Like right now, as I realize that it was not in His timing for me to share my experience with IDOP until now and not beforehand like I wanted to. My plan was to share here on this blog with you all as to what I wanted to speak about at WLMC before actually doing it.
But it was not the Lord’s timing. I never did feel compelled to do that (so I didn’t, obviously). Because at that time, I was asking a lot of questions on certains issues myself, and I thought it would be wise to present these questions to you and then leave it up to prayer. However, I am learning more and more to simply rely on God’s wisdom and timing and not man’s!
I have to mentally slap myself when I daydream about who I can ask about any particular subject. I’ve discovered that I have a bad habit of hashing issues and concerns all out in my mind first, and then wondering who I can ask about it. And this shouldn’t be so; GOD should be my first go-to Person, right? Shouldn’t He be for us all?! For those in Christ, we have His Spirit who will lead us into ALL truth. We have this annointing so that we have no need of asking anyone anything (1 John 2:27).
Interjection alert! Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that the counsel of Godly people such as pastors, teachers and parents are not important! But when we have questions with no plausible answer in sight, either through the Word or other believers (who can many times be varied, or going in different directions), we can only do what Scripture commands, and this is to ask of God who gives wisdom to all men liberally (James 1:5).
Okay, back on topic- My plan when speaking on behalf of VOM for the persecuted on IDOP was to 1.) establish how VOM ministers to the persecuted, and 2.) speak about my own idea of Jesus’ words in the verse of Matt. 11:12 (I’ll get to the purpose behind this shortly), and the verse says this,
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Well… those two goals of speaking on those topics got a little muddied! I didn’t even touch on the second one at all because any and all compulsion to do so was gone. I was pressed in Spirit more than I can say to simply talk about VOM and all the programs they had available to help our persecuted brethren- that’s it.
And that was totally okay! I had prayed fervently for the past week that anything I said would be God’s words anyway, so I was content with what was said. Besides, WLMC had asked me back on Sunday night to share my testimony along with any further information I might have had on VOM, and it was there that I was able to (in a more intimate setting, which was nice!) talk about what I had wanted to. So God, in His Sovereignty, worked all this in accordance with His will and I’m thrilled about that.
But this is what amazes me: God’s timing in regards to Matt. 11:12. I was going to share here prior to IDOP on this verse, but didn’t; and I was going to share IDOP morning about this verse, but didn’t. Why? Because I believe the Lord wanted to teach me more about this verse before saying anything about it and what’s so cool about it all is that I believe He is using the avenue of VOM to answer my questions about it. Would you be surprised to know that it was VOM who originally posted this verse on Facebook to begin with? It’s really come full circle in a sense. Let me explain, and I’ll do my best to keep it simple and to the point (not my best qualities, though! 😉 )
It comes about in a four-fold set of events I believe were orchestrated by the Lord (Who is constantly teaching me and I love that!). The first was when VOM had posted the Mt. 11:12 verse on Facebook a month or two ago asking for thoughts, and at that time I didn’t think much of it. I’m sure it was mainly due to ignorance on my part, and I ended up dismissing it (but God didn’t!). Fast forward about a month into the second event: I was reading my Jonathan Edwards sermon book and became captivated by a quote in his sermon, “The Example Of The Apostle Paul”. It was there that I was immediately placed front and center into facing Matt. 11:12. The quote says,
Probably there never was a soldier, when he bore his part in storming a city, that acted with greater resolution and violence, as it were forcing his way through all that opposed him, than the apostle Paul in seeking the kingdom of Heaven.
I found that absolutely fascinating! If I can get this straighted out in my head, it means that in Jonathan Edwards words, there was never another man who acted with greater resolution and violence than the Apostle Paul in seeking the Kingdom of Heaven! Call me a hopeless romantic, but that sounds exciting!
So that got me asking some questions. What does this look like? Do we even know? And it was then that God reminded me of the third event.
The third event was the time I visited my dearly loved friend from church who happens to be my partner in the Woman-To-Woman program there (also within this same time period). She brought up an interesting little tidbit that she had heard about the gates of Hell- the relevance being in the “gates” and meditating on the fact that gates don’t move. Now that may sound elementary to some, but this was a new revelation to me! We always seem to think that the gates of Hell are prevailing against us somehow, or that in building Christ’s church they are some kind of menacing force chasing us around. I know that sounds silly because we know they won’t prevail against us, but we’ve (well, I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for me) got this idea that they are something to be feared somehow and that’s not the case at all. The idea is that in the building of Christ’s Body (the church), we storm the enemy camp to set the captive’s free, thus building His church and guess what? The gates of Hell will not stop us from going into enemy territory to rescue the perishing!! They will be pushed and trampled down- they will NOT prevail!
I don’t know about you, but I find this THRILLING. And it completely correlates with my study of North Korea, in the way that VOM helps minister to North Korean defectors. It seems to me, to be a perfect picture of a person who would escape the horrific condition of NK, learn the Gospel, which in turn gives birth to a great burden for souls, and by following Christ to storm the enemy camp to set the captives free, they go back to North Korea. They go back knowing they face suffering, torture and most likely, death. Could this be an accurate parallel to Matt. 11:12?
Then, the last event comes that ties all this together; the most astounding part that gave me a great amount of confirmation that I’m walking exactly where Jesus is leading me. And it is this: when I had prayed fervently, like I mentioned, about what to speak on for IDOP I really sought the Lord’s face on a message that He would want me to give. And I was content to wait for it until I got it and lo and behold, I did get it! The Lord was faithful (He always is) and He knew that I didn’t want to do my standard speech, He knew that I wanted it to be special (even though this message didn’t get delivered till evening, and even then it wasn’t this in-depth 😉 so one afternoon during prayer time, I got the message (and no, it wasn’t in audible voice! 🙂 ). It came along the lines of a question… that question being what we would do should a close family member such as a child, sibling, parent, etc. were to be put in prison for being a Christian. In other words, if your son or daughter was on a missions trip and they were arrested and imprisoned for sharing Jesus Christ, what lengths would you go to to get them freed? I’m sure most of us would go to *great* lengths, even if that meant going all the way across the globe to do it! And although I went along this track but deviated just a bit on Sunday evening, the sentiment was still the same. If we care this much about our blood relatives, how much more should we care about our spiritual relatives? That was the crux of the matter!
Now go back to storming the the gates of Hell to set the captives free. Let’s go back also to Matt. 11:12 in taking the Kingdom of Heaven by violent force. What does all this mean? Well, here is how the Lord graciously lead me into fulfillment on these truths. We’ll briefly go back even further to July 2010, when I had the priviledge of being part of a teleconference prayer call for the country of North Korea. I remember it so well because the power went out in our neighborhood, and all I could do was sit in the pitch blackness and listen to the other callers and their prayers, it was very intense, but spiritually powerful. During that call I also listened to Eric Foley as he informed us on how we could better pray for the believers in North Korea and it was then that I was really educated on the terrible conditions of the Hermit Kingdom, and my heart was broken.
Fast forward to now… After remembering the conference call and remembering Rev. Foley, I was compelled to do a little google search and to my happiness, found his blog. Would you be surprised to know that he is currently writing a series of articles on, “Ransoming the Captive”? Can I give you a mental image of eye’s popping out of a head? Yah, that would be MY head.
I have been incredibly blessed to read this series. It goes hand in hand with many of the concerns and issues I’ve been rolling around in my head and speaking on to others. I really do believe that this is an answer to prayer. How else could I explain it?
I encourage you to take the time to read each part in this series. I firmly believe that God walked me along this path in order that I share it with you all and encourage you to walk it too.
Here is the hyperlink to Part 1 titled, Jesus’ First Sermon (And Why It Matters) and if you can follow it along to completion, I know you will be blessed. As of today, there are seven parts. I unfortunately don’t know how many there will be in total, but I was so encouraged to read the parts that I did. Can’t wait to read more! I’ll post a little snippet to whet your appetite :). Something that I learned through Rev. Foley’s blog,
If the early church had a website, it would have talked a lot about that kind of ransoming. We know this, because it’s a subject that pops up in many letters and stories and reports by and about the early church.
It was one of the things that amazed people about Christians.
You can see it in Clement’s letter to the church in Corinth, sent around the start of the second century AD. Clement wrote:
We know that many have given themselves up to imprisonment in order to ransom others; many too have delivered themselves into slavery and have fed others with the sale price
(1 Clement 55:2)
Did you catch that? Many. As in, “Many Christians have ransomed others by delivering themselves into slavery.”
And it was hardly a one-time thing: On through the Middle Ages, Christians continued to deliver themselves into slavery in Jesus’ name in order to set others free.
(From Part 2 of the series)
Wow. Hardly a one-time thing. Christians delivering themselves into slavery in order to set others free… Wrap your brain around that for a while. And although we don’t personally know actually Christians held hostage in America, they are held hostage to someone and something that only Jesus Christ can set them free from:
- Satan (Acts 26:18)
- Sin (Romans 6:16-18)
But for those who live in hostile/restricted nations, there are more Christians literally held captive today than there have ever been.
As I’ve said before, I’ll say it again, there are no coincidences in a life of servitude to the Most High God! He has graciously lead me on this wonderful journey of truth and I praise Him for that. Remember: Only slaves to Jesus Christ are truly free men!
If you also get a chance after reading Rev. Foley’s series take a peak around his site and absorb all the wonderful work he is doing with the Underground University (I hope to blog on this sometime in the future, so stay tuned!). Thank you for reading!