FEAR IS A LIAR. Fear is a predator. Fear is a spirit that takes captive and releases no prisoners unless commanded to do so by a higher authority. JESUS IS THAT AUTHORITY!!! Faith is that authority. Our song and prayer over you is this…LET FAITH RISE UP and LET FEAR FALL DOWN, in JESUS NAME! Here’s a song that God recently put on their hearts. Sing it over yourself. Sing it over your family, your community and our world. “But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. We rise up in faith praying, God, YOUR will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Be at peace and of sound mind my friends; we are praying for you and with you and we WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
On a Sunday morning in 2019, my friend Martin saw musical notes rising from the top of my head. He would pen his vision on a 3-hole punch lined paper, and later present it to me at the end of the service.
Spelled in large letters in the drawing was the word WAR, an acronym for Worship and Rise. The very act of worshiping and arising, a spiritual war that releases God’s power to have sway over our circumstances, allowing Him to change our circumstances.
This is a time to Worship And Rise, to prevail. It is a time for faith to rise up and for fear to fall down.
We are called to WORSHIP
We are facing a very dark and evil time in our world today. COVID-19 Coronavirus is an evil that is ravaging the entire world, bringing disease and death and financial adversity. Yet, we are reminded that “in times of disaster we will not wither, and in days of famine we will enjoy plenty” (Psalm 37:19). In such a time as this, we are also reminded to Worship and Rise, to prevail. “I would have despaired otherwise had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I wait on You Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you! (Psalm 27:13-14)
King Jehoshaphat provides a great example of how praise and WORSHIP lead to victory.
When a great multitude from Syria came against Israel, Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, fasted and prayed. It says in 2 Chronicles 20:9 “When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.” Stand firm, hold your position and see the Lord deliver you. This is a time to Worship and Rise, to prevail. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast invasion force (substitute Coronavirus), because the battle doesn’t belong to you, but to God” (2 Chronicles 20:15, ISV)
Praise and worship elevate us into God’s presence and power. In Psalms 22:3 it says God inhabits the praise of His people. “You are God-Enthroned, surrounded with songs, living among the shouts of praise of your princely people.” Yes, we are princely, not pathetic “o, woah is me,” sad, weak and helpless people.
Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:17–18). And when they arose to give thanks and praise to the Lord with a very loud shout, the Lord answered them and delivered them from their enemy! Let’s declare that God will deliver us also from Coronavirus during this Passover season and that there be a shift in the spiritual atmosphere that brings healing to our nation. May the blood of Jesus be our covering, and a hedge of protection around us.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21)
This is not the first, nor do I believe the last that we will see plagues and pestilence. God promises to protect his true believers “when we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High,our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?” (Ps. 91:9-10, The Passion Translation).
God is calling us to ARISE
Arise, the verb is defined as to get up, to jump up, to make a stand, to ascend. It is a positive action that conveys something coming into existence. It can be our prayer, our praise, our thanksgiving. It can also be courage rising up in the face of fear.
In Joshua 1:9 it says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not fear; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
What!? Be strong and courageous? Do not fear? At a time like this? That may be easy for you to say, especially when the world is in a panic. I tried to wrap my head around the verse “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear,” yet anxiety does not always stand down. I feared just like Jehoshaphat in time of trouble, and so I cried out to God for more faith.
Doesn’t fear have to fall down to get courage? Profoundly, NO, it is not the absence of fear that makes you courageous, butit is “when faith and fear collide that courage can be ours … They always go together, so courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the ability to do what you need to do EVEN when you are afraid (Franklin D. Roosevelt). It’s “to act in Christ’s power even when your knees are knocking or your stomach is doing cartwheels. Or as John Wayne defined it: Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway! That is true faith in God to act with courage. And when we do decide to act with faith and courage, God will answer. “Courage is the very best part of me that is going to show up in a situation that is trying to chase the very best part of me away.” (Danny Silk, The Courageous Spirit).
The world is a scary place right now and so we must fully abide in Christ. When we do, He will show up, but we must completely empty ourselves and depend on Him to save us from ourselves and the pandemic. God will always make a way.
Have you asked Jesus where He is in your uncertainty and trouble? I bet if you do, He will answer you. Go ahead, ask Him. He will show up and greet you with outstretched loving arms. His arms of faithfulness will be a shield keeping you from harm. And You can be assured that you will walk unharmed because God is your refuge.
Jehoshaphat was a man of courage who lived by faith in God. By living faith in God, courageously, he would arise and be delivered from his enemies.
Yet, when Jehoshaphat heard that the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites were coming to wage war against him, “Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord.” He then arose and called upon God to deliver Judah from his enemies. “O Jehovah, the God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and art not thou ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in thy hand is power and might, so that none can withstand thee. Didst not thou, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and give it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever? … If evil come upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before thee, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, and thou wilt hear and save.” And God did hear and deliver Jehoshaphat and all of Judah. I believe this can be applied today.
I keep Martin’s drawing on my desk as a reminder. In the drawing he also drew a flute and musical notes on a staff. He said he saw the notes rising off the top of my head as I worshiped. That matched what I was imagining in my head, of me playing the flute to the worship music. I was amazed at his prophetic word and vision. The musical notes rose up from me and wafted through the air over those in the room. I believe those notes, as they arose into the atmosphere, were beckoning the Holy Spirit to come. As I imagined playing with the anointing of Almighty God in the office of a psalmist, a fiery wall of protection went up around the room. Demons would flee at the sound of the flute playing and no enemy could penetrate God’s protection. People worshiped with hands raised and shouts of praise, bowing down, some prostrate fell, some dancing, and occasionally the sound of someone blowing the shofar summoned all present to greater awakening and awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Recorded live at the International House of Prayer Eastern Gate Duration: 1 min, 55 sec
Every day I am reminded that it is a time for us to WAR – Worship And Rise. It’s important NOW, more than ever, that we pray that there be a Holy Spirit increase, that there would be an increased spirit of prayer and song, that Jesus Christ would be lifted up in these days, and that the Word of the Lord would break out and turn the tide in our region and nation. God calls us to worship and rise!
“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous,for I have conquered the world!” – John 16:33, TPT.
We often think of
infection as a bad thing, as a disease that invades a body’s organism resulting
in illness, and which is often communicable. It can cause fear and widespread
panic if not contained. However, there is another kind of infection – God’s
love. It too is infectious. It too is
communicable. It too is transmissible. God’s love is 1 Corinthians 13.
Here’s how Infectious Love affects your body:
Head – Your thoughts
become more loving, kind, compassionate, gentle, generous.
Eyes – When
you see the whole good in someone from God’s perspective, you will tend to
linger, gaze longer and more intently than you used to.
Ears – You will be more
prone to hearing good and loving conversation. Your hearing will shut down
when gossip and malicious lies are spoken. You will begin to hear what was once
faint, God’s voice more clearly – loving and guiding you.
Mouth – You will speak
words of love, kindness, compassion, and understanding. Your voice will become
more gentle and tender. You will call out, and talk to the least in the room,
the one who looks like they are hurting; your love to and for them easily
Heart – Your heart will
bleed for the lost and hurting and will only stop bleeding when you pray for
the person and hand them over to Father God. Your heart is soft and pliable
like a gummy bear, not like rock candy.
Hands – You reach out to help steady someone who
is about to fall and pick up the one who has fallen. You stroke the face of
the elderly, or a child, or one’s whose face is tear-filled or dirty.
Arms – You hug without abandon and continue to
hug until the person begins to squirm; then give one more tight squeeze and say, “You
are now infected by Love. Go and do likewise.”
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus said. Do not allow infectious love to stay localized
but go out and spread it. Note, however, once infected, there is NO CURE; there
is no inoculation against it once contracted.
God’s Infectious Love is of the most contagious kind. I hope you get it!
During worship on Thursday night at International House of Prayer Eastern Gate, I had a vision of spears pointed upwards and a single horseman charging them. There was a spiritual war ensuing. Are these the end times or is this just some distraction? I wondered. Was the horseman who brings plague and death, famine and disease, the horseman depicted in the Book of Revelation? “When he ripped off the fourth seal, I heard the fourth Animal cry, “Come out!” I looked. A colorless horse, sickly pale. Its rider was Death, and Hell was close on its heels. They were given power to destroy a fourth of the earth by war, famine, disease, and wild beasts” (Revelation 6:7-8, MSG). Or is this rather a season where the Lord will take what the enemy meant for harm and turn it into good, to turn infectious disease into infectious love?
THE VISION was just a flash, although I sensed God’s assurance to believers that we are not to fear and that our faith should rise up because we are under His covering of protection. The horseman could not penetrate the spears, nor could disease be victorious over us! So, let fear fall down. Our faith will drive it out!
I believe the spears were symbolic of God’s protection over those who live every moment with Him in His house. I was comforted knowing that I was hidden in the shelter of the Most High God. The enemy will not penetrate God’s Stronghold shelter it says in Psalm 91:1-2. “When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. 2 He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence.”
That day, I had been previously meditating on Psalm 91:9-10. It says, “When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?” (Ps. 91:9-10, The Passion Translation). How timely this word is in light of a worldwide pandemic.
God had, for the last few days, been impressing upon me to draw near to Him. Drawing near to Him is key to living our lives within His shadow, shielded from harm or disease. Later I would open my Bible randomly to Psalm 27:4, TPT. And here was His affirmation – “Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.” If you continue reading, it says that in his house I am kept safe and secure, and I will be triumphant. We need to be reminded of this always!
March 15th was declared a National Day of Prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Therefore, let’s pray for our nation that they might find hope and salvation in Christ Jesus and that our nation would be healed. Let’s pray that fear of contagion lead to revival, not survival; let outbreak lead to outpouring.
“The Lord says FEAR NOT! FEAR IS A LIAR. Fear is a predator. Fear is a spirit that takes captive and releases no prisoners unless commanded to do so by a higher authority. JESUS IS THAT AUTHORITY!!! Faith is that authority. So, LET FAITH RISE UP and LET FEAR FALL DOWN, in Jesus’ Name.” Sing the following song over yourself, your friends, family, nation, and world.
THE SONG IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN AND SUNG BY MY NIECE JESSICA (HUTZEL) GILLOTT AND HER HUSBAND. IT IS SO TIMELY FOR TODAY.
In Part 2, I learned to allow myself to relax, to get quiet and let go of stress. I was learning to sail. I invited God to reveal Himself to me and open my heart to His presence. I was becoming more focused and aware of Him.
God continues to surprise
God is always filled with surprises. For those of
you who are skeptical, remember, we
did not beforehand know which exit to take. Without either a global positioning
system (GPS) or roadmap, we had to tune into God’s Positioning Spirit to get where we were going.
While I was the one who wanted to get to Sedona to see the various
vacation spots, and Peggy more along for the “ride”, God had treats in store
for her. After sundown, on our return trip back to our accommodations in
Scottsdale, we pulled off for gas at exit 289. Remember? This was the other
exit that God dropped in my ear.
Exit 289 conveniently had a Sonic Drive-Thru, Peggy’s favorite place for a peach iced tea with lime wedges. There happened to be a casino at this exit as well. Continuing our adventure of flowing in God, Peggy asked, “Wanna have a little fun with a couple of bucks?” We are not gamblers; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I’d been to a casino. And this was totally out of character for my chaplain wife.
Peggy, a bit unsettled and nervous about entering the gambling hall and feeling a little like Dorothy entering the chamber of the Wizard of Oz, dug her hand into my arm. “Slots, poker, and gambling, Oh My!” “Slots, poker and gambling, Oh My!”
The room was dimly lit and smelled of cigarette smoke. There was a sound of jangly music and the whir of spinning reels accompanied by loud beeps, bells and chimes from the gaming machines as people played their nickels and quarters. It was a cacophony of noises and smells that invaded and offended our senses. As we observed those playing the machines, with cigarettes between their fingers and lips, they seemed to stare mindlessly, without emotion, mesmerized by the brightly lit and colorful gaming monitors. In contrast, we were a breath of fresh air – figuratively, literally and spiritually.
On occasion, there was a happy and
celebratory combination of flashing lights and sounds when a machine announced
a winning combination. But more often than not, slot machines just took
people’s money. Looking at the player’s facial expressions, depression seemed most pervasive amongst those hypnotized by the sounds,
entrenched in their addiction to gambling.
Peggy and I were carefree about losing $5 and had resolved to walk away,
win or lose. However, we agreed that if we did win, any winnings would go to
our church offering.
I didn’t immediately enter into the flow or spontaneously hear from God when Peggy asked me which slot machine we should play. So, in my delay, she randomly picked one and played 4 quarters and lost them all.
This time we re-grouped, huddled, prayed and asked God to pick a
machine. The slot machines were all numbered. What number machine do you hear?”
Peggy asked. “I don’t know,” and then
blurted out “395!” We located machine
395 and agreed to “play another dollar.”
I stood for the first spin, not having fun yet. The machine remained in
a quiet state of rest without flashing lights or music as none of the three
reels lined up. To win, all three reels must match. “Oh, well.” This time I eased myself into the chair
facing the slot machine. “A quarter down and three to go,” I said to Peggy, who
was peering over my shoulder. I spun for
a second time, and gloriously three reels matched. It was a double payout
win! I perked up, having a little fun
now. On the third spin, again, “clang, clang, clang, clang!” the machine
happily announced. We just won another double payout! The happy clanging noise and flashing lights
again lifted my spirits. Peggy was doing the “Happy Dance.” We now had one more spin remaining. On our
last spin, the machine went quiet again, but I was on a winning streak. All in
all, the machine returned $5.00 for our one dollar. “That was fun!” I boyishly
exclaimed. Peggy got the distinct impression from my jubilation that I was
connecting with God. This was now just me and Papa time. Clearly, God the
Father was wanting to show me personally a fun time, something which had been
cut short in my life having lost my dad at age 11. He was restoring to me, even
in this unlikely place, that which was lost, a part of my broken heart.
The joy and smile on my face spoke volumes. I was alert and ready this
time when she asked, “What machine is God telling you now?” My first
spontaneous thought was 350. There were six slot machines numbered 350-1, -2,
-3, -4. etc. I faintly heard Papa say “350-3.” I wasn’t sure, but I would go
with it. Peggy also heard the number 3.
So, we agreed to play another dollar. This time slot machine 350-3
returned a DOUBLE payout, for our 4 spins.
The total earnings between the two machines were $9.75. I know you’re
probably thinking whoop-de-doo, woo-hoo; but it really was a big deal.
Typically, odds are stacked against gamblers in favor of the house winning, but
in God’s house, the odds were stacked doubly in our Favor!
Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning gambling. This was an exercise in spontaneous flow, stretching, listening, trusting, pressing in and practicing hearing Papa God, not just on big things, but also the small, even unorthodox things. He was teaching us to listen, to trust, to obey and to have fun.
Our adventures were more than we hoped or imagined, more than a thrill-seeking ride at an amusement park, and to think we can live this adventure daily! He cares for us. So, drop everything and listen to his voice! (Psalm 95:7, TPT). Are you ready to let go and let God? I AM.
Hearing from God should be just like sailing. How many of you row instead of sail? Unlike rowing a boat that relies on our own strength, sailing is near effortless. God wants us to hear him effortlessly so that our soul will live. “Give ear and come to me” (Isaiah 55:3).
You can learn to hear God’s Spirit speak. In terms of our metaphor of rowing and sailing, you can learn to hear God’s voice conversationally by aligning your sail to catch the Holy Spirit’s wind. Things can then happen in our life that would otherwise not be possible by our “rowing” our way to hearing Him.
Learning how God speaks to us, however, takes practice and
guidance, just like learning how to sail. We need to learn to focus, listen,
discern and respond. You may need some help with quieting your mind. For some
of us, our minds go a mile a minute. Crazy-busy thoughts infiltrate our minds not
letting us have a moment’s peace. We are all over-scheduled, over-committed and
over-extended. This makes it difficult to hear God’s still quiet voice
above the noise level.
Learning to flow in God
You will recall from Part 1 of our story; my wife Peggy got this brilliant notion it would be fun to tune into hearing God tell us where to go. “Let’s see if we can get the same number exit as a way of hearing in unity,” Peggy said. It was an exercise in spontaneous flow, stretching, listening, trusting, pressing in and practicing hearing Papa God, not just on big things, but also the small, even unorthodox things. He was teaching me to listen, to trust, to obey and to have fun.
We still had miles to drive and plenty of time to sit and wonder what would be in store for us at exit 298. As each exit passed, my anticipation built. And then suddenly I sat straight up from my reclining position. “Look!” Exit 289, Montezuma’s Castle, was one of our planned vacation stops. Remember?” Exit 289 was the other exit number I heard after recanting 298. Perhaps this was not a coincidence. Encouraged, I adjusted my seat forward and said, “On to exit 298.”
We were committed to taking Exit 298 despite my questioning and doubts. Signs for exit 298 began to come into sight, and we burst out in a big shout!
Exit 298 was absolutely THEE correct exit for Sedona.
For those of you who are skeptical, remember, we did not beforehand know which exit to take. Without either a global positioning system (GPS) or roadmap, we had to tune into God’s Positioning Spirit to get where we were going.
God showed up despite my doubts. How incredible is that!? Jeremiah 29:11 says that it was not my plans but his. “I have it all planned out. Plans to take care of you, not abandon you.” And God did hear and answer. “You will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear your voice and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12). Not only did he listen, but he also acted on our desires to hear him and guide us. Jeremiah 29:13 says “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” How cool is that!? And I surely wasn’t disappointed. Overjoyed and more confident I wanted to go deeper with God; I wanted to continue on our adventure. “Okay God, now where?”
When we exited the highway, Peggy asked – “What are you hearing, right or left?” We both heard left. The song Jesus Take the Wheel took on greater significance. “Every time there is a choice for a turn – let’s ask God,” Peggy said.
Upon approaching a roundabout, we had to make a quick decision to go left, right, or straight. My mind froze momentarily. Initially, I heard “go left,” but quickly changed it to “go straight” as that seemed the most logical considering that traffic flow around the circle was mostly going in that direction. Peggy heard God say, “turn left.” So, in unity, we turned left.
The left turn directed us into a lovely neighborhood. Each home was a unique
adobe style home with classic red ceramic tile roofs, shades of green and brown
and set against red rock cliffs. It was absolutely beautiful.
When leaving the neighborhood, we came to an intersection. Straight ahead and across the highway about one mile, sitting at the base of a 1,500-foot cliff surrounded by massive pieces of red sandstone, was the Chapel of the Holy Cross, another spot on our list.
Were it my plan, going straight would have been the most obvious choice, a more direct route to the town of Sedona.
Although, had we not made the left turn and all subsequent turns yielding to God’s Positioning Spirit (GPS), we would have missed seeing Chapel of the Holy Cross. God is such a loving and kind Father to have taken us there.
How often do we make plans that are not His? How often do we not consult God and charge ahead with our own plans? How often do we miss out on what God wants to reveal to us on the off-roads because we are not listening to His voice?
When we trust the Lord completely without regard for preconceived notions and plans and rely on Him to guide us, He will lead us in every decision we make; He will lead us wherever we go (Proverbs 16:9). Further, intimacy with God opens the door to hear Him. Whether we turn to the right or to the left, our ears will hear His voice saying, “this is the way” (Isaiah 30:21).
God has a wonderful plan for you. Perhaps it is
a road that you might not have taken? How
will you make sure that you are on the right path? Once you are on that path,
how will you stay on it? The Lord longs
to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18). He longs to show loving-kindness to you
and bless you. So, don’t rush off in your own direction. Ask God about it
What if you believed hearing from God could actually be fun? This beckons the question – do you believe God can speak to you? No, I don’t mean just through his Word through interpretation of Scripture, but instead, like Moses, Abraham, and Paul, who heard His voice. If He does still speak to us today, then how? When? Where? Maybe you are like me. I needed to put these questions to the test.
I wanted to see Sedona Red Rocks, however, the day started out with clouds and light rain, not a perfect day for sight-seeing. Wavering on where to go or what to do, Peggy, my wife, got this brilliant notion that it would be fun to tune into spontaneous flow and ask God where to go. By flow, I mean she wanted God to speak directly through his spirit to our spirits, to lead us where he wanted us to go without a predefined plan or a GPS. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “With all your heart rely on him to guide you and …. become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go.” This may not make any human sense at first because to most of us, natural things are more real than the supernatural. But as you will see, if you shut out all distractions and put your spirit first, it becomes easier to be led by the Spirit of God.
At first, I resisted. “Are you kidding!?”, I thought, not taking Peggy seriously. Turn off the GPS? Who knows where we might end up? For miles, you could see nothing but prairie, grasslands, desert and giant 5-ton saguaro cacti standing 40-feet tall like sentinels.
Contrary to her whims, I just wanted to see Sedona.
“Let’s ask God where he wants us to go,” Peggy said. “Uh-huh,” I replied unenthusiastically, not taking the exercise too seriously, and then returned to looking out the window as she steered the car up interstate highway 17 at 75 miles per hour with the windows and roof open in our luxury rental car, a 2019 Jaguar.
When we booked the rental, we asked for an economy car, but apparently, God had already gone ahead and arranged for an upgrade. “Expect Upgrades” Peggy heard in a revelation during a business trip to Brazil in October of 2018. And so, we got upgraded from a no-frills low budget vehicle to a luxury Jaguar at no additional cost!!
As the car sped along with windows down and the sunroof open, and miles and miles of desert and giant saguaro cacti, I started to fall into a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. As I began to nod, I began to form a mental image of hundreds to thousands of cacti with their arms raised towards heaven worshiping their creator. Psalm 148:5 says “Let all of creation erupt with praise to God.”
A desert is a place of solitude, silence and stillness. Perhaps, this is why Jesus regularly withdrew into the desert, to hear God. I knew, too, that I had to get alone in my mind, free of unrelenting chatter and noise, and become still if I was to hear God and come into unity with Peggy and God’s Spirit.
Suddenly I was startled from my half-awake, half-asleep state. “Bill, I’m serious, let’s ask God where He wants us to go. Ask Him for an exit number and let’s see if we get the same one as an exercise in hearing in Unity.” “What!?” I said half dazed. “What exit number did you hear God speak?” This wasn’t resonating with me. Besides, how could God or why would God bother to tell us which exit to take? How would we get to where we wanted to go without a road map or GPS, I reasoned?
“Bill, don’t you believe it?” “C’mon,” she said pleadingly. I tried to avoid the question, although I admit, I do believe God can do anything. Reminded of the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to me through faith (Ephesians 1:19), I knew this was true, but this seemed a might bit trivial. Didn’t God have more important things to do?
Trying to brush off the question I humored Peggy and mumbled “Um, okay, exit 101,” and went back to looking out the window. As I set my reclining seat further back, I folded my arms and closed my eyes.
“You don’t believe it, do you?” she asked as if it were a statement of fact. But I reasoned, what person in their right mind would turn off their GPS to listen to God for driving directions? This was totally out of my comfort zone. Admittedly, I also had some bedfellows tag along for the ride – doubt, fear, and unbelief.
“Where is your faith to believe?” “Stop doubting!” Peggy said. “We’re already in the 200’s going North. C’mon. Listen again.”
We were one of just a couple of vehicles on a long stretch of highway when a car passed us in the passing lane. “Wow, did you see that license plate!?” Peggy asked excitedly. “It said SKPTIC!!!” “No, I didn’t see it, I’m not paying attention.” Peggy gunned the car, switching lanes in order to show me the license plate. Now traveling at more than 75 miles an hour, I was startled out of my comfort zone. “Whoa! Slow down” I said. “Don’t ride this guy’s tail!”. “It’s okay,” she said, not concerned in the least. “Do you see it now?” Irritated, I said, “no, my vision is blurry.” I just didn’t want to admit to having seen it. How uncanny, that the God of the entire Universe (with more important things to do, I reasoned) would send precisely at that moment, a passing car with the license plate that screamed “DOUBTER!” God’s gavel came down at that very moment. I was convicted of my unbelief. But in retrospect, Peggy’s challenge to me to hear God for the improbable, caused me to stretch and confront my doubt and unbelief, even though it seemed irrational.
“Bill, He loves you so much that He sent this exact car at this precise moment, with that exact license plate to personally stretch you and communicate to you of His greatness and love for you. Bill, even in the smallest things He wants us to be amazed by Him and his devotion towards us. He loves you so much.” This was a whole new experience of trusting and listening to God.
“Wanna play, now?” Peggy asked. I agreed to play and spontaneously blurted out “298!” “What was that?” I hesitated, second-guessing my reply. Did I really hear God, or was it all in my head? Challenged that I might be wrong, I recanted 298 and said “289.”
Peggy was really taking flowing in God seriously. “So, which is it? 298 or 289?” I wavered, and reverted back to my initial answer, “298.”
She remained silent momentarily, then responded, “It’s not the same number I got, but I heard God say to trust your exit number.” Incredulously, I thought, trust me? God must have a sense of humor.
It was decided, then, we would take exit 298. And, so began our adventure in flowing in God in unity and trust.
So often we fancy ourselves as secure and think we can go it all alone, but when God hides His face from us because we choose to go it on our own, our soul cries out to Him. “Lord, help me! Rescue me!” PICK ME UP AND TURN ME AROUND (Psalm 107).
In Psalm 30 we see that David had a propensity for going it on his own for he said: “When all was well with me, I said, I will never be moved”. And then in verses 7-11, it says that David asked for God’s mercy as he was shaken because God turned his face from him.
In Isaiah 53:6 it says that each of us (and I will repeat for emphasis “each of us”) like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to go his own way. Each of us has left God’s paths to follow our own.
Like the psalmist, we too cry aloud to God for His mercy when we have gone astray. Is this your prayer? The following lyrics to the song “Pick Me Up” express the psalmist’s same sentiment of crying out to God for His mercy to set his captive free and shatter the steel doors of his heart that had kept him back from receiving God’s abundant blessings and safety.
Oh, stand by me Oh, Lord, set me free Oh I’ve been goin’ it on my own Now it’s time for me to come home Help me get my feet back on the ground.
Pick me up and turn me around, Jesus make a change in my life, Pick me up, don’t put me down, Jesus make a change in my life.
“And He did!” it says in Psalm 107:13. God’s constant love picked them up and turned them around! No longer were they bound in affliction, nor prisoners to their own pain or chained to their regrets. “God humbled us through our circumstances, watching as we stumbled, with no one there to pick us back up” (Psalm 107:12). And so, I cried out to God and repented of my rebellion against His Word; for seeking the counsel of man over His wisdom; for wandering about with no true direction, filled with despair; bringing myself sorrow and suffering because of my sins. And it says that He turned my mourning into dancing and established my feet with joy on His firm foundation again. He shined his light through my darkness and set my captive free.
When reflecting upon the words of this song, will you remember with thankfulness all the times God brought you deliverance? Then, lift your hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness and for his miracles of mercy, for He loves you!
Sing my praise to You alone, Raise my voice up to Your throne, My arms outstretched to Your delight, Stars shimmering in Your reflected light.
If I’m up, or if I’m down, Sing Hallelujah, we all bow down, Let Your light, shine in me now, Empower me with Your Spirit now.
Here’s why, says the psalmist David, that everyone should give all their praise and thanks to the Lord! “He’s better than anyone could ever imagine. Yes, He’s always so loving and kind, and it never ends! So, go ahead— let everyone know it! Tell the world how He broke through And delivered you from the power of darkness and Has gathered us together from all over the world. He has set us free to be His very own!” (Psalm 107:1-3 TPT)
God’s mercy endures forever. For those who cry out to the Lord in their trouble, He answers them. He saves them out of their distresses and sets them free. When we cry out to God, He mercifully answers us because He loves us so. “This is comfort to the greatest sinners; if they can but find a praying heart, God will find a pitying heart, and rebels shall be received with all sweetness, if at length they return, though brought in by the cross.” (Trapp)
“So lift your hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness and for his miracles of mercy for those he loves!” (Psalm 107:15)
Prayer: For your glorious righteousness reaches up to the high heavens; No no one could ever be compared to you! Who is your equal, O God of marvels and wonders? And though you have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! May you give me even more greatness than before and turn and comfort me again (Psalm 71:19-21). Yes Lord, help me get my feet back on the ground.
As we entered into prayer with a fellow believer, we took him to the mercy
seat as if it were a surgeon’s table. God began to minister healing springs of
forgiveness and bodily restoration to him, and he drifted off in his mind and
was overtaken by a tremendous sound, seemingly coming from heaven, that of
trumpets and other instruments. It reminded me of Revelation 14:1-3. “Then
I looked, and behold—there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion ……I
heard a sound from heaven like the sound of cascading waters (some translations
say like the sound of many waters; rushing waters) and like the rumbling of
loud thunder. The sound I heard was also like harpists playing on their harps.
And they sang a new song before the throne” (Rev.14:1-3, HCSB).
What does John in the Bible see and hear?
Either John heard two or more sounds at different times for he describes in one sentence the sound of rushing waters and a sound like the rumbling of loud thunder, and in another the playing of harps. Could it be that he heard an orchestration of musical counterpoints and dynamic louds and softs played simultaneously, the pounding sensation of timpani against the arpeggiated and fluid fingering of harps against a fast-flowing metered counterpoint of flutes playing sixteenth notes in tandem with other orchestral strings, brass and woodwinds?
It says the sound coming out of heaven is like rushing waters and the
rumbling of loud thunder. Perhaps the sound of thunder is the sound of timpani
and crashing cymbals and trumpets and of low brass. Perhaps it is also that of
invigorated singing, cheers and shouts, clapping and stomping of hundreds of
thousands of those in residence expressing their loud and joyful praise and
worship to the One who sits on high on His throne.
It reminded me of Die Moldau from Ma Vlast (My Fatherland) composed in 1874 by Bedrich Smetana. Listen to an excerpt and let it stir your soul. The composition is programmatic in its musical poetry in that it depicts the course of two small springs, the Cold and the Warm Vlatva, to the unification of both streams into a single powerful current, through woods and meadows and landscapes. As the two springs converge as a single more powerful current, listen for the surge in dynamics as all the brass and percussion join in, the “roar of a waterfall and like the earsplitting sound of a thunderclap.” Can you hear the sound of cascading waters by the flutes and harp? Can you hear the thunderous clap of orchestral instruments and percussion and applause culminating into one large river, “the water of life, flowing with water clear as crystal, continuously pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1)?
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw it all, I fell facedown to worship the messenger who showed me these things.” (Rev. 22:8).
“All the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise” (1 Kings 1:40 NASB).
As I sat on the beach watching the power of the waves wash up on shore, I marveled at the power of those waves as they crashed and came up and lapped at my feet. I marveled at their beauty, and at the sound of them crashing. It took me deep, and I forgot the noise of civilization, of car horns, and of the cacophony of people talking and yelling, of children playing and of the concerns of this world. I was lost somewhere else.
I then envisioned myself out in the deep of the Atlantic Ocean. It was quiet. I listened, and all I could hear was God’s quiet voice. HIS gentle waves caressed me like the soft stroke of a woman’s hand upon my arm, tender and caring.
I was lost in my quiet thoughts, only hearing God speak now. I marveled at the peaceful quiet in His voice. He did not seem concerned about anything as I am frequently, and He spoke to me. “Go deep,” he said. “Go deep, go deep. I love you. I want to reach deep inside you and reveal myself to you in a more powerful way than has ever been revealed to you before. Go deep, go deep and meet me where I am. Don’t be afraid. I will swim with you. I will uphold you. You are tethered to me. You cannot be lost or yanked from my arms. You are mine always. Go deep and meet me where I am. Don’t hold anything back. Swim with me, won’t you? Stop clinging to your surfboard; immerse yourself in my presence. I am your safety now.” Deeper than my feet could ever wander. He was calling me.
You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters Your sovereign hand will be my guide Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine. (from Oceans, Hillsong UNITED)
God wanted me to be alone with Him. He wanted my attention, and for me to worship Him. He washed over me as waves of joy, and I was in awe of his creation. And I thought to myself, how can people not marvel at God’s glorious creation?