Drowning?

Julia

(FreeImages.com/Irina Martynuk)

There are moments and even seasons in our lives when we feel like we are drowning — when life feels overwhelming.

I remember one of those moments a few months ago.  A situation had occurred that threatened to steal my peace and joy.

One morning, I awoke literally feeling as if waves were hitting me, and I was at risk of drowning.  The storm of my situation was overwhelming me.  I heard God speak very strongly to my heart: “Look at me!”  I still was too overwhelmed by “wave” after “wave” of emotional pain to look up.  Two more times, I heard God speak very firmly to my heart: “Look at me.”  The tone was more firm than I typically hear.  It was the tone of how a father might speak to a child that is terrified and losing control.  It was a tone of firm and loving authority.  His third call to me was finally the “lifeline” I needed to begin to look up.

I then asked God, “What do you want me to see?”  He immediately answered me with a picture of Him hanging on the cross.  I asked Him, “What more do I need to know about the cross?”

Circumstances in life can quickly descend upon us with an unanticipated fury, and depending on our position in relation to our view of those circumstances, we can quickly be swept “overboard” and drown in the “waves.”

A few months ago, God reminded me how the Israelites were brought to an impossible situation when escaping the Egyptians.  They were in a narrow valley, surrounded by steep mountain cliffs, trapped between the pursuing Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on the other side.  Their obvious choices were to either die by the sword or die by drowning.

Exodus 14

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the seaon dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

God did the miraculous and parted the Red Sea!  What was impossible suddenly was possible!  Where there was no way, God made a way.  The Israelites didn’t have to choose the least horrible method of dying.  God gave them an entirely new solution!

I find it fascinating that so often what we see in the Old Testament, we see in a bigger and more incredible measure in the New Testament!

In the New Testament, we have the story of the disciples on a boat on the Galilee Sea when they see the figure of a man walking towards them on the water.  Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus… on the water!!!  The Biblical account then goes on to say that Peter began to see the wind and began to drown.  Jesus immediately comes to Peter, and Peter is able to safely return to the boat.

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What I found interesting is that before Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he was able to walk on water!!!  It was only after he began to focus on the wind and waves that he began to drown.  It wasn’t that Peter’s circumstances changed; it’s that his perspective changed.  His position then changed in relation to his perspective: he began to sink.  Instead of walking on water, which speaks of authority, he began to succumb to the water and drown.

What stood out to me was that in the Old Testament, God parted the waters so the Israelites could walk through the sea without it touching them.  In the NT, Peter had authority/position above the waters.  He walked on the waters.  His position was based on His “view” or relationship to Jesus.  

What so profoundly spoke to me is that in Jesus, we are “positioned” to walk above our circumstances, meaning to have authority over them.  I know this can be quickly misunderstood, but we have authority in Jesus as His sons and daughters to “walk” above our circumstances and to not be victim to them.  

How?

We keep our eyes on Jesus.  We understand our position in Him — that we are not victims, but we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”

At the cross, Jesus won for us all that He is and has.  We are no longer helpless and hopeless.  We are positioned in Jesus to be victorious!!!

 

How Understanding Our Position Secures Our Victory

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/conqueror-1410207)

As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to walk in victory and freedom — in Christ!  So often though, we do the opposite.  Why is that?

I believe it’s because we don’t understand our position in Christ.  We lose perspective, and we begin to falter.

The truth is quite simple.

We are overcomers because He overcame!

Our position is in Christ, and as such, we inherit what He has! 

Jesus said the disciples should get excited that their names were registered in heaven, because that meant the grounds of their authority were secured through God’s throne — His kingdom — and that’s why the power of hell could not prevail against them.

— Jack Hayford

We can speak with “authority” so long as we are speaking His words.

We can walk in confidence, which means in faith, because He is completely trustworthy.

The following verses are some great words of encouragement, reminding us of who we are in Him and what we have in Him:

Ephesians 1:14

14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:18

18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Colossians 1:12

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Hebrews 1:4

having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 9:15

15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

1 Peter 1:3-4

A Heavenly Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Let’s walk in the victory Christ won for us and in faith because Faithful is He who called us!

When We All Need To Feel Victorious

Meribel-Mottaret ski resort, French Alps, France

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=3486745&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=359)

I recently read the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi” in the book, The Names Of God, by Marilyn HIckey.  This name means “The Lord, My Banner of Victory.”

I absolutely loved this section because it was exactly what I needed to believe.  A few weeks ago, I had recently experienced one of those mountain-top experiences that left me experiencing new “freedom” in my spiritual walk and greater peace and joy.

Then after days and weeks, my old nature and the lies began to increase in volume to my ears.  It’s not that they actually had increased, but I began to “hear” them “louder.”  (See blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.)

Being aware of this struggle, I knew that I was called to “slow down”, if that’s possible, in my outside activities and to saturate myself in God’s Word, prayer time, godly music, and reading excellent devotionals.

So began my reading of the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi.”

In the following paragraphs are direct quotes:

“When you look at your image in Christ Jesus, you must look only at the image that is victorious! I don’t know what your weaknesses are, but I know that Jesus can overcome them to make you a victor and a conqueror.  God’s Word says that Jesus always causes us to triumph in Him.  (See II Cor. 2:14).  You must see yourself as being only in Him!  Without Him, you can do nothing; but with Him, all things are possible.

…After the Lord gave the Israelites manna, they traveled on to a place called Rephidim.  At Rephidim, there was no water at all, and the people thirsted terribly … The people said, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

The Lord certainly was among them.  He told Moses to strike a rock in the land of Horeb (which means ‘fresh inspiration’), and it brought forth enough water to quench the multitude’s thirst.

The New Testament tells us that the Rock that provided water in the wilderness represented Christ. (See I Cor. 10:4.)

… Generations after this incident at Rephidim,… King Saul was commissioned to wipe the Amalekites off the face of the earth.  But King Saul’s greed got the best of him, and he disobeyed God.  It is interesting to note that, in the end, an Amalekite killed Saul. Why?  Because he spared what he should not have spared. What the devil tries to put in your life must be conquered and destroyed.  If you don’t kill it, it may return and kill you.

…The word for banner actually means a ‘glistening pole or ensign, a standard, or a miracle.’  The banner or ‘standard’ represented God’s cause.  It was a symbol of His deliverance and mighty salvation that caused His people to be victorious over their enemies.

Jehovah Nissi is the Lord — Israel’s banner and your banner, Israel’s victory and your victory.  Who is Jehovah Nissi He is ‘the Lord our Victory’!

...As long as you say, ‘God is the victorious One in my life,’ you will be on top of your circumstances.  But when you drop your hands and say, ‘I’m defeated; the devil has me down,’ you can count on defeat.  Focus your eyes on the Lord, Jehovah Nissi, and keep your hands up in the air, holding His victorious standard high!”

In the blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/walking-on-water-or-sinking-sanctified-or-small-minded, this truth of keeping our eyes on Jesus is what Peter had to learn when walking on water.  It’s what you and I have to learn as well so that we too can walk in the victorious “image” that we have in Christ.

In the chapter on Jehovah Nissi, the author says the following truths in relation to why we are victorious and how we are victorious.  She says:

“God did not tell you to fight in your own armor. He gave you His armor.  And if you’ll wear it and stand in it, He will bring you to victory. He’s the Lord, your Banner … Righteous Jehovah hates sin.  If you will hold high His standard of victory, sin will not overtake you.

…Because you are standing tall in the armor of Jehovah Nissi, your Victor and Champion, Jesus did not promise you, ‘Well, now that I’ve taken the victory, it’s going to be a piece of cake for you.’ You have to stand.  But if you stand, He did promise that not even the gates of hell itself could prevail against you!  He has made you a victor in Himself!

…To wear His armor, you cannot lean on your own understanding; you have to learn on His Word!

…God says, ‘You’re not a loser!  I am Jehovah Nissi — your Banner, Miracle, and Victory — who makes you a winner.’  That’s why are you are fighting a good fight of faith.  It’s good because you win in the Lord!

…When you allow that strength within you to flow by relying on Him as your Banner, then you will overcome.”

When reading the story of Moses sending the twelves spies to check out the Promised Land, I never really “saw” the story for it’s powerful message on victory.  In the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi,” it says:

“Joshua and Caleb both discovered God to be their Jehovah Nissi.  …When all of the men returned, the report of those two men was wonderful: ‘We can take the Promised Land!  We can do it!’ (See Numbers 13:30.)

But the other men said, ‘There is no way that we’ll take the land!  There are giants there, and the walls reach to the sky.  Those giants would eat us like meat!’

…Those other ten spies had the wrong self-image.  They saw themselves as defeated ones, not victorious ones.  They did not see their miracle-working God or His promises.  They could only see giants.  Joshua and Caleb saw their own true images in God.  They said, ‘We are already victorious because of Jehovah Nissi, our powerful, almighty God’!”

In a blog post from a few years ago, the story of David and Goliath so wonderfully encourages our hearts with the truth that we can’t look at the size of our “giants”, we have to look at the “size” of our God. 

(See https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/how-to-face-your-biggest-obstacle.)

In Marilyn Hickey’s book, I found her statement, “Many people plan to fail” so gripping.

How many times do we come from an experience of victory, and then begin to accept the lie, “You fell in that area so just give it time, and you are going to fail again.”  We hear the “truth” part that we did fall before.  The lie part is that just because we failed in that area before means that we will fail again, need to fail again, will fail again, and are a failure.

I love this truth in the chapter on “Jehovah NIssi”:

“God did not say that you can triumph only in a few situations.  He said that, in Him, you’re always a victorious one!  You are supposed to conquer because Jesus is a Conqueror!

…Jesus took all of your sins upon Himself, and He gave you His righteousness.  I like this comparison: when a lamb dies, the shepherd removes the lamb’s skin and places it on an orphaned lamb.  The mother lamb, who lost her baby, smells her baby’s skin on the orphaned lamb.  Because the skin is draped over him, she’ll adopt and raise that baby as her own.

It is the same way with Jesus’ righteousness.  When He died, He clothed you with the robe of His own right standing with God Almighty.  It’s a garment that smells like Jesus!  When the Father looks at your, what does He see?  He sees you, clothed in Jesus!

...Don’t ever see yourself as defeated; see the devil as defeated.”

How wonderful it is to know that because Jehovah Nissi is our God, we are victorious in Him!  We are over-comers because He overcame.

How do you see yourself?  As “stuck” with your old sin nature?  Or as redeemed and given a new nature — a victorious image as His son or daughter?