Two messages from God are brought to light during the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar, Cheshvan. We see them through the story of Noah and the great flood. Cheshvan can be a month of judging or a month of grace. God demonstrated both, and He gives us a choice.
From the time of creation until the days of Noah, God observed the behaviors of mankind. He was so grieved by the wickedness of humanity that He expressed regret for making human beings. "So, the Lord said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." (Genesis 6:7-8 - NKJ) From these verses we can glean both themes for the month of Cheshvan.
The Bible explains in Psalm 89:14 that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne. Psalm 47:8 tells us that "God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne." Isaiah 5:16 prophesies, "But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by His righteous acts." How could a holy God who builds His foundation on righteousness and justice endure the evil of the people of Noah's day? He could not! "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God." (Genesis 6:9) This being the case, God gave Noah directions on building an ark to protect him and his family.
While a time of judgment was placed upon the earth, Noah experienced the grace of God. The Lord told him, "I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you." (Genesis 6:17-19) On the 17th of Cheshvan Noah and his family entered the ark and the floodgates of heaven were opened, "And rain fell on the earth 40 days and 40 nights." (Genesis 7:12) One year and 10 days later, on the 27th of Cheshvan, God instructed Noah to come out of the ark.
The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma of a burnt offering that Noah prepared for Him and established a covenant with him. A promise was made by the Lord: "Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood..." (Genesis 9:11) A sign was given: I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind." (Genesis 9:13-14) Since Cheshvan is the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar, isn't it interesting that this number represents new beginnings.
Judgment led to grace—grace that endures to the present day. This month is a reminder that God's grace is never-ending. "Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17) God's love for us is so great that He nailed His Son to a cross so that His blood was shed for the remission of our sins. "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:9-10) In view of God's sacrificial love for us, should we not follow His call on our lives to be holy as He is holy? We have a choice. Let us choose grace.
"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to plant and a time to uproot." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) Where plants and seeds are concerned, fall is the ideal time to put them into the ground. There are several reasons for this: moderating temperatures, lower humidity, moisture availability, and more time for roots to get established before summer heat causes stress and weeds try to take over. The best way to ensure that grass, shrubs, or trees prosper is to help them build a sturdy and extensive root system. Strong roots enable plants to endure during stressful seasons.
A procedure for helping grass seed to grow healthy root systems is called aeration. In this process, thousands of small plugs of turf and soil are removed from the lawn. If there is a buildup of thatch (a layer of organic debris that accumulates where the stem and root meet) it becomes a barrier to the benefits for a healthy lawn. Aeration reduces thatch and creates a path for water and nutrients. It goes together with over-seeding (the seeding of existing turf areas). The holes in the lawn give seed a place to settle in and protect it from winds that might blow it away or water that might wash it away. It is amazing how lawns are transformed into lush, thick, green carpets after this process is applied.
Galatians 3:29 refers to Believers in Christ Jesus as Abraham's seed. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." As Abraham's seed, we are assured that God will plant us in ideal conditions for our growth and prosperity. He wants us rooted and established in His love. (Ephesians 3:17) Let us look back at God's original plan. Mankind was created with the dust of the ground and the breath of God. (Genesis 2:7) It was in the Garden of Eden that He placed Adam and Eve so that they would have the perfect place to live and grow and prosper in their relationship with the Lord. However, sin entered the picture, and He was forced to remove Adam and Eve from the Garden. As time went on, Scripture tells us that "The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain." (Genesis 6:6) God decided to destroy all of life except for Noah and his family, who were found righteous, and the animals that he gathered. A flood was sent that eradicated every living person, animal, and plant that was not protected in the ark. After the waters receded, a new covenant was made between Noah and God, and Noah was given these instructions: "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth." (Genesis 9:1)
From Noah's son Shem came Abram (Genesis 11:10) who would be called Abraham. His line would be the one through which God would make an eternal covenant. God told Abraham, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." (Genesis 22:17-KJV) Nothing would stop the growth of this seed and the manifestation of the promises of God from generation to generation! From Abraham's seed came the Davidic line—the line of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah the prophet declared that God would make an everlasting covenant with His people and that "Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." (Isaiah 61:9 - KJV)
We are the seed of God, blessed to be planted by the Divine Gardener in an environment where we can root and grow in His love. Let us praise Him for the way He nurtures us. May we grow to glorify Him.
During the five years that my friend lived in Afghanistan she heard many heart-wrenching stories about how hard it was to live in a country that followed Sharia law. Yet she was there to share the truth of the love of Jesus and the hope that He brings for them. Currently, we are looking at what seems like a hopeless situation in Afghanistan. The people of this country find themselves in the clutches of a terrorist organization with no respect for human dignity or freedom. They are watching the destruction of their lives and are horrified by the possibilities for the future. Please let this letter encourage you to pray.
In a recent post from "All Israel News," Joel Rosenberg wrote about the history of Afghanistan. It was not until 1747 that Afghanistan became a nation-state. Before that the region was ruled by kings. The country was largely ignored by the world until 1979 when the Soviets invaded. With the help of American aid in the early 1980s (money and weapons), the Afghans were able to chase the Soviets out of the country. Had the United State continued to help the Afghans with humanitarian relief, perhaps the picture of this country would be different today. Without resources to help the many refugees who live in country, The Afghan leadership fell. Mohammed Omar, who Rosenberg calls "a ferocious and fanatical mujadeen commander," created the Taliban, an extreme jihadist organization. The Taliban took over the Afghan government and decided to thank Allah for their victory by establishing an Islamic country governed by Sharia law. Later Osama bin Laden would join with the Taliban forces to plot the 9/11 attacks on the United States. In the meantime, terror was unleashed on the Afghan people. They lived in fear! Here is Rosenberg’s description of Afghan lives just before 9/11: "Their children were being recruited for jihad or forced to do unspeakable things in the name of Allah. Hope was fading quickly. Depression was rising; drug use was rampant. The country was becoming the world's No. 1 source of opium and heroin, and there seemed no way out." Here is what women faced: They were treated with total lack of respect and were expected to live in forced marriages as slaves. With Taliban ruling, women were publicly punished for working or not wearing a burqa by stonings, whippings, and hangings.
After the 9/11 attack on the United States, life for the Afghan people changed again. As the US poured troops and bombs into the country and set up a new government, the freedoms for the Afghans began to return. It was during this time that my friend was able to go into the country to live among the people and share the Good News. New lifestyles were established throughout Afghanistan. The US government set up a military network to train Afghan soldiers to fight and protect the land and people. For 20 years there was a US presence that gave the Afghans a sense of security. As we have seen, however, all this ended abruptly a few weeks ago with the pullout of US troops. The Afghan military collapsed as a Wall Street Journal article describes: "In the week of President Biden's withdrawal, the US pulled its air support, intelligence, and contractors servicing Afghan's planes and helicopters. That meant that Afghan military simply couldn't operate anymore." With the Taliban fully in control, chaos, fear, and terror reign over the Afghans who helped the American military, those who profess to be Christian, and others who understand the ramifications of being ruled by a terrorist organization.
Sadly, terrorist organizations throughout the world are feeling empowered to start their own terror campaigns as they observe the destruction of America's credibility. The Americans have opened a door for evil to enter with no fear of reprisal. In his second letter to the Church in Thessaloniki, Paul wrote, "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one...May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance." (2 Thessalonians 3:2-5) Let us pray this and a prayer written by Joel Rosenberg that is below. Please pray for the Afghans in any way that The Spirit leads you.
"We must pray that they (Afghan Christians) will be lights in the darkness, that in both their conduct and their speech they will be witnesses of the true and glorious hope, redemption, transformation, and eternal salvation they have experienced by placing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And we must pray that Afghan Muslims who are terrified of being enslaved or slaughtered by the Taliban will see the hope in their Christian neighbors, and ask why their neighbors have hope amid such horror, and that the Christians will be brave enough to explain the good news of Christ's great love and mercy with clarity, simplicity and trusting in the power of the Word of God—not their own wisdom or cleverness—to convince and persuade." We must not be silent! Light will prevail over darkness as we battle in the Spirit!
We start Elul, the sixth month on the Hebrew calendar, at sunset tonight. The name Elul is a Hebrew acronym, "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li, meaning "I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine." (Song of Solomon 6:3) This being the sixth month, we should look at the picture that represents the Hebrew letter for six or Vav. Vav is a picture of a tent peg or nail used to make something secure. Indeed, God wants us to be secure in our relationship with Him and did something spectacular to show us how much He loves us and desires to be in our company.
What did God do that is so amazing? Luke 1:26-27, 30-31, gives us the answer. "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary...The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.'" The angel went on to give more details of this immaculate conception and God's intent for His life. “…So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Could Mary's pregnancy that begins in the month of Elul be why the Jews say, "The King is in the field?" I believe God appointed this time for us to connect with Him in such an intimate way that we will never doubt His great love for us. To confirm this in the heavens, He placed the constellation Virgo (The virgin) in the night sky. Elul is a month of nurturing or mothering. I think it is no accident that Rebekah gave birth to her twins, Jacob and Esau, during Elul.
Contemplate with me what a woman does when she learns she is pregnant. A time of preparation begins so that the baby can be welcomed and cared for in the best way possible. Since this is the season when "The King is in the field" should we not be prepared to meet Him? He welcomes our approach. He demonstrated His love for His people during this month by allowing Moses to return to Mount Sinai for a second set of tablets. He truly is a God of mercy! Elul precedes the month of Tishrei, when the fall feasts are held. An invitation is given to all of us to join the Lord for these feasts.
The manifest presence of the Lord is described perfectly in John 1:14. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." Dwelling is a name for tent or tabernacle. He tabernacled among us. Imagine the King of all creation leaving HIs perfect heavenly throne to be with us! Such love! "This is love: Not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10) It is time for us to remember the nail that secured our King to us. Isn't it significant that the Lord was nailed to the Cross? He was attached and secured to the Cross because of His amazing love for us. That love should lead us to repentance, which leads to God's mercy and fruitfulness for our lives. What an awesome God we serve!
Water seeks the lowest level and the path of least resistance. Those who drill wells know this as they evaluate an area to drill a hole for the extraction of water. Those who drill artesian wells (one where water flows up like a fountain from internal pressure) place a bit on a long shaft. They select their bit according to the type of ground formation to be drilled into. The driller will be looking for the underground aquifer that will supply the greatest amount of water. The well must be cased from the surface down to the place where the hole becomes smaller to protect the water from contamination. A cap is placed on top of the well to prevent insects and small animals from accessing the well. Water is brought up from the aquifer to ground level by a pump.
In Biblical days wells had to be dug by hand. Genesis 26 tells us about the land of Gerar where Abraham dug wells. Afterward, his son Isaac sowed into the land that was his father's. God blessed Isaac so abundantly that the Philistines were jealous of him and stopped up the wells dug by Abraham. Isaac had his herdsmen dig new wells in the valley so there was sufficient water for everyone.
Well water gushing from the ground below has been used to represent the Holy Spirit bubbling up and drenching us with God's blessing of revival. Currently, many are praying that God will uncap the wells of revival in our country and around the world. Since the Church is to be the Bride of Christ, what better place to reopen the wells where revival once flowed? The forward of a book called Revival Fire by Wesley Duewel reminds us that God has not forgotten His covenant with the Church. "When the tide of evil threatens to overwhelm the church, 'The Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against the enemy.' (Isaiah 59:19-KJV) and spiritual recovery and revival ensue." I believe prayers for revival are being collected in the bowls of heaven. (Revelation 5:8) We must continue to pray for the uncapping of the wells of revival for the saving of our churches and nation.
1994 was a special year for my church, The Crossing in Washington Crossing, PA. A well of revival was opened as we had an encounter with Holy Spirit. For several years, the sweet presence of the Lord came upon us and stayed with us. In a physical confirmation of the presence of His Spirit, a dove came and nested on a ledge at the back of the church. It stayed for months! That time was such a blessing for us!
In an interesting post on "Give Him 15" by Dutch Sheets, he tells how his friend Gina Gholston had a dream that a well-drilling rig was parked at the Red River Meeting House where revival took place in 1800. As it began to drill, it hit a gusher and water moved upward in massive quantities. This dream was interpreted to mean that God has plans to initiate another move of His Spirit that will be even more magnificent than the first one. This dream has a special significance for my church, The Crossing. I worked for the builder who drilled the well for our property. To get an adequate flow of water, the bit had to go below 800 feet. Even though that well would have passed inspection, our builder felt that the water would not be sufficient for the number of people who would come to be part of our congregation. So, he drilled a second well! Again, the driller had to go very deep, but, Praise God, the bit hit an aquifer that runs under the property, and the water gushed forth like "Old Faithful." It is my opinion that The Crossing is in store for another revival, more powerful than the first one, and that the wells on our property represent the size of the outpourings.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weary in praying. Our prayers are opening a way for the Spirit of God to re-open the wells of revival. We must bow low and remove from our lives anything that might interfere with the Lord's plans. The enemy of our souls would like to stop up our wells, just like the Philistines did for Isaac. We, as warriors of prayer, can defeat the enemy. I believe that the Lord is not only opening old wells, but also drilling new ones. Together these wells of revival will blanket our nation and the world. We used to sing a song called "Take us to the River," by Robin Mark. It portrays my heart for this season. The chorus declares, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon us. This is the year of the Lord." As our prayers open the wells of revival, they will converge to make a river of revival that touches the world. Hallelujah!
What do you do when your world falls apart and there is no way to put it back together again? Is there a way to redeem what has been lost? These questions come up during times of extreme loss, and I recall that healing comes through Father God alone, the only One who can identify with our losses. He demonstrated what love looks like—redemptive love—through His Son, Jesus. Words cannot answer our questions; the answer is Jesus, The Word!
Jesus relates to us in the lowest places of our lives. He sits with us in our pain; He suffers as we suffer. The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of this in chapter 53 of his book. "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces; He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely, He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:3-5) For the love of God, Jesus endured the Cross. Why? Love makes a way for us to have relationship with Him and for us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
The Lord came to earth to demonstrate the love of God and to experience what it was like to live like a man. He told us that our lives would be like His and that we are to live like He lived. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 1:5. "For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." Jesus Himself told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b) Remember that God has not left us without promises. I am greatly touched by the promise He made to Israel (and us as His children) through the prophet Isaiah. "...Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Graham Cooke has an interesting perspective on the difficult seasons of our lives. This prophet of the Lord says, "Every circumstance is an opportunity to experience new levels of favor and faith in relationship with God. Our circumstances are not the problem. Our perception of our circumstances is the problem. Ask, 'What is God's truth in this situation?'" The Lord ordains victory for us in every situation. In Isaiah 42:3-4 and Matthew 12:20-21 we read this: "A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out till He has brought justice through to victory. In His name the nations will put their hope."
As we go through trials and tribulations, sorrows and difficulties, sickness and death, we have an advocate who leads us in mercy and truth. Jesus said, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth..." (John 14:16-17) We must learn to trust in the unfailing love of the Lord to pull us through our difficult seasons. Make peace with the truth that we may never have our questions answered with words but know that The Word will be with us to comfort, strengthen, and love us. It is love that makes a way where there seems to be no way.
"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9a) We were placed on earth for purposes that God determined before we were born. Our commitment to the pursuit of a relationship with Him and His plans and purposes for us show the depth of our devotion to Him. As we all know, however, we battle against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12) who want to wear us down so that we are not successful in glorifying the Lord.
When we are in the middle of a long and difficult battle it is easy to want to give up. During these times we must remind ourselves that every battle presents us with earthly opportunities to glorify God and collect crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus. Once in heaven, we will never be able to do the things we do on earth that bless the Lord. Could we go so far as to say that our time here on earth is a gift from God? I think this is why the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 these encouraging words: "Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God's perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus." (TPT) The foot note in The Passion Translation Bible says that these three virtues (joy, prayer, and giving thanks) combine to form a wonderful expression of Christ's life within us.
Let's consider some of the opportunities we have on earth to bless God. The first one that comes to my mind is the privilege we have to give Him the sacrifice of praise and worship in the middle of pain, sickness, sorrow, and trials. When we chose to tell of His goodness and praise Him for His never-ending love, heaven is drawn to earth. God cannot resist drawing near to those who rise above difficulties to declare His faithfulness and love. I have seen this displayed by family members and friends. When my dad was dying, he asked me to bring my guitar to the nursing home where he lived so that we could sing "It is Well with my Soul" together. Recently, my heart was touched by a friend who is in the middle of a battle with cancer. HIs prayer request was this: "Please pray that I am strong enough to be able to play on the worship team at our church." Can you feel the Lord's great delight in these sacrifices that place Him first?
How about when we live by faith? When we go to heaven faith will become sight, and we will see what we believed. Earth is the only place where we can demonstrate faith. We have the gift of being able to stand with God even though it may cost us something. Such a sacrifice is a delight to the Lord! Don't you think that the Lord's heart must burst with pride when we turn away from temptation and sin? Or think about when we share the Gospel with an unsaved person and lead them to Jesus? These are gifts to the Lord.
In heaven, we will not be able to help someone in need and, in turn, bless God by doing so. Remember those times when you have won victory in a battle. Battles are over in heaven. Earth is the place where we can overcome. God ordained that we do so. There are quite a few books that have been written by people who have had "near-death" experiences. These people have been able to see their lives on earth from a heavenly perspective and were given the gift of a second chance. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights..." Our time on earth is preparing us for the time when we will go to heaven. We have divine opportunities to demonstrate our love for the Lord while here on earth. Perhaps we should change our perspective during times of difficulties. It is our time to bless the Lord and earn crowns.
Mother's Day is upon us. In honor of it, I want to highlight a woman who decided to mother a nation. She gave up a privileged life to serve the Lord in a country that is considered the poorest one in the world. Together with her husband, Rolland Baker, Heidi embarked on a mission that looked impossible in its scope. However, the Baker's moved forward and began to change the face of a nation in a ramshackle orphanage in Africa. Heidi became known by her children as Mama Heidi. Today, all who know her around the world also affectionately refer to her as Mama Heidi.
The Baker’s web site, Irisglobal.org., describes their call: “The primary mission of Iris Global is to seek the face of God with all our hearts, that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We proclaim Jesus. He is our salvation, our prize, our reward, our inheritance, our destination, our motivation, our joy, wisdom, and sanctification—and absolutely everything else we need, now and forever."
As a young woman, Mama Heidi heard an audible call from God to go to the mission field with areas in India, England, and Africa being highlighted. Their belief that revival would occur amongst the poorest people on earth brought the Bakers to Mozambique where the government offered them an unsupported orphanage that had been completely neglected. They report that "80 miserable, demon-afflicted orphans in rags" lived there. Heidi and Rolland agreed to take over the orphanage as long as they were permitted to bring the Gospel to the children. The power of God was manifested, and "within months the children were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, weeping while still in rags with gratitude for their salvation.” These young ones were taught how to pray. As they cried out to God night and day, their food was miraculously provided by Jesus. The orphanage grew to 320 children and put Mozambique on the radar screen of many churches who began to support the ministry.
Challenge after challenge faced the Bakers: They were evicted from their original building and had to construct a new orphanage, hit by cyclones and floods that resulted in great famines, and overrun with scared, hungry people rushing from terrorists. The Bakers have written several books about their situation and their experiences with Jesus. Their titles tell the whole story about the miraculous provisions from heaven: There is Always Enough, Expecting Miracles, Compelled by Love, Birthing the Miraculous, and Living from the Presence.
A Scripture that has inspired the Bakers from the beginning of their ministry comes from Romans 5:3-5. "...We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." The situations that looked hopeless gave them hope as they lived in the power of God. The Bakers story traveled throughout the world, and all who heard it had their hearts touched. Support began to pour into their ministry, and they were able to build dorms for children, schools for the bush pastors, and purchase a bush airplane to spread the Gospel and provide needed supplies for out-lying communities. What started as a small orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique has expanded to churches and schools throughout Africa and around the world. Mission training for those who want to join the ranks of missionaries is available to those who want to make an impact around the world for Jesus.
I have had the privilege of hearing Mama Heidi speak on several occasions. When we look at the Baker's expansive ministry today, it is easy to forget how it all started. Mama Heidi shares her ministry philosophy with everyone she speaks to: "Stop for the One" or "Love the One in Front of You." One by one she and Rolland built a ministry that spans the world. One by one the Bakers changed the world for Jesus. Mama Heidi's love for Jesus and mother heart for the lost and hurting is one we all need to adopt. On this Mother's Day I want to honor Mama Heidi for her love and courage to mother a nation and the world. When we look at what is happening in Africa right now, it seems the challenges that are faced by the Bakers continue to grow. The people of Mozambique are encountering terrorist groups who are destroying their lives. Thousands are pouring into Cabo Delgado where Iris ministries has set up a place to help care for their needs. The stories of their loses are heartbreaking. You can look on their web site to read more about this ministry that has truly captured the heart of God. Perhaps our prayers and gifts can make a difference for one and help this mother, Mama Heidi, to continue spreading the love of the Lord.
“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies." (Isaiah 42:13) Are you hearing the battle cry? We are here to be part of God's army. We must fight for the souls of our families, our friends, and our nation. The kingdom of darkness is attempting to take over. If we do not take a stand, who will? While we stand, we should be encouraged by remembering that there are no victories without battles. Let's look at what the Bible has to say about battles and victories.
God trains us for battle: Judges 3:1-3 explains that God left some of Israel's enemies in the promised land so that the next generation could learn how to fight. "He did this to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience." King David wrote about this in 2 Samuel 22:35 and Psalm 18:34. "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze."
Prepare for the battle: When the Lord was ready to give Israel victory over the Babylonians, He spoke through Jeremiah: "Before your eyes I will repay Babylon...for all the wrong they have done in Zion...Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her..." (Jeremiah 51:26-27) The Lord helped in the battle preparation. Here is how it is explained in Isaiah 42:13. "He will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies."
Show up for the battle: Imagine being ready for the battle but refusing to participate! "The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them." (Psalm 78:9-11) King David made the biggest mistake of his life one spring when he did not go to war in the time when all kings were expected to do so. 2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David's lust for another man's wife that led to adultery and the murder of her husband because he did not show up for the spring battle.
Recognize and use the weapons we have for battle: The Lord has already placed within us the weapons we need to win our battles. They are simple yet powerful! Look at 1 Chronicles 5:20. "They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him." The tribes that fought with David were known for their contributions. "From Zebulon, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon to help David with undivided loyalty." (1 Chronicles 12:33) Zechariah 10:4 teaches that Judah or Praise will win the battle: "From Judah will come the cornerstone, from Him the tent peg, from Him the battle bow, from Him every ruler, together they will be like warriors in battle."
Remember the reason for the battle: Three verses in 2 Samuel 23:11-12 demonstrate how one courageous man stood his ground for Israel and the generation to come. "Next in rank was Shammah ...One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field of lentils. The Israelite army fled but Shammah held his ground (stood) in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So, the Lord brought about a great victory." (NLT) Prophetic contributor to the Elijah List, Joe Joe Dawson, wrote that Shammah saw more than a field of lentils; he saw a harvest for future generations. Amen! Ephesians 6:13 admonishes, "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Plunder is ours as we win our battles. The children of Israel dedicated some of their plunder for the repair of the temple. (1 Chronicles 26:27) How thrilling it is to give the spoils of victory to the Lord!
Remember that the victory belongs to the Lord: We should be encouraged by this truth. "Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." (Deuteronomy 20:2-4) In Psalm 6:11-12 David cried out to the Lord: "Give us aid against our enemies for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." The challenge is before us. In Isaiah 59:15-16 God reveals His disappointment that no one would intervene for Israel: "...The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore, His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him." The battle plan to win the war for the souls of our families, friends, and nation, and to beat back the darkness, is before us. It is time for us to take a stand. I ask again: If we do not do it, who will?
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of trying to keep Israel off the path of evil and on the path of good. God met him at the Potter's house to demonstrate that Israel is in His hands like clay in the potter's hands. God said, "If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it." (Jeremiah 18:7-10) Because of their idols, God's people had forgotten Him, and God was grieved. Jeremiah was frustrated with the people of Israel, not only for their unfaithfulness to the Lord, but also for the way they accused him falsely: "Should good be repaid with evil? Yet, they have dug a pit for me..." (Jeremiah 18:20)
As in the days of the Bible, so are the days of our times. We have fallen into a pit of destruction and are believing lies spoken by the enemy of our souls. Like Jeremiah, the prophet Isaiah also had to speak to God's people about their disrespect for the Lord. In chapter 5 of Isaiah's book, we find the "woes and judgments" against Israel. Look at Verse 20: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn writes about Isaiah 5:20 in his April mailing called "Sapphires." He says, "A culture, a civilization, or a nation that deems evil to be good, will deem good to be evil. And so, America's fall from God began with the toleration of evil, calling evil good. But that was only the first stage. In the second stage, the viewing of good as evil becomes more prominent. We are now there! We are now witnessing an increasing progression towards censorship, silencing, and attempted abolition of anything and anyone that stands in the way of the new morality--namely traditional values, biblical values, Christians, ministries, the word of God." He goes on to tell us how he experienced this silencing himself. Jonathan was led to record a message to Joe Biden at the time of his inauguration. In two days, it had a million views, and then it disappeared. Google "deemed the message too dangerous" because of its spiritual and moral content. Through his writing, Jonathan taught me a new term called "Shadow Banning." This means a message will be banned in a way that one is completely unaware that it is being done. He explains that "forces are manipulating systems in what amounts to covert persecution."
Just as God watched over the nation of Israel and brought them prophets to speak the truth, He watches over us. "From His dwelling place He watches all who live on the earth." (Psalm 33:14) "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction." (Psalm 1:6) There is a day of reckoning coming as it says in Romans 1: 18-20. I like The Passion Translation: "For God in heaven unveils His holy anger breaking forth against every form of sin, both toward ungodliness that lives in hearts and evil actions. For the wickedness of humanity deliberately smothers the truth and keeps people from acknowledging the truth about God. In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God's nature have been made visible, such as His eternal power and transcendence. He has made His wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse."
How can we partner with God to win the battle of good over evil? It is time for us to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. We must be rooted and grounded in His love, built up in Him, and strengthened in our faith. (Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 2:7) We must soak in His presence so that we are filled with His Spirit. We must not allow fear of evil to have a place in our lives. Jesus warned us about the evil that would beset us. The Psalmist wrote, "...I will fear no evil, for You are with me...(Psalm 23:4) We must remember that God placed us on earth for such a time as this. We are part of His mighty army. We must be aligning our lives with His plans and purposes, interceding for our nation, pleading for God's mercy, calling forth revival, and declaring the truth. We must keep our eyes on the goal, "being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:11-12) We have our marching orders; let us put on our battle gear!
Joan E. Mathias