranching must be attributed to this care in managing my flock.”15

The moving of the sheep can be from every day to every week. Depending upon the lay of the land, some shepherds set up a base camp and fan out from it in wide circles in a clover leaf pattern, covering new pasture every day. That allows them to return to camp at night.16 Other shepherds may need to lead their flocks through valleys in order to get to the high country.

“The annual trek through the valley is the only way for the sheep to escape the barren, dry ground that has been parched by the summer sun or abused by overgrazing. The valley is the only way of escape from the relentless heat of the lowlands.”17 The valley is a place of danger and fear to the sheep. They are most vulnerable here to their predators, but the valley grows the richest, most nourishing grass beside clear water streams. It is the only way to those who choose to follow the Shepherd to the high country.

“The Lord is my shepherd . . . .” (Ps. 23:1). He is. He can do no less than to guide. It is who He is.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Ps. 23:3). Paths of righteousness are always on the move, “having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will . . .” (Eph. 1:11). This plan is his best plan for our lives that we have to choose to follow to the high country. Other paths are always available that take little effort to follow.

If we are following Jehovah-Rohi and not straying, we will be growing spiritually. “On the move” is mentally and spiritually, not necessarily physically-but many times, that too. He is the Good Shepherd. He leads only in good ways that lead to good outcomes even though it may not seem that way at the time. His ways bring glory to only Him (not us) in the final analysis.

It is in the valley that my Shepherd “leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23: 2-4). Every threat becomes only a fearful shadow of the real thing, and the threat of death never becomes a reality before its time.

From Jacob to Moses to Joshua & Caleb

Joshua followed His Shepherd

Jacob’s descendants, living in the lush land of Goshen, did not understand that the valley is the only way to the high country. After exactly 430 years, over ten generations, they most likely lost sight of the big picture, and some probably did not even know of God’s promise to Jacob, that He guided them to Egypt and would guide them back home with  he leadership of Moses and Joshua.

Meanwhile, their journey meant bondage before getting back.
A new pharaoh grew fearful of the Israelites because, despite their bondage, they were growing in greater numbers than the Egyptians. He did not know about Joseph who was now deceased.

He ordered the slaughter of all baby boys. Moses’ mother hid him in a basket in the river Nile, saving his life when he was a baby. The daughter of Pharaoh found him and raised him as her own. When Moses learned he was an Israelite and ran from Egypt, after killing the Egyptian, he learned shepherding from his father-in-law in the backside of the desert.

After one oppressive pharaoh died and another took his place, the Israelites groaned in their slavery, crying for help. “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (Exod. 3:7). God saw their affliction and heard their misery.

Meanwhile, Moses saw the burning bush and turned aside to see the sight. God spoke to him, “I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey . . . .” (Exod. 3:8).

 “I see your future purposes and designs, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Caleb & You”

Joshua Jacob future purposes

In other words, God could have said to Moses, “I will do this through you, my shepherd. As their Great Shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi, I have had it all prearranged. I had a plan from the very beginning for your life and theirs. I see your future purposes and designs. I told Jacob to go with his sons to Egypt. If I’d allowed them to stay in Canaan, their descendants would have intermarried with the idolatrous people then in the land. I’ve had to have a pure nation, one with unity of purpose and one strong enough to take possession of the high country I am now bringing you to. And from this nation will be born The Deliverer, My Son.”

This is the background to the greatest deliverance in all history. It is also the background to the saddest mass suicide of all time–when the older generation of approximately six-hundred thousand men (not counting women and children)18 chose to die in the wilderness (see Exod. 12:36). They witnessed God open the Red Sea for them to walk over on dry land. Yet, they refused to believe God would help them take possession of His best plan for their lives.

They chose to go in circles, retracing their familiar steps around the same mountain for forty years, rather than reaching forth into the unknown. The Good Shepherd knew them, but they chose to not know Him. Only Joshua and Caleb knew their God when they came to the Jordan River’s edge, as they shepherded the younger generation across.

How did they get across? When they finally got to Jordan what did they do? Joshua records his words of faith, “Come near; listen to the words of the Lord your God . . . . Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will surely drive out from before you the Canaanites . . . .” (Josh. 3:9-10 Amplified).

They stopped. For three whole days, they prepared themselves for a holy purpose. They listened to God’s Word. When they came to the brink of the waters . . . they stood still. Surely Joshua reminded the people not to depend upon how they felt, but on God’s promise to bring them in. He reminded them how God continually led them in the wilderness: God’s presence was visibly with them in a cloud by day that shielded them from the hot sun and in a pillar of fire by night to show the way. Joshua demonstrated lessons in faith, and that they could depend upon the Lord to be with them now as He had been in the past-twenty-four hours a day.

And now, he would teach them how to follow the Lord, and that they could depend upon the Shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi, to guide them continually through fears of the unknown. He taught them to trust God to do His work through them to take possession of the Promised Land–His best plan for their lives–given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and now, to us.

Please go HERE: MAKE IT PERSONAL – JEHOVAH ROHI

ENDNOTE
18. This is the number who left Egypt. After 40 years, Bible commentaries estimate the total people to be about two million.

 

M5B Sheep of the Lord’s – Jehovah Rohi

Sheep Need a Shepherd Because:

They Are Defenseless

defenseless sheep

Sheep are unable to protect themselves. They have no claws, no horns or sharp teeth, and are usually weighted down with thick wool. They are easy prey, helpless and timid creatures, especially the little lambs.

A man was visiting a Scottish sheepherder’s ranch. His host met him at the railroad station, and on the long drive out to the ranch the visitor noticed the old shepherd was heavy of heart. The man said,

“You seem so downcast. What is wrong?” Tears welled up in the old shepherd’s eyes.

“Well, I lost sixty-five of my best lambs last night. Wolves got in.”

“And how many sheep did they kill besides?

The shepherd looked surprised. “Sheep? Don’t you know that a wolf will never take an old sheep so long as he can get a lamb?”4

This story confirms the thief is after our children, as Kim’s story revealed to us earlier. This story also reveals how much our Shepherd cares for us.

When possible, sheep are kept in a pen at night. A visitor to the Holy Land found a sheep pen. He said to the shepherd guide, “There must not be any wild animals around here at all because I notice that on your sheep pen there’s no gate.”

The shepherd replied, “That opening is my bedroom where I sleep at night.”5

Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved . . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:9, 11). Jesus further explains that when the wolf attacks, a hired hand will run away because he cares nothing for the sheep. The reason: he does not own them.

When Jesus laid down His life for the sheep, He did it for all mankind. He owns all the sheep of his pasture. Jesus is the only eternal gate to heaven. He was the only legal sacrifice for sin! Those who never choose to accept what Jesus did for them are stolen from Him by the evil wolf, or false prophets.

Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He is the only one who cares enough to be with us when we, in our defenselessness, need Him.

Sheep Need a Shepherd Because They Follow

sheep followA pastor and his wife went to Israel. They were told the story of two Bedouin shepherds who crossed paths, each with their own flock of sheep. Hundreds of unbranded sheep collided together. It seemed hopeless to get them separated. After much confusion, each shepherd went a distance down the road in two separate directions, turned and called his sheep. Instantly, they polarized as each headed toward the voice of its shepherd. They knew that voice.6 “They will never follow a stranger; In fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:5).

Sheep follow a good shepherd; they cannot be driven. Ezekiel 34 is a whole chapter in the Bible dedicated to what God thinks about shepherds who use sheep for food rather than feeding the sheep. In the Old Testament, God says he will hold them accountable and will remove them from tending the flock and He will look after them himself (see Ezek. 34:10-11). In the New Testament, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me” (John 10: 27).

Sheep follow the Good Shepherd because He knows them. A shepherdess on television was challenged to name each one of her sheep. With the clock ticking, “She had to think hard sometimes, and yet she recognized each sheep and named its name: Daisy, Sally, etc.

To the viewer all the sheep seemed identical with no obvious identifying characteristics. Their faces were perhaps different in very slight ways that only the shepherd had come to know. Or maybe it was their behavior. Anyway, she named each of them as individuals.”7 “I know them,” says the Good Shepherd.

Sheep Stray

sheep over ledgeVegetation on the Highlands of Scotland can be pretty scarce. Yet, on a little cliff, about ten or twelve feet below, one can find a grassy ledge–grass that has not yet been eaten. The smell of that lush grass may lure a sheep to jump, landing on all fours. Once the sheep has indulged himself, his bleating can be heard as he tries unsuccessfully to return to higher ground.

The shepherd does not rush right over to rescue the sheep. He lets it stay down there. He has to wait until all the grass is eaten and the sheep grows thirsty and weak from hunger, until it cannot stand on its own. He knows if he lowers himself over the ledge to get it before then, the sheep will jump to its death.8 The shepherd knows the sheep will run from a stranger, and that the sheep does not yet know him. It if had, it would not have wandered so far.

Unfortunately, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). We make hasty decisions without consulting our Shepherd guide and then get on the wrong path, even dangerous cliffs and ledges. We get distracted by the notion the grass is greener on the other side, looking to our own way, rather than seeking the Shepherd’s way.

“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezek. 34:16). David records the same message in his twenty-third Psalm, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (vs. 2). There are times when He has to make us lie down in order to get our attention, so He can rescue us and restore our souls.

shepherd carrying lambKay Arthur tells a story in her book, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, of a young man in Mexico listening to her teach about Jehovah-Rohi. He knew the Lord, but had trouble wandering, getting distracted by one thing or another, walking away from the Lord.

Kay explained how a shepherd could be forced to break the leg of a lamb that would not learn his lesson not to stray. Thus, the shepherd bound up the injury, and carried the lamb in his arms, talking to it and singing to it, until the lamb knew him.

The young man hobbled into class a couple days later with a broken leg and a grin on his face. When Kay asked him what happened he said, “It was the shepherd. He broke my leg.”9 The young man probably broke his leg when performing a reckless stunt of his own choosing. Nevertheless, he perceived his wound as a loving, caring act by the Good Shepherd, because of the Word he had heard, knowing it was for his own good.

We must understand the big picture. We are in a training program, to not stray, to learn to follow Jesus on this earth where satan preys like a wolf on those who choose not to follow. For big and little lambs, the “bread of adversity” (see Isa. 30:20) is the only thing that usually brings the desired result. It is during these times that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isa. 40:11). And we are forced to “Be still, and know that [He] is God” (Ps. 46:10 emphasis added). Then, hopefully we will learn to never stray again.

Sheep are Totally Dependent upon the Shepherd

cast sheepThere are times in a sheep’s life when it can become “cast.” Webster defines cast as “something that results as a result of chance.”10

“Often when a sheep is heavy with lamb and heavy with wool, it will lie down on uneven ground and then roll over on its back into a shallow recess. When it does, it’s like a beetle, unable to rise or roll over by itself. On its back, the gases will gather, the limbs will stiffen and it won’t be long before it will die.”11 If the shepherd does not find the sheep at just the right moment, to rub it’s legs and body back to life, the sheep will die.

The shepherd David writes, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” (Ps. 42:11 KJV). Cast is translated “to despair.” “Eating is difficult. Sleep is impossible. Unrestrained anger is followed by consuming guilt. Confusion prevails. God is nowhere. Life is over. Unless someone intervenes, we will attempt to turn that feeling into reality.”12 That Someone who intervenes is Jesus who leaves the ninety-nine to rescue the one who needs Him at that point in time (see Matt. 18: 12-14).

When we, like a cast sheep, have experienced the Shepherd’s touch, we can say with the apostle Paul, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

ENDNOTES
4. Donald J. Getty’s sermon notes, McDonald Road Seventh-Day Adventist Church, McDonald, TN, http://mcdonald.southern.edu/sermons/99/0807.htm (accessed January 6, 2006).
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Lilyofthevalley, http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-128893.html (accessed February 6, 2005).
8. Getty’s sermon notes (accessed January 6, 2006).
9. Kay Arthur, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2002) p. 116.
10. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p.192.
11. Baker, Way of Shepherd, “He Restores My Soul.” 12. Ibid.
13. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, (Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, 1970) p. 61.
14. Ibid., p. 62.
15. Ibid., p. 63-64.
16. Ibid., p. 65.
17. Baker, Way of Shepherd, “Even Though I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death . . .”

 

M5A Lord Our Shepherd – Jehovah Rohi

Then he [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm–may he bless these boys.” -Genesis 48:15

Lord our ShepherdJacob was a shepherd

Abraham was a shepherd. His son Isaac was a shepherd. Isaac’s son Jacob was a shepherd. In this passage, Jacob’s dying words to his grandsons referred to the Angel of the Lord, who protected him, as his shepherd. Yet, he and his descendants wound up in Egypt for 400 years (see Chapter 4).

Why would a shepherd lead his followers into bondage? How could this be God’s will? To answer these questions, we will look at why Jacob needed guidance from his Shepherd, then at sheep to see why we, like sheep, still need a shepherd today, who leads in and out of bondage.

Jacob needed guidance after he was forced to leave home to escape his brother’s wrath. Isaac favored Jacob’s twin brother Esau, while their mother Rebekah favored Jacob. This favoritism caused division in the family. Jacob deceived Esau into selling his birthright, and then, with Rebekah’s help, deceived his father into giving him the blessing belonging to firstborn Esau.

Jacob Encounters God at the Lowest Point in His Life

When Esau found out and threatened Jacob’s life, Isaac and Rebekah both commanded Jacob not to marry the local Canaanite women as Esau had done, but to flee to Haran to the house of his Uncle Laban, Rebekah’s brother.

Shepherd Jacob

At a certain place on his trip, Jacob slept with a rock for his pillow. He dreamed of a stairway from earth to heaven and angels ascending and descending upon it. At the top he saw the Lord, who spoke to him:
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:13-15

The Lord reassured Jacob of his guidance and confirmed to him the same blessings He gave to Abraham and Isaac. Plus, he promised to someday lead him back home.

Jacob’s first order of business was to find a Godly wife. When he arrived in Haran, the first person he met was his wife-to-be.

“We’re from Haran,” some local shepherds told Jacob.

“Do you know Laban? He’s my uncle?”

“Yes, we know him, and here comes Rachel, his daughter.”

Rachel, a shepherdess, becomes Jacob’s wife with Leah

When Rachel, a shepherdess, brought her sheep for water, Jacob kissed her and wept out loud. He told Rachel his story, and she ran to tell her father. Laban accepted Jacob as his own flesh and blood.
Jacob excelled as a shepherd as he worked seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage. On the wedding night, Laban switched the older sister Leah for Rachel, so Jacob worked another seven years to pay for Rachel. However, Laban did allow Jacob to take Rachel in marriage at the beginning of those seven years.

Jacob becomes father of twelve  sons who were shepherds

Between Leah and her maid and Rachel and her maid, Jacob became the father of twelve sons and one daughter. Rachel was the mother of the two youngest-Joseph and Benjamin. After Joseph was born, Jacob knew it was time to take his large family and return home.

Laban did not want to let them go. He knew God was blessing him because of Jacob. He tried to outwit Jacob from increasing his flocks, which he hoped would keep him from leaving. Instead, the Lord guided Jacob with wisdom so that his flocks prospered greater in strength and number than Laban’s livestock.

When Laban’s attitude changed toward Jacob, the Lord told him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

Jacob was more than ready to leave. After the twenty years Jacob worked for wages, Laban had changed them ten times, and unless God had been with Jacob, he would have been empty-handed now. Fearful that Laban would steal his daughters and grandchildren, Jacob took his family and animals and escaped at night.

Laban pursued Jacob and his family, but the Lord, in a dream, warned him not to say anything good or bad to Jacob. The two men made a covenant and set up a pillar and a heap of stones to signify that neither would cross over to do harm to the other. Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren and said his goodbyes.

Jacob returned home to Isaac and a surprisingly tearful reunion with his brother Esau. Later, Isaac died at 180 years of age, and Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.

Joseph, number eleven son, is sold into slavery by his brothers

However . . . Jacob favored Rachel’s sons. Out of his brother’s jealousy, seventeen-year-old Joseph was sold into slavery. Despite being a slave, at the age of thirty, Joseph became a ruler in Egypt. This was in fulfillment of a dream God had given him that placed him in a position to be the deliverer of his people. He organized the storage of grain for seven years and distributed it for the next seven years of famine. God prepared him to do this through another dream.

Jacob Knew God as His Shepherd Only at the End of His Life

Shepherd carries his son

Because of the famine, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt for grain. They had to go through Joseph to buy food, but they did not recognize him; however, Joseph knew them and eventually revealed himself. After a very emotional reunion with his brothers, Joseph called for his father and brothers to come to Egypt, with all the families, sheep and other livestock.

Convinced Joseph was still alive and wanted to see him, Jacob agreed to go to Egypt. But he must have been apprehensive.

“Jacob, Jacob,” God spoke to Jacob in a vision at night.

“‘Here I am,’ he replied.

“‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said, ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes'” (Gen. 46:2-4).

Joseph’s whole family found favor with the Pharaoh and, because they were shepherds, he gave them the best of the land in Goshen where they could feed their flocks.

Jacob’s dying words (see Gen. 48:15) of blessing to Joseph’s sons reveal that Jehovah-Rohi had been his shepherd, guiding him and delivering him from all harm. Jacob prophesied to his son Judah that from his line would come the Lion of Judah-Jesus Christ (see Rev. 5:5). Before he died, Jacob knew God was birthing a nation to whom the Messiah-the true spiritual Deliverer- would be born.

Jacob knew God fully as his Shepherd only after his reunion with Joseph, when his life was almost at its end. Therefore, it is imperative we learn about sheep and shepherding–that we, like sheep, are guided by our Shepherd. Only then will we gain the full comforting impact of Jehovah-Rohi’s guiding influence in our life’s journey, hopefully, long before our own life on this earth is ended.

REASONS SHEEP NEED A SHEPHERD

Sheep Need a Shepherd Because They Are Not Very Smart

Lord Shepherd of sheep

Sheep can eat the wrong food (poisonous plants), and drink bad water. “Their flock mentality makes herding easy at times, and at other times, nearly impossible. When one restless sheep moves, the whole flock can move. When one old ewe sinks to the ground to chew her cud, the others follow.”10 On July 7, 2005, 450 sheep in Turkey jumped to their death because one sheep leapt over a cliff. The Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 other sheep followed. Those who jumped last were saved as the pile rose higher and higher and the fall grew more cushioned. The estimated loss to the shepherds who owned the sheep was $100,000.2

Like sheep, we require a shepherd. “You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezek. 34:31). God himself tells us that as people we are mere sheep. How can we, in comparison to Almighty God ever think we do not need a shepherd every minute of every day? We are His property, and very valuable to Him. He tells us, “. . . I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Sheep  Need a Shepherd Because They Require 24-Hour Supervision

shepherd watching sheep

The shepherd can have no other vocation. He is responsible for his flock’s total welfare–their food, water, health, and safety. “Sleeping with one eye open and both ears open, he listens for the bleats, the bells, and the dogs that would warn of any danger or restlessness among his flock”3

One eight-year old boy (a precious lamb) did not know these words that describe God: omnipresent (present in all places at all times), omniscient (knowing all things), or omnipotent (having unlimited power or authority). But speaking of our Lord (our Shepherd), he explained them beautifully as he wrote:

His dad (God) appreciated everything he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time. You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God.

ENDNOTES
1. Don Baker, The Way of the Shepherd, (Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon, 1987) “The Lord Is My Shepherd.”
2. “450 Sheep Jump to Deaths in Turkey,” www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-07/09/ content_458724.htm, (accessed February 6, 2006).
3. Baker, The Way of the Shepherd, “The Lord Is My Shepherd.”

M4F How I Learned to Receive by Faith: My Psalm One Man & Egg Dream

My Learning About Faith Story

FEAR got my attention. I became honest with myself and asked the Lord, "What does our future hold?" My story of overcoming fear led me to faith.

After one year at ETSU in Commerce, Texas, a job opened up in Carthage, Texas, Dean of Special Services at Panola Junior College. Jim welcomed this job to pay our mounting debt, so we moved. He worked all day, planned and supervised classes at night, and drove back the 150 miles to Commerce on Saturdays to complete two courses he lacked for his degree. Thus began our adventure in learning what faith was all about.

Jim became a walking zombie, drained of all zeal for living. Since returning from Vietnam, he’d had no downtime: marriage three weeks after returning home, then children, school, and now more school with a very demanding job. He excelled at every challenge, coaching football while a student and seeing them go to bowl games. He started a wrestling program after he started teaching, and took them to state. But now, he had nothing left to give.

FEAR got my attention. I became honest with myself and asked the Lord, “What does our future hold?” Immediately, I could see if things continued as they were, I would be a single mother.

 

Psalm One Man of Faith

My Psalm One Man of Faith

For the first time, I began to diligently pray. I made a firm, quality, conscious choice to pray every day for my husband, even if he was the only person I ever prayed for. A devotional in the book, God Calling, compiled by A. J. Russell, spoke loud and clear to me. It said that when Jesus called His disciples, he had known them for a period of time. Then, one day as He walked along the seashore, He said, “Come, follow Me.”

The Holy Spirit revealed to me that to follow Jesus, to be his disciple, meant being disciplined–disciple being the root word of “discipline.” After asking God for wisdom (James 1:5) in how to pray, I was led to read the first Psalm. I knew this is what I needed to pray. I praised and thanked God every day for my Psalm-One man. I told Jim, “I’ve given you to the Lord. It’s up to Him to help you now.”

At the same time, the words from Evelyn Christenson’s book, Lord Change Me, rang in my head, “Lord, don’t change my husband, don’t change my children, Lord, change me.” Reluctantly, I added that to my prayer.

Whenever there was bad news to bear, I turned my head to washing dishes or folding clothes. Through my tears, I repeated back to God, these memorized Words, claiming Psalm 1:1-3 from the Amplified version of the Bible:

Blessed-happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable-is the man (my Jim) who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, not sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law-the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God-he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth his fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not fade or wither, and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].

 

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Believe that You Receive

As I praised the Lord every day for my Psalm-One Man, “a strong tree planted by the water bearing fruit in his season,” Mark 11:23-24 came alive to me, that I would “receive” whatever I “said,” whether it was negative or positive. I realized I’d better make sure what I said day in and day out was in agreement with what I believed God for.
I meditated on James 1:6. It says, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

My priority in life became to trust God to “guard my mouth,” (Ps. 141:3) while replacing my words with Psalm 1. As one thing led to another, I discovered 2 Corinthians 10:5 that says we are to bring every ‘thought’ captive to the obedience of Christ. So, to guard my mouth meant I had to guard my thoughts before they could come out of my mouth. Talk about discipline! But, it was worth it.

In a matter of weeks, Jim came home one Saturday, excited and enthusiastic about God’s Word, actually preaching to me. I could hardly believe the change I was witnessing before my eyes of what God was doing, and so quickly. It seems the real estate agent who found the rental home for us had given him some teaching tapes. He listened to them as he traveled to and from Commerce on Saturdays.

“I’ve tried to change you for ten years, and now it’s up to the Lord.” Jim said to me.

Oh really? He said he had already noticed that I was somehow different. He didn’t know about my prayer or of the dream the Lord had given me:

My Egg Dream

faith

The dream was one of those loving disciplines from a heavenly Father that sears the soul without hurting, and you cannot tell anyone. It was one of those hiding-in-the-heart kind of things. Before completely waking one morning, I saw an egg with a soft center. The word WORDS!– like heat from all sides-kept hitting the egg until the yolk was hard.

Then I saw a hand, God’s hand, envelop that egg. God impressed upon me these words, “I can work the impossible. I can take that egg and make it soft again. I can make out of it whatever I want. I can make scrambled eggs, poached, over-easy, or put it with something else to make a tempting dessert.”

I thought, I didn’t know my words were causing Jim’s heart to harden against me, but they were. I’m a pretty laid-back person, but I found my words did not have to be loud or angry to be destructive. Again, God revealed to me that His Word is an attitude book, not just a book of commandments to live by. It’s a book of Love.

Faith is Not Feeling

faith is not feeling

I found that God’s love in us loves as He loves, unconditionally. Jesus gives us love we don’t deserve and have not earned, because He believes and trusts His Father for the best in us. Likewise, He requires the same of us-to believe for the best in others, especially our mate. The Holy Spirit revealed to me if I truly believed to receive my husband as the Psalm-One Man, I had to treat him as though he were already that man, “perceiving as real fact what was not yet revealed to my senses” (Heb. 11:1 Amplified). In other words, faith is not feeling. My actions had to back up what I was receiving from the Lord.

By faith, I began to see Jesus in Jim. I began to direct my actions toward him as though they were toward Jesus. The words from the Bible “as unto the Lord,” grew in meaning for me.

Only then, did things change–the feeling arrived later.

Jim and I discovered that the mystery that brought unity and communication into our marriage and changed it so drastically is grounded in faith. The transformation we were experiencing came from a “mutual submission,” which we later found in the Bible: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit [respect] to your husbands as to the Lord . . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:21, 22, 25 emphasis added).

We found when we prayed about something before talking to each other, we connected. Getting God in the triangle of our relationship brought agreement. If we didn’t agree on a matter, we learned God probably was not in it, and we saved the decision until we agreed-or threw it out. For the first time in ten years, we began to seek the Lord together and to come before Him with our needs for our family and future.

One evening, as we were seated on the couch, Jim prayed, “Lord, I wish I could have just one year to study your Word.” My eyes shot open while he finished praying, and I thought, Oh no, Lord! What’s going to happen now?

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HERE is your exercise: MODULE 4 EXERCISE

This printable is designed to be folded and cut into a 5″ x 7″ handy reminder that can be laminated and put in your Bible. One Side is a Prayer for your Family. Here is your B-E-A-R Facts of Faith Laminate. 

 

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A COUPLE AT DINNER SHOWING A BIBLE STUDY FOR COUPLES IN FAITH FAMILY LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS

M4E Receiving BEAR Fact of Faith – Jehovah Shalom

The “R” of the BEAR Facts of Faith

R – Receiving from the Word – Confessing the Word and Living the Word

Receiving
We can receive answers to prayer through believing, expecting and then asking through Scripture. The “R” of our faith-bear is reserved for the critical battles–Receiving with a capital “R”. It requires a more disciplined knowledge of faith to overcome the most trying circumstances. Therefore, it is wise to choose our battles carefully, and know what is truly important and worth fighting for.

Without the “R” there might be no answer to prayer. We could pray, believe, expect, and ask, but unless we are willing to receive, there could be no victory. This is where many Christians miss out on the joy of their salvation, because this is the hardest part.

Receiving from the Lord involves two aspects: a deeper knowledge of what faith is and how it works with words of praise with positive actions. Receiving from the Lord requires us to understand “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20 KJV). The mature Christian knows that “works” are tied to our words, because positive words spring forth positive actions based on what we believe from the Word.

Receiving has to do with what we Believe and Speak

One thing Jesus said about believing is puzzling: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). We all want to receive, but what does it mean, to “believe that you receive?” The verse previous to this one gives us our first clue: “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” So, we know receiving has to do with what we truly believe and, therefore, speak.

Receiving

Our next clue is found in 1 John 5:14-15. This Amplified translation says it plainly: know that God has “granted us as our present possessions the requests made of Him” when it’s in agreement with His plans for us. This is what faith is, and what the B-E-A-R Facts of Faith are all about. Faith is further defined in Hebrews:

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and conviction of their reality-faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. Hebrews 11:1 AMP

By faith, we already have the title-deed to what we have requested from the Lord. Faith is “perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.”11 If we can claim for ourselves what we want to see happen, knowing God has already granted (past tense) what we have asked for as our present possessions, then would we not have already received? Almost, but not quite. With this knowledge, our words are still the key.

Hosea tells us, “Take words with you and return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:2). Then, God says, “I will create the fruit of the lips”12–what our words say. The Amplified translation explains how God uses His own faith-filled words: “God . . . who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed” (Rom. 4:17). So, does not our creative power with God lie in speaking of the nonexistent things as if they already existed and then acting that way?

Jehoshaphat and his people had to put the R on B-E-A-. Early the next morning after they sought the Lord, Jehoshaphat spoke words that perceived as real fact what was not yet revealed to his senses. He told them, “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld . . . .” 2 Chron. 20:20). Because of what he believed, expected and asked of God, he appointed singers to praise the Lord as they went out at the head of the army–a work of faith. His actions were bold. Though still fearful, the people began to sing and praise (a positive action). The Lord sent ambushes against their enemies; no one escaped. Most were destroyed by each other.

Praise puts the R on B-E-A-. When we praise the Lord, no matter how we feel, we are receiving the past tense of what God said He would do. In different words, praise claims our requests. Until we have a thankful heart toward God, we will never receive His best. Without the R, there is no enduring faith, and without faith, we cannot please God-there is no “mama bear” who is caring and fighting for her cubs. With God-given faith we have His knowledge that brings light in all situations. Without God-given faith, we are blind.

Children not Covered by Godly Parents Receiving forThem are Open to Evil

Kim’s mother was a spiritually blind woman who chose to be that way. Her Christian relatives witnessed to her, but she chose darkness instead. Her destructive words devastated Kim. She spent the rest of her life fighting influences from evil spirits. Young Kim believed everything her mother taught her. As an adult, she finally came to see why the occult–divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, casting spells, consulting mediums for guidance–is detestable to God (see Deut. 18:10-12). It deceives the person into thinking he or she is in control and keeps that person from looking to God–to hear His voice from His Word and to learn His plan for his or her life.

The devil is after our children! With an ungodly mother spouting careless, loveless words, he will get them. Kim’s mother’s words turned her over to evil influences. One of the paranormal games Kim’s family played involved a coffee table. The object was to witness paranormal power derived from (evil) spirits. The game worked only when Kim, as a child, was in the room. One time the table literally walked on two legs, chasing her out. She had visions of people from the past; before someone could finish a question, she could answer it. The enemy was so far into Kim’s head, in imaginings and falsehoods that it took her years to get out of it.

Children not covered with God’s Word by a Godly mother B-E-A-R fighting and receiving for them are open to evil people. They become open target! Not only was Kim raped when she was nine, but while growing up, she was repeatedly molested by strangers. When she was about eleven years old, while riding on a cable car in San Francisco, a man in his sixties inappropriately touched her. Her dad was standing beside her and did nothing-blinded to everything. As soon as the man left, Kim sat down in front of her dad, terrified, too ashamed and embarrassed to say anything. This happened in grocery stores and on streets, until one day, she came to the point of knowing she had the power to say, “No!”

A few years before she accepted Christ, twenty-six year old Kim bent over the meat counter. Her three-year old daughter was sitting beside her in the grocery cart. Once again, a strange man approached her. She stepped back and jabbed him in the ribs, demanding, “Get your hands off of me!” Kim was just starting to realize she could make a choice and not allow evil to control her life.

Have we given our children back to God as Abraham did–knowing our own physical presence and ability cannot protect them? Everything we think we own came from God, and must be given back to Him. He always blesses us when we are obedient to Him.

If this story about Kim as a child does not help us visualize what praying God’s Word over our children does, nothing will. God loves them so much more than we possibly can, but He will not override the choices we make from our heart, that are evidenced by our words.

His Word, spoken through us, puts an invisible “shield”13 (see 2 Sam. 22:31) around our children, and opens our eyes as parents to be wise in our behavior and words toward them.

Imagine What Receiving Can Look Like

Imagine for our children the opposite of what happened to Kim–God’s spoken Word bringing light to the mind of a struggling child of any age (see Prov. 16:24). Imagine God giving visions and dreams of wisdom or the future to your child; imagine them hearing His voice (see Joel 2:28-29).14  His Word holds the victory to those who are faithful day by day. He commands His angels to guard our children in all their ways (see Ps. 91:11). When we are faithful, keeping our eyes on Jesus the Word, we have no need to fear–ever!

Sally Jadlow is a faithful “Grandma B-E-A-R.” She reads her Bible and claims the Scripture every day for her family, city, and nation. She thought about her prayer the morning when she received a phone call that her five-year old grandson had been run over by a car driven by a fifteen-year-old boy. When Sally arrived at the hospital, the only visible sign from the accident were tire marks from the child’s left hip to his right shoulder-no broken bones. He said, “Two tires ran over me, Grandma.”

The child’s mother, who witnessed her son’s limp body being thrown from behind the car, saw a stranger kneeling beside the boy as medics worked on him. As he cried out in pain, the stranger prayed all the louder. When the Life-Flight helicopter took off, the mother turned to thank the man wearing the baseball cap, but he was gone. Miraculously, there were no internal injuries and within four days, Sally’s grandson was running in the yard. (15 Sonflower Seeds book)

Receiving

Two Side of Faith – the Soft Side and the Hard Side

There are two sides to the prayer of faith: the soft, cuddly-bear side and the hard, authoritative, commanding, fighting-mama bear side. Just like faith and fear are two sides of the same coin, so are the soft and hard B-E-A-R sides of prayer–flipped as needed.

The soft side is the calm side, though not necessarily easy: believing, expecting, asking and receiving from the Word in quiet trust (see Isa. 30:15).

The hard side comes when we see our naive and innocent child assaulted by the enemy, not resisting, not fighting, not aware, and we have to face our fears and fight for them. As a mama bear swats anyone who bothers her cubs, we must also fight for our children and family.

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12). Psalm 75:10 talks about the wicked and the righteous having horns to fight with, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.” Another translation gives a different insight: “‘I will cut off the strength of evil men,’ says the Lord, ‘and increase the power of good men in their place”‘ (TLB). Wow, what a promise!

The power of our words will be increased when we take our fighting stand. Will we believe it, expect it, ask for it, and receive it with our words?

A true story is told of a son who ran away and did not return for years. One day, his father pulled to the side of the road, got out and hollered his son’s name as loud as he could to the north, south, east and west; then, “Come home!” In a couple days, the son was home. When the son was asked what brought him home, he said, “I thought I could hear you calling my name.”

Our Mama and Papa B-E-A-R word-weapon is stronger and more far reaching than any bear claw. “For the word of the Lord is living and active, Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

Two unnamed mothers directed Scripture into the spirits of their children (a great distance away) who were in crisis mode. The mothers spoke, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought [of our child] to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) Although that adult son and daughter did not know how desperate their situation was, within days, each realized their danger because of a dream in the night, and a sudden shift in circumstances. They saw the light.

Awaken, fighting bears! Hibernation is over and will never come again. Fight for your cubs! Fight for your family! Let every creature know you mean business. Become that hard fighting B-E-A-R.

ENDNOTES

  1. See Hebrews 11:1 Amplified.
  2. See Isaiah 57:19 KJV.
  3. There are over fifty Scriptures that tell us God is a shield to those who take refuge in
    Him.
  4. Genesis 18:17 tells of the Lord confiding in his friend, Abraham, what He was about to do. See also Joel 2:28-29, “Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
  5. Sally Jadlow, “Gunnar’s Story (A Modern-Day Miracle),” Sonflower Seeds, (Sonflower Press, Overland Park, KS, 2001), p. 125.

M4D Bear Facts of Faith – Jehovah Shalom

The “B” of the BEAR Facts of Faith

B – Believing The Word – Believing Comes Before Seeing

Bear Facts of FaithBeth Moore, author of Believing God, asks, “Do you believe God or do you merely believe in Him? Do you take God at His Word, believing what He has told us, or do you just believe in His existence and the salvation He offers?”7

Some Christians believe parts of His Word have passed away and cannot be believed for today. However, God says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35), and Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Miracles seen in the Bible are the same for us today, if we believe. Jesus even tells us that if we believe, He will do greater miracles through us than He did while on earth (see John 14:12). Even He could do no mighty works because of unbelief in His hometown (see Matt. 13:58).

Before God spoke, “Let there be light,” He saw in His mind what He wanted the formless dark earth and water to be. He believed it would happen. The story of Lazarus drives home this point. After Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb, Martha, the sister of the dead man said, “By this time there is a bad odor, for he has been dead four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:39-40). Believing comes before seeing.

The “E” of the BEAR Facts of Faith

E – Expecting from the Word – Having Eyes on the Circumstances and on the Word at the Same Time is Impossible

Bear Facts of Faith
After we believe God has our answer, our hearts are filled with expectation. Until we expect to see something happen, we will not know when the answer comes.

Webster’s dictionary says, “Expect implies a high degree of certainty and usually involves the idea of preparing or envisioning.”8 It also implies hope, for “if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:25).

The Greek word for “wait eagerly” in this verse means to expect, and to look for, which includes two elements: hope and patience. Once we have made a decision to believe a promise discovered in God’s Word, whether it is protection from a storm or an enemy, salvation for a friend or loved one, or to pay a bill, we have hope. From that point on, we enter into “earnest expectation” with patience, which from the Greek, implies “turning the head away from any distracting influence.”9

When Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Moab and Ammon came to make war. Surrounded on all sides by a vast army, the Israelites came together to seek the Lord. The king encouraged the people, saying to the Lord, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, who said,

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them . . . . You will not have to fight in this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

BEAR Facts of Faith

Keeping our eyes on the Lord means keeping our eyes in His Word. When we look at His Word, we are looking to Jesus who is the “Word made flesh.”10  Chapter one of this book established that the angel of the Lord who spoke to Hagar was Jesus. The first chapter of John says Jesus was the second person of the Trinity who spoke into existence everything that was made. “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4).

The bottom line is this: when our eyes are not in the Word, we are not looking to Jesus. When we are not expecting from the Word, we are focused on the problem, or the circumstances, allowing fear, doubt and worry to overtake us. We cannot keep our eyes focused on the problematic situation and on the Lord at the same time. The word from our mouth, working in conjunction with His Word, opens the door for Him to fight those battles.

“Earnest expectation” that “turns the head from any distraction” assumes that once we have made a quality decision to trust God concerning a situation, we can expect opposition, harassment, trials and challenges. Words contradicting what we believe will come. That’s when we have to fix our heart and keep on believing, saying out loud, “[I] will have no fear of bad news; [my] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Ps. 112:7).

We can lay our requests before God each morning (see Ps. 5:3), but unless we expect something to happen, it’s unlikely we will see the result from exercising our faith.

The “A” of the BEAR Facts of Faith

A – Asking from the Word – Praying the Scripture, not the Problem

Bear Facts of Faith

The book of James tells us what to do when we have a problem. After we begin to believe God’s Word has a solution for every situation and embrace hopeful expectation for the answer, we need wisdom such as Jehoshaphat received through Jahaziel. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Furthermore, he says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

Jehoshaphat did this very thing. Alarmed, he resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for himself and all Judah. He praised the Lord, recounting the covenant promise to Abraham and God’s deliverances in the past. He put his faith in God’s ability, rather than his own, to take care of things in the present. He then spoke positive, believing words, “You will hear us and save us” (2 Chron. 20:9). He did not belabor the problem. God already knew it, and he knows ours, too.

Asking from the Word means praying the Scripture. His Word is His will. His Word contains the answer to any problem we could have. The more we take our words from God’s Word, the more we are looking to Jesus who fights for us. For God says, “. . . I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it” (Jer. 1:12 Amplified). Jesus himself defeated Satan during his forty days of temptation with Scripture. He tells us, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

Seeking God’s wisdom, and asking from His Word, involves hard work much like digging for hidden treasure, such as picking up acorns one by one like bears should naturally do. Furthermore, having God’s revealed wisdom and then doing something about it is a matter of life and death–to our marriages, children, cities and nation.

As we put voice to Scripture in the midst of our situation, the entrance of His Word gives light (see Ps. 119:130). When Chanté and her mother spoke Scripture over Kim, words of Light actually expelled the darkness from her. And, it all came through exercising the BEAR Facts of Faith.

Tomorrow we will put the “R” on our BEAR.

ENDNOTES

  1. Beth Moore, Believing God, (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2004), back cover.
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p. 439.
  3. Dick Mills, The Word Daily Devotional (Harrison House, Tulsa, OK, 1990), p. 320.
  4. See John 1:14.

 

 

M4C Because Jehovah Shalom, I am Like a BEAR

In this life I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.
When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them, too. I could deal with that.
If you’re a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects you to have hairy legs and excess body fat. Yup, gonna be a bear!

WELCOME to BEAR Country

we are like bears

Reincarnation is not substantiated in the Bible, but this email forward is priceless. We don’t have to wish to “come back as a bear” to be like one. We already are. We are creatures of habit, just like bears. And, like bears, those habits may mean life or death.
Black bears of California have a natural food supply they must work hard to find. After coming out of hibernation with 50% less body weight, they search for berries, eat grass, tear apart logs for carpenter ants and dig up yellow jacket nests. Before winter arrives again, they can be found shaking acorns from oak trees, then picking them up one by one.2

In the wild, brown-bear mothers in Alaska do not give the fish they catch to their cubs. They teach them how to feed themselves for their own survival. Like humans, though, most bears prefer what is readily available. They know what ice chests usually contain, and can smell food even if it’s wrapped in plastic and locked in a car. They can tear the window out of a car door or rip open a locked trunk to get what they want. But, going to this unnatural means to get what they want may cost them their life when surprised campers or protective park rangers shoot them.

Black bear yearlings, in their first season away from mom, know the least about finding wild foods and are most vulnerable to the temptation of easy meals. They may be the first to become campground bears and the most difficult to return to a natural diet.3

Just like campground bears, we Christians can become dependent upon easy meals, being spoon-fed by others, if we don’t learn early in our walk with the Lord to go to our natural source of supply–God’s Word.

This chapter will serve to give a taste of what Jehovah-Shalom can do in our lives such as bringing peace out of turmoil and working miracles when we need one. True fulfillment will come only as we seek our natural source of nourishment: eternal, living water and bread of life which is God’s Word. For us, this can mean spiritual life or death.

Kim had to learn this discipline-that peace remained only when she kept her eyes in the Word. Proverbs 30:8 says, “Feed me with the food that is needful for me” (ASV). When we ask God to do that, He will, if we’ll just open His book. God’s wisdom is for every Christian who searches for it:

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Proverbs 2:1-8

Jehovah Shalom Teaches Us the BEAR Facts of Faith

I am like a bear

What promises: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, victory and protection for the faithful ones! Digging for treasure in God’s Word always brings a reward. When we create this habit of seeking nourishment from The Source, Jehovah-Shalom teaches us the “B-E-A-R” Facts of Faith: B-elieving the Word, E-xpecting from the Word, A-sking from the Word and R-eceiving from the Word. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

Faith is like a two-sided coin, with fear on the other side. Gideon feared, but at the word of the Lord, he reversed the coin and put his faith in God who brought the victory. Like Gideon we, too, can flip our coin when fear enters our heart. We do that by applying knowledge of these four principles of faith that work together.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” We will examine these four treasures from God’s word after we understand how faith works. Faith is displayed in our lives through our actions and by our words working in conjunction with God’s Word. After all, it was Joshua who was told by God that if he would meditate in His Word and not let it “depart from your mouth,” (Joshua 1:8) observing to do everything in it, he would be prosperous and successful.

Words “from our mouth” matter. Pat Boone’s daughter, Lindy Michaelis, had been digging in her natural source for food-her Bible. One day, her twenty-six year old son, Ryan Corbin, fell forty feet to the concrete floor through an unmarked roof opening of his apartment building in 2001. Ryan was not breathing when paramedics arrived. For six months, Ryan was in a coma on maximum ventilator support with brain injury, and he was unresponsive to outside stimuli.4 Lindy spoke formative, positive words, along with Scripture, day after day over Ryan’s lifeless body.

After four years of prayer by people all over the world, and constant “Mama Bear” mothering, Ryan is now in a wheelchair; he can move his legs, and he can recite memorized Scripture. Lindy attributes Ryan’s recovery to the creative spoken word over him, for “Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Prov. 18:21 Amplified).

Why are words so important? In looking at the power of the creative spoken word, it helps to see words as substance, capsules of energy transported from one place to another. This is what a radio does: transports words. Webster’s dictionary defines a radio as “wireless transmission and reception of electric impulses or signals by means of electromagnetic waves into which sound is converted.”5 When God spoke the words, “Let there be light,”6 He created the environment for energy that would later be used to transmit words.

The first chapter of Genesis says that in the beginning, the Spirit of God hovered in the formless, empty darkness. Then something changed. He spoke. Nothing happened until He spoke. Because He spoke creative words, the heavens and earth came into being. Nine times, He spoke them, and then Scripture says, “And it was so.” Light was created first, and without this radiant energy traveling at 186,281 miles per second, carrying God’s next words, nothing else could be created.

God formed everything by first speaking, “Let there be.” His words created the “being.” When God created man last, His words were different, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . ” (Gen. 1:26). It took the Trinity to make man’s three parts-spirit, soul and body. Unlike other creatures that can make sound, man has the ability to speak words originating in his heart and mind-like God. [He also has a soul that is void without choosing God and His ways.]

God has Given Us the Responsibility of Wisely Directing our Words with BEAR Faith

Bear facts of faith

Have we become aware of the awesomeness of this yet? No wonder Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matt. 12:36). Lindy Michaelis knew she was created in the image of God. She knew she had creative word power. With this awesome ability to influence and create comes great responsibility.

God has given us the responsibility of wisely directing our words. We are seated in the body of Christ–at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places. Jesus gave us the keys to the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 16:19); those keys are “how we use words.” We must take this very seriously. Our words are capsules of creative or destructive energy. They are not vapor that dissipates into thin air, never to be seen again. We see their results in our spouse, our children and our friends. They are matter; they are transmitted and felt.

The following “B-E-A-R Facts of Faith” and corresponding principles give us a guide in how to wisely command and control our words. Keep in mind they are the bare facts of faith, not necessarily the only way to pray. Jesus outlines the bare facts of prayer in Matthew, Chapter 6. Yet, He asks us, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Faith involves action and must be mixed with prayer, and exercised to become strong. It is always a good fight.

Whatever the outcome of our “good fight of faith” (see 1 Tim. 6:12), we can trust it is God’s plan for us, but only when we have fought it. Fight it and you will witness Jehovah-Shalom entering your world.

ENDNOTES

  1.  Sierran Black Bears article from http://www.nps.gov/seki/bearinfo.htm (accessed October, 2005).

  2. Ibid.

  3. From this incident, the Corbin and Michaelis families have created a foundation for support of traumatic brain victims called “Ryan’s Reach.” Information can be accessed from the Website: ryansreach.com. Financial, emotional, physical and spiritual needs are addressed. http://aitkenlaw.com/verdicts_settlements/corbin_v_westbrent.html (accessed October, 2005).

5. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p.1025.

  1. See Genesis 1:3.

 

 

M4B God is Peace – Jehovah Shalom – Gideon

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it, The Lord is Peace. . . .Judges 6:24

Gideon Did Not Need a Large Army

 

Gideon

Gideon, a judge of the Old Testament, also found he did not need a large army to overcome fear in the land and in his own heart. The book of Judges tells the story of the Israelites in the Promised Land, after the death of Joshua, before the Lord gave them Kings–such as King Saul, David and Solomon.

Through the lifetimes of six judges, the people followed the Lord. Each time a judge died or a generation died out, the people reverted back to worshiping the false god of their enemy–Baal. They chose gods of their own making, becoming selfish, rather than dying to self and allowing God to fight their battles for and through them. After their enemies gained the advantage over them, due to their sin, God always forgave the Israelites. They confessed their sin and God repeatedly delivered them in the way only He could do-supernaturally, so only He could get the glory, just as He did for Kim.

God never does anything to bring peace that could mistakenly be credited to man’s human ability. There is no better example of this from the stories of the judges than that of Gideon.

After forty years of peace and Judge Deborah’s death, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord for seven years. During this time, the Midianites and Amalekites oppressed them so much they actually retreated to the mountain clefts and caves to live. They came out to plant their crops, but the enemy invaded their country like locusts and camped on the land, ruining their crops and slaughtering the livestock. Once again, the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

The Lord sent a prophet, who said:

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me. Judges 6:7-10

Then, one day, Gideon, the son of Joash, was threshing wheat in a hiding place safe from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judg. 6:12).

“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:13-14.

Am I Not Sending You?

Gideon, am I not sending you?

Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Gideon. Suppose we are doing laundry, and the Lord appears to us and calls us a “warrior.” We are hungry to see the miracles we heard once happened, that are in the Bible, and now God is telling us that if we are to see those things happen, they must come through me. “Am not I sending you?” the Lord said. Chanté and her mother had to choose to be used by God. Chanté spent two years, after being delivered from drugs, in a lot of prayer asking God to change her and to use her.

No less than we would do, Gideon resisted, complaining his clan was the weakest of all and that he was the least in his family, thinking, no one ever gives me a second thought. But the Lord told him, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together” (Judg. 6:16).

Gideon wanted a sign that this person talking to him truly was the Lord. Gideon asked him to wait so he could prepare an offering. The Lord waited. Gideon prepared a goat and unleavened bread and brought it to Him. The Lord had him put it on a rock, take his staff, touch the meat and bread; fire consumed the peace offering. Immediately, the Lord disappeared. This was the sign Gideon had asked for.

Gideon Built an Altar and Called it “The Lord is Peace”

When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord is Peace. . . .Judges 6:22-24

The Lord is Peace

Gideon heard these words of peace from the Lord after He had disappeared. The root word from Hebrew for peace is shâlôm, meaning health, security, tranquility and welfare.1

That night, the Lord was still with Gideon and instructed him to tear down his father’s altar to Baal. Gideon knew ten men who were willing to help him, and they obeyed. With the wood from the heathen altar, they created a proper altar for sacrifices to the Lord God.

Gideon and Kim both went against their parents’ wishes and way of life. Gideon did what his father was afraid to do. Surprisingly, his father stood up for Gideon to the town’s people saying, “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar” (Judg. 6:31).

Unlike Gideon’s dad, Kim’s mother persecuted her by calling her “stupid” and berated her because of her Godly standards. Not only did she try to convince Kim she was crazy, but she put in the minds of Kim and her sister that each hated the other. It would only be after Kim’s mother’s death that the Lord would reveal to Kim if her mother ever became a Christian.

After much doubting Gideon chose to be obedient to the Lord and gathered all the men he could to help him defeat their enemies.

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave. . . .
–Judges 7:2-3

Twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. Less than one third had faith in the Lord’s ability to save them. Still, the Lord said there were too many men. He told Gideon He would handpick them. Gideon took the men down to the water to drink. The men who lapped the water from their hand-those who stayed alert and watching, not taking their eyes off the situation-were chosen. Of the ten thousand men, only three hundred remained.

During that same night, the Lord told Gideon if he was afraid to attack and wanted encouragement, to go to the camp of the enemy and listen to what they were saying. Gideon and a friend arrived at the opposing camp outposts just as an enemy guard was telling his friend his dream, “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

“His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands'” (Judg. 7:13-14).

Encouraged, Gideon worshiped God, ran back to the camp and shouted, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands” (Judg. 7:15).

Dividing the men into three companies, Gideon put trumpets, empty jars and torches in their hands. The men broke the jars, blew the trumpets, and shouted, “For the Lord and for Gideon!” The Lord caused the men in the enemy’s camp to turn on each other with their swords. Gideon and his men pursued the army and their leaders, overcoming them all. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land enjoyed peace for forty years.

* * *

Kim learned, as did Gideon, she could trust God’s ability, His power, and His goodness in her life. She learned there are times when God desires to exhibit that ability, power and goodness through others-when she was unable to do it for herself. (She also learned that many movies and television shows kept her in bondage.)

Kim recalls when Jesus raised his dear friend from the grave, He utilized help from others for Lazarus. He “. . . called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:44). Jesus then asked those around Lazarus to remove the soiled stinky rags from a four-day-old corpse, because Lazarus was so bound he could not do it for himself.

Chanté and her mother were “mighty warriors” who stormed the kingdom of God like two ferocious BEARs–they did not rest until they possessed what they needed and wanted–peace for their friends. They knew that aside from Jehovah-Shalom there is no peace.

They B-elieved God, they E-xpected the victory; they A-sked from God on Kim’s behalf; and they R-eceived from the Lord. They did it all “in the name of Jesus.” By so doing, Jehovah gave strength; Jehovah-Shalom blessed his people with peace (see Ps. 29:11).


ENDNOTE

  1. Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990) p. 1785.