Each stage of spiritual growth requires newer levels of spiritual maturity.
When the Lord promotes us to greater ministry anointing and broader ministry reach, we are rewarded with greater levels of ministry and life challenge. The Lord often “grows us” into the next level of anointing.
Promotion requires pruning and pruning hurts. But pruning is necessary to prepare the tree for the next stage of growth.
I wish there was another way around it but this is so often the road the Lord takes me on.
There are three things I am learning to do when faced with challenges in seasons of spiritual growth.
1. I keep my eyes focused on what God is doing
It’s vital to find what God is doing in the midst of the challenge and put your attention there. This keeps you in a place of faith.
In the days of Nehemiah, the Jewish people return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding the wall. They work hard and build the wall to half its height. What an amazing achievement [Nehemiah 4].
But in their labor they accessed how much rubble was around them and how far they had to go to complete the wall. By looking at the rubble they become greatly discouraged. Someone needed to direct their attention to what God helped them achieve and let the achievement inspire them to complete the wall.
Instead they focused on what they have left to do. They turned their attention away from what God had done and onto the rubble that lied before them.
While I believe it’s important to assess our challenges I make the deliberate choice to find what God is doing in the midst of them and place my focus there.
This might not be easy but it’s necessary. I rarely find faith by staring at the rubble. Faith comes when I see God’s activity both in the present and past. When I find faith, hope is not too far behind.[Read the full post on keeping our eyes on what God is doing here.]
2. I Contend for the promise
Giants stand on promises. In order to defeat these giants I contend for the promise these giants are now standing on.
In Numbers 13-14, we find the hearts of the people melting when the ten spies report that the people of Anak (giants) are living in Hebron.
Hebron is the very place where the covenant promise is made by God with Abraham. As all these spies surveyed the land, the hearts of ten spies melt with fear and unbelief while Joshua and Caleb believe they can take the city and conquer the land.
The ten spies give a bad report and are soon killed. God refuses to bring that generation into the promised land and so leads Israel into forty years of wilderness wondering.
Instead of defeating these giants and securing the land God promised, the generation that witnessed the raw power of God in Egypt never enter the promise of Canaan.
Only Joshua and Caleb enter the land and Caleb specifically defeats Hebron and it’s giants some forty-five years later.
If I know a promise is from God, I can almost guarantee giants will be standing on it. I refuse to let giants intimidate me when I know the very ground they stand on is rightfully mine.
Contend for the promise and God will help you defeat the giants that stand in the way.[You can read the full post about standing on our promises here.]
3. I reach for the impossible
The Egyptians have Moses and the Israelites pinned back to the Red Sea and the people whom God just delivered want to return to Egypt (Exodus 13,14).
Fear, unbelief and compromise are in the hearts of the people. Revenge is in the hearts of the enemy and there is Moses standing with nothing more than his faith in the Living God.
What do you do when you feel trapped? When you feel like, in the natural, there is just no reasonable answer to the challenge you face. You’ve done all you know how to do and believe you’ve been fully obedient to God in the process.
Here is what the Lord told Moses.
Ex. 14:16, 21 “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided.”
We play a big role in the miracles God performs. Sure God parts the sea but not without the help of Moses. Moses’ faith and obedience to literally reach for the impossible moves God’s hand to release the miracle.
Sometimes you must take the authority God has given you (i.e. the Staff), stretch out your hand over that impossibility and make a declaration that releases miracles. Red Seas part when obedience to God and authority to His Word are applied.
Your challenge is your opportunity to grow into new levels of faith, maturity and anointing. Stand firm, God is with you!