Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! He talked to people in the Old Testament (Jesus is God and God spoke), He talked to people in the New Testament (while He walked the earth), and He still talks to us today (while He is preparing a place for us in heaven). He speaks through His Word and Spirit and He has a lot to say. Every word Jesus speaks is life-giving. Luke 4:4 “But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
When Jesus spoke to His disciples He would often preface a truth with “I say to you” to get their attention. He could draw more interest by adding “Truly” or “Assuredly” before “I say to you.” And if He really needed to stress a truth He might add an extra “Truly” saying “Truly, truly I say to you” or add “Most” to say “Most assuredly I say to you”. I have heard preachers say when Jesus uses these “attention getting” phrases multiple times it is time to sit up and take notice of what He is saying. I’m inclined to believe we should sit up and take notice every time Jesus speaks, whether He adds attention-getting words or not. Yes? Nevertheless, Jesus seems to emphasize certain truths to capture our attention probably because He knows we do not always listen or want to hear what He has to say.
I would like to say I sit up and pay attention every time I hear Him speak through His Word or Spirit but that would be a lie. Undoubtedly, there are times I hear, but rather than pay attention I question my “hearing” ability and ask God to repeat Himself, (always adding “Please Father?). Sometimes He tells me again but other times I can hear Him sternly say, “You heard Me!” The only intelligent reply to that statement is “Yes sir, I did hear You!” But there are those times, what I might call, “special times” when I hear Him speak the same thing over and over in a variety of situations, and I will admit, THEN I really do sit up and take note of what He is saying. It is as though He is saying “Truly, truly, truly!!!!”
I recently went through a period where in the midst of life, situations, and relationships I would continually hear Father God’s voice rising above the din “Rise above!” Someone was telling me about their problems and I could hear the Lord tenderly speak “Let them know they can rise above”. Someone was “correcting” me for a perceived bad attitude and I heard the Spirit of God firmly whisper “Take it, learn from it, bless them, and rise above”. My body was attacked by various germs and viruses and I heard His encouraging declaration, “Even in this affliction you must rise above.” When spiritual attacks were coming against me and God’s call on my life I would hear His commanding voice decree “I am in you and I am greater than he who is in the world so you MUST rise above.” When I wanted to silence a person sharing their frustration with me I heard Father God lovingly bring comfort to me saying “Shush! Listen, learn, and rise above!” It seemed as though God was literally following me everywhere, whispering into my ear, “Rise above Julie! Rise above Julie! Rise above!”
Because of my analytical tendencies I began dissecting what God was communicating and wondering why I was below so many things. I mean, seriously! If God follows you around 24/7 telling you to keep rising above you start to wonder if you have developed a “sinking below” complex. But of course that wasn’t the message God was communicating to me! “Rising above” was a truth which would catapult me to a new level of faith, IF I would just do it! I wanted God to tell me how to rise above, but it appeared His intentions did not include explaining Himself, only sharing what was necessary -“Rise above!” No more and no less!
I discovered the point God was making is that I would gain understanding through my obedience to rise above! It was not mine to understand and then obey but to obey and then I would understand! Of course we desire for God to teach us His ways so that we might obey His commands. But when God tells us to do something and we refuse to do it until we “understand” there is a strong possibility we will never obey. It is much like parenting. If I tell my child to clean their room but they want to “understand” the purpose for cleaning before obeying they may never do it since my explanation will never be good enough for them. But if they clean because they were told to, over time and as a result of maturity they gain appreciation for cleaning. It was not difficult for me to understand what God meant by rise above! Only the details of “how” had me puzzled but through obedience I would gain deeper understanding.
As I continued to hear God speak this truth I began to ponder “how” God spoke it to my spirit; tenderly, firmly, encouragingly, commandingly, lovingly, and as a whispering reminder. Isn’t God incredible? His love knows no bounds as He conveys His truths in just the right manner, the right time, and as many times as He thinks we need to hear it to get it! He knows us so well! Each time I heard His voice it was as though everything else was silenced in my mind and I could only hear those words “Rise above”; simple words with an extraordinary message. He was giving me a key to living in victory by putting my confidence in Him, the One who rose above every circumstance. I was humbled as God continued to say “rise above” because I was confronted with my lack of confidence in Christ. But with this truth in hand, I experienced a dramatic moment each time He spoke those words as I paused to reflect and receive His truth into my spirit. Even as I write I am unable to express the intense soberness I felt each time I heard “Rise above!” I knew living in this truth would change my life! And it has!
Probably the most glorious truth about rising above is that we are with God who is above all things. Every time He spoke to me “Rise above” He was in essence saying “Come up to Me! Come up close to Me! I am above, so you must rise above where I am!” Psalm 95:3 “For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” Psalm 97:9 “For You, Lord, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 113:4 “The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.” Psalm 148:13 “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” John 3:31 “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth; He who comes from heaven is above all.”
We are told in Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above not on things of the earth.” And in Ephesians 1:3;2:6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” That sounds very much like “Rise above” doesn’t it? God encourages us to live in Him above circumstances. Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Rise above! Knowing things in life rise up against us we must continually rise above them by being with Him and waiting on Him!
Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Rising above happens not as a result of our independent actions but as a result of waiting in active obedience; a consciousness of duty to Him, faith in Him, and reliance on Him! Waiting on the Lord means we expend energy seeking God and His grace not trusting in our own sufficiency. If our confidence is in ourselves we are strong for a short time but will get weary, grow faint, and eventually see the folly of trusting in self. But something marvelous happens when we wait on the Lord, committing ourselves to His guidance. We discover He cannot fail us and we rise above!
Often times we imagine waiting on the Lord is like sitting in a waiting room ready to be seen and served by a doctor, dentist, or some other professional. Instead, we should think of waiting on the Lord in terms of being a “waiter or waitress” because then we get the picture of waiting “on” Him not waiting “for” Him. When dining out, we appreciate waiters and waitresses who are polite, prompt, and efficient. The best servers are those who seem to know our needs and meet them even before we ask, having beverages refilled as they are emptied, plates removed to un-clutter the table, and bills available sooner than later. What if we were to serve God in this way? What if we wait on the Lord as people who know His desires and meet them without prompting? What if we honor, obey, and are at His service simply because He is God and our only purpose is to bring Him pleasure? What if?
The result of waiting on God in active obedience is revealed in Scripture! We are renewed in strength – something we all need today. Our work is renewed and we walk in a fresh anointing. We mount up with wings like eagles. We rise above! We soar upward, strengthened by His divine grace, ascending to the heavenlies. We run the race of life and do not get weary! We walk and do not faint! We press on toward our goal for the prize of the upward call, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, we seek those things that are above not below, we set our minds on heavenly things not earthly things, and we rise above and sit in the heavenly places. People of God! We have no reason to be downcast in this lifetime! We can and must rise above!
The time has come when the Spirit of God is no longer speaking “Rise above” to my spirit, but another amazing thing has occurred; I speak “rise above” to myself. I still hear the words in my spirit but it is my voice speaking His Truth! Beloved, there comes a time when we “own” His truths and walk in victory! John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth!” God’s people are set apart, dedicated unto Him by the truth of His Word. When we receive His truths unto ourselves we will rise above!
As I embraced the words “rise above” I would like to tell you my circumstances changed! But they didn’t! In fact, it seemed as though the irritations, attacks, frustrations, and stupidity came at me even faster and more furiously. But the good news is that I changed! Not overnight! I still have times when I feel “under the circumstances” or “under the weather” but praise the Lord, I know how to rise above through obedience and now, through understanding! As I listened to His words to rise above and replied “Yes, Lord” I have been renewed and blessed! And you can be too!