Please pray – Lord God, thank you for Your light in our life and guiding us on the narrow path. Thank you for keeping us safe from the snares of the enemy. Lord, forgive for our iniquities; I ask that you release the Holy Spirit to help us with the knowledge to understand Your Word and hear Your voice clearly. Job 22:22 “Please receive instruction from His mouth and establish His words in your heart”…in Jesus name, Amen.
As a matter of fact, some may not realize there was a secret disciple name Joseph, a rich and prominent council member and the uncle of the Virgin Mary. Joseph believed Jesus was the Messiah but because of his status among Jewish leaders, he felt he had to keep it a secret. He was afraid of them for the same reason Peter denied Christ— that they would be killed also. Because of Joseph (with the aid of Nicodemus), and in spite of the Jewish officials organizing Jesus’ body to be buried with the “wicked”, Jesus was laid in a wealthy man’s tomb wrapped in the finest scents and herbs and had an honorable funeral. The prophecy was written 700 years before the actual event took place:
Isaiah 53:9 And they made His grave with the wicked—but (translated “and”) with the rich at His death…
This is well versed in the Old Testament, Isaiah anticipated the reign of the promised Messiah and how he would be buried. The secret disciple followed the teachings of Jesus and became good friends with Him. Hello to all of you. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and receiving the word God has for us today. Allow me to start by saying, it’s been very clear to me who is guiding the “pen” (as it were). There is so much I wanted to talk about with the research I’ve done on Joseph, but this is not my format, this belongs to God so let’s see where He takes us on this one, shall we?
Receiving a message from the Holy Spirit is not a burning bush kind of synopsis; there is preparation to be done before the message will be delivered by the Spirit.
Exodus 19:10-11The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
That is God telling Moses to go get the people ready for a word from the Creator. God is so good the way He guides the research and opens my eyes while ministering to us all; the process in which He moves fascinates me.
One of the challenges that is common to our human condition is going through time periods when we feel disconnected to God. Such ‘seasons’ may be described as a ‘wilderness’ because we feel spiritually dry and lifeless, or like being in a ‘fog’ because everything seems less clear and it’s hard to see what’s ahead. Even though I had been disconnected for lengthy times in the past, I think a lesser degree of disconnect is more commonly felt by many more of us and in fact we’ll all face seasons when we feel less connected to God. This shouldn’t surprise any of us, all relationships go through times where intimacy flows more or less naturally. How much more should we expect the connection to be a challenged, when it’s between an infinite God and limited mortal beings? This was the case with me just recently.
Throughout history there have been many heroic characters that experienced disconnection. (By no comparison), Mother Teresa wrote in her diary, “I wandered the streets the whole day. My feet are aching, and I have not been able to find a home. And I also get the Tempter telling me, ‘Leave all this, go back to the convent from which you came.” She found her home, and the rest is history. The Missionaries of Charity feeds 500,000 families a year in Calcutta alone, treats 90,000 leprosy patients annually, and educates 20,000 children every year. (Source: CNN)
Psalm 13:1-6 1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4 And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Many times the most passionate people will face the deepest sense of pain and disconnection. But there is wisdom to be revealed from this, the understanding that God was bigger than our feelings. It’s important to recognize what the very word “feel” implies, it is something about us, more than God. By nature the feeling of disconnection is influenced by personal feelings or opinions and may not reflect anything about reality.
Philip 1:6 (NIV) I am ‘confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
Our feelings do not reflect where God is, however, they do reflect where we are in our condition (or state of mind). Something is not allowing us to experience the flow of God’s Spirit. There are three common causes that effect our sense of connection with God.
1. Lack of a clear tangible experience for faith.
Noah is a good example. With ‘blind’ faith he built the arc and saved his family. He truly lived by faith, to what he could not see but believed and because of that he was connected to God. Too often there is little that we are attempting for God, based on “blind” active faith, that says, “Wow, here goes, You better be real”. Because of the lack of “active” faith, the place where we experience this connection is losing its grounding and we feel less connected. This all can be a product by the lack of testing our faith or a time of ‘overload’ where we get stuck in the “functional mode” (day to day stresses), such as becoming consumed by a remodeling project or just the lifestyle of parenting. It’s time for the soul to catch up. From time to time we need to revitalize our faith by exercising God’s calling.
2. Failed expectations (Disappointment with God, others or self)
We all deal with life’s ups and downs; debt, sickness, failures, broken promises and a large dose of uncertainties. Friends we thought we could count on disappoint us and we in turn disappoint those whom we say we love. Those who have accepted Jesus have accepted His grace, forgiveness and His freedom. You know the peace that comes with that, yet, some of the issues in our past still reach up and distract or in some cases consume us. Some of the emotional affects from those hurts, and pains can be overwhelming at times. When Jesus came out of the grave, rose from the dead, there was new life. But he carried with him the imprints of the nails in his hands and his feet and the spear thrust into his side. There was new life, but old wounds. In the story of Lazarus, Jesus received criticism for not being with his friend before he died. Telling Him if He had been there he wouldn’t have died. What do we do when God doesn’t meet our expectations? We could show how self-centered we are or we can adjust our perceptions, and how this adjustment involves our intimacy with God.
3. Sin – Actions and Attitude
Obviously, active sin or addiction is more common but what is far more dangerous to our connection with God are attitudes. Attitude of self centeredness, suspicion, disbelief, doubt or contempt are far more disconnecting and last longer because it is less recognized and turned away from. We are still in this world and we take on the attitude of this world. Sin can drive a wedge between us and God and He will seem distant. Sin that remains unconfessed to God makes intimacy impossible.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The key is to recognize it. We can walk a thousand miles away from God and find He is one step away. Confess your sins to God and He will restore the joy of your relationship with Him.
Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Friends, this is the reason for me having to erase a four page message. I fell back to my old ways for a brief moment and the spirit of guilt was overwhelming. I felt my connection with Him was lost and the enemy tried to convince me that I was and my actions severed my connection. I couldn’t hear Him like I have before while writing. I was walking in the dark trying to adjust my vision to see my way through the message. I began to feel like a hypocrite by going into a place where I had been fed the Word so many times before. My spirit shouted, “I recognize you spirit of deception!” I thought, you would have me believe God doesn’t want me back in here and find His grace. Moving with faith as my guide God gave me the passage and the revelation to defeat the spirit of deception. I only had to wait on Him to lead me and then show me where He was. I needed to quiet my spirit and tell the enemy he has lost another battle.
Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. During winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while he was working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully moving through the sawdust, but couldn’t find it. His friends and fellow workers tried searching also, but their efforts were of no help. A small boy who heard about the hopeless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and shortly afterwards walked out with the watch. Amazed at the boy’s accomplishment, the men asked him how he found it.
He said, “I closed the door and laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I could hear the watch ticking.” Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear. (Story by — Phillip Gunter in Fresh Illustrations).
I have learned that the wilderness is part of the landscape of faith, and every bit as essential as the mountaintop. On the mountaintop we are overwhelmed by God’s presence. In the wilderness we are overwhelmed by his absence. Both places should bring us to our knees; the one, in awe and the other, in total dependence.
Please pray with me – Lord God, thank you for Your message today. Forgive me Father for slipping back into my old self. I ask with a humbled heart that You use this message as a blessing in me and may it be a way to help someone that needs Your favor in their life. Thank you Lord for teaching me the danger in losing sight of You and to know You are not far away from me should I falter, slip or fall. Lord allow me to be still long enough to hear Your voice and then be obedient to Your will, in Jesus name. Amen and Amen.