Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Miraculous Journey of Faith

He Makes My Feet as a Deer’s Feet

By Abraham Israel

I always liked naturally to walk and pray, so I started to develop this habit nearly a decade ago itself, have always desired and loved to develop more and more of this mode of prayer seeing that the Scriptures speaks about the awesome men of God like Noah and Enoch that they walked with God (Genesis 5:22, 24; 6:9). These were men of great repute before God. Even though to ‘walk with God’ signifies a spiritual meaning, it also denotes that we are made to walk in the natural in order to explore new things and as a result to commune with God who enjoys our excitement and joy of experiencing new things (Gen 2:19-20). Man was created wild at heart because “...the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground [Note: This was outside the Garden of Eden], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” (Gen 2:7-8). But the Bible says that after God put Adam in to the garden to manage, then He created Eve out of Adam inside the garden (Gen 2:15, 21-22). This shows that a woman is more relational and fits for a calm garden based living. So this wildness related to walking always excited me to walk and pray.

Matthew Henry says, “To walk with God is to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live a life of communion with God both in ordinances and providences. It is to make God's word our rule and his glory our end in all our actions. It is to make it our constant care and endeavour in every thing to please God, and nothing to offend him. It is to comply with his will, to concur with his designs, and to be workers together with him. It is to be followers of him as dear children." Yes of course as we have read, to walk with God is a spiritual activity but at the same time it is also tied to our physical activity of walking. This is seen the first time Bible obliquely revealed what Adam and Eve were doing before the fall, it says that after the fall “....they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day [Note: spiritually sensing God’s movement], and Adam and his wife hid themselves [Note: physically responding to it] from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Gen 3:8). In other words, hearing “the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” they must have accompanied His presence by spiritually connecting to Him and walking alongside Him physically. This shows that Adam and Eve’s familiar scenario of spiritual activity was indeed intricately connected with a physical movement of walking with God, which they immensely enjoyed before the fall. As the negative physical response to the spiritual movement of God after the fall was running away from Him, the positive physical response to the spiritual movement of God before the fall must have been running towards Him and walking along with Him in excitement physically. Praise the Lord!

I love walking and praying also because it achieves two things at the same time. It keeps our body fit and actively efficient in the natural for living in this earth and also it keeps our spirit-man inside us spiritually strong and efficient for living prosperously now and for eternity. It is like bringing down two mangoes from a mango tree using just one stone. It is indeed super-efficiency. 

I believe this is the crux of the message Apostle Paul wanted to convey to his apostolic son Timothy when he beautifully said, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come." (1 Tim 4:7, NLT). I have heard one of my friend say that his Christian mother told this verse to discourage him from a disciplined physical activity. This is gross misunderstanding of this verse, I believe because they have wrongly interpreted Paul’s words that they are misled. Actually Paul is saying that regular physical exercise is of some value because we can enjoy its benefits only as long as we can live on earth. But spiritual exercise is of great value because it includes the earthly and heavenly benefits for eternity ahead. You may ask me, how do you say that? The spiritual fruit of godliness in the Spirit produces self-control, which means to be able to discipline oneself in doing any particular activity regularly without succumbing to our natural laziness (Gal 5:22-23). This activity of godliness can be walking and jogging in the physical and can be praying in the spiritual realm at the same time. It all boils to how we efficiently we manage our time every day. After ‘walking and praying’ you will feel rejuvenated in your body, soul and your spirit. Thus a good spiritual person can be able to combine their physical activity together with the spiritual activity of praying because of the supernatural help of “self-control” from God the Spirit.

So What?

By now you may be asking the question ‘so what?’ This is where I am going to bring an important spiritual principle that God has taught me recently. You know the devil is a sadist. He does not like you doing something that you enjoy, especially if it is as powerful and super-efficient as ‘walking and praying’ simultaneously (John 10:10). Now guess what? Recently I got a knee pain after years of practicing ‘walking and praying.’ For no reason suddenly it began to increase, and I was worried for a nearly a week struggling through it all, I began to look to God and ask the Lord why? When we use the super-phrase ‘why?’ and by the way it is the most mysterious question ever that comes from our human intellect, you know what answer we will usually get. Yes, the same eerie silence from God. But something I began to understand after this, I began to notice the soulish voices that were continuously saying things like, ‘Ooo you are gone with this knee pain, You cannot pray anymore or do any serious work for the kingdom, It might me arthritis and you will never recover from it and so on…..’ Then I sensed that this discouraging voice is not of God because the Bible clearly says that God is a God of all comfort who comforts us in all our trials and he is not a God of discouragement (2 Cor 1:3-4).

Then immediately the spiritual warfare started after I realized this. I began to think and say the word of God contrary to all these soulish voices and feelings. For example, if I was hearing the soulish voice inside me saying, ‘All your sickness that you had is coming back to haunt you.’ I said, “My affliction of sickness will not rise up against me a second time” (Nahum 1:9). Like these I also brought to my mind all the promises that God personally gave to me in the past and spoke through my mouth loudly whenever I had such negative thoughts. Those thoughts would try to come back after a period of time. Then I would do the same thing. Simply to say, ‘I would resist the devil and he would flee away (James 4:7).’

Apostle Paul says, "...according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare" (1 Tim 1:18). If we ask the question, ‘wage the good warfare” against whom? He is saying in context to Satan and his demonic cohorts (v 20). So God’s way of overcoming the lies of Satan and his demonic cohorts is to confess our unbelief in our hearts to God and get cleansed by the blood of the lamb (1 John 1:9), and then immediately speak the word of our testimony [i.e. which is God’s word spoken through our mouth after personalizing it (Deut 30:14-16, 19-20; Prov 18:21; Rom 10:9; 2 Cor 4:13)] by faith (Rev 12:11). The soulish voices of discouragement which are always contrary to the word of God are like weeds that Satan sows during a trial to make us lose our faith and make us hopeless and miserable (Mark 4:17; Matt 13:38-39). The devil always steals a truth and makes it ineffective by planting a weed of lie in the midst of it (John 10:10; John 8:44; Gen 3:1, 4). The best way to negate this evil deception of the devil is to speak the truth just like Jesus did in the wilderness against Satan (Luke 4:4, 8, 12; John 3:21; 8:32; 1 Cor 15:23; Jas 1:18). The words that you speak might not seem to be of great value to you in the natural, but great spiritual wars are lost or won based on what we speak through our mouth when nobody notices it except the spirit-world of God and Satan (Job 2:10; Prov 12:13; 13:3; 6:2; James 3:2, 6). So I chose to stand on the word and not on the feelings and continued in that spiritual warfare for a few weeks.

The Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises

Apostle Peter called the word of God given to us as the “exceedingly great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). God has given us His Word so that “through these” we may become “partakers of the divine nature”. Without great trials in our lives through which the Word becomes flesh in us through our real life ordeals, trials and experiences (John 1:14; Col 3:16), we have no other way to partake of God’s divine nature as His children (1 Peter 1:4-7; 2 Peter 1:4-8). O what a privilege to become one with Jesus more and more by knowing Him experientially through His resurrection power flowing through us (Phil 3:10-11).

So after all the spiritual warfare, still those nagging fears were trying to torment me. This is when I completely surrendered to God and said to Him that the situation was becoming hopeless even after an intense time of spiritual warfare. Then I went to sleep that night with a heavy heart. Guess what happened in the morning? The moment I woke up, the first thought that came in to my mind was “He makes my feet to be like that of a deer’s feet”. Suddenly the problem I was having with my knees flashed for a moment and then the same verse came again. Then I realized that the Holy Spirit wants me to hold on to His promise for this problem that I was experiencing. I really had not read that verse for a long time or ever before have meditated upon it or even have not heard any sermon based on it. But I know that it is a promise. 

Thank God for the latest technologies of the word of God available in our cell phones. I did a word search immediately and found out that this verse was spoken by David in Ps 18:32-33 which says, "32 It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places." (Psa 18:33). Immediately I understood that God wanted to strengthen my knees and feet supernaturally from now on and a result of it will make me overcome this silly attack of the evil one. I began to understand that this promise of God quickened by the Holy Spirit will keep me in the high places of joy and peace supernaturally if I hold on to it from now on.

The Journey of Faith

Immediately I took the promise of God and faith began to soar in me. With the promise I rejoiced and ran like a deer literally empowered by the Spirit of God while ‘walking and praying’. Praise the Lord! I believe this is the same way great Old Testament men who were registered in the faith hall of fame walked as God moved in the same way to them too. First they faced insurmountable trails, and then they tried to handle it by their own strength until they reached hopelessness. When they hit the rock bottom they looked to God for survival. God gave those promises we see in the Bible to them and infused faith in to them to face their trials as they believed His personal word. In Old Testament days, the men of faith even though acted by faith and received a good testimony from God, God did not give them the promise of Spirit staying within them unconditionally forever like we do have Him now (Heb 11:39; 13:5-6; John 14:17). As the writer of the Book of Hebrews indicates, these great men and women, "33 …through faith ....obtained promises...out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." (Heb 11:34).

This is the journey of faith, first through faith one obtains the promises that God gives and then by holding on to it in spite of the natural circumstances which is full of weakness, that man or a woman of faith will be supernaturally strengthened by God from heaven every time the same problems pops up. The only difference between the OT saints and us NT believers is, they faced a physical enemy who empowered by Satan attacked them spiritually. But it is just the opposite to us believers in Christ Jesus, Satan and his demons are mainly a spiritual enemy who also try to manifest physically by inflicting us with sickness, sin or death, relationally make people to hate us, be jealous, be angry and persecute us openly for no valid reason, financially will try to depress us with poverty and socially try to isolate us in depression. This is the way the evil demonic hordes acts under Satan, neatly organized in pyramid hierarchy as principalities, powers and spiritual rulers of this age. Apostle Paul exhorts every believer to realize this spiritual warfare as the root cause of disturbances in their life and that they should learn to be thoroughly equipped with the full armor of God and wrestle effectively to defeat all these enemies by drawing effectively the power of God in their lives (Eph 6:12-13, 18, 10). I really praise God that He who has helped me start in this journey of faith will also help me to the finish line of victory (Phil 1:6). Now I am empowered supernaturally in my weakness by God and He is consistently making me valiant in my spiritual battle of knee pain, and He also perpetually makes me to shoo away the demonic armies by faith and confession of His promise. Praise the Lord!

Recent Discovery of the Same Promise which an Old Testament Prophet Clung on to

As I was continuing in the journey of faith, recently God wanted to give me a better understanding of the warfare I was going through. For some reason I thought about Habakkuk the minor prophet recently who also was going through similar circumstances in His life in which He did not see immediately the deliverance of the Lord from all the wickedness surrounding his life. God’s aim was to lift the prophet in to the high places of faith, which makes a person full of joy in spite of the circumstances that continues to remain unchanged in the natural (1 Peter 1:8).

The Holy Spirit guided me in to the last chapter of the hymn of faith that Habakkuk wrote as a song of victory over God’s enemies and their insidious scheme of wickedness, even when he did not see a single thing that God had spoken come to pass in his life. Yet when he wrote the song to the Chief Musician with stringed instruments to put the words in to tune, Habakkuk made a quality decision to rejoice in the Lord irrespective of the circumstances he was going through. In the same way for us who are New Testament believers Apostle Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord always irrespective of our circumstances we are going through and again he emphasized to do it without fail (Phil 4:4). My eyes got stuck at the last verse of this whole book. This is what the verse says, “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Hab 3:19)

Surprised!!!! The same verse that David spoke in Ps 18:33 when the deliverance of God came to him from all his enemies and from the hand of Saul, was suddenly quickened to the prophet by the Holy Spirit in the same way I told you it had happened to me. I was overjoyed. The same God who had spoken to His prophets speaks the same word again to us, in order that we may be quickened as over comers by faith in our generation (1 John 5:4). Jesus said, “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' " (Matt 4:4). Note the phrase “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. It implies that still in the now-realm God is continuing to speak His word from heaven and that God’s word is still proceeding even in our generation daily to the hearts which are quickened by the Holy Spirit in every part of this planet earth (Heb 12:25; John 16:13). As a result of those who believe His promises loyally in spite of seeing no tangible turnaround in their ordeal, to them, "…the eyes of the Lord go this way and that, through all the earth, letting it be seen [by all people] that he is the strong support of those whose hearts are true to him... " (2 Chronicles 16:9, BBE)

First when the prophet Habakkuk started his conversation with God he was troubled by the wicked people who succeeded in their evil works and people of God like himself sad, mad and full of self-pity for themselves because there was no change in their circumstances. He started this book by asking God, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ but ended with the understanding of the sovereign plan of God which was unfolding step by step even though he was not able to see it. When the prophet started writing the Book, hardly had he had any faith, but when he ended it he chose to rejoice in God and was full of faith. Nothing outside him changed, but everything inside him changed and he was a happy man in God.

Why a Deer’s Feet?

The phrase ‘hinds’/deer’s `feet’ is used in the Bible to denote an ability to overcome difficult challenges successfully (Psalm 18:33). A hind, which is a female red deer, is able to move quickly and easily across the rocks of a mountain, leaping from one rock to another without ever losing its footing. Thus the biblical verse means that God has inspired his believers and empowered them to overcome the obstacles which confront them, doing things that would otherwise be difficult or impossible without His divine aid. Also the Hind’s home is always the mountains. The rear feet of the hind step in precisely the same spot where the front feet have just been. Every motion of the hind is followed through with single-focused consistency, making it the most sure-footed of all mountain animals. Because God has promised that supernaturally He has made your feet to be that of a hinds’ feet; the hinds’ feet will equip you for the roughest terrain in your life to be crossed with ease, comfort and joy. In other words we can confidently say by faith, "I feel like I'm king of the mountain! I say this because God has made my feet like deer's feet, and as a result of it I am walking on my high hills full of peace, joy and confidence. [This prayer is for the song leader. Please put a melodious tune from the Lord accompanied by stringed instruments.]" (Hab 3:19, Paraphrased).

What can we learn from this, if we choose to rejoice in the Lord always we will not only be happy but will be filled by the power of God to face our circumstances triumphantly and be victorious in our every endeavor. It all depends whether we choose to look to God for strength like Habakkuk the prophet or sulk in to our own problems by dwelling in the fantasies of a sad and mad man’s wonderland, with a enigmatic question ‘why God why?’ sitting at the top of our head, thus making us be filled with self-pity, fretting and fuming. Truly as I trusted the Lord’s revelation, He started to strengthen my heart. His quickened word comes up again and again from my heart and empowers my feet like that of a deer’s feet. I praise the Lord for it. Now I choose to be loyally committed to Him in spite of not seeing any change in the circumstances of my ordeal that I go through. I know for sure the Lord is continuously working His eternal purposes in me and around me even though I may not be able to see it tangibly. But the Joy of the Lord has become my very strength through all the problems I face now, and as a result of it God has set me on spiritual high hills of joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (Hab 3:17-19; Neh 8:10; Rom 14:17)

I invite you too to join this exciting journey of faith in our generation, as you begin to walk daily and perpetually, you will come to a state where you shall not need anything more than experiencing this heavenly joy of walking in the journey of faith on this planet earth (Ps 23:1 6). Truly the Bible says, “For no Word [i.e. rhema in Greek] of God … [shall be] without power” (LK 1:37, Paraphrased from Original Greek). In the preceding verse, the meaning of the ‘Word’ in Greek is ‘rhema’ which means a word of the Bible quickened by the Holy Spirit and supplied as a personal promise to an individual, group or a situation. So learn to receive the personal promise of God and see the power of God flow perpetually in your life. This quickened word of God carries as much power as when it was spoken by God from the heavenly realm in the beginning (Ps 119:89; Gen 1:1). God is as much eager to fulfill the quickened word of God as it was first spoken by Him (Jer 1:12 2 Chron 16:9; Gen 1:1; John 1:1). Praise the Lord!!!


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