Posts Tagged ‘protection’

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

Hebrews 13:8


The fancy word for today’s topic is “Immutability”.  That is the last time you will see it in this post.  However the bible tells us that in a world of change biblical perseverance calls for a unique constancy from Christ Followers.  God declares his own character when he tells Moses that “I am that I am”.  This Hebrew word, which became the very name of God to Israel, declares His eternal constancy.  It is here that we find one of the prime qualities of biblical perseverance for the believer.

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren ; Romans 8:29

It is only by this miraculous transformation process and the submission of our will to His will that we begin our journey to biblical perseverance.  So then do we  live in the same place, do the same things, never change what we eat or do for the rest of our live?  Clearly not.  We do not even have that kind of control on the circumstances of our lives.  Change is introduced to our existence every day, every hour and every minute of our lives here on earth.  This is where we see that biblical perseverance is a spiritual gift not a physical effort.  It cannot be faked or practiced by human effort.  It is manifested in the lives of those who serve and have a personal relationship with God.

Consider Daniel.

3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles,…6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. Daniel 1:3,6

Talk about change.  As a young man Daniel was ripped from his home, dragged half way across the known world and even had his name taken away.  This Babylonian tactic was specifically designed to destroy perseverance.  Do not be deceived the Enemy is out to destroy your perseverance.  He wants you to come out from under the covering of Christ where he can have a clear and open shot at you.  The Babylonians did everything they could to shake Daniel’s identity as a child of God. But what happened.

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank ; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.  Daniel 1:8

In the midst of all of this change Daniel did not change.  It is important to note that Daniel remained under Jesus Christ in every aspect of his behavior.  This brings us to another important aspect of biblical perseverance.  It expresses at all times the character of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control ; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:22-26

Biblical perseverance is never rude or arrogant.  Perseverance that does not fall in line with His Word is not biblical and is not godly.  When we truly walk in biblical perseverance we are like a lighthouse in the storm.  We go on to read:

9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,…17 As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom ; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams  Daniel 1:9, 17

But let there be no mistake.  Satan HATES biblical perseverance and he believes that he can destroy it.  Daniel continued to face opposition throughout his lifetime.  Many other saints both biblical and historical persevered to martyrdom.  Regardless of the physical outcome the Spiritual truth remains the same and the lighthouse of faithfulness shines in the darkness.

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I have been looking over my posts over the past couple of years and a couple of them stand out so I thought that I would throw them out there again. This post has become so much more meaningful over the past year as Allana and I have walked through the storm of Leukemia and a bone marrow transplant.  It also connects nicely with my series on perseverance because at its core persevering as a Christian IS walking in the miraculous.  When we truly “remain under” Christ Jesus as the covering for our lives the miraculous is bound to show its face.  “Open the eyes of my heart Lord” the popular song refrains.  Open my eyes to see Your miraculous hand in and around my life everyday!


Walking in the Miraculous

“So then does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:5

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of this new life that God has called me to at The Lewis House is one that I should have had in my Christian life regardless of my profession.  It is one that I am still learning to embrace because (unlike my beautiful wife) I am a bit too logical in my make up and a big part of me want to live on the basis of logical observation instead of spiritual expectation.  God is teaching me to walk in the miraculous.

When we truly hear the Gospel with faith there should be an expectation of the miraculous.  It is part of the package.  This is not a mystical toy store or the ability to bend God’s power to our will for our happiness.  It is simply expecting God to act in my life and then walking out my faith and getting to watch Him moving and working in an around me.  The cool thing is that the miraculous looks a little different every time.  I think that one of the mistake that we often make is when something miraculous happens in our lives we run around expecting that very same thing to happen over and over or even just one more time.  This may be in part to our desire to control the miraculous.  Humanity has always had an inherent fear of the things that we cannot control.  Better to have a god who responds to our requests exactly the same way all of the time, speaking into our lives in the ways that we want Him too (as opposed to in ways that sanctify us, ever conforming us closer and closer to the mind of Christ).

The author of Hebrews reveals the purpose of the miraculous.  “…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?  After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”  Hebrews 2:3-4  It confirms to us our salvation.  This approximates Paul’s statement in Galatians that we already looked.

The other amazing thing is that God will not be put in a box.  Sometimes we mistake the fact that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow for the fact that we will be able to manipulate and predict his actions in our lives.  This error is revealed in Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways, My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9  Does this mean that we just drift along being pushed here and there by a capricious God?  Not at all!  We cry out our needs, concerns, suffering and desires to God and the open our spiritual eyes wide and watch Him work.  It will be amazing, and often in ways that we least expect.

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What a wonderful week!  It started off a little rough, Nisa was not feeling well but she came around just in time for us to make the trip to the Assembly of God Fine Arts Festival for the Michigan District held in Lansing.  While it was great to be able to watch so many teens on fire for God and sharing their talents, it was even more wonderful to see Allana blossom this week.  It was really about two weeks ago that she seemed to make a real breakthrough but she really shined this weekend.  Even after the busy two days of Fine Arts she was up and ready to go to hear Dustin Reed bring a great word at Compelled Church and then share a wonderful evening of fellowship and vision with CityLight Church!  I am so thankful for God’s miraculous hand in all the events of the past year and a half.  I am so thankful for God’s gift of Perseverance during this difficult time in our lives.  However as we look at this Biblical concept a little more closely it becomes clear that God does not just provide Perseverance for the tough times.  This gift needs to be a core characteristic of every Christian.

Peter in his second recorded epistle links this quality to our participation in the divine nature of God!  Everyone appreciates getting gifts but how special it is when one receives a gift that extends from the very nature of the giver.  So many gifts are gifts of obligation but when the gift proceeds from the heart and represents the very being of the giver it becomes that much more special.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord ; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:2-7, the bold is mine)  

Even more important this gift is one that is critical to the transformation process that Life in Christ Jesus brings.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

But we all, with unveiled facebeholding as in a mirror the glory of theLord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to gloryjust as from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

It is only when we persevere, remaining “under” Jesus Christ that the wonderful transformation into His Spiritual image can take place.  While it is a gift from God perseverance also requires intentionality from the recipient.  It is a gift that only functions when the recipient is fully focused on the giver.  Kyle Idleman tells us that idols are created when gifts from God become more important than the giver (gods at war).  This is what happens when perseverance becomes completely focused on the events of our life (usually the negative ones) and not on Jesus Christ.

For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  Psalm 63:7

Don’t wait for disaster to strike to rest in the shadow of His wings.  The more we remain there, the more we will experience the joy of true perseverance.


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Faith Gun

We recently played a family game called “Snake Oil”.  The premise is pretty simple.  You have a hand of 6 cards and you need to combine 2 of them to create a product which you the “sell” to the player who is “it” and has a particular profile based on the buyer’s card.  My now second youngest daughter (yes I typed youngest first) needed to sell a product to a soldier and this is what she came up with, The Faith Gun.  She pitched it as a weapon which always hit the target you were aiming at as long as you believed.  Well as comments from my children often do, it got me to thinking about this product and its application to our lives as Christians.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”  (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Paul consistently describes the Christian life in military terms.  We are in a battle and the enemy is powerful.  “Be if sober spirit, be on the alert.   Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8 ) However God does not leave us un-equipped and unprepared for this battle.  The key is that we need to avail ourselves of the training and weapons at our disposal.  So let me introduce you to the Faith Gun.

1.  The Faith Gun becomes instantly available to every born again Christian when they place their belief, trust and obedience in Jesus.

Our spiritual arsenal becomes instantly available when we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a result of our decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who isgiven as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.   (Ephesians 1:13-14)

2.  Proper use of the Faith Gun requires submission and training.

There is only one training manual for the Faith Gun, The Bible.  However there are many resources that God places in our lives as we develop maturity and skill as Soldiers of Christ.

” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (1 Timothy 1:14)

It is up to us to take advantage of all of the training resources that God provides, measuring each one by the Manual.  This of course requires that we know the Manual, read, study it, make it a part of our lives. As we do this in submission to the Holy Spirit and living in the presence of God the Faith Gun becomes an extension of our lives.  Snipers will tell you that becoming “One with the Gun” is a vital part of hitting difficult targets.  It is even more true in our Relationship with God.

Faith Gun2

3.  To be effective the Faith Gun not only hits the target, it chooses the target.

Unlike weapons of human manufacture, the Faith Gun not only allows the Soldier of Christ to hit the target, it chooses the target to hit.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for us to swallow.  It violates our need for control.  It violates our need for direction.  Yes the world teaches that we need to be “one with the gun” so that we can accurately control and direct it.  God teaches that we need to be “one with the gun” so that it can control and direct us.  It is when we do this that God reveals the wisdom of the world to be foolishness. “For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Corinthians 1:19)  As we become more mature in our handling of the Faith Gun this is of even greater importance.  One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to provide a target rich environment.  One might think that the more targets their are the easier they are to hit but for the undisciplined this far from true.  I am reminded of a hunting expedition that I was on in the hills of Pennsylvania.  I came upon a single doe standing broadside to me at about 30 yards.  I carefully aimed and brought her down with one shot.  At that moment I realized that I had walked into a whole group lying in the brush as they stood and froze for a moment.  After easily taking the first doe I tried to take another unloading the rifle in a target rich environment of 12-15 deer, and didn’t hit anything.  In our target rich environment allowing the Holy Spirit complete control is crucial in order to accurately strike the targets that God has directed us to.

4.  The Faith Gun selects its own ammunition, perfect in every way to impact the target.

The Faith Gun only come in one caliber, LOVE.  It is within in that caliber that God provides many types of ammunition.  Choosing the correct type of ammunition for the intended target is far beyond our ability.  How sad it is when we actually allow the Faith Gun to choose the target but then go off half cocked loading our own choice of ammunition.  We have many “reasons” for doing this, “I am good at this”, “I know what is needed”, “All the books say…”.  Volumes have been written, preached, rewritten and re-preached on this subject so I am not going to try to tackle all the different types of ammunition available.  I will give some general guidelines.

*Under no circumstances will God call you to use ammunition that is incompatible with the caliber of our Faith Gun.  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)  I could appropriately quote this chapter in its entirety as a guide to the ammunition appropriate for our Faith Gun, but you know what go ahead and read it for yourself.  The results of using incompatible ammo can be devastating.  When we try to slip ammunition containing hate, greed, jealousy, disdain, selfishness or fear into our Faith Gun the resulting explosion can scar us and those around us in horrible ways.

*It would be wonderful if God would always give us clear miraculous guidance in the appropriate ammunition for every situation.  I know that pastors in particular wish that this was true.  It is in these cases that unity with Scripture becomes all important.  In order to achieve this you have to KNOW the Word of God.  This involves reading it. (Hmmm…is sarcasm an appropriate ammunition…Paul used it so….).  In these cases I would suggest that utilizing the ammunition that best expresses the intent of the caliber is the best choice.  The Bible is a remarkable document.  When you measure situations against the whole of Scripture the Holy Spirit will often make clear what the best ammunition is to achieve God’s intent.

5.  Ultimately the Faith Gun operates to and for the Glory of God.

This point dove tails with the idea that the Faith Gun chooses its target.  We often desire and I have even heard it preached that the Faith Gun is here for our protection and comfort.  Scripture is clear that as Soldiers of Christ we operate for the will and Glory of the Father.  We operate in suffering, in poverty, in wealth, in comfort, in every possible human condition for the Glory of God

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Detour Ahead!  How I have dreaded that sign. Fortunately with today’s smartphone and GPS technology it does not carry the same fear factor that it did when I was younger.  In fact today with a little bit of effort we are able to avoid detours altogether and if we do get stuck in one with a few simple screen touches we no longer have to rely on the often sparsely placed detour signs and can map out our new path to our destination.  However we have not managed a technology that will predict and map out alternative routes to our goals when we hit those life detours that take us away from path of life that we have planned.


noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\

: the act of going or traveling to a place along a way that is different from the usual or planned way

: a road, highway, etc., that you travel on when the usual way of traveling cannot be used

I have been struggling with this topic for some time now.  I originally thought I would be talk about heavenly detours.  How God diverts our path for his purpose and we just have to kind of ride along.  That is certainly how I felt about this latest chapter in my life.  As I looked at the scene pictured about today (Wednesday October 2, 2013), I realized how different my life was just 9 months ago.  January 2nd Nisa Faith had just joined our family after a 10 year Odyssey of losses, tears and suffering.  Allana was feeling a little ill but we were certain a quick trip to the OB, some antibiotics and we would be good to go.  Ready to run that path that seemed to be so obviously stretched out ahead of us, a Spring and Summer of ministry at The Lewis House, working with Compelled, CityLight and our other partners to spread the Love of God.  What a difference 3 days can make.  3 short days and I would be on perhaps the greatest detour of my life, or would I.  God has been really battering me on this subject, because I truly have felt like this was exactly that, a detour.  When in reality it is right on course but instead of my course, or Allana’s course or TLH’s course, it IS GOD’s course.  When we view these events in our lives as detours, we detract from God’s omniscient role as master planner of everything.  I want to step lightly here because I am not writing doctrine on God’s sovereignty nor am I suggesting that God gave this horrible disorder to Allana, or anyone else.  I think that perhaps my concept of our situation whether thought out or not was of God looking down and saying, ” Oh shoot!  Allana has Leukemia, well I guess I can use that for My Glory ’til we can get things back on course.”  There we go, just a heavenly detour and I am so tempted to detour here into writing the very doctrinal statement that I said was not my intent.  Thank God for the delete button.  However what I have found is that God does not take detours.  Allana and I are not on some end around that will eventually get us back on the path that God has for us.  We are on the path that he has carefully laid out for us.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

No detours for God’s consecrated, God’s appointed, God’s anointed.  There is a point in every Born Again Believer’s life that he or she makes a choice to change direction.  However this is not a detour because not only the route changes, the destination changes.  The Believer is no longer on a pathway to eternal separation from God, to hell, but has turned to a path leading to the mind of Christ.  There is an intentional, continual seeking of God’s presence.  It harks more the etymological root of the word than our current usage.

French détour, from Old French destor, from destorner to divert, from des- de- + torner to turn —

First Known Use: 1738
To turn from, this is the very heart of repentance and salvation.  There is one major difference when we submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ there is not just a temporary course change.  There is a change of destination, and I don’t just mean heaven.  Every man has in his mind a course and destination.  What the destination will be is determined by our core values.  Some pursue riches.  Some pursue power.  Some pursue pure evil.  Some pursue the greatest good.  Honestly some pursue nothing at all, seeking to have no destination at all but simply seeing life as riding out each circumstance to the best of their ability only to find that this is in itself pursuing a course to a destination.  When one comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ all of  that changes.  “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.”  Romans 8:28  Suddenly we are on a new course.  It is not one of our own creation but one that God set into motion before the world was created.  This is the confusion.  We conceive of where God has us headed and when things don’t turn out we see it as a detour.  This brings frustration just the same way that an unexpected detour on the road unsettles us.  However when we give God the glory he is do, this evaporates.  “In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” Psalms 16:9  It is the assumption that God has it all under control that allows to continually apply His word to our situation. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”   Psalm 119:59.  It is in this place that God affirms us even in the midst of the storm.

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I did not sleep well last night.  I find that as we approach the time of returning home and as the visits to the hospital and to our doctors become fewer and far between, there is not a sense of relief but a sense of fear.  Throw into the mix the new healthcare laws going into effect in a matter of days and not really knowing how that will impact Allana’s ongoing care and I find myself doing just a little bit of internal churning.  Friday enhanced for me the precariousness of her situation.  This is not to say that this sense of fear came on suddenly, it has been building.  It just kind of peaked last night and early this morning.  But as I finally gave in to the hopelessness of getting back to sleep, again…I heard buzz of an incoming email and this is what I found:

Sep 29, 2013

Facing Your Fears

By Charles F. Stanley

I wanted to smile and cry at the same time.   At that point the content of the devotional didn’t really matter.  God was just reminding me the He knows where I am at every minute of every day.  I am a little disappointed in myself that after all of His miraculous interventions in my life I am so easily sidetracked but it is great to KNOW that I have the God who is ready to coddle me when my human weaknesses show through.  I did of course read the piece and the first major point highlighted what had really happened.

“The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself and onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority. Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

People may criticize, reject, ridicule and persecute, but they can’t take away your salvation, your relationship with Jesus Christ, your eternal home in heaven, or the joy, contentment, and inner strength the Lord imparts to you.”

It is part of the incredible human disconnect that is at the heart of our faith.  For the Children of God successfully facing fear means not looking at the problem, or problems that bring the fear, it means looking right into the face of Jesus.  It is from this place that Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content no matter what his circumstances are because no matter what is going on around him or what is happening to him, the face of Christ never changes.  I would encourage you to go and read the rest of Stanley’s devotional for today but here are the basic points

Second, ask the Lord to give you the help you need.

Third, encourage yourself by memorizing the Word of God and quoting it as often as you need a fear-buster of inner strength.

And, finally, ask others to pray for you.

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Reposted from Facebook

One thing I said when I was pregnant with Nisa was that i was going to be transparent… the good the bad the ugly…. I have continued in that… it hasn’t been easy – I always got the label “tough cookie” since I was a kid… I have lots and lots of emotions, I am a very passionate person, but I hate failing, I have feeling weak…. today I had to reach out – and my friends uplifted me greatly! One thing is for sure people, when you allow yourself to be real that is when God truly shows up…. it reminds me often when God asked Adam and Eve where they were – do you think it was because God didn’t know? I don’t believe that – I think God asked them where they were for them… today God asked me where I was, and I was anxious! And be met me right where I was at… He stilled my heart for the moment – there will be more days coming up when I will be anxious and worried, but I know without a doubt, when I am weak HE is strong. When I am real, HE shows I AM! What an amazing God I serve! I Love You Lord!

Dear Lord, thank you for your ever present grace. Thank you for always holding my every moment. I know my world is in your hands. This is way worse than the first day of school which always made me nervous. The pathway looks so dark and unsure. But this is what I do know. You are here with me. So Daddy I see darkness all around but I am clinging to You. Thank You Lord for the picture I just had – walking on a dark scary path. Lots of scary jungle noises. Holding onto My Heavenly Fathers hand with both of mine as hard as I can. I am crouched as close as I possibly can – just barely able to see around Him because I am trying to hide. But my Daddy – he is upright. He is walking slowly but still He is assured of the path. He knows the way. The holds the lamp out in front of us and though it doesn’t light up enough so that I can see, I know even if that light were to go dim, He is not afraid. He has walked this path many times. He pulls me close to Him, puts His arm around me. I look up at Him and He smiles and says “it’s going to be okay my daughter, I know what comes next and I am with You”. My heart still pounds. I still squint my eyes trying to see better. I still jump at every noise. But I will walk with Him. I won’t let go. And I know if anything jumps out at us He will protect me with all He’s got. Lead on. I’m not letting go.

What a glorious God!

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