It is such a treat to be able to ride on a new highway! Usually the road is smooth and well-marked and gets us from one location to another more quickly than traveling on older roads. New highways are planned to help us get to our destinations more easily.
Isaiah talks about preparing a highway for the people of God. "Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up; build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: 'Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him.'" (Isaiah 62:10-11) The Message says, "Tell daughter Zion, 'Look your Savior comes, ready to do what He said He'd do, prepared to complete what He promised.'"
The Lord always looks to partner with someone on earth to accomplish His purposes. He continues to look for willing vessels who want to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth. We can play a part in building a spiritual highway for the Lord. It is a "highway" built from revelation, and that highway brings us and others closer to Him. How do we do this? We must be attentive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, listening and watching for the stream of thought that comes into our heads. We must allow the Holy Spirit to take us on a journey in our quiet time with Him. We can build spiritual paths with the Word of God so that we "prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3)
You may ask how this happens. Quiet time with the Lord is essential. We must wait upon Him to bring us a word. When I get a word from the Lord, I begin to travel through Scriptures with Him. I look for common themes and words throughout the Bible. I connect one passage with another. This is building a spiritual highway. God's Word always takes me on a journey. One verse leads me to another which leads me to another. I am unearthing revelatory treasures along the way and laying the foundation for the highway that is being prepared. Through organizing the revelation and learning the lessons of Scripture that are repeated in several places, I am building a highway that leads to a deeper understanding of the Lord and increases my intimacy with Him. Once I have completed my own path, I can share the revelation with others so that they too can travel the highway into a more intimate relationship with the Lord.
Here is my prayer: "O God, help me to be a good road builder." May we all be willing to wait upon the Lord and travel with Him, the One who Scripture calls The Word. (John 1:1)
Those of us who grow house plants know how important it is to fertilize them regularly, especially during the growing season. We do this so that they receive the minerals and nutrients they need to produce healthy leaves and flowers. The plants that grow outside receive these needed elements through rain and snow. That is why I have a bucket on my balcony deck ready to receive the precious liquid to pour onto my houseplants. This past spring and summer we have been receiving such a consistent amount of rainwater that even the grass remains green in the heat of the summer.
The key to collecting the precious rainwater is having a container strategically located in the right place at the right time. Remember the story of Elisha and the widow in 2 Kings 4? The widow had been married to one of the company of prophets. Her husband was in debt when he died, and his creditor was going to take her two sons as slaves to satisfy the debt. She told Elisha that the only thing she had in her house was a small jar of oil. He instructed her to ask all her neighbors for empty jars, as many as she could gather. The widow was to take all the empty containers and pour oil from her jar into the empty jars. As long as there was an empty jar, the oil kept flowing. As soon as there were no more jars, the oil stopped flowing. The widow could sell the oil to the people of her community who used it for cooking, lamps and fuel. The Lord made her small blessing into bountiful provision because of her faith and willingness to obey.
The oil could not have been collected without a container to hold it! We read in 2 Timothy 2:20-21 that we are vessels of the Lord. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor, and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." (NKJV)
Just as God blessed the widow with oil for every one of her jars, He wants to bless us with the oil of the Holy Spirit. Without this anointing we are ineffective for the Kingdom of Heaven. God wants us to collect enough oil of the Spirit so that we can burn brightly for Him and stand out in a dark world.
How do we become those vessels of honor, sanctified for the Master's use and prepared for every good work? We must make ourselves available to Him so that when He is pouring out the anointing, we allow ourselves to be filled up. Just like my bucket had to be placed in a strategic location during periods of rain, we must place ourselves in His presence through worship and quiet meditation. This is the way to give the Holy Spirit unhindered access for Him to do what He desires. Only in the presence of God is their fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and abundant love (Psalm 86:5) and provision. (Psalm 132:15)
Tragedy has struck our nation again! Anger, chaos and disunity have followed. We ask, "Can the darkness get any darker?" We must answer "Yes." It is part of what is expected during end times. Jesus warned His disciples about the end of the age. "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars...Nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places...You will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved, and this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:6-14)
The love of many has grown cold and deception is rampant. There is a demonic spirit working in our midst that has the power to intimate and control. Violence and lack of compassion for others is at the forefront. It seems the darkness is getting darker. Can we have any encouragement amid this situation? Again, we can answer "Yes!" Everyone who has confessed Jesus as Savior has the light of Christ within. "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Let us remember, as the dark gets darker our lights shine brighter. When I recently went to see fireworks over the Delaware River at Lambertville, NJ, the people shooting them into the sky waited until 9:45 pm to begin setting them off. The light of the fireworks is most effective in the darkest sky. Likewise, stars in the sky at a location where there is no light pollution seem extremely bright. It is the night season that reveals the stars.
Proverbs 13:9 says, "The light of the righteous shines brightly..." This is our greatest hour of opportunity, dear ones. God placed His light within us so that we can dispel the darkness and shine His love to many. Daniel encourages us with his words: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)
My dear friends Heather Keller and Kathy Ulrich, worship leaders at the Washington Crossing United Methodist Church, wrote a beautiful song that seems perfect for this time in our lives. Here is the chorus to "Shine In:"
"Shine in, Oh Lord, to the darkest place. Shine in, Oh Lord, on us. Shine in, Oh Lord, make us bright and new, with Your redeeming grace, with Your redeeming grace."
Although God intended the fifth month of Av to be a time of yearly celebration of His goodness, the sin of unbelief by the Israelites caused a complete change in what would happen. According to the Hebrew calendar, on the 9th of Av the children of Israel chose to believe a negative report instead of the promise of God. The voice of faith spoken by Caleb and Joshua was ignored and the voice of unbelief was embraced. Caleb said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." (Numbers `3:30) The ten spies reported: "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." (Numbers 13:31) This is a vow that led to a curse that is still in place today.
We are now at the beginning of Av. A yearly cycle of cursing occurs because repentance of past sins never took place. Unbelief was repeated when Jesus walked the earth. Though the Jews heard God's words of truth through Him and saw the miracles He performed, they did not receive their Messiah. They crucified the Promise.
Jesus came as a Redeemer with the intent of rebuilding everything that Satan has destroyed. He requires us to repent and make a choice to walk in freedom. We must be extremely careful who we agree with. Any time we agree with Satan a bad root develops and gives him permission to operate in our lives and those of our descendants. When we are overwhelmed with what we see we must listen to the voice of truth. Truth trumps what we see. The promises that God placed in the Bible are for us to stand on. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so, through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
In Deuteronomy 11 God's instructions to the children of Israel were written down. He was letting them know the importance of His words. He said, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Teach them to your children...Write them down on the door frames of your house and on your gates so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers...If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place where you set your foot will be yours...No man will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as He promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go." (Verses 18-28)
We have a choice today to agree with the blessing or the curse. As God said in Deuteronomy, curses come to rest on our lives when we agree with the wrong kingdom; blessings come when we obey the Lord. We are warned in Hebrews 3:12: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." If we discover that we have made an agreement with the kingdom of darkness, we can repent, rebuke it and declare the truth. We must declare that our alliance is with the Lord. He is the one who will restore what has been stolen and help us rebuild what has been destroyed.
Joan E. Mathias