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Monthly Encouraging Words

 Barbara Fiscus, M.A., CCLC  |  February, 2021

Sometimes faith feels like a game with no clock and no scoreboard. There’s nothing to tell you how much longer you have left to play, and nothing to assure you that you’re on the winning team. It is even difficult, at times, to know who your teammates are, as you sense doubt and disbelief from unexpected sources. This tends to cause the most internal damage, as it digs away at your confidence and plants seeds of self-doubt. Sometimes you become so disheartened and exhausted you are tempted to forfeit, just for the relief.

 

Then you think of your coach. It’s one thing to accept personal defeat, but another thing entirely to risk the stain to his reputation. The performance of his players brings either honor or criticism to his name. So you press in, driven less by your determination than by your loyalty to someone you esteem more than yourself. You have heard of seemingly impossible victories, so you hold tightly to that hope, throw caution to the wind, and reclaim your stance.

 

That’s the gritty reality of faith sometimes. It’s an against-all-odds, against-all-mockery, and against-all-self-doubt persistence to stand.

 

A while back, I spoke a bold word of faith to an acquaintance who responded: “I just don’t see it.” He wasn’t being rude; he was simply expressing his doubt based on the outward appearance of a situation. I understand that and have been there many times myself. Maybe that’s why it took so little time of rehearsing his skepticism before I began to feel embarrassed. Then something shifted and I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s why it’s called faith!” Believing for something you can see takes no faith at all. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV, emphasis mine).

 

I think when people think of faith, they often see a pretty, cursive, stained-glass word on a church window. But true faith is often scuffed up and bloody, bruised and ugly from being kicked and spat upon. Faith doesn’t look like a champion, but it is. Faith clings to hope when things look hopeless. It dares to believe the unbelievable. It is risky and seemingly foolish. But when the anticipated breakthrough eventually comes, I think faith must have the most fun at the party. The exultation of those who finally see with their eyes what their hearts had shown them must be one of the greatest highs we can have.

 

Why do I say all of this? Because there seems to be a growing number of people these days who have lost faith--faith in America, faith in good triumphing over evil, faith in their dreams, or their friends or their family or even God. People are tired and confused. They feel defeated and cheated. They have been tormented with bad news upon bad news from a media that is literally hell-bent on promoting fear and disunity.

 

The devil has an agenda he’s been working on backstage for some time, but his plot and characters have come front-and-center, especially over the past year. He has gotten so brazen he’s not even hiding anymore. Unfortunately, many people are so entranced by the script that they still don’t see things clearly. However, I believe that will change over the coming months. I believe the lights on the stage are about to shift and things that have been lurking in the shadows will be revealed.

 

I heard a man say recently that only two nations in the world have a covenant relationship with God; Israel was founded on God’s love for its people, but America was founded on its people’s love for God. Whether or not it’s true that our country has this exclusive claim, the prophecies I have heard convince me that God has great plans for America, and we have reason to be very hopeful for our collective future. This glory will span the globe, but it is my understanding that it will start in the United States.

 

That said, there are obviously many things happening that, in the natural, don’t appear very promising at all. Then again, things didn’t look good either for Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43), or Jesus Himself. In all of these cases, hope appeared dead. But in each, God brought forth life from death, thereby glorifying Himself and filling people with a new level of faith and boldness. Jesus told the mourners at Jairus’ house, “[she] is not dead but sleeping” (Mark 5:39, ESV). And about Lazarus, He said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4, ESV). It is when all appears dead that the miracle of new life is most apparent. Hope may have been sleeping, but the Great Awakening has begun!

 

Despite the enemy’s best effort to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), God’s remnant is very much alive and has even become bolder. The body of Christ is being multiplied as people are running from the dark and into the light. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (ESV). I have heard reports of thousands of healings and salvations. God is moving on hearts in every sector of society, and I believe His angels are warring for justice and righteousness in America and around the world.  

 

In the last two editions of my Monthly Encouraging Word, I referred to the stories in both Exodus 14 and 2 Chronicles 20 and pointed out parallels between the two. Exodus 14 is the account of God’s deliverance of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea, while 2 Chronicles 20 tells of the deliverance of Jehoshaphat and his army. Since both have been highlighted in recent prophecy, I decided to go back and study them again, this time paying particular attention to the specific instructions given to the people, both by God and His chosen leaders.

 

In Exodus 14, Moses gave the frightened Israelites three directives: “Fear not;” “stand firm;” and “see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you.” Then he encouraged them: “the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again;” and “the LORD will fight for you.” Finally, he added: “you have only to be silent” (v. 13-14, ESV). In short, his message was: don’t be afraid, be steadfast, watch and be quiet.

 

When Moses finished speaking, God instructed him, “tell the people of Israel to go forward” (v. 15). While He intended to fight the Egyptians on His own, God wanted both Moses and His people to actively demonstrate their trust in Him. He told Moses, “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” Then He added, “And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them.” God didn’t explain to Moses how He would defeat their enemy; He only said He would “get glory” and “the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (v. 16-18). There is no way Moses could have known what God had planned. But that was irrelevant. He trusted God at His word and was faithful to obey. Likewise, at Moses’ command, the people of Israel literally stepped out in faith into the middle of the newly-divided sea, with walls of water standing up on both sides of them! Can you imagine how terrifying that must have been? Sometimes faith involves taking a risk bigger than your courage can handle when you trust your leader more than your fear.

 

In 2 Chronicles 20, the prophetic words given to Jehoshaphat and his people as the armies of three different nations were coming against them were similar to those given to the Israelites: “Do not be afraid;” and “the battle is not yours but God’s.” And then, here it is again: “go down against them” (v. 15-16, ESV, emphasis mine). While God assured them of His intention to resolve the situation Himself, He still required an act of faith. Jehoshaphat had earlier admitted to God, “we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us” (v. 12). How frightening to actually pursue an enemy you know could easily overpower you! Yet the prophet gave them the same basic message that Moses had given the Israelites: “You will not need to fight;” “Stand firm, hold your position;” and “see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf” (v. 17). Again, God did not specify how He was going to save them; He wanted them to trust Him and to step out in faith.

 

I recently heard a prophet say that God will defeat the powers of darkness but He needs men and women to stand with Him who know that their God will not let them down. That sounds a lot like the messages given to Moses and Jehoshaphat: God will fight for us, but He wants us to “stand firm” (Exodus 14:13 and 2 Chronicles 20:17, ESV). This pastor also urged people to “get off the fence,” saying “the devil owns the fence.” There is so much truth in that! Isn’t that what we often do? We try to straddle an issue in an effort to avoid committing to one side or the other, as though being neutral somehow keeps us safe. But that’s not safety at all! That’s choosing to love ourselves more than we love God, or fearing man more than we fear God. And that’s a very dangerous place to be! The devil loves our indecision. He loves our unwillingness to be loyal to Jesus. But it’s time to be sold out. “Getting off the fence” is also a call to put our faith into action, to step out and be bold.

 

God’s word says, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV). He is looking to strengthen those who follow Him faithfully. He doesn’t require perfection, but devotion. We need to be diligent about filling our eyes and ears with faith-affirming messages to the point that it overflows out of our mouths. Speaking boldly is a first step of faith; it builds others up and tears our enemy down. It is getting off the fence. There is no neutrality in this game. Ultimately, there are only two teams and one winner; it is critically important we choose sides wisely.

 

This applies to both the long game and the short game. It is obviously critical to be on Jesus’ team for eternity, but we also should be actively engaged in the game now. Our Coach has spoken to many of His prophets regarding His plans for America. He said He will uproot evil, establish righteousness and justice, and bring glory to His name. We can trust God to do His part, but I believe He is also looking for to us to do ours--to show our loyalty by stepping out in faith, risking the criticism of the crowd in order to bring glory to Him when the victory occurs. Then--when it does--we will all rejoice. We can hold our trophies of faith, grateful that God showed Himself strong through us (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV), enabling us to “stand firm” so we could see with our own eyes “the salvation of the LORD on [our] behalf” (2 Chronicles 20:17, ESV).

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