Decrease to Increase in Jesus


Tower of Babel

John 3:28-30, Genesis 11:4, 1 Samuel 15: 10-12, Matthew 16:25, Matthew 7:21-23
Numbers 20: 10-12

When John the Baptist witnessed Jesus on the scene, he drew back, decreasing his visibility to allow Jesus His following . Thus, it is, with One who has been born from above, all ambitions, motives, actions, words are consumed by the “Glory of God”. And as it happens, the one who loses Himself in Christ, is the one who reveals Him to others. (John 3: 28-30)

Saul was chosen as King of Israel. He was from the smallest family of the smallest tribe in Israel. He was a man who lacked confidence in himself, although he was tall and handsome. When the prophet, Samuel came to anoint him King, he hid because he was afraid of such an awesome position and responsibility. But after one victory against the enemy of Israel, he allowed himself to receive the glory and began to honor himself, increasing his visibility while dishonoring God. He allowed pride and self-importance to go to his head. Therein was the snare to losing his position in the Kingdom of Israel and as God’s anointed. (Isaiah 42:8, 1 Samuel 8-15, 15:10-12).

Recently, as I’ve been interceding for my family and the nation, the Lord has produced a sifting, purging of my soul. Instead of recognizing the sins of others, He has shown me my own; subtle ways of bringing honor to myself; building little monuments and towers to establish self-importance and a name while misrepresenting “Who He Is”.  I’ve been astounded as to how many times I have fell into self-pity over rejection, disrespect, and unrecognized in my attempts to share Christ. But the truth is, I was always in the center of the witness and teaching, more visible than the one I desired to reveal.

Through repentance, I am more cognizant of my words and actions, bringing them under submission to glorify Christ. It’s a discipline, but absolutely necessary and possible for godly effectiveness in the Kingdom of God (2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 6:33).

Jesus said, if I be “lifted up” (above everything else, including others and the things of this world) I will draw all men to myself. (John 12: 32-33)

If the gospel of Jesus Christ – “His death and resurrection” is paramount above every form of doctrine, theology, philosophy, politics or persuasion, then He alone, brings those who are lost, suffering and hurting to Himself, whereby salvation and the promise of eternal life is guaranteed. (Ephesians 1: 13-14)

I pray, together, those who are called by His Name, lift Jesus up above ourselves in every way, yielding in submission in everything through His mercy and grace, for the sake of others  who will see Jesus, alone.  (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

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What’s Behind the Provocation?


 

James 1

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

provocation: something that incites, instigates, angers or irritates

I’ve noticed in my walk with the Lord, when things are going exceedingly well, and I am at peace with where I am in Christ, I usually am met with a circumstance which threatens to pull the rug from underneath this confidence. Perhaps, you can relate. So, I’ve learned with every provocation to pause, pray, and respond with patience in a Christ-like manner. This non-offensive response has been a constant on-going practice of self-discipline in the area when anger suddenly takes hold of my emotions and I am tempted to react in the wrong way.  (Matthew 5:38-48, Proverbs 25:21-22)

I’ve noticed politicians use accusations when they don’t want to discuss the issues and have no credible argument. They will look for ways to undermine their opponent’s position with a personal accusation, such as accusing them of being racist, sexist, etc,.
In essence:

“A person who has no “leg to stand on” will look for ways to pull the rug from under those who do.” DF

When it comes to our salvation, Satan is defeated ( Romans 8:1-4 ), so he results to accusations (Revelation 12:10). When it comes to accusations, the enemy (Satan) will look to accuse the child of God, purposely, to avert the attention from Christ. Usually, it occurs though a provocation which is unexpected and catches the believer off-guard.

This is how it works. The enemy, who is Satan will interject a thought to cause anger, doubt and/or suspicion. The person who has the thought, becomes angry, reacts spontaneously and makes a hurtful remark. The one who is accused is on the defensive, and before you know it an argument infuses, and the good thing the Lord had intended, has been stopped.
(Ephesians 6:10-12)

We recognize this in Cain’s anger towards Abel. Abel pleased God with his obedience, whereby, Cain became jealous. God warned Cain about his anger, but Cain held onto it until it resulted in Abel’s death.
(James 1:13-15)

Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him, they plotted to kill him because he found favor with their father. Their anger resulted in throwing Joseph in a pit, and then selling him into slavery. (Genesis 37)

We recognize how our thoughts can lead to good or bad in how the Apostle Peter reacted to thoughts from the Holy Spirit verses thoughts from Satan. Peter went from confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Savior) to trying to prevent Him from saving the world. So, we can see, as Christians, we need to discern between the voices.
(Proverbs 14:12,  Isaiah 30:21)

When Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus responded:
“You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Matthew 16:17

But after Jesus explained how He was to suffer and die and then be raised from the dead on the third day, Peter’s response was:
“Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matthew 16:22

Jesus recognized the influence behind  Peter’s rebuke, and addressed it:
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” vs.23
Notice, Jesus did not address Peter, but Satan.

Therefore, with every provocation, the overcomer, knows to pause, and to pray with a forgiving manner, moving forward in the things of the Lord.

I remember there were times when the Lord was working through me I was blindsided by an offense. Instead of comprehending what was occurring, I would internalize the hurt, and without praying, I would throw in the towel and walk away. I have learned the enemy’s tactic, and am not so easily caught off-guard these days. But to overcome, I’ve had to recognize my weakness, swallow my pride and pray.

I vividly remember when I was teaching a Senior High class of teenagers in Sunday School, I had overcome many obstacles with their rudeness and rejections. Things were coming together and I was even learning how to allow them to participate in leading the discussions, when suddenly, I was bombarded with the feeling of rejection  Instead of praying, and taking the offenses to the Lord, I just simply threw in the towel and never returned again. I was overwhelmed later with remorse and regret, but didn’t see it as  my pride at the time.

Now that my spiritual antennas are sharpened, I have also noticed other provocations or distractions such as external deliberate “noise” invasions when I am speaking about the Lord. Such as, when I get with my friend and we’re discussing how the Lord is working in our life, suddenly a noisy helicopter will fly overhead, or grass cutting machines suddenly show up beside us. In all this: I have learned there must be something the Lord is about to accomplish. If I can ignore the offense, move forward in kindness and grace, I witness the reward of seeing the Lord work or hear His awesome voice.
(Psalm 91:3, Romans 8:28)

In the circumstance of Cain, he remained a fugitive-running away from God’s grace and continued to live a violent, unfruitful life.

Joseph overcame the abuse of his brothers, trusted God, and delivered his family, Egypt and many from starvation.

Peter learned to overcome his impetuousness, think things through and pray.
Peter went on preaching repentance, the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection for salvation, whereby, many are saved.

And presently I am learning how to overcome pride, move forward and in the process witness what the Lord will do.  Which is good, it is always good. (Genesis 50:20)

Then I think how Jesus withstood the onslaught of accusations and rejections while He was speaking the Truth and healing the sick and the lame. But nothing deterred Him from saving, even His worse enemies as He was nailed on the cross. He overcame all the abuses and accusations to save the world. ( John 3:16, Luke 23:33-34)

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4

 

 

 

 

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You’re Right Where You’re Supposed to Be


Be Still

As a childbirth doula, I would accompany the birthing mother in the hospital, encouraging her in every stage of labor. These women desired a natural birth, but the moment they stepped into the hospital’s maternity ward, their birth became medically managed, which made it almost impossible to relax, which was vital for dilation to move progressively forward. So thus, was their trial.

But there was one woman I coached who was determined to overcome the unnatural contractions produced by the chemical hormone, Pitocin. She was diagnosed with low amniotic fluid and again there was a reason to induce labor for this woman who was capable of and desired a natural birth. There are ways to increase the volume of amniotic fluid if necessary, but Allie was not given this option.

As in many cases, under the supervision of an OB, there is always a reason to induce labor, making it more convenient for everyone else except for the mother and baby.

What was inconsistent with the diagnosis is the fact they started labor by breaking her amniotic sac, IF it was dangerous for the baby before with the low volume, why would they take the chance of decreasing the volume to start labor prematurely? But when the doctor pierced the sac, Allie began labor immediately. Allie still wanted to have her baby naturally without further medical interventions.  Therefore, she requested more time to dilate before receiving the artificial hormone, Pitocin. This request was interpreted as a threat to the medically managed agenda, and as a result, the nurse said she would have to sign a waiver refusing all medical assistance. This alarmed Allie, so she relented and allowed them to continue the inducement.  When labor is induced prematurely with amniocentesis and Pitocin infusion, the contractions become harder and faster producing unnecessary stress for both mother and child.

But Allie was determined to endure this medical procedure until delivery. At one point, she needed to know where she was in the progression of this strenuous labor, and when she asked the nurse where she was concerning dilation, the nurse calmly and reassuringly said,

You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

This encouraged Allie to pray,  relax ,and let go.   The reason the nurse didn’t examine her, is for these reasons; if she were only a few centimeters dilated, she would be discouraged, believing birth was a long time away, and if it were closer to completion, she might be disappointed if it didn’t occur sooner than she hoped.  But as Allie focused on the outcome, her baby, she manged to give birth with no further medical interventions and mounted up in her maternal role with *wings.

Those words, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be” resonated with my spirit, and I find myself using those exact words for myself and believers struggling with uncertainty and frustration when there is no answer as to what it is all about and when it will end. (Job 13:15)

There are so many important things occurring between the time the mother starts labor and the baby is born which completes the maturation of the child and equips the new mother for her maternal task.  Interference in the process can result with physical, emotional, and/or psychological problems that appear during the mother’s postpartum and/or the baby’s early childhood.
(Colossians 4:12, Hebrews 6:1-2)

Childbirth is a perfect analogy to how God uses trials and tribulations to accomplish His will on earth and in individual lives.  (Matthew 24:8, Genesis 50:20)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

When the Lord allows his child to go through a trial it is for the reason of transformation: to increase faith, develop spiritual awareness and to gain strength . During the process much is gained that otherwise would not take place. As children of God we are completed through experiencing difficulties which challenge our faith. And when God’s plan and purpose is birthed we gain the resolve and knowledge in doing His will.
(Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 3:10-11, Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 121:3)

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

What I witnessed, personally, following a natural birth, was an overwhelming sense of maternal confidence. This confidence transferred over to knowing instinctively how to care for my newborn child. I was full of joy and strengthen by the invigorating experience, and with this confidence I also knew “instinctively” how to breastfeed my child.

With a natural progression, when dilation is complete, there is a rest period before the baby leaves the uterus and enters the birth canal. This is God’s way of allowing the mother to rest from the contractions.  After this rest period, the baby will enter the birth canal with a mother’s “natural” urge to push. If the mother tries to push, prematurely, she finds the 2nd stage of labor very strenuous and exhausting, with complications needing immediate medical help. It’s as though, when the baby’s position is on the pelvic floor, at the right time, the pelvic muscles act as strong hands lifting up and out the baby with a natural thrust.

“It’s an exhilarating moment, when in the trial of labor, the mother sees the fruit of her labor; her child.” DF  (John 16:21)

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. *They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

With my second childbirth, I was in the hardest stage of labor, when in transition the cervix completes dilation. I wanted to have a natural birth because my first medically managed birth didn’t go well. When I knew I could not labor four more hours as the OB had predicted, I called on the Lord, and asked for His help. Immediately, I heard His small still voice: (Isaiah 30:21, Genesis 4:1, Psalm 18:6)

“Relax like a limp noodle from the waist down.”

My concentration switched from resistance to embracing what my body was trying to do.  And as soon as I began to relax, I knew my cervix was complete, followed by the overwhelming urge to push.  Instead of resisting for four more hours, I entered the Lord’s rest embracing what only He could do. Within minutes, Michael was born.

“For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.” Hebrews 4:10

I’ll never forget the worse spiritual trial of my life when I entered a time of judgment, discouragement and despair. God was separating me to Himself, addressing areas in my life I had adopted which were not of Him. He promised me through His Word, I would not be put to shame. It was a time of darkness, but even with the uncertainty and adverse circumstance, I began to understand, I was “right where I was supposed to be,” and at the right time emerged with spiritual wings.
(Isaiah 54, Isaiah 40: 30-31)

And so it is; when we can “remain still” trusting in His omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, we will see. Because in Christ Jesus, we are always in His Loving Hands , “right where we’re suppose to be.
(Romans 8:29, Isaiah 43:13, John 10:28-30)

 

 

 

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