Friday, December 14, 2018 -
God is so good. I slept pretty well, woke up a few times. I miss so much sleeping next to Kathie and holding her. I skipped 6am breakfast, which isn’t worth waking up that early for. I woke up around 7:30 with a slight headache, tried to be quiet (“J” had gone back to sleep) and fixed a mug of instant coffee in my plastic “mug,” which is really pretty horrible. But at least it is coffee, which otherwise I wouldn’t get.
I spoke to a guy at the microwave I’ve never spoken to before, who seemed to be very nice – been here since August. He told me to stay active, go walk the track, etc. I told him the commissary was out of my running shoes. I said I had to have a wide size, 9 ½ wide. He said he needed wide shoes, too, and that the commissary just doesn’t carry them.
I would have gone back week after week (we can go to the commissary only once a week). You fill out the form and they spit everything out of a window. The stuff they don’t have or are out of, you just don’t get.
Anyway, he then told me to explain to the doctor that I have to have a wide-sized shoe and they may request it from home. So please pray that will happen.
I walked back up to my cell with my coffee and sat down at the “desk” to read The Daily Bread, based on Revelations 5, when all creatures will worship God. Then I read my proverb and started the book of Acts. God showed me something in chapter 1, verses 24-26 that had never dawned on me before. The disciples did as they should. They prayed and asked God to reveal to them which man He had chosen to replace Judas, then drew lots for them. How often we pray for God to show us His will, but we refuse to lay out the “fleece” for God to reveal His will definitively, as they did, as Gideon did. Gideon actually did it twice in a row just to make certain (Judges 6:36-40). He first asked for a sign in verse 17. It is interesting that before God used Gideon, he had to consecrate himself, offering sacrifices up to the Lord for his sin, and destroy the altars of Baal. God wants us to do the same, and until we do, we’ll never be used as God intends. God wanted Gideon to prove himself. He was testing him. God is putting tests in our lives to prove us. What is our reaction?
Now Gideon was actually afraid of the pagan worshippers around him, including his father, so when he did what God commanded, he went and destroyed the altar of Baal and Asherah at night, when nobody could point a finger at him. Gideon’s life was now threatened because he did what God wanted him to do, and he faced the consequences. But he obeyed God. Then God’s Spirit came upon him, and all of a sudden had the Abiezrites following after him. Scripture doesn’t say how that happened, but God did it. You see, God wants the glory to be His, not ours. He is looking for willing hearts to consecrate themselves so He can use them. He wants humble hearts merely looking to enslave themselves to the Most High, willing to do whatever He wants us to do. But He’ll never take us to that point until we are pure in heart – fully consecrated to Him. This means we must fully accept Christ’s shed blood for the atonement for our sin – a perfect and complete redemption, a one time, final event which cleanses us of all sin – past, present, and future.
We must cast every fear and every problem and broken relationship upon Him. And that means you and I must come to the realization that we are completely helpless and helping ourselves, that our own endeavors and efforts are useless in fixing our problems or overcoming the temptation and sin in our lives. Until you come to this point of total and complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit to free you from sin, and solve every problem and remove every burden, you will never completely be free. I’ve seen this in my own life.
It is all part of the transformation process Paul speaks about in Romans 12. I’ve seen this in my own life.
But I’m not alone.
God tested Abraham. God tested Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. God tested Daniel. God tested Jonah (although at first, Jonah ran from God like so many of us). God tested Joseph. Each had to rely solely and completely on God to deliver them from dire circumstances. God repeatedly reminds people what He has done for them. He delivered His people from the sword of the Egyptians when their backs were up against the sea, with nowhere to turn but to God Almighty. In Joseph’s case, as in mine, he sent him to prison. In Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s case, He sent them to the fiery furnace. Yet none forsook the Lord their God and were willing to face prison and death rather than deny God Almighty or worship pagan gods.
We must ask ourselves, are we truly consecrated? If we are truly consecrated, when temptations or difficulties come, we recognize our own helplessness and frailty in dealing with these challenges, and let go and let God deal with them. Until we become completely helpless and dependent on God, our Christian walk will always be a struggle. Hannah Whitehall Smith said it so well almost 150 years ago, in her classic book I am now reading, The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, “Let your faith then, ‘throw its arms around all God has told you,’ and in every dark hour remember that ‘though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations,’ it is only like going through a tunnel. The sun has not ceased shining, although you in your dark tunnel do not see it. Be patient, trustful, and WAIT! This time of darkness has only permitted that.”
As Peter said, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6-7). He goes on in chapter 2, verse 21: “For you have been called to this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” No matter what, we must never quit trusting God, knowing He has a purpose in all things. We have to just stop dwelling on it, stop fretting, stop trying to fix things ourselves, and give God the steering wheel. He is not our co-pilot. He must be our pilot. We must lean back, lay the seat back some, close our eyes, and rest solely and completely in Him to take us through whatever storm, whatever turbulence, no matter how bad. He will get us where we need to be. Our eyes should not even be open. After all, God said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel becomes too boastful, saying, ‘my own power has delivered me’” (Judges 7:2). Note that God got rid of all who were afraid and trembling – 12,000 men in total (out of 22,000), more than half of Gideon’s army. What they were afraid of was an army “as numerous as locusts.” We must ask ourselves, would we be numbered among those who were eliminated because of the humanly impossible odds of surviving an inevitable slaughter, or would we trust God to deliver us?
Yet there were still many apparently who feared in their hearts, although maybe they didn’t outwardly express that trepidation. God knew, and He whittled their number down to a mere 300! Yet God still promised to deliver the massive enemy into their hands. Again, in every difficult circumstance, God tells His people to look back at what He has done for them. Firstly, our salvation. But God has also done so many other miracles in the lives of me and my family. He literally raised me from the dead – twice! He grew a bone back in my wife’s shoulder when the doctors said that was impossible. He miraculously healed her of severe pain in an instant after that same injury. He healed my infant son Josiah’s head and face of severe burns within days, (literally visibly before our own eyes), after the doctors already declared to us he’d have to have repeated surgeries. He’s stopped a demon-possessed mob in the slums of Bombay from stoning us and our cohorts. He’s blinded the eyes of authorities in Punjab, India, making us literally invisible. He’s done financial miracles. He’s miraculously delivered me from other false charges our attorney had already declared impossible. I know God can deliver me from my current circumstances of being falsely imprisoned for standing on the word of God. Perhaps, like Joseph, He has a plan in that. Perhaps He will release me suddenly and miraculously. Whatever is at the end of this dark tunnel is still unknown to me. But I know the tunnel will eventually come to an end, and I must fully and completely trust God to be my pilot, and rest in the assurance that He is 100% in control.
Note that Gideon, too, had no idea what God was going to do, nor what plan He had for Gideon and the mere 300 men left who, with Gideon, feared God more than anything the enemy could do against them. They knew that God had a plan and that their strategies and abilities, no matter how brilliant, were all for naught! They were right where God wanted them to be – fully consecrated to Him, completely dependent upon God’s deliverance and victory, recognizing that they could do absolutely nothing in and among themselves to solve the desperate situation they were in that, from a human perspective, would certainly result in their brutal death. Indeed, what they faced was far more severe than what I’m facing. Yet where they were in their hearts is where we need to be. Note that once Gideon and his 300 men were completely dependent on God, and they were ready, He gave them a sign of deliverance. God may as well give us a sign that all will be all right through whatever circumstance we may be facing. It may be through God’s Word, through a dream that someone has, as in Gideon’s case; through a word of knowledge someone might give us. In my case, He’s given me multiple signs (all of the above). At that point, like Gideon, we should bow and worship God for WHAT HE WILL DO! God still used an army of Israelites to chase after and slaughter and capture the Midianites, but it took just a few faithful men, figuratively, to be obedient and faithful against all odds, even in the face of death. Gideon and his men actually played a very small part. It was their obedience and faith in God and doing merely as He instructed, that delivered an entire nation.
Today our nation is in a mess. Good is called evil and evil is called good. That’s why I’m in prison. Yet we must, you must, whoever might read this, be among the few who will stand against insurmountable odds. Even Jesus says we will be hated on account of His name, but it is the one who ENDURED to the end who will be saved. “God will ultimately do His part, and if we stand faithful, having removed the idols in our life with God’s help, consecrating ourselves, abandoning every temptation and sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, casting every care and burden to the Lord, He will use you to bring victory, glory, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ in unfathomable ways -- if not in this life, yet in the life to come.
While writing this in the little “library,” which consists of a desk, an ironing board, a table, and a bookshelf with maybe 40-50 books, I got randomly searched for the first time. He had me empty my pockets, patted me down, and then made me leave the room while he searched it thoroughly. It was a first for me. “J” said to get used to it.
A little while ago, I came back to the room (cell) and “Bones” was in here. He asked me my name, and I told him, Philip. That’s not what he wanted. He wanted to know what to call me. He said nobody uses their legal names here. I said he could just call me Philip. He wasn’t satisfied.