Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is God Shaking You?

There are times when God shows up to give us a revelation of Himself that has so eluded us, it truly takes our breath away. Humbling. It shatters all our misconceptions. It straightens out the crooked places in our thinking and changes our perspective. This is what truth does; it makes us free. The enemy, however, will do everything he can to keep us away from that truth for one reason and one reason only. He never wants our heart to fully belong to Jesus.

I have always been amazed that my husband and I arrive at an understanding of God from  complete polar opposites. He was raised in a loving home with no preconceived ideas to block his understanding of God as a loving Father. He sees every situation, no matter how difficult or challenging, from the perspective that His Father loves him and only has his best interests at heart. As a matter of fact, my husband has only ever seemed to view life’s experiences through the eyes of someone that considers himself blessed, thankful, and understanding of His position as God’s son; loved and valued in every way.

It has been the challenge of my heart many times. It has not been so easy for me to share my husband’s viewpoint. I was raised in a home where my natural father was physically there for a season, but for all realistic purposes he was absent and unaccounted for. My father was mentally ill and his instability affected everyone in the home. The whole “father” relationship between God and myself has been a difficult one to cultivate. I understand other aspects of God quite well, such as Savior, Teacher, Deliverer, Warrior, or Redeemer, but the Father/child relationship has been much slower to develop. I remember a time when I hugged the man who later became my husband, and how the love of the Father flowed through him. At that particular time, it wasn’t romantic love or passionate, or even the love of a good friend. God did something in that moment that transcended all of that. For the first time in my life, I felt the pure, protective love of my heavenly Father. It brought tears to my eyes. When a person has only ever had counterfeit forms of love in their life and then has a real encounter with Divine love, they will never want to let it go. This is what the Lord Jesus seeks from us; a life changing encounter that will win the loyalty of our heart.

I had many years of generational iniquity to overcome from my life. Years and years of inherited iniquitous sin patterns and demonic attachments needed to be broken. Familiar spirits and familial spirits (that passed down from one generation to another)  knew my weaknesses better than I did, and how to suggest lies that sounded so natural to believe that I accepted them as truth. Lies that suggested God couldn’t be fully trusted, or reminders of bitter memories that kept my heart in my own keeping instead of entrusting it fully to Jesus. All these things worked against building a solid foundation of trust between the Lord and I. Bitterness prevented me from receiving the revelation of God’s genuine love and character.  It has taken many years of prayer and God working in and through me. One day God spoke: “The root of bitterness has prevented you from seeing me as I really am.” “You have persecuted me, and believed me to be someone that I am not.”  That revelation floored me. It got my attention, but it also began to set me free from years and years of many lies.

What about you? What lies has the enemy suggested to you? Remember, he is called the father of lies for a reason. Jesus is Faithful and True. God will never leave you or forsake you, according to Hebrews 13:5. Even if it may feel like it at the moment. You may be going through a dark night of your soul, where nothing makes sense and everything seems to be in darkness. God has sent you on a treasure hunt without you understanding it. He wants you to dig deep to discover truth: truth about yourself and truth about Him. When you discover the truth that has bound your heart, it will set you free and your heart will belong to Jesus in a much deeper way.

I know that many Christians reading this right now probably consider their hearts loyal to God. Peter thought he was faithful and loyal to Jesus, too, until he was tested. Pride can be a deception of our own heart, because we really never know the depth of loyalty we have until we’re tested in certain areas. We each have things that if they were taken away, or perhaps incited fear of persecution, fear of loss, or if we went through something like Job did, perhaps, that would challenge the loyalty of our heart. We never know exactly what that is unless the Lord allows the enemy to strike us in that place. I hope you never have to experience that kind of pain. But sometimes we do. At other times, the enemy has had so many years of whispering his lies in our ears that it might not be as difficult as one would think, to unsettle the heart and divide a person’s loyalties. All he has to do is find the right lie that begins to shake the foundation of where a person has placed their trust.

“The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times and the strength of salvation. The fear of the Lord is His treasure.” - Is. 33:5,6

If a person has put their faith in being accepted or approved of others, it will be shaken. If a person puts their faith in their employer or their finances, eventually it will be shaken. If a person’ faith is in their own abilities, God will weaken them. If a person’s faith is in certain things that have become idols, God will allow them to fail. If a person’s faith is in government, God will shake it. If a person’s faith is in their good works, or in their own name, God will shake it. If a person’s faith is in their church, or faith has been misplaced in their leaders, God will shake it. If a person puts their faith in some aspect of God that they have misunderstood, He will shake it. He takes people through experiences to teach them truth. How often people think they can avoid the truth, but God will take them on the journey whether or not they want to go!  If a person’s faith is in anything except Jesus Christ, then what has been built upon is a foundation of sand that can be washed away in the next big storm. He will burn up everything that reeks of pride. He will tear apart anything that is built upon the wrong foundation, for a weak foundation will always be subject to instability and failure. Never think that just because something has been built a certain way, that it cannot be torn down. God is always in the construction and renovation process! Part of building is tearing down, clearing away the debris and then laying a new foundation. When the foundation is flawed, there can be no other course of action. Things can and do change, and we must learn to accept - not fight - the Lord's plan.

Let me give you a simple illustration. We all know what concrete is. It’s used to lay a foundation, for one thing. When mixed properly and with the right minerals and hardening elements, concrete sets up quickly and easily. But, did you know that adding a little bit too much water, for example, or even a simple thing such as sugar, can alter the concrete mixture so that it doesn’t set properly? In a similar manner, this is the way truth and error can never provide stability or cohesiveness. Faith and doubt are polar opposites from one another. They only ever produce double-mindedness. Anything that produces fear, suspicion, anger or faulty judgment can never  produce a stable foundation. And so, there often comes a time when God will let it all get torn up one side and down the other. He will take a jack-hammer to tear up every last bit of faulty foundation. Remember friends, a mess often precedes a miracle! A wise Master Builder will never build with faulty bricks, and He won’t lay a foundation on anything except the true revelation of Jesus Christ.

Are you currently experiencing something that is being torn up in your life? A job? Marriage? Reputation, or something else? The devil may have his hands in the mess in your life to tear things up, but God uses him only as long as he’s needed.

Without a solid foundation of trust, there can be no true covenant between any two people. The strength of any relationship is dependent upon the weakest place where the two are joined together. If trust isn’t solid and strong, that relationship lacks strength. It’s like a table with a shaky leg. It will never be able to endure much stress or weight before it gives out. This is why the enemy works so hard to undermine the integrity of relationships. This applies whether it is between us and others, or between us and God.   Real trust can only be developed where it is built upon truth. Real trust is built upon grace, forgiveness, love, acceptance and humility. Real trust is built when people can own their own mistakes and acknowledge their own weaknesses. Sometimes we need the scales removed from our own eyes, like Saul did. His pride got in his way and blinded him to who Jesus really is, and it was that pride that made him persecute not just the Lord he professed to serve, but other Christians as well. He knew the law but didn’t know the Lord. Friends, if we don’t truly know the kindness and graciousness of God’s heart, we will miss the truth every time.

It is so important to recognize when Satan has secretly introduced lies that undermine a person’s ability to put their entire trust in the Lord. You may not like something you’re going through right now, but trust that the Lord is digging up the things that prevent Him from building something of eternal value in your life. If you have a hard heart, He may have to take a sledge hammer to some things in your life just to knock a few walls down. Ultimately, the thing He is after is your heart. He doesn’t want your finances, your health, or your home. He doesn’t want your retirement, your job or many of the other things you might fear -  but, He will ask you to surrender them if they stand as a barrier between you really understanding His heart and His ways. The Lord is after your heart. He is looking for loyalty above all else, for a loyal heart has earned God’s trust. Jesus has already proven He can be trusted when He laid down His life for us; we, however, must earn the Lord’s trust. Job professed early on in his trials, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Yet after a period of prolonged trials and unjust criticism from trusted friends, Job began to accuse God of being unfair. His heart was being tested in the fires of adversity. When things were going well for Job, he didn't know what resided in the depths of his heart. God knew Job was a friend and a faithful servant, and because He knew Job's heart, God allowed him to be tested severely. He knew Job would come out of the trials as pure gold. He had a plan for Job's restoration, but at the time, Job was in so much pain he couldn't see it. Friends, never lose sight of WHY God does the things He does. He wants us to sell all our old junk to gain the treasure of His Kingdom. He wants us to surrender our fears and insecurities in order to gain stability and trust in our King. He wants us to relinquish the faith we have built up in our own good works, approval from others or power or position. The people that love you one day may just as easily hate you and be willing to curse you the next. You can't put your faith in that. The pressures of life and the trials of adversity are there to bring the lies we believe up to the surface so that they can be removed. That’s all. When the lies are removed, the vessel becomes more pure. When the vessel is pure, it is a stronger container for God's glory. If He poured in His glory into a weak and unstable vessel, it would break apart at the pressure of being filled. In order to hold the weight of God's glory, He tears us down, He weakens us, He pulls things up, He puts us in the fire, and He molds and shapes us to His liking. THEN, when we are ready, when we can stand to be filled, HE POURS IN THE GLORY. He pours in a freshness and a new anointing. He pours in joy and new wine of His Spirit. He pours in Divine Love. He pours in Grace. He pours in Mercy. He pours in, over and over until all the emptiness and dryness has been filled. We are often like those dry, empty jars just waiting to be filled. When does the water turn to wine? When we decide to trust Him. It's when we surrender all and put ourselves in the Master's hand.

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