“Before I formed you in the belly,
I knew you."
#eshetchayil #ishchayil #chayil #kingdomorientation #kingdomidentity
The words “Cancel Fear This Year” have resounded in my spirit throughout 2019! This mandate prompted my consistent refusal to live in fear or defeat. Although ignited to rise above obstacles and motivated to live victoriously, I was also aware that the Lord was preparing me in advance for contrary situations that would dictate a completely different behavior! After marinating in the book of Judges, I felt compelled to write this entry about another Old Testament valiant man’s (ish chayil) personal struggle with fear.
Israel’s Kingdom Identity was born out of their covenant instituted by YHWH on Mt. Sinai in Exodus, “I will be your God, and you will be my people!” They were not to worship any other gods, and God would be directly involved in the details of their existence, daily. They would worship Him alone, with their whole spirit, soul, mind and body. In turn, He would provide for, protect and bless them. They would also exemplify the intimacy the Creator God desired with every other person.
Judges 6 opens with Israel having broken covenant with YHWH, resulting in their devastating predicament with the Midianites, who would destroy their crops, livestock and all their property. The Bible says, “They left no sustenance in Israel,” indicating that even Israel’s future was in jeopardy. In great misery, the Israelites made for themselves mountain dens or caves to hide in.
Living in stark fear was inconsistent with Israel’s Kingdom Identity as described above. Instead of living in the peace and prosperity YHWH’s covenant provided, they were dominated by the dictates of fear! Instead of being God’s covenant example they were relying on their own measly efforts for survival! Greatly impoverished, they cried to the Lord for help!
Whenever God’s people cry for help, God sends a deliverer, however this time, He first sends a prophet exclaiming why all this had happened, and reminds them of how God rescued them from Egyptian bondage.
The Angel of the Lord sat under an oak tree. Gideon was beating out wheat (dry) in the winepress (wet), to hide it from the Midianites. Notice the resulting dysfunction and impact of living in fear, as Gideon is now in the habit of performing a dry activity in a very wet place. The Angel said, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior (ish chayil)!” Didn’t the Angel see Gideon hiding? If so, why would the Angel call this scaredy cat a “man of valor?”
Fear consistently disrupts our alignment with divine purpose, while the Lord consistently works to remind us of who we really are (Kingdom Identity).
Gideon’s altered perception due to life’s circumstances causes him to attempt to convince the Angel that God is no longer around, and that he is not, in any way, a deliverer. Yet, the Lord repeatedly comforts, and declares His divine plan and presence. Gideon then seeks proof through fleecing.
Bad times and negative experiences are incapable of altering the will of God! God meant what He said!
First on the King’s agenda is family! Gideon is charged with the dangerous task of destroying idol worship at home. He was to build God an altar and worship there. In essence, Gideon was to restore the honor of his father’s house, leading to his new name, Jerubbaal (let Baal contend against him).
While the enemy hordes gathered, “The Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and his fellow warriors were called out by tribes to follow him” (6:34). The Hebrew says it this way: “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with, put on, dressed Himself with, or wore Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet…” Can you imagine God putting Gideon on like we would put on a jacket or shirt? Here's the thing! Though Gideon would be present in this great battle, it would be GOD'S BATTLE! God put Gideon on and would fight through him! This narrative concludes with Israel’s deliverance, as a result of GOD'S POWER THROUGH Gideon.
So we defy the bondage of fear and defeat! We cancel the harassment of Fear with the TRUTH that the Lord fights for us! We gain the victory through His divinely activated power! In THIS instance, we refuse to be self-sufficient! May we never forget the Power-Source!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we commit to your service as vessels of deliverance, and to the restoration of Your honor in both our natural and spiritual families! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
For those who sense that there is more to your existence than what meets the eye! It's time to distinguish between mere business and purposeful deeds, which are linked to your life-assignment and loaded with kingdom benefits, resulting in fruit that remain and bring honor and great glory to our King!
Study Group for the Ish Chayil (man of valor) and Eshet Chayil (woman of valor)!
The announcement of this Group Study has come with great joy and excitement! It was my editor who first suggested that Volume I be used as a devotional or group study book. Clearly the feedback from readers reveals that there is more to this book than what meets the eye! Some have stated that every now and then, they reread it to receive that boost of encouragement and confidence it provides.
I can tell you that one of the main purposes of this book was for it to function as a tool of divine activation in the lives of its readers! Praise God, that is exactly what is happening! It ignites the purpose of God that has been deposited inside of you, resulting in a greater clarity, boldness and desire to fulfill one's life-assignment!
I will host our very first Kingdom Identity Chayil Activation & Study Group, a 5 week session, beginning Friday, June 14 at 7:00pm. This invitation is for an intimate group of 20 serious people (18+ years), who can commit to ALL 5 sessions, in order to jumpstart the cultivation of one's Kingdom Orientation, the discovery of one's Kingdom Identity, and the activation of one's Kingdom Deposit. Registrants will need the book pictured above ($12).
The Proverbs 31 Woman, the symbolic Proverbial Wisdom Woman, is a very popular example of the model wife and mother used both in religious and nonreligious circles. Whether or not she is a literal woman or a metaphorical Wisdom Woman, has been a scholarly debate for many generations. Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, you may find what follows to be extremely liberating!
I’m so excited to begin blogging on a theme birthed during the writing of my first book, “The Christian’s Kingdom Identity: Ish Chayil & Eshet Chayil. This theme, Becoming Who He Knew, was taken from Jeremiah 1:5 NIV:
Ruth 3:11 (Hebrew)
וְעַתָּ֗ה בִּתִּי֙ אַל־תִּ֣ירְאִ֔י כֹּ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאמְרִ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לָּ֑ךְ כִּ֤י יוֹדֵ֙עַ֙ כָּל־שַׁ֣עַר עַמִּ֔י
כִּ֛י אֵ֥שֶׁת חַ֖יִל אָֽתְּ׃
Ruth 3:11 (Rough Translation from Hebrew)
And now my daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say, I will do for you, because all of my people at the gates know that you are an eschet chayil (woman of power, valor, strength).
The book of Ruth opens with Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, facing a severe famine which forces them from their home in Bethlehem, Judah to Moab. There, Naomi’s husband died. Later her two sons who married Orpah and Ruth also died, leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves. It’s hard to imagine Naomi’s grief, having lost all the men she loved, including her offspring. Its even more difficult to imagine their state, in an Ancient Near Eastern culture, formed on patrilineality and male-dominance, where a woman’s value and purpose could only be attained through her relationship to a male, whether father, brother or husband. They were now the poorest of poor, having no security (without property and financial stability), no place in society, or any hopes for a bright future.
Yet, through her grief, Naomi managed to hear that the Lord had blessed His people back home with bountiful crops, and set out to return to her homeland. On the way she told the girls to return to their mothers’ homes, and blessed and kissed them, her attempt to release them from their relational covenant. After they refused she attempted to persuade them, by giving them a detailed description of her bleak future, saying she was too old to remarry or to have any more sons, because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her, and in her despair, changed her name from pleasantness to Mara, bitter. Faced with this reality, Orpah decided that leaving was the right thing for her to do, but Ruth refused, proclaiming, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die…May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us” (Ruth 1:16).
What could have prompted such a response and oath! In the natural, there was absolutely no reason to stay! Naomi was old, had nothing to offer and could not even promise that a brighter day was ahead. For all intents and purposes, as one dear heart pointed out in a recent Bible Study, this was a place of NOTHINGNESS! What do you do in a place of so called “Nothingness,” and does such a place really exist? How many of us would have chosen Orpah’s route? In a day when most efforts are motivated by a “Whats in it for me?” attitude, Ruth’s response seems quite foreign and perhaps idiotic to some.
Ruth appears to have been influenced by something or someone which resulted in a different kind of seeing and a change not just in her perspective, but her world view. Could her relationship with Naomi, a person who happened to live a life in relationship with YHWH, have resulted in the cultivation of Ruth’s personal encounter with the same? She is shown demonstrating a reverence for and submission to Naomi’s God, as she bound herself to her, even to death. Again, what was the motivation for such a loyal commitment? Could Ruth have sensed that there was more to this elderly lady than what met the eye? Could she have possibly seen through to her Kingdom influence as a godly woman, and the benefit of having such a person in her life? Do such divine, faith-based joinings happen in our time? It is clear that Ruth’s motivation was far deeper than her dead husband, and even if it began with him, it certainly shifted to a greater cause, one rooted in faith and purpose.
As the narrative unfolds, it becomes apparent that this was a divine setup! YHWH had orchestrated the relationship and events not only for Naomi and Ruth’s well-being, but to further His Kingdom agenda, His global plan and purpose! Yet, it required Ruth’s sensitivity, alignment and participation! She could have easily walked away. Which begs the question: Where is Orpah?
Boaz, Naomi’s relative, was an ish chayil (2:1), a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem. Ruth put herself out there and decided to go glean Boaz’s fields, gathering only the grain left behind by the harvesters, which got his attention. When he learned of their connection through Naomi, Boaz granted Ruth an open invitation to glean his fields. He affirmed and praised this foreign girl for committing herself to Naomi and forsaking her own interests and desires. He also blessed her, saying that she had taken refuge under the wings of the God of Israel. Ruth is now connected to YHWH worshippers! These words indicate this family’s Kingdom Orientation, their connection to and relationship with YHWH.
People were not just taking notice of Ruth and Naomi’s relationship, but being impacted by it! Could Boaz have seen God’s role in Ruth and Naomi’s joining, and perhaps have had a sense of its deeper purpose? Boaz welcomed Ruth to dine with his harvesters, who were ordered to drop extra bundles for her. Ruth returned to her mother-in-law with loads of food. Naomi informed her that Boaz was a kinsman redeemer, meaning that culturally, he had an obligation to provide an offspring and financial support for Ruth. While Ruth continued to work in Boaz’s fields, God was behind the scenes working things out according to His Good Pleasure.
Naomi wanted Ruth to be noticed and devised a plan. How typical of us! God was already ahead of Naomi and Ruth was already on Boaz’s radar! Boaz continues to bless and praise Ruth’s loyalty, giving her a special place in Boaz’s heart! Boaz promised, “I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a woman of power (eshet chayil).” In other words, “Everyone knows that you are a capable woman of strength, with power to influence.”
What we witness is an activation to cancel the darkness of famine, injustice, discrimination and more! Darkness always results in a lesser state of glory than intended by God for His creation! As seen, Ruth’s activation was not just to bring Naomi back to life, but was for the benefit of the entire world, as she and Boaz later gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of David, who were the ancestors of Jesus.
It appears that Ruth’s sensitivity to God and her living in submission to YHWH through Naomi, resulted in a chayil activation, which caused her to realize her identity as one through whom the peoples of the earth would be blessed. Her covenant relationship with Naomi served a far greater purpose than that of a mere mother and daughter in-law. This divine joining made her a participant in the lineage of kings, including Jesus Christ the Messiah. Where is Orpah?
A place of NOTHINGNESS is seen through the limitations of the natural eye, while a place FULL of purpose and the potential to cultivate one’s Kingdom Identity and Kingdom Orientation, is seen through the limitless scope of one’s spiritual eyes!
Declaration: "I refuse to be limited by my natural senses! Father, everything You have said about me is true! I was born loaded with purpose to serve Your Kingdom Agenda!"
canceler of darkness