Since the previous two notes highlighted songs from the Lord (“Song from the Savior” and “Silly Song from the Savior”), in keeping with that theme, I will share one of the stories of the recent songs I’ve received from the Lord (the one I posted a status about a month ago). There have been several beautiful songs in the past year that the Lord has let me know were His song to me in this season. But none quite like this.
During the season before Easter/Resurrection Sunday (Lent), Jesse and I dedicated special time to seeking the Lord. In those 40 days, He gave us one message repeatedly until we were convinced beyond all doubt this was His next instruction for us. So we began to ask Him exactly how to do what He was asking us to do. Several thoughts came to mind about what He could mean. One of the ideas was soon dismissed after I presented it to Jesse. Surely that’s not what He meant! He’d already called us to that assignment (speaking His hard truths to confront false teaching and calling His people to repentance) more than a year earlier, and we followed despite fear and trembling in obedience to Him, until He told us to stop. In fact, we had just wrestled through that whole issue again a few months earlier (concerned He was calling us to return to that assignment again in the same way), and He’d answered and confirmed in a crystal clear way to continue to be still and wait on Him. So, why would we drag that whole issue up again and bring it back into question so soon after? Relieved with that decision, we quickly set the thought aside and began to pursue the other things we believed He meant.
Several weeks later, while we were in the middle of working on all our ideas of how to fulfill what He’d asked, He set about the task of interrupting us in an overwhelming, undeniable, and inescapable way. Submerged under the deluge of words He poured on us, we realized that apparently we were still not accomplishing what He’d told us to do. (Or at least that we definitely did not have the entire picture; there was more.). This launched us into another season of intense seeking to get crystal clarity regarding exactly what He was asking us to do to fulfill His instruction.
Based on the flood of words He gave when He interrupted our attempts to obey, it seemed He truly was asking us to do that one thing that had briefly crossed my mind; that one thing we had quickly ruled out; that one thing we hoped it wouldn’t be. Because of all we’d been through in trying to fulfill that assignment the year before, it was something we had absolutely NO desire to do again unless we KNEW beyond all shadow of a doubt that God was truly calling us to. Over the next days and weeks as we wholeheartedly sought Him, surrendered to His will, He poured out many more words confirming that He WAS asking us to go back to finish the “impossible,” difficult, risky assignment that we thought we’d already completed (at least that one aspect of it).
One night, after I’d been pummeled with confusion throughout the day about the situation, we were seeking clarity. Jesse went upstairs to seek the Lord and I headed to the couch downstairs to spend time with Him. As I flopped on the couch I told the Lord, “I feel like I need to turn on some worship/soaking music to escape into Your Presence, to relieve the intense confusion and fear surrounding whether You’re really asking us to do this.” The Lord replied, “What if those songs are not the song I’m singing over you right now? Is that not just another form of someone prophesying, ‘Peace, peace’ to themselves when there is no peace? (Isn’t that like Jonah escaping to Tarshish when He’s being called to Ninevah?) What if the song I’m singing over you is ….” He then brought to my remembrance the words of the early church’s song which Paul reminded Timothy of in II Timothy 2.
Struck by what I believed the Lord had just spoken to me, rather than escaping into worship/soaking music, I cried out to Him to continue to bring clarity and to obliterate all confusion, doubt, and fear. I felt led to one of Rick Renner’s books that the Lord often speaks to me through with astounding precision – responding word for word to things I’ve just been talking to Him about. After praying, I opened the book and there on the page were the EXACT words the Lord had just said to me!
The entire devotional was focused on this very song of the early church that the Lord had just spoken to me about (If you have Rick Renner’s “Sparkling Gems from the Greek,” see pages 573 – 576).
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him (which Rick later translates, ‘If we are killed like He was killed, then we shall live again as He now lives’): If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: If we deny Him, He will also deny us: If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself.” (II Timothy 2:11-13)
Rick says that Paul reminded Timothy of this song “to encourage Timothy to bravely face the challenges that were before him.”
Rick continued, “Can you imagine getting together in church to sing about martyrdom? This was not an allegorical speech; this was reality for these early believers! Persecution and death were so imminent that Christians actually included these subjects in their worship services! …the leaders of the early church understood that to prepare themselves and the people to live bravely for the Lord, they had to use every available tool to instill bravery in the ranks” including hymns. “Today we still need songs that produce brave warriors.”
Rick states this song in II Timothy was one of powerful faith, essentially proclaiming “Come hell or high water, we’re in this to stay! If they kill us, that’s all right, because we will soon join Jesus in His glorious new resurrected life!” When persecuted, “…they faced it bravely in the power of the Spirit. Although they didn’t seek to suffer, they weren’t afraid to suffer if it was forced upon them because of their faith. These were the lyrics of a fearless people. They were determined to win the victory regardless of the price they had to pay. … From the content of this hymn, it is quite clear that these early Christian saints were extremely serious about what they believed and about the Kingdom of God. … Christianity was their all-in-all for they had given their lives – lock, stock, and barrel – over to this cause. …As time moves on and the coming of the Lord draws nearer, God expects you to step forward and take your place in His modern-day army. It is very possible that in the days and decades to come, there will be clashes between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God. Are you ready for this? Are you ready to follow the voice of our Commander-in-Chief? Are you committed to getting in the fight and staying in it until the victory is won?”
The time Rick speaks of is here now. Though we don’t like to think of persecution occurring in our nation towards those who hold to the Truth of God’s Word, the fact is that it is already occurring. And it will become much worse if we do not see the church and nation turned back to the Lord. As God is calling us to rise up and be the mighty army for Him that will not compromise or water down the Truth of His Word, He wants us to develop this same mindset of fearless faithfulness that was instilled in the early church, remembering one of Jesus’ less popular promises ~ persecution is just part of being His true disciples (Isaiah 51:7, Matthew 5:10-11, Matthew 10:14-42, Matthew 24:9-13, Luke 6:22-23, 26-27, John 7:7, John 15:18-25, John 17:14-18, I John 3:11-13). He says we can consider it a privilege and endure it with joy! (Still working on that part! Help me Jesus!)
I wrote in my status shortly after receiving this word and confirmation from the Lord, “…There’s no hiding in the soaking music of the bride when The Commander-in-Chief is singing the early church’s song of brave warriors in battle and the sacrifice of martyrs.” If we’re truly in unity with God’s Spirit, we can find no peace in prophesying things to ourselves from our own spirit/soul to comfort, console, and make ourselves feel better, if in doing so we’re escaping from God dealing with us, retreating from the battle lines He has called us to, and running from the trumpet blast of His Spirit. He is sounding the battle cry for His people to stand for Him and His Word, advancing His Kingdom in His grace, love, and uncompromised Truth by the power of His Spirit (remembering that our “violent” battle is not against flesh and blood – Ephesians 6). He’s made it clear, we do not want to face the consequences of failing to respond to His call!
Rick concludes his devotional, “The believers in the early church maintained the attitude to never give in, give up, or surrender to defeat. As a result they conquered the world in which they lived.” That same Spirit of fearless courage resides in us! It’s our turn to take our place in history in turning the world upside down (or rather right side up) for Him!
(click on image to see full size)
Copyright © June 2012, Laura Jewell Tyree
Excerpts from Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Copyright © 2003 by Rick Renner