Today, I am taking a break from the book Arise and Shine, to share something else with you all.
It’s now been almost seven months into the year my God called me to “celebrate” Him. Seven months at the end of the 7th year since He brought me home to Him. For, I gave my life and heart back to Jesus in the summer of 2014. And it’s only today, I have discovered what that One Word means in Hebrew that He asked me to speak over this year with Him.
When He gave me that Word, He had sent me to Nehemiah 8:12:
So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
That Word celebrate means to create, renew and restore, while “great” means renown and joy means to rejoice. Earlier, He had me digging into Isaiah 60:18 (ESV):
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
Here praise also means “renown” and “fame”. Days earlier, He had shown me that “joy” literally means to “acknowledge God’s grace” in our lives. Did you know that my given names mean “grace” and “famous warrior”. And just all of a sudden I was so overcome because I understood what God was saying to me.
This year He has been restoring and renewing the JOY of my salvation, as He has taught me to discern (hear) what He is saying to me through my intimate experience (understanding) of His Word of truth and grace. For, He has labored in me to create a new heart and renew a right spirit in me.
Now, when the enemy comes in like a flood, I am noticing how I am no longer bowing before this enemy in fear and self-condemnation, as the accusations come against me, but how I am instead bowing in awe and reverence before my God. For, I am watching the Spirit of my LORD raise up a standard against my enemy, as I lay each accusation at the feet of Jesus.
This is a standard of holiness and purity the enemy cannot stand against: the blood of Jesus covering me. For, Christ has labored to restore the breach of my walls of salvation. In His kindness He has moved to restore my first love for Him, causing every tongue waged against His life and beauty in me to be silenced by the power of His mighty Word arising to defend me as His.
In that same chapter in Nehemiah the people gather in the squares of the Water Gate and the Ephraim Gate. We know that water cleanses and that water brings growth. We also know that the Holy Spirit is our living water, flowing out of us. Ephraim means “to be fruitful”. Isn’t that beautiful that God had His people gather there to celebrate His cleansing and renewing grace to them to His fame and renown? As they sang praises unto Him, I believe He was singing over them too (Genesis 1:23, ESV):
[…]“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
I believe He was reminding them that His Word is not sent to condemn us, but to convict us of our sins and of His beautiful righteousness covering us. So, as the people wept, God commanded them through Nehemiah to arise and celebrate instead: to not remain in the sorrowful conviction of their sin, but to arise in the conviction of their God’s righteousness covering them, declaring not their failure, but the Word’s victory in their lives.
Yes, the enemy does come in like a flood, trying to use the precious Word of God to steal, kill and destroy from us, but as he does so, our God arises to defend us. For this mighty God has the final Word over the lives and hearts of His beloved children – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, KJV).
As I sat to pen this, I had music playing at random on Spotify. Every Scripture based song that played was a song I had sung as a teenager, as the enemy came in like a flood against me. Songs I remember singing as I wept, overcome by the love and grace of my God, only to rise the next day terrified by my inability to fulfill the perfect law. But now those Words I sung over my life and heart are returning to me afresh – no longer just as words on the pages of my Bible, but as Living Water flowing out of my own restored and renewed heart.
The enemy thought He had stolen, killed and destroyed this heart of mine. But all along, my God had a plan to glorify Himself in and through my life. By taking what the enemy meant for evil and bringing life abundant from it. By exchanging my faith in my own goodness and strength to stand, with a newborn faith in the goodness and strength of my God that is now causing me to stand victorious.
For, now, unlike when I was a teenager, when I fled my God in fear and self-condemnation, I now realize I have a secret weapon: the Sword of the Almighty God. And that Sword is giving me the power to slice through every single accusation against me, as I declare the fame and renown of my Mighty Warrior.
In His kindness and grace toward me, this Famous Warrior has fought and continues to fight my every battle for me. All I am doing is bowing my knees in prayer, and as I do that, Jesus is arising in and through me: my Sword of life, declaring me and all His beloved children as His.
Now, as one attack is waged after another against me, and physically my circumstances look impossible to prevail against, I can arise to sing by faith:
“Violence shall no more be heard in my land, devastation or destruction within my borders; I shall call my walls Salvation, and my gates Praise.”
Because my land is Jesus and my borders are Jesus and my walls are Jesus and my gates are Jesus. And no matter what happens to me and those I love, this I know for sure: I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. For, my God shall be glorified in me, and His renown shall rise in the grace He is pouring out upon me and all those He has called me to love, with the love He has filled and continues to fill me with.
I would like to end by sharing a song written for the unborn children whose voices are being stolen. But I would like to encourage you to also sing it over the countless children of God, who are living chained to the accusations of the enemy, believing that they have no voice either, believing that their beloved Savior has rejected and abandoned them. Men and women of God, who have bowed before idols, unknowingly giving away their free will to arise clothed in the righteousness of their Savior. Oh may they awaken to the truth: that they are beloved, precious, called and chosen of God!
May God renew and restore their hearts in Him, giving them back their free will to rejoice in their salvation, as they too arise to celebrate Jesus! For, I believe that as people begin to know their own worth in Jesus, they will also treasure the precious life given unto them and growing inside of them.