Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Stirring in the Mulberry Trees

"The stirring in the mulberry trees..."  Sounds poetic, doesn't it?  But as I am decidedly NOT poetic, you don't have to worry about me going all Anne of Green Gables on you.

Actually, I'm referring to a concept I feel that God is trying to teach me these days, but that I'm constantly messing up.  Maybe you can relate. ;)

The title itself comes from a story in 2 Samuel 5.

David was just anointed king, and the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight against him in the valley of Rephaim.  But, as is a consistent pattern through the life of David, you notice that before he does anything he inquires of the Lord to see if he should do it.  That alone is significant to me.  He inquires of the Lord first.

As it so happens, the first time he inquires, the Lord tells him to go fight them and promises victory.  This happens, and everything is great.  But then, the Philistines gather again.  Now before we go any further, let me ask if you would inquire of the Lord again at that point?  Likely many of you would, but I have to confess that I would be tempted to make the ol' Joshua 9:14 mistake.  I know that I might because I've done it before.

I'm a very rush-to-action type of person when it comes to spiritual things.  If it makes sense to me Biblically, and in my head there would be no hindrance, I'm very quick to start a new program, initiate a new idea or commit to something without praying first.  After all, why wouldn't God want a Pet Owners Ministry or for me to plan an elaborate outreach to the homeless?

Furthermore, if I've already done something similar for the Lord before and had success, why should it be any different this time?  I've made this assumption in many Bible studies.  Having prayed and agonized and studied my brains out and having success, and then when a similar situation comes up, winging it "because I've done it before and know how to do it."

Well, not David.  David inquired of the Lord again.  But this time, the Lord's response is a little different.

2nd Samuel 5:23  And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. 
2nd Samuel 5:24  And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.

This time, the Lord told David NOT to go come up behind them and wait...wait till he heard the sound of the wind in the tops of the mulberry trees because THAT'S when the Lord would go out before him to win the battle.

And I feel like that is what the Lord is cautioning me in as well lately.

I realize sometimes when you have a battle to fight or an idea or event or whatever it's a simple, clear, go-ahead and God doesn't lay out a point-by-point strategy, but just expects you to go in and take action and do your best.  And many times He has already made His will clear (as I've written about in a previous blog post).

However, that being said, I am feeling that God wants me to hold back and wait on Him for this time.  To inquire of Him and wait till I sense where His moving is at to take any action.

My problem is always that I have so many ideas!  I have trouble relating to people who aren't sure how to serve God in their communities...there are so many opportunities! I'm always overflowing with ideas for what direction we can take the Sunday school ministry, or youth events and activities or outreach things into the community or new convert classes and specialized classes or Bible studies in various cities our campus outreach programs or skits in the park or missions trips or...well...all kinds of things!

But none of those mean anything without God's anointing.  I don't want to move forward in ANY of those areas if God's anointing isn't on me.  If God be for us who can be against us?  But how do we know that God is with us?

We wait.

We wait for the sound going in the tops of the mulberry trees.

Do we see the moving of the Spirit?  Or are we just rushing ahead into our own good idea?  Whether it's beginning a new relationship, starting a small business, switching careers, beginning a Bible study, starting a church, planning an event, adding a program to the we see the stirring in the tops of the mulberry trees?

David is my hero in this.  I began a study on his life in one of the youth Bible studies I do, and my theme was how to find God's purpose for your life (based off of David's life).  So as I began my study, I started looking for how David discovered God's calling for his life...but to my surprise, I realized David DIDN'T find God's calling.  God's calling found him.   When we open up his story in 1 Samuel 16, it's with God singling him out from among all Israel, calling him from the sheep fields.  And even after his calling, David never usurped his authority.  Not when he had chance after chance to knock off Saul...not when his own son, Absalom, mounted a rebellion against him.   In each case, David stepped back and let God take the lead.  His reasoning seems to have been, "If God has called me to the throne...if He wants me there...He will both place and keep me there."  David waited on the Lord.  He inquired of the Lord.  He let God take the lead.  Oh, that I may have the heart of David and learn to do that in my life!  If God leads, that's when the miracles happen.  That's when the anointing flows.  That's what I want.

One final example that David Wilkerson pointed out in a message I heard recently is of Paul (Saul, at the time) and Barnabas.  Notice the wording in this account...

Acts 13:1  Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 
Acts 13:2  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 
Acts 13:3  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 

Notice that Paul and Barnabas didn't just choose what they wanted to do.  The Holy Ghost chose.  He chose as they ministered to Him and fasted...that strikes me.  The great Apostle Paul's missionary journeys didn't begin with his passionate initiative...the work of evangelizing the entire Gentile world began with waiting on the Lord and fasting, and God separating out two vessels that HE wanted to use.

"So what are you trying to say, Michael?  How does this apply in my life?"

I don't know.  I don't know how it applies in your life.  And that's the point.  The Holy Ghost has to lead you and I will support you.  As for me, my desire is to wait on the Lord.  To see the wind blowing where it listeth, not knowing whence it comes or wither it goes, but sensing when it is time to move because HE instructs me.  That requires time in prayer and time getting to know Him.  It requires waiting on the Lord.

Psalm 25:1-5 KJV
(1)  A Psalm of David. Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
(2)  O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
(3)  Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
(4)  Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
(5)  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

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