By Lee Salisbury
SOMEONE ONCE SAID "the only sure thing is change." As humans we'd like to control our circumstances and keep in place those which seem good. But, that is rarely possible, circumstances do change! So we need to acquire the spiritual understanding which enables us to deal successful as an "over comer" with any and all circumstances, for God is more concerned that His purposes be accomplished than for personal situations to be pleasing.
Understanding God’s higher, heavenly objective for us as individuals helps us keep our circumstances in a proper spiritual perspective. God’s guidance in the lives of Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul illustrates this truth. In some cases He guided them in ways where their circumstances caused all to be astonished at the marvelous anointing of God upon their ministries. To the person who judges by circumstances it would appear that that person must really be pleasing to God. For instance, Israel was in the wilderness with no water to drink. The people murmured against Moses. Following the Lord's instructions, Moses struck the rock and an abundance of water flowed out of the rock meeting the needs of some two million people. Moses was held in awe. In another case Israel is faced with the challenge of the Philistine champion, Goliath. A1l the men of Israel fled before him. But David slew Goliath with one stone, cut off his head and presented it to King Saul. Oh how Israel rejoiced for though Saul had slain his thousands, David had slain his ten thousands. David now appeared to be God’s man of faith and power. Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease. It mattered not whether they were lunatics, palsied or demon possessed Jesus healed them. His fame spread and great multitudes followed Him. Paul was thought to be a god by the people of Melita because the bite of a venomous viper had no effect upon him. Paul later healed many on the island and they honored him with many gifts .
In contrast these same men also had circumstances which in appearances did not correspond to what God was really doing. For instance, there was a second time when the Israelites found themselves thirsting for water. This time God told Moses to speak to the rock, foreshadowing the day when God’s provision would come from within His people by the creative spoken word. But, Moses disobeyed, striking the rock. Water came forth anyway meeting everybody's needs. These outward circumstances would suggest God’s approval, but the truth is these circumstances were very misleading. Moses had left Egypt (the world where they smoke, drink, cuss, carouse, etc.) but he was so conscious of people's sins that he could not see beyond their sins and minister God's grace to them. So be reacted with the ministry of condemnation (II Cor. 3:9), and by striking the rock in effect said, "turn or burn". "Repent or else". Moses refused to progress from a law mentality to a grace mentality. Consequently, Moses as well as all those of a like mind died in the wilderness (the land of the law). Similarly today, one wonders how many ministries like Moses’, are meeting people's needs and causing pleasing circumstances, but are in fact also like Moses refusing to progress from the law mentality of self perfection unto God's provision of grace which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
How unfair that David's circumstances should turn sour. He had just killed Goliath "before whom all Israel fled". Jealous King Saul determined to kill him. David's seeming reward was to live as an outcast for the next seven years. Overwhelmed with despair, David cries, "deep calls to deep at the sound of Thy waterfalls; A1l Thy breakers and Thy waves have rolled over me" (Psa. 42:7). To the circumstance-oriented mind, David appears rejected by God but David saw God as orchestrator of these events. He learned that his refuge was in God and thus, was being inwardly equipped to be King of Israel. Penetrating further into the unseen realm of God's purposes, David might have seen that his journey to the throne was God’s means of foreshadowing both Jesus’ and our journeys to the throne (1 Pet. 1:10-12).
No life better portrays one against whom all circumstances seemed contrary than that of our own Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Israel esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted (Isa. 53:4). Yet in the unseen spirit realm He was accomplishing God’s purposes, by being wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, bearing the chastisement for our peace and by being beaten with stripes for our healing (Isa. 53:5). He put away sin (Heb. 9:26) terminated the perpetuation of the first Adam’s sin nature in mankind (II Cor. 5:14), and removed all grounds for God to impute or take inventory of the sins of the world (II Cor. 5:19). He destroyed him who had the power of death, that is the devil (Heb. 2:14). And as if that were not enough, He abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (II Tim.1:10). These are certainly a mystery, hid in God. Though the carnal mind thought Jesus a failure, the spiritual mind knowing the nature of God, can see Him in the spirit realm bringing His purposes to pass in every detail of Jesus’ life.
Many have expressed amazement that in spite of Jesus’ telling His disciples in advance of His suffering, death and resurrection, none believed His words. Today, their error is easily seen. They judged by outward circumstance rather than believing the words of Jesus. Would we duplicate our forefathers error? Do we believe that Jesus put away sin? . . .that by His stripes we were healed? . . .that having begun a good work in us, He will complete it?. . . that He ended the first Adam’s reign of sin and death? . . .that God reconciled the world unto Himself?...that Jesus destroyed the devil: . . .and that He abolished death? If you would like to be really blessed, then consider Jesus’ words, blessed are they that have not seen yet have believed" (Jn. 20:29).
Little need be said about whether Paul was fully submitted to God's will. On the surface it might appear that Paul was in rebellion. He was required to support himself he was whipped, imprisoned beaten with rods, stoned left for dead, not to mention the many times he hungered, was athirst and without clothes (II Cor. 11:23-29). How would we judge such a man? Paul was even disfellowshipped by his brethren (II Tim. 1:15). Was Paul's endorsement for ministry consistent with his circumstances? How blessed we are that Paul's spiritual perspective overruled the voice of circumstances.
For as many as are lead by the spirit of God they are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14), mature sons in communion with their Father hearkening to His voice in their inner man, attentive to understand and believe all His Word without regard to circumstances. Spiritual children judge by external circumstances and that’s all right. We all have to be children at some time but God like any good father will condescend to our material level of understanding in order to teach us about Himself. He has determined to lead us through the course of our lives into that place where the only thing we will trust is the witness of the spirit and the confirmation of God's Word. This is another way of saying that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29).
In order to grow up into Him we must recognize that it is the work of the carnal mind to judge God's involvement and/or approval on the basis of external circumstances. God in accomplishing His will, is neither dependent upon nor limited by what man may perceive as good or bad circumstances. Though the flesh likes to dwell upon circumstances we must learn to see beyond them (the things that are tangible), and see the things that are not visible for the things not seen, are for the ages (II Cor. 4:18). It is in this unseen realm of the spirit where God accomplishes His purposes.
Though God’s guidance may involve material circumstances, His real objective is that we know Him and experience His indwelling, abiding presence which comforts, corrects and directs. Aeonial life or the life of the ages, is that we intimately know the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent (Jn. 17:3). Such intensity of relationship supersedes the need for favorable circumstances, indeed it is the essence of being rooted and grounded in God. Like a tree planted even in a desert, the roots go down strong and deep to the waters of life beneath the surface. Winds blow, opposition comes, but the tree stands firm. So we in conviction and faith, are rooted and grounded in Him. The life of God within keeps up confident that regardless of circumstances, our Heavenly Father is working all things according to the counsel of His will.
-- Lee and Anne Salisbury
Redeeming Love, 1846 Grant Road, Saint Paul, MN 55112
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Revised: September 16, 2009
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