Sunday, July 27, 2014

Getting Out of Transition

Transitions occur in many phases of life and for multiple reasons. Some are based on relocation, employment changes, relational changes or other things. Transitions occur when the timing of a sequence of events has reached that ‘appointed time’ in our lives. Our lives and the lives of others are inexplicably intertwined much like gears in a clock.  One gear slips into another and so on and so on. One gear cannot move unless another moves. The enemy will attempt to ‘stop the clock’ in one way or another, but it’s our job to make sure that we pray for the lives of those that are on the road ahead of us, intertwined with us (even if we don’t know who they are), and our selves. Though we often do not understand the significance of unseen circumstances,  they all have impact and significance of how our lives move forward to get us into that next appointed place. So, what is it that we must learn where we are, and who or what are we waiting for? What event(s) need to occur before we can be released?

One of the ways the enemy tries to get us out of God’s timing is to delay our time of transition so that we miss a door of opportunity. It’s important not to make our own transition by trying to get ahead of God’s timing, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands. We can get ourselves in a real mess by doing so. We can find ourselves on some crazy side road and not know how we’re supposed to get back onto the freeway, into the flow of God’s will.

I am also reminded of the wilderness testings of Jesus. Jesus was tested in three specific areas. God permits the test, and the Holy Spirit is the one that leads us into the situation. It’s God’s test to see what we’re made of, but He allows Satan to do the tempting. It’s important to understand that before Satan is allowed to tempt us, the stage must be set to make the test really a test. The enemy takes his time in doing so, because the central point of the test is that it’s disguised so that we don’t know we’re in a test.

The tests will always come, but with each generation the enemy adapts the temptations to the individual, the culture and the era in which they live. Tests are uniquely designed to appeal to the individual’s personality, tastes and weaknesses. In this day and age you might not be tempted to melt down all your jewelry and make an idol to worship, but you might not notice that you have something else in your life that God considers an idol. Modern day idols can be anything that captures our attention, focus and time that crowds out our commitment, time, loyalty and relationship with the Lord. It’s what has our heart, outside of Him. An idol can be the work of our own hands, according to Is. 2:8. Many times it is the thing that we have put all our time, energy, and labor into. It’s something we’ve birthed in our own strength, not something that was birthed by God.

The other aspect of the testing is that even when we may pass one test, we may not  realize the other tests are still in process. Tests may happen simultaneously, or there may be some space between them, but we are all eventually tested in the same areas as our Lord. Even if you’ve been in ministry for some time, sometimes when God is changing doors the tests come again to see if you are adequately prepared for what’s ahead. 

One of Jesus’s wilderness testings had to do with doubting his identity and purpose. The day of the Lord is near when you are in the valley of decision. This is where the lights go out and all of a sudden you’re wondering whether or not you really did hear God. Your faith may be assaulted and you may wonder if your prophetic promises will ever come true. When you’re sitting in darkness and the enemy is firing darts of discouragement and depression, loneliness and isolation are magnified. When all the lights go out and there’s no revelation about your current situation, it’s natural to begin to question many things you thought you knew. You begin to question which words were really from God. Once again the tempter poses the question, “Did God really say…?” If you listen to the whispers of the enemy you may be left wondering what God said and what was a figment of your imagination. The only thing you can know for sure that while you are waiting, all you can do is remain faithful to God. A double-minded man receives nothing from the Lord.

The temptation is to break faith with God and allow doubt and discouragement to make a person feel as though God is unfair, or that they are working for a hard taskmaster. It can tend to make one feel as though they can never fully please God and lead to resentment, bitterness or despair. These are all lies from the enemy intended to derail a person and turn their heart away from God. Resist the urge to complain and sound ungrateful. Sometimes it can seem unbearable to be where you’re at and no known reason for why you’re there. It feels like you’ll never have the answer to what will release you from your time of waiting. You may be most vulnerable when God hits the ‘pause’ button simply because you lack understanding. This is where the metal is tested. The person you are in the unknown place of obscurity is the person you really are. Who you are in your prayer closet is who you are. What words do you hear yourself speaking? Yes, you are a child of God. Yes, a born-again, blood-bought believer. Even more than that: Are you a worshiper? The enemy is always after our worship and he will try to rob God of it any way he can. Remember that worship is the door to revelation.  Rev. 4:1.

The enemy’s attempt to get you to question your identity is often the very first thing he attacks. He knows that you cannot fulfill your purpose if you are insecure about who you are! Sometimes you need to learn to see yourself the way heaven sees you before you can get out of transition. The gifting that rises up as your more dominant gift is more than likely the one that God is bringing into maturity and will use to open the next door, but it all hinges upon you knowing who you are and how it works together with the gifting, anointing and calling of God. Sometimes, when seasons change, God gives us a new mantle of authority. He ‘re-purposes’ our purpose! He gives new direction. He prepares us to do something we have not done before. You may find yourself fulfilling a different role in the body of Christ than you have in the past. It’s kind of like trying on a new set of clothes while you’re in the wilderness. You need to see yourself wearing a different mantle, but it’s not just to admire yourself in the mirror. You also need to get comfortable in it, too and know how to walk in that new area of authority. 

When Satan tested Jesus’ identity he was also challenging the authority of God. Every temptation is designed to test our allegiance to God and our dependence on Him. The answer is not to guess or proceed upon our own assumptions, but to refuse to operate independently of God's revealed will and instruction.

Another one of the wilderness temptations Jesus went through had to do with appetite. The spirit doing the tempting is lust. Lust will try to convince you to fulfill legitimate needs and desires outside of God or apart from His will. It may even be trying to fulfill what you think is the promise, but it comes in a way that you just know it's more flesh than God. It's more you making decisions rather than God initiating and moving supernaturally. Now, this is a tricky area, and it can be different for everyone. Tempting God could be putting ourselves in situations where we feel that God has to prove His love or His ability to care for us. It could also be something as simple as going back to something from which we’ve been delivered, thinking we won't get burned again. It could be anything from a bad habit, to an addiction, a religious environment or something else. It is to remain in agreement with compromise in some form or fashion just to please our flesh. It may be a door from the past that the enemy uses, something that your flesh has a weakness for. Lust is not always sexual. It may be a drivenness to fulfill your purpose that strays outside of God’s will. This is how the enemy uses a good desire but leads a person to try to fulfill it in the wrong ways. Satan can use the desire for recognition, affirmation, or even relationships. The temptation is to fill that need or desire with something other than your relationship with God. Whatever it is, you will probably recognize it as an area that your flesh fights to keep while rationalizing it in terms of scripture. Lying spirits will tell you that what you want is not sin. Maybe for some people it wouldn’t be considered wrong, but sometimes, depending on the individual, it’s not so much the thing itself that’s wrong, but the independent spirit and stubbornness of the will that is involved in trying to bargain with God. We can’t  keep what He says ‘give up.’ We cannot expect the blessing of being released from the test and released from transition while we try to retain stubbornness of heart. An independent spirit is set against God to try to fulfill a desire apart from Him. That kind of test can take a very long time indeed, until a person wakes up and understands that they are really fighting a losing battle against God.  It may not feel like it at the time, but an independent spirit is really trying to put self in place of God to make your own decisions and decide what is good for yourself, rather than trusting Him to fulfill your needs and desires in His own way. It’s saying no to the temptations when we don’t have anything to fulfill that craving or desire except God alone. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The other wilderness trial Jesus had to pass was whether or not He would serve God, or Satan by compromise. The temptation of who we will serve depends on whether or not we accept power by the wrong means. At times, the position you think you have been waiting for is offered, but you get a check in your spirit that there's something that doesn't make it a perfect fit. It's really important to know whether or not you're aligning yourself with others that have the same spiritual DNA. It's not always easy to describe, but the right fit is like a marriage. You don't want to marry yourself to someone that you aren't in love with, or can just 'get along with.' You make a choice to pick someone that 'gets you' and your hearts are connected with a sense of loyalty, commitment to the future and have each other's best interests at heart. At other times, a person may find themselves facing power struggles at work, or in a ministry or church, and a person is tempted to take the opportunity to throw someone under the bus in order to grab a strategic opportunity. This lacks moral integrity and is not God's way to promotion. God’s ways of promotion don’t come by worldly method; it comes by grace. Promotion is His gift. Remember David, who, when given the opportunity, refused to harm Saul – even though Saul sought to kill him! Let God be God over your enemies and remember that promotion is always His to give. It just may not be where you think it is, or where you are currently aligned. It can feel like a big disappointment and sometimes it makes you wonder if all the exit signs are written in a foreign language. How DO you get to your destination? 

The enemy will always try to suggest that a person can obtain power without the humiliation or the work of the cross. It is the offer of position, authority or power without paying the price. There are many people who apply for positions for which they are unqualified. They may look good on paper. They may have a great resume, a strong education, many apparent qualifications in the natural, and even have references of people willing to speak well of them, yet be completely unqualified in the eyes of God for promotion or the position they seek. There can be no rightful authority without first passing the tests. The tests are there to prove integrity. The tests prove to whom we are submitted. The tests prove whom God has chosen, and who is chosen by man. It is imperative to know the difference because it makes all the difference in the world whom we submit ourselves to, and to whom we ask others to submit to. All authority is not good authority. Nor is it God’s best for our lives. One is marked by a kingdom devoid of power, prone to misuse and abuse of authority, controlled and built around man, with man being elevated and celebrated. The other is a kingdom of humility where servanthood is key; validated by signs and miracles that serve to authenticate the message and the messenger of the kingdom for which they testify.  There is no crown of promotion without first the death of the cross. The cross, in all its humiliation, crucifies the flesh and puts to death the dreams, desires and importance of self-will. It is the qualifier for resurrection life and THEN promotion. There is no easy way to power in the kingdom of God.

As it was said of Joseph, before the promise came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. God always tests the metal to see what we’re made of, but they are a necessary litmus test to determine whether or not we will take a stand, or compromise. Impatience will tend to compromise just for the sake of wanting gratification of a desire. Let patience have its perfect work and thus secure the blessing of God that adds no sorrow. Amen. Once you make up your mind to serve God in purity of heart, the battle is won. The battle must be won in your heart before the door to transition will open and you will find yourself entering a new day. 

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