Choice and Change: Learning to operate in the full authority of the believer by Heather Marsten

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Choice and Change: Learing to Operate in the Full Authority of the Believer by Heather Marsten

Below is a Bible study I taught last Thursday. The computer I ordinarily work with has DIED, and we are trying to retrieve data. I hope this blesses you and I will try to get more information up ASAP.  Have a blessed day! Heather

Choice and Change: Learning to Operate in the Full Authority of the Believer

When we step out in the authority of the believer, we will necessarily be making some changes in our lives.  These changes are not made in a vacuum and the changes we make will affect others around us, family, friends, associates, and neighbors.  Sadly, most people are uncomfortable with change, and often they persist in seeing us as we once were rather than as who we are becoming.  Even we tend to resist changes in our lives, for it takes us out of our comfort zone.  We have no choice as to how others view us and what their opinions of our changes are, but we do have choice in what we do and how we react.  One of the most important aspects of change in the Believer is making God the Lord of our life, our CEO.

When we change a few things begin to happen.

  1. We have to let go of stuff – when we take on a new identity in Christ, those things from our past must drop away.  We have to fill ourselves with new things of Christ and drop off those things that do not line up with the Word of God.
  2. Many people who knew us before we were saved will persist in seeing us as we were, not willing to accept that we can change and would prefer that we return to our “real selves” as they knew us. Fortunately we also have others who will support the changes in us. It may mean that we have to change friends, but we can’t change family.  So we have to learn to stand strong in our faith in the midst of our families. We can rest on the promise that God has promised to save our whole families.  Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
  3. We may have to put things that once defined us to new uses.  For example, a lead guitarist may have to give up playing secular songs and turn to other kinds of music.
  4. We need to use our OWN tools (new and old), building our faith, not depending on the tools of others, even those who are our mentors, although at the beginning our mentors will help us and begin to teach us how to use our OWN tools.  And as we grow and develop, they will be there to guide us.  But like any good parent, our mentors and teachers want us to walk on our own with the help of God, not lean on the mentor or teacher for every problem. And the Bible tells us to Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.

Let’s look at some Biblical examples.

Moses

Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s household, yet was nursed by his Jewish mother.  His mother gave Moses the training that he had that caused him to rebel against the harsh treatment of the Israelite slaves.  Taking matters into his own hand, he ended up killing a slave master and had to flee for his life.  He spent 40 years on the backside of the desert shepherding for his Gentile father-in-law.  By the time Moses encountered the Burning Bush he was 80 years old, and yet God would use him. This sort of dispels the myth that we are too old to begin a ministry, or that our age is a detriment.  We can begin something new at any age.

Moses tried very hard to convince God that he was not the leader that God wanted him to be, and God ultimately gave him Aaron to help – but that was not God’s original plan.  God did not commission Moses and Aaron, God spoke to Moses.

Exodus 3:1-3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

Moses turned aside from his regular routine.  We can get so caught up in our day-to-day business that we neglect to see the unusual even when it is in our midst.  God attracted Moses’ attention through the burning bush, and Moses stopped and looked, it caused him to question his assumptions.  Why did the bush not burn?  That stopped Moses in his tracks and gave him a chance to listen to God.  Moses had a choice.  He could have walked on and not stopped at the burning bush.  He could have been so preoccupied with his problems of shepherding that he didn’t even notice the burning bush, or he could have made light of it (pun intended).  We take many things for granted, which is probably why Jesus wants us to be like children – questioning, inquisitive.

God commissions Moses, and Moses comes up with reasons why he is not the one God called.  The task was huge, and by this time, after 40 years on the backside of the desert Moses probably only saw himself as shepherd and husband.  This would require going back where he ran away from, facing Pharaoh, and leading his people, several million Israelites. I know I spent a lot of time wondering if God could have saved me – I had the sin of the week, sure that that was the very sin God could not forgive.  I had excuses to not do what God wanted me to do.  It doesn’t take long though to realize that God has His best for us, and if we cooperate with Him, our lives become exciting, adventuresome, and far, far easier.

Exodus 3:11-15 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

It is very easy to make excuses to God. Moses will tell God he stutters, asks God, what if they ask Your Name?  If you read the account, at NO time did anyone ask Moses God’s Name – I Am Who I Am. At some point though, we have to come to the point of stopping the excuses and stepping out in faith.  Trust me, it is scary when you step outside of your comfort zone, but the rewards are tremendous.  Moses will see and do things he could never have imagined doing.  God will use him powerfully.

We have a choice. We can view ourselves through the eyes of our past failures (killing the slave master), we can look at ourselves in the flesh and come up with excuses for why we are not qualified, or we can step out in faith and do what God wants us to do, knowing that the task that He gives us will give God the Glory, especially since it is bigger than we can conceive. And if we choose that adventure, we will never be bored in our faith.

Exodus 4:1-5 Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  He said, “A rod.”  And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Moses had his shepherd’s tool in his hand.  His rod was used as a walking stick, staff, weapon to defend against wild animals, and in essence his financial security for as he protected the sheep it increased the wealth of his family.  It represented security and was clearly part of Moses’ shepherd identity.

God told Moses to cast the rod down – sometimes we have to put the tools down or change how we use them. God will give Moses and Aaron many new uses for the old – expanding the rod’s usage.

Exodus 4:1-5 & Exodus 7:17  Cast it down to become a serpent.

Exodus 8:5  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’”

Exodus 8:16-17 So the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’” And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 9:23 And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.

Exodus 10:13 So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all thatnight. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Exodus 14:16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry groundthrough the midst of the sea.

Exodus 17:5-6 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

Exodus 17:9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”

Numbers 17:6-So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi,had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.

It must have been heady stuff for Moses.  And we need to guard against getting carried away with what God is doing through us and go beyond what God tells us. Instead of obeying God & speaking to the rock to get water the way God told him to, Moses used his rod in a way not prescribed by God and lost the right to enter the Promised Land by disobedience.

Numbers 20:11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.

Each of the plagues and things that God instructed Moses to do were types and shadows of Jesus.  Jesus was smitten ONCE, not twice, and when Moses disobeyed God, he messed up the picture that God was painting of Jesus.  Did that mean that Moses was discarded by God?  No.  God still used him, but sadly Moses could not enter the Promised Land with his people.  To Moses’ credit, when God pulled back the opportunity to enter the Promised Land, Moses did not pout and sit down and refuse to continue with his tasks.  He still lead and prepared the people for their eventual entry to the Promised Land and continued shepherding them.  That shows the incredible character of Moses, and is probably why God let him go to the top of Mount Nebo to look over into the Promised Land.

We should not assume that just because we do not FEEL we have any super special things or talents in our lives that we cannot serve God. Know that God can take what things and talents that we take for granted and convert them to His purposes in special ways.  He can expand our horizons and outlooks with God ideas. But we need to be careful to stick close to the guidance of God or we risk doing something in error and losing the blessing. And when God calls us to do something we are to do it to the uttermost, not half-heartedly.  Matthew 25:21 His lord said to him, ‘Welldone, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

God will equip us and guide us.  He knows our frames and knows us so well that He can provide the best weapons for our use. And the ordinary becomes extraordinary in God’s hands. Imagine a pitcher, trumpet, and torches as weapons of warfare.

Gideon – Judges 7:16-22 Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do:  When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’”  So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.

David used a smooth stone as a weapon against Goliath.  1 Samuel 17:38-40 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

Notice that Saul tried to get David to use his armor to fight Goliath.  David knew that he was not skilled in using that armor, and chose what he was used to dealing with – the slingshot.  David would not have succeeded wearing Saul’s armor.  David had to listen to God, not Saul.  Often those around us have had methods of dealing with their situations that worked for them, but God deals with us INDIVIDUALLY, and we cannot use other’s methods for our own battles.  We need to grow in our faith and begin wielding the weapons God gave us, and the weapons that we have used in practice, when we are faced with a giant of a problem.

Acts 19:13-17 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”  Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

We cannot fight our battles on someone else’s faith or work, when the Jewish exorcists tried to cast out demons by the Jesus whom Paul preaches, it did not work and they got trounced. They would need to build their own relationship with the Savior for them to exercise the authority of the believer.  Paul’s faith would not work for them.  We can learn about faith and how to build our faith in these classes, but until we put the pedal to the metal, check the words that come out of our mouths, make sure we are fed a healthy diet of the meat of the Word, and begin to apply what we are learning we will not be effective.  We can’t speak healing or any other authority by the Jesus that Pastor Don knows.  It has to be done by the Jesus that we know.

We need to make an honest assessment of ourselves and see what talents and abilities we have, being willing to give them over to God so that He can use them – often in ways that we do not expect.  The problem is we end up getting into the rut of a routine and do things the way we have always done them.  It is ok in some circumstances, in unhealthy behaviors it is insane to keep doing things the same way hoping for a different outcome.  And until we get out of the rut, we can’t go forward into new territory.  If we are not willing to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and make the changes, God may permit life circumstances to come in and shake us up so that we begin to look at things from a new perspective. God wants us to believe Him and step out in faith.

We can get into the paralysis of analysis, or not move for fear of failure. Another argument we may have is that we don’t exactly know where we are going. We would be in good company with that one.  Abraham was told by God to Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Abram went even though he did not know where God was going to lead him – it took guts to pick up and move.  Abram was prosperous where he was and there were risks to traveling, but he chose to trust God. What the Bible doesn’t mention is that Sarai accompanied Him – and she too had to have faith in God to do that.  I know if my husband said, pack up your house and we are going to move – where? I don’t know, wherever God leads us, it would take a great deal of faith.  They had to leave their comfort zone and travel to territories unknown and without a roadmap.  I know that I would be most happy if God gave me an elaborate map with “You are Here” and a series steps that I will be taking.  There is a commercial on TV where a person contacts a financial planner (Fidelity) and immediately a road marked in green is put in front of them, and directs their every step.  Sometimes I wish God would do that in my life – but then where would the faith be in that?  And I think God protects us by not showing us all the things that will happen to us, some of us are not as ready as Paul was to know what we are destined for.  God operates with us on a need to know and trust basis.

And over time God also promised Abraham that he would become the Father of Many Nations.  Abraham believed God.  Romans 4:1-4 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

Abraham believed God and was justified not by his works but because He believed God.

Abraham kept believing God in circumstances that seemed impossible to the human mind.  It wouldn’t be until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarai in her 90’s that they would naturally birth their first child.  God waited until there was NO other explanation except, “Look what the Lord has done.”  Abraham’s faith was also evidenced in his WAITING.  I don’t know about you, but in this microwave society waiting is VERY hard to do.  And Abraham waited many, many years to see the fulfillment of this promise of God.

Romans 4:17-22 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Did he do this perfectly?  No.  He questioned God about how this could be.

Genesis 15:1-6 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Notice, God got Abram out of his tent – sort of a canvas ceiling (glass ceiling) and out into the open air and gave him the job of numbering the stars.  Nothing like a little bit of perspective to help Abram realize that God was sovereign, and bigger than him, and exceedingly able to do all that he promised.  Yet God was not angry with Abram’s questions.  We can talk to God and ask Him to guide us in what He wants us to do. That is why we have the Holy Spirit to help us.  God will meet us where we are at, but ultimately we do have to come to the point of saying to ourselves, “I choose to trust God.” And take that step in faith.  As Pastor Don says, you can’t steer a parked car.  You need to move and then God can help steer you toward the path He wants us to go.

Remember Saul/Paul was persecuting Christians thinking he was doing what God would want him to do – to punish those who were not abiding by the Law of Moses.  Jesus stopped Saul in his tracks, showed him literally how blind he was, and brought him into line with the Truth – Paul ended up being a leader of the church, saving souls, and writing the gospels.

Where we get in trouble is getting out of time with God’s plan for our lives.  Abram and Sarai tried to help God by having Abram sleep with Hagar and produced Ishmael.  That was not part of God’s plan. Abram made other mistakes, but each of these helped him to grow in character and learn to trust God until the ultimate test came, when God had him sacrifice his son, his only son.  And Abram was willing to do that. (Genesis 22).

We are works in progress and God sees us as we will become.   For example, look at Gideon.  God met Gideon hiding in a winepress and trying to sift wheat.   Judges 6:11-12 Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

God called Gideon a mighty man of valor, even though at this time he was hiding in a wine press trying to harvest some wheat.  The enemies were in the practice of coming in and stealing the crops that the Israelites grew, and Gideon was hiding out trying to get some wheat for his family.  He certainly was not acting valorously.  But remember, Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

Judges 6:13 Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Again, just like Moses, Gideon asked God questions.  God chose not to answer those, and just commissioned Gideon.  To his credit, instead of pouting and saying, “God, unless you answer my questions, I will not do what you tell me to do.”  Gideon will ultimately obey God.  I know that there was a period of time where I had tough questions for God and God did not answer them.  That made me even angrier at God, but now, in retrospect I know why God did not answer those questions.  I wasn’t ready to hear the answers.  Now God is revealing some of those answers to me, and I am grateful to Him, but had He revealed them to me earlier, those same answers would have driven a wedge between God and me.  God knows when we are ready for the answers.  And some of the answers will never come to us this side of Heaven.  We really need to trust God and know that God has His best for us. If He is not answering our question there is a very good reason for that, and we just need to rest in Him.  God will answer according to our maturity.  We answer a little child’s questions in a language that he can understand but may answer the same question from an adult in a far different way.  I never will forget when my oldest son, at the age of five, asked his father where babies came from. My husband gave him an honest answer and he fell off the chair laughing, and then later told us that he would never kiss a girl.  We have that statement of his on tape and plan to pull it out to share with his future bride.

Judges 6:14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

God is good, if we don’t believe Him the first time and He really wants us to do the task He will continue telling us.  And Notice that God again called Gideon mighty, even though Gideon was still not acting mighty.

Of course, as it says in the book of Esther 4:13-14 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Judges 6: 15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

We need to get it out of our head that we have to be all that before God can use us.  God loves to use the impossible ones to accomplish his goals. 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

Judges 6:16 And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

What we tend to forget is to not look at ourselves and what we are, but rather to realize that when we are doing God’s will, God is with us.  And God is the one doing the work, not us.  When the problem seems to big, don’t look at the problem, look at God.  To be honest, at times that seems a great challenge for me.  But I am getting better at that.  We grow in faith as we see God help us with one insurmountable problem after another. That is why it is so important to thank God and praise God for what He has done. That gives us the faith when the next difficult problem comes.

Gideon then does the wise thing, a sacrifice and offering to God.  When we are faced with tough challenges or feel dwarfed by what God wants us to do, the best way to build our faith is to sacrifice to God.

Judges 6:17-21 Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.  Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.” And He said, “I will wait until you come back.” So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

Remember, the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ. The meat and unleavened bread were the offerings given in the temple, and it is through the action of the Angel of the Lord’s acceptance of the offerings, through fire, and then his departure out of sight that Gideon realized that THIS REALLY WAS GOD.  Sometimes God comes to us and we are not sure it is Him, and it takes time for it to dawn on us the truth of Him. And then we begin to realize the awesomeness of the encounter in retrospect.

Judges 6:22-24  Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the LORD. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.”  Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”  So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Here is another important task of the believer – building altars or remembrances to where God has touched our lives.  It can be journal entries, or songs, poems, or even an awareness of His presence that we remember and pass down to our children and our children’s children telling them, “Look what the Lord has done.”  When we get lost or misdirected, as most of us do, it is important to remember the last instructions of God and return there to continue our journeys.  When you feel like God is not there, go back to the point where He was last “there” for you and think about what he has told us to do.  God is going to give Gideon instructions. I suspect if Gideon had not carried them out, Gideon would not have been used by God until he did.  These took great courage for Gideon to do, built up his character and strength to do the next task.  God will, just like we do with our children, set goals for us a bit beyond where we think we can reach, and then when we reach those He moves the goals.

Judges 6:25-27 Now it came to pass the same night that the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.”  So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.

Gideon did what God told him to do – yes, he did it by night, but still he did this task, and that ultimately led him to the final battle with few men, the torches, pitchers, and trumpets that we mentioned earlier.

But Gideon was not certain that it was really what God wanted him to do.  Gideon looked at himself and the task at hand and doubted.  So he asked God if he could put out some fleeces.

Judges 6:36-40 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.”  And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.”  And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

God met Gideon at the place of his doubt and answered his request regarding the dew and the fleeces.  Today, we do not want to lay fleeces – that is one sure way of getting fleeced. It is tempting to get a “sure” sign from God, but we are in a different place from Gideon.  We have the Holy Spirit within us and the written Word of God, and by using those we can get confirmation.  We also have our pastor, elders, and mentors to go to and they will help us find confirmation.  In this day and age, satan would love to counterfeit a sign from God to misdirect us.  In Gideon’s time the Holy Spirit only rested on people for a time, we have the Holy Spirit within us.

As we walk with God and know Him and about Him, there will be times when we have to drop off certain aspects of our lives.  Take, for example, Blind Bartemaeus.

Mark 10:46-52  Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.  So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.–

Bartimaeus  stepped out in faith leaving behind his beggar’s cloak – that involved great faith, for being blind and jostled by the crowd, there would have been no way for him to retrieve his cloak. He chose to trust Jesus and that faith caused him to receive his healing.

Jesus will stop at our cries for help and respond.  But we also need to be clear what it is that we want.  That requires self-examination.  Bartimaeus knew that he wanted to receive his sight.

What is it that we want? Have we asked God to help us in it?  No problem is too big or too small that we cannot take it to God. But it may require that we give up things from our lives that no longer apply.  I had to give up unforgiveness and forgive my abusers in order to gain healing from my past.  I had to give up my self-imposed victim status to gain the ability to walk in victory in Christ.  I had to step out in faith, believing God, and God responded to my actions.  We may have to throw off our beggar’s cloak of sickness, pride, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, feeling inadequate, the labels we have assumed on our lives, knowing that Jesus died for these sins and illnesses, and that His resurrection assures that Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Sometimes we don’t want to take off our old selves, we like what we are, but we are told by Paul that we need to:

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

There is a danger in looking back – like Lot’s wife we can become a pillar of salt – frozen in place and not moving any direction.  We can get pulled back into the past or we can get puffed up in pride about how much we have grown and how far we have come.  Any of these are tricks the enemy can use to prevent us from doing what God has called us to do.

God will give us a direction to take and we can begin doing what God wants us to do, then He gives us a different direction.  We have a choice to go where we are going and miss the move or God, or do what God wants.  Sometimes it involves giving up something that seems productive for an unknown.

Acts 8:26-31 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.  So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”  So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Philip had a ministry and was preaching and getting many saved, but God asked him to leave that and find a lone eunuch and minister to him. That had to have been a surprising request, but by him ministering to that one Ethiopian eunuch, it laid the foundation for the Christian Church in that region.  Sometimes we feel we are in God’s perfect will because our ministry is blooming and flourishing, but God then wants to move us somewhere else.  It is natural to want to dig in our heels and not move, but the truth is that to minister to one person in line with God’s Will, will net more results than all the work (even good works) that we do in our own understanding.  We don’t see the whole picture God does.

The last thing that we need to remember is that our circumstances do not always determine if we are in God’s perfect will – it would be nice if our circumstances were perfect and that was the scale we used to determine His will – and if we are in miserable circumstances, we would be out of His will.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Jesus was tortured and battered, the disciples were tortured and killed when they spread the Gospel.

Listen to what Paul said.  2 Corinthians 11:22-31 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So amI. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my owncountrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

Paul, if you looked at his external circumstances, sure would seem to be having so much trouble that you could doubt that he was doing God’s will, but we know that Paul was in the perfect will of God.  We cannot judge by our circumstances, only by the Word and the Holy Spirit.

So, as we make changes in our walk of faith in God, and act on the Authority of the Believer we can expect the world to react.  We cannot let reactions from other people, our own perceptions of inadequacy, fear, previous failures, circumstances, supposed lack of talent, ability and resources, other’s opinions, mistakes, the paralysis of analysis, history, the passage of time as we wait on God, and a faulty perspective keep us from doing His will.

It is far, far better to be in God’s perfect will.  He has a wonderful plan for us, and

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 84:10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God  than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Philippians 1:3-6 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Let’s read as a prayer:  Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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