Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”             Hebrews 10:32

 

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired Him that He would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but you cannot discern the signs of the times?”

 Matthew 16:1-3

 

This particular parable is very relevant today. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were longtime enemies in every way. In their beliefs, their conduct, and in their forms of worship. However, when faced with looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ, they joined forces against the One true Messiah, setting their differences aside in order to try to fool, embarrass, and prove to all through mischief that Christ was not the Messiah. 

It reminds me of how members of our beautiful country have been seen linking arms against those who call themselves Christians who believe in the sanctity of truth and life. The differences between these two groups are astounding. It is a great study. What Jesus was trying to convey was the deep blindness of those who fought and attempted to stumble Him through mere words. 

There are those in our nation today who are great at predicting the literal signs of the weather and climate. But they are completely void of any understanding of what is happening in the spirit, which is a dangerous place to be. Just as in the days of Noah, when after being warned decade after decade, they deny the possibility that God is in charge and has a great plan for the earth and for His children living therein.

As Christians we have been called to deliver the Good News of the Gospel and the power of Jesus Christ. In doing so the Bible states we will face great opposition — both in the world and from the devil himself. Do you recall the city of Goshen in the Old Testament? Goshen was a city where the Israelites of old lived during the days when Moses stood before Pharaoh and demanded that he let God’s people go. When the plagues Moses had forewarned of hit throughout Egypt due to disobedience and hardened hearts, the people of God residing in Goshen were supernaturally protected from those plagues. Though God states we will all go through afflictions, pain, and tribulation, He also promises He will not lose a single one of His children. So how can we describe our spiritual Goshen?

Well, it was formed when Jesus came, with His obedience to the Father as evidenced by His life, death, burial, and resurrection. He bought back our salvation, or our “sozos.” Sozos is a Greek word meaning, “to be totally saved; to be made whole in spirit; in soul; and in body; cared for in every way: nothing missing; nothing broken.” 

Isaiah 53:1-5 states, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” We have been given so much more than a ticket to heaven. 

The entire debt we owed was paid for you and me to be healed and set free — spirit, soul, and body. So, what do we do when we fall prey to sickness, disease, or sorrow? What do you do when you’re handed an awful diagnosis? What goes through your mind when you’ve prayed and fasted and yet you feel vulnerable from every direction?

Before we do anything, we hit our knees. We make sure we are not contributing in any way to the issues at hand. If you eat donuts and mocha for breakfast, skip lunch for a snickers bar, and then eat a frozen, processed, microwaved meal for dinner with a soda, then you are pouring dirt and sand into your body's gas tank. There is nothing wrong with having a soda occasionally, but we can come to the place where we can actually substitute Coke for water in our life. We cannot blame God for not answering our prayers and our cries when we are not willing to do our part. So, what should we do when we've done all we know to do and yet we find ourselves feeling discouraged or even battle weary?

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Hebrews 10:32.

This verse was written to encourage believers who were ready to throw in the towel. They were questioning their faith. They had been waiting so long to see God's promises come to pass in their lives, they began to believe they would never come. Where was their Goshen? Their protection from Christ? Then they recalled the days in which they were illuminated. 

This word “illuminated” comes from the Greek word “photidzo,” which means “to lighten up, to shine, to radiate, to make visible out from the invisible.” It gives the impression of a brilliant flash of light that leaves a permanent and lasting impression. We get the word “photography” from this Greek word, because of the blinding light that comes from the flash. The word is used here to help struggling believers to pause for a moment in their battle and remember the light that they experienced when they first heard God's promises while chained in their darkness. The Holy Spirit's brilliant flash of light in their hearts and minds was so strong it left a permanent and lasting impression that can never be stolen by the enemy.

When you get discouraged and are tempted to give up, feeling toyed with by every side, when times are tough and your symptoms and circumstances seem stronger than your faith — tell your mind to be silent. Command your emotions to be stilled; and recall when you were first illuminated. Remember when God delivered you out of death and darkness and translated you into the Kingdom of His dear Son? 

Jesus warned his disciples in Matthew 24:12 that in the last days iniquity would abound with such an outbreak of lawlessness that the love of many would grow cold. Just look around. Society is becoming vile. I watched the news yesterday and found myself angrier than I have been in a long time. I felt almost powerless, wanting to jump through the screen, grab the microphone from that modern-day Sadducee and remind the nation of what is really happening. After I shook myself, I remembered that was not my battle. The battle is the Lord’s. If we do not remain on task, in our spiritual Goshen, we will risk being gripped by anger, doubt, discouragement, and depression. This current cosmos, worldly system, is going to crumble friends. Do not forget that. We are citizens of heaven. Our King is Jesus Christ. Become heavenly minded rather than earthly minded. 

King David had to walk through a season when everything seemed to be against him. Society was going in the opposite direction of Godliness. David said in his psalm,

“Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;

those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.

“Everyone lies to their neighbor;

they flatter with their lips

but harbor deception in their hearts.

“May the Lord silence all flattering lips

and every boastful tongue—

“those who say,

“By our tongues we will prevail;

our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

“’Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,

I will now arise,’ says the Lord.

“’I will protect them from those who malign them.’

“And the words of the Lord are flawless,

like silver purified in a crucible,

like gold refined seven times.

“You, Lord, will keep the needy safe

and will protect us forever from the wicked,

“who freely strut about

when what is vile is honored by the human race.”

David was crying out to God, “everything in my life and in the world seems to be falling to the enemy. Where are you Lord?” Have you ever felt that way? And remember, the Lord is not offended by you or your pain. We are feeling just like David. So, what do we do when we feel hopelessness creeping in under our door? We remember the former days.

The words “former days” are from the Greek word “proteron,” which translated directs a person's thoughts to earlier times when they were filled with joy, hope, and faith. God merely commands us to hit the rewind button and recall times when He delivered us by His mighty power. Times when we thought we could not go on another step and suddenly God swept us up and placed us into His safe arms, filling us with renewed faith and courage to go on. He is our Goshen. Our high tower, our place of refuge. That experience must be permanently imprinted in our hearts, and it will allow us the ability to summon the strength for the battles we are facing right now in our personal lives, our nation, and our churches.

Keep your dream and faith shining brilliantly in your heart and mind as a powerful illumination and revelation that will light your way through whatever darkness or struggle you're facing right this moment. It will light your path through any darkness the enemy is trying to drop upon you. We will get through this election. But no matter what, never forget you are an alien and pilgrim on this earth. Your citizenship is in Heaven. Until then, Your Comforter will cover and comfort you and will direct your every step. He is gathering His saints. But no matter where you are — if you are found in Christ you are in His Heavenly Goshen.

Pray this prayer with me today:

“Lord, I boldly confess that discouragement has no place in me. God's Word is true, the devil is a liar. My circumstances and current situations are not permanent. Right now, right where I sit, I encourage myself in Your Word and in Your love. Help me discern the signs of the times through Your Holy Spirit that dwells in me. You will never leave me, nor forsake me. You know what I need before I even ask. And with God's power, I will rise above the situation I am facing today. I declare it. Be it unto me according to Your Word. And the enemy cannot steal what God has placed within me. Amen.”

“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth evil lies at him.” Psalm 12:5.

Ruminate on that.