The Beginning of the Christian's Journey

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Jos 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

 Jan 5, 2007      The Beginning of the Christian's Journey  Kathleen Maples

Num 33:2 And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.

The Lord commanded Moses to write a record of the journey of Israel. As Christians, we too, are on a journey. When we are born again, our life undergoes a radical change. We are translated from spiritual darkness to the light and life of Jesus Christ. It is completely new and different than anything we've ever experienced. Israel left Raamses, which means "Ra created him or it". They left every man made thing behind. They left the oppression of their slavery, the abuse of their task masters, and the bondage of Egypt behind. Egypt is symbolic of the world, and sin which holds so many captive. When we are born again, we need to know the Word of God says sin shall not have dominion over us. We can choose in the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost to mind the things of the Spirit and deny the demands of our flesh that would destroy our life with and in Christ if we yield to it enough. We can choose to deny our flesh when it craves something that is against the will of God for our lives or would dim His testimony in us. We have the right and need to call on Him for the strength we need to say no to the carnal things that would pull us away from Him, and resist our flesh and the temptations that do so easily beset us. We have been set free to live and serve the Lord, who is not a harsh task master as the devil and sin are. He does not drive His children, He woos, and leads and draws them with love and kindness.

Israel experienced their first Passover meal, then went out with a high or exalted position, as a liberated nation of people. The Egyptians, whose cities had been devastated and destroyed by the hand of the Lord, watched them go through grieving eyes. Don't think when you are born again, that the devil does not watch you go free. He watches the chains break, He watches your eyes open as the blinders fall off and then there is this supernatural light the Lord shines in that you are free, no longer a captive to sin and no longer his slave, and he watches it with hate in his heart and eyes.

2Co 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

He's lost another one to the One he hates. The Egyptians all had children to bury that had been smitten by the Lord, according to Num 33:4. When we are delivered from the camp of the enemy, all the plans he had to destroy your life, the devices he was using to do just that, he might as well bury them. That's not to say he will, nor am I suggesting that he will stop trying to destroy your life. That is who he is, the destroyer. That is what he does when he gets a foothold in somewhere. He turns it into a stronghold, if he can, and acts like a cancer that will just eat and destroy until all is consumed. But for the child of God who trusts the Lord, and walks with Him, and listens and learns how to fight the fight of faith, and stores up the Word of God in his or her heart, and prays and communes with the Lord, the devices of the devil will not succeed.

Num 33:5 And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.

Num 33:6 And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.

They went from there to Succoth, about fifteen or twenty miles on that first day out of Egypt. They were traveling south east, more south than east. The next day, they went to Etham, a few miles away. Etham means 'their strength'. At this point, Israel had strength in the natural. They were happy to be leaving the bondage of Egypt, just like new Christians who have just gotten saved. Everything was hunky dory with them at this point. They had their water, and bread, and their freedom and they were on their way to a glorious new life. Finally, they were out from under the painful whips of their taskmasters, out from under the harsh and heavy labor and burdens put on them. They no longer had to hide their babies for fear of them being taken and thrown into the Nile. They were free. They were being led by the prophet of God, and things were definitely looking up. When we first come to Christ, we feel His presence so close to us, we are joyful and glow with the warmth of this newly discovered love God has for us, and sometimes we can naively assume everything is just going to be alright. I remember thinking just a couple months or so after I got saved how wonderfully easy the Christian life was and wondered why everyone didn't want to do it, and why they said it would be so hard. I had just walked around with joy, letting the Lord deal and change what He would, because He'd freed me from drugs, and and so much more, that I could never have loosed myself from, but He hadn't begun to deal with some things that were closer to my heart, or more deeply embedded in my life, like smoking, though I knew at some point He would. But oh, I messed up when I spoke that aloud in my contentment. I was so thrilled with everything I was learning about Him. I was so happy just to have a peace in my heart and to be out from under the cloud of shame and hate and fear that had covered my life for so long.

They went next to Pihahiroth, which was called the place of the sedge, near the small body of water, which is today called Lake Timsah. It was a marshy, swampy area. There was a lot of vegetation around this area, called 'sedge'. I looked that up and it means a grass like plant with long solid stems growing in wetland places. That kind of made me think of pictures and video I've seen of the Everglades in Florida. It is not a place of solid ground. Wetlands are places you can get bogged down in, and stuck in the mire and mud if you are not careful. It's also a place where predators can lurk in the water, hiding in the weeds. An interesting note I might add here: Pihahiroth was before Baalzephon-and here we need to pause a moment and get our spiritual shovels and do a little digging.

Baalzephon means hidden or secret idols. When we come out of sin and darkness and are born again, we come out of "Egypt" i.e. sin, and the world, with all its anti-christ ideas and concepts, all the bondages and habits and thought processes that left us completely alienated from God. But, like Israel, having grown up in this world, and lived here all our life being taught one thing, for us, everything is new and different when we are born again. We come out of sin, but we still carry our little hidden idols with us, just as Israel left Egypt with their little statues of Egyptian idols. (Amo_5:26; Act_7:43) We carry our carnal ideas, things we like to do that we might not realize at the beginning are against the new life that has been birthed and is growing inside us. We tend to lean on ourselves, and men's wisdom, for help, rather than God. When I was a new Christian, I went to the local Bible Book store, and innocently, excited about the Lord, and wanting to learn more about Him, set about using worldly methods to do this. I browsed through their library of spiritual how-to's, and self-helps, and how to improve your life, success and prosperity, in the Lord, and in the world-and these two often are at odds with the other. You can't serve two masters. I found when I tried to read these books, I could not stay interested. I tried the Christian fiction books, because I always loved to read, and bought one, thinking, I'd replace my Stephen King novels with Christian fiction, and it would be alright, because after all, it was from a BIBLE bookstore, and that made it alright. Wrong. Fiction means made up. Not true. I am not to fill up on untruth. Christian self-help books are no good because self has to be crucified. The Bible says GOD is an ever present help in trouble (Psa 46:1) and I can call on Him in trouble and He will answer me (Psa 50:15). Self can't be rehabilitated or improved, it has to die, otherwise Jesus can't be Lord of my vessel. If I assert myself, promote myself, dress or play up my appearance to draw attention to me, how can HE be seen through all that? That's not to say women should not take care of themselves, and fix up, but modesty is the key. I bought a book on spiritual warfare, thinking, oh, I need to know this. But as I read the first few pages, and the author suggested a Christian could be in their flesh possessed by the devil, with Christ in their spirit, a red flag went up inside. I thought, I had read a Scripture that said when the Strong Man comes, he overtakes and binds the one there and casts him out. I couldn't imagine the Lord willing to share me any longer with the devil. It contradicted what little I had begun to learn about the Bible, so, I threw it in the trash can. The grace of God can teach us so much when we listen. The other books I bought, ended up unfinished on the shelf. It just seemed I could not stay interested in them long enough to read them. God is so merciful. He has so many ways of protecting us from ourselves. But, he also has to begin the process of stripping away the hidden idols inside our hearts and lives. He begins to draw us to His Word and teach us how these things will war against the life and plan He has for us. It's truly a life to be lived for His glory, His purposes, and His pleasure-reaching out to the lost and hurting of this world. In His mercy, and His love, He does not lay this on us immediately. Like an infant, He gives us time to grow. He nourishes us, with His Word, and with His love, and we can feel Him so close to us. It's wonderful. He holds back the forces of darkness that would destroy our fragile new faith, giving us time to learn how to stand, to learn some about who He is and get stronger.

He begins to teach us about Him. As we fill up on His Word, and pray for understanding of how It applies to our lives, it begins to cut and divide, and separate. Heb 4:12 says the Word of God is quick (or alive) and sharper than any two edged sword. When you take the Word of God into your vessel, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost if you are born again, it will automatically begin to separate you from the things which are unlike Christ. As I began to learn about Him, things I had always loved to watch on TV like Knots Landing (my all time favorite soap opera) and my extensive Stephen King library, began to vanish from my life. I should have thrown the books away, instead of giving them away. I should have thrown my heavy metal music collection away instead of giving it to someone else. I have repented and regretted carnal decisions like that and thank God for His mercy, and patience with me. But I found, as I began to read the Word of God, first these things began to bother me. I couldn't set through an episode of Knots Landing which had just begun to air again on the new channel, the Soap Network, in my area, much to my delight, about the time I got saved. But here I'd go, trying to watch this, and I couldn't get through a few minutes, till I got bothered, because Scriptures I had read would surface in my mind, that showed me I was watching the breaking of the commandments of my precious Lord, and it just wasn't fun to watch anymore. Things like this I gave up with little regret as I learned they were not like Him. Some things were harder, like the cigarettes. But the Lord takes us all through this stripping process, as he takes away the old things, and replaces them with more of His life and Light.

It was after this, after several months of this stripping process, that I came to my Red Sea, just like Israel came to theirs. God took them through, mightily. They looked behind them and saw their enemy, their oppressors, bearing down on them, intent on overtaking them, and recapturing them. The devil will be allowed to come against you. He will test your newfound faith, and challenge it with great malice.

Exo 15:9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

The devil will try this on all of God's children. He will send a flood of lies into their mind, trying to persuade them as they undergo this sometimes painful stripping process, of being separated from old things, and entering into new things of God, and walking with God, that they would be better off if they just went back. He intends to overtake them, draw them back-for one purpose-to kill them. He will talk smooth, and whisper great lies. He knows the warfare that breaks out in us, how the Spirit of God in us wars against the desires of the flesh that are against the life of Christ. He will try to provoke, and influence us to act in our flesh because he knows the power is only in the Spirit. A Christian walking in their flesh, under the direction of a carnal mind is no threat to the devil. They are weak, and vulnerable. He will try to wear you out, by whispering seductive promises like this one: "All these problems you are having, all these things you are giving up, what are you doing this for? What are you getting in return? Nothing, that's what. Just a big story book, filled with things that will never work for you, that aren't really true, and you are giving all this up for that? Look how you are suffering!" He will try to use self-pity, he will try to wear you out, discourage you, so you will give up and go back. Sadly, I've seen many do this. The devil knows who God is, and what He has for His children, and he is so eat up with hate and jealousy that his chief desire is to prevent them from having what God intends them to possess. He deceives many and cheats them out of their inheritance before they get very far along with the Lord.

I met the Lord on Feb 25, 2001, on my knees in my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon. I had been under conviction for a long time. I was a heavy drug user, heavy smoker, full of hate and bitterness. I was a very unhappy, insecure person. He delivered me, and I started this wonderful journey with Him leading the way. He is awesome, people, if you just stick with Him and give Him time to show you who He is, how marvelous His love is, and taste for yourself how good He is. I had smoked pot, indulged in muscle relaxers, and alcohol and cigarettes, for 17 years. I had a constant habit. It wasn't just a weekend thing, it was an every-day-or-I-couldn't-function-right thing. I went down on my knees an addict, and rose a new creature, loosed from the chains of addiction, loosed from the chains of bitterness and fear. I did not need rehab. I had the Holy Ghost. He kept me straight, He showed me I did not need that stuff anymore to get me through life. I did not need that stuff anymore to numb my pain because the Lord had healed that hurt. I did not need the false bravado drugs gives you to cope with fear, because with the Lord in me, I had nothing to fear. He helped me pray through the withdrawal. He strengthened me, stayed close to me, and I got so hungry for His Word. I couldn't get enough of it. I could hardly wait for the next service at church. I was so excited about life. Then he started stripping away the cigarettes. That was hard. But He gave me something I desired more than the cigarettes-He gave me a taste of Himself. He gave me a glimpse of who He is, and I was hooked. I began to desire HIM more than the cigarettes. He was my strength to lay them down. I had just gotten a new car, with a higher car payment, because my other car had a cracked block and I had to trade it in. But then, there is a huge scandal breaks out in our church. It hit me like a Tsunami. It sent waves of confusion, anger, uncertainty and fear through me. Again, the Lord upheld me by the power of His Word. In my mind I was reeling, and one day at work, He spoke to my troubled heart and He said "Fear not, for I am thy God. I am with thee, and I will help thee." You can find that in Isaiah 41:10-13. During this time, our country was attacked on September 11. That shook everybody up. A month or so later, I found out I was pregnant. I had a son, who was 9, and I'd always wanted a girl, too. But my husband said no, and I didn't push it. But I got pregnant. And I was shocked, but the Lord calmed my fears. I was 34, totally unprepared to have a little one around, I'd given all my son's baby things away thinking I would never need them again, and here I come up pregnant. The Lord calmed my fears, and fretting about the bad condition of the world, with the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and our finances, by the Word. I was worried about how long I could continue working, knowing we needed the second income. He reminded me the blessing of the Lord maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow. He asked me did I not trust Him to watch over and keep my daughter in this wicked world? He knows how to speak peace to your heart. I met my Red Sea the week before Thanksgiving when I was wrongfully fired from my job, and here I was four months pregnant, and because of my petite 5 foot frame, I was already OBVIOUSLY pregnant. I thought nobody would hire me. My husband was working in roofing, and in the winter months, it wasn't steady work. The holidays were coming, and I was pregnant, with a new car to pay for, and I felt like suddenly my back was against the wall. I was almost five months pregnant, deep in debt, suffering through a church scandal that was splitting the church apart, and did not know what to do. I filed for unemployment, and my boss lady fought it when she was laying other people off at the time and encouraging them to file for it. I was forced to go to a hearing, which was humiliating, because since I'd gotten saved, this lady had just flat turned on me. One day she was nice, and the next I felt she was looking for a way to get rid of me. She started nit picking at everything I did, changing the rules on me. But I sat there at this hearing, listening to her describe me as an employee who did not care about quality, only quantity, who would not listen, who argued with her, and did things my own way, and none of this was true. I had read enough in my Bible to know I was not supposed to argue or rail back at her, because I didn't want to embarrass the Lord. I sat through this humiliating experience, somehow feeling His closeness, knowing He was watching and hearing everything. It put a fear in my heart, for her. I can't explain that any better, except I felt a compulsion to ask the Lord not to be mad at her, and forgive her, because I had always cared about this woman, for the three years I'd worked for her, and did not want anything bad to happen to her. My unemployment was approved in spite of her accusations, which she had no documentation to prove. And my Beloved Lord saw our growing family through that hard winter. Our bills got paid, we had groceries, without food stamps or welfare assistance. We even had enough left for a hamburger out on Friday nights most of the time. I'm not knocking government assistance, I'm just saying God provided. I didn't have to go to the government for help. Strangely enough, I was saddened to hear the company I'd been working for shut down a few months later, forced to go out of business because of problems internally and loss of contracts. But, God has been good to me. I still try to remember all those ladies in my prayers.

This is a wonderful journey He's taking me on. Things have happened that have been hard. There has been some suffering involved. There have been trials and battles and attacks of the enemy along the way. But He is faithful. He is beautiful. He is lovely. He is incomparable. Magnificent. May I just encourage you, no matter what you are struggling with, no matter whether it seems like everything is against you, and the pressure is mounting, HE is faithful. You can trust Him. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will not leave you. He can calm your fears, and having HIM in your life, knowing His Word for yourself, that is your peace. The Lord Jesus Christ endured being badly beaten and bruised so we could have peace with God. The Bible says the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. Just the fact that Jesus endured such brutality on Himself so we could have peace with God should tell us how badly God wants to have a relationship with us. Don't let anything separate you from that. Paul said I am persuaded that nothing is able to separate me from the love of God through Christ. Don't let adversity, scandal, pressure, the lies of the devil which can be heavy weights we need to lay aside like we're told in Heb 12:1, all these things can if allowed to separate us from the life and inheritance God has for us. We have been made more than conquerors because HE conquered it for us and then gave us the right to stand in HIS victory. He shares HIS righteousness with us as our covering, through faith in His shed blood. Believe it. Trust HIM. Seek HIM. Seek His face, seek to know Him. Don't just seek His hand. Don't just seek the blessings, or help. Seek HIM. He will see you through.

Psa 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

That is a promise you can count on, too. When Israel's enemies came after them, and they had nowhere to go, God made a way. He cleared a path through the Red Sea. He protected their backs, and led them forward. He did not fail them even when many times, they failed Him. He is so merciful. Let Him love you. Let Him teach you. Whatever the problem may be, He is the only Solution.

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And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32