|April 14, 2014 - Resurrection Message
Meeting God in the Valley
For many years, I have been asking the question, "Why do we face so many challenges in life, even as Christians?" The next question to ask is, "How many of us calling ourselves Christians practice obeying God when he speaks?" Our present generation is no different from the generation of the children of Israel, perhaps far worse.
In the year 2013, I faced so many deaths of people very close to me. I was emotionally devastated because of these loses. One of the good things that came out of watching Christians die is my loss of fear of death. I learned that truly there is a better life beyond death. However, I want to make sure I live a God directed life on this planet so I can enjoy eternal life on planet Heaven with Jesus. This earthly life is therefore a preparation to live in Heaven.
God of the Mountain is the God of the Valley
To some of us that are still on planet earth in the physical realm, we will continue to face challenges because of our stubbornness to follow Gods instructions. Other times we just face tribulation because this is part of the package of blessings following Jesus. These challenges should be expected and Jesus said we should rejoice when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. No matter what places us in the valley during the storms, the important lesson is to meet with God, hear his voice and obey his instructions. If we refuse to obey him, then we deserve more crises of life that we encouraged to come upon us. The same thing happened to the children of Israel. When they refused to be obedient to God, more calamities came upon them in the wilderness on their way to the promise land.
Today, by the time many of us spend many times in the wilderness of life during great storms, some have given up. Others will even walk away from God. Our negative responses to the storms do not change Gods intentions just because we refuse to understand the significance of the storms. One of the primary intentions of the storm is for personal transformation. I have never seen people who love storms to come and beat up on them. Many of us will love to avoid storms. But the storms of life are inevitable, no matter our perceptions of the damaging effects of the storm. When the storm comes, we tend to worry more about the damage, not even realizing what the storm brings. The same storm that blows things away will bring blessings to us. Can we recognize the blessings in the valley? Hyper-emotionalism in the valley in response to the storms may prevent us from identifying the blessings. The devil tends to use human negative emotional reactions to situations as the tools for distraction.
Many of us love to celebrate the God of the mountain. There is always jubilation inside the church when people get job promotions, pass exams, get healed of diseases, and be triumphant over challenges of life. When do we celebrate going through the storms? Yet meeting God on top of the mountain of celebration is not as transforming as meeting God in the valley of painful crises. The same God of the mountain is the same God in the valley. Like the children of Israel going through the wilderness, all of us will experience walking through the wilderness of life and the storms associated with the valley experiences.
Hearing God in the Wilderness
Going through the storm is not as important as learning to hear the voice of God in the storms. At times, we allow our emotional response to get the best of us in crisis situation. Instead of paying attention to God, we bury our heads in the sand of despair waiting for the storms to blow over. Once the storm is over, then we come out of our shells because we are afraid of seeing the destructions by the storms. We do not consider that while the storm is boisterous, here comes the "storm walker" names Jesus. To some people, the Storm Walker passed by and they would not see Him. Even his disciples could not recognize him because they have not received their allocation of the GPS at that time. Once they received their GPS from the Lord Jesus, they were able to recognize him whichever ways he came through. The GPS is "God Positioning Satellite" called the Holy Spirit. He does not use any batteries, and never runs out of power. The Holy Spirit works through the unquenchable spiritual energy of God. The key therefore to hearing the voice of God in the wilderness is whether we allow our GPS to be functional, or we turn it off. Some people get angry and turn off their GPS by quenching the Holy Spirit. Then they wonder why they cannot hear the voice of God in the storms. Before we are given GPS through Jesus, we must know him. How can you identify the voice of a person you dont know?
Many times people will say, "Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship." Any time preachers say this, they must always explain what a relationship with Jesus is, and how to cultivate that relationship. Many people call themselves Christians, yet they dont have a relationship with Jesus. They dance on Sundays during church services, laugh to preachers jokes, shed a couple of tears, and pretend as if they are praying. Yet, these people are not saved because they have no personal relationship with Christ. Because of lack of intimate relationship with Christ, many of these Christians suffer from chronic fear, anxiety and depression. I pray that preachers can explain to the church members what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
The best way to explain knowing Jesus is similar to the way we build relationship with people. For example if a man likes a woman, he will be looking for all kinds of ways to get to speak to her. If she responds, then they start talking. Eventually they may go on a date. Dating years ago is not about dating today. Dating years ago is getting to know the person. Today, people date because they want to have cheap sex. Get her excited so she can get emotional, drop her panties and worry about the consequences later. This is a recipe for dating disaster. This is how some women ended up picking a serial killer for a date. Do you know the man prior to dropping your panties? In relentless search for pleasure, some people will place themselves in danger!
The same way we build up relationship with people in the earthy realm whether we want true relationship, or looking for physical pleasure, is similar to the way of building relationship with the Lord. The difference is, we build romantic relationship starting from the physical. With Christ, we start building the relationship in the Spirit realm of God and has very little to do with the physical. The physical part is our daily activities in reading the Word of God, praying, and meditating on the Word. In the process of building our faith, we learn to trust in the Lord Jesus and accept him as our personal savior. The greatest part of the building happens in the spiritual realm where we learn to open our hearts and receive the love of God through Christ. The moment we open our hearts to receive the love of God, that is the moment we make a spiritual connection. In the earthly realm with people, we call this a soul tie. With Christ, it is a spiritual connection.
Although God can meet with anybody and talk to anybody, but if a person wants to continuously hear the Voice of God, that person must establish a relationship with Christ. During the wilderness moments of life with the help of the GPS and relationship with Christ, we can easily hear the voice of God the loudest in the midst of the storms. Dancing in the church and sitting in the pews while listening to Sunday sermons are part of the rituals leading us to the presence of the Lord. Those rituals by themselves are not relationship, but rituals. Without a worshipping heart, whatever we do is a waste of time. When the human spirit connects in the Spirit realm of God, that is when we connect with the Lord.
What Happened in the Valley
Many of us will go through storms in life. Perhaps as you are reading this segment, you may be going through a storm, or coming out of one. Storm is part of life. Experiencing the storm is not what matters as much as what happens to us in the valley. Is the storm able to bring us to a point of surrender to God? Is the storm able to make us better or bitter? The prostitute in the house of Simon the Pharisees reached the final point of her brokenness when she clung to the feet of Jesus weeping and asking for forgiveness. She knew what she was doing was wrong for selling her body to make money. Prior to coming to this point, she had to realize she was a sinner in need of forgiveness. She opened her heart to receive the love of God into her heart. Christ love transformed her in the valley because instead of a hardened heart she was able to open the window of her heart to receive Gods love.
In the past, I have been confronted by many women who said, "I took care of him while he was going through the storms of his life, after he came out of it, he turned on me." We sometimes forget, the person who enters the storm is not the same person who comes out. I try to advise people to never fall in love in the valley. Because as soon as the person comes out of the valley, he does not want to be treated as the person in the valley. He has been transformed either, for better or for worse. He is a different person!
"Call me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me" (Psalm 50:15).
Moment of Brokenness
At times the storm may become very unbearable while we are in the valley. This can be a very dangerous moment in life. Such time is when people make wrong decisions, they may spend the rest of their lives regretting. As long as we continue to look at our own strength or react with negative human emotions, we become overwhelmed. When the burden becomes too unbearable, the best thing to do is what Moses did in the wilderness in the book of Numbers Chapter 11.
Moses was confronted by the children of Israel to give them some meat to eat. They were tired of eating the Coriander seeds called Manna. They no longer want to eat sweet grapes; they wanted some steak. Moses was so overwhelmed by this request; he made his request and filed a complaint with God like he had always done. This time Moses criticism of God was a little hash.
"Why have you afflicted your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you have laid the burden of all these people on me?" (Number 11:11).
Moses was angry with God because he felt responsible for the people in the wilderness. He was blaming God for the emotional attacks he was receiving from the people. Like many of us today, Moses had problems with negative emotions.
"Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that you should say to me, Carry them on your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child, to the land which you swore to their fathers?" (Number 11:12).
Moses continued in his anger that he did not give birth to these people. He was making God to realize that he was the one who fathered them, not him Moses. Why, then was he left in the wilderness to cater for them like he would his own children? Evidently Moses was in emotional distress at this time and taking his frustration off on God.
"Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, Give us meat, that we may eat" (Number 11:13).
Undoubtedly Moses was angry with God. He questioned him where he was going to find meat for the people in the wilderness to feed them. God must be a very patient God. But Moses did not stop, his emotional binge continued.
"I am not able to bear all these people alone because the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, please kill me here and now, if I found favor in your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness!" (Number 11:14-15).
At this time, Im sure God already realized that Moses was very distraught. He became despondent and suicidal. He asked God to kill him because he did not want to see his own failure in satisfying the children of Israel. Wow!
Many times when we are in the middle of the storms, we want an easier way out. Some people choose suicide like Moses was asking for. God did not grant his foolish wish because God the Father knew Moses was riding on the roller coaster of negative emotions. Moses was in a state of emotional brokenness. Shepherds need to be careful when they get angry. Such anger may bring curses upon the congregation. That was exactly what happened to the children of Israel. God responded to Moses in three different ways. First, God called a news conference, he instructed Moses to elect 70 elders to be the officers over the people, and God performed a miracle that shocked even Moses.
When God Calls a Press Conference
Many times while the children of Israel were walking through the wilderness, God would ask Moses to call a news conference when he wanted to talk directly to the people. This occasion where Moses was so distraught, it called for the appearance of the boss, similar to what happens on the job. In the earthy realm, when employees started to fight the manager over certain policies, he goes and gets the head of the department or the CEO to come and explain the policy to the people. In many of the situations, the boss over the managers will explain the new policy giving his support to the managers. Similarly, in this situation God, the CEO of Heavens, realized Moses had lost confidence in himself. God decided to give him some support by giving Moses some help. God was going to come down himself to speak to the people. Prior to Gods arrival, he asked Moses to select 70 elders.
God descended in a cloud like always over the tabernacle of meeting. He took the Spirit that he gave to Moses and transferred it to the 70 elders. In clarification, God did not take Moses human spirit away from him. He did not take away the divine Spirit he gave to Moses either. However, God came down split the mantle Spirit he gave Moses into 70 Spirits giving each to the 70 elders. This is not the first time this happened when Moses needed help. Similar incident happened when Moses father-in-law told him he had placed too much burden on himself judging the people alone. Jethro explained to Moses, he needed some help because he was wearing himself and the people out. So Moses listened to the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law. He elected Judges to help him govern the people and bear the burden of judging the children of Israel (Exodus 18:13-27).
Prior to God coming down, he told Moses to consecrate the people and prepare them for his appearance. God also told Moses that he would give the people meat to eat, not for one day, but for 30 days. Moses at this point started to doubt God. He questioned how he was going to feed the people with steak in the wilderness. Again, Moses placed question before God.
"The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot, yet you have said, I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month. Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them" (Number 11:21-22).
At this point during this press conference with God, Moses challenged God where he was going to get enough meat in the wilderness to feed the over six hundred thousand men not even including women and children. Many times when we are subdued by human negative emotions, we start to doubt God and what he can do. God then responded to Moses.
"And the Lord said to Moses, has the Lords arm been too shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not" (Number 11:23).
God then challenged Moses to wait and see who was going to be right, whether Moses or him. God was ready to perform a miracle, even Moses doubted him. When we are under the burden of negative emotions, we tend to question or doubt God.
"Now a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quail (birds) from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a days journey on this side, and about a days journey on the other side, all the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground" (Number 11:31).
In this contest between God and Moses, God won. I believe God already knew what he was going to do when he told Moses he would give them meat and they would eat and it would be coming out of their nostrils. Many of the children of Israel died with the meat ganging in their teeth. Be careful what you ask for from God. Today, we live in a society driven by fleshly desires. "As long as it feels good, just do it!" Sadly, in addition to people identifying themselves by their professions, they also identify themselves by the pleasure they engage, even if such is illicit desire. The children of Israel died in this incident because of their fleshly cravings.
"So he called the place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to cravings" (Number 11:34).
If a person defines him or herself by desires, rather what God says, such a person bears the burden of the calamities that may come. When we break away from Gods desires and want to do our own thing, we may pay a painful price. It is called "death by human desires," just like it happened in the Garden of Eden.
In this journey of life, the critical lesson is for people to let God lead them to his purpose. I have encountered some people in the ministry who want to instruct God how to do his business. We think it is our job to tell God what to do. Surrendering to God is very important while we are going through the valley experience in the storms of life. As we learn to surrender to God, we ask him to achieve his purpose through us. We therefore get spiritually stronger walking in the Spirit of God.
Coming Out of the Wilderness A New Beginning
When we come out of the wilderness is the time for a new beginning and a new day! Im always very thrilled for the emergence of a new year. I know if I have done many things wrong in the present or previous years, I have the opportunity to try again. I can right the wrong I made, or at least try to avoid the same mistakes. End of year is also the time I count my blessings one by one and give glory to God. Similarly, when we come out of the valley, it is time to begin again. In the process of starting over, we should be energized and do not allow the disasters of yesteryears to cripple us.
We either allow the valley experiences to transform us, or we allow them to make us very bitter. There is no dangerous animal as a wounded beast. People are the same. Most of the serial killers fit the profile of wounded animals. Human triumph over life tragedies is to learn to rise again from the ashes of destruction, and resurrect into victory with Christ.
Once we come out of the valley, Jesus has set us free. "And he that the Son of man set free is free indeed." No people can appreciate God of the mountain until they meet the same God and his magnificence power in the valley.
"Yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou are with me. Your rod and you staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).
By Yinka Vidal, Author of From Brokenness to Healing: Journey of a Wounded Soul - due for release in summer 2014
Follow me on Twitter: @YinkaVidal
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