THIRTY FEET BELOW PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I was so nauseated I did not know whether to get on my next flight or go home.  It was my first mission trip.  A few months earlier my cousin from Texas had called and invited me to join their family and church group on a mission trip to Honduras.  My heart leapt inside me as I thought about going with them.  I was not sure my husband would approve of my going out of the country, and there was the cost of the trip.  I laid those issues before the Lord and the answer was yes!  (Please read Thirty Feet Below Part I in the archives if you have not already done so, to understand the reference to it in this writing.)

Packing the last articles in my bags, I felt an excitement inside me.  It seemed as if I was on the edge of destiny.  The apprehension of traveling overseas, to an unknown country, was swallowed up in the joy I felt about participating in the Lord’s Great commission, in Mark Chapter 16.  The first leg of my trip originated in Tampa with a change of planes in Miami.  I was to continue from Miami to Houston where I would meet with the team.  We would then fly on to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Soon after my flight to Miami took off, I began to feel very nauseated and sickly.  The flight attendant gave me a cloth napkin with some ice to cool my forehead.  I started to pray.  I knew it could not be fear or anxiety because I was thrilled to go.  I wondered if the symptoms were from a virus and I was concerned about the possibility of infecting the team.  The plane finally landed and I had to decide whether to go home or continue on.  I felt the Lord was compelling me to go so in faith, I stepped onto the plane to Houston, found my seat and continued icing my forehead.  The moment that plane took off, the nausea instantly left!  I realized it was the enemy (devil) trying to keep me from my destiny.  It was then I understood he could put false symptoms on people to prevent them from fulfilling God’s will in their lives.  I then felt a strong sense of God’s blessing and protection which stayed with me the entire trip.

The week in Honduras was filled with many memorable events, but the most impactful for me personally, was going to a Honduran prison.  The prison ministry excursion was voluntary.  Nine from our team of fifteen chose to go.  The group included five women and four men.  Our leader drove us an hour and forty-five minutes out of San Pedro Sula.  We travelled from the busy city to outlying highways, then onto dirt roads, passing farmlands with acres of pineapple plantations.  The air was pleasant as the sweet aroma of fresh pineapple enticed our sense of smell.  

We created a dust cloud behind our bus as we journeyed down a road that appeared to go nowhere.  The road finally ended at the base of a small mountain, next to a dated one-story cement block building in need of paint.  It was surrounded by a tall metal fence which was wrapped in razor wire at the top.  A large rusty wrought iron gate stood to deter visitors from going forward.  The scene was menacing and foreboding.  Several guards standing by the fence held long rifles as if they were prepared to use them. They stared at us with serious and intimidating facial expressions.  Their shirts were unbuttoned because of the oppressive heat adding to our discomfort, and planting a seed of doubt in our reason for coming.  The climate was thick, having a temperature in the mid 90’s and the humidity was extremely high due to its coastal location.  The mountain blocked any breeze from cooling the prison complex and the lack of shade trees emphasized the unrelenting heat.  My mind momentarily recalled an old western movie I had seen years before, which made me chuckle at the similarity of this scenario.  I quickly returned to a sobering thought which caused me to question my judgement in coming, but it only lasted for a brief moment.

The local missionary Paul, who sponsored our team, handed one of the officers at the gate a piece of paper which confirmed our invitation to enter the prison and do a worship service.  The head prison guard was summoned for final approval.  He quickly nodded and ordered the gate to be opened.  We entered the building which housed a few small offices and quickly passed through the entrance to the prison yard.  Grey unpainted cinder block cubicles were surrounded by a latrine which ran through the entire property, wafting a pungent odor that was as oppressive as the heat.  Sidewalks led us to the rooms that were no more than 8X10 feet in size.  Each room had a set of metal bunk beds with a thin mattress and a sink.  There were no doors or bars on the rooms.  The prisoners congregated all over the grounds as we walked through but we had an armed escort, and armed guards were stationed throughout the complex. 

Our escort led us to a large rectangular room that was walled on three sides, with a large opening on one of the long walls.  The walls inside the room were a dingy grey and there was the obvious absence of pictures or decorations.  It was filled with at least fifty men, young and old, making it difficult to navigate to the other side.  A handful were Americans; all were imprisoned for various reasons.  It was clear they were paying an exorbitant price for their crimes.  The heat was almost unbearable and their sunken eyes were filled with hopelessness.  It felt as if we had stepped into the bowels of hell.  We had to weave our way through the crowd and it was then I sensed fear and vulnerability.  The Lord quickly gave me a peace that we would be alright.  Our team of nine lined up at the back wall and all 50 prisoners were standing between us and the exit.  That day I personally experienced God’s peace surpassing all understanding. 

I had been asked to share something that morning.   I wondered what I, a middle aged American white woman, would share that could possibly relate to their situation.  The Lord quickly told me they needed hope and I had several testimonies of the Lord intervening in hopeless situations in my life.  My sharing was brief but as I looked into their eyes, I felt my testimony had made a connection with many of the men.  The Gospel transcends time and space, gender and culture.  Others shared and then our leader began to preach a powerful word from the Lord.  He gave several altar calls that morning, one for salvation, another for backsliders and a third to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The power of God came into that room and most of those hopeless, forgotten men had encountered their forgiving, gracious and loving Lord.  Many were speaking in their new heavenly language with hands raised and we were urged to wander through the crowd praying and laying hands on them as we left the room.  It was an honor to pray for those men, forgotten and seemingly lost, but remembered by our loving Lord.

God moved in that place of darkness and hopelessness.  He protected all of us in a dangerous setting so that we could bring hope and encouragement to them.  We were honored and respected by them for coming, and God honored our faith and obedience by touching those men.  It is a memory forever carved on my heart.

Since that incredible mission trip I have discovered that fear is the greatest enemy of our destiny.  Fear can manifest in many ways.  Insecurity, fear of the unknown, concerns for safety, and inadequacy are several fears that can squelch the call of God in our lives.  When the voice of fear is greater than our faith in God’s protection, we can be stopped in our tracks, unable to move forward.  I was afraid to talk about the Lord with people and had a fear of flying for many years.  I felt so insecure and inadequate that I did not believe the Lord would use me to touch others.  Over the years, He has delivered me from those fears and proven Himself to me.  The Lord specifically chooses us because we are inadequate so that He will be all sufficient!  He doesn’t use those who are secure in their own abilities; He picks those who depend upon Him.  It doesn’t matter when we are called to do something, or go somewhere that is unknown to us, because He has already gone before us to make the way.

It is not about us having our own faith or strength, it is totally about our having faith in Him and trusting in His power to flow through us.  We don’t have to speak eloquently, we only need to deliver the word He gives us.  When we realize we are simply a conduit through which His Spirit flows, then we remove ourselves from the consideration and merely let Him work through us to touch others.  Our works become simply hearing and obeying.

How do we get to the place of simply hearing and obeying?  We make knowing Him our priority, and pursuing Him our reality.  He reveals Himself through His Word:  both the Old and New Testaments.  He also reveals Himself through His Holy Spirit, who is our paraclete-the one who walks beside us teaching us about Him and His ways.  Learning to flow in the Holy Spirit is as easy as prayer.  The Bible says we can pray in the natural and pray by the Holy Spirit of God.  Ephesians 6:18 instructs us, “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”

The Holy Spirit’s role in everything we do is critical.  The promises of God are centered on our motivations and actions being in agreement with the Lord’s will.  If we are not Spirit-led, then we are not led by God at all.  He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and to pray through us.  Everything we do for His Kingdom is based upon the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance.  Our success is based solely upon how surrendered we become to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord speaks to all His children, but only those who hear His voice are able to walk in obedience.  His voice can be as subtle as a gentle breeze but those who are attentive to His quietness will hear His instruction and obey even without questioning.  When we live and move in Him, and when we have our being in Him, He becomes such a part of us there is no longer a separation.  We become infused or enmeshed in what He is doing and flow effortlessly with His leading.

His heart becomes our heart.  What is on His mind is on ours.  Those for whom He is concerned, become our concern.  We are no longer pulled by the world and its many distractions.  Instead, our focus becomes what He is directing us to do.  Our comfort is not the center of His will.  Our willingness to go beyond our place of comfort, to stretch beyond our safety and convenience is what He is calling us to do.  One of my favorite songs is Oceans by Hillsong United.  It cries out to the Lord to take the believer into the deep waters where their safety is only in Him.  It beckons the Lord to stretch one’s faith to walk on unknown paths and to trust in Him in unsafe waters.

 “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.  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.  Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me.  Take me deeper than my feet have ever wandered, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

Those who are willing to dive in the oceans of the Lord to go “Thirty Feet Below” to reach those whom the Lord desires to touch and heal, will find complete satisfaction and fulfillment.  We will never experience the thrill of truly entering into our Father’s joy without taking risks and reaching beyond what we know, to delve into the unknown with Him.  The Bible proclaims, “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  If you want to know what the Lord is doing in the earth today, allow Him to take you thirty feet below!

 

THIRTY FEET BELOW Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

They were eating, drinking and partying, totally oblivious to what was thirty feet below them.  We were in San Salvador helping a ministry that feeds the homeless.  It houses drug addicted teens, nursing them to wholeness, and rescues victims of sex trafficking.  The ignored and forgotten are healed by the love of God.  The hopeless are liberated and restored to life in Jesus’ name.

Thursday morning several of us painted two rooms at the ministry while others in our group installed a clean water filtration system in their kitchen.  Local volunteers made beautiful greeting cards with bright colored paper strips they coiled and formed into flowers, leaves, stems, hearts and many other decorative shapes.  After lunch three of us prepped vegetables to accompany the evening meal while others of our team received the fifty clients that would be served that evening.  Showers were available as well as free haircuts.  Games like dominoes, checkers, puzzles and cards were scattered among the tables for visitors to entertain themselves while waiting for the devotional and hot meal.  Our team played games with them, prayed for them or simply conversed with them.  The mission statement of Mission to El Salvador is to treat all with Respect, Honor and Dignity.

The clients were fed by 4:30 p.m. and we had cleaned up by 5 p.m. and headed to our quarters to have our own dinner.  We were again picked up at 8 p.m. to return back to the inner city ministry to pack meals for the homeless living on the streets.  Unaware of what was to come, our team piled into the bed of a truck which was lined with benches for seating.  There was a thick metal railing attached above the edge of the truck bed that gave us something to grip to steady the ride.  Cases of orange and grape beverages were placed beneath the benches behind our legs for easy access.  The center of the truck bed held a large white cooler.  It was filled with three hundred and fifty foil packages each containing three pieces of Canadian bacon or pepperoni pizza which had been donated by a local restaurant.  It would probably be the only meal those people would have that day unless they found a trash receptacle behind a restaurant in which they could scavenge.

We had packed meals until the sunlight faded into darkness, which veiled a lonely subculture that was almost invisible.   We could not have found the people of the streets in the daytime.  They only come out in the dark of night because it obscures their existence.  Our leader gave a shout as the truck came to a stop.  The lights of the truck, which makes its rounds every Thursday night, summoned them to come out.  It also illuminated those otherwise hidden.  Men, women, children and even babies slept concealed in crevices between buildings, in delivery docking areas or underneath overhangs which protect the cement sidewalks from rain.  Some had blankets worn thin by long nights exposed to rough cement beds and evening storms.  Others had confiscated cardboard boxes to pad the unforgiving surfaces where they slept.  We drove by parks, stadiums, beautiful public buildings and churches to find them.  Every few blocks the truck would stop, the call came forth alerting them food had come, and clusters of people would step into the light and line up behind the truck so that we could hand them their only meal that day.

The ministry leader called many of them by name, asked them how they were doing and invited them to come to the ministry for help.  It was only six blocks away.  The streets of the city looked like nothing we had seen in the states.  Walls were trashed with gang graffiti, sidewalks filled with trash and temporary barricades lined the streets.  Worn paint exposed the depressed and hopeless culture while majestic public buildings stood like citadels contrasting the devastation of everyday life.  It looked like a war zone and it was.  Good and evil, haves and have nots, rich and poor were separated by only a few feet.

We rounded a corner and the sound of music grabbed my attention.  It was emanating from the roof of a three-story building.  I saw a large restaurant on the top floor, with open air tables.  It was decorated with strings of bright lights and the tables were filled with people eating, drinking and partying.  The music was up-beat and the atmosphere was filled with laughter.  They seemed totally oblivious to what existed thirty feet below them.  The truck stopped directly beneath them on the right side of the road and children were the first to line up behind the truck.  Boys 8, 10 and 12 years old stretched out their arms, smiled as they received their meal and thanked us for coming.  Women with young children, fathers, laborers and drunks came forward and then recessed back into their dark world.  Some had matted hair and stared with glazed eyes delirious from drug abuse.  Still others seemed even joyful that someone cared and acknowledged their need.  At one stop, three or four women in stiletto heels and thick make-up approached the truck for food.  Their living was made on the streets but they were not condemned or judged, they were told “God bless you”.  Two men hurried to pick up an old man unable to walk by himself.  They carried him to the back of the truck so that he could also eat that night.

Immediately, I was gripped by the contrast of those reveling above and these destitute, hungry and hopeless below.  It was an “in your face” moment exposing the clash of classes that exists.  They were partying and seemed unaware and unconcerned of what lay thirty feet below.  A scripture came to mind and haunted me the rest of the night.  Matthew 24:37-44 “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, and they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming…You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Suddenly, much too quickly, hands reached into the cooler and came up empty.  They reached down again swiping the insides of the cooler hoping to find another meal or two but there was nothing left in the cooler.  Three hundred and fifty meals had been handed out but there were still people in line and more around the next corner.  A sadness gripped each of us as we realized the need was greater than the food we had at the time.  Stunned, tearful and silent we drove back to the ministry and then home to our quarters to contemplate what we had experienced.

It didn’t have to be San Salvador.  It could have been Calcutta or Nairobi, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, Tokyo or Jakarta or any major city in the U.S.  Injustice can be found in every nation and every city.  The most vulnerable are the least safe.  Whether it’s threatening young boys with death if they don’t join the gangs or abducting the young girls as sex slaves or drug kingpin wives, the innocent live in constant danger.  There is no amount of money that will solve the problem and no laws will prevent it from happening.  Governments are totally ineffective and simply meeting the needs of hunger and shelter are not the full answer.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, heals and delivers.  It is a change of direction, a shift of mindset, an eternal hope in the intervention of God Almighty that transforms lives.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is not poverty and lack, it is abundance.  The Kingdom of God is not sickness and disease, it is health and healing.  The Kingdom of God is not addiction and fear, it is deliverance and freedom.  The Kingdom of God is not immorality and perversion, it is wholeness and hope.  Jesus commanded His disciples to begin preaching the Gospel in Jerusalem, then Judea and the uttermost parts of the earth.  One might say, “But I can’t preach”.  We can all be witnesses to what the Lord has done in our lives.  We may not be able to go overseas but we can send someone who can.  We may not have the strength to serve those in need but we can pray!  What we cannot do is sit back and expect others to do for us what God has called us to do.  We cannot be those people eating, drinking and partying above the problem, oblivious to the needs in their own neighborhood.  We cannot say because we do not see what’s happening it is not our responsibility to get involved.  We cannot continue to let the innocent be victimized and destroyed by our inaction.  Everyone can do something.

James, the half-brother of Jesus made it very clear when he wrote, faith without works is dead.  James 2:17-20 declares, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).  But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have [good] works.  Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good works of obedience] will show your my faith…faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless.”

We have a friend who is an Apostle that goes to the nations and raises up churches.  He planted his family in Costa Rica and preached there until the church was established and the people continued the work.  He then moved on to the Amazon region, Cuba and so on.  He once said to me, “Find a need and meet it.  That is the ministry of Christ.”  The world is in desperate need of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  People everywhere need hope, consolation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

My challenge in this word is to encourage all to discover their mission field.  We must pray for the Holy Spirit to show us where we can be effective in changing people’s lives eternally.  Simply giving donations of clothing or money to ministries does not involve risk or personal involvement.  The Lord is calling us to get personally involved in the lives of others.  There are opportunities right now in our “Jerusalem”.  There are needs on the streets of our city.  There are hopeless people crying out for help in neighborhoods around us all.  The question is, will we help those who are meeting those needs?  Will we pray regularly for those living in darkness that they might see the light?  Are we willing to love the unlovable, help the needy, and get involved by going down where the people are, thirty feet below?

NO PLACE TO LIGHT PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Imagine a Massai warrior standing an arm’s length from the mouth of a lion!  On our first mission trip to Kenya, the regional Bishop took our team of five under his wing and introduced us to the precious Kenyan people and their amazing culture.  We were all engrossed in his story as we drove through the rice fields, sugar cane, coffee and tea plantations.  We had been ministering two services a day for almost a week at different churches throughout the region.  Heading back to our hotel, Bishop decided to take us the long way home so that we could see the prolific produce in the Mt. Kenya area.  Bishop was teaching us the culture of the Massai people although Mt. Kenya is predominantly populated by the Kikuyu and Swahili people.

The Massai tribes live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  Their home is on the Serengeti where they herd their cattle and goats among the lions and other predators.  Some have called their tribe the “lion killers” because of their on-going necessity to protect their herds.  They live together with extended family for protection.  Their large compound is constructed with an open area in the center encircled by a tall thorny fence of thickly compressed acacia tree branches.  The cattle pen has one opening which is barricaded at night.  They often designate one warrior to sleep in the pen with the herd for protection.  

The perimeter of the compound is surrounded by Bomas, which are small straw huts built with thin tree branches overlaid with a strong mortar of clay and cow dung.  Their roof is made of thatch and cow dung making it waterproof and sturdy.  The mixture adheres to the materials providing a tough structure that also insulates against weather.   

During the daytime the cattle are driven by Massai on the Serengeti but at night they are steered into the center of the compound for protection.  The thorny fence is their only fortification from lions on the prowl for a meal.  A lion that breeches the wall will meet a formidable challenge from Massai warriors in the camp.  When a young Massai comes of age, his rite of manhood is proven by his ability to kill a lion.

The Massai clothing is very colorful.  The men wear a shuka, which is a red robe with striped, plaid or checkered patterns often with bright red and royal blue.  They believe the color red scares the lions.  The Bishop told us it is apparent that lions purposefully try to avoid the Massai because they must connect their shuka with those who are lion killers.  (My pictures are from a mission trip to Tanzania in 2010).  

The men drape their large beautiful robe around their body for covering but it has versatile functions.  The women wear long, one and two piece dresses that are colorful, and wrap a cape around their shoulders.  They have beautiful vibrant beaded necklaces and earrings for their jewelry.    Their shoes are sandals made of leather or more currently, old rubber tires.  A warrior will carry a spear and a large knife (sword) at all times.  Herding cattle can be dangerous both day and night but the Massai warrior is fearless and well equipped to oppose a lion.

Bishop continued his story about the Massai warrior.  When he is attacked by a lion, the Massai removes his robe and wraps it around one forearm.  His sword is in the opposite hand.  He moves into close range and when the lion charges and opens his mouth, the warrior thrusts the forearm into his mouth grabbing his tongue in a death grip rendering him helpless and unable to bite.  He then thrusts his sword into the lion killing him with one swift blow!  The Massai are courageous and they are able to guard their families and cattle by disabling the tongue of the lion!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]…”  Peter is directing the church to be prepared to withstand any persecution or suffering required because of the Gospel.  He counsels believers to walk in humility submitting to those the Lord has placed in the church to encourage, guide and direct them in the ways of the Lord.  He also warns them of the devil who is constantly seeking for an opening to bring destruction in their lives.  He charges us to withstand the devil being firm in our faith in God.  Hosea 4:8 explains, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of my law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge…”

James, the brother of Jesus encouraged the church, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7.  Notice, the scriptures do not say God will remove the devil from us.  Instead, it says we are to withstand the devil’s attacks.  We are called to be lion killers!  James 4:6 explains, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully).  That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”  Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit and our faith in God.  He gives us the strength to withstand temptations when they come whether to sin against the Lord or to doubt or fear his ability to save us from trouble.

Now, let’s examine the Massai warrior with spiritual eyes.  The Massai warrior trains to become a lion killer.  It does not happen accidentally nor does his strength come by simply being born a Massai.  It comes through study and practice.  A young Massai is trained by the elders who teach him the authority he has over the lion.  There is a process they use when they approach the lion or the lion approaches them.  James gave us a spiritual process for defeating the devil:  1) submit to God, 2) resist the devil and he will flee.

Isaiah 54:17 proclaims, “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong (condemn).  This [peace, righteousness security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification says the Lord.”  (Emphasis mine).

Paul instructed the Ephesian church to daily put on their armor in order to be prepared for battle.  “Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.  The entire passage continues to list the armor we have been given by the Lord:  belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our belt of truth protects our innermost being.  It is the knowledge of the truth that sets us free.  God’s truth is the Rock of our foundation upon which we stand.  The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart.  Out of our heart flow the issues of life.  We are righteous because of our repentance of sin and trust in the redeeming work of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Our righteousness gives us the ability to stand in the authority of Christ daily.  When we trust in the Lord completely, we will be shod with peace and walk in peace wherever we go.  His peace guards our heart and ensures we are in His will.  Faith is a gift from the Lord.  The shield of faith is developed by hearing the Word of God.  It could come from a message preached, Bible study/reading or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.  The helmet of salvation represents the Mind of Christ Jesus.  It is the mind of the Spirit and not of the flesh.  The sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  Our authority comes by using the Word of God in faith.  When we submit to the Lord’s will, speak His Word to the problem (storms, trouble) standing in faith, he must flee.  We must KNOW that God will back up His Word!

The Massai warrior places his robe (of righteousness representing the authority of Christ) upon his arm so that he might grab the tongue of the lion without suffering injury.  He then thrusts the sword (Word of God) into his heart to disable and destroy his ability to kill.  The tongue of the lion represents the accusations, lies and fears the enemy uses to cause us to doubt God.  The result is our being surrounded by confusion, fear and defeat.  He is the “accuser” of the brethren.  Once our past has been confessed and buried in the waters of baptism, we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ Jesus.  The enemy no longer has the right to accuse us unless we allow him by not closing his mouth.  The devil is always trying to speak lies, fearful scenarios of disaster and accusations to draw our attention from the Lord which in turn gives him more power.

We must grab hold of the devil’s tongue with a death grip to silence all the attacks.  We do that by “throwing the Book at him”!  The Bible is the Word of God and it is filled with truth.  There are scriptures for every need we could possibly have in life and they are powerful at pulling down strongholds the enemy has erected in our lives.  There are 365 scriptures in the Bible regarding fear where the Lord encourages us to fear not.  We could read a different one every day of the year.  There are also scriptures regarding healing, finances, relationships, marriage and so on.  When the devil tries to take us down in circumstances, thoughts or by others all we need to do is get in our prayer closet and speak the word of God to each one.  We also need to remind him and ourselves who we are in Christ.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and preparing to ascend into heaven, he left his disciples with one powerful declaration.  “All authority (all power and rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20.

Paul taught that we are now seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  The scepter of authority has been given to us.  The devil has no jurisdiction over us unless we grant it to him.  Wherever we find ourselves under his rule (or torment) we have been given the responsibility with the authority from heaven, to shut the mouth of the lion by thrusting the Word of God into his heart.

The Word of God is a lethal weapon against the enemy and when used in faith, our victory is sure.  Knowing God’s Word and using it properly enables us to defeat every giant we face.  God’s Word is the rock David used and faith in God is the sling that hurls the rock into the head of the enemy.  Our strength comes when we walk humbly before our God submitting to His will and His Word.  We are then able to stand and resist the devil and he MUST flee!  It is then we will give him “No Place to Light”!

NO PLACE TO LIGHT Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Vultures are pesky creatures.  Our home sits at 1,800 feet elevation with a southern view of mountains behind, a valley below and a long-range mountain view to the east.  It seemed to be the perfect vantage point for vultures to perch and watch for prey.  Their favorite roost was our chimney cap on top of the house.  They would make rustling noises constantly and drop nasty fur balls on the back porch.  It was rather disgusting.  They are the ugliest birds ever created and that’s probably due to the road-kill diet they consume.  At our age it is quite disconcerting to see a row of vultures waiting on top of the house every time we returned home!  My husband and I began discussing how to get rid of the scoundrels while we were sweeping their fur balls off the porch one day.  I did some research on vultures and to my shock, I discovered they have a very special purpose.  Their bodies were created to clean up all the toxic waste from dying and decaying animals without being harmed themselves.  Because of their intrinsic value to our ecology, they are a protected species with heavy fines and jail time.

I continued to research to see if there was any way to prevent them from roosting on our home.  I found a company that attaches a row of 3-4” metal spikes to the top of roofs and chimneys which eliminates any comfortable perching spaces.  Within a couple of weeks our house was sending a message to our pesky vultures, “No place to light”!  It has been over a year now and we are still vulture free.  It feels good and right.  We have peace inside and out.

The devil is like the vulture.  Jesus defined the purpose of the Devil.  “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”  John 10:10.  Satan tries to steal our joy, faith, health, prosperity, well-being and peace.  His plan is to kill us and destroy our witness of Jesus, our destiny in Christ, and our purpose in the world and the church.  We must give him no place to light!

The devil perches himself, much like the vulture, in high (heavenly) places watching for those who are broken, weak and seemingly helpless.  The word of God encourages believers, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone].”  1 Peter 5:8-9.  Peter gives us clues to victory in this scripture.  We are not helpless or hopeless although, our enemy is ruthless, cunning and a vigilant predator who seeks to destroy.

The animal world is well aware of the predator/prey syndrome.  The typical mode of operation of a predator is to find the weakest animal, one who is separated from the group, and attack it.  The predator will only attack a mature elephant, water buffalo or zebra if there is no other alternative, but they usually do so in groups.  Predators lie in wait trying to outsmart their prey by using the element of surprise.  They are cunning stalkers who calculate their every move.  Animals, fully aware of their prey status, are always on alert.  They have warning systems in their herd and the mature will surround the weak to protect them from being devoured.

 

One of the ways the devil is effective among believers is through his lies.  The devil is a liar and therefore uses lies as a way into our mind and heart.  If he can dispel a truth of God creating doubt as he did in Adam and Eve, he has a place to light.  From that perch, he can continue badgering the mind, will and resolve of the believer.  If there is no strong resistance, he can create a stronghold of unbelief.  Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for their unbelief and called them children of the devil.  “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks whatever is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.”  John 8:44.

Believers who do not truly know the word of God through continual Bible reading and study are easy pray for the devil.  He twists scriptures, and uses emotional pleas of reasoning which are contradictions of the truth.  The Word of God illuminated by the Holy Spirit teaches us the will and ways of God.  It demonstrates the Kingdom of God through the life of Christ intertwined in both the Old and New Testaments.  It teaches morality, the consecrated life, and the power of God working through miracles, signs and wonders.

The Lord God created Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden.  He then instructed him to cultivate it and have dominion over every living thing.  God showed him what he could eat and then instructed Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  “So the LORD God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly die [because of your disobedience].’”  According to scripture, God gave Adam His instructions before He created Eve.  We do not know from the Bible account if Eve received her instruction from the Lord or Adam, whom the Lord made the keeper of the garden.

We do know the serpent approached Eve with his cunning temptation and it appears that Adam was not with her at the time.  “Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the LORD God had made.  And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’  And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden.  God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’  But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You certainly will not die!’  ‘For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.’”

The lying serpent enticed Eve by making the fruit appealing to her.  Satan told her that the fruit supplied not only food to be enjoyed but it also contained wisdom only God possessed. He convinced her she would not die but she would become wise like God.  After she ate the fruit, Eve gave some to Adam and seeing she hadn’t died (immediately), he ate it also.  The Jewish tradition from their Talmud explains that Adam was not with Eve during the temptation of the serpent.  That explains why he did not contest the serpent’s statements.  The Lord held Adam responsible for the fall because Jesus is referred to the second Adam in Scripture.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all people [no one being able to stop it or escape its power], because they all sinned…For by the trespass of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one (Adam)…Romans 5:12-17.   “So it is written [in Scripture]; ‘The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul (an individual);’ the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit [restoring the dead to life].”  1 Corinthians 15:45.

I believe the Lord held Adam accountable because God had told him directly not to eat from the tree and had placed Adam with the full responsibility and authority to keep (guard) the garden and everything in it.  While Eve received second hand revelation from Adam, he received the revelation first-hand from the LORD God Himself, but Adam still ate the fruit.  Why does this make a difference to us?  Biblical truths must be experienced first-hand by the individual, otherwise they are simply someone else’s faith or “opinion”.  We cannot survive by standing on someone else’s beliefs.  We will be accountable for our own.  When true faith is born in us, we can stand against the attacks of the devil.  When the Word of God is revelation to our souls, we will not succumb to the lie or the manipulation of half-truths which make people deceived.   The Scriptures are clear that it is not the Truth that sets us free, it is the Knowledge of the Truth that sets us free (and keeps us free).  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32.

The moral and ethical dilemmas facing us in the world today are continually challenging our Christian beliefs.  If our faith is not based on revelation we have received directly from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we cannot stand for truth.  The result is obvious, we will compromise the Word of God and cower to the pressure of others.  If we do not truly KNOW God and His Word first hand, we will believe anything.

The Apostle Paul explains the Christian walk in Ephesians, Chapter 4.  He admonishes believers to allow God to transform their lives through total consecration and surrender to His will and purpose for us.  He lists many areas where our old sin nature must be changed to one of righteous and holy living which can only come by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.  Paul uses the Word of God as a tool to instruct us and reveal Biblical truth to us.  Paul also teaches by showing us how to deal with the attacks of the devil.  “And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness]…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked for the day of redemption…let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with every kind of malice…” Ephesians 4:27-32.  Every fleshly emotion that is unbridled by the Holy Spirit is a perch upon which the enemy can light.   Paul confirms that “the knowledge of the truth leads to godliness” in Titus 1:1.

Victors resist the attacks of the enemy, they stand firm in their faith in God, abide in His word and His presence becoming rooted, established in faith and unshakable.  They are well aware of the predator/prey syndrome and remain sober by being cautious, self-disciplined and well-balanced in their faith.  They know their God and the authority He has given them in heavenly places.  They are firmly rooted in a church family which surrounds them, strengthens and encourages them.  They are not loners but have become an active part of the body of believers who stand together to defend one another.

We who are believers have been brought out of darkness and placed in the light of Christ Jesus.  Living wholly and completely in Christ Jesus places a barrier between us and the enemy.  It is in that place we will not be moved and the devil has no place to light!

 

I AM YOUR KEEPER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I approached the front door and as my hand reached for the handle, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t open that door”!  I dropped my hand to my side and looked through the beveled glass to see a young man in a white T-shirt and jeans on the other side.  I asked him what he needed and he told me he was looking for a friend and gave a name.  I knew all my neighbors and the name he gave me was not someone who lived on our cul-de-sac.  I told him he had the wrong street.  He left immediately and as I walked away from the door, the Holy Spirit said, “Call security and let them know about this”.

My daughter was away at college and my husband and son were out of town on a church men’s retreat.  I would be alone in the house until around midnight.  It was 6 pm.  Our neighborhood was open to the public but we had a security service that drove through the streets to lend some watchful eyes on our behalf.  When I called, security asked several questions about the young man.   I hung up the phone and ate my supper.  The doorbell rang an hour later.  It was the security guard so I opened the door and he asked me more questions.  He told me the police were looking for three young men.  They had stolen a van and abandoned it in my neighborhood.  He said the young man at my door fit the description of one of them and the other two were probably out of view and ready to force their way into my house had I opened the door.  I could have been in serious danger or even killed if the Holy Spirit not spoken to me.  All evening I could hear helicopters flying overhead and police cars with lights flashing were driving through the area.   I spent the rest of the night in perfect peace because I knew my Lord had kept me safe and would continue to be my keeper.  My husband and son returned home around 11:30 pm and asked what was taking place in our neighborhood.  They said there were police everywhere.  I told them what the Lord had done for me.  What would they have found when they arrived at home had the Lord not warned me?

David learned that God was his keeper when he was a youth tending his father’s sheep.  He slept out in the pasture many nights and defended the sheep from predators such as a lion and a bear.  He knew the Lord was not only with him but was his source of strength.  The Lord kept David safe when he stood against the Philistine’s greatest warrior Goliath.  Goliath towered over David, but he was struck dead by one smooth stone which David hurled from his sling shot.  The rock was sent forth by the power of God and imbedded into the forehead of the giant warrior.  The entire armies of Israelites and Philistines looked on with unanticipated amazement.  David knew who his Keeper was.  “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Psalm 121.

The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar.  It means:  to keep, guard, to keep safe, preserve, to protect, to watch (as a watchman of cattle or sheep), and to hedge around something (as if with thorns).   (Key Word Study Bible).  David kept his father’s sheep safe from predators who would devour them.  It was his responsibility to not only nurture them, but to care for them.  He also meditated upon the Lord Who was guarding and keeping him from danger.  “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4. (See entire Psalm).

The Lord also kept David during the eleven years he spent hiding from King Saul.  The Prophet Samuel had anointed David to be King Saul’s successor after Saul had sinned against the Lord’s commandment.  God enabled David to stay one step ahead of the king and his warriors who wanted to kill him.  He guided him and led him out of the path of danger.  He even gave him warriors who stood with him and helped him as he journeyed through those tough times.  David wrote in gratitude to the Lord, “O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).”  Psalm 30:3.

“Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard.  Who put and kept us among the living, and has not allowed our feet to slip.”  Psalm 66:8-9.

I am one who has had a history of being anxious or worried since childhood.  The Lord showed me He had protected me that night He told me not to open the door.  It was over 20 years ago, but I am just now understanding Him as my full-time Keeper.  There is a difference between having a head knowledge of something and it becoming faith that is unshakeable.  Head knowledge is more like a “wish” than faith.  I can say I believe something God has promised but when I’m in the trenches of testing, I find out whether it is faith from true belief or a wish I hoped would come to pass.  Lately the world stage has given us many opportunities to become fearful or worried.  Now more than ever we (the church) must begin to function in genuine faith from KNOWING the Lord keeps his promises.

Psalm 91 has always intrigued me.  I have framed it, given it to a soldier in Iraq, and to people dealing with fear or physical illness.  I have read it to a parent preparing to meet the Lord and used it to encourage the body of Christ.  I can’t say that I have had true faith in all its promises when I think of scenarios where I might apply it.  Last week when the Lord spoke to me, “I AM your Keeper”, something congealed inside my heart.  His promise has become heavier, more substantial than ever before.  This promise however, is not just for me, it is for us all!  There are times coming which many of us will go through before the Lord returns.  The world will begin to become more dangerous and scary as the Bible foretells us, but the children of God need not fear.  When persecution comes, the glory of God will surround us.  He will lead us and guide us, as the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night protected and led the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt.  We will not simply survive, we will thrive with the knowledge that God is our Keeper!  This revelation will be as important to us in life as when we one day face death.

God’s promise is for those “who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  He assures them they “will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”  He declares they “will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”  The result of our standing in faith assures “He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.  You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you”…Why?  “Because you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, (daily intimacy through thanksgiving, prayer, worship and the Word with God).  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]”…The Lord explains why, “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].”  He again promises “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” (Emphasis mine).

Jacob knew God as his keeper.  Isaac and Rebekah sent him away after he received Esau’s birthright and blessing through cunning and deceit.  Jacob obeyed his father and his mother but Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac so he went to Ishmael and took more heathen wives.  (See Genesis 28:7-9).  Esau despised his birthright.  (See Genesis 25:29-34).  Jacob treasured and honored the birthright.  God had prophesied to Rebekah the elder son would serve the younger one. The Bible says after Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Esau rejected the God of Abraham and Isaac while Jacob embraced the Lord.  When Jacob left his father and mother at their instruction because Esau vowed to kill him, he had an encounter with the Lord.  The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and gave him many promises including His protection.  “And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.”  Genesis 28:15.  Every promise of God was fulfilled and the Lord brought healing between Jacob and Esau.

Isaiah knew the keeping power of the Lord.  “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

I am learning to keep my mind occupied with the goodness of the Lord, the promises of God and his faithfulness to fulfill His Word, instead of worrying about my problems.  Playing scenarios in my head causes fear, worry and anxiety which kill faith.  We must put all our trust in the Lord because we cannot protect ourselves.  God’s protection doesn’t mean we won’t see or experience some difficult situations, it means He will keep us in spite of those things!

Last week as I began writing this article, the Lord proved His word to me again.  My husband and I love to hike for exercise.  The spring rains have brought a prolific growth of plants in the forest this year.  Our hiking paths have become very narrow with the over-growth of ferns, ground cover, leafy trees and shrubs.  Living in a forestry and mountainous area we can encounter deer, bear and poisonous snakes.  We make precautions for such encounters including deciding when and where we hike.  We chose to avoid the narrow paths with the arrival of warm weather because the overgrowth supplied ample hiding places for the copperheads and rattlesnakes.  We elected to hike the jeep trail near our home, which was wide and open.  Except for a few rocks here and there, the road was clear.  We were a good mile into our hike and were enjoying our conversation as we walked together.  My husband was a couple steps ahead of me and several feet to my right.  I lifted my left foot to take a step and “happened” to look down at the road.  To my shock, I saw that I was about to step on a copperhead which is a poisonous snake.  His coloring was much like the road.  He was lying completely straight like a stick, with his head slightly raised.  He lay deathly still as if hoping to catch prey that inadvertently passed his way.  I shrieked and stepped backward several feet.  My husband had already passed by him without noticing him.  Fortunately, he was walking several feet to the right, just out of his reach.  My heart was racing, but at that moment I knew the Lord had kept us both safe!

The goodness of God caused me to look down and distinguish that snake from the ground keeping me from danger.  Understanding that truth made my heart rejoice.  He really is my Keeper!  We’ve been in many near miss tragedies and have been well aware that God’s grace had kept us safe, but this took His keeping power to another level.  We need not fear or worry.  We do not have to spend another moment concerned for things we cannot control.  He is our Keeper.  We simply need to put our whole trust and faith in Him.  I would like to close with one of my favorite scripture verses.  Jude 24-25, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight)—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity).  Amen.”  The Lord is truly watching over all who make Him their dwelling place.  His promise is sure:  “I AM your Keeper!”

 

LIVING STONES Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

My elementary and high school years were from 1955-67.  My generation was post World War II and it was during the time of Hollywood’s “greatest” years.  It was a season of epic movies that became events to entertain and excite.  Many of those movies like Ben Hur and The Alamo were three hours long.  They began with several minutes of prelude music, had a ten to fifteen minute musical intermission and also ended with postlude music.  Before television was widely accessible, movies were a large part of American lives and remain so today.   The original plan of movie moguls was to simply entertain the audience, but their amazing popularity ultimately triggered a conscious agenda to push the envelope in every faction of life.  Many factors have contributed to the slow dissolution of the church’s influence on our nation over the last 75 years, but I believe the entertainment industry has carried the lion’s share.  The movie industry has made a formidable negative impact not only upon American religious beliefs, but also on our social image.

The church unwittingly allowed its love for entertainment to melt its resolve for the pursuit of holiness while the entertainment industry helped sway its lifestyles, clothing, home life and sadly, its Biblical faith.  Teenagers in the 1950’s and 60’s tried to conform to the image of their favorite movie star’s fashion, hairstyle or “look” and today it is no different.  The music industry also helped thrust the agenda of the world upon an unsuspecting and unguarded generation.  The two waged a formidable attack on the faith of believers unaware of the slow dulling of their Godly conscience and Biblical standards.  Limited by the influence of feelings and rational thinking, unbelievers are emotionally driven while the church is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Presently, most movie themes express language, show explicit scenes and violent behaviors in direct opposition to the holiness God expects.  Current social trends not only defy morality, they mock those leaders who represent the churches holding on to Biblical moral and ethical standards.

Immorality and unfaithfulness to God invaded the church as evidenced by the divorce rate which reports say has reached 60%.  Alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes in the movies added a “sophistication” to the lives of their characters while the quest for wealth and materialism began to erode our trust in God.  The church soon looked no different from the world and as a result, our God-given image and influence was exchanged for that of the world.  We who were once Living Stones became stumbling stones to those seeking authentic Christianity.  Many American churches lost their effectiveness as they settled into a form of religion minus the power and life of God.

The underlying result is the alarming fact that America is no longer a Christian nation.  It has become a secular society where Godly beliefs and standards have begun to be persecuted within the last several years through changing federal and state laws, IRS targeting, and negative public opinion.  The worship of God was exchanged for the worship of creation and many have become deceived and have fallen away from the faith.  There would be no Christian church today except for the Lord’s intervention!

The Lord had a plan for the image of mankind at the beginning of creation and He is in the process of restoring that image to all who will believe.  Genesis 1:26 states, “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind (male and female) in Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.”  (Emphasis mine).

Jesus Christ did not suffer the agony of the cross simply to pay the penalty for our sins so that we might go free.  His resurrection has given us the power to become the sons of God!  Resurrection Life is granted to all who truly believe and provides the grace and power to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.  The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”  1 Peter 1:9-10.

Peter continued to strongly charge all believers to press steadfastly into their calling from God.   “Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles (unbelievers), so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].”

My husband spent 35 years in the home building industry.  He ran a local division of a nationwide home building company.  He learned every aspect of the homebuilding business from land acquisition and development to construction, sales and closings.  Twenty-three years of his career were spent in the state of Florida.  The homes in Florida had cinder block construction on their outer walls because of the threat of hurricanes in the state.  Local wind construction laws varied because of the propensity of a direct hit from a hurricane.  Miami’s Dade County had wind construction regulations for 165-185 mile per hour winds.  This process required steel rebar to be imbedded in the foundation of the home every several feet to connect the foundation to the outer walls.  Blocks of cement with two open chambers were placed over the rebar and as the walls were raised, more rebar was added for solid connections all the way to and including the roof.  Cement was then poured inside the blocks with rebar to establish a solid hold that would withstand hurricane strength winds.  The steel rebar and straps were eventually attached to the roof to make a secure structure from top to bottom.  The outer frame of the building was interconnected so that each block held its own place while additionally helping to support the other blocks.  The principles are Biblical.

The Bible declares Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.  “This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.  I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”  Psalm 118:22-23.  Jesus also mentioned this prophecy in Matthew 21:42-44 and challenged the Jewish people and leadership, “I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of itAnd whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].”  (See Isaiah 8:14 and Daniel 2:34-35).   (Emphasis mine).

We were not given the invitation to become citizens of God’s kingdom simply to be forgiven of our sins and live our lives as we see fit!  We were called to a purpose.  We were called by God to become Living Stones with Him as our Cornerstone, our example, our image.  Ephesians 2:19-22 charges us, “And He came and preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off and [peace] to those who were near.  For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].  Therefore you are no longer outsiders, (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.  You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.  In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.”  (Emphasis mine).

The Lord is building His church with living stones.  These stones He is preparing are alive, strong and filled with passion for their first love, Jesus.  They have the Word of God written upon their hearts and they are His witnesses in the earth.  They abide continually secured to the Vine, attached with spiritual rebar to their Cornerstone, and they bear fruit of righteousness, the works of a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They pray with authority from heaven and they speak the Words of the Lord their God.  They are emboldened with His love to be the salt and light to the world.  They refuse to be hidden and silent.  They press on with birth pangs to be transformed into His image and they reflect His nature and His character.  They are filled with and moved by His Holy Spirit and they are fountains that disperse His Living Water to a broken and fearful world.

The Lord is calling us, His church, to come out from among the world.  He has invited us to His banquet table where He has provided all the supplies we need to be filled with His love, power and strength to withstand the attacks of the enemy who would try to thwart the church in making disciples.  When our hearts become fully consecrated to Him we will be emboldened to trust in Him completely and miracles, signs and wonders will follow all who believe.

We must choose to lay down the image of the world and rise up to the image and stature of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is looking for those who will die to the world and choose to believe in Him, walk in His ways, live in peace and be peacemakers who reconcile the lost to God.  They will thrive through resurrection life and as Living Stones, they will be called the sons of God!

The Image Breaker Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Every person has been given two images of themselves, one from God and the other from Satan.  Our sin nature feeds the image from Satan, allowing it to dominate us.  God’s plan for us, however, is a completely different image and we can find it as we seek Him through His Word, prayer and by being quiet in His presence so that we may hear His voice.

One of my favorite Christian books is “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, by English writer Hannah Hurnard.  It was published in 1955.  The lead character is Much Afraid, who is a yearling belonging to the Fearlings family.  They live in the Valley of Humiliation. Her family had arranged for her to be married to a cousin named Craven Fear.  Much Afraid is insecure, fearful and easily controlled by her family of Fearlings.  The family consists of several formidable characters named Gloomy, Spiteful, Foreboding, Dismal, and of course, Craven Fear.  More distant relatives are Self-pity, Bitterness and Pride.  All these family members attempt to keep Much Afraid intimidated and a permanent resident in the Valley of Humiliation.  This was their image for her.

The Shepherd, however, reveals himself to Much Afraid and offers her a completely different lifestyle and image of herself.  He draws her to the High Places although she visibly has many afflictions, such as club feet, a crooked mouth, ugly appearance, and deformed hands.  Much Afraid becomes enthralled with the notion that the Shepherd believes in her ability to abide in the cliffs and shear ledges of the High Places.  She answers his call to come up higher but questions her escorts, Sorrow and Suffering, whom the Shepherd assigns to aid her as she begins her ascent upward.

Surrendered to the Shepherd, Much Afraid receives her first gift from him.  He plants the “Seed of Love” within her heart.  It is inserted with a slight feeling of pain, but quickly settles into a peace that strengthens her for the journey.  She is surprised that her ascent upward to the High Places often leads her downward through difficult situations, trials and challenges.  She soon realizes each are meant to build her stamina, increase her resolve, and reveal insight to the new image her Shepherd has for her.  The book ends with a newly created hind, healed of all deformity and weakness, fear and insecurity.  She is re-named Grace and Glory by the Shepherd, the lover of her soul.  She becomes bold, secure in His love and sure footed.  She has developed the ability to withstand those who once brought her low, and she has obtained freedom from all that made her fearful.  Her transformation became a witness to all her family that lived in the Valley of Humiliation.

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering and responsibility]!”  Habakkuk 3:19.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, David’s friend. His name means exterminator of shame or image breaker. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).   “Jonathan, Saul’s son had a son who was a cripple in his feet.  He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan.  And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame.  His name was Mephibosheth.”  2 Samuel 4:4

Before King Saul became jealous of David, he and Jonathan became close friends.  Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David.  “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow, and his girdle.  And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war.”  1 Samuel 18:1-5.  (Read entire chapter).

Later on, David had to flee the country because King Saul, through jealousy, sought to kill him.  Rather than defending his own life, David chose to leave the kingdom.  He walked in integrity refusing to hurt the king.  He would not even speak against him.  David was a mighty warrior and Jonathan knew he could have killed his father if he had so desired.  Jonathan was caught between his father and his closest friend, David.  He chose to support David, made a covenant with him, and protected him.  He also decided to honor his father by standing with him in his time of need.  “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, And the Lord will require that this covenant be kept at the hands of David’s enemies.  And Jonathan caused David to swear again by his love for him, for Jonathan loved him as he loved his own life.”  1 Samuel 20:16-17.

Eleven years passed as David kept one step ahead of King Saul and his men, who searched the land in order to locate and kill David.  David proved faithful twice by leaving evidence he had been in close enough proximity to have killed the king but chose otherwise.  David had the fear of God and knew it was only God’s right to judge King Saul in His own timing.  He showed great restraint as he honored the Lord and “his anointed” King Saul.  Sometimes anointed vessels of the Lord do not act honorably toward others or the Lord.  They may even fall into serious sin as David eventually did, but they are still the Lord’s anointed.  David knew better than to be judge and executioner of a fellow son of God because only God can judge the heart of man.

King Saul’s judgement day ultimately came.  He was killed by the Philistine army along with Jonathan and his other sons.  David eventually became King of Israel.  Mephibosheth had been hidden since the death of his father and grandfather for several years.  King David inquired if there were any descendants of King Saul or Jonathan left in the land.  Ziba, who had been of the house of Saul was asked by David, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God?  Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet.”  2 Samuel 9:3.  He summoned Mephibosheth to his palace and he came before King David in fear and trembling.

“And Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and did obeisance.  David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father [grandfather], and you shall eat at my table always.  And [the cripple] bowed himself and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given your master’s son [grandson] all that belonged to Saul and to all his house…So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.”  2 Samuel 9:6-11.  Mephibosheth’s grandfather, King Saul had sinned against the Lord and excused his actions before the prophet Samuel instead of repenting of his sin.  He brought shame and dishonor upon his family.  Jonathan, however, honored his father while he also honored David who had been anointed by God to be king in Saul’s place.  His actions restored honor to his household.  It was through his covenant with David that Mephibosheth was cared for all the days of his life.  His honor and respect was restored to the place that he once again sat at the king’s table as a son and he was given back all his inheritance for the rest of his life.  Mephibosheth saw himself as a dead dog, but God had another plan.  His name “image breaker” foretold of his destiny.

The Lord is calling forth the Mephibosheths in the earth.  There are those who once ate at the King’s (Lord’s) table but fell, became crippled (whether at the hand of another or by their own sin) and have hidden themselves from the Lord.  He is inviting them back to His table to partake of his unfailing, unsought and unlimited mercy and kindness toward them!  There are those Mephibosheths who have never before eaten at the King’s table.  They have family members who have prayed and interceded for their life and the Lord wants to invite them to His table of provision filled with His unfailing love, unsought, unlimited mercy and kindness.  The Lord is also calling those Mephibosheths who believe they are the dead dogs, the unredeemable of society, the unwanted and filled with fear.  The Lord is saying to them, come to My table of grace and mercy.  Come partake of my unfailing love, my abundant grace and mercy and my healing waters.  My table is for you, just come!

God’s arms are open wide to all who will respond to His call to come to His table.  It is a table of healing, a table of provision, a table of restoration and a table that offers a new name, a new identity, and a new way.  King David showed Mephibosheth his identity was not a dead dog, it was son of a king!  The Lord is the true image breaker.  He calls us to surrender to His plans and purposes for our life and removes the stigma of our old, crippled and broken life.   He exterminates our shame and delivers us from fear.  He clothes us in His righteousness, places a ring on our finger and sits us at the place of honor at His table.  He has picked us out from among the crowd and called us to come out of the Valley of Humiliation so that He may give us hind’s feet to dwell in the high places with Him.  He crowns us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) as we become transformed to reflect the image of Christ.

WORDS HAVE POWER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I remember hearing the phrase:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  It was a ridiculous statement one would say when their feelings had been hurt deeply.  I said it and ran home in tears several times when I was a child.  There was absolutely no truth in those words.  The Bible says “Death and life is in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21.

I went to church every Sunday while growing up.  My family attended Sunday mornings and evenings and I regularly participated in our youth group.  If our church scheduled a week of revival meetings, we were there.  I was on the church board as a teenage representative and I taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School as a college student.  I was a church choir member from high school through my adult life, but I wasn’t saved (born again).  I did not know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and I did not know the Word of God.  I was simply religious.  My biggest obstacle in finding the Lord was pride.  I had tried to be the “good little girl” all my life.  I tried to obey the rules and not make trouble.  I didn’t know what I had done that deserved my death and hell.

Eleven years of a challenging marriage, two children and one miscarriage brought me to a place of crisis.  Nothing was working and I was an angry, disappointed and disillusioned 30 year old wife and mother.  My marriage was in shambles and I had nowhere to turn for help except the Lord.  I had been in Bible Study for two years and was beginning to learn about Jesus.  He was not the distant God I had imagined.  He was not old, angry, and eagerly searching for those who disobeyed His laws in order to punish them.  Instead, He was the kind, gentle, loving, graceful and merciful Lord who died on a cross for my sins.  His judgments were righteous.  He was the One who carried the weight of my sinful consequences upon Himself, so that I could be adopted into His family.

One night, feeling hopeless that my marriage was lost, I dedicated my life and my children to the Lord because I somehow knew He would take care of us no matter what happened.  He graciously answered my prayers that night.  He showed me my sin, but not in a condemning way.  He explained the answers to my questions about why I should deserve death and hell.  He told me, “Your words have killed others.”  He did not mean that the people I hurt had literally died, but that my words had deeply injured them, killing something inside of them.  I knew I had a sharp tongue and felt determined to win every argument.  I also knew that I had rejected Him all those years, thinking I was a good person.  I began to understand that words can wound more deeply than weapons.  I was forgiven, and my heart had begun the transformation process.  I was finally seeing things from God’s perspective.

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and the people teaching them the consequences of judging others and the power of their words.  Matthew 12:34b “For out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things.  But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.  For by your words, you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.”

Gaining control of our tongue is extremely difficult and I am still learning.  Lately, I have been hearing the Lord speak to me deeper revelation about the power and authority He has given us through what we speak and declare.  It is exciting to know that He charges us to pray and declare certain things He wants to do in the earth.  It is also terrifying to know that I can speak the wrong things, even casually, and bring curses upon myself and others.  I am becoming more sober minded about what I say because “the power of death and life are in the tongue”.

The Apostle James discussed the importance of controlling our tongue in James chapter 3.  He began by praising one who has successfully learned to guard his mouth.  “For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.  And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.”  Spiritual maturity is equated with the ability to control our tongue.  James sees it as the litmus test for a mature Christian.

James continued his discourse by describing the destruction that can come from a “loose” tongue.  “And the tongue is a fire.  [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).”  We get the picture!

The Lord has great plans for our tongue.  What we declare, decree and pray makes a major contribution to inviting His Kingdom to come down and influence things here on earth.  “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (See Matthew 6:9-13).  The Lord created the heavens and the earth by declaring and decreeing His will:  “Let there be light”.  He called prophets forth to declare and decree His will over kings, nations and people.  He has also called us, His disciples, to declare and decree truth, light, His attributes and His works in the earth today.  We are to “bear witness” to Who He is and What He has done (and is continuing to do) on earth.

Our sin nature is solely based on self:  how things affect us personally.  It is not focused on God’s plan and purpose for our lives in regard to His Kingdom.  Therefore, we can become envious, jealous, offended and bitter.  When that happens, our tongue is used to gossip, slander, pull down others, compete with others and curse others in anger.  Unfortunately, we often do so against our brothers and sisters in the Lord which can cause divisions that affect churches, friendships and families by destroying them.

It is therefore imperative that we allow the Lord to transform us through Bible study and meditating on His Word in His presence.  We will then learn to properly intercede (pray) for the body of Christ to mature in the knowledge of our Lord.  We will also learn how to operate in a Kingdom mentality helping the Kingdom of God to expand in the earth.  We will become salt and light as our prayers, declarations, and decrees of His will in the lives of His church and the world manifests His Kingdom in the earthly realm.

There have been many times I have meditated upon the power and authority of the Apostles after Jesus’ resurrection compared to what I see in the church today.  I have struggled with the differences.  I have come to the conclusion that many believers are still heavily influenced by the secular world view, politics, and celebrity instead of becoming the influence of the Kingdom of God in the earth.  I say this not to condemn, because we have all failed from time to time.  My purpose is to challenge us all to begin to judge ourselves more carefully by weighing our conversations in and out of church and examining who or what we are allowing to influence us.  Matthew 7:17- teaches, “Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.  A good (healthy tree cannot bear (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].”

Every idle word, negative judgment made, criticism and accusation of others not only works against the Kingdom of God, it expands the kingdom of darkness.  Every praiseworthy witness, declaration of truth, action of love, and decree of what the Lord has done is building His Kingdom on earth!  Every acknowledgement of Who He is, praising His attributes and celebrating His faithfulness, mercy and grace resoundingly invites heaven to earth!

What we say matters, and that may be why we have not seen answers to some of our prayers.  How we influence others matters, by whether we draw them to the Lord or repel them from Him.  We must ask ourselves this question, “Are we building His Kingdom in the earth or are we just passing through life focused upon ourselves?”

Jesus spoke what the Father told Him to speak and the Kingdom of Heaven invaded the earthly realm.  The Apostles and Prophets spoke what the Lord told them to speak and the Kingdom of Heaven manifested in the earth.  When we allow the Lord to apply the hot coal of fire upon our lips, cleansing our mouths from earthly banter, we can then be used by God to open up the Heavens giving His Spirit free reign on earth.  (See Isaiah 6:1-7).

Words matter.  “Death and life are in the power of our tongue.”  May we go and build His Kingdom, one word at a time.

UNQUALIFIED Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

God chooses unqualified people to represent His Kingdom!  Unqualified:  not having the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to do a particular job or activity.  Meriam-Webster.

King Saul had sinned against God and ignored His commandments, therefore God rejected Saul as king of Israel.  “The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way, I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.  I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  1 Samuel 1-13 (entire story), Amplified Bible.  Samuel came to Bethlehem with a sacrifice and called out Jesse and his sons to join him in worshipping and sacrificing before the Lord.  Samuel immediately saw Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as a man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ ” The Lord had picked David, Jesse’s youngest son to be king of Israel.  David seemed so unqualified Jesse didn’t even invite David to join the rest of his sons meeting with Samuel.  It was only after Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons that David was even considered, but he was God’s choice.

When David, a youth, stood before the Philistine and Israelite armies to battle the giant Goliath, David appeared most unqualified.  He was too small to handle King Saul’s armor.  He used a simple sling and a rock to destroy the greatest warrior of the Philistine army and incited fear among the enemy.  The unqualified are often overlooked by man, but not by God.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He first called forth His disciples whom He would leave in charge to build His church after His death and resurrection.  The first two disciples He called to join Him were Peter and Andrew.  They were brothers who operated their own fishing business.  The Bible says they “cursed” which would be expected of the two crusty working men.  They probably lacked manners, were crude in their speech and obstinate and inflexible in their beliefs.  He then called another pair of brothers who were also fishermen, James and John.  They were called the “sons of thunder”, signifying they might be loud, obnoxious and possibly angry in temperament.

Matthew was another of Jesus’ disciples.  He was among the most hated in Israel because he was a tax collector.  It was common for the tax collectors to exact a little extra tax from the people to line their own pockets.  They were despised, distrusted and loathed.  There was doubting Thomas and of course, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus.  There is no need to mention the others; I’m sure you get the idea.  None of them were qualified to turn the world upside down, yet they did!

Whether we are electing the president of a nation, the head of an agency, or the CEO of a corporation, history has proven the one most assume to be best qualified may not be the one most successful in the job.  The Bible says we choose by the “appearance” but God looks upon the heart.  One may have the best resume’, but lack the people skills necessary to build a workable team atmosphere at the office.  Another might be the most awarded athlete yet be unable to teach/coach others to develop those same skills.     What we know or can do does not necessarily make us successful in God’s eyes.  He seems to like choosing those the world would consider to be “unqualified”.

Moses questioned God’s selection of him to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  He listed his inability to speak fluidly as one of several issues that made him “unqualified”.  Exodus 3:9-4:17 “Now behold, the cry of the Israelites has come to Me, and I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.  Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people, the Israelites out of Egypt.  And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt…And Moses answered, But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you…And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue.”  The Lord began to become angry with Moses as he continued to disagree with the Lord’s choice for a deliverer for Israel.  “And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?  Is it not I the Lord?  Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say.”  Moses would soon understand that God did not need his help, He needed his cooperation.

It is human nature to question the Lord when He chooses us to do something for Him. We tend to focus upon our inabilities or failures rather than His ABILITY to give us all we need to do the job!  The truth, however, is the fact that God lacks nothing.  He is All-knowing (omniscient), All-powerful (omnipotent), and All-present (omnipresent).  He simply needs our willingness and our obedience.  He applies His ABILITY to our inability, His SUPERNATURAL to our natural, His FAITHFULNESS to our obedience and His ABUNDANCE to our lack.  No matter what our current condition happens to be, when the Lord calls, He is able to provide all we need to succeed in what He has asked us to do.

He is our wisdom and our counsel.  He is our provision and our supply.  He is our strength and our shield.  He leads and guides us and provides us with those who can help us accomplish all He has called us to do.  He teaches us and sends us teachers to equip us.  He enables us to do what we could not do ourselves.  He transforms us as we make Him our priority and trains us to learn whatever is necessary for us to succeed.  If we are willing to obey and determined to persist, nothing will be impossible.

1 Corinthians 1:24-29 explains, “But to those who are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.  [This is] because the foolish things that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men.  For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to certain estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth.  [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.  And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowly and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are.  So that no mortal man should have pretense for glorying and boasting in the presence of God.”

Saul of Tarsus was a prominent Pharisee in Jerusalem.  His zeal for the law of God motivated him to seek the new Christian sect members and have them killed.  Saul was filled with the wisdom of men.  After his encounter with the risen Christ, he became Paul and emptied himself of all that he knew in order to be transformed with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  The Apostle Paul helped to build the first century church.  His letters to the churches are used today to lead, instruct and mature believers all over the world.  He is considered to be the most notable of the Apostles, but Paul had something else to say of himself.  1 Corinthians 2:4-5 Paul writes, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

The more inability we have, the greater things God can do through us!  Those who feel disqualified must take their focus off of their inabilities or failures and turn their attention to the Lord’s infinite Wisdom, Power and Strength.  It has never been about us and what we can do, it is totally about the Lord and what He can do through us!

Whenever we pray a prayer that is answered by God, it was not our wisdom or power that succeeded, it was God’s.  Whenever we lay hands upon the sick and they are healed, we are not the healer- God is!  Whenever we encourage someone in their faith at a difficult time it was not our grace we supplied to them, it was God’s.  We are nothing more than a conduit that connects the source of power to the receiver.  Similar to an electric wire or a water hose, the power source sends power through us to those in need.  The only revelation that changes hearts comes from the Lord.  The only power that heals and transforms comes from the Lord.  The only provision or supply that supports another comes from the Lord.  When we submit ourselves to God’s will, speak what He says to speak and do what He says to do, miracles will happen.  The more frequently we do so, the more miracles we will see!

Do not let people, the devil, or your own voice tell you that God cannot or will not use you to touch others for His Kingdom.  He calls the unqualified.  Your stature, intellect, finances or connections do not matter.  All that matters is the unlimited ability of God.  Unqualified?  Expect to see the miraculous!

UNCHANGING KAY KEITH PEEBLES

Kay K. Peebles

My generation is the post- World War II generation.  We are called “baby boomers” because the U.S. population exploded when the soldiers from our parent’s generation came home from war!  Their generation, called the “greatest generation”, experienced the Great Depression in 1929, World War II 1941-1945, the Korean War 1950-1953, the Vietnam War 1955-1975, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the “Cold War” 1947-1991.

My husband’s parents married December 6, 1941, one day before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  Sadly, the newlyweds were separated by a war.  My father-in-law was shipped off for basic training several months after the wedding and served in the Pacific during the Second World War.  My mother-in-law had conceived before he left and delivered his first son while he was in active duty.  He met his two-year-old son when he came home at the end of the war.  My father-in-law also lost both his parents during that same time period.  It was a difficult time to be alive and the affects were worldwide.  Women quickly volunteered to do what was considered to be “men’s work” as the men were rushed abroad to defend our nation and a world in crisis.  Many worked in factories producing the metal and equipment used by our armed services oversees.

My generation has experienced the Korean War 1950-1953, the “Cold War” 1947-1991, the Vietnam War 1955-1975, Kennedy’s assassination 1963, Desert Storm 1990-1991, War in Afghanistan 2001-2014, the Iraq War 2003-2011 and the current war with ISIS.  Our parents were strong disciplinarians.  We weren’t coddled.  It was not because we weren’t loved, but because our parents had lived very disciplined lives in order to survive.  One crisis succeeded another.  They were fully aware of how quickly circumstances could change so they tried to impart to us the skills that would sustain us throughout our lifetime.  During the 1960’s many of my generation began to protest all forms of war, experiment with psychedelic drugs and rebel against the Word of God.  They wanted nothing to do with the establishment, responsibility, or the rules our parents followed, which were meant to undergird us if we experienced similar years of crisis.  The term “God is dead” surfaced and the battle cry was for freedom from all restraints.  Many lived in communes where “love” was free- free from responsibility and accountability.  They traded responsibility for pleasure and God’s love for self-love.  The right to abort an unborn baby was made legal in 1973.  It was the result of generational selfishness with little regard for others or the sacrifice others made to provide them their freedom to choose their lifestyle.

How quickly things changed.  One generation was so responsible, hard-working and persevering while the very next one was irresponsible, unaccountable and rebellious.  What changed?  People do, but God does not!  I have found that although the hearts of men change from generation to generation, God has a remnant that remains steadfast, no matter what circumstances assail them.  They are a witness to a God Who never changes.

Simultaneous to those in my generation who rebelled, God was moving in another way, drawing others close to Him.  There was a “Jesus Movement” which began in the late 1960’s until approximately 1973-4.  Revival touched all denominations, many seminaries and college age students across the nation, drawing them to righteousness and a deep personal relationship with the “Living” God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every circumstance in life will bring one to a crossroad which requires a choice.  While some chose to reject God and live without constraints, others ran to Him and sought strength, consolation and righteousness through their Savior, Jesus Christ.

King Solomon, King David’s successor, is believed to have written the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  Solomon experienced God through his father David, and began his reign worshipping, honoring and serving the Lord.  The Lord asked Solomon what he would like to guide him as he led the nation of Israel.  Solomon could have asked for riches, armies or many other things, but instead, he asked for wisdom.  His request pleased the Lord.  God gave him wisdom and riches.

Solomon began to compromise as he turned from God’s wisdom to seek the wisdom of the world (mankind without God).  Theologians debate whether he returned to God at the end of his life.  I hope he did.  Nearing the end of his life, he had learned the vanity of seeking a lifestyle solely for personal pleasure.  Ecclesiastes was his warning of vanity for all who seek to live according to the wisdom of man.  The heart of man is self-seeking without God.  Ecclesiastes 1:18-2:1, “For in much [human] wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.  I said in my mind, Come now, I will prove you with mirth and test you with pleasure; so have a good time [enjoy pleasure].  But this also was vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility)!”

Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, morally sick!  Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?  I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually.”

The Bible is filled with the history of mankind and the futility of life apart from God.  The emptiness of living a self-pleasing lifestyle is extraordinarily cruel when one reaches their last days on earth.  They, like Solomon, find a fruitless life provides nothing to savor in death.  Solomon saw that in this world, there is “nothing new under the sun”.  (See Ecclesiastes 1:9).  All has happened before and will happen again.  Generations may come and go, and the hearts of the people fluctuate.  Their hearts deceive them and they seek the things that will perish rather than the eternal.  They are incapable of knowing true meaning or purpose without God.  This in an ever-changing world but it remains stable because God never changes and neither does His Word.

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  NIV.

Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven [stands firm as the heavens].”  AMPV.

Psalm 89:2, “For I have said, Mercy and loving-kindness shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness will You establish in the very heavens [unchangeable and perpetual].”

God’s unchanging Word reveals His nature, and it is an anchor for those living in an ever-changing world.  No matter the generation or circumstance, God still remains the same.  His Word is never outdated because it is eternal.  Although man’s perspective may change from generation to generation, God’s remains the same.  There is nothing to edit, modify or remove because it is everlasting.

1 Peter 1:25, “But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever, And this Word is the good news which was preached to you.”

Isaiah 40:6-9, “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered, Proclaim:] All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes it attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and timeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

There are those in every generation who stand proudly against the Lord God and defy His rule, His wisdom, His authority and His grace.  Sadly, they believe in their 70+ years of life they have learned the “wisdom of the ages”.  They live, they soon die…But the Eternal Word of God lives on.  It never dies, it never becomes irrelevant or obsolete.  The Wisdom of all eternity belongs to those who fear the Lord and reverence not only Him, but His Word.  If we want stability, security and something that will never change, then we must hope in the Eternal One.  His Word was first (Alpha) and it will be last (Omega) because He is Unchanging!