Saturday, December 21, 2013

“This is a Time of Justice and Restoration” by Garris Elkins

We are entering a season where those who have experienced injustice are about to receive supernatural restoration. Throughout history the justice of God has brought restoration to his people who have suffered injustice at the hands of the enemy.  This is not a time for despair and sorrow.  This is a time to begin living in expectancy.  Something wonderful is about to take place.

The Lord is speaking a word of hope in the middle of injustice:

I am about to right this wrong.  The injustice done to you cannot stand in the presence of my justice.  The enemy came to steal, rob and destroy, but watch what I am about to do. My court has issued an official order against this work of injustice in your life.  Give me your sorrow. Give me your despair.  These are illegal orders issued from the courts of darkness. I have destined this season to be a time when my goodness and purpose will be revealed. My mercy and justice is coming. This injustice you are experiencing is about to become a place of celebration and restoration.

In early December I slipped on some ice and ruptured a tendon in my knee. It was one of most painful things I have ever experienced. This injury was not on my radar or included in my life-plan. Within days I was in surgery to repair the torn tendon.  My entire life was rearranged in one moment of time.

Immediately following the accident, I was isolated to a chair or couch with a brace on my leg to keep it uncomfortably extended during the initial healing process.  During this time of recuperation I read. I wrote. I ate food lovingly provided by friends. I did all of these same things each day with no break in my routine. My life became a series of repeats.

One morning I was standing in our bathroom with the support of my crutches.  I had just finished washing my hands.  As I was drying my hands, I felt the overwhelming presence of despair enter the room.  I had never before felt the presence of despair in my life. 

The best way I could describe what I was feeling was that I was being slowly pulled by the current of a powerful river towards the edge of a huge waterfall.  It was a power that seemed impossible to resist. What I was going through felt similar to being in the hospital in preparation for my knee surgery and going under anesthesia. As someone goes under anesthesia reality begins to slip away and you are taken to another place.

In the moment just before despair came with its dark vision, the reality of my injury had hit me with full force. I had been told I would be in this brace for several months followed by a season of rehabilitation not able to do all the things I love to do.

As I stood there looking into the bathroom mirror, the sorrow of my situation was setting me up to embrace hopelessness.  As I drifted towards the edge of despair, I even heard my surgeon’s words, “You should be back to normal in 6-8 months.” I became overwhelmed with sorrow. My sorrow began to anesthetize me to accept what appeared to be inevitable, taking me to a place I had never been before. The closer I got to the waterfall the deeper I went into the numbing effects of my sorrow.

Over the years, I have ministered to people who have drifted towards this edge of despair and sometimes gone over its falls.  Some never returned.  Some came back after years of counseling. I was scared.

Out loud, with the hand towel still hanging from my hands, I said, “I have no despair.  I have hope in God.” In that moment the image disappeared and the despair was gone.  This was no magic, memorized formula. This was a cry from the depth my heart in a desperate moment of great need.  I left the bathroom and told my wife, Jan, what had just happened.  I felt shaken and emotional.

In the next few minutes we took communion and prayed.  Jan walked me through some directed prayer about despair and we made sure any residue of this lying visitor was no longer present.

A week earlier, the day after my knee injury, the Lord said two words to me that would guide me during this season of recovery.  He said this would be a season where I would experience his goodness and purpose.   The vision of despair came to try and rob from me of the goodness and purpose God had planned.

What happened to me was an injustice.  God did not cause me to slip on the ice. Hell used this situation to attempt to steal, rob and destroy through an act of injustice.  God had other plans.  His intent was to bless, affirm and build my life in the midst of my suffering.

The despair I felt had to be challenged or the injustice I experienced would try to define my life.  My future freedom depended upon me confronting despair and the hypnotic influence of ungodly sorrow.  My only hope was found in calling on the God of justice.

Hope is a person, not a theory.  He has authority over the power and imagery of despair.  He has given that same authority to us. Despair cannot stand in his presence, nor can despair continue to pull us towards its place of eventual death, if we call upon God in our time of need. Lies have no power in the light of his presence.

As I began to experience a new sense of personal freedom, the Lord said this coming season would be a time of an unusual outpouring of justice for his people. Scriptures about his justice began to flood my mind.
Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne.” Psalm 89:14
For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly.” Psalm 37: 28a
The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.” Psalm 103:6
For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.” Isaiah 61:8
My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way.” Isaiah 51:5
If you have experienced an injustice, God wants you to hear his heart.  If you have suffered a financial injustice, listen.  If you have suffered injustice in your marriage, listen.  If you have suffered an injustice concerning the destiny of one of your children, listen.   If you suffered an injustice at the hands of another believer, listen.  Listen to the heart of the God of justice. His mercy and justice is coming.  His salvation is on the way.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“Declaring Life” by Garris Elkins

Earlier this week the Lord spoke to me. He said, “The prayers of some of my people are beginning to sound like a preparation for a funeral – not a proclamation of life.” This word came just hours before our pastoral staff visited the home of a dear man in our church who is fighting Stage Four Cancer.

When we arrived at the man’s home we began to pray for him.  In the midst of our prayers, I shared the word the Lord gave me.  Immediately the faith of my sick friend kicked into high gear and he said, “Yes, I believe the Lord heals. I am not done yet!”  For several more minutes we continued to declare life and healing over our friend.

That same week I was with another friend who is also fighting an advanced cancer in his brain.  We had a similar conversation. This strong man of God also rose up in faith and declared his belief that God was not done with him. Faith releases faith. This is the power of community created through fellowship.  We encourage each other to believe for more.

When the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT), he was not writing a line for a religious Hallmark card.  He was declaring that the Life-giver would be among us forever – across all dimensions of time - never diminishing in His ability to heal the sick and set the captives free.

My pastor, Roy Hicks, Jr., once said no matter what we see we are mandated to pray for the sick.  Resignation to death is never part of our assignment. Unless the Lord was to say otherwise - we pray.

Review the substance of your prayers.  If they sound more like “kind” words that prepares someone for death – repent of that as a resignation to the power of death. Our resignation to death is a loss of faith.  Faith is a gift. If you feel lacking in faith, ask for a new measure and God will supply you in abundance.

Our belief is not empowered by our hope for positive results from our prayers for the sick.  Yes, we want our loved ones to be healed, but healing is not where our hope is supposed to rest. A follower of Christ must have their hope anchored only in the Person of Jesus Christ – the One Who is always the same, yesterday, today and forever.  Any other anchor point will become a place of disappointment and sorrow.

Jesus is alive and increasing His healing presence upon the earth.  He is not looking for funeral directors who will make people comfortable as they tolerate our enemy Death. Jesus is looking for Life-speakers who will declare His life in the presence of Death while placing their trust in His unchanging nature.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.” (Romans 8:15 - The Message)