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Like a Flood: What The Church does with Killers like Katrina
Isaiah 59:19 declares: "...when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the lord lifts up a standard against him."
I'm not all that sure that the original language in which this was written contained a comma after the word "flood." I prefer to believe that the actual pause belongs after the word "IN." Try it again: "When the enemy comes in, LIKE A FLOOD, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."
There. That's more like it.
When we think of "spiritual journeys," we usually envision experiences that will lead us to peace and harmony, serenity and contentment. As we attempt to deal with the stuff of life, whether it's emotional, physical, relational or financial, as spiritual beings, we tend to tap into spiritual things for comfort and guidance.
As you take your spiritual journey, beware! God may be taking you somewhere special and unexpected. Don't fall for the illusion that spirituality is always a source of solace. There's an old Yiddish proverb that goes, "God is an earthquake, not an uncle."
Along those lines, do you recall the Prophet Elijah's encounter with God on Mount Horeb? Here we have the mighty Prophet Elijah, fresh after his defeat of the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the Asherah on Mount Carmel, being hunted by Queen Jezebel. While this mighty man of God was hiding from this woman, he encountered some other, very frightening things - natural elements that included an earthquake, wind, lightning, and fire. But by virtue of the depth of his relationship with God, he knew these could not have been sent by Him, the God who had cared for him for so many years. It was only when Elijah heard "a still small voice," that he felt he was finally hearing from God of Heaven.
ARE YOU LISTENING?
It's that same "still small voice" that each of us can listen for and be guided by - even when we are in situations less life-threatening than the path of a hurricane. Right now, we can let that voice direct our prayers for the refugees and the rescuers. We can listen and understand those who are impacted by disaster when we recognize that Hurricane Katrina was NOT God's way of punishing the Big Easy, though it's a fact that we will ALWAYS reap the consequences for the seeds we sow - good seeds and bad. If we're listening, that still small voice will guide us through our own life's disasters and strengthen us, even when the tide is rising.
How strong is your faith? It WILL be tested.
How strong is your family? The tests will come.
How strong is your church? Your organization? Your relationship? Your community? Your nation? Just as Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit to be tested by the devil (Gee, thanks, Spirit!), so , too, will WE be tested. How else will we know what we're made of? Jesus said several times that He came "as an example." If He went through trials, we, TOO, shall face trials. And if we FAIL the tests, we get to take them again and again till we pass to the next level.
WARNING: New level, new devil, but we must soldier-on if our lives are ever going to exhibit the fruit of our relationship with God. Don't worry...once you've passed through the Refiner's fire, you won't smell a hint of smoke.
We have God's promise.
HERE'S WHAT JESUS HAS TO SAY:
"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it," (Matt 7:24-27). Jesus warned us about the coming flood of the last days, a storm that would be unleashed against the people of God. He described this flood to be accompanied by hurricane winds of testing, torrents of trouble, and rising tide of demonic fury.
In such days of persecution, wrath and trouble will pour out of the devil's foul mouth against the Body of Christ: "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time... he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child... and the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman [the church], that he might cause her to he carried away of the flood," (Rev 12:12-15).
Will Satan literally spew floodwaters out of his mouth? No. The enemy WILL come against us with words, lies, half- truths, and every wicked thing that can be verbalized or even written. He will use our own minds and even other people to keep the "flood" coming at us relentlessly to get us where we have no solid foundation on which to stand.
By now, we've all seen the TV footage of Katrina's floodwaters carrying with it everything from cars to trains to houses, destroying everything in its path. This is why God says our enemy comes in like a "flood", using words of destruction to bring us down and to destroy us. Satan wants to do to us what a flood does to everything in its path.
LIFT UP A STANDARD
As was mentioned at the start in Isaiah 59:19, a "standard is lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord on our behalf. What is the "standard"? How do we make use of this resource? We find the answer in Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
There it is, the "word of their testimony" was the overcoming action they used. Yes, we hate those tests but we do love the testimonies, don't we?
We also find in Isaiah 59:21 "As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore."
God has placed His Word in our mouths. Not only in our minds (Psalm 119:11 says: "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you!") Certainly, His Word is in our Bibles, but He wants the Word in our mouths. In our hearts. We overcome the "flood" of the enemy by God's Words coming out of our mouths. Our testimony. Jesus used this when He was tested; our example. Jesus only responded to Satan in His wilderness discipleship course with the Word.
God has provided the perfect weapon to use. His Word is powerful and Satan cannot stand against it. It is so much more than a levee that diverts the flood he sends our way; it swallows it up.
We now have everything we need for covenant living. We can have triumphant lives, pleasing to God, serving Jesus and following the small voice of the Holy Spirit.
IS GOD YOUR HIDING PLACE?
I've faced some tragic crises, both personal and professional. My own dad once asked me why it was I wasn't seeing a psychologist after all I'd been through. It's because Jesus is REAL to me; real as you are. In the darkest hours of my soul, the only place where I've found the genuine "peace that passes all understanding" and the "unspeakable joy" referred to by Paul the Apostle came as a result of a relationship with God in trusting that He truly is my refuge.
Regarding Katrina, there will be much to do to recover from this mess. God's presence and power will be available to guide and direct recovery efforts as well as the return to civilization for all who will call upon Him. Throughout the restoration effort, His love, mercy and grace will continue to be available as the refuge that comforts, strengthens, and restores the spirit of those in need. My warning to those being tested through this recent, overwhelming disaster: Do NOT be too quick to detest your current discomfort. We in the West would do well to learn to embrace the thorns as well as stopping to smell every delightful rose.
This life is not "it" for you.
It gets better.
We can never expect to be satisfied here anyway.
Need hope for the "floods" that seem to be overtaking YOUR life right now? Read this from Jeremiah 29:11-14: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."
DO YOU WANT TO HELP?
The largest displacement of Americans since the Civil War reverberated across the country from New Orleans yesterday, as more than half a million people uprooted by Hurricane Katrina seek shelter, sustenance and are facing the uncertainties of starting some sort of new lives.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and his wife Shonda paid to fly a New Orleans family of nine to Boston and pledged to provide them with housing for a year. The Fields family, with seven children between the ages of 5 and 12, fled New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina struck. "When we realized how many people had nowhere to go, we didn't just want to make a donation," Shonda Schilling told The Boston Globe. "We decided we wanted to bring an entire family here and put them up."
The families connected through a Web site, OpenYourHome.com, which matches displaced families with people willing to house them. The Schillings registered Friday and on Saturday anonymously arranged for the family to fly to Boston.
Additionally, the American Red Cross has set up a site where individuals may volunteer their homes or request a place to stay. That site is located at KatrinaHousing.org. Check it out. To Christians everywhere, we must ask ourselves the question, if we do not take these displaced families in, taking advantage of the opportunity to make disciples, who will?
Over the years, I have taken in homeless people myself. A gay witch. A long-bearded alcoholic brick-layer. A former Army Ranger who had just become a Christian after years in the occult. A black crack addict. Several others on a very short-term basis. I have also been that person seeking shelter, trusting that God was going to provide in one way or another. He always did.
My advice to anyone is simply: (1) make sure you're being led by the Spirit. A "good" idea is not always a GOD idea.(2) if you take someone in, set the house rules IN WRITING so that your guests know what's expected by both parties, what will not be tolerated and what the consequences will be if rules are broken. (3) involve church leadership; keep everyone accountable. There are more. implementing these would be a good start.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pastor Michael is founder of t.e.a.m. ministries (firstname.lastname@example.org). His eMail broadcasts, known as "Your Town for Jesus" (SEARCH!) are reaching tens of thousands WEEKLY. Log on at http://www.PlanetaryMinistry.org Michael's mission: to bring Discipleship and Encouragement to the Body of Christ. He is the author of numerous booklets on subjects that will interest the thinking Christian. Since 1999, he has written and broadcast hundreds of inspirational articles and a dozen booklets, all designed to accelerate the process of spiritual development in God's people.
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