Paul tells the Ephesians to be strong and stand against the trickery of the Devil. In fact, he uses the word four times in that strong passage of Ephesians Six. What he is saying is there comes a point in your Christian experience when God has done for you all He can do. He gave you His Son. He gave you His Spirit. He gave you His Word. He emptied heaven and gave it to you. There is nothing more God can do. It is at this time in your Christian walk that God asks you to stand.
People often come to me for counseling. Like others, we fully believe in deliverance, healing, counsel and instruction. But, sometimes after people come and explain their situation, I say, "Dear, I tell you what you must do. You must stand." They don't like to hear that because they think I should have some magic wand with which I can chase away their problems. There are some situations that can be changed directly by prayer and there are some situations that can best be changed by personal counsel. Conversely, there are some situations that can be changed by healing or deliverance but there are other situations in which God requires a person to stand. That is why Paul says this four times: "Stand therefore..." (The Greek word means you stand as a conqueror.) It's important.
When we get into a situation in which God is requiring us to stand, we had better know how to stand. Panic, in the middle of a crisis, will cause us to do all kinds of dumb things. Then the Lord has to bring us all the way back around and sometimes, months or years later, create a similar situation until he has taught you how to stand.
Occasionally, I put it this way. God fixes a fix to fix you. If you fix the fix before you are fixed, he has to fix another fix to fix you. That's not confusing--just basic principles.
Isaiah says: "Rejoice therefore, and glory in the Lord." The only person who can rejoice and glory in the Lord is the person who has learned how to stand in the whirlwind. That means he has learned not to be dictated to by circumstances, but by the will of God. That's really what it means to stand.
There is a teaching going out through the church that you can praise your way out of anything. Again, I believe in praise; it is a great, wonderful and powerful tool. But it can be a very injurious thing to teach people that all you have to do is praise, no matter what is going on, and you'll come out of the situation bouncing and springing. It is more complicated than that.
Psalm 143 explains how David reacted when caught in a whirlwind. I enjoy praising and shouting and glorifying God. And I believe praise is a great and important weapon. But there is a vast difference between praise and standing.
David is the one who teaches us about praise. Yet in this instance, David said praise was not particularly the answer to his problem. David had to learn something about standing. He had run head on into the principalities and powers. He involved himself in spiritual warfare that was so deep and complicated he was never able to describe his own feelings accurately.
Also, there is another teaching that says we are only to confess positive things. To confess sickness, failure or disappointment supposedly leads to more of the same. So when someone says, "Brother, I can tell you what my problem is. My problem is that I am hurt and...," the positive confessor jumps up and declares, "That's a negative confession! You're not supposed to confess bad things." Good confessions and truth are two different things. Walking with Christ isn't mind over matter. It is Jesus in operation in the life of the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 143, David, the man who initiated the concept of praise, is explaining something to us. Look at the steps of the enemy pressing the man and the steps out of his clutches.
"The enemy hath persecuted my soul..." There is a tremendous emotional, spiritual, even physical conflict going on inside so he confesses: "The enemy is persecuting my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground."
It's like Paul saying, "Knocked down but not knocked out." "...He hath made me to dwell in darkness..." Lord, where are you? Are you there? There are few people who have never walked in darkness. I am not referring to the normal Christian life, but about learning to stand in that instance when the whirlwind breaks all around and the enemy comes after you with no holds barred.
"Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me..." I once talked to a lady who said, "Brother Bob, I have a situation in my home. I try to stand, yet as I stand and try to believe God, something sort of breaks inside of me and I just come all apart." Her spirit was overwhelmed. There was more coming at her than she was prepared to stand against.
"...My heart within me is desolate." In other words, his emotions were just devastated. He felt nothing. Have you ever said 'Hallelujah!" and had it dribble off your chin and drip on the floor? Have you ever picked up the Bible and it read like the New York Times? Understand again, I am not referring to the normal Christian life but about times when the enemy comes in a whirlwind and God chooses to use the circumstances to equip and teach us how to stand.
So God says, "Now, after you have done all: prayed, praised, read, prophesied, listened to forty tapes and asked the elders to pray for you - after you've done all that - now stand!" There comes a time when there is nobody who can really help you. You must stand all by yourself.
I am so glad God enabled the writers of the Scripture to tell it like it really was. Moses struck the rock in anger, due to the intense pressure he was under. I'm grateful it is recorded that Moses blew his stack. In fact, I have that underlined in my Bible.
The question is-how do you stop the downward spiral of the whirlwind? Sometime ago, after three straight weeks of speaking engagements, I was really on the mountain top. But upon returning home there was a concerted attack upon my being. The enemy came in like a flood causing me to spiral down spiritually. I was caught in the whirlwind. No matter what I tried, I was sinking.
The enemy attacks the mind, the emotions, even (or especially) using friends and loved ones to knock you down. How do you stop the downward spiral so you don't go right on out of sight? The answer is in Psalm 43.
David said, "I remember..." I have found that under the pressure of the enemy it is easy to forget all God ever did for you. So when I feel the enemy pressing in on me I say, "Glory to God, I remember the time the Lord healed our daughter Beth. I remember the time we needed $169.60 and the Lord sent it in the mail - $169.97... 37 cents to mail the bill with." When I start remembering all the things God ever did for me, something changes in my spirit. Can you remember the time a specific prophecy came to you? Remember the time you were at that conference and as you were worshipping the glory of God came and you could hardly contain yourself? In other words, start remembering. It is balm to the wounded spirit.
The devil says, "God never did it. You are going right out of sight. You have never loved the Lord anyway. If there was ever a mess, you are in it or you are it."
Battle the Attacker: It's then you must raise your fist at Satan and say, "Not so! I remember when the prophetic word came. I remember when I was sick with flu and thought I was going to die and went in and laid down on the living room couch and said,'Lord, Jesus, heal me'; and the Holy Spirit came and healed the flu right there. I remember financially, physically..." The minute you start remembering, Satan has to flee.
Then David said, "...I meditate on all thy works... " Or, think about the way God does things. Do you know God's ways are not like our ways? We say that, yet we get mad when he doesn't do things the way we think he should. I said, "Lord, here I am," and the devil jumped on me with both feet. So God says, "Okay, just think about my works."
So, I begin to meditate on God's works and say, "Lord, I don't really understand why this situation is like this, but Lord I know this. Your ways are not my ways. I understand the enemy is trying to press me out of shape and trying to cause me to accuse you of unrighteousness. But Lord, I know your ways are always right. Even if I don't understand them, I worship you."
Try that on for size the next time the whirlwind swirls around you. It will give you a foundation so firm nothing can move you from it. "...I muse on the work of thy hands." Now, what is that? One night I went out in the backyard on an evening when there must have been ten million stars. I thought, "God, if you could put all those stars up there, you could help me." So I looked at creation and do you know what happened? As I learned to understand God as creator--the creator of heaven and earth, the sea and the land and all that is in them-I got a vision of God that was bigger than all my problems. "God, I thank you that you are creator."
I heard about an atheist student who didn't believe there was a God. So he went to his Christian professor. The professor said, "If you want to get a vision of God just go out in the backyard and say, 'God, if there is a God, I want to know you."' So the young man tried it. He came back the next day and the professor said, "How did you make out?" He said, "I felt like a fool." The professor said, "That's a good revelation for the beginning. "
Do you know where I got the faith to believe God for one semester's tuition at Bible School? I was praying one day and reading the Psalms. I found where it says, The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I said, "Lord, why don't you sell one of those cows and pay my bill?" My faith was strengthened and before the deadline I had the cash for my tuition in my hands.
God knows where you are. He knows the enemy has crowded you. He said, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without me knowing it." I believe that when I comb my hair he sees the eight strands that fall out.
Remembering, meditating, and musing are three aspects of the internal life. These things stop the downward spiral. Next David says, "I stretch forth my hands unto thee." The Hebrew meaning of this is, "I stretch forth my hands like a little boy waiting for his father to pick him up." There is not a father alive who can resist that. It is not by human strength or human wisdom you stand. It is by God's grace and power.
"...My soul thirsteth after thee, like a land that is so dried out it has big cracks in it." Have you ever seen a lake that is all dried up? Big cracks appear. It is begging for water. This is the process. You have eliminated the circumstances that are destroying you. Instead of tangling with the devil you now begin to open your heart to God; "God, I remember when you healed me and delivered me. I understand the works of your hands. I understand if I hunger and thirst after righteousness, I shall be filled. I want to come back from this dry, barren place into your presence."
This is the normal Christian life we are approaching. We are supposed to live in Romans 8, not just visit it. You are learning how to stand in the whirlwind because you have responded to God in a proper way.
"...Hear me..." the psalmist says next. I don't know whether I have the courage to state here what I really think, lest it be misunderstood, but here goes. Prayer is not a cure all. There are some things you don't have to pray about. Praying about them only leads to frustration. There is a time to remember, and there is a time to pray.
Many Weapons: When it comes to the business of praying, some people like to snap their fingers believing it is done. But wait. Go through the New Testament very carefully and you will see there are a variety of weapons. Prayer is only one of them. I am a man who prays and I understand the validity of "the effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much..." I understand all of that, yet why didn't David begin to pray in the beginning of his whirlwind crisis? Why, like the little tyke who had his prayer on the wall, didn't he say, "See that, Lord!" and jump into bed? There are times when prayer just does not come forth. There are times when the Holy Spirit has to come on you and pray with his own groanings, with things that cannot be uttered. We have been in situations where all we could say was, "Oh, God! Jesus! Jesus," knowing only that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
"Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth." In other words, "I am in a situation where you had better hear me." I am so glad David was honest with God. He told God exactly how he felt and so can we. True relationships are based on honesty.
"...hide not your face from me..." Have you ever prayed to an empty room, saying, "Lord, where are you?" No answer. Nothing. "Lord, there is no use hiding from me. I know you are there."
David knew God was watching this entire thing. He knew God was saying, "Well, would you look at that. The devil's got David. Oh, oh, David is sinking. Oh, David, you had better stand."
David said, "I will Lord, I will. Lord I remember. I muse. I meditate. I know your ways, God. I know you are the creator, God. I know you don't let anything come upon my life if I don't need and which is not necessary."
Then he says, "Lord, I've done my part. Please come quick. Hear me speedily and don't hide your face from me."
God's face is synonymous with his manifest Presence - that feeling, sensing, enjoying the Presence of the Lord. What God had done was to lift his Presence from David. No wonder, David cried out, "Lord, don't hide your face from me. Please God, I am standing right there by faith. Father, I stretch my hands to you, my soul thirsts like a dry thirsty land. Hear me, don't hide your face from me."
There are two elements in God hearing you. "Cause me to hear and cause me to know." That means we must look to God alone as the one able to make us know and hear. We get into this situation by hungering and thirsting for God, saying, "God, in this thing I want you to hear me, and cause me... for in thee do I trust."
In the New Testament the same greek word is used for "believing" and "trusting," but there can be a difference between the concepts of believing and trusting. Believing is active; it is something you do. Trusting is passive; it is something you hold on to. When you are unable to believe, you are required by God to trust. "Lord, I don't know Lord what you are doing, but I trust you."
I heard about a man who wanted to teach his nine-year-old son about the business world. "Son," he said, "climb up on the eight-foot step ladder and jump. Daddy will catch you."
So the boy climbed, jumped, and the daddy stepped back and his son hit the ground. "Son," the father said to the bruised child, "the first lesson in the business world is don't trust anybody."
But you know something. I have jumped off some eight-foot step ladders and my Father has always caught me, although on several occasions it was only a quarter of an inch from concrete. But I've learned to trust Him. We believe as long as we can, then we start trusting. Do you see the difference?
"Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee." The reason the whirlwinds come is to blow us into a direct and personal relationship with God. As Hebrews says, "shaking us until only the unshakable remains." The Lord wants to wean us from things and people and situations around us, forcing us into a relationship with Himself.
The next prayer is come is to "deliver me." Anybody who has gotten this deep into a hassle with the enemy probably needs deliverance. But that is not exactly what David is saying. He is saying, "Lord, I want to come out of this situation clean, without the smell of smoke on me." The normal Christian life is to walk openly in victory with righteousness, healing and prosperity over the whole life. "Deliver me, Oh Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me."
"Teach me..." Deliverance without teaching is a very dangerous thing. One of the greatest problems we have is people who say, "Well, you don't know what problems that caused." I have found over some years of experience that where good teaching follows deliverance, people rise up and walk in joy and victory.
"Lead me into the land of uprightness." The RSV declares, "Lead me on a level path." In other words, "Lord when I get out of this, I would like for you to adjust my whole way of life so that it would be just on a level path. I don't care to go through this one again."
"Quicken me, make me alive, fill me with joy." The word "quicken" means to make alive, to fill with joy, to overflow the soul with all the goodness of God. Did you know that every time the Lord leads you through a very harrowing experience, the next thing he does is pull out the stopper and pour it on you? Yes, he inundates you with good things. "And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul; for I am thy servant."
So here's how to stand in the whirlwind. Remember. Muse. Meditate. Stretch forth. Have a thirsty soul. These things stop the wind from blowing. Then we learn to pray the prayers of Psalm 143.
This is not a drill. This is the real thing. As we come closer to the throne of God, as we walk that narrow road of obedience (which grows more narrow at each step) the winds blow harder. School children in the midwest often go through "tornado drills." They march outside and down into the storm cellar, or they are taught how to get under their desks. They are drilling in case the real thing ever comes along.
Well, church, this is not a drill. The tornado is upon us. It is imperative we know how to stand in the whirlwind. And the Bible formula is, "...hear me, don't hide from me, cause me to hear, cause me to know, deliver me, teach me, lead me, quicken me ... for I am thy servant."
Thank God for a generation of people who are no longer being blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine, but are growing up into maturity in Christ.
Copyright: 1994 by Morningstar Publications and Ministries. All rights reserved.
This article is published courtesy of "The Morningstar Publications and Ministries". If you would like to peruse more of their articles, visit Morningstar's website.
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