Feast on the Bread He Provides

Have you ever seen something in a couple of different verses, and missed putting the two together?

I had that happen this week, and I felt God breathing on it. When I feel that, I try to take it seriously, even if the thing he’s breathing on isn’t exegetically pristine.

Someone pointed out this verse to me recently:

"If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. "Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." [Numbers 14:8-9]

Read that again: the enemies of the fulfillment of the promise of God are our bread. Our nourishment. Provision for us.

This reminds me of something Father said to me one time when I was asking him to take these kind of enemies away from me: “Son, how do you ever expect to become an overcomer if you never have anything to overcome?” May I be honest? That wasn’t actually comforting to me at the time.

But he’s talking about enemies as bread. Bread. That reminds me of another verse:

“Give us this day our daily bread.” [Matthew 6:11]

Together, these verses are suggesting a couple of truths to me:

♦ I’ve misunderstood the enemies and obstacles to the fulfillment of God’s promises. I’ve thought of them as evil, bad, nasty things. It sounds like they’re something I should embrace: my nourishment, my provision, the stepping stones into the promise.

♦ There’s a connection between these enemies and obstacles, and the provision that Jesus specifically instructs me to pray for. Seriously? Am I supposed to pray for these? Well, if the Book is true (consider Matthew 5:44) Now I’m not convinced that he’s necessarily saying, “Pray that enemies come into your life” when he commands “Pray for your enemies,” but I don’t think I can stretch it to “Pray that you’d never have enemies” either.

♦ And what’s this about *daily* bread? I heard something the other day: “A day without an enemy to overcome is a wasted day.”

♦ Can I be honest? Learning how to receive nourishment from bread is easy. Learning how to receive nourishment from enemies is more difficult. It might be, though, more important.

Father is not, I’m convinced, all that excited about us having enemies to overcome. I’m convinced that he’s far more interested in the “overcoming” part than he is about the difficulties of handling the enemies. I’m convinced that part of the reason that overcoming is interesting to him is that it brings plunder into the Kingdom.

It also rubs the enemy’s nose in God’s victory in us. That’s cool too.

But the enemies in your way, the obstacles between you and your promises, those are your bread. Learn to feast on them.

No Wonder The World Doesn’t Love Christians.

No wonder the world doesn’t love Christians.

Many of the members of the Church of North America are the loudest an most vitriolic when pointing out the sins of others: the sins of a president they don’t like, the sins of other political leaders they don’t agree with, even the sins of their own brothers and sisters, Christian leaders whom they find fault with.

No wonder the world doesn’t take Christianity seriously.

“But they’re in sin! I must warn them of their sin!”

Bosh! If you bring me a wheelbarrow of that, I can fertilize my petunias, but I won’t use it on my vegetable garden. Ewww.

First, if you’re a child of God, then you carry some of the authority of God’s family: what you declare is, in some mysterious way, empowered to come about in the world of men. If you constantly speak of their sin, guess what’s reinforced? Their sin.

But it impacts you, too: if you’re constantly pointing out sin, then guess what happens in you: your life, being focused on sin, becomes sin-centric. I can’t imagine any good thing that could come from that. I sure wouldn’t want to live with you.

If a prophet or, even better, a friend had stepped in and warned some of those we’re describing, if they were speaking with the heart of God, then they'd be speaking TO the leader they were warning, not speaking evil of him to folks on the outside. You don’t warn somebody of anything by spouting nasty things about them on Facebok.

I hate to break it to you, but President Obama doesn’t follow your Facebook page. Neither does that televangelist that you think is spending money foolishly.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go to a brother and say, "Hey, friend. I see a problem here. Can I help you with it?" This is where a real friend can really help. It may be the only place. And it isn't really an option to strangers. Sorry, but unless I know them, and know them personally, I don’t qualify.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go over their head. Instead of slandering them, we always have the option of praying for them. (Now *there’s* a radical concept!) And the reality is that my words before Father will change their behavior far more than my words before my friends.

It is ABSOLUTELY from the pit of hell to go to the highways and byways, to the coffee shops and the interwebs, and spread slanderous accusations about them. There is no good that can be done by dragging their name through the mud on Facebook. Even if the accusation is true, it's still slander, it's still the work of the Accuser of the Brethren. And let’s be honest: those who actually do need to repent will not repent just because someone posted foul things online about them.

I get it that some of the slander posted about political leaders is intended as humor. And some of it – a pretty small fraction, if I’m honest – actually is funny. But really, it’s still slander. It’s still exercising whatever “kingly anointing” that I carry as a child of God, not for their freedom, but to keep them enslaved in their sin.

The hardest part is remembering that ultimately, the only one who can make choices for their life is them. You and I cannot, no matter how deeply we care. It is not, in the end, our choice.

Does that mean that I need to shut up and submit to what I believe is terrible and unconstitutional devastation done to my country? Oh, Heavens no! Please, no! But whining accusations are not the answer.

The Danger of Following Orders Given To Another

As servants of the Lord, as warriors, we are responsible for the orders given to us. I am not responsible for the orders that he gives to someone else, and they are not accountable for how I carry out my orders.

In Ephesians 5, the apostle gives specific commands to husbands and wives. It took me a couple of decades to realize that v22 was not written to me. I was cheating, eavesdropping on a private conversation if I even read that verse.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is clearly written to wives, not to husbands. It does NOT say, “Husbands, make sure your wives submit!” which is how many husbands have interpreted it, and which has led to immense sin in untold thousands of Christian homes.

It’s hard to acknowledge that the command doesn’t apply to me in any way, shape or form. There’s another command that is not given to me to obey. Let me explain.

As some have pointed out, “homosexuality is not acceptable in either the OT or NT.” That is clear. What it doesn’t say is “Condemn homosexuals,” and the church is finally figuring that out (thank God!). 

I observe that neither does the Word say, “Condemn homosexuality.” There is no such command for me to obey. We have (fairly glibly, I fear) spouted “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” but our application has been condemning. We say that we don’t condemn the person, but we condemn an aspect of their lives that they experience as an aspect of their character, who they are. Condemnation is also not in our commands. 

“Love homosexuals, hate homosexuality!” is perceived (how I meant it is completely irrelevant here) as if I were to declare to my daughter, “I love you as a person, but I hate the fact that you’re a woman.” It’s deeper and more powerful than shouting at Billy Graham, “I respect you as a person, but I reject evangelism.” Billy can no more stop being an evangelist than my daughter can stop being a woman.

Of course, we don’t reject women (any longer) or evangelists (mostly), but this is the conversation that we still have with the homosexual community. “I love you, but I hate who you are!” has functionally been our message. No wonder our message hasn't been heard.

There’s a second part to this conversation.

I’ve had people tell me how important it is that we warn them of their sin and the consequences thereof. (I observe that the vitriol with which they declare it disqualifies those very speakers from having any right to speak to the issue. We are commanded to approach people through love, NOT through compliance with the law as interpreted through us.)

So the question I have had to ask is this: Whose job is it to convict the world of sin? Whose job is it to convict the believer of sin? At what point does it become my job to convict you of your sin?

We could - and in my opinion, should - apply the answer equally: if we are called to convict the sinner of his sin, then the need to call out the sin of homosexuality is accompanied by the need to call out the sins of pride or gluttony, which are from my perspective more prevalent in our world than homosexuality.

Ironically, those who are willing to call out others’ sins but not their own are, by that choice, committing the sin of hypocrisy.

I’m NOT advocating “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” When we teach, we must teach the Word. We must teach that sin is real, and that it opens the door for hell to torment us. We must teach the way to freedom, which is NOT through obeying rules, not your rules, and not God’s rules. 

When we prophesy, we must prophesy the word of the Lord. We must prophesy hope. We must prophesy comfort, edification and encouragement. If we speak words that minister death or rejection, it is not the Spirit of the Lord that is speaking through us, but another spirit.  

Our call is to minister life, never “right and wrong.” We were specifically prohibited from eating of the “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the very beginning. “It will bring death,” we were commanded. It still brings death.

The tree that we must eat from is the Tree of Life. The fruit we give to others must be from the Tree of Life.

Prayer From a Poverty Spirit

I felt Father saying recently that one reason that some of our prayers aren't answered is because they're asked too early in the process, and thus, they’re not an expression of faith, but an expression of lack of faith.

Sometimes we are facing a journey, an obstacle, and we ask for help overcoming the obstacle BEFORE we start the process of overcoming it. We ask for help overcoming an enemy, a habit, a temptation, a struggle, but we ask before we've started to fight, before we’ve started the struggle (Heb 12:4), which means we don’t need that answer yet.

Sometimes, we feel the need to understand the process BEFORE starting the process; we want help in the warfare BEFORE we’ve engaged in the warfare. In other words, before we need the help.

Sometimes we feel the need to ask in advance because we don’t trust that Father will provide for us IN the process. We ask BEFORE we need because we don’t trust Father to provide IN our need.

Functionally, this is the expression of a poverty spirit: a lack of confidence that Father will be a good father to us; a lack of confidence in our place as favored son or daughter.

If we understand before we start, then the process, the journey, is not a journey of faith, it's a journey of knowledge. And suddenly, verses like Rom 14:23, 1Cor 8:1, and Gen 2:9 come into play:

[Romans 14:23b] "for whatever is not from faith is sin."

[1 Corinthians 8:1b] "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies."

[Genesis 2:9b] "The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

When we’re asking for God to give us NOW what we don’t yet need, we are not walking in faith, in trust. Or rather, we’re not trusting in him; we’re trusting in what we have, what we know, our own strength. That is a prayer that Father, because of his great love for us, cannot answer.

Having said that, it’s very appropriate to ask NOW for provision once we engage in the battle. I refer to these as time-warp prayers. “I expect to be engaged in this battle soon, Father, and I’m asking, now, that you’ll put into my hand the weapons that I need, when I need them.”

I believe that a good part of the solution to this is to change our trust from trusting the provision, to trusting our Provider. In application, this means more time in prayer knowing Him, and less time asking him for stuff; more time on the couch next to Him, and less time across the desk from him; more time in relational prayer, less time in business prayer.