Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seek first his Kingdom: Raise Up Your Staff"

Last week we heard some very discouraging news regarding our move to California.  Many of the finances we were counting on disappeared; and the time to move forward with the new house was immediate.  I went to pray; to ask the Lord to show us what to do.  What’s taken place has been one of the greatest faith lessons of our lives.

The next day, I heard the words “pressed up against the water’s edge” out of the blue. I knew the Lord was directing me to the passage in Exodus 14 about the Israelites, recently released into freedom from Egypt, in the desert as they watched the Egyptian army chase them down.  They were trapped on both sides:  the Red Sea and the Egyptian army.
The Israelites cried out to Moses in accusation: “Did you just bring us out to this desert to become a cemetery of death?”  Moses, being strong in his identity as a representative for God, calmly told them, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and today you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

After Moses made his declaration, it’s implied that Moses then turned around and said pretty much the Israelites message to the Lord. But, the Lord told him, “Stop crying out to me.  Raise up your staff over the waters so they divide.  The Israelites can walk through on dry ground.  I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so they go in after them.  And I will gain glory, so that everyone knows that I am the Lord!”
Raise up your staff.  What does this mean?  How can we translate it to our own lives?

God gave Moses the staff when he called him at the burning bush to go and confront Pharaoh.  The staff was important to Moses’ life as a shepherd.  However, when God gave it back to him, it was something else.  It was meant for his role as one who reigns with God, and has his authority to call forth God’s will and his supernatural power to reign over nature.  Over and over we hear of the plagues that were released through Moses into Egypt to bring them into a place of humility to God’s plan and purposes.
God replaced Moses’ identity as a shepherd and told him that “I AM” is with you.  “Because ‘I AM’ is with you; you are my representative to seek first my kingdom. My ways will come forth for the people of my heart.”  Moses was being called not to hide in a desert in fear any longer, but to go and fight for the freedom of God’s beloved people, the Israelites.

We are to do the same.  We are to go and fight for the people God created; keeping our back to the enemy so we don’t back down in fear, our eyes focused on our Deliverer, who has the power to part the water!
How did we practically walk out the challenge before us?

First, we didn’t back out of our contract to buy the house in CA.  We believe God led us to this house and he wants it for our new life together and for his kingdom purposes.  We kept our eyes on the Deliverer.
We asked people to pray for us. We didn’t try to walk through the battle alone.

We began to thank God for the challenges.  Despite all the chaos swirling around us, as soon as we started thanking God, peace came.  It is the peace that is clearly supernatural and not defined by our circumstances.
We raised our staff by praying in the spiritual authority given to us by Jesus. We followed the pattern of the Lord’s prayer by praying for “God’s will to be done on earth as it is heaven.”

We also called the angelic army to go and fight the battle for us.  God is always the God of just in time; so just hours before we had to wire a substantial sum of money for escrow, we got word that we would have enough finances to move forward.
We moved forward in faith.  We didn’t have all the answers then, and we don’t have all the answers now.  We do have, however, the confirmation of Exodus 14 five different ways.  Over and over in the anxious days of waiting, we were given this word from the Lord.  They came in various ways:  through the words out of the blue, “pressed up against the water’s edge,”  an email from an intercessor with a teaching of Exodus 14, prayers prayed by two young women who saw the waters and the army coming after us,  a daily Scriptural reading, and finally my Bible falling open to it when I picked it up.

Coincidence?  No, as we begin to know the language God speaks to us by, we begin to recognize that repitition is one of his greatest ways to show us his plan.
Was it easy?  No, it was very hard.  Walking in faith is truly living “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.”  Hebrews 11:6

Was it worth it?  Yes, because we are now walking in a greater level of faith which gives us confidence for the next test.  We have a testimony now.  We can tell the stories over and over how God parted the waters for us to walk through to the other side.
Let’s remember our theme for the year, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all things shall be added to you.”

To seek first God’s kingdom is align our lives with his heavenly kingdom reigning on earth.  This is not a cool Sunday School story, this involves real life action to which we have the ability to respond with a “yes, I am in, “or a “no, too hard, I am out.”
God’s righteousness is to “partner with him to set things right.”  Moses partnered with God to set right the Israelites freedom.  We partnered with God to set things right regarding our next stage of life and ministry.

And, all things shall be added onto you.  When we align our lives to seek first God’s kingdom, we can trust his promise to “provide the necessary aspects of our lives,” which includes food to eat, clothes to wear, and houses to live in.
Where are you pressed up against the water’s edge?  Get out your staff and begin to experience the power which flows from it as you trust the Deliverer to see your faith and to part the waters.  Victory is yours.  The King is calling you as his kingdom partner to help set his beloved people free from their slavery.

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