Category Archives: God

Who Is on the Lord’s Side?

Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the LORD’S side? Let him come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. — Exodus 32:26

As Christians, we are called to be prophetic people — understanding and then speaking forth Christ’s heart to the world around us. We have a responsibility to consistently stand with the Lord. That often means we must first step back from the current issues of our day, not form or speak hasty judgments, and take time to inquire of the Lord about His perspective.

In our current world, the news media takes upon itself to be the judicial system. They indict, prosecute, and preside as judges, demanding that their readers be the jury. Sadly, the “jury” is often given unsubstantiated rumors, which we are duped into thinking are facts. The witnesses are anonymous “sources,” presented as tellers of truth, but they may or may not be accurate witnesses. No one seems to care anymore about vetting the witnesses to see whether their claims hold up.

As a result, many inaccurate or even false stories become the headlines of the day. And if they turn out to be untrue? There might be a lesser headline or a back-page retraction a few days later. Then again, maybe not. By that time, not only has the exposed person or people group been tried on minimal information; they’ve been executed as well.

Where do we fit into this mess? Many of us are quick to pronounce a guilty verdict based on rumors and incomplete information. We cry out, along with the non-believing world, for someone’s condemnation. How does that fit with grace and justice? How does that line up with 1 Corinthians 13:6, 7: “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (NIV)? We are eager to crucify, even as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were.

Just as bad, if not worse, is justifying someone’s sins because their agenda is the same as ours. Political ideology is an enormous idol, worshiped as much in the Church as elsewhere. It disturbs me that we are willing to compromise what God has clearly said in order to hand power to someone who fits our political persuasion. Some of our influential Christian leaders even twist Scripture to convince us that sin is either acceptable behavior, or at worst, of minor consequence (because everyone does it, after all).

What should the people of God be speaking instead of  immediate and vocal condemnation? The answer is found in the Word of God:

In the multitude of words there is no end of sin: but he who refrains his lips is wise.Proverbs 10:19

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand. Joshua went to him and said, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

And he said, “No. But as captain of the host of the LORD have I now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” Joshua 5:13, 14

Those three passages give us guidance on how to respond wisely to the events taking place around us:

1.) We must refrain from speaking hastily.

2.) We must seek the Lord for His perspective. His viewpoint is higher and more complete than ours, but we can attain to it by inquiring of Him. Only when we have His counsel on a matter should we offer our opinions. Even then, prayer should be our first response. We must not only find out how God sees things, but also whether He even wants us to speak into them — or, should we remain quiet?

3.) We must not align ourselves with any agenda but the Lord’s. God is not a card-carrying member of any political party. He is sovereign, far above political agendas and persuasions. He is neither a conservative nor a liberal. He is only concerned with how those agendas measure up against His holy Word.

Does that mean we should not affiliate with political parties or social movements? Not at all. But we should make certain that we are aligned with Him, rather than swallowing whole an agenda just because somebody of our party or persuasion says that’s the way it has to be.

Lovers of Christ, take up your mantle to be God’s prophetic voice to our world. Seek out His counsel and stick with that. Do not let yourself be manipulated by the other voices shouting so loudly around us. Do not be like the masses, spewing natural-minded opinions right and left. We are a holy, set-apart people, with a message of light to share. Let’s start doing that.

Growing in the Prophetic (audio series)

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio Series,  by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

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The Coming Great Divide

pendulum-626623_640For many months, I have been hearing strongly about a coming division in the American Church. It is the division between the true Church, and a false one. By a false church, I do not mean those who openly deny the deity of Christ and subscribe to grossly unorthodox beliefs. Those have been with us for a long time already and are fairly recognizable for what they are. No, the false church I am referring to is more subtle. And it is fast gaining influence even within evangelical and Spirit-filled congregations.

Many in the false church were at one time aligned with the true, but have veered off course. For those who are pastors/leaders in this false church move, their deviation from the true may have started with a desire for more church growth, popularity with society as a whole, a fear of being persecuted, or the drive to gain more wealth for themselves and their churches.

Because many started out all right, the lines between the true and false have been blurred, and there has been much confusion about which is which. Some of the leaders of this false church continue to convincingly talk the right talk in some ways, while having shifted into compromise and deception in others. They say a lot of wonderful, highly quotable things, which encourage us all that we are loved by God, that God wants to bless us, and that He intends for us to be successful at impacting our world. Those messages are not bad in themselves. We need to be encouraged. The problem is that these good words are mixed with a lot of humanism — worship of ourselves. The gospel message, with Jesus being central, is distorted or nonexistent, and instead there is a constant barrage of “If you just think and speak positively, there are no limits to how successful you can be!”

In the midst of the fog of who is who and which is which, God is dropping a plumb line into the Church, which will clearly divide the straight and true from the crooked and false. As time goes on, the distinctions between the two will grow more apparent. Believers will have to make a clear choice to come out from fellowshipping within the false and make a conscious step over into the true, if they are going to continue on with the Lord.

Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30) is another illustration of what is currently happening. At first the tares look very much like the wheat. It is hard to discern between them. But as the plants mature, the differences become more noticeable. Likewise, we are approaching the point where the distinctions between the false and the true Church will become more marked. And when we notice the differences, each of us will have to determine whether we’re going to malnourish our spiritual stomachs with “tares” teaching or whether we will only ingest the wheat.

What are some telltale signs of a false message?

1.)  Universalism — The belief that all will be saved, that no one will go to hell, because God is love, is a heresy which has been around in one form or another for a long time. But in recent years it has made large inroads into many evangelical churches. Jesus is presented as the best way to the Father, but not the only way. The end of what Jesus said in John 14:6, “NO man comes to the Father except through Me” is conveniently not quoted.

2.)  A message which is primarily motivational in nature — There is minimal talk about Jesus, the cross, living a sacrificial lifestyle of obedience to Him, or Jesus’ soon return. The focus is on having a satisfying life now, with little emphasis on eternity. YOUR destiny purpose now, YOUR success now, YOUR happiness now is the all-in-all, rather than the Lord’s desires being fulfilled at any cost.

3.)  Anything goes — The message implies or openly states that God understands we all sin and therefore does not mind if we indulge in whatever sin we would like to keep indulging in.

4.)  Acceptance of homosexuality — This is snowballing on us at an alarming rate, and I personally think it is going to be the clearest dividing line between the true Church and the false in the next couple of years. Several prominent ministries have already fallen off the cliff on this issue, and I think that within a year or two we will see some internationally known pastors openly embracing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle within their churches. They are already on the brink and teetering.

Watch out for any teaching which says people can be practicing homosexuals and still be Christians at the same time. No matter how much some may want to explain it away, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 still says what it says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators [sexually impure], nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

When God drops a plumb line, it is important not to stay on the wrong side of it.  We will have to decide whom we want to please and whom we are willing to offend. We will have to choose whether we are going to compromise in order to stay comfortable (and popular), or whether we will abide by what God says, no matter how much ridicule, and even persecution, we endure.

James 4:4 states the choice clearly: “… Do you not know that the friendship of the world [system]  is at enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” We can’t have it both ways.

The apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers, “What fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness? … ‘Wherefore, come out from among them, and be separate, … and I will receive you and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Moses asked, in a time of crisis within the Israelite camp, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come to me” (Exodus 32:26). God is asking that same question of us today. Let us get up and step across to Him. His plumb line is the dividing point between spiritual life and death.

The Season of Sifting (Part 1)

sifterSome time ago, I wrote a series meant mainly for intercessors, called Knowing Your Seasons of Prayer. Today’s post is about a more general season that any believer might go through — the season of sifting.

We can encounter a sifting season in a couple of ways. The first type involves us being sifted directly and personally. The Lord allows us to go through testings and trials to see how we will respond under pressure. He already knows what we will do, but we must still live it out experientially, or it would not be real and would not profit us in any way.

Job is the most prominent example in the Bible of this kind of sifting. In Job 1:8 and 2:3, twice we see God initiating a conversation with Satan: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” The devil did not come up with the idea to afflict Job all on his own; God deliberately brought Job to his attention! Why did He do that? So that He could prove Job through severe testing and display him as a shining example of integrity to inspire believers throughout many centuries to come. God received glory through Job’s triumph over his troubles — but Job also received eternal honor from this episode in his life. God knows how to compensate His beloved saints for the trials they go through.

Peter was also sifted. Although he intended to do the right thing, he trusted in his own power to stay faithful to Jesus no matter what. Jesus gravely informed him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you like wheat: but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail, and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31, 32). Unlike Job, Peter did not pass his test, yet in tender mercy, the Lord used Peter’s failure to teach him to lean upon the Lord’s grace, instead of glorying in his own integrity. The outcome was a far better Peter than ever would have existed without the test.

King Hezekiah was tested more than once by the Lord to see what he would do under pressure. In the matter of the Assyrians attacking Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:1-23), he made all the right choices. He trusted the Lord with all his might, assured the people that God would act on their behalf, and prayed the situation through until they saw an undeniably miraculous deliverance. God also supernaturally healed him of a terminal illness, in response to his prayers. But his heart became proud, and he did not give God the gratitude which was due. Although he repented and humbled himself, when Babylonian ambassadors came for a visit, “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (v. 31). Passing one test does not mean we have arrived and we’re done. The Christian life is a bit like a video game: succeeding at one level just means you get to do it again at a new level — with different circumstances to conquer.

When we go through a season where God either sifts us directly or uses circumstances, our own carnal appetites, or even the enemy of our souls to try us, His ultimate purpose is to refine us by driving us to the realization that we cannot manage on our own, and that our complete dependence must be placed in Him. The crux of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden was a desire to be self-sufficient and independent from God. Ever since then, the Lord has been working to bring us back into alignment with Him — and that alignment demands acknowledgement that we are helpless without Him. Whether we learn to cleave to the Lord in the midst of a trial, and thereby pass the test, or whether we fail miserably and learn dependence through the experience, the goal is the same — that we will become yielded, humble people, free of the rebellious nature, people who are transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

So that’s one type of sifting season. Next time, we’ll examine the season where we are the ones doing the sifting.

 

Angels in Charge

Today, I’d like to share a story which illustrates God’s supernatural intervention on behalf of ordinary people who belong to Him.

My family and I were on our way to an eagerly anticipated revival service at our church. We stopped at a busy intersection with a particularly blind corner — a light pole on one side and a fence on the other. In order to see the traffic coming from both directions, it was necessary to pull a few feet past the stop sign.

As we waited our turn to cross the intersection, to my sudden alarm, a driver turning left onto the street where we were stopped cut his turn way too sharply. He had not noticed until it was too late that he was turning directly into the path of another vehicle, and he was making a last-second, desperate (but futile) attempt to avoid a collision. Of course, there was no time for us to back up and get out of his way. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The oncoming car did not have time to stop, and smacked the left-turner broadside, spinning him around. As they crashed and spun, I tensed and shut my eyes, fully expecting that we would be caught up in the accident as well.

It took a few seconds to realize that the impact never came. We had heard the squeal of the tires and the screech of tearing metal, and thought we were part of the collision. When I opened my eyes, one of the cars was resting just a few inches from our front bumper. My husband got out and walked about, looking for damage to our vehicle. We were completely untouched.

It was then that I noticed our position. Before the accident, our car had been nosed out in front of the stop sign. Now we were resting about fifteen or twenty feet behind it. We gazed at each other in amazement, realizing that we had just experienced God’s supernatural protection. If our car had remained where it had been, the driver’s side of our vehicle would have been struck with violent force, and we could have been hurt badly.

We realized that there was no logical explanation for our deliverance other than that God’s angels had moved in, picked us up, and put us down just far enough back to keep us out of harm’s way. Truly, we had experienced firsthand the promise in Psalm 91:11, 12: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, so that you do not dash your foot against a stone.”

Do you have a story of God’s miraculous intervention in your life? Why not build the faith of others by sharing it as a comment?

Part B

Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.Proverbs 13:12

Oak treeFor those who are discouraged and seem stuck in “hope deferred, heartsick” circumstances, I want to encourage you today. I’ve sometimes heard people who were living in a lengthy time of waiting repeatedly quote the first part of this Scripture. However, this verse has a Part B: “BUT when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”

God always has a Part B ending to the trials and disappointments He allows us to pass through. He does not intend to leave us forever in the “hope deferred, heartsick” state.

Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David all experienced having their hopes get to the point of looking pretty bleak, but at the appropriate time, God brought their desires to fulfillment. Psalm 105:19 says of Joseph, “Until the time that his word came, the word of the LORD tried him.” We could rephrase that, “Until the right time for his promise to be fulfilled arrived, that promise tested his faith.” But the trial ended, and his expectation received its answer.

Abraham waited twenty-five years for Isaac to be born, but Hebrews 6:15 tells us that “after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:12 exhorts us to persevere too, that we might “through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

In the New Testament, a disciple named Aeneas waited eight years to be healed. It must have seemed like an awful “hope deferred, heartsick” kind of existence. But he received his healing in due time, and all the people in two entire towns gave their lives to Jesus as a result. His healing also brought in his harvest. (You can read his story in Acts 9:32-35.) 

Do you have a long-standing promise from the Lord? A desire of the heart which has endured, and yet it looks like its fulfillment will never come? Part B of Proverbs 13:12 says when the desire comes, not if it comes.

Your hope will not be deferred forever. Encourage yourself in the Lord, as David did, by remembering His past faithfulness to you and by meditating on what the Bible says about His faithfulness. If you need some help finding the  verses you need, I’ve compiled some for you at my website. God’s “Part B” is goodness toward you. Jeremiah 29:11 sums it up well: “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.'”

Continue to expect God to fulfill the desires He has placed in your heart, and you will receive your expected end.

Steady as She Goes!

Steady as she goes.  It’s a nautical phrase, a command given by a ship’s captain to the helmsman to stay on the same course when the waters get rough, in spite of wind gusts and cross-currents.  And, it’s good advice for Christians to heed.

When the Lord has given you a promise or specific direction for your life, inevitably there will be some rough seas.  We tend to think that if we’ve got our sailing orders, God will prepare calm waters before us — but it rarely works out that way.

I would imagine there are times the helmsman feels nervous while carrying out the captain’s orders to stay the course.  He might not always think his superior is making the best judgment.  And when our personal ship is rolling on the high seas, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jesus, our Captain, knows what He’s doing too.

We may feel like we’re way down here in the storm, while the One giving the orders is way up there in heaven, radioing commands. But in reality, our Captain is right there in the boat with us, just as He was with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, when they were shipping water and thought they wouldn’t make it.  They did, and we will, too. 

If the Lord has laid out a vision for your life, but it has shifted into looking mighty impossible right now, He wants you to keep a steady hand on the helm and stay the course, based on what He has already said to you.  You may even have panicky sailors around you shouting contrary orders to you out of obsession with the obvious outward circumstances.  Those sailors may be well-meaning people reacting to what they see with their natural eyes.  They may be your own fear-filled thoughts, or even injected thoughts from the enemy of your soul to tempt you to disobey.

But you’ve got your Captain’s orders.  He’s a wise old seasoned hand Who has seen this kind of storm many a time before and navigated through it successfully.  So listen to Him.  Do what He says.  Steady as she goes.

Desert Horse

Are you living in a spiritual desert?  Maybe you feel dry in your relationship with the Lord.  Or maybe it is not you personally, but the spiritual climate of your surroundings that feels like the Sahara. 

For a few days now, I’ve had the desert horse of the Middle East on my mind.  Carefully bred for many centuries by the nomadic people who live there, Arab horses are known for their great stamina, strength, and agility.  Their ability to endure searing heat and travel great distances through difficult terrain, with a minimum of food and water, are legendary.

There is allegorical truth hidden in their story for those of us who are currently living in a spiritual desert.   Desert seasons are a part of every serious Christian’s life.  Some of us spend more time there than others.  No one finds it to be much fun.  We love the Psalm 23 experience of Jesus leading us in green pastures, beside still waters.  But if we stayed there all the time, we’d just be fluffy, helpless sheep, and the Lord has better things for us than that.

Like the desert horse, we are meant to have, spiritually speaking, muscles of iron.  Psalm 18:34 comments, “He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.”  Such strength comes only through the rigors of enduring difficult conditions.  Steel becomes what it is through a careful process that involves applying enormous amounts of heat.  And yet, God speaks of giving us strength superior even to that possessed by steel.

Some of you live in a place where not much spiritual life is going on around you.  You may not sense a great desire for the Presence of the Lord in your community or church house.  There may not be a local “feed trough” of solid Bible teaching available to you.  And you feel so very hungry and thirsty for nourishment from the Lord.  I know what that feels like.  Access to sound Bible teaching through books and the Internet is wonderful, but there’s nothing like having everything you need right in your own home town.  The easy way out would be to shift locations — to find a new city or church where God is moving.  But perhaps you know deep down inside that, at least for this season, you are called to be a desert dweller.  It is part of God’s plan for you right now — but it’s a bleak outlook, all the same.

God has a way for us to not only survive, but also to thrive in the desert.  Arab horses are renowned for their intelligence and sensitive nature.  These traits have been developed in them through many centuries in a peculiar way.  The nomadic people have commonly allowed the finest of their horses to live right inside their tents with them, sometimes even sleeping under their blanket and drinking from their own cup.  Their legends are filled with stories of extraordinary love  bonds and deep understanding between horse and master.

The key to surviving and thriving in our desert seasons is to stay close to our Master, too — abiding in His tent, the tabernacle of His Presence.  We all have that place available to us, because Jesus has opened the way into the Holy of Holies for all who wish to not only visit occasionally, but to dwell there.  We absorb His understanding, His sensitivity, His wisdom as we live close to Him.

Dwelling in the Lord’s tent does not happen automatically.  Staying close to Him in the desert requires extra time set aside for Him in prayer and in His Word.  We will increase in wisdom and understanding, but we will also find nourishment, so that we are sustained.  Discipline and  determination are needed, just as the desert horse must exert effort in his search for grass and water.  Jesus’ Word is meat, and He is the Living Water.

God promises to take care of His desert dwellers:

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the LORD will hear them; I the LORD will not forsake them.  I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. — Isaiah 41:17, 18

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out her roots by the river, that shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.  —Jeremiah 17:7, 8 

May you thrive and grow wise during your season in the desert.  And may you come out of  that time a valiant warhorse for the Lord.

See also:
Why the Desert, Lord? 
Three Levels of Journeying Through Your Desert