Most of us have faced challenges and obstacles that often seem insurmountable.
The hardship or challenge that seemed so overwhelming at the time could easily make one wonder why bother trying. It seems as if it was not worth fighting to overcome. The stress we can face seems to weigh heavily like a ten ton weight trying to crush and cripple us.
I have good news for you if you are going through some things like that. You are not alone (see 1 Corinthians 10:13) and God is working on something that will take you to the other side.
Many believers today are facing their toughest trials ever. It might seem as if they are never going to end. They may also seem to be getting worse each waking moment. Sometimes however, the night is darkest just before dawn.
If this sounds familiar, join the club! You may have wanted to quit. All of Jesus’ disciples wanted to quit and some did! When Jesus said some heavy words that were hard to digest, many of His followers walked away. He had offended them. Peter wanted to quit, but dicided to stay, because he knew there was nowhere else to go. You can read this in John 6:60-71.
A glib comment could be “Don’t quit”, but when you are hanging on in the white knuckle brigade and things seem to be going from bad to worse, that is not always what we want to hear. I could go several ways with this message. I could touch on current world events, the global economy and terrorism, but you know what is going on. I could say they are a “sign of the times”, but I want to go another way.
This is a time when God’s divine favor is breaking coming forth.
It is breaking forth like the way the rays of the sun break through the darkness in inclement weather. The skies are dull and overcast, clouds are heavy and dark and it has been raining non stop in what seems to be an eternity, when suddenly, a break appears in the clouds and a beam of sunlight appears as the clouds start to dispel.
This is how the favor of God manifests. Light starts shining through the darkness engulfing us.
Let us take a look at David as our jumping off point when the darkness was engulfing him. When he composed Psalm 34, he was in real trouble. He pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him away and you have to be in real trouble to pretend insanity! Even in such a plight, he said-
I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
Even when things seem impossible, it is possible to turn your mourning into dancing when you deliberately make a conscious decision to bless God like that. We can say what David said.
It’s not always easy, but it really does work!
The journey commences when you start seeking the Lord.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
The Lord answered him! But that’s just the beginning. He delivered David from the things he feared! What you fear most will come upon you if you don’t deal with it. Seek the Lord about it.
That was before Calvary. If God did those things for him then, how much better off we are now because of Jesus.
I could break Psalm 34 down more, but here are a few samples.
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles.
We are the righteous. We have the assurance from God’s word that He will deliver us.
Psalm 91 reveals that those who dwell in God’s presence, beneath the shelter, protection and provision of His wings, will come out the other side smelling as sweet as roses.
God never said we would not have problems. He Said that we could see people fall like flies around us—but we won’t be touched!
The storm clouds will go and the sun will shine again.
Take a close look at all this wonderful psalm. It is really great and full of promise.
Let me digress a little now and take a look at a man whose own mother set the stage for his failure in life the day he was born. We’ll come back to David later.
She named him Yaʿbēṣ. We know him as Jabez. Little is known of his mother. She may have had a difficult childbirth or there could have been marital problems. She might have been widowed when Jabez was born. Whatever happened, she gives me the impression that she was a hurt, and bitter hardened women. I say that because of the name she gave a baby boy, saying that she bore him in pain, one of the meanings of his name. Other meanings include to grieve and he makes sorrowful.
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. 1 Chronicles 4:9
Imagine starting life with such a stigma of a name. This boy grew up under such a cloud with his brothers and I suspect he was the youngest, so sibling rivalry could have been intense. Many people would collapse under such pressure and want to shrivel up and die, but he did not! He was a winner! His well known prayer is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10.
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
I like that prayer! What he asked for is what I ask for and hope you do also.
God is on your side. When David was seized by the Philistines in Gath, he discovered that.
Look at the psalm he wrote then! Note my emphasis.
O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long.
I hope you saw how much God really cares for you. Every time your cry, He catches your tears.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Come with me now to Psalm 102 where the writer is also pouring his heart out to God when he is going through hard times and those black storm clouds have engulfed him. His cry is-
Adonai, hear my prayer!
Let my cry for help reach you!
Don’t hide your face from me when I am in such distress!
Turn your ear toward me; when I call, be quick to reply! Psalm 102:2-3
Both Jabez and David and many others in the bible went through really difficult times that could have crippled them and they all had one thing in common. They cried out, “Help!”
Sometimes we do not know what else to say. When you just do not know the “right words” to pray, what can you say? Sometimes we feel so down, we don’t even want to pray. It’s like the times we are Sick. Well meaning people can sympathize with you, tell you nice things, but all you want to do is be left alone and recover. God knows all about that and all He needs is the cry from the bottom of your heart for His Help. He is much closer to us than we often realize.
Here are a few scripture passages that reveal how much God listens to us. Psalm 4:1-4; 18:6; 91:15-16, Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 58:9; 65:24, Zechariah 13:9, Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9.
In Revelation 5:8 and 8:3 we see that your prayers (the prayers of the saints) are presented before the Lord.
Our Psalmist was in despair and felt hopeless, but in verse 13, something changed when he begins to realize that God is about to move on his behalf. Things change, especially when you realize that God is for you. David told God saying,
You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come Psalm 102:13
Zion is a type of the church, so this also applies to you. There is a set or an appointed time for things. This set time is here. It is time for God’s favor to shine on you.
When the psalmist wrote that, he was experiencing a time of great affliction and adversity and had literally become overwhelmed by it all until he changed his attitude, the tone of his voice changed. When he did, things started to change. Only you can do that.
When he told God You will arise, I believe he looked at what God had done before.
When God’s people were overwhelmed, He always came through for them. We can take comfort in the knowledge that if God did it before, he will do it again. I like that phrase, “it came to pass”. Rephrase it to read, “It came...to pass.”
When God arises He goes into action and exerts His great power.
We ask God to arise, but sometimes we are the ones who have to arise!
The psalmist connected God arising to pouring out His favor. We can see a pattern or a principle in how God operates and thus what He is like with this outpouring of favor.
Call it The Pattern of Favor.
Throughout all of Scripture, when we read about God’s people facing perilous times, we see God’s favor poured out with deliverance and victory! The two go hand-in-hand.
When God’s people were held captive in Egypt, God’s favor brought them their freedom.
God told them,
I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed Exodus 3:21
When God poured out His favor on His people, the Egyptians couldn’t overwhelm or afflict them any longer! We see this pattern in the story of Joseph.
And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Acts 7:9-10
The same thing happened in Esther’s day and again in Daniel’s day.
There seems to be a Divine pattern in such things. Perhaps we aught to find out what this pattern is!
When God’s people are facing their most trying times, God pours out His favor to deliver them and bring a great victory.
You and I are living in a time when we need God’s favor poured out on us like never before.
The Apostle Paul saw it coming and wrote,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 Timothy 3:1
The Amplified Bible describes it as,
Times of great stress and trouble, hard to deal with and hard to bear.
We’re in those times right now. That is why God is giving us this prophetic word-
Now is the time for the great breaking loose of God’s divine favor in your life!
God is “arising” again and there is a great breaking loose of His favor that is headed for His people. Start expecting His favor to change impossible circumstances in your life. Begin declaring God’s favor over your relationships, your finances, your health, and over your witness for Him.
Not only will God’s favor change your life, God intends for it to affect the lives of those around you. One of the major things it will do is cause non-believers to be drawn to us.
Isaiah 60:1-3 states-
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
The chapter heading of my primary study bible says The glory of the church. Negative people think that the church is struggling or irrelevant in modern times, but the reverse is the truth.
I tell you She is going to go out in a blaze of glory. In Ephesians 5 we see that Jesus has great plans for His Church. Look at what Paul said about it-
He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Ephesians 5:27
That passage in Isaiah therefore takes on great significance. It says that the Gentiles (non-believers) shall come to thy light! Yes...it does say Your light! This light is God’s favor on you and in your life.
Jesus told us that we are lights on a hill and like lighthouses on a rugged coastline shining a beacon of hope in the storms of life. He did not tell us to make it shine but to let it shine. See Matthew 5:13-16. This light is within us. It has to come out however and sometimes the clay vessels have to be broken to reveal the inner light in the way that Gideon told his men to hide their lights until the right time and then break the containers. See the account on my page called Mighty Warrior.
The reason for all of this is simple. It is so that we can Be a blessing to others and be in a position to Bless others and in such a way it gives God glory.
You can’t be a blessing and you can’t bless others if you are not blessed yourself.
This outpouring of God’s favor has more than one purpose. It is to bless us of course, but it is coming as an enabling or as a tool to be able to reach people effectively and see their lives changed by the power of God. God is starting to place resources in people’s lives to be effective where we were never effective before; to reach the lost in ways we have never reached them before and to be in that position to be a real help to others.
I received an email from a pastor in an African country recently thanking us for our prayer support as he reported a change in his circumstances. He had been going through a hard time and really needed help. All I could offer him was a prophetic word of encouragement and I do mean prophetic.
Anyone can say things, but when the Lord gives you or me an anointed revelation...that is a prophetic declaration and that changes things.
We have more power in our speech than we realize. Job 22:2 reveals this, saying
You shall also decide and decree a thing and it shall be established for you, and the light of God’s favor shall shine upon your ways.
Again, I am not talking of just any old speech, but a specific word from Heaven that shines light on the matter; that can reverse an adverse situation; that can release things that need to be released. Such a word is of course to say what God has said on the matter, so it behooves us to know what God has said.
We can’t shoot our mouths off and expect things to happen. It doesn’t work that way, but when God speaks into your spirit and quickens some scripture—that is the word He gave you to speak. When you say that word, it is what returns to Him and will not be void. That word will accomplish what He sent it for.
I started this message by looking at a Psalmist who was in real trouble and how he felt like death warmed up. We all get despondent from time to time, but we should not remain there. I often quote Psalm 121, in good times as well as in bad times. It’s better to be there before trouble hits than to have to try pulling yourself up by your shoelaces when you are slowly sinking in the quicksand of troubles. Let’s see it-
I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?
That word I mentioned is not necessarily some favorite passage you seek out from a dictionary or concordance because it sounds nice. It has to come from God’s own mouth so to speak, or Spirit breathed! You can then legitimately claim the promises. If He never said it, you can’t expect it to work. Sure, it is in the bible, but you have to get a specific word from God, which is then the word that He sent and will not return void.
That is the two-edged sword of the Spirit as seen in Ephesians 6:17.
There are different kinds of swords. The one in Ephesians 6 is Machaira. It is a short sword more like a dagger than a long bladed sword and it is used as a personal weapon in a close-in battle. It is designed for one-on-one fighting and is the war sword the Romans wore. It fitted into a special scabbard that hung from the girdle Paul called the Girdle of truth. I urge you to read the page, The Armor of God.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
We can thus see that the double edged sword is not really a sword with two sharp edges—it means that God says it first and then we say it also! Think of it.
Verse 6 tells us to seek the Lord—whilst He may be found. Sometimes it is hard to “find God’ when you are busy, troubled, distressed and can I add just having a pity party. Get over that sick, sad and disgusted stuff. When the problems are hitting you from every quarter—including the opposition and misunderstanding from those you expect to be with you (even from your own family)—you need to draw from the living water from the well that you have dug in your own life and drink that.
More often than not, but not always, the attacks are verbal. Saul attacked David with words. The devil attacked Jesus with words. You will get them too! Most times, your real opposition comes from other people who say things about you. How do you handle that? What do you do?
Lets see what Isaiah said. In Chapter 54, this prophet declared the greatness of the Church. Through him,God was saying that if you are desolate, you will not stay that way forever.
He encouraged us to get ready for growth and expansion, which is one to the things that the Lord is saying to His people today. Isaiah said that your shame and reproach would become a thing of the past (so forget that stuff) and he said that everything that had been against you would be replaced with God’s goodness and mercy.
O my afflicted people, tempest-tossed and troubled, I will rebuild you on a foundation of sapphires and make the walls of your houses from precious jewels. I will make your towers of sparkling agate and your gates and walls of shining gems. And all your citizens shall be taught by me, and their prosperity shall be great.
You will live under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away; you will live in peace. Terror shall not come near. If any nation comes to fight you, it will not be sent by me to punish you. Therefore, it will be routed, for I am on your side.
I have created the smith who blows the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you shall succeed, and you will have justice against every courtroom lie.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. This is the blessing I have given you, says the Lord. Isaiah 54:11-17
Let me break that down and then I will close.
Firstly, the word nation could mean people. Be assured that it is not God who brings troubles. People usually do that. God created the blacksmith and the one who destroys, but does that mean He created something we could call evil? Not at All. He does not do That. God created the blacksmith who made weapons! The destroyer uses those Weapons. They exercise their own free will to do such things—not God! The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to bring life.
The important thing to remember is that no weapon (no schemes, plans, lies and plots) that are being formulated against you will work. Every word spoken against you with the intention of bringing harm and disrepute to you will be proven to be a lie.
This of course assumes that you are “living right” before the Lord.
There is another way to look at this.
If anyone dares to challenge you, it will not be my doing! Whoever tries to challenge you will be defeated.
There is another way to look at it. When God said that anyone who tries to attack you, He said that He would create a craftsman who forges a weapon that the destroyer who would use on your behalf! Those weapons that are being used against you would be devastated.
The weapons are not against you! They are against your enemies!
Either way, we win!
The KJV uses the word Judgment. The Hebrew is mishpāṭ that relates in many ways to a favorable judgment for you as if you were in a court of law. The charges against you are proven to be false. The evidence is ruled inadmissible or false. The charges are dropped and you are declared innocent, but more importantly—all references to you no longer exist. It is as if it never happened and that...is extremely important.
God will honor and vindicate you so much that you will turn the tables on your accusers.
I’ve proved it! It works!
The KJV says that You shall condemn them. The Hebrew word is rāshaʿ. It has a huge range of meanings that in simple terms means that rather than you being accused and attacked, you will declare those against you to be wicked and evil and in the wrong. It says that your own words will vex and make trouble for them.
When it says you shall condemn them, it does not mean that you go around accusing others.
When you make Gods words Your words, the anointing on those words convicts and reveals truth.
This brings me back to the kinds of words we are to say and sometimes it is best not to say a thing, but in simple terms, when we are to speak, the best thing is to say only what God says.We can only do that when we know what He has said, so we have to find out what He has spoken. When we do, we are to say what God says; no more and no less.
This is one of our covenant rights. It is our heritage. God said so.
No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17
The light of God’s favor now takes on more than one meaning.
It reveals the truth.
It vindicates you.
It elevates you and lifts you out of the miry clay.
It produces the blessing.
I think this is a timely message for many, so until we meet again, may God’s face shine on you.