Saturday, June 30, 2012

An ounce of strength

"You have been given an ounce of strength," Mr. Ludy said to us at 5:30 am for our Corporate Prayer session. "And your tendency is to clutch it to yourself, because you've been weak. You want to say, 'My ounce!' and keep it. But in God's economy, the way to get more is to spend what you have. So I'm asking you to spend your ounce on someone else. Let's be outward focused. Let's bear each other's burdens."

He asked for seven burdens to be shared with the group for our corporate prayer session, and I raised my hand to share the following request.

Cynthia had messaged me on facebook the day before and I asked her how she was doing.

"Not too well," she said.

"What happened?" I asked.

"My uncle shot and killed my aunt and then shot and killed himself, and now my cousins are living with us."

My heart broke for her. Cynthia used to be in my Sunday School class and was always very receptive to the Word of God. She gave her life to Christ and I could see God changing her. She tried to be helpful at home, worked very hard to memorize Scripture (which didn't come easily to her), and did everything she could to set a good example to her two younger sisters. But her home situation wasn't the best. Her mom is a single parent and doesn't know the Lord. There is smoking in the home and boyfriends coming in who don't always treat the girls right. Now there are her newly orphaned cousins living with them, and all of them are grieving and struggling to make it. Cynthia's mom has been unemployed for over a year, so I truly don't know how they're surviving.

"Isn't it amazing," Mr. Ludy said, "that God knows what this family is going through, and He knows they are connected to Rebekah, and He knows that she's right here right now. They have no idea that our whole student body is going to be praying for them, but God has allowed this need to be made known to us, and we accept this burden to spend our strength interceding for them."

So we accepted this burden and poured ourselves out before the Lord for this family. Oh, how we prayed. We prayed the kind of prayers that are all but dead in modern Christianity--mighty, faith-filled prayers that wrestle, that do business, that actually get somewhere, that trust God to bring an answer.

Others shared six other similar burdens (two soldiers in Afghanistan who had been injured by a bomb, a missionary family in Thailand who had lost their father to death by an exploding firework, a woman who was addicted to pain meds, a student's atheist brother, another student's atheist friend, and another student's unsaved sisters).

Ironically enough, before I got to Ellerslie, it was precisely this sort of request that had come to annoy me.

You know how it is. You're in church, and the person up front says, "Are there any prayer requests?" So Joe in the fourth pew raises his hand and says, "Yeah, I've got a coworker who just found out that her sister has cancer. So if we could pray for her, her name is Brenda, and I think she's unsaved, too."

This would make me feel slightly exasperated. "How am I supposed to care or remember about your coworker's sister? I can't even remember my own prayer requests, let alone something about somebody who's not even connected to me." I would silently resolve to myself that I would not be the one to bring this sort of request before the body. It seemed to me that it was a way of passing the buck, like "I feel bad for this person, and I'd like to release these bad feelings by asking the church to pray for it, because I know that once I've shared it, I will feel at peace about it, knowing that it's in God's hands."

But here at Ellerslie, the emphasis on our training is "being made strong in order to be poured out for the weak." And it's amazing how much God has wrought a change in me just in the two short weeks I've been here, because these thoughts are the farthest thing from my head now. I greatly value the body of Christ for the way we can bear each other's burdens. And I am willing to accept a burden of someone who is unknown to me, just as I would hope that others would accept Cynthia's burden and make it their own. Thus, working together, expending our strength in prayer (which, by the way, is the hardest work a human being can do), we become an unstoppable force, to beat back the enemy and see the kingdom of God established in one more person's life.

Thank you, God, for continuing to teach me and help me to grow! I will spend my ounce of strength for you, trusting you to supply me more, exactly when it's needed, and exactly as much as I need.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot and dry

The weather here in Colorado has been scorching... daily temperatures in the 100s, bright sunshine, and super dry air. So I've been drinking a lot... I mean, a LOT of water!

Okay, so in Tennessee, it's humid enough that just by breathing you practically get hydrated. Not so here! At home I drink like maybe, 2-3 cups a day.

I upped my intake to 6 cups here and it still wasn't enough.

I upped it to 9 cups. Still not enough. 

I upped it to 12 cups. Still not enough. 

I upped it to 13 cups. That was about right to keep me hydrated and happy.  So I've been drinking approximately 13 cups a day this week. That's 104 ounces! 

Jesus said, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:13-14).

But how many of us fail to up our Water intake, even though we recognize that we're spiritually thirsty, parched, dry, dehydrated, constipated, have a headache, and have a sore throat? We need more of Jesus. And if we're still somewhat dry, we need still more. And if that's still not good enough, we need still more. Here at Ellerslie, I have been drinking deep from the well of everlasting water, I have been saturated, soaked, drenched with Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus. We focus on Jesus. We look for Jesus. We learn about Jesus. We draw analogies about Jesus. We are pointed to Jesus in every single message. Jesus is lifted high, and HE SATISFIES.

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6

Thursday, June 28, 2012

His Little Feet

Yesterday we had a very special treat. An orphan choir called His Little Feet gave their final concert here in the Ellerslie chapel. But before that, all 14 of the choir members got baptized here in the lake. It was the biggest celebration at a baptism I have ever attended. 

His Little Feet is an orphan advocacy ministry run by Mike and Christa Hahn, who live here in Windsor, CO, and are friends of Eric and Leslie Ludy. God called them to this ministry about 4 years ago, and every year they bring a group of kids to the US for a year, where they travel around the country, giving concerts.

At each concert, the audience is given the opportunity to learn more about how they can minister to the needs of orphans, including sponsoring a child through Compassion International, going as a missionary to them, and personally adopting. They show this film, which is a powerful and moving call to remember the 163 million orphans worldwide.

The atmosphere at last night's concert was poignant, uplifting, and tear-jerking. This was the last concert these kids would have before going back to their countries (Ethiopia and Honduras) and all of Ellerslie was going to miss them. There was so much love and support poured out by the Ellerslie folks, who had come to know these kids quite well over the year they have been here. There were hugs goodbye and lots of tears.

But the thing that captured my attention the most was the radiant joy on all the children's faces. They sang as a pure expression of worship, visibly lifting up their hearts to Jesus as they praised Him. All 14 of them had come to know Him during the course of the time they were here, and each one evidenced a changed life and the light of Christ shining from their faces. It was a beautiful thing to behold.

These 14 kids were only a tiny fraction of the world's orphans, but they moved all of us to care about orphans anywhere.

What are you doing to remember the fatherless?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Shovel

Here's a helpful analogy on prayer that Eric Ludy shared with us on Monday.

God says to you, "There is treasure beneath your feet" and hands you a shovel. What do you do?

You dig!

The shovel represents prayer, and the treasure represents the stuff of heaven--blessings of God that He desires to send to earth via the conduit of faith.

However, so many people stop after, say, 4 scoopfuls. They haven't hit the treasure yet, but they throw the shovel down. "I've tried prayer," they say. "It doesn't work." But what did Jesus teach us? He taught us that men ought always to pray and not to faint. He gave us the story of the unjust judge and the importunate friend to show us how we ought to approach prayer (see Luke 11:1-13, Luke 18:1-8).

Let us pray--fervent, importunate, faith-filled prayers that first listen to God's heart and then pray according to the burdens He lays on our spirits. Let us connect with God (not merely talk at Him) and believe Him for the answer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Colorado Wildlife

We live in a surpassingly beautiful location, incomparable in its convenience to EVERYTHING. Shops and restaurants in town are a simple 10-minute walk away from here, which saves us from needing a car, yet in the other direction we are backed up to trails going through acres and acres of land (both privately owned and national park land), so there is lots of wildlife and beauty right here, too.

Prairie dogs are abundant--but to me they're still a novelty. They chatter loudly at passers by from the safety of being able to dart down their holes at a moment's notice.

There are also tons of almost-tame rabbits. They will let you get right up close to them and then make a few lazy hops to get away.

Herons have made a home of the tree across the lake from Ellerslie--The most I have counted in one place was 9 flying together. They make quite a racket when they all get together in the tree and chatter at each other. I don't think I had ever heard heron voices before.  

Mule deer seen from the Poudre River Trail

Swallows. Have you ever seen so many birds in one place in the sky before?

Not Pictured: I have also seen lots of species of ducks, songbirds, and ground-nesting birds, and a huge raccoon.

Not Encoutered: Surprisingly enough, there haven't been any bothersome insects so far. Yay!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Poudre River Trail

If you ever come to Ellerslie, bring your bike, because right around the corner from the campus is the trailhead to the Poudre River Trail, a concrete bike path that stretches for miles through the Colorado landscape.

The other day I walked on it for the first time. I was praying and had a rich and meaningful time with the Lord.
The trail is very well maintained and is fairly new--I believe it was constructed in 2003.

I came across this humorous ramshackle old abandoned cabin.

And then at the end, I was treated to another glorious sunset that only got better as it progressed.

Thank you, God, for your beauty and your power!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Outing to Estes Park

After church we took about an hour drive to Estes Park, where we visited a lake in the mountains, ate lunch, and had a short hike.

We made quite a large group eating lunch!

The day was cloudy, which was unusual for Colorado, but the scenery was still beautiful!

We were at our stopping point on the hike when I climbed up on a rock and got this picture. Then we had a time of prayer and sang Amazing Grace and the Doxology. It was so beautiful to hear our voices harmonizing in praise to our God out in the splendor of His creation.

After our hike, we went back down to the town of Estes Park, which is fairly touristy and has lots of fun shops. Some of the girls and I went to a lovely ice cream shop, where I got fudge and everyone else got a cone. Yummy! Later we went to a coffee shop together and hung out while sipping yummy chai tea lattes and other happy drinks. It was a great day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Talitha Cumi

Niña, a ti te digo, levántate.
Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

I have broken through the dark night of the soul into the dawn of a new day. 

I have been raised to new life. 

I was saved--and even fruitful--before, but I have entered into what Hudson Taylor terms "The Exchanged Life." 

I knew God was going to do this during my time here at Ellerslie. I just didn't know it was going to happen this soon. 

I am changed. I am alive. I press on for more of this Living, abundant God who is so sweet and dear and satisfying to me. 

¡Gloria a Dios!
Glory to God!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Faith on Facts vs. Experience

On Wednesday morning, we heard a stirring message by Eric Ludy called The Anatomy of Faith.

He presented the relationship between Faith, Fact, and Experience. Fact is the eternal, unchangeable reality of God’s Word. Because God said it, it cannot be changed or altered in any way. Faith must look to fact and fix its gaze firmly on God’s word, disregarding all other voices. However, the enemy will try to get us to turn around and look at Experience. This includes our feelings, emotions, anxiety, lethargy, and grievance. If we turn around and heed the voice of experience, we are turning our back to the voice of God. 

In the Christian life, doubt is heeding the voice of experience, while faith is heeding the voice of God. “No diakrino!” was the ringing call we learned to cry out. (Diakrino is Greek for "doubt.") In order to have constant faith, we ought to build a default wall against the claims and appeals of experience. "Your track record is so bad, you have no hope that you could ever change," experience says. "This situation is hopeless. Why try?" "That looks so tiring, there's no way you could have energy for your normal life if you spent the night in prayer." We ought to determine ahead of time that when experience talks, we are automatically not listening. 

Consider the truth of the Word of God. Can God ever lie? When God says something, will it not come to pass? Even when Experience tells us it's impossible, we can always bank on the Word of God to come through. Case in point: John chapter 11. Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick and says, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." There's your Fact. Jesus gave His Word, which cannot be broken.

Four days later, it would have been pretty hard to train your gaze on Fact (Jesus's word) rather than Experience ("By this time he stinketh.")

"Uh, Jesus?" Mary and Martha might have said. "We have a little problem here. Lazarus is, um, already dead. I don't see how I can go by your word when, uh... it's a little too late. My experience is telling me that your word couldn't be trusted this time."

No Diakrino!

Jesus comes in with the stirring declaration that has given hope to people through the ages: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:25, 40)

No Diakrino! 

"Lazarus, come forth!" He says, and Experience crumbles into dust as the man wrapped in grave clothes emerges from the tomb.

Jesus's word can be trusted. He is the God of the Impossible. He is the one who can bring life from the dead. He is never at a loss when the deck is stacked against Him. Look steadily at the facts of His word and heed not the voice of Experience, though it clamor ever so loudly in your ears. 

No Diakrino!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

God is on the move

We are hearing the truth proclaimed here like I have never heard it proclaimed. All the books I have read by the old-time preachers, all the classic, historic Christianity I thought was only experienced by dead people, is alive and well here.

There is a stirring in our midst. God is on the move. The power of the Gospel is wreaking havoc on Self and Sin among us, and it will only be a matter of time before we collectively fall on our faces before the living God, pass through the dark night of the soul, and emerge into the dawn of the other side.

The sense of anticipation is high. This is the birthplace of heroes of the faith.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beauty that made this heart adore you

It may seem unreal, but THIS is the sunset we enjoyed last night.

You can see the smoke plume from the largest wildfire in Colorado history beginning at the lower left of the picture just behind the mountain range.

A number of students came outside to look at it, and we were all doing the same thing: taking pictures and gazing in awe.

Thank you, God, for such a beautiful surprise!

Speaking of the sun, this was our sunrise the same day:

Two very lovely bookends to the day, were they not?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Traveling mercies--and woes--to Ellerslie

I made it to Ellerslie! A little late perhaps, but none the worse for wear. My trip was more…shall we say… involved than I expected it to be, though.

The first thing that happened portended the mixture of unfortunate occurrences with blessings that I was due for the rest of the day: Mom dropped me off at the airport and then locked her keys into the car while she was in the “no stopping/no waiting” zone in front of the terminal. I had walked into the terminal and then I saw through the window that she was still there, so I went out to investigate. I remembered that we had a spare key hidden under the car, but my dad hides it really well and we couldn’t find it, so I asked mom to call him and ask him where it was. “I can’t,” Mom said. My phone is locked inside the car, too. “Oh,” I said, “well then, here, use my phone.” I dug in my purse for it. No phone. I looked in my suitcase, my pockets. I realized my phone was locked inside the car as well. Finally, at the expense of getting all dirty underneath the car, I found the spare key and we were able to unlock the door. I retrieved my phone, thankful that mom had not been able to drive off with it, leaving me without a phone for the next two months.

I was at the airport several hours early, which is unusual for me (I’m beginning to rise up and conquer procrastination), but the departure time for my flight came and went and still no plane appeared. I only had a 51 minute layover in Chicago, so I started getting worried. Sure enough, when the plane finally arrived, it was about an hour late, and we landed in Chicago after boarding had already closed for my next flight.

The clouds were spectacular on my flight! I don’t remember ever seeing such rich beauty in the sky from the window of a plane before. We encountered a thunderstorm system that we skirted around, and the combination of bright sunshine and dark clouds was just striking from our perspective.

Anyway, in Chicago they put me on standby for my next flight to Denver, and I waited around for that. The thought struck me, "I wish there was a piano I could play to pass the time." I immediately dismissed the thought as absolute nonsense. How could I expect to find a piano, of all things, in the airport? But God gave me even this gift. There was one! It was a lovely glossy black grand piano sitting outside of a cafe. I asked the ladies there if I could play, and they said yes! So I amused myself for a good while and got a good crowd of listeners. (Should've put out a tip jar...)

The hotel bathroom

Beats sleeping on the floor of the airport, eh?

I found this picture slightly creepy...what ARE those things?

Much good my carry-on luggage did me when all it consisted of was books!
When it came time to get onto my flight, I discovered that the flight was full and I was number 10 of like 42 people on standby, so I gathered I wasn't going to be getting onto that flight. That meant another long wait in the customer service line, but they took care of me, gave me two meal vouchers, and put me up in a hotel for the night. It was a lovely hotel room, quite possibly the nicest I had ever stayed in. I slept, got up at 3:20 to make my flight the next morning, succeeded on getting onto the plane, and finally landed in Colorado! Now I'm here and loving it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

The power of a father's influence is incalculable when it comes to raising a godly family.

I remember as a child that I thought my parents were strict, especially my dad. I also remember not being able to conceive of the possibility that my dad would change his mind or back down on the truth. And now, being an adult and looking back, I wonder at the strength of character and principle that my dad always showed in order to lead our family.

He had the courage to make decisions that were good for us, even when they flew in the face of popular opinion. He was the one who held up the standard and wouldn't concede one little iota to the constant encroaching of the world's influence. The boundaries were set, and they were unmovable, unchanging. There was a great deal of safety in that. I realize now how he was at helm and buffered the greatest part of the difficulty in living a principled life. I got to simply say, "My dad wouldn't stand for that," which was easy, but he had to be the one to look like the bad guy, look like the one who wouldn't listen to reason, and keep up the strength to keep hold the standard up. For me, the standard was just there. For him, there was a constant pressure against him, seeking to wear it away if he ever let down his guard. The pressure came from without and from within--yet he never wavered, never faltered, and never had to apologize for standing for the truth.

I owe to him the strength of character that I have--not that mine is anywhere close to his--but his example showed that it could be done and gave me something tangible to measure up to.

The older I got, the less strict I found him. If anything, he was better at dealing with us as adults than as children. As soon as I turned 16, he was excited to teach me to learn to drive, and he spent hours with me in the car, teaching me to parallel park until I could do it perfectly in one swipe. As soon as I got my driver's license, he allowed me to take a 13-hour drive to Virginia to visit my cousins. He trusted me, never had to set a curfew, and never acted fearful or restrictive. Once I had a driver's license, gone were my feelings of "this is a strict family to live in." I had more freedom than any of my friends. They (and their parents) were amazed at the things I was allowed to do, the trips I was allowed to take, and the opportunities that my parents weren't afraid to let me try. The boundaries and restrictions of my early years fell away, but I had been successfully trained not to want to do wrong or dabble in evil things, so they became no longer necessary. because I had the inner boundaries and inhibitions in place. He made us feel free to go, spread our wings, and try new things--but at the same time, he made it clear that we were welcome at home.

My inexpressible gratitude will also stand forever for the way my dad provided and allowed my mom to stay home from work. Raising 6 kids wasn't easy on one income, and we just got used to doing without the things we couldn't afford. My dad was never into fancy cars or boats or expensive hobbies or really anything that cost money. He drove old clunkers and fixed them over and over and over again to keep them running. He did his own home repairs. He made sure we didn't buy things we couldn't afford. And his sacrifice enabled my mom to stay home and homeschool us, allowing us to fall completely under her good influence and protecting us from influences we would otherwise have encountered in the school system. If I had not been homeschooled, I do not know where I would be today, but I almost certainly would not have the spiritual strength I now enjoy.

One of my favorite memories is hearing my dad sing. He doesn't think he can sing, but I have the fondest memories of him singing Scripture songs with my mom. Even as a little child, I could sense a heavenly sweetness about his singing, because it came from his heart and rose as a pure expression of true worship to God. There were no pretensions, no airs about his singing, but there was a spirit about it that exuded from his heart, and I could sense the presence of God come near. He would sing Psalm 84, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God," and it still makes me cry to remember the sound of his voice singing that song.

Speaking of crying, my dad has a tender side that most people would be surprised to see. I remember him choking up when he would read to us. In books like The Velveteen Rabbit or even Dumbo, he would be more affected at the sad parts than we were. He doesn't get much credit for being compassionate, but it's there all the time under his tough exterior.

On this occasion, I just want to publicly say Thank You to God for giving me my dad, and say Thank You to my dad for being who you are. You are a man of God and He has used you for good in the lives of your children. Thank you, dad. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Goodbye, Matilda

My faithful, trusty car is now in the hands of a new owner! Matilda and I had many lovely adventures together--we spent about a year in each other's company and just about exactly 11,500 miles, which at an average speed of 40 miles per hour would equal 287 hours, or about 7 work weeks. She always got me where I needed to go, never left me stranded on the side of the road, never hit me up for a repair bill, made sure I was nice and cool in the summer and nice and warm in the winter, and always gave me a smooth and comfortable ride.

And just today, of all days, after trying to sell the car since last October, I signed the paperwork and handed over the keys. How perfect is that timing? God worked it out so that I had the use of the car all the way up until the day I fly out, and now that I'm going to be gone and don't need it anymore, it just worked out to sell it. Thank you, God, for allowing me to sell it, and thank you, TW, for buying it! (I may be wrong, but I suspect he's going to love Matilda even more than I did!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rise up early in the morning

After exploring all the verses on rising up early, the Lord really convicted me of the fact that I have forgotten to make this a priority lately, and I wanted to do a little bit of further study on this topic.

So here are some of the things I gleaned about it. (See yesterday's post for the list of Scripture references; I'm not going to re-list them all here.)

Men & women of God who rose up early:

  • God himself, 2 Chr. 36:15
  • Abraham, Gen. 21:14, 22:3
  • Isaac, Gen. 26:31
  • Jacob, Genesis 28:18
  • Moses, Exodus 8:20, 9:13, 24:4, 34:4,
  • Joshua, Josh. 3:1, 6:12, 6:15, 7:16, 8:10
  • Gideon, Judges 6:38, 7:1
  • Hannah, 1 Sam. 1:19
  • Samuel, 1 Sam. 9:26, 15:12
  • David, 1 Sam. 17:20, 29:10,11
  • Solomon, Song 7:12
  • Elisha & his servant, 2 Ki. 6:15
  • Jehoshaphat, 2 Chr. 20:20
  • The prophets, 2 Chr. 36:15
  • Job, Job 1:5

If I want to follow their example and live the high-caliber kind of Godly life that they did, here is one aspect that they all had in common. I would do well to emulate it.

The purpose for and effect of early rising

  • Repentance. See Genesis 20:8. As soon as King Abimelech knew that Sarah was Abraham's wife (not just his sister), he got up early and made it right, giving her back to Abraham. As a result, God forgave him and healed the plague that had fallen on the people.
  • Obedience. See Genesis 21:14. Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac. He didn't delay, but got up early in the morning and got busy doing what God had said. As a result, God blessed him abundantly. See also 1 Samuel 17:20. David obeyed his father Jesse's command to bring some victuals to his brothers, rising up early to go. As a result, he arrived in time to hear Goliath's taunt, which was also done early, and God gave him a great victory that day.
  • A journey. See Genesis 19:2, 21:14, 31:55, Joshua 3:1, Judges 19:5, 19:8-9, 1 Samuel 1:19, 29:10-11. See Judges 19 for the horrible consequences of not getting an early start on a journey.  
  • Worship. See Genesis 28:18, Exodus 24:4, Job 1:5, 1 Samuel 5:3-4, 2 Chronicles 29:20. Interesting to note that even the pagan worshipers of Dagon got up early to do their acts of worship. And we can't make it on time to an 11:00 am Sunday service?
  • Delivery of God's message. See Exodus 8:20, 9:13, 2 Chronicles 36:15. In these instances, God specifically instructed that someone get up early. When God has something to say to someone, He doesn't dawdle around until evening before He finally gets around to telling it. (Notice what happened when Jonah tried to circumvent this process. Things didn't go too well for him, did they?)
  • War. See Joshua 6:15, 8:10, Judges 7:1, 9:33, 1 Sam. 17:16, 2 Kings 3:22, 19:35, 20:20. In each case that it mentions they got up early, God's people won the battle.
  • Love. See Song of Solomon 7:12.
  • Self-advancement. See 2 Sam. 15:2. Absalom rose early and sat in the gate, and it says that he stole the hearts of all the children of Israel. While we would not do well to emulate his example in general, it still shows the success of his strategy, and in areas where we want to get ahead, early rising would not be amiss.
  • Meeting with God. See Exodus 34:4. When is God ready and waiting to give us a feast of His presence, and why is that precisely the time that we least like to come?
  • Hearing from God. See Judges 6:38. Gideon needed clarity and confirmation of God's will, so he got up early in order to see what God would say by way of the fleece.
  • Clearing out evil from one's midst. See Joshua 7:16. When Achan sinned and caused the Israelites to suffer defeat at Ai, Joshua didn't delay, but took early action to get to the root of the problem and stamp out the evil. As a result, God gave them victory in their next battle at Ai.

Observations about early rising

Getting up early represents eagerness to do what you are getting up early to do. It says you are committed and interested in making it happen.

It symbolizes that you will do everything necessary to ensure the success of the mission--but on the other hand, if you can't even get up in the morning to do what you are supposed to do, it portends poorly for how you will handle it when obstacles come your way.

In order to get up early, you have to be disciplined, and the kind of disciplined life that is able to forego a bit of sleep is the same kind of life that will be able to rise up and conquer in other important battles.

In the flesh, you can find it in yourself to get up early for a flesh-gratifying experience, but when it comes to something that will strengthen the spirit, your flesh would rather die than get up early. This is why you can consistently get up early to go to work, or get up at 3 am to go on vacation, but fail to do the same thing when it comes to personal devotions or an emergency prayer need. Only by walking in the spirit will you be able to get up early for something spiritual.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rise Up

Don't give up; rise up!

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I looked up the phrase "rise up" in Scripture, and I was surprised to find how often it appears in Scripture.  The phrase "rise up" appears 67 times, "rose up" appears another 104 times, and there are many more inexact phrase matches such as "rise ye up," "rise," or "arise" that use the same Hebrew or Greek word translated "rise up." 

There are two main Hebrew words translated "rise up." One is quwm (Strong's #6965), which is translated "to stand up," "to rise up," "to arise," "to raise," "to establish," "to stand," "to perform," "to confirm," "again," "set," "stablish," "surely," "continue," "sure," "abide," and "accomplish." It appears 629 times and is usually translated by one of the first four translations in this list (498 times combined). 

The other word is shakam (Strong's #7925), which means "to rise up early" and appears 67 times. 

So do you think this concept is important to God? I can't list all the Scriptures here, but I was blessed by what I discovered. (I know it gets long to read through all the verses. I debated cutting some of them out or just listing them by their references, but I figured if I included the verse, then you could choose whether or not to read it--and it would be easier to read the verse if it was right here than to have to look it up somewhere else.)

In many cases, the command to "rise up" involves conquering an obstacle in order to accomplish a task.
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. Neh. 2:18
Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your handJosh. 8:7
And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses saidRise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. Num. 10:35
Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook ZeredDeut 2:13
Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle. Deut. 2:24
Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. Ezr. 5:2 
And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Neh. 4:14 
Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. Mark 14:42
Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to sayRise up and walk? Luke 5:23
But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered handRise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Luke 6:8
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. Acts 3:6

There are also a number of verses that say, "Rise up early." This is what God has been trying to get me to do for 6 years now, and I never knew how often it was listed in Scripture.
And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. Gen. 19:2 
Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Gen 20:8
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Gen. 21:14 
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Gen. 22:3
And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. Gen. 26:31 
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. Gen. 28:18
And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place. Gen. 31:55 
And the LORD said unto MosesRise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Exod. 8:20 
And the LORD said unto MosesRise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Exod. 9:13 
And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Ex. 24:4
And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. Ex. 34:4 
And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. Josh. 3:1 
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. Josh. 6:12  
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. Josh. 6:15
So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: Josh. 7:16
And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. Josh. 8:10 
And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. Judges 6:38 
Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Judges 7:1 
And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion. Judges 9:33 
And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way. Judges 19:5, 8, 9
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Judges 21:4 
Anthey rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. 1 Sam. 1:19 
And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. 1 Sam. 5:3, 4
And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad. 1 Sam. 9:26
And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. 1 Sam. 15:12 
And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. 1 Sam. 17:16
And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. 1 Sam. 17:20 
So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel. 1 Sam. 29:10, 11
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 2 Sam. 15:2
Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart. 1 Sam. 29:10
And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: 2 Ki. 3:22  
And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 2 Ki. 6:15
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 2 Ki. 19:35
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. 2 Chr. 20:20  
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. 2 Chr. 29:20 
And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengersrising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 2 Chr. 36:15
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Job 1:5
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. Song 7:12 

On the other hand, there are five negative instances of rising up early. (How quick we are to rise up early if it's to do our own will! And yet, when it comes to doing God's will, how often and how glibly we quote Psalm 127:2 without thinking of the weight of evidence in Scripture for early rising.) 

Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! Isaiah 5:11
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him. Pro. 27:14 
And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Ex. 32:6 
And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned. Num. 14:40 
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

You rise up because you love the Lord.

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song 2:10
rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. Song 5:5 

Don't think you are the only one who has to rise up--your enemies are constantly rising up against you--which is all the more reason for you to rise up yourself and prevent their schemes.

LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Psalm 3:1
The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. Deut. 28:7
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. 2 Ki. 16:7
But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Deut 19:11
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Deut 19:16
False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. Psalm 35:11
Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually. Psalm 74:23

When enemies rise up, the Lord is able to scatter and conquer them.

And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. Ex. 15:7 
For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me. 2 Sam. 22:40 
And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. 2 Sam. 22:49 
Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Psalm 17:7
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Psalm 18:48
Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. Psalm 44:5
Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me. Psalm 59:1
Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me. Psalm 92:11
For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. Isa. 14:22
For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Isa. 28:21
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; Jer. 51:1

We ought to oppose those who rise up against the Lord. 

Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? Psalm 139:21
Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Psalm 94:16

Beware if someone is unwilling to rise up: Maybe it's because they have something to hide. 

And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images. Gen. 31:35

Or maybe it's simply because they're idle. 

Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Isa. 32:9

Rising up is a sign of honor. 

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD. Lev. 19:32

Just like you can rise up to do good, you can also rise up to do evil. 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Deut. 31:16

Good advice if a ruler rises up against you: 

If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences. Ecc. 10:4

God might punish you by making you not to be able to rise up, or by allowing someone weak to be able to rise up against you.

They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again. Amos 8:4 
The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. Lam. 1:14
For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. Jer. 37:10
Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again. Psalm 140:10
The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up. Amos 5:2

The Lord says, 

Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. Isa. 33:10

Let us also rise up, in the power of the God whose Spirit dwells within us. Let us move closer to His likeness. Let us labor, "striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." (Col. 1:29)