Out of the Box
If there ever has been timely wisdom for the forerunners of this season … it is to get out of the box. This especially applies to those enshrouded in the accomplishments of having track records and in the traditions of the West, but with them ones in other parts of the world emerging from persecution, who due to perceptions of Western “success,” have embraced their “ways” as their model. Instead, it is a season calling for greater levels of discernment and dependency on the Lord than has been seen in the last generation and then some.
The need is in clearly recognizing the times and the changes, in discerning true foundations and the mandates of pioneers. The issues are critical in facing realities to pave the way with the spiritual conflicts still ahead. It calls for realistically recognizing the cost with a continual reach for the higher citizenship we embrace, spiritually, as well as in aligning with Israel.
Getting out of the box embraces a clarion call of understanding the times, to know what to do, in reaching for those dimensions that take us beyond ourselves, our cultural predispositions and what we have established as our comfort zones. It calls for diligence in continually seeking the Lord as challenges and even annoyances may represent masked opportunity.
It represents a sobering in embracing the reality of the shifts, not unlike that faced by Joseph and Daniel, in making the needed preparation to stay ahead of the power curve of what has been so quickly unfolding in today’s world events. Unfortunately, the Joseph-Daniel calling has been tainted by pop-Christian culture. It has evolved with glitter, attracting many without a clue as to the realities and rigors of the costs.
In each instance, it takes those fully embracing it, out the box of not just their comfort zones, but with the subtleties of what has become familiar and constant in their pathways. It requires a strength and presence of mind along with the conceptual processing and awareness that can only survive with a constant focus and dependency on God.
Early during the Babylonian captivity, when Nebuchadnezzar raised the standard of his largely occult court, Daniel entered a realm that was a narrow corridor between life and death. The king demanded the interpretation of a dream he refused to describe. So, it was far from being a matter of prophetic glitter or fun and games for Daniel when he boldly walked into that royal court after seeking God with his friends. The reality was his very life was on the line with the words he was about to share. THAT takes getting out of the box.
Yet, the few words he then spoke opened the eyes and dramatically spiritually changed this king. It was hidden opportunity that only God could resolve. Yet, Daniel faced it head-on. Daniel also made it abundantly clear to Nebuchadnezzar that what he was about to present could only have come from the God of Heaven. It required the God who reveals mysteries, the One who gave the king his authority … the God who sees outside the realm of time.
Simultaneously, in taking attention away from himself, Daniel explained that it was not due to any wisdom that he possessed that God had revealed this mystery to him, but in order that the king might understand God’s purposes for the king’s powerful place in history. With that Daniel stepped outside the box, succinctly explaining the dream and its interpretation.
Earlier, upon hearing the king’s edict, Daniel hurried to get with his companions to pray and to seek God for the answer. Getting out of the box always begins with the humility and faith of bowing our hearts to seek God for the dynamics of the realities of whatever is confronting us. It is a season demanding access to that arena in God beyond ourselves and beyond the situations that we may be challenged with. This powerful king’s response to Daniel’s accurate description and interpretation of his dream was to drop, falling on his face in acknowledging Adonai as the God of gods and the Lord of kings.
The Eyes of the Lord
The dynamic tied to Daniel’s encounter with this Babylonian conqueror and king points to a body of scripture that explain that God’s eyes roam to and fro throughout the entire earth to find those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Ch 16:9). The Complete Jewish Bible translates the key part of this passage with: “whose hearts are wholeheartedly toward the Lord.” The Tree of Life Version renders it with: “whose hearts keep covenant with Him.”
However, the context of this scripture in 2 Chronicles 16 was an indictment against Asa, King of Judah, a righteous King devoted to the Lord with a significant track record of restoring God’s standard within his realm. However, later in his reign he appreciably misfired by relying on Syria instead of the Lord in Judah’s annoying conflict with Israel.
In another sequence of scripture describing the eyes of the Lord searching the earth, it offers a glimmer of vital factors operating in this remnant, sought by God. It notes the standard sought quite often begins small, yet this right dependency on God brings joy to the Lord’s heart. In finding these loyal hearts who keep covenant with Him, God’s response is in showing Himself strong toward them.
“For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven [Spirits of God] rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They [the seven Spirits of God] are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro through the whole earth.” Zec 4:10
The Seduction of Success
Yet, there is a message to be gleaned from Asa’s misfire. It is an admonition to the righteous in this turbulent season, who having established track records of success and in responding in the right way, then for some reason later in their journey, turn to their own devices. Asa, king of Judah and father of Jehoshaphat, was spiritually blinded by his own track record. Instead of trusting the Lord in his encounter with what the tribe of Israel was planning, Asa usurped God’s intention with an alliance with Syria.
With the Syrian alliance thwarting the efforts of Israel and the pressure being relieved, the Lord sent a seer, Hanani, to correct Asa’s blind spot. Hanani spoke to Asa with these words:
“Because you relied on the king of Syria and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.” 2 Chron 16: 7-8
What Asa, this leader over Judah, had missed was a strategic opportunity important to God’s heart for the restoration of the tribes of Judah with the tribes of Israel. Because of Asa’s leadership role, he was entrusted with matters beyond his human grasp, important to God. It is why seeking the Lord on the challenges of the season can, instead of just being dealt with as annoyances, prove to be pivotal and strategic. Sadly, resisting the correction and what may have come from repentance, Asa’s blind spot was instead compounded.
Asa, having become too full of himself, responded in rage toward Hanani, putting him in prison and as scripture describes, even inflicting cruelties upon his people. While it didn’t happen overnight, within a short time, Asa became severely diseased in his feet. Scripture specifically indicates that even then, he failed to seek the Lord …. and he died as a result.
Peter understood this dynamic about the eyes of the Lord being focused on the righteous and their discerning response to His priorities; with the result being the Lord’s attentiveness to their prayers, offering a unique dimension of divine protection.
“For Adonai keeps his eyes on the righteous and his ears open to their prayers, with His face against those who provoke evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
This loyalty reveals the significance, as well as the standard represented for those who, as a remnant of leaders, become carriers in activating the priorities of God’s heart. While the standard for leaders has always been higher, in this season now upon us, not unlike the failure of Asa to recognize these higher dimensions, the bar has been raised from what it has been in the past. It has been raised, because the assignments and the associated challenges have become greater. It is a wakeup call to the significance of the preparation for and execution of some extremely strategic assignments coming with this season.
Discerning the Raised Standard
Deuteronomy 30 has long been pivotal for God’s people and those leading God’s people.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life that you and your descendents may live, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and the length of your days…” Deu 30:19-20
Indeed adhering to this standard of Life has a significant bearing on the length of days for those so entrusted. God has always had forerunners to maintain the standard when the season shifts and the requirements increase. However, the models of Joseph and Daniel as standard-bearers within hostile cultures provide insight into the dynamics of the times now upon us and what lies before the remnant of leaders bearing these strategic assignments.
The times are not unlike those of the early Church when those at the forefront of leadership became ministers of Life, confronting realities provoked by the spirit of death. Yet it was a time when raising the dead was in evidence. In discerning the very critical nature of the times, Paul offers clear insight into the critical nature of leadership in such times:
“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm, immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous, take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:12 AMP
Getting Out of the Box
Both the story of Asa and that of Job have vitally pertinent truths for the times we are in. Scripture indicates that both were righteous leaders, tz’dakim. That Hebrew for “righteous ones” incorporates the community response of generosity of its leaders. Yet both Job and Asa hit a season in which, they needed a great deal more than the means by which they had previously been operating. Insight was given to Job when Elihu instructed him that “his soul draws near to the pit and his life to the messengers of death.” Job embraced the turning, while Asa resisted it, pulling the plug on what could have been his greatest opportunity.
Responding to such changes in a season with the bar being raised begins with the consistent reach for that dimension of “something more” that only God can provide. Tapping what is necessary for that dimension requires a willingness to pay the cost by judging yourself. Doing so means facing the blind-spots and idols of your mind. That in turn requires discerning and removing the distractions of clutter …. then reshaping the ruts of one’s routines and patterns of thinking.
The Reach for Something More. The reach for something more involves not just getting beyond our human limitations, but in discerning that glimmer Jesus imparted concerning “greater works,” of the opportunity that will come from the consistency of the reach.
This reach for something more gives access to the willingness to pay the cost, which more often than not will become very personal in our judging ourselves. It is not about introspection so much as having a full recognition of the awesome holiness of God and the wisdom of the Truths He has given over the centuries to groom us to be able to abide in His presence.
Paying the Cost by Judging Yourself. Judging yourself is about one’s perception of reality, response to it and the willingness to change. It pivots on God’s standard and need for greater spiritual maturity. Maturity is not about position, how long you’ve been in harness, nor does it have anything to do with the human glimmers of success. Some of the most immature spiritually in this season are very gifted and successful, but unfortunately have allowed themselves to become seduced into believing their own press releases and mantras of self-promotion.
The human response of the believer to the journey of life involves a very fine line. In God, the perception of reality and response to it begins in the thinking which determines one’s attitudes and behavior. Paul made a point that he didn’t trust what came from his soulish realm, that being the combined mix of his mind, will and emotions. Like Jesus’ admonition, we would be wise to judge ourselves rather than being judged, Paul recognized and reached for that dimension beyond himself; it being the only access to abiding in the Spirit.
The remnant who consistently live in that realm seem to carry a Presence and a Wisdom that is beyond the ordinary. It is due to the lack of self. 1 John 2 describes the evidence of those seduced by the love of the world: the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The Tree of Life Version translates the pride of life as the “boasting of life,” the Complete Jewish Bible, refers to it as the “pretentions of life.” Scripture reveals the love of the world to be the desires of the old nature, which are not of the Father, but rather are the remnants and entanglements of defiled worldly mind-sets and predispositions.
Such manifestations of foolishness are replete in the ruts of our thinking and behavior, not to speak of our abbreviations of Truth that we label as doctrines.
“Be not willfully wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” Eccl 7:17
Facing Blind Spots and Idols of the Mind. Judging yourself begins with facing the blind-spots and idols of your mind with the intent of changing. The idols of our mind-sets are what both control one’s predispositions and create the areas that we are inclined not to see or don’t want to see. It is not about introspection, but rather in getting beyond ourselves to the place in God where the supernatural is natural.
In reaching for that additional dimension in God, we face the reality of uncovering those hidden areas that are triggers and entanglements, to the pretensions that often are reflected in our boasting of what we may deem as good, but which masks and may overshadow the genuineness and opportunity of God fully operating in us. Too much focus on the good can quite often be the stumbling point to receiving God’s best. This process begins with discerning the sources of stumbling.
Discerning the Distractions of Clutter. This is where the rubber meets the road and true commitment begins. Clutter is seductive. Not just that which comes from the world that appears overtly evil, but the subtleties that come from misguided and meaningless pronouncements from within religious circles, not to speak of the clamor and clash of clutter from religious in social media. Getting out of the box entails making wise and discerning choices in terms of our daily input and sources of influence.
This point bears on keeping our focus genuinely on the Lord, His Truth and what is truly Spirit-directed. It involves serious daily spiritual maintenance: being immersed in God’s word and prayer, the memorization of God’s truth, as well as the practice of communion, searching one’s heart and the continual reach to maintain a clean heart and steadfast spirit.
Doing so, engenders the reach Paul described to the Corinthians: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God … as ministers of this new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit.” Following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul spent three years uniquely focused and engaged with the Spirit of God, to get past himself and the distractions and clutter of his previously defiled religious thinking.
Peter, who had walked with Jesus, also had to get past himself before he could be used. It involved the need of this extremely strong and devoted personality to emerge from the ruts of the routines and subtle patterns of thinking that separate the religious from the spiritual.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. …For if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” II Peter 1:5-7, 10b ESV
Emerging from the Ruts of Routines and Patterns of Thinking. Jesus spent three years with his inner circle imparting Truth to them. That Truth was the Truth of the Kingdom which changed their view of reality and the way they thought. In doing so, Jesus was renewing their minds and the predispositions of their attitudes and behaviors. Jesus was displacing the ruts of their routines, priorities and patterns of thinking to enable them to face the realities operating in the toxic spiritual atmosphere of the world at that time.
Emerging from the ruts of routines and defiled thinking is what historically has set the course for and defined God’s game-changers. Abraham established the community model for God’s people to live in self-sufficiency, as a people of God. Isaac gleaned the secret of God’s economy and supernaturally prospered through God, in the face of the impact of famine. Joseph demonstrated how stewardship that abides in God’s presence can influence the spiritual climate of an entire society and release God’s authority within its infrastructures, to overcome impending evil and to accomplish God’s purposes, bringing blessing to all concerned.
Moses provided the framework for the Abrahamic model to inoculate itself from the subtle wickedness of the surrounding world and become a self-supporting society of the righteous, living for God. David demonstrated the leadership response to God’s guidance needed to shape a society of diverse factions into a Kingdom of God’s people, that would prompt awe for God and His people from all those around them.
Jesus then raised the bar to the ancient challenge and opened the gates to the authority that governs cultures, economies and power. In so doing He set the Kingdom standard for applying righteous power in a corrupt world. Jesus set in motion the closing of the gap to God’s strategy and authority that would destroy the works of the devil and the bondage of corruption — to restore the foundations for true Life by releasing the standard of God’s Kingdom rule to overcome the evil one’s intentions. It is the strategy for those willing to be different, who are willing to pay the cost as a society of pioneers, leaders who operate by and establish God’s Kingdom authority within the earth.
The Clash: The Covenant with Death and the Kingdom
The world of this season is unlike any previous season. With instantaneous communications, the access to technology that monitors and reshapes communications and the perception of reality from everyday people to world leaders; at the core of the dynamic is what scripture refers to as the covenant with death. The array and advancement of communication-means, from the news media to information sourcing, to the focus of entertainment, to the allure of social media, what has resulted is the world systems becoming promulgators of death.
It no longer is an issue of fitting in and making our way in being accepted in a benevolent world. The shift has accentuated the dividing line described in Deuteronomy 30.
“Therefore choose life that you and your descendents may live, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and the length of your days…” Deu 30:20
The mask has been taken off the spirit of the world; with it requiring far more of game-changers now than just grappling with the love of the world, the lust of the flesh and pride of life. What has been released with the fourth horseman in Revelation is the source of persecution and the dividing line that those with eyes to see must now face in the reality of the choice between Life and death.
The Kingdom neither operates nor thinks as the world does. Illustrating the depth of the mysteries of the Kingdom include our purpose in life being obtained through giving it up. Jesus said he who finds his life will lose it and he who eschews his life for My sake will gain it. Honor comes from humility. Jesus noted to His disciples that we are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its flavor, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Then wisdom is found in simplicity. This was revealed as Jesus prayed: “Father, You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”
The Kingdom way is to advance by yielding. Jesus admonished those being sent out to represent Him, that whatever city or town they entered, to inquire who was worthy and stay there till they departed. When they did so and entered a house, they were to bless it and give it their blessing of peace. If they were not received, then they were to let that blessing return to them and shake the dust off their feet and continue on their way.
For the Kingdom, perfect love eliminates fear. Jesus spoke of a greater love that conquered the fear of death … that a man lay down his life for his friends. In the Kingdom, making your assets multiply brings promotion. In the parable of the talents, the master said to the steward who brought the most increase: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many.”
In the Kingdom, we receive back from our giving and growth comes by generosity. Jesus said: “Give and it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give back unto you.” The Kingdom way is to bless those who curse us, to extend love to our enemies and to pray for our persecutors.
In our weakness, we are made strong when our trust is in God. The disciples were told that whatever we might wish others to do to us, do also to them. The choice is to enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate that leads to destruction, but narrow is the way that leads to Life. Then faithful stewardship increases trust and authority. Jesus taught: “Who is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household? Blessed is the servant whom his master finds doing when he comes.” We lead by serving. As Jesus said: “Let him who is to be the greatest become the least and the leader as a servant.”
The calling and preparation for both Joseph and Daniel was not unlike the extended and intense preparation Jesus put His inner circle through or that the Spirit engaged with Paul in the time of retooling his spiritually intellectual foundations. It involves getting out of the box of these comfort zones and reaching for that dimension of “something more” in God.
Getting out of the box is a message for this hour that targets those ranging from those well-intended believers seduced by the clutter, glitter and lies of the world to those whom God has already been grooming. At issue in heeding this call, are the models of Joseph and Daniel in their overt refusal to relinquish their identity in God in the face of the overt power of the world. With that as the foundation, the issue comes down to the authority and employment of righteous power in a corrupt world, reserved for those genuinely prepared. From the time that Messiah called a select band of ones He discerned to be willing to get out of the box, the cost hasn’t changed. It is everything.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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