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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dream: Desert Storm Army of Conviction

It began elevated looking over a vast desert land... then suddenly, I was lowered to ground level and began being propelled forward.  In the distance, I could see what appeared to be a dust storm on the horizon.  Miles and miles wide.  I was propelling very fast towards the dust clouds and below them appeared an army.  Continuing at high speed towards the army, I could see people of all shapes, sizes, men and women. These were not arrayed in army gear, nor bearing weapons of war, but with a hidden weapon... the looks on their faces was of sheer conviction.  A strange word to use here, but that word was made clear.  In fact, it seemed to BE the secret weapon.


The resolution on their faces, the sheer confidence as they walked in a quiet faith whose strength marveled around them, was enough to give me shivers, even in a dream!  But the most amazing thing to behold was that it wasn't just people in this army, there appeared to be a heavenly realm... angels, if you will, marching right along with them.  A collective army of the earthly and heavenly... all of them intent in a oneness that spoke louder than a war cry.

The marching of their feet kicked up a storm in their wake.  And the sight was something to behold!

But why is the word "conviction" of such importance?

This dream also happened several years ago.  Just recently, when I had shared this dream with a friend of mine, she looked puzzled and said "are you sure you're using the right word?  I thought conviction meant being declared 'guilty' like a convict.  Do you mean 'confidence'?"

I became puzzled, too, because the word was clear but the faces I saw did not look like convicts!  I said "No, I'm quite sure the word conviction is essential but now I question the 'why.'  There was a definite firm resolve about the faces I saw and this had everything to do with their 'conviction'."

Living in this day and age of modern technology, we both pulled out our cell phones and googled it.  Here are the two definitions:
1.  a formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offence, made by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in the court of law.
2.  a firmly held belief or opinion.

I gasped!!!  I hugged my friend and said, "You have been answered prayer!  I understand it now!"

Right up until five years ago, I was living my life professing to love God, thinking my faith was strong, solid, growing, etc...  I was doing things that as long as I felt "LOVE" in my heart and "followed my heart", I was convinced (definition #2)  it was from God.

Until I started reading His word.

Gulp.  Let me tell you, if I had been given a $5 bill for every time I read a Torah commandment that made me gasp in alarm because it had been something I had broken believing such deeds were "good"... well, let's just say we'd likely be mortgage free!  The only time in my life I have truly repented, and I mean heart-wrenching sobbing for the ugliness revealed to me, was when I started to set aside MY definition of "good" and started believing God's.  Only when I read and believed Torah did I feel "convicted" of my offences (by the law of God) and they brought me to my knees in repentance.

God had answered my prayer "Father, reveal to me my hidden iniquities that I may repent and draw nearer to you.  Please Abba, empty me of my ego/pride... humble me and make me yours.  Take away my heart of stone and give me your heart of flesh."
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:24-26 - I Will Put My Spirit Within You)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people... and I will forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more.  (Jeremiah 31:33 - New Covenant Promise) 
And by His righteous law, He has and continues to do exactly this.  For this reason, I write to you all firm in my "conviction" (definition #1 and #2) that the word of God is TRUE and ETERNAL and that by His word, we LIVE.

By our convictions (definition #1), we can repent and receive forgiveness and salvation by His steadfast love.  The fruit of this salvation bears a conviction (definition #2) that sets our hearts ablaze in zealousness for God and the works of faith that declare His everlasting Word!

The army I saw marching was an army of those who, through discovering the Torah of God and consequently coming into the knowledge of their "criminal offences" (which declares them "guilty" before God) are now deeply afflicted... and repentant... and now holding firm to the truth of Torah as a gift to a people redeemed by its Author!  Yeshua, the Messiah, knew that the world must be convicted by God's Torah, so that once we accepted the guilty verdict, He could take on the penalty of death for all those who believe that the Father sent Him!
"If I had not come and spoken [the Torah of God] to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin."  (John 15:22)
"And when he [Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment."  (John 16:8) - matches New Covenant Promise above
So this army is firm in their conviction, and they are marching into battle to defend it knowing there is no greater weapon one can yield than the weapon of faith.  It bears an unseen spiritual armor such as the one that protected David in the face of lions and giants.  It is the front and rear guard of those who believe and bears the foreknown double-edged sword of Truth yielded only by those who have been trained by its wounds of reproof and discipline.

We are like unrefined gold found and redeemed by God.  He makes it clear in the Passover story that His redemption in Egypt is not because of any righteousness or purity on our part but by sheer grace.  Cue in Mount Sinai where God makes it clear to us what is considered impurities and what pure gold should look like... and perhaps this is the very gold in the book of Revelation that Jesus said we must "buy" from Him along with white linen.  But back to Sinai, I could just  imagine hearing His voice... "As a people redeemed by my outstretched arm, declare to the nations WHO has redeemed you by shining the light of my Torah.  Be set apart, be holy as I am holy."
So shall you remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. (Numbers 15:40)
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, (Proverbs 6:23) 
Yet despite His reminding us that we are unrefined, we think ourselves precious and pure.. or worse yet, that by our own righteousness, we can be made pure!  But the ONLY way to access the purity is by looking to our Redeemer who holds us in His hand, patiently waiting for us to say "Ooooh!  Thanks to your light of revelation, your Torah (which came in the flesh to show us exactly HOW to live it), I now see the impurity on me, yuck, get it off!  I'm ready to be refined and purified."  And the Father, who delights in our confession and repentance, places us in the holy fire of discipline (which hurts but only for a moment) and burns off the iniquities we have just acknowledged of our own free will.  And the process is ONGOING.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:8)

But the revelation of our iniquity must be there for us to repent.  Perhaps this is why Paul wrote:
"What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet'."  (Romans 7:7)
He warns the reader that once you know about Torah, sin has a tool with which to tempt you.  So be self-aware and strong in the vulnerability that comes through the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Because it's one thing to sin in ignorance (that's where His Grace shines through the Messiah) but it's a whole other ball game to sin AFTER coming into the knowledge of Truth revealed through Torah.  In fact, to do so is considered the only "unforgivable sin" labeled as "blaspheming the spirit".
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  (Hebrews 10:26-29)
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  (1 John 3:4-6)
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them:“The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."  (2 Peter 2:21-22)
For it is impossible, (in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away) to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.  (Hebrews 6:4-6) 
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.  (Acts 17:30) 
Formerly, when you (Gentiles) did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  (Galatians 4:8-9)
Despite the pain of revelation through Torah, my prayer for you is the profound joy of being cleansed by its discipline so that it is your face seen marching into victory for your conviction.  And that the heavenly realm can march right alongside you declaring that through the Messiah all things, both earthly and heavenly, are reconciled to God!
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:19-20)
And I leave you with the following encouragement that by upholding God's righteous law, we declare WHO has redeemed us, WHO is disciplining us by it, WHO has forgiven us by the sins revealed/confessed through it, and WHO has crowned us by His righteousness... that in your brokenness, you recognize the hands that mend you... so that you may breath the most heartfelt "hallelujah."
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  (quoting Proverbs 3:11)  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons... For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:4-11)
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  (2 Corinthians 7:10) 
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.  For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.  (Psalms 94:12-15)