Part 4: Chapter 1 – Day 4: Gates of Praise

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 4‘s Chapter 1. Today, Anna is bringing forward our 4th free will offering of acacia wood – incorruptible humanity in Christ Jesus.

Did you know that the anger rising within us, is not our shame to hide, but Jesus’ invitation to come to Him just as we are? To let Him pick us up and hold us in His strong, safe arms. For, He longs to unravel our hearts in His mercy, to comfort and restore us in His love.

He won’t let us go in our anger. He promises to hold us tight and to speak HIS Word of truth and grace over us. Just as He has done for me, over and over again. Once, in a vision during EMDR therapy, I saw Him pick me up to hold me close to His heart. I heard Him invite me to kick, scream and flail. He promised to hold me tight and not let me go. As He freed me to cast out what lurked within me, I felt the tension holding my body captive dissolve into tears, as He uncovered the wounds He had so longed to nurse.

Yes! Even childhood trauma, long hidden away from the light of day, is no match for our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For, Jesus, like no other, knows what it is to walk through grave injustice and yet sin not. And so, rather than condemn us and our frozen by sin hearts, He moves toward us in compassion in His perfect and appointed timing. When He has us right where He wants us, He breathes His warmth over and into us to melt our hearts in His love for us.

He moves toward us to set our hearts free to run in the path of His commands. For, He longs to fill us with peace and to release His rivers of mercy from us. Just like the rivers of mercy that flowed in His tears for us, as He walked toward the Cross to do the will of His Father for the joy set before Him.

Psalm 7:11 says: “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays His wrath every day.” We love to talk of the God of love, but that same God of love also loves through His wrath and through His justice. He hates sin because it cripples, shames and enslaves us.

So, when we walk through injustice and suffering and become caged in our sin, God is angry – not at us, but for us – and He weeps. He is not aloof or lacking in compassion. Rather, even now, His hand of justice is working to bring full restoration and healing. 

Beautifully, He often does this by taking us through new situations that trigger (remind us in some way of) what we have walked through as children. He gives us new opportunities to process in a healthy way, what we processed in an unhealthy way as children.

Through the rivers, streams and fires sent our way, God desires to uncover and lift away the accusations of the enemy and the sin that has been caging us. He desires to lift the spirit of heaviness pressing down upon us, as He cleanses and purifies us in His Word. Although these rivers, streams and fires may seem like God’s punishment, they are in fact His mercy.

Isaiah 60:18 (ESV) says: 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. Interestingly, the Word for “gates” can also mean the entance to a furnace – like the furnace Shadrach, Meshach and Abendnego willingly entered, as they refused to bow before another god. A furnace that declared the glory of their God, as He stood in their midst and protected them from all harm. The only things that burned and were destroyed in that furnace were the ropes holding these men of God captive.

So, it’s not that we won’t face evil in this world. Rather, because we are God’s we will in fact be led like lambs to the slaughter, but it’s in these attacks of the enemy that we – and others through us – will discover the power of the spotless and blameless Lamb of God.

That Lamb took upon Him our sin and disease, dying for us that we might live unto righteousness. That we might declare that same righteousness over others, even as the enemy works through them to harm us.

Think of how Stephen chose to request that Saul’s sin not be held against him, as Stephen was stoned to death at Saul’s very command. And think of how that very blessing spoken over Saul led to the murderer of Stephen becoming the apostle Paul, through whose living testimony God is still working today to bless and encourage us all.

Yes, violence, devastation and destruction will give way to the gates of praise. For, we shall yet pour out the kindness and mercy God is pouring out upon us upon the very ones the enemy is using to attack us. And we shall declare every disease and affliction now crippling us, as ordained of God to declare His praise:

And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

John 9:2-3 (ESV)

For cleansed, purified and strengthened in our LORD, we shall choose to no longer bow before our gods of self and man, but instead before our one true God. And that God will protect and keep us safe through the fire, as we hold His hand, and He burns away the very ropes holding us captive.

No! Christ’s desire is not to sweep us away or to burn us through the trials – but instead to sweep away and burn away everything that stands between us and His open arms. All those new situations, where we feel so very helpless, are His gift to us, that this time, we might release the weight of our sin and the accusations of the enemy against us to clothe ourselves in the truth. In the truth that our God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us that we might arise as victors over sin and death today.

For, though our enemy comes in like a flood against us, our God raises His banner over us. He covers us in His righteousness, love and mercy to declare us – and others through us – the sheep of His pasture.

Part of this restoration and healing comes in the release of our hearts from anger. Anger is a fleshly response to situations, where we feel helpless. Our bodies seek to restore the lack of control we feel, by asserting control.

But this taking of control hides the very real wounds inside us that are crying out to be nursed. We are effectively denying the everpresent love and mercy of our Emmanuel – our God with us: the God whose heart aches to draw near to us in our need.

God knows that anger, if not released, will only further destroy our souls and infect all our relationships. It enables the thief and accuser of our souls to steal, kill and destroy. This is why God calls us to cast our burdens upon Him and to pour out our hearts to Him. 

Casting is a strong word. It doesn’t mean settling ourselves down first to then speak in polite niceties to our Savior. It means Christ is inviting us to get real before Him. To throw off the weight of our burden of sin and every single thought that the enemy is hurling at us and encouraging us to agree with at the feet of Christ, that He might lift its weight from us. And where we are frozen in past trauma, He is more than able to free us to express that anger and to release its weight in tears.

In expressing our anger freely, we follow in the footsteps of King David and many prophets in the Bible, who didn’t hide their anger, but spoke it aloud before their Maker in deep laments, as they walked through grave injustice in doing the will of their God. Perhaps like King David, you also find it easier to express yourself freely on paper. If so, you might find this tool on how to write a Biblical lament helpful: https://margaretfeinberg.com/broken-heart-god/. It was after I used this tool that God began to break open so much in my own heart to bring healing and restoration, and He continues to do so today.

No! Jesus is not ashamed of us in our anger. The anger is only His invitation to come to Him, just as we are. To allow Him to unravel our hearts, comfort us in our pain, and transform our anger into rivers of mercy. So that just as with Stephen, He might open the portals of heaven over us to help us see that, even now in the flood and the fire, we are seated in heavenly places, next to our mighty and sovereign God, who stands in victory for us.

Will you join me in prayer, as I ask the LORD to continue to uncover my sin and heal me also?

Thank You, LORD, that You see me, You see all the injustice and afflictions I and my loved ones have walked through and are suffering from. Thank You that You are angry too, that You are a holy God of wrath and justice, who has not turned a blind eye to our suffering (Hebrews 10:30). 

Thank You that Your heart weeps at the destruction wreaked by the enemy of our souls (Luke 19:41, John 11:35). Thank You that I can come before Your throne in complete confidence that you accept me, as I am (Hebrews 4:16). Thank You that I don’t need to clean myself up first, but that I can come just as I am, knowing You will not turn me away (Psalm 55: 22).

Thank You that my righteousness has been bought at the Cross to set me free from every sin and accusation of the enemy holding me captive. Forgive me, Father, for all the times I have tried to assert my control in the past, in my feelings of helplessness.

Forgive me for denying Your sovereign control and Your everpresent love and mercy declaring me Yours. Thank You for Your desire to restore and redeem all the enemy has stolen, killed and destroyed in my life. Thank You for being angry – not at me – but at the sin enslaving me.

LORD, thank You that You are my refuge and strength. As I come to You now, I invite You to breathe Your warmth over and into me. Melt away the hardness of my heart in Your love and mercy. I invite You to uncover every hidden sin and accusation of the enemy caging me. Empower me to turn toward Your open arms. I love You and I need You, LORD.

LORD, I come to You now just as I am: weak and needy. Unravel me in Your living and breathing Word of truth, love and grace. Uncover Your pure heart in me, as You hold me tight and cause me to let go of all that is not of You. Release Your mercy richly in and through me.

Set me free that my lips may speak of Your mercy for us all. I am opening my hands wide to receive Your ‘wildly extravagant life gift, this grand setting-everything-right’ (Romans 5: 17 MSG). Hear my cry for mercy! Give me beauty for ashes and joy for mourning, oh LORD! In Your precious Name, Amen.

Will you join me now, as I close in a time of worship and praise?

2 thoughts on “Part 4: Chapter 1 – Day 4: Gates of Praise

  1. Bettie G August 6, 2021 / 3:41 pm

    Oh how often I have tried to control that anger instead of releasing it all to Him. Thank You Jesus for pursuing me and uncovering those deep places in my heart where You have release and healing in mind! And thank you Anna, for calling us to join you in praying and offering our hearts to Jesus again.

    Like

    • Anna Smit August 6, 2021 / 6:24 pm

      Me too, Bettie. I still catch myself doing that too. But praise God, He always reminds me to come just as I am. I notice it when I start getting extra tired. Amen: thank You, Jesus.

      Liked by 1 person

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