How to limit the unlimited God. “…they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps78:41) M.Henry says they limited Him to their way and their time. One can’t limit God in His wider purpose but one can limit His moving in their life. “Limited” means they circumscribed Him with bounds, virtually saying that there are some things which He cannot do; up to a certain point He has power, but after that He has not.(J-F-B) Yet, we continually long to see and experience what is beyond normal. Giving the limitless God full reign in one’s life may call for cooperating with measures and methods we have not thought normal.
Killing God’s Catalysts
by Kathy Gabler
Killing God’s Catalysts through rejection:
In Acts 6, Stephen was openly demonstrating the Kingdom with signs, wonders and miracles among the people. Rather than realizing that God was using this young man as a catalyst to continue the powerful changes that Jesus had begun, they were angered by this catalyst and decided to remove it. May God help us not to reject the catalysts for change He is raising up in 2012.
People who cannot connect the dots or those who intentionally reject God’s catalysts for change are dangerous. The human soul that is determined to defy God and desperate to be right, comfortable and undisturbed can, in the extreme, go so far as to consider false accusation and murder as fair and the right thing to do. Literally, the up-standing citizens that were upset with Stephen lied about him and then stoned him to death.
Forget the miracles, this young whipper-snapper was speaking against their lifestyle and their sacred places. He was threatening to tear it all down and CHANGE their institutions, customs and rituals that Moses had taught them. Acts 6:11, So they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speaking against Moses and against God!” He spoke against Moses, and oh yes, against God too! Moses, the temple, their customs were obviously their primary concern. Those things were ahead of God in their hearts and devotion. Their habits were more important than relationship or truth. Their habits were part of their comfort zone that they did not want disturbed. Their habits were part of their identity and self-image. To change them evidently implied fault or weakness in both.
Moses means “draw out, rescue.” They were determined to hold to the one they considered their historical agent of surviving, even when it was time to move on to the One who was their agent of thriving. I submit that is a paradigm we need to be wary of in 2012. If we are not willing to change as the Holy Spirit directs, we will merely be surviving rather than thriving. Surviving implies living with limitations and learning to be satisfied. Thriving implies growth, increase and maturing.
Killing God’s Catalysts through religious zeal:
In Judges 11, the Spirit of Jehovah came upon Jephthah to defeat the Ammonites. The anointing of God was the catalyst. However, Jephthah in his zeal of the moment vowed a vow unto Jehovah, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand, Jdg 11:31 then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be Jehovah’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt-offering.
The Spirit of The Lord had come upon him for the task. There was no requirement to respond with a bargain vow! And there certainly was no need for such a deadly vow. The words of this verse prove conclusively that Jephthah intended his vow to apply to human beings, not animals: for only one of his household could be expected to come forth from the door of his house to meet him. Jephthah evidently contemplated a human sacrifice. He was born in Syria where human sacrifice was likely common. “The Syrians and Phoenicians were conspicuous among the ancient pagan nations for human sacrifices, and the transfer to Yahweh of the same rites as false gods might be expected.” (Brown-Driver)
Then when he returned successful, Jephthah came to Mizpah unto his house; and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she wa
s his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. “Zealous religious reactions cut off his heritage completely. He was greatly distressed to think that his daughter, who was his only child, should be, in consequence of his vow, prevented from continuing his family in Israel; for it is evident that he had not any other child, for besides her, says the text, he had neither son nor daughter, Jdg 11:34. He might, therefore, well be grieved that thus his family was to become extinct in Israel.” (Brown-Driver) The real sad issue here is that he did not repent of the foolish vow. That is obvious because he believes it was his daughter who “brought him low” rather than his own action.
Jdg 11:35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me; for I have opened my mouth unto Jehovah, and I cannot go back. What could keep a man in a situation like this from repenting of a foolish vow instead of following through? While being a man of your word is commendable, standing behind foolish vows is not, and there was no wisdom in honoring his vow above the purpose of God in his heritage.
In 2012, may we realize that we are dangerous when we do not understand dominion so that we do not allow our words and actions to stir up consequences that misrepresent our God. What did the “heathen” nations think about Jehovah God because of this incident? It was not like Abraham where God was establishing a covenant and establishing trust through extreme obedience. Even that did not end in human sacrifice like the heathen gods required. This was not like the sacrificial Lamb of God who fulfilled the law to the ultimate to redeem all man had lost. Even that ended in resurrection life rather than death. That did not cut off heritage, it established generations forever!
Jephthah crossed the line between godly obedience to religious zeal to his loss. Fervor and zeal cannot attach to the mandate of God and bring its own holy results. Look at the diligence of those dedicated to false gods and ungodly causes. No matter how many times a day a Muslim bows, their pious patterns will not make Allah a real god. Their obligation will never become holy of itself nor ever become obedience which brings godly heritage. No matter how many times a witch rehearses an incantation, their diligence will not bring them protection from their demons or freedom from their deception. In 2012, may we not delay, disrupt or destroy God’s catalyst by adding empty, religious zeal.
Killing God’s catalyst with character:
In 2012, may we embrace God’s intent and instructions as our catalyst. At the same time, may we realize that the kryptonite to success is lack of cooperation in His sons; and the most common reason we are not ready to participate with God is because of the condition of our character.
Is it lack of training that leaves gaps in our character? Is it lack of healthy examples that weakens our character? Or does character corrupt in the breach between knowing the truth and living according to the truth we know? I think the latter is the heart of the matter. It moves the emphasis from lack and circumstance to diligence. We do not have to be perfect, but diligence is a requirement. The hand of the diligent will rule, Prov 12:24. (NKJ) In business or ministry or government or family or the local garden club, we do not suffer a downfall because of other people. Neither do circumstances cause us to fall. Opposition does not cause us to fall. We build our own path to downfall. Bad choices, emotional decisions, wrong priorities and self-focused agendas can cause us to fail, but a downfall comes from a breach of character.
Character, gifts and callings must needs be a three-fold cord in our lives. If our character does not reflect the Giver of the gifts and callings, there is a breach in our soul and an open door to destruction. I knew a preacher who had tremendous revelation and he powerfully preached it, but his adulterous life style opened his household to destruction. His wife lived in constant physical torment and his son lived in continual character-chaos as well as dangerous emotional extremes.
Saul was a man with a character breach. Whether his wrong beliefs flawed his character or his flawed character undermined his beliefs, I cannot say; but this king’s belief and value system was geared to bring him down because he did not truly fear God. There are three evidences of this in 1 Samuel, Chapter 15: 1) he feared man more than God, 2) he chose his own desires over obedience to God, and 3) he asked the prophet Samuel to honor him before the elders (in spite of his downfall), which was equivalent to asking God to do things his way just to make him look good. King Saul was obviously on the throne of Self as well as the throne of Israel and he was willing to pay any price to stay in his Saul-ish kingship. A man who truly feared God would not have set himself to war against God and His plan for Israel. Saul wanted to kill the would-be king, David, and was even willing to kill his own heir-apparent, Jonathan, to ensure that his throne not be shaken.
Saul’s breach of character was obviously a door to torment. And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him. 1 Sam 16:23 (NKJ) Saul’s mind, emotions and most likely his conscience were vulnerable to demonic disturbance. Although God did not cause the breach, neither did He guard the open door in Saul’s soul. God did however, intervene when Saul sought His presence. Saul could feel the difference God’s presence made, but it was still up to him to close the door. To repair the breach, Saul would have to humble himself and repent and give God the throne of his life as well as the throne of the nation.
As surely as Jonathan maintained strong, Godly character, King Saul stayed consistent in his lack thereof. In fact, I believe one of Saul’s greatest grinds was that Jonathan was a man of character instead of a chip off the old block! Saul’s selfish pride was bigger than his love for his son and big enough to take him down.
We don’t know when or why Saul decided that he was “all that and a sack of chips,” but we do know that pride will breach character. Perhaps being head and shoulders above everyone else made him feel superior. On perhaps, the other extreme, his fear of the people (1 Sam 15:24) was a sign of inferior feelings and deep insecurities, and pride became his antidote. Whatever his path to pride, it became his path to downfall. The word warns that pride comes before a fall and I think it is safe to say that big pride comes before a big fall. King Saul did not fear God and pride was his door to destruction.
Sometimes we forget that we are made in the image of our Creator God. So when we create our own monsters and our own downfall, we transfer the credit to God, the devil or someone else. That way we feel like a victim instead of a perpetrator. The problem is that if we are victims, we ignore our need to repent. Instead of changing, we sit in the ruins expecting God to do what we will not do ourselves. Saul could not find someone else to blame for the breaches of his soul and character, and neither can we.
In 2012, may we fear God and humble ourselves before Him that we will have the godly character to cooperate and not hinder His intent and instructions. May the year be marked by sons willingly participating in the changes necessary to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Though you walk in the midst of trouble, may the Lord revive you; May He stretch forth His hand against the wrath of your enemies, And may His right hand save you. The Lord will accomplish what concerns you. [Declare out loud that the Lord will accomplish what concerns you] Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. [Declare out loud that the Lord will not forsake the works of His hands] (Taken from Ps 138:7-8)