AND HE YET STANDS!

Delayed (but certainly not denied) complements of the New Year to you!

I have entered this year embracing specific promises that God has granted me.  I’ve entered into a brand new year fully replete with brand new blessings, breakthroughs, and fresh new promises.  As I embrace this abundant favor He is extending to me, I’m reminded of a word my dear friend Lydia, a radio presenter and powerful woman of God, recently sent me that ministered to me in more ways I could ever imagine.

Lydia "Eagle" Skosana
Lydia “Eagle” Skosana

She said, “I see the heavenly assembly looking down on you. I see the Father on His throne and Jesus sitting at His right hand. There is silence as they listen to your heart. I see a host of angels surrounding you looking attentively waiting for you to speak. The look in their eyes says, “We are ready! We are with you! Command us!”

Wow! There were so many nuggets thrown in this word that my mind was completely blown away.  But one portion resonated so deep within my spirit that I felt it necessary to revisit.  As she spoke of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, while there was in silence
in heaven, I reflected on my study of the book of Revelation.

SILENCE!Image result for shhh pic

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)

Immediately after this seal was opened, the prayers of saints were offered to God which ushered in the seven trumpet judgments of God.[1]  This would mark the beginning of God’s wrath being poured out on all who oppose Him.  It sets the stage for Jesus to “stand up” and avenge the blood of His people.

I pondered that silence in heaven that took place just before the release of judgment. It caused me to draw from this analogy:  A group of school kids just discovered that they had been caught misbehaving terribly.  They knew they were in great trouble, but they had no idea what their punishment would be.  They discussed their potential fate until they heard the doorknob turning as the teacher, principle, and those affected by the behavior of these children entered the room.  From that moment until the teacher decided to speak, you could hear a pin drop.  Total silence in anticipation of impending doom filled the room. 

Of course, fear gripped the perpetrators.  But even the victims who knew well the wrath that the principle embraced found themselves utterly speechless as they awaited the soon coming passing of judgment.

Likewise, I can only imagine the angels in heaven, who have basked in the loving kindness of their Creator since the beginning of creation, standing back in stunned silence as they await the unleashing of His wrath.

IS HE STILL SITTING?

This brings me to the next part of the word that resonated in my spirit.  Jesus was sitting at the right hand of the Father, but what was His response to the prayers and cries of His people today?  This takes me backs to the post entitled “And Jesus Stood Up” published back in October, most of which bears repeating here.

 

 

As I read the book of Acts, I was reminded of a powerful message preached by Iona Locke in the 80s entitled “And Satan Stood Up”. Her text was taken from 1 Chronicles 21:1 which says, “And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”  David was influenced by the devil to act in complete disobedience to God’s command which resulted in severe consequences.  70,000 men died as a result of this disobedience.[2]

As I read the account of the stoning of Stephen[3], I’m sure it was again the result of satan standing up.  Satan, feeling threatened by the wondrous works wrought at the hands of Stephen for his role in building of the Kingdom of God stood to influence certain Jews in the synagogue to conspire against him and ultimately have him killed. 

Satan stood again, but so did Jesus!  He decided to stand toe-to-toe with this notorious Kingdom killer.  But just like in a chess match, sometimes a pawn chooses to be sacrificed for the greater good of the kingdom.  Stephen choose become a martyr for the sake of the gospel which set the stage for Jesus to stand and strike the blow that would knock the devil silly!

In his darkest hour, Stephen was so blessed to witness Jesus stand up from his throne located strategically at the right hand of God.[4]  As He stood, He welcomed Stephen into life everlasting.  But what caused Him to stand?  After all, he had been sitting comfortably at God’s right hand since He had been raised from the dead, not long prior to this occasion.[5]

I can picture Jesus watching broken-hearted as his disciple stood against His antagonists and preached Him crucified.  While His heart ached, I’m sure He was so moved to see one of the first of His followers display a willingness to get to know Him “in the fellowship of His suffering”[6].  But was that enough to cause him to stand?   Could he have stood in grief at the treatment of His Body[7], as Stephen practically echoes the very speech He uttered on the cross?[8]

Courtesy of Diego Grez

This reminds me of my childhood days.  When someone would hear that a sibling was about to be bullied, he would arrive on the scene and stand by, ready to take on the bully himself if necessary.  I’m sure Jesus felt just like that sibling, ready to stand in front of Stephen and conquer that old bully.  While he didn’t stop the fight, He did Stand up!

He knew full well that the ultimate victory over this Disciple killer would require Him to stand up, and go toe-to-toe with this adversary strategically.  That’s exactly what He did.  He stood to receive this sacrifice, and to protect His investment. He stood to protect His Body.   

As Saul, notorious for tormenting Christians,[9] was headed to Damascus to further his crusade, Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks for the great confrontation that led to the great conversion.[10]  Today, 2/3rd of the New Testament was authored by this former Kingdom killer, all because Jesus Stood up.  He stood up, and He showed up!!!

Isn’t it amazing how far the gospel has spread in the last 2000 years?  And thanks to today’s technology, it’s spreading even further throughout the globe.  All because Jesus Stood up. 

When I think of Christians who are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, I can see Jesus standing.  When I think of God’s people dying in natural disasters that seem to be coming in epic proportion, I can see Jesus standing up. 

Conversely, when I reflect on certain tragic and trying events in my own life, and how I was delivered unscathed, I’m convinced that Jesus stood up.  I have some battle scars remaining from some wars I’ve engaged in, yet I’m healed because I know He stood up.  Just as He stood up for Stephen, and just as He stood against Saul, just trust that He’s standing up for you.

Thank You Jesus For Standing!  I thank You because You stood in the gap and wrapped Yourself in flesh to feel my infirmities.[11] I thank You because You stood to hang on the cross to redeem my sins.  I thank You because You stood on my behalf to lead captivity captive and became the great gift giver[12].  I thank You because You stood on the third day as my Resurrected Lord, the head of me, a part of Your glorious Body[13].  Thank You Jesus because when satan stood up, so did You!

 Thank You Lord for YET standing for me.

 

 REFERENCES:

[1] Revelation 8:1-3

[2] 1 Chronicles 21:14

[3] Acts 6, 7

[4] Acts 7:55

[5] Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 8:1, 12:2

[6] Philippians 3:10

[7] 1 Corinthians 12:27

[8] Acts 7:59, 60; Luke 23:4

[9] Acts 8:1-3

[10] Acts 9:1-20

[11] Hebrews 4:15

[12] Ephesians 4:8

[13] Ephesians 1:22, 5:23, Colossians 1:18

Transformational Warfare

Large statue representing Shaka at Camden Market in London, England

The most repeatedly screened mini-series ever shown on television in the United States according to IMDB.com is the 1986 adaptation of Shaka Zulu. By 1992, over 350 million viewers had seen it.[1]   In 1997, during my first visit to South Africa, a friend who discovered my earnest desire to gain a better understanding of the historical backdrop of KwaZulu Natal, gave me a book entitled “Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire”.

This book was written by a man who was immersed in oral traditions told by the son of one of Shaka’s fellow soldiers.[2] Unlike the movie which presented Shaka from the perspective of British native Dr. Henry Francis Finn, The Rise of the Zulu Empire portrays Shaka mainly as the Zulus viewed him.

Considered the greatest military leader in African History and possibly all of history, his military tactics and strategies afforded him the opportunity to transform a small clusters of villages into a national army consisting of approximately 20,000 fierce warriors within 12 short years.[3]

While he was considered by many as a fiercely brutal despot, I believe his success was tied into key Biblical principles that I’m convinced he had no idea existed. In studying warfare preparation instructions outlined by Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:10-17), I was struck by just how many Shaka employed.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  (Ephesians 6:10-11)

Transformational warfare is warfare not designed to transform the lands of the opposition.  It is designed to transform a weak, fearful unbeliever into a mighty conquerer.  Paul provided us with three key ingredients for transformational warfare. He instructs us to be strong, get dressed (prove our armor), and stand.  Let’s explore how he applied these ingredients.

 

Prov 14 26BE STRONG

Unlike kings of the past, who were at times considered more prosperous based on how overweight they were, Shaka was known to be a man of mass muscles. He was very well known for not his own physical strength, but also of that of his troops.  It has been said that he would lead his troops on 50-mile marches over hot, rough terrain to build up battle endurance.

His warriors, who had become lean, mean fighting machines, began to trust him implicitly.  Viewing him as if he were a god, they were convinced that with Shaka at the helm, they could conquer any territory in their sights.  The strength in this army lay at their confidence in him as a king and his ability to lead them into victory.

To be strong in the Lord is to tap into faith that the same God leading you into battle will bring you out victoriously.  This explains why time and time again, scripture issues this admonition, “fear not…be strong”.[4]

To build your spiritual strength you must have confidence and faith in the person charged with your care.  Our strength lies in our faith.  To be transformed into the warrior you were called to be, you must be strong (in faith) in the Lord and in the power of His might.

 

GET DRESSED/PROVE YOUR ARMOR

Getting dressed for battle requires preparation.

Recently I was on the phone with a friend who every couple of minutes was interrupted by her daughter who was seeking “fashion advice”.  Apparently she had picked up weight, so in an effort to prepare for Sunday service, she was trying to determine which outfit would fit comfortably so that she could enjoy service.  Had she not properly prepared her dress, she would have been ill prepared for service the following day.

As a young warrior, Shaka tried the traditional methods of warfare, including wearing the shoes that the warriors fought in.  He found that those shoes slowed him down so he discarded.  Instead, he felt it more effective to shod the bottom of his feet with callous so that he could withstand harsh conditions without the burden of ineffective shoes.  The calloused bottoms BECAME his shoes, the best for battle in this terrain.

Does this sound familiar?  His actions mirrored that of David when King Saul gave him his armor as he was about to approach Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  David, who was small in stature found Saul’s armor too cumbersome, so he elected to discard it in favor of his staff and five smooth stones which was all he needed to defeat the giant standing before him.

Paul instructed us to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.[5] We must have so much of the gospel of peace lodged in our spirit through the preparatory ingesting of the Word of God, so that anywhere our feet trod, we will be equipped to preach Christ and Him crucified.

The current weapon of choice prior to Shaka’s reign was a long spear that would be thrown at opponents.  Shaka concluded that this practice and spear was a complete waste and invented a short stabbing spear designed for close range combat.  It was called the “iklwa” which described the sucking, slurping sound one hears upon retrieving it from the body of an opponent. 

The only offensive weapon we were assigned Biblically to use in warfare is the sharp two-edged Sword of the Word of God which is designed to divide asunder spirit and soul, joints and marrow.[6]  When penetrated properly, removing the blade could simultaneously disembowel our defeated foe.  Likewise, our two-edged Sword is designed to cut so deep that it will “divide asunder spirit and soul”.  In turn, it will disembowel anything the enemy has implanted in you, transforming you into the mighty warrior God has equipped for His battlefield.

colonialwarfare18901975.devhub.comSTAND

What I love the most about transformation warfare is that it’s about standing.  We are to stand still and see the salvation of God.[7] We are not talking about transforming the land or others.  It’s about transforming yourself.  You are being transformed into the warrior God called you to be so that you can go out to the enemy’s camp and take back what he stole from you. Then you can fulfill the scripture that says the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.[8] You can’t do that if you are not prepared or able to stand.

Standing implies keeping your ground, or not wavering from the position you have been placed in.  Shaka was never known for turning his back on a fight. 

For years, I thought the scripture that says, “resist the devil and he will flee”[9] meant that we must ignore or turn our backs on the devil.  Eventually I realized that just like in resistance training, to resist is to stand against your opposing force.  In doing so, muscles are built and endurance is strengthened.

By standing against the “wiles of the devil”[10], we show the strength that God has fortified us with through His Spirit.  It isn’t by our might or power, but it is by His spirit that battles are won.[11]  If we stand in His will with our eyes fixed on Jesus and not circumstances,[12] we fortify ourselves against the onslaught of demonic forces.

THE TRANSFORMED WARRIOR

Using the three key ingredients Paul provided us with, we are now equipped to become transformed warriors. Together we can become one united front standing strong against the schemes of the devil.  Strengthened by the Word of God and dressed for war, we can now stand as the transformed warriors God has called us to be.  So, be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS MIGHT!

 

References:

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086798/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

[2] Ritter, E. A (1955). Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire. London: Longmans Green

[3] http://afkinsider.com/57305/16-things-made-shaka-zulu-a-military-genius/5/

[4] Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 10:25, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Isaiah 35:4, Daniel 10:19, Zechariah 8:13

[5] Ephesians 6:15

[6] Hebrews 4:12

[7] Exodus 14:13, 2 Chronicles 10:17

[8] Revelation 11:15

[9] James 4:7

[10] Ephesians 6:11

[11] Zechariah 4:6

[12] Hebrews 12:2

CLEAN YOUR LENSES

dirty_glasses_635_358

While overseeing the Prophetic Ministry of the Arts in Rustenburg, South Africa, I would periodically get an  urge to “spring clean”.  During these urges, one could find me removing all the furniture from the office, pulling up the carpet to be cleaned, and/or scrubbing down the walls and floors.  This cleaning spree would always be unannounced, and would always occur during our scheduled practice days.  After all, what a great way to teach these youth some discipline, right?

A couple of hours before their arrival, most of the furniture would already be outside.  I would be found sitting outside with a bucket of soapy water washing down every piece of equipment and furniture we owned.  Each team member would arrive in shock (and I’m sure a bit of disappointment) to find that they would immediately be issued  instructions to assist in this endeavor.

Dust 2The most tedious task was always the floor.  Oftentimes when the carpet is removed, one would find almost a half inch layer of dust underneath.  The South African method of combating this “dust bowl” would be to sprinkle water throughout the floor then proceed to mop.  I never subscribed to this method because I felt we were only lubricating and circulating dirt.  Therefore, I would commence with several rounds of sweeping before even considering mopping. 

Sometimes, I would have four to
five people follow my lead by of sweeping at least two times before carrying out other chores.  Only after the room had been swept to the point that the dust remaining was minimal would I move on to the mopping phase.  You couldn’t even imagine the amount of dust that would be flying in the air during these sweepings.   Continue reading “CLEAN YOUR LENSES”

AND JESUS STOOD UP!

 

Stephen stoned1

In my first “Study Nuggets” post, I said I would follow up with a post about Egypt seasons.  That study seems to be growing from a nugget to a chunk, so I’ll have to lay that one on the back burner to simmer for a while.  In the meantime, as I read the book of Acts, I was reminded of a powerful message preached by Iona Locke in the 80s entitled “And Satan Stood Up”. Her text was taken from 1 Chronicles 21:1 which says, “And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”  David was influenced by the devil to act in complete disobedience to God’s command which resulted in severe consequences.  70,000 men died as a result of this disobedience.[2]    

As I read the account of the stoning of Stephen[3], I’m sure it was again the result of satan standing up.  Satan, feeling threatened by the wondrous works wrought at the hands of Stephen for his role in building of the Kingdom of God stood to influence certain Jews in the synagogue to conspire against him and ultimately have him killed. 

Satan stood up, but so did Jesus!  He decided to stand toe-to-toe with this notorious Kingdom killer.  But just like in a chess match, sometimes a pawn chooses to be sacrificed for the greater good of the kingdom.  Stephen choose become a martyr for the sake of the gospel which set the stage for Jesus to stand and strike the blow that would knock the devil silly!

In his darkest hour, Stephen was so blessed to witness Jesus stand up from his throne located strategically at the right hand of God.[4]  As He stood, He welcomed Stephen into life everlasting.  But what caused Him to stand?  After all, he had been sitting comfortably at God’s right hand since He had been raised from the dead, not long prior to this occasion.[5]

I can picture Jesus watching broken-hearted as his disciple stood against His antagonists and preached Him crucified.  While His heart ached, I’m sure He was so moved to see one of the first of His followers display a willingness to get to know Him “in the fellowship of His suffering”[6].  But was that enough to cause him to stand?   Could he have stood in grief at the treatment of His Body[7], as Stephen practically echoes the very speech He uttered on the cross?[8]

Courtesy of Diego Grez

This reminds me of my childhood days.  When someone would hear that a sibling was about to be bullied, he would arrive on the scene and stand by, ready to take on the bully himself if necessary.  I’m sure Jesus felt just like that sibling, ready to stand in front of Stephen and conquer that old bully.  While he didn’t stop the fight, He did Stand up!

He knew full well that the ultimate victory over this Disciple killer would require Him to stand up, and go toe-to-toe with this adversary strategically.  That’s exactly what He did.  He stood to receive this sacrifice, and to protect His investment. He stood to protect His Body.   

As Saul, notorious for tormenting Christians,[9] was headed to Damascus to further his crusade, Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks for the great confrontation that led to the great conversion.[10]  Today, 2/3rd of the New Testament was authored by this former Kingdom killer, all because Jesus Stood up.  He stood up, and He showed up!!!

Isn’t it amazing how far the gospel has spread in the last 2000 years?  And thanks to today’s technology, it’s spreading even further throughout the globe.  All because Jesus Stood up. 

When I think of Christians who are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, I can see Jesus standing.  When I think of God’s people dying in natural disasters that seem to be coming in epic proportion, I can see Jesus standing up. 

Conversely, when I reflect on certain tragic and trying events in my own life, and how I was delivered unscathed, I’m convinced that Jesus stood up.  I have some battle scars remaining from some wars I’ve engaged in, yet I’m healed because I know He stood up.  Just as He stood up for Stephen, and just as He stood against Saul, just trust that He’s standing up for you.

Thank You Jesus For Standing!  I thank You because You stood in the gap and wrapped Yourself in flesh to feel my infirmities.[11] I thank You because You stood to hang on the cross to redeem my sins.  I thank You because You stood on my behalf to lead captivity captive and became the great gift giver[12].  I thank You because You stood on the third day as my Resurrected Lord, the head of me, a part of Your glorious Body[13].  Thank You Jesus because when satan stood up, so did You!

 

 REFERENCES:

[1] Revelation 8:1-3

[2] 1 Chronicles 21:14

[3] Acts 6, 7

[4] Acts 7:55

[5] Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 8:1, 12:2

[6] Philippians 3:10

[7] 1 Corinthians 12:27

[8] Acts 7:59, 60; Luke 23:4

[9] Acts 8:1-3

[10] Acts 9:1-20

[11] Hebrews 4:15

[12] Ephesians 4:8

[13] Ephesians 1:22, 5:23, Colossians 1:18

WELCOME TO “STUDY NUGGETS”

Gold real1

For the past 15 years, I’ve been using a free downloadable application called e-Sword as my main tool for my personal Bible study.  I love this application because it creates a “one-stop-shop” scenario for my study experience where no internet access is required. In addition to providing a wide array of Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and other Bible study tools, it also contains a wonderful editor which allows me to create my own personal study Bible by storing all my notes in an organized fashion within its database.

esword screenshotOften before reading my daily allotted chapters, I review the notes I previously recorded that are associated with the passages of scripture I’m scheduled to read. Today, as I began to review my notes, I stumbled upon a note that drove me to add “Study Nuggets” as a new category to Global Growth Factors.

Over the years, God has blessed me with many revelations of scripture (at least they were revelations to me) during my personal studies. I’m so thankful for e-Sword because being able to organize my notes have afforded me the opportunity to:

  1. Study now and reflect later. Like today’s study, when I review my notes, I am able to ponder the revelation and gain deeper insight into practical application of the text.
  2. Have a measurable yardstick for growth in the area of understanding scripture. Sometimes through further study, I’ll revisit a note only to realize that my perception or assumption of a passage was erroneous
  3. Create my own personal study Bible (in time, of course). With more than three thousand study notes connected directly to specific passages of scripture, I have the ability to print these notes and use my hard copy as my own personal study Bible.  This has proven useful during seasons where I had no access to electricity.
  4. Remember great spiritual nuggets long forgotten. I’m often tickled at the times I’m get this great revelation only to find when I go to record it that I already had that revelation before. I once heard a friend say “My memory is good. It’s just short.” How well I relate!

Using e-Sword and revisiting my study notes makes my Bible study experience come to life and my devotions and meditations much richer.

esword screenshot1Why am I sharing all this with you? It isn’t to promote e-Sword, although it is the one application that I would swear by if it weren’t illegal.[i] LOL.

I’m sharing this because I’ve come to realize that there are so many nuggets that have acted as treasures in my life that I feel I should share with you. These nuggets have (and still do) help me tremendously in my personal spiritual growth and development.

So armed with a mandate on my life to enhance the Body of Christ in the area of spiritual growth and development, I’m adding “Study Nuggets” to Global Growth Factors.  In doing so, I am using  this platform as an opportunity for anyone else residing on the globe who just happens to stumble across this blog to enjoy additional growth as well.

So, stay tuned as I begin to share some of the “secrets” God has revealed to me through my private time in His Word. On my next post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about Egypt Seasons; what they are, when they come, and how to determine when they expire.

Love & Blessings!

 

Reference:

[i] Matthew 5:34-35