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Thursday, April 24

What is It that Makes some Christians Passionate when others aren't?

         Keith and I are a team, passionate about reaching people with our music and writings that proclaim the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached.  We regularly offer our messages electronically by podcast, social media, website, and this blog.  I must say, however effective these outreaches prove to be, Keith has NOT stopped boldly, yet lovingly, approaching people at gas stations, supermarkets, and stop lights.  In fact, since about a month after we met in 2008, I haven't been able to count the people he befriends, everywhere we go, usually leaving them with one of his books or CDs.  Anyone who has seen him in action will tell you what a faith-building sight it is!  Keith knows, intimately, how God uses these opportunities to provide folks with something they need, at the place where they are, at exactly the right time.
         I hope that, as you read this blog, your heart, soul and spirit is stirred with an increased passion for oneness with Christ Jesus and for pouring into people.  I have referenced this writing in a personal letter we are mailing out this month to the friends, family members and financial partners of Toward The Mark.  If you would like to begin receiving regular mailings from us, just send an email request to Keith and BrendaLee Shealy or mail a printed request to:  Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.

IT, this is Part I of II:
During rush hour traffic, a guy in a red pickup truck cut me off, the back corner of his truck barely missing the front of my car. I guess he was hoping to make it through the next intersection before the traffic signal turned red. My Mom would have said "If I didn't know better, I would think that fella' was going to a house fire." As God would have it, the guy did not make the red light, and I stopped directly behind him. On his back window I could see a decal with the Harley Davidson logo and the words "SOLD OUT JESUS FREAK."
Upon seeing that, I jumped out of my car, opened the trunk, and grabbed a copy of our book, XII Smooth Stones. (I keep a complete supply of our teaching resources in my car, because ministry opportunities can appear at any moment.) As I went up to the red truck, I signaled to the driver to roll down his window. With a surprised look on his face, he complied, and before he could speak, I handed him the book, saying "God bless you." As we pulled away from the light I could see him smiling and vigorously waving to me through his rear window.
Now, although I am able to sow God's Word regularly, it is not every day that I get the kind of encouraging response that I received later that evening from the driver of the red truck. Later that evening he sent an e-mail saying that, once he opened our book, XII Smooth Stones, he could not put it down, and before he knew it, he had read the entire book. He said in his e-mail that the teachings were everything that he had been craving and praying for, but was not getting from the church he had been attending. He then asked if I could speak to a men's group that meets on Tuesday evenings and bring copies of our new book. I replied that I would be honored to go and that Brenda and I would be praying for them.
Since that evening I have received several e-mails from the owner of the red truck. I also spoke to approximately thirty-five men for about an hour in an old garage where it was about 95 very humid degrees. These men were there because they wanted more of God! When I had finished speaking, I was able to sow into their lives over fifty copies of our books. This is but one example of the ways we are able to freely give because of the hard work of our team and the monthly financial support of a very small group of generous partners. None of this would have happened, however, if I had not seized the opportunity to approach the driver of the red pickup truck. For, once again, God had honored my morning prayer request to open a door to sow the good seed of Toward The Mark's teaching resources into the fertile soil of someone's life.
So I have a question for you: What is it that that would compel a Christian to jump out of a car at a busy intersection while most professing Christians would not? After all, Jesus instructed us to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) How is it, then, that we seem to be hearing less and less about scripture-based evangelism? Here we stand at the threshold of our Lord's return and the very spirit of slumber that we are all warned not to entertain seems to be knocking Christians unconscious everywhere. Jesus knew this would happen, and He warned us numerous times, such as in the following passage of Scripture...
          "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." (Mark 13:31-37; Emphasis added.)
Those words have special meaning for us, since we are so close to the time of the End. The Lord wants us to be spiritually awake so that we can watch for His coming. However, even those who were alive when Jesus walked the Earth were in need of a spiritual jump-start. Hear what Jesus said to His disciples shortly after He had risen from the dead...

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them [To rebuke severely; censure; Scold] with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16:14)
After getting their attention, the Lord immediately commanded them to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15; Emphasis added.) They did...
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16:20; Emphasis added.)
So, what is IT? What would cause a person to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, having the same desire as God to see every creature come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? For starters, IT is having a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. When you examine the lives of those who fulfilled God's passion in their lives and in the lives of others, you will find that each of them had met Jesus Christ. And, because of their encounter, they laid their lives down, including plans, wishes, possessions, relationships, philosophies, etc., to witness to His Greatness.
Multitudes of people have heard about Jesus Christ, but the evidence of the vast majority is that they do not know Him. Meeting Jesus and knowing Him are so much more than having heard about Him. Once you have truly met Him, you will never be the same, and the impact of being in the Lord's presence will inspire you to seek from God what you cannot find any other way. This includes coming to know Him, even as He knows us.
One of the beauties of God's creation is that we are all different, and His approach in dealing with each of us encompasses those differences. So not all encounters with Christ are alike. For instance, there are those who have met Jesus as an all-consuming fire, such as Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul). Conversely, Jesus may be very gentle, or He may choose some manner in between. The Book of Acts records Saul's encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time, Saul was traveling on the road to Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus as violators of the Law of Moses...
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the thorns. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:3-7)
Saul fell to the ground in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare that with the account of the men who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane...
"Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he (Jesus) had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground." (John 18:1-6; Emphasis added.)
The Bible documents other similar occurrences in both the Old and the New Testament, but such experiences are not limited to Biblical times. I have personally had several demobilizing encounters with Jesus Christ, but I have also encountered Jesus in more gentle ways that were just as profound, but much less taxing emotionally and physically. In our book, Letters from the Front, I describe in detail some of those events. If you have not read the book, and are interested in knowing more, our TowardTheMark INC. website has all of that and more in our other printed inventory available.
I know a brother in the Lord who testifies that the Lord visited him and his wife as she lay dying. With the gentleness of a lamb, the Savior kissed them both on their foreheads while speaking words of love and deliverance. His wife was miraculously healed that day! This brother also tells of a moment when he suddenly found himself in the presence of the Lord in Heaven. His soul was flooded with joy so quickly that his body felt like it would soon explode, and he pleaded for it to stop. This occurred in less time than it takes to read this paragraph.It is certain that our bodies cannot withstand the power of God's presence. In the parable of the garment and the wine bottles, Jesus taught that we need new bodies to be able to stand in His glorious presence, and to enjoy the fullness of the new life He brings. That same parable concludes with a warning about rejecting the new life that God offers to us through Christ.
         "And he spoke also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agrees not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desires new: for he says, The old is better." (Luke 5:36-39)
Observe how the old bottles will burst and perish if the fullness of the life of Christ is poured into them. God knows our limitations and will not put more on us than we can bear. As the psalmist wrote, "For he knows our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14) On the other hand, He knows that through Him we can handle far more than we think. Also notice that the natural tendency is to reject what the Lord offers, preferring the old life to the new. "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desires new: for he says, The old is better."
This last point explains why it is likely that you have never been around someone who has encountered Christ, even within the avid church-going crowd. You may be thinking, I am faithful in tithing, Church attendance, and helping others, but I have never had an encounter with Jesus Christ. If you have never experienced anything like the things that we have shared with you in this letter, it in no way means that God does not love you, or that He respects someone else more than He does you. As the Scripture says, "God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)
Now, although God is not a respecter of persons, He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) You will only get out of something, what you are willing to put into it. This proves no less true concerning your becoming ONE with your Heavenly Father. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7) If you desire for the Lord to show Himself to you in a great way, then you must seek Him diligently. If you noticed, Paul did not say that God is a Rewarder of those who "merely" seek Him. He said that God is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!
I share this with you in hopes that it will help instill in you an unquenchable desire to diligently seek God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and body. You must understand, this walk with God is an "all in or all out" endeavor! "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16) God wants nothing more than to draw close to us, but He is hindered only by our lack of desire to first draw close to Him! God's Word is clear on this.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:7-10)
Too many "Church folk" today are wandering around thinking that God does not love them for one reason or another. They leave Church lonely on Sundays wondering if God even exists. I say, try something new! Seek God diligently, offer up thanks to Him for who He is more than for what He can do for you. Also, if you have given yourself entirely to God and have yet to experience anything like I have shared in this letter, do not be discouraged. Rather be very encouraged. God will reveal Himself to you in His time...
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." (Hebrews 10:35-36)
Be assured that God can show Himself to you in many different ways, and do not think that God only shows Himself to us in big ways. Some of my greatest experiences have been when God moved in the small matters of my life; Whether it was getting a much-needed check in the mail as a bill came due, getting an encouraging phone call when I needed it most, or hearing His soft and gentle whisper in my spirit. God has many ways by which He can reveal Himself to each of us; Such ways will build our faith like nothing else can.
We pray that this message has helped you better understand the importance of diligently seeking God. Remove all distractions from your life and seek Him with your whole heart! I also pray that, from this day forward, you will make God your permanent residence and will give your life to leading those around you, as Jesus prayed in the garden, into oneness with our Almighty God and King. 

To be continued...
Part II of this blog message is coming up within the coming month.

We invite you to take advantage of these additional Scripture-based truths we have available to help you Press Toward the Mark of becoming "one" with your Heavenly Father:
"Keith Shealy & Toward The Mark" on Facebook;
Keith's "Between The Lines" Podcast on Libsyn;
"TTM Singing Sgt" on Twitter;
"Sharing with you the Secrets that God Whispers to us" website scripture messages.

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Wednesday, April 23


In the late 80's I was serving as youth pastor over a rather large and growing group of young people for a Church on the outskirts of Washington, DC. During the same period of time, I was also holding down a full time job as an outside sales representative for a commercial printing and graphics firm, playing on the church praise and worship team five services a week, teaching a school of the Bible class one night a week at the church, conducting a Bible study at my home one night a week, attending early morning prayer six mornings a week at the Church, rehearsing and playing with my own music outreach band while still having to do things like eat, laundry, sleep, maintain a household and all of that kind of stuff. Unbeknownst to me I was well on my way to possessing a terrible case of fatigue. If there was a silver lining around that cloud at all it was learning the valuable and costly lesson that when we are fatigued mole hills become mountains and we are at our most vulnerable to attack. The Webster's dictionary defines the word "vulnerable" as, "that can be wounded or injured; open to, or easily hurt by, criticism or attack." It was in this state of vulnerability that I would soon arrive at a place of utter frustration.

During a Sunday evening service on a cold January night, it would all finally catch up with me. After the praise team had finished its portion of the service and we were making our way to our seats, it hit me. I felt as if all of the energy had completely drained out of me. I was soon overcome with flu- like symptoms resulting in a deep anguish that caused me to do something that I had not done in at least five years; I left the service early. As I went to the car all I could think was that I wanted to be alone. I drove home, stumbled through the front door and collapsed into the living room chair. After sitting for several minutes, I grabbed the television remote and turned the TV on to watch one of the more well known preachers of the time. This particular night he was speaking on faith and with what I was going through, I quickly poised myself to hang on to every word that he had to say. I desperately needed a word from God! As I was listening to him I began noticing that there was something that was not quite right with his message but I could not put my finger on just what it was. All of a sudden it dawned on me! As good of a job as he had done, what I noticed was that he just spent an entire hour preaching on how we can't please God without faith but totally failed to explain how we as believers can obtain it. Talk about adding insult to injury! There I was, going through perhaps the toughest time of my life, desperately needing a word from God and nothin', zilch, nada!

I turned the television off and went down the hall to my bedroom. As I got ready for bed I reflected on what the TV preacher had just shared and frankly the grief that I was already feeling was increasing substantially. So much so that I sat on the edge of my bed, turned the light off, put my head in my hands and began to weep. I was in a state of total brokenness. I slid off my bed onto my knees and cried out to God praying "Father, if it is impossible to please you without faith then please help me to find the handle on the kind of faith that makes you happy. All I want is to know that I am pleasing you!" What happened next would change my life forever! With my face now buried in the carpet and my ear desperately tuned to hearing the voice of the Lord it happened! The Lord's presence filled the room and with a clarity unlike I had ever heard Him speak before, He said, "Sit up, I have come to answer your prayer." After sitting up He said, "I am here to explain to you how to obtain the kind of faith that makes me happy!" It was then that, in the spirit, He placed His hand on my back and ushered me straight up through the ceiling of my bedroom, the attic and the roof of the house. We proceeded upward into the night sky for what I could best estimate was about fifteen hundred feet over my neighborhood.

Even though it was the dead of winter at the time, I clearly remember not being affected in the least by the frigid temperature. It is very difficult to explain. It was as if there was no climate whatsoever; the comfort level was indefinable. I remember passing through the attic of my house and seeing the rafters and insulation vividly. I remember looking down as we ascended upward and seeing the cars with their headlights on traveling up and down the streets of my neighborhood. In that one swift instance, every great thing that I had ever heard or read about the awesomeness of God was exceeded immeasurable. Even the term, "I couldn't put it into words" was a vast understatement! Once we reached His desired height He positioned us, like a helicopter would hover, directly over the main entrance to the neighborhood. It was there that He would answer my prayer and give me the three keys to God-pleasing faith. Before I attempt to explain in the best way I know how what words were not designed to describe, I would like to lay just a bit more groundwork for you. I did not know it at the time but the reason that He had taken me over the entrance of my neighborhood to explain this to me was because there were three roads from the entrance of the neighborhood that led to my house. It would be these three roads that He would use as a map to help me understand how to obtain the faith that I so desired.

As we were suspended over the entrance of the neighborhood, He leaned over to me and said, "son, do you see your house in the distance?" I said, "yes Lord." He said, "we are going to pretend that your house is your desired destination of the kind of faith that brings me joy." He then asked, "do you see the main road below you that leads into your community?" I said, "yes Lord." He said, "we are going to call this road, you must learn how to trust in me blvd." He then asked, "do you see the road just up ahead on the left that leads over to the street your house is on?" I said, "yes Lord." He said, "we are going to call that road, you must learn how to rest in me street." He then asked, "do you see the road that leads up to your house?" I said, "yes Lord." He said, "we will call it, you must learn how to wait on me drive." He then said, "do you see now, if you get on you must learn how to trust in me blvd., make a left on you must learn how to rest in me street and then make a right on to you must learn how to wait on me drive you will, at the end of that road find the kind of faith that makes me happy!" "Once you learn how to trust in me, rest in me and wait on me you will have obtained the kind of faith that fills my heart will unspeakable joy. These are the three key ingredients to God pleasing faith." As soon as He had said that, I found myself instantaneously back on the floor in my bedroom.

As you can imagine, at that point all I could do was offer up songs of gratitude and praise and even that seemed so insufficient in the presence of the almighty King of all Kings. Again, what I was experiencing could in no way be expressed with mere words! After about fifteen minutes I laid prostrate on the floor to wait on Him once again. As I was quietly lying there listening for Him, He spoke for the second time. This time it was in the form of a stern warning. He said, "never forget, the archenemy to the kind of faith that pleases me is the demonic spirit of anxiousness, gird yourself against it!"

Immediately understanding washed over me! I saw so plainly the reason why so many people were being herded into the frustrating throes of dead religion. Many people walk around having a form of godliness but are relying solely on self sufficiency or the arm of flesh rather than taking the time and effort necessary to acquire true faith in God, the ability to trust, rest and wait totally on Him in every situation. Now I understand better what Paul meant when he said, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Paul was simply warning us to stay away from anyone or anything that would hinder our obtaining the ability to Trust, Rest and Wait on God!

Up to that point in my walk with the Lord I must admit to you that I did not have a very good understanding of what faith really was, and frankly, neither did most of the people that I had discussed the subject with. Plenty of folks seem to know the consequences of not having faith, but nobody knew how to get it. As a matter of fact, just about all of the teachings that I had heard or read on the subject were vague at best using, as the basis for their teaching, Paul's brief explanation of faith in Hebrews, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) As wonderful of a job as Paul had done explaining what he knew faith to be, I still could not quite grasp what he meant. Sure, I was pretty well familiar with most of the popular buzz phrases of the day but when it came right down to it, the real definition of faith was at best a gray area to most. Even though, after an exhaustive search, I could not find a clear definition of faith anywhere in the scriptures I eventually came to the realization that I did not need to have faith defined in order to have it operating in my life. During that same period of time the faith message was being so misrepresented that I found myself beginning to sidestep the issue whenever it arose. It seemed that the whole "faith thing" was sadly becoming no more than the password for a growing group of people who seemed to be worshipping faith for what it could do for them personally more than they ever worshipped God Himself. The extent of the faith message was really becoming no more than the teaching of cranked up or turbo charged hope.

Even those who were teaching the more balanced faith message of the day were being taken way out of context by the rapidly growing sect of the self seeking. For example, I recall hearing Dr. Kenneth Hagin, a precious minister of the gospel who has now gone on to be with the Lord, tell of a time when he and a group of his colleagues were having dinner at a nearby restaurant after one of his meetings. As they were eating, they overheard a group of people sitting at a table that was on the other side of a partition from them. These folks had obviously attended the meeting and were recapping things that brother Hagin had taught on that night. Brother Hagin said that he was literally shocked as he overheard these people telling each other what they heard Brother Hagin say, things that Brother Hagin said that he never said at all. He later added, "No wonder the faith message was coming under such intense scrutiny!" You see, just because someone listened to you doesn't necessarily mean they heard and understood what you said!

For instance, in 1982 I spent quite a bit of time during the summer water skiing with a new friend and his wife who were both steeped in the unbalanced version of the faith movement. They both worked as managers with a large corporation and were very wealthy. They had the palatial home, nice cars, good looks and everything else that society deems successful. One day he called me and said that he was having problems with his teeth and had been advised to see a dentist. Not quite convinced in his heart that God was going to supernaturally heal him, he called me in hopes that I would say, you don't need to go to a dentist, just believe God for your healing! I did in fact tell him to believe God for healing but I also added that I felt, to be safe, he should go ahead and at least see what a dentist had to say. As soon as I suggested that to him, he became a bit angry with me and replied, "Well, I'll just have pray about that!" He then hung up the phone and I didn't hear back from him for several days. To make a long story short, due to an increase in his pain, he eventually went to the dentist. They did a much needed surgical procedure and he was well on his way to receiving the healing that he so desperately needed even though it was not happening the way that he had hoped. Because the dentist had to make several incisions as a part of his surgery, an antibiotic was prescribed to ward off any possible infection that might occur. The doctor specifically instructed him to take one of the pills every eight hours until the entire bottle was gone. Two days later he was given a tape on divine healing by someone from his church. After listening to the tape, against my advice and the advice of others, he took the antibiotics and flushed them down the toilet and said, "I don't receive this infection." A minister friend later told me that the infection soon spread throughout his entire mouth to the point of his having to have almost half of his lower jaw removed.

Remember, whether we are dealing with matters of faith or any other aspect of our walk with God, "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight." (Proverbs 11:1) It is of the utmost importance that we maintain balance where our faith walk is concerned. Rely too much on your own abilities or the arm of flesh and we will always remain outside of the will of God. On the other hand, abandon initiative and common sense, like our friend with the dental problem did, and we will wind up fruitless where God's will for our lives and service to both Him and His people are concerned. For example, you want a beautiful green lawn for the summer. You made your request known to God and He, working through an anonymous donor, supernaturally provides the money for your fertilizer, grass seed and the necessary tools to get the job done. Now, how nice do you think your lawn will look when spring comes, if all you have done is purchase the materials and equipment but refuse to do the work needed to get the seed and fertilizer out of the bags and into the ground? You're right, you will have the same old, brown, tumbleweed-looking mess you have had for the past several years, simply because you didn't put feet on your faith and get the work done. James teaches us, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." (James 2:17-18) Balance the two, faith and works, and you will be well on your way to bringing a smile to the face of God! Remember, the principle ingredients to our receiving the kind of faith that pleases Him is our obtaining the ability or learning how to trust in, rest in and wait on God in every situation.

Now, let's take a moment and look at each of the three keys that make up God-pleasing faith. The first key being TRUST. What is trust? (Source- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) The Hebrew word for trust is "batach." It expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence, to trust, be confident or sure; be bold (confident, secure, sure) careless, put confidence, (make to) hope, (put, make to) trust, rely on, take refuge in. This idea of taking refuge may well derive from the common experience of fugitives or men of war, for whom the adjacent hills provided a ready "safe height" or "strong rock" to which the often helpless defender could hurry for protection. "The LORD redeemed the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate." (Psalms 34:22)"He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." (Psalms 91:1-2) "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

Our second key is REST. (Source- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) The Hebrew word for rest is "noo'-akh." A primitive root; to rest, i.e. settle down; to dwell, stay, fall, place, let alone, withdraw, give comfort, etc. KJV- cease, be confederate (to be united), lay, let down, (be) quiet, remain, (cause to, be at, give comfort, etc.) Rest also signifies a fixed and secure habitation. Rest also has the following figurative meanings: To learn, or trust in, to continue fixed, to come to an end and to cease from war. The last is probably my favorite. Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) "For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Hebrews 4:3) "For he that is entered into his (God's) rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:10-11) God's greatest pleasure is to be believed! When we come to the place where we have learned to rest in God it is evidence that we believe Him to fulfill in our lives what He promises in His word. That's why it's literally impossible to please Him if we do not believe or have faith in Him for everything! The Webster's Dictionary defines believe, 1.) to take as true, real, etc. 2.) to trust a statement or promise of (a person) 3.) to suppose or think, to have faith (in).

Our third key is WAIT. (Source: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

The Hebrew word for wait is "kaw-vaw'; a primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect: KJV- gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

This root means to wait or look for with great expectation. Waiting with steadfast endurance is a great expression of faith. It means enduring patiently in confident hope that God will decisively act for the salvation of His people.

Those who wait in true faith are renewed in strength so that they can serve the Lord while looking for His saving work. His faith is strengthened through His testings, and His character is further developed.

Paul, in his letter to the believers in Rome said, "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Romans 8:25) "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Galatians 5:5) "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalms 27:14) "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth." (Psalms 37:9) "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." (Psalms 25:5)

Can you see why the Lord said that anxious spirits are the archenemy to faith? Whenever we become so weighed down and blinded by the cares of this life, as I had, what we have in fact done is allowed our relationship with God to become severed. Jesus warns us of this, "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." (Luke 21:34-35) Anxious spirits will always serve to destroy our faith (our ability to trust, rest and wait) in God. If you think about it, each of these three keys that make up God pleasing faith are terribly disrupted whenever we succumb to anxious and impatient spirits.

When we succumb to anxious spirits, our ability to trust God usually becomes redirected toward relying on our own abilities or the provisions and abilities of others to fulfill the needs that we may have. We call this putting confidence in the flesh! "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3)

Whenever we are anxious, our ability to rest in God is disrupted! As a matter of fact, when we are anxious, our tendency is to leave the protection of God who is our fortress, with all of His benefits, and wander away from Him. Remember the old military adage, Divide and Conquer!

When we are anxious, our ability to wait on God is also hindered drastically. When we allow ourselves to be swept away by anxiousness, our tendency is to try and "outrun God." When we don't get what we want when we want it, waiting is the last thing we feel like doing. So what do we do? We try to make things happen on our own. What we are doing then is telling God, "I don't believe you or your word!" Can you see where this would "displease" God? Remember, God's only pleasure is to be believed! When we try to possess something before it's God's time for us to have it, what we are doing is calling a curse down on our own heads.

Anything that stands in the way of our trusting in, resting in and waiting on God for everything in our lives displeases Him! What God truly desires for us is that we learn how to trust Him for everything in the same way that a little child knows without a doubt that he or she will have all their needs provided without fail. "And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2-3) It is this same kind of child-like faith in Him that God desires that each of us acquire. How do we get it? We get it by first letting down the walls in our lives that have hindered us from opening ourselves up to sound Biblical counsel and investing the time necessary to get to know both God and "His" people in a close and intimate way. Remember, everything that God does is for the purpose of our being able to possess a close and deeply personal relationship with Himself and it is our faith that bonds us together. Without faith, we are separated from God! When we are separated from Him, we have no relationship with Him, and if we have no relationship with Him, it breaks His heart. We must place all of our confidence in God! This is why Paul so emphatically teaches us, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Your friend and fellow servant in Christ Jesus, 

We invite you to take advantage of these additional Scripture-based truths we have available to help you as you Press Toward the Mark of becoming "one" with your Heavenly Father:
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Would you like to obtain the kind of "FAITH" that makes God happy?  

        You're about to read of the life-changing revelation Keith received, personally, during an incredible encounter he had with Jesus Christ. This encounter gave Keith, and all those who have heard about it, a profound understanding of how to obtain "FAITH" that bonds us to God like NOTHING ELSE can!

Wednesday, April 9

Keith's 1st Terrifying Encounter -- with an Angel

From all-consuming FEAR - begging Him to leave my room -
to PEACE that consumed me!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endures for ever.” (Psalms 111:10)

Today's blog is helping folks achieve at least these 3 things:

1.) Create in you an unquenchable desire to seek God with your whole heart, mind, body, and soul!

2.) Encourage you that, if you have not yet experienced anything like what I am about to share with you today, God will reveal Himself to you in His time and His way!  God shows Himself big to us in various ways, including in the small matters of our lives: 
·     getting a much-needed check in the mail just as a bill comes due;
·     getting an encouraging phone call when we need it most; or
·     hearing His soft and gentle whisper in our spirit that builds our faith like nothing else can.

3.) Tell you why NOT to be afraid of God, as in "earthly fear."  In fact, as a result of the following testimony, I have come to define the fear of the Lord as being, "a personal knowledge of the All- consuming Awesome Power of Almighty God!" 

The encounter that I am talking about took place around 4:00 AM on September 13th, 1985.  That morning I experienced something that, up to that point in my life, I had only heard of or read about, but had never witnessed for myself.  It all started out as a dream that I had that was set in what appeared to be the ruins of an old stucco-style village, like the kind that would have been in Jerusalem during the time that our Lord physically walked the earth.

Appearing before me was the figure of a man whose face I never saw because he had his back to me the whole time and was wearing what seemed to be an oversized, full-length, hooded robe.  From the moment the dream began I heard what sounded like thousands upon thousands of angels singing the song that Jack Hayford wrote entitled “Majesty.” 

As I heard this chorus being sung in awesome beauty, I saw the robed man kneel down at the base of one of the stucco structures next to me.  As he knelt, I leaned over his shoulder and watched him take both of his hands and reach into the wall of the structure, as if it were transparent, and pull out a toy-sized figure of a horse; and on the horse was the figure of a rider.  The horse was about ten inches in length, and the rider on its back seemed to be a small, invisible man made visible only by very loosely-wrapped strips of cotton cloth that were wound around his body. 

During the entire time that I was watching this take place, the consuming praises of God were being sung by voices that, all the while, were growing greater in volume and power.  As I continued looking over the shoulder of the man at the figure of the horse and its rider, the voices of what seemed to be legions upon legions of angels began to suddenly increase in even greater volume and power, like a mighty rushing wind, not harsh to my ears, but with an all-consuming beauty that forced me to look straight up over my head. 

When I looked up, I saw, faster than the human eye can follow, an angel descending down upon me from straight up above.  It seemed as if it was going to land right on top of me but, instead, suddenly stopped and slapped the tips of its wings together, about three inches from my face.  With the clash of its wings together, I awoke from the dream. 

I awoke to find my spirit hovering about two feet over my body, which was laying flat on its back in the bed.  The first thing I realized was that I had been stripped from my will and was totally subject to whatever God wanted to do with me at that point!  The fear I felt cannot be relayed with words! 

Shortly after, I experienced my spirit slowly settling back down into my body.  Once back in my body, I fought to get my hands up over my face in hopes that it would somehow shield or protect me from seeing God, or Jesus Himself, and being consumed like a Kleenex tissue in a raging bonfire. The terrifying fear was indescribable to say the very least! 

By this time, the power of God was so all-consuming, that I could not so much as move or speak.  The only thing that I could think to do was to try to praise God, but by this point I couldn’t even move my hands away from my face, still in fear of what I might see.  The fear was like nothing I had ever experienced, seen, or even heard of before!  It rendered me powerless to move, as if I had been turned to stone.  It was only by the grace of God that I was able to cover my face with my hands.  I was totally subject to whatever God wanted to do with me!  It was also at that time that I learned, much better than I wanted to at that moment, just how frail our physical bodies are in the presence of God.  For example, I was totally amazed that my heart didn’t actually burst.  It sure felt like it was going to. 

After about an hour had passed, the fear began to subside enough to where I started to regain the use of my faculties.  I remember the first thing to come out of my mouth were pleas for Jesus to leave my room!  Even the thought of seeing Him gripped my heart with a fear that can’t be explained with mere words.  As the  horrifying, all-consuming fear continued to subside, I began to notice that it was now being replaced by an all-consuming peace.  The peace was also like nothing that I had ever experienced or even heard of before.  Just like the fear, the peace was indescribable.  Within just a few short hours the Lord had taken me from one extreme to the other.  The peace of God that settled in my room, (since there are no words that can ever come close to describing it) was “like” a dew or mist that fell on everything around me.
“Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.  And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.” (Daniel 10:18-19) 

As the all-consuming peace of Lord began to subside, I was then and only then, able to sit up in my bed and begin worshipping Him.  Believe me, I worshipped Him with every fiber of my being for, as best as I can recall, abount three hours.  I can vividly remember the muscles in my throat feeling as if they were on fire.  My eyes had run out of tears after just the first thirty minutes or so, and my voice was literally worn out from singing praises. 

It was during that time that I realized that it is only because God enables us that we can even participate in the wonderful privilege of worshipping His Holy Name! 

Another amazing thing I learned, while in His presence, was that there are literally no words that can even begin to describe Him!  As a matter of fact, even the names “King of kings” and “Lords of lords” didn’t come close to describing who He is. 

As His peace continued to settle in my room, I was only then able to ask God what was meant by the dream, and what the significance was of the horse and its rider that He had shown me early in the dream.  He said, “The horse and its rider that I showed you represent satan and his hoards of unclean spirits.  The reason I showed them to you at the size that I did was to relay the insignificance and powerlessness they have against you while you walk in Christ.” 

Then He spoke something that left me speechless yet again.  He asked me, “Remember how you were totally consumed with indescribable fear by what you thought was my presence?  Do you remember how you were terrified beyond measure by what you thought was Jesus himself standing in your room?  Do you recall losing the complete use of your body to what you just knew were legions upon legions of angels?  Keith, the truth is, I never did come anywhere near you; My precious Son never even stepped so much as one foot into your room; and what you thought were legions upon legions of angels was only one angel.” 

Not only was I once again totally amazed, but I also immediately remembered and understood fully the account in Matthew where he records what took place at the tomb just after Jesus rose from the dead.  Matthew writes, In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.  And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Matthew 28:1-4) 

Then the Lord said to me, “So, if you were totally consumed by the presence of just one angel, then how much greater things will I do with the legions that I have set at your side (and at the side of all who love Me) to destroy the things that separate My children from Me!” 

He then said, “All of the demons of hell ride a horse named ‘Deception'!”  He concluded by saying, “Get your pen and paper, and document exactly what you have both seen and heard.” 

At that, I reached into my night-stand, grabbed my pen and notepad, and began the difficult task of trying to put into words the things I had seen and heard in the spirit.  And, if I might add, this brief account of what took place does in no way begin to describe the awesomeness of what had taken place.  In that brief period of time in 1985, I received an understanding of "the fear of the Lord" that I had never known before.  It was this new understanding that enabled me to adopt as my own personal definition of the fear of the Lord, “a personal knowledge of the all-consuming, awesome power of almighty God!” 

Although what I experienced that morning was terrifying beyond description, I found it to be something that never turned me against, or drove me away from, God, but one that endeared me to Him in a profound way. 

What took place firmly set my affections on God and established in my heart a love for Him that, until then, I did not think was even possible. 

“In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:26-27 ) 

Unlike the damaging “fleshly fear” that is experienced by a child who is exposed to an abusive parent, experiencing the awesome presence of God, hence the fear of the Lord, establishes a reverence and awe of God which opens the doorway to understanding like nothing else can. 

“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” (Proverbs 1:5-9) 

Where the fear of the Lord is absent in the life of a Christian, lifeless religion will prevail! 

If you desire for the Lord to show Himself to you in a great way, then you must seek Him diligently! 

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) 

If you noticed, Paul did not say that God is a Rewarder of them who “merely” seek Him.  He said that God is a Rewarder of them that “diligently” seek Him! 

This walk with God is an “all in or all out” endeavor!  God wants nothing more than to draw close to us, but the one thing that hinders Him from doing so is our own lack of desire to first draw close to Him! 

“Draw nigh to God, and (then) he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8)

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