We live in a generation that is literally experiencing “fear on every side.” Violence in our cities has escalated and international terrorism has reached America’s shores. This has resulted in people fearing for their personal safety like never before. Millions of Americans struggle so much with fear and anxiety that they are taking prescription medications in a vain attempt to alleviate the sense of impending doom they are experiencing. Is it possible to win the battle with fear in the day in which we live?
Military history over the ages has clearly demonstrated that any army that goes to war without properly identifying or understanding the enemy is doomed to be defeated. In the book entitled War, Strategy, and Military Effectiveness by Williamson Murray, the author makes this observation: “In the Vietnam War, it was precisely that failure to understand the enemy… that led to the American defeat.” This same principle can be applied to the battle with fear.
The Bible clearly identifies FEAR as an evil spirit in 2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Fear is not an “emotion” or a weakness of character as many have been taught since childhood. Fear is an evil spirit that puts pressure on your mind and emotions and attempts to dominate and overwhelm by bombarding you with lies. The commonly held misperception that fear is a natural emotion actually helps the spirit of fear do his “dirty work” without any resistance. If allowed to operate unchallenged, the spirit of fear will take your emotional state into bondage. If you continue to think that fear is a personal weakness of your character or a “normal” human emotion, you will end up like those armies in history that failed to win the war because they misidentified or misunderstood the enemy they were fighting.
One of the keys to understanding this enemy called FEAR, is to understand its primary objective.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who only does wondrous things...
Psalm 72:18 NKJV
I believe that 2016 will be a year of God’s “wonders” being displayed in the earth and in individual believer’s lives. Psalm 72:18 tells us that our God “only does wondrous things.” The Message translation says He is “the one and only wonder-working God!” That is God’s way of doing things, not in a natural, or ordinary way, but in a “wondrous” way.
The word “wonder” or “wondrous” from Psalm 72 is translated from the Hebrew word “pala” which has these meanings: to be surpassing or extraordinary; miracles; wondrously marvelous; to bring the extraordinary; to deal marvelously; to show your power.
Whatever your situation in life is at this very moment, you would most assuredly benefit from God doing extraordinary things for you, bringing miracles to pass, dealing marvelously with your circumstances and showing His power on your behalf. I believe that is His plan for 2016. But perhaps as you read this, you are thinking, “Not for me – I don’t deserve that – I wasn’t very obedient to God in 2015 – why would He do that for me?”
God does wonders out of His heart of Compassion - not because you deserve it!
The good news is that God does not work His wonders because you deserve it, but he does so motivated by a heart of love and compassion. We can see many examples of this in both the Old and New Testaments. When God called Moses to go to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of bondage, he told Moses he would do “wonders” that would convince the Pharaoh to let the people go free. He explained to Moses what motivated Him to do it in Exodus 3:7. And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. It was out of compassion that God did the wonders that would eventually bring the Israelites freedom from slavery in Egypt.
In the New Testament, we also see Jesus doing “wonders” because He was motivated by compassion. In Matthew 15:32-37 we read: Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.
Both the wonder of miraculous provision of food and the wonder of deliverance from injustice and slavery in Egypt, were performed by God from his heart of love, not because anyone had earned or deserved His supernatural intervention. So don’t talk yourself out of receiving God’s wonders in your life this year by saying you don’t deserve it.
These wonders are to bless you but are also for the sake of others…
God is the ultimate “multi-tasker.” When He does something in the earth, He always has multiple people on His mind. He loves to use the miracle He does in your life to bless and benefit many people. So the “wonders” that God will do for you in 2016, are to bless you – but they are also to benefit others as well. We can find examples of God’s multi-tasking wonders at work in both the Old and New Testament.
In the book of Daniel, we find the faithful man of God, Daniel, unjustly persecuted by jealous coworkers and through their deceitful plotting, he is sentenced to be thrown into a den of hungry lions. Instead of being killed and devoured by the lions, Daniel experiences the surpassing, extraordinary and miraculous power of God operating on his behalf. He explained the wonder to the king of Persia this way: My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me… (Dan. 6:22) As much as this wonder was done to bless and save Daniel, it was also for the sake of King Dairus, who became convinced of Daniel’s God being the one true God, through witnessing the wonder God did in Daniel’s life. But this wonder had even more far-reaching impact. It resulted in the name of God being spread throughout the known world by a decree that was issued by King Darius who trumpeted the “wonder” that God had done for Daniel:
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. (Daniel 6:26-27)
In the New Testament Gospel of John we find the wonder of Lazarus being raised from the dead. We know that this miracle blessed Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. But Jesus was very intentional about the timing of this “wonder.” He wanted it to have maximum impact by touching the lives of those who witnessed this resurrection. Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. (John 11:45) Jesus performed this wonder not only for Lazarus, but for the sake of the Jews so that they might become convinced of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel.
When God does wonders for you this year, make sure you testify of the great things He has done for you, because His wonders are for the sake of others as well as for you.
How To Prepare to Receive God's Wonders
Right before the children of Israel were to march into the Promised Land, their leader, Joshua, gave them this command: "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." (Joshua 3:5) The word consecrate is from the Hebrew word qadash - which means to set apart, to be dedicated, purified, or to manifest God's holiness. I like to define “holiness” in this simple way: loving what God loves and hating what God hates. So if you want to consecrate yourself so you can see God’s wonders, you will want to remove anything impure out of your life. Essentially it means to get rid of anything that God hates!
Cultivate a heart of gratitude and practice continuously expressing it to God and to others. Grumbling and complaining robbed an entire generation of Israelites of receiving the "wonder" of the Promised Land that God intended for them to have!
Cast off Self-reliance - Examine your heart to be sure you are not depending on "self" to work the wonder of your own deliverance or provision. A mixture of trusting God and relying on self is poisonous and will rob you of God's wonders in your life! King Saul started out trusting God, but when the pressure was on, he relied on "self" and lost the kingdom. (1 Samuel 13:5-14) God blesses the one who looks to Him alone, trusting God completely and resting by faith in His goodness.
Enter 2016 with faith-filled expectation of the wonders that God will do!
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through... We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9 New Living Translation
There are times in the life of every Christian that waiting for God to intervene is nothing less than excruciating. You may have experienced a situation where you felt like the apostle Paul, when he wrote, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” And yet, you found that God requires you to continue to wait.
As hard as it is to believe during such times of great stress and pressure, there is always a divinely redemptive purpose in the season of waiting that God ordains for His children. In the case of the Apostle Paul in the aforementioned scripture, the redemptive purpose of his difficult waiting period - was so that he and his fellow disciples would learn to rely on God alone and stop relying on themselves.
Self-reliance can been defined as “dependence on oneself, one's own efforts, resources and abilities.” It is an attribute that is both desired and cultivated by many people, and considered by some to be a virtue. In American culture, a person who has developed a strong sense of self-reliance is admired and applauded. So it may seem quite “un-American” for me to advocate against the pursuit of self-reliance. Yet the Bible clearly teaches us that reliance on “self” is foolhardy and leads to spiritual death. But reliance on God leads to abundant life and is to be pursued with all of our heart.
We find a crystal clear illustration in the Old Testament of the differing results that are produced when a person waits on God and fully relies upon Him to act, versus refusing to wait and deciding to rely upon “self” efforts and strategies. There was a King in Judah named Asa. Early in his reign he found himself faced with an enemy army from Ethiopia advancing against the land of Judah with a million soldiers. He was outnumbered militarily nearly two to one. The scenario was quite overwhelming and he must have felt like the Apostle Paul, thinking that he would never live through it. But instead of trying to win the battle with his own resources, he cried out to the Lord saying, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude.” (2 Chron. 14:11) Because he relied on the Lord, God answered with a mighty miracle. The million man army was routed and they fled from Judah.
Some years later, King Asa faced another big trial. His neighbor, the King of Israel, besieged Judah with his army, not allowing anyone to go in or out of the capitol city. Once again, King Asa found himself in a desperate situation.
by Rita Langeland
“I can’t wait for God to do something in my life another minute. I am just going to take matters into my own hands and make something happen! It is better than waiting forever!” So said a young lady who had been praying for a husband for several years, just before she went out, found herself a man to marry, and lived unhappily ever after.
A wise man named Warren Wiersbe once said, “The ability to calm your soul and wait before God is one of the most difficult things in the Christian life. Our old nature is restless...the world around us is frantically in a hurry. But a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.”
We have all observed the restless impatience of a young child who has been promised a sweet treat by his parent if he can only wait patiently for the appointed time. One aspect of increased maturity is the development of patience, yet we often see tremendous struggles with impatience among adult Christian believers. Impatience is the mortal enemy of the spiritual discipline of waiting on God. Impatience can be defined as the restless desire for immediate change compounded by an intolerance for anything that hinders or delays one from moving forward.
Impatience with people is often a sign of immaturity or self-centeredness, but impatience with God is a sign of unbelief. It means that you are unwilling to trust God for His timing, His wisdom and His intentions of good for your life. If you think that sounds like a harsh assessment, consider this example. If you have been waiting a long time for God to send you a spouse and find yourself frustrated, angry and questioning God’s love for you, then unbelief has crept in to your heart and disturbed your peace and shaken your faith in God’s heart toward you. God’s heart toward you is always to do you good and not evil. So when He requires a waiting season in your life, His plan is for a blessing to be yours in the end. But you will have to fight off the temptation to...
Self Will or God's Will
by Rita Langeland
In modern society we see an abundance of “self-will” being exercised. We find it very distasteful when we see it in a child, but seem oblivious to its ugliness when it is expressed in our own adult lives. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “self-willed” as “governed by one’s own will” and “determined to do what you want even though other people may not want you to do it.” When it comes to our relationship with God, “self-will” places us squarely at odds with God’s will.