Our Strength and Shield
In the preceding chapters I shared some events in which the Spirit of God has called my family to step out in faith and to lean totally upon Him. Some who have read of the victories and miraculous provision we have seen in our lives as we looked to Him have thought that we must be a different type of person than they are. Satan would like to convince those who read these things that it is only some type of elite saint who can experience such victories and perform exploits in the name of Christ, and that only a few are given faith to experience such a walk. This is merely one more lie of the enemy to keep the saints from having the confidence to believe that they too can experience the overcoming power of God in their lives. Let me tell you the truth of this matter.
I think that God has chosen me to walk in places of faith, and to write about them, in order that the church might know that Yahweh is capable of taking the weakest, most fearful, and anxiety prone man, and through His power and love He is able to make such a one stand. Some saints after having read of some of our experiences have written to comment that I must possess a powerful faith, and this makes it sound like the power to walk this path of faith is something that is in me. Such ones have formed the exact wrong conclusion, for I am exceedingly weak in myself, and it is only the strength and grace of God that keeps me standing. Paul expressed this beautifully.
II Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Paul has also described the type of people God has primarily chosen to do His works.
I Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.
Do you feel that you are described in the passage above? If so, then congratulations to you! You are a perfect candidate for God to display His mighty power through. By choosing the foolish and weak and base and despised things of this world, and then displaying His awesome power through such vessels, He receives all the glory. God chose me for this particular walk based upon my insufficiency, and my inadequacy, and my weakness. If I had been a strong and self-confident person, full of faith in my own abilities, then I would have been led to boast about the great man of faith that I am.
A few years back I wrote an article detailing some of the magnificent victories God has wrought on behalf of my family, and in it I described myself in this way:
From my youth I have been beset with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I felt that I was somehow inferior to other people and that I was lacking in certain vital areas that I really couldn’t define, but which I felt nonetheless. I rarely looked people in the eyes when I spoke to them because of my insecurity. I was placed in a public speaking class once when I was in High School and the first day we had to state our name and say one short fact about ourselves. I was mortified. I turned red and stammered and sweated and I went immediately afterward and dropped the class.
I became so frightened about being in the public eye and put on the spot that I would avoid every situation that held fear for me. I was consumed with a fear of other people and their opinions of me, thinking that people would see my lack and failings and I would somehow be rejected. One of the most trying episodes for me was getting a haircut. While getting a haircut I was a captive and could not flee until it was over. I was afraid that I would get nervous while getting a haircut and that it would be noticed. I would begin to sweat profusely and this was impossible for the barber to not notice since my hair would be glistening with sweat while he was trying to cut it. Haircuts for me became miserable times as I tried to do everything to not think about getting nervous, only to fail time after time and to have my head dripping with sweat while the barber cut my hair. I even had a barber hand me a towel to dry my hair and wipe my brow as he noticed my discomfort.
I share these things with you to show you that I have not been a bold or self confident person. You can then understand that when I tell you how I have seen the power of God manifested in my life that God has done these things through a weak and insignificant vessel that He has chosen to display His power through. We are told that He has chosen the weak and the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.
God has taken someone who could not even say his name in public and He has called me to publicly proclaim the word of God. This I have done now from my early twenties and God has used my own insecurity to cause me to cast myself upon Him for His strength, His enabling, and His ability to have His word proclaimed. I have often stood upon God’s own words to Moses, “Did I not create man’s lips? I will be with your mouth and give you the words to speak.” In our weakness we look to the promises of God and we press into them and rely heavily upon them. It is then that we see His power manifested.
Like Paul, I would rather boast about my weakness in order to magnify the grace of God that is available to all of the saints. In the previous chapter on hearing God I shared how vital it is to hear the voice of God to both direct our steps and to give us confirmations along the way. Gideon had no confidence in himself, nor in the Israelites’ ability to defeat their foes. Because of this he asked for a number of confirmations to God’s will, and he received them. When God first called me to step out from wage earning and to trust Him for our provision, I asked Him for so many confirmations that I became ashamed to ask for more. Yet He was patient with me and gave me all the confirmation I needed.
I would not have anyone to receive the impression that God chose me for some inherent strength in me. He did not choose me because He knew He could speak a word of direction to me one time and I would go forth fearlessly with no anxiety or shadow of doubt. I have needed many assurances, and He has walked with me as a father would walk with a small child, holding my hand and speaking words of comfort to me all along the way.
This has also been how He has walked with those men and women in the Bible who we view as the champions of faith. Moses is revered today, as he has been for thousands of years, for the mighty power of God that was demonstrated through him. Yet by his own confession he could not even speak. He tried to convince Yahweh that He had called the wrong man. I find great comfort in this, for at times I have felt the same way. In the writing “The Lion, the Bear and Goliath” I wrote some about the men God has chosen to display His power through.
We sometimes have a view of certain Biblical personalities as being cut from a different mold than us. We think they were not beset with our petty weaknesses of the flesh, with doubts, fears, and uncertainty. In thinking this we actually make things more difficult for ourselves because when we find these weaknesses resident in our frame we become convinced that we are not cut from the same cloth as the saints of God whom we read about as overcomers. But let me assure you, they all experienced these same fleshly battles.
Abraham, the father of faith, was afraid that he would be killed by foreigners when he sojourned in their land because of the beauty of his wife. He therefore had her passed off as his sister and she was even taken to be another man’s wife on two occasions, but God protected her from any sexual involvement.
Jacob ran for his life from the anger of his brother who vowed to kill him. He later deceived his father-in-law and snuck away from his household to avoid a confrontation with him. Later, as he approached his homeland, he was gripped with fear at the prospect of meeting his brother again and he was afraid that he and his wives and children would be killed. He took steps to at least spare some of them, even when God had told him to return to his homeland and God vowed to be with him.
David, who is often thought to be as fearless of an individual as there ever was, wrote so many Psalms that expressed how his soul was being overwhelmed by his trials and adversaries that it is impossible to think that he didn’t struggle with these same human feelings of weakness. He cried out over and over for God to come to him quickly lest he should perish and his soul should be swallowed up in despair.
But how about the New Testament? Wasn’t Paul a man who endured so many things and who did so courageously without any fear at all? Listen to his own words.
I Corinthians 2:1-4
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Yahshua the Messiah, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…
It seems somehow incongruent that Paul could preach “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” yet he was physically “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” Yet Paul understood that God’s power is not shown through our natural strength, but through our weakness. It is in our weakness that we deem ourselves incapable of performing anything of eternal value so that we throw ourselves unreservedly over onto the Father and say “God, if anything of worth or value is to come forth it must come from You, for I am unable to accomplish it.” This acknowledgment of our weakness opens the door for the power of God to be manifest.
A trait of all overcomers in Christ is humility. Such ones do not have an elevated opinion of themselves, or of their own strength and abilities. Their confidence is in God Who has called them, and Who will surely keep them through all trials. This, once more, is a reason that Satan so opposes faith in the hearts of men and women. True faith exalts God. The false faith that is rampant in this hour exalts men, and men love to be exalted. The world can watch men prancing around on stage blowing on people and pushing on their foreheads, so that all can see the power in them as men and women fall to the ground. They present themselves as great giants of faith. True faith that pleases God does not act unbecomingly, but is marked by humility.
As I have been writing this book, the Spirit has been reminding me of my own weakness and dependence upon Him. There have been a number of days recently when the Lord has pulled back His hand of protection from me just a little bit, and He has allowed the enemy to buffet me. I have felt that a fierce gale was raging in my soul, and words of anxiety and fear and doubt and unbelief were being carried to me on the wind. These words would slam into me and I would feel my flesh responding with a desire to flee. Satan has sought to move me from the ground the Spirit has told me to stand upon, and I have felt myself teetering at times.
Yesterday was one such day. I dealt with battles raging in my soul all day long, and I prayed, and confessed, and praised God, but the intensity of the battle would not weaken. After a time I began to grow weary, and I even got down on my knees and wept as I prayed to God for strength and deliverance. I felt isolated and very vulnerable. In the evening I sent out an e-mail to the saints asking them to stand in intercession with me. I shortly received a number of e-mails back as brothers and sisters in Christ said they were standing with me in prayer. Before I even read their letters, however, I felt the impact of their prayers as the storm in my soul finally subsided and the light and peace of Christ came flooding in.
The Spirit spoke to me through this and disclosed to me my great dependence upon Him. I have no reason to boast, weak and fearful as I am. If I have been able to stand in past trials, it has only been because He has strengthened me and given me the grace to do so. This strength and grace is available to all of the saints. After this experience, the Spirit began leading me to Scriptures that brought forth this point very clearly. He is the One who makes the saints to stand. The ability is not in ourselves.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Yahshua Messiah our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
A part of our faith in the character of God is trusting that He will keep us in the time of trial. We must believe that He will never suffer the righteous to be overcome by evil, and that His hand of protection will shelter us in the storm. When the storms were blowing in my own life, His hand was ever present. He told the Devil that He could go only so far and no more. He never totally removed His protection from me. He is like a master metalworker who is watching the temperature of the fire with great intensity so that it will heat the metal enough for the impurities to rise to the surface where they can be removed, but not too high that the metal should become brittle or damaged.
In the book of Job we see this watchfulness of the Lord. Satan had to get permission to attack Job, and God set precise limits on what Satan could and could not do.
Then Satan answered Yahweh, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?… Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.”
In the lives of the saints today, Satan still has to get permission from the Lord to touch us. We see this revealed in Yahshua’s words to Peter.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
In these few words it is revealed that Satan has to get permission to touch the saint. The Lord will never allow Satan to have a greater access to us than we are able to bear, and Yahshua also intercedes for us during the trial. This should be a comfort to all the saints. Consider also the purpose for the testing that Christ allows here. It states that Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat. When wheat is sifted, the impurities in the wheat are revealed and are discarded. This produces a beneficial effect in the life of the saint.
The impurity that was present in Peter’s life was self confidence, a trust in his own abilities. The next verses reveal this stronghold in Peter’s flesh that had to be broken, bringing forth a humility in him.
But [Peter] said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Peter had such a confidence in his own strength that he stated that even if all of the other disciples abandoned Christ, that he would not do so (Matthew 26:33-35). The confidence that Peter manifested with these words is not the type of faith that pleases God. Peter’s faith was based upon confidence in his own ability to stay the course and not deny the Lord. Peter learned before the day was out that determination and self effort are incapable of providing the strength to stand in the face of the enemy.
This was also the lesson the Spirit brought to me yesterday. I was near to abandoning the course and giving in to fear and anxiety. The Lord was allowing Satan to sift me to reveal the weakness of my own flesh that I would place no confidence in the flesh. Our only confidence should be in God’s ability and willingness to cause us to stand. The flesh is of no profit in a spiritual struggle.
Paul knew much about battling the enemy, and he was wise enough to not trust in his own strength. He knew that the Lord would never allow him, or any saint, to encounter more than they could handle as they manifested faith in the character of God.
I Corinthians 10:13
No test has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the testing will provide the way out, an egress, so that you will be able to endure it.
Paul knew that it was not by his own strength that he stood, for he boasted in his weakness that he might more readily receive the power of God. Paul received strength continuously from God in his many trials.
I Timothy 1:12
I thank Messiah Yahshua our Lord, who has strengthened me…
II Timothy 4:16-17
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…
I believe God will use many saints in these latter days to perform great exploits of faith. The dead will be raised, miracles will be performed, multitudes will be healed, the Spirit will be imparted, and greater works than Christ performed will be seen. In all of this no man or woman will have reason to boast in themselves. If left to our own strength for a moment, we would be overwhelmed. We have One to lean on Who has all strength, all power, and all might. His name is Yahweh, and in Him I will make my boast.
Thus says Yahweh, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Yahweh who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares Yahweh.
Father, my confidence rests upon the many testimonies of Your love and care for me. I may merely be dust, but I am dust that You have filled with Your life. You are the One who has called me. You will also cause me to stand. Teach my fearful heart to rest in You. Shelter me under Your wings. Call me into the place of sanctuary. Hide me until the storms of life are over. You are my rock and my strong tower. In You alone will I seek refuge, my Lord and my God.