In a spiritual warfare battle, the tongue is the most critical weapon. Scripture tells us, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21 - NKJV) When we face situations that defy the will of God, we must speak God's truth to overcome the forces of the enemy. I can think of no better example than when Jesus identified Himself to the Roman soldiers who came to arrest Him. Rich Renner writes about this in his book titled, Paid in Full.
The first time God identified Himself He was speaking to Moses on Mount Horeb or Sinai. "God replied to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am.'" (Exodus 3:14 - NLT) By using the name "I Am," God was describing His eternal power and unchanging character. He identified Himself as the ever-existing God. Jesus was to use these words several times, and they are record in the book of John.
In John 8 we read of an encounter that Jesus had with the religious leaders. They ask Him a pointed question in verse 53. "'Who do you think you are?' Jesus replies, 'Your Father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; He saw it and was glad.'" (Verse 56) They responded, "You are not yet 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham!" (Verse 57) Jesus blows them away with His response: "Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!" (Verse 58) The leaders picked up stones to stone Jesus, but He slipped away because His time to die had not yet come.
"I Am" is the Greek words "Ego Eimi." John recorded several statements of who God made Him to be: "I am the bread of life." (6:35) "I am the light of the world." (8:12) "I am the gate for the sheep." (10:7) "I am the good Shepherd." (10:11) "I am the resurrection and the life." (11:25) "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (14:6) "I am the vine and my Father is the gardener." (15:1) Each of these images gives us a partial picture of who Jesus is.
At The Last Supper, Jesus was speaking to His disciples and said, "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am." (John 13:19) After this statement, He tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him. Jesus was to identify Himself this way again when Judas came to betray Him with a band of Roman soldiers. The disciples were with Jesus in the olive grove called Gethsemane when He was confronted by the armed soldiers. Judas greeted Him with a kiss, which was to be the sign that He was the one to be taken away. The story continued: "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I Am,' Jesus said...When Jesus said, 'I Am,' they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:4-5)
The words Jesus spoke were "Ego Eimi," "I Am," the very words that God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. The soldiers were to learn that by a mere word, Jesus could overpower them. Jesus made it clear to them that He could not be taken by force. After this, He willingly surrendered to the troops as they were picking themselves up from the ground.
Jesus is for us The Great "I Am." His promises come with power. The problems we face can be knocked to the ground, like the soldiers, through the mighty promises of God. We must boldly affirm who we are in Christ. Speaking the truth of God's Word brings the Lord's power and authority into every situation.
How blessed we are to have founding Fathers whose prayers helped establish America. Since our President’s Day celebration just passed, I thought it would be fitting to honor our first president, George Washington. Breaking Christian News did so by quoting from Eddie Hyatt's book, 1726: The Year that Defined America. Hyatt is an historian, Bible teacher, and revivalist who has tracked America's leaders and recorded their sayings as they pertain to God and the Bible. He floats the theory that the only reason the American troops were able to defeat the British was because of prayer. Washington was given a seemingly impossible task to challenge the British militia with his band of rag-tag soldiers. In his book, Hyatt says "Washington knew his only hope lay in a profound conviction in the hearts and daily actions of all his men that what they did, they did for God, and under God's protection." (Hyatt, pg. 114)
The American soldiers were united around the altar of prayer daily. In fact, Washington issued an order stating that each day would begin with prayer led by the officers. Again, I quote Hyatt: "Every soldier was to observe a punctual attendance of Divine services, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means for our safety and public defense." Apparently, Washington was insistent that every soldier attend daily prayer but also, they were forbidden the following: profanity, swearing, gambling, and drunkenness. His rational for this is written about by Hyatt: "We can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms if we insult Him by our impiety and folly. Every officer and man will endeavor so as to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier."
When Washington and his men had their long, cold, tiring winter at Valley Forge, they were visited by Rev. Henry Muhlenberg, the pastor of a nearby Lutheran Church. Muhlenberg noted that Washington "admonished" his men "to fear God." He goes on: "This gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God's Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. It appears that the Lord God has singularly, yea marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless peril...and hath hitherto graciously held him in His hand as His chosen vessel." (Hyatt, pg. 115)
Visitors to Washington's camps confirmed that he made a habit of going into the woods for a time of prayer with the Almighty. It would be good for us to remember that not only did Washington and his troops pray, but when the Continental Congress opened, each of their sessions started with prayer. In addition, proclamations for national days of repentance, and prayer, and fasting were regularly issued. It is God alone who brought victory to the American Troops and brought about the surrender of British General Cornwallis on October 19, 1783.
What an example we have to follow through George Washington! How has America fallen so far from the vision of our founding fathers? There are times, when I pray for others, that I point out the following: "You can tell the greatness of the call on their lives by the fierceness of the attack on them." This is true of America, and that God placed a call on our nation to be an example to all the world of what a godly nation should look like. Because of this call, the forces of darkness have targeted us for destruction, and waged a campaign to destroy us. We are in a battle for the very call on our lives. This battle can only be won as we return to God's call on our nation and our godly foundations. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 admonishes us, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." If George Washington won the Revolutionary War through prayer, the Christian community can win the war against the darkness and be reestablished as a saved nation. Let us keep praying for our nation, as prayer is the weapon of our warfare that will transform the world.
High in the San Bernadino Mountains their sits a 120'-high Ponderosa Pine. From the top of the tree is a commanding view of the river below and the tree-covered hills that surround it. In the crook of the large branches there sits a huge eagle’s nest that is about 5'6" across and 6' deep. A twelve-year old female, who the locals have named Jackie, has been laying eggs and tending to them with her partner, Shadow, since 2018. Yearly they return to their nest to do some renovations before it is egg-laying time. This year the couple is sitting on three eggs: one laid on January 25, one on January 28, and one on January 31. Scientists tell us that the first egg may hatch on February 29, Leap Day.
Early in the month, the snowstorm that hit the San Bernadino area presented quite a challenge to Jackie. Those who constantly watch the Cam pointed to the nest show us that she rose to the occasion. For 62 hours, Jackie never left the nest. Periodically, Shadow brought her a fish from the river below. We are told that an eagle has about 7,000 outer feathers plus down under them. This combination is what keeps Jackie's body and the eggs she sits on warm and protected.
After the eggs hatch, the babies will remain in the nest for about three months. At this point, the mother will nudge the babies out of the nest and teach them how to soar on the wind currents and catch food. The mother is instrumental in teaching the eagles how to fly and hunt. She will hover over the nest to show them what they were created to do. The mother eagles' demonstration is meant to encourage her young ones in their God-given abilities.
We, like the eaglets, have also been made by God for a specific role in life. In addition, for us to fulfill our potential while we are on the earth, we must know our identity in Christ. One of the most well-known Scriptures about eagles comes from Isaiah 40. Verses 29 through 31 in the Passion Translation says, "He empowers the feeble and infuses the powerless with increasing strength. Even young people faint and get exhausted; athletic ones may stumble and fall. But those who entwine their hearts with Yahweh (wait on Yahweh), will experience divine strength. They will rise up on soaring wings, and fly like eagles, run their race without growing weary, and walk through life without giving up.” Just as the eagle was created by God to soar in the heavens, so are we. Think about the fact that eagles were created to soar above the storms. Likewise, God wants us to have a heavenly perspective on the storms of life. He wants us to draw near to Him to look at the events of life through His eyes.
Psalm 103 talks about the benefits God gives to us so that our "youth is renewed like the eagles." (Verse 5) Renewed means to make new or restore. John 10:10b nails it down for us. "...I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." God is always directing us to go higher with Him. That is where the waiting comes in. As we wait upon Him, He comes to be closer to us.
Like the mother eagle, Jackie, God will go do extraordinary lengths to protect us and grow us up in His image. We must see every situation in our lives through His perspective. As we mount up to draw closer to the Lord, He will impart fresh vision and strength.
Every four years we experience a leap year which means that we have 366 days in the year instead of 365. It actually takes 365.242190 days for the earth to orbit the sun. Without the adjustment, the seasons "drift." So, one day is added to our calendars at the end of February. The Hebrew calendar also has a leap year. However, it is necessary for their calendar to have an entire month added to it so that their holidays fall in the proper season. The Bible makes it clear that the first month (Nisan) is to occur in the spring and the seventh month (Tishrei) during the fall harvest. In addition, since the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and our calendar is solar, the leap year helps correct the imbalance between the two calendars. There are seven leap years every nineteen years in the Hebrew calendar.
The last month on the Hebrew calendar is Adar. Since this is a leap year, we have an extra Adar month. Though Purim is celebrated during Adar II, we should still connect to the aspects of this month during Adar I. Adar means strength. God tells us in Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youth grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (NAS) What a promise!
Earlier in Isaiah 40 it explains that all creation should make a way for the Lord as His Word "stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8) He comes to comfort His people and assures them of this: "Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 40:10 - NAS) The chapter goes on to rejoice in the characteristics of the Lord that include the truth that He made all creation, and that justice, knowledge, and understanding are His. Verse 18 asks an important question: "To whom will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?" (NAS) "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars. The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing...Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired; His understanding is inscrutable." (Verses 26 and 28 - NAS)
God gives strength to us through joy. As it says in Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is our strength.” This word was given to God's people after Ezra the priest read the law to them. Verse 12 of Chapter 8 tells us that all the people "celebrated with great joy, because they understood the words that had been made known to them." Since God is the Word (John 1:1) this explains Psalm 16:11. "...In Your presence is fullness of joy." (NAS)
Isn't it wonderful that during this leap year we can focus on having two months of strength and joy? Being in the Lord's presence is the key to both gifts.
The third chapter of James in the New Testament gives us pictures of the power of our tongues. The Passion Translation is very descriptive. "Horses have bits and bridles in their mouths so that we can control and guide their large body. And the same with mighty ships, though they are massive and driven by fierce winds, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder at the direction of the person at the helm. And so, the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it carries great power! (The Aramaic can be translated, "The tongue has dominion.") Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness, and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body and is a hellish flame! It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence." (James 3:3-6)
Proverbs 18:21 summarizes the verses of James in one sentence: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NAS) Let's say this another way. There are only two kingdoms: The Kingdom of Heaven or Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. When we use our tongues to speak, our words always agree with one kingdom or the other. And our words will determine whether we are blessed or cursed. It is wise for us to remember the truth that we have been made in the image of God, so we have power as He does to bless or curse ourselves or others with our tongues. When God decided to bring judgment on a rebellious nation, He frequently pronounced a curse over them. Yet the foundation of God's throne is righteousness and justice. (Psalm 89:14) He gives us opportunities to come out from under a curse and into blessings. We must also be aware that family members or associates may have pronounced curses over us. Again, God gives us a way to be free of all of them.
Derek Prince's book Blessing or Curse - You Can Choose, gives us a seven-step way to move into God's blessings:
1. "Confess faith in Christ and His sacrifice on your behalf.
2. Repent of all your rebellion and your sins.
3. Claim forgiveness of all sin. (This is the greatest barrier that keeps God's blessings from 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 1:9)
4. Forgive all other people who have ever harmed or wronged you.
5. Renounce all contact with anything occult or satanic.
6. You are now ready to pray the prayer of release from any curse. Here it is: 'Lord Jesus, I believe that on the cross you took on Yourself every curse that could ever come upon me. So, I ask you now to release me from every curse over my life, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! By faith I now receive my release, and I thank you for it.'
7. Now believe that you have received, and go on in God's blessing!” (Taken from pages 210-217 of Derek's book)
God has creative ways to release blessings into our lives. We must accept that He will do so in His way and in His timing. The Lord has a storehouse of blessings for us that will help us to reach our destinies. Derek Prince says, "We must depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide us into our full inheritance and to show us how to appropriate what God has provided for us." (Page 224) In the meantime, we have the responsibility to make positive confessions that will release the ministry of Jesus to help us. Matthew 12:37 says, "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Here is the key to receiving God's blessing according to Derek Prince: Start with proclamation and then proceed to thanksgiving and praise. When we proclaim our faith aloud it draws the Lord into our presence and shakes the demonic forces as truth is being proclaimed. Thanksgiving and praise release God's intervention on our behalf. Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ." (NAS) Proclamation, thanksgiving, and praise help us to express and build our faith in God. Let's take the initiative in doing this.
How often does a church congregation have assigned homework? Two weeks ago, our pastor, George Matthew Clash, suggested that we read Psalm 119 daily. I decided to read it in a different version each day and started reading from the Revised Standard Version Bible that I received as a teenager. Next, I read from the New Living Translation, then King James, Amplified, New American Standard, New International Version, and finally The Passion Translation. As I read, I highlighted those verses that were particularly meaningful to me in each translation.
Psalm 119 is a tribute to the Word of God presented in an orderly way. It is the longest psalm in the Bible and is divided into twenty-two stanzas, each with eight verses, and with a total of 176 verses. The Psalm is an acrostic poem where the verses of each stanza begin with a different Hebrew letter. The entire Hebrew alphabet is covered in succession from "alef" to "tau." The eight Hebrew words used to refer to the Word of God in Psalm 119 are law, commandments, ordinances, precepts, decrees, word, promises and statutes.
I would like to share with you some of the verses that I highlighted: At the very beginning, the Psalmist makes it clear that God's Word provides a pathway of blessing for us. Both The King James and Revised Standard Version say the same thing in Verse 2. "Blessed are those that keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart." The Passion Translation puts the verse a little differently. "What joy overwhelms everyone who keeps the ways of God, those who seek him as their heart's passion!"
Verse 11 is one that I memorized as a girl: "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you." (NAS) or "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (NIV)
I love the way The Passion Translation articulates verse 48. "I long for more revelation of your truth, for I love the light of your word as I meditate on your decrees." Verse 54 from the NAS version says, "Your statutes are my song in the house of my pilgrimage."
Verses 89 and 90 are ones we should all camp on. "Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations..." (KJV) The Passion Translation says it this way: "Standing firm in the heavens and fastened to eternity is the word of God. Your faithfulness flows from one generation to the next; all that you created sits firmly in place to testify of you."
Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant help us to remember the words of verse 105 with their beautiful song, "Thy Word." Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (RSV) The Passion Translation has an interesting way to translate this verse. "Truth's shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of your word makes my pathway clear."
The New American Standard Version translates verse 137 this way: "Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me." Several verses talk about the mercies or compassion of the Lord. Verse 156 is one such verse. "Your compassion is great, O Lord; preserve my life according to your laws." (NIV)
Verse 160 in The Passion Translation says, "The sum total of all your words add up to absolute truth, and every one of your righteous decrees is everlasting." Amen! Our responsibility, as lovers of God's word, is to delight in His commands and meditate on them regularly. Then we will be walking on the path of enlightenment and blessing.
"Call Grandmom!" That is what my girls, Holly and Laura, and I said when we needed prayer. My mom was a prayer warrior. She loved Jesus and truly believed Matthew 7:7. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." She went home to meet the One who answered her prayers on Wednesday night, January 17. I want to honor my mom's life of 100 years and eight months with memories.
You could probably call my mom's ancestors pioneers as they were established in Pennsylvania prior to the Revolutionary War and helped fund a regiment of George Washington's army. English, German, and Irish blood ran through her veins. It is fitting that my mom's parents met at a Brethren Church in Philadelphia. They were a prosperous and generous couple until mom's dad died when she was seven years old. This life event threw my mom, her older brother, and my grandmother into poverty. Even though my grandmother went to work, the family was dependent on assistance from friends at their church. Spam (process meat) was frequently on the menu, and hand-me-down clothes were worn. But these "momentary troubles" did not overcome this hopeful family. My mom was blessed with a high IQ and graduated from Abington Highschool with honors. After attending Peirce School of Business, she worked as the secretary to the President of Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. Later she became the secretary to the Superintendent of Schools at Abington School District. She was recognized for her attention to detail in every endeavor she accomplished and closed out her career as a proofreader of legal advertising for the Montgomery Newspapers. Even recently she was proofreading the programs for the chaplain at the community where she lived.
I will be eternally grateful to my parents for the firm foundation they established for our family by raising us in a Christ-centered atmosphere. My brother, Arthur, and sister, Mary Lou, and I, Joan, were secure in the love they poured on us. Mom and Dad were active members of the First Baptist Church of Glenside where mom taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and was active in Women's Fellowship. She was an officer of the Glenside-Weldon PTA and volunteered with Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. Most importantly, she was a faithful wife to her husband, Ken Miller, and loving mother of her children.
It is my fondest memories of Mom that will sustain me in the future. She was always there for us in a multitude of ways, and the environment in our home helped us prosper. We could count on a nightly family dinner, complete with dessert. We talked about our days around the family table. We expected my dad to greet every person that came to church on Sunday and would eventually hear Mom's warning as we waited to go home: "Ken, the roast is going to burn!" Mom and Dad led by example, being kind and generous to anyone in need. My mom's intellect served her well when she was helping us with homework or as she taught Bible studies. Our family vacations to Stone Harbor, NJ, were something we anticipated yearly. Our shore adventures were fun and memorable. One of our biggest family treats was our visit to the SPCA to get a puppy. Frisky, our puppy, came home with a virus. Mom nursed him back to health with her homemade chicken broth.
Twenty-eight years ago, my parents moved to an Acts Community for senior living called Springhouse Estates where they participated in many of the activities provided. Mom was known for her sharp mind up until her death. She was also noticed for the stylish way in which she dressed and had a collection of shoes that would be the envy of any fashion designer. Mom was organized to a fault, and we discovered that she wrote her own obituary. She also left us some writings that she would like us to read at our family gathering to remember her. They include The Lord's Prayer, Psalm 23, and a poem written by Ellen Brenneman called "His Journey's Just Begun." In part, it says, "Don't think of him as gone away. His journey's just begun. Life holds so many facets; this earth is only one...And think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched...for nothing loved is ever lost and he was loved so much."
My family received a gift from God in that we were able to celebrate 100 years of a life well lived with Mom on May 18, 2023. Her two great grandsons, Jack and Ben, joined the party. For them and all of us, she left a magnificent legacy. May we also leave an exceptional legacy for those who will follow us.
Shevat, the eleventh month on the Hebrew religious calendar, usually occurs during January and February on our calendar. Its name has an interesting origin in the Akkadian language. The Jews became familiar with it while they were in captivity in Babylon. Its meaning, to strike, refers to the heavy rains that pour down during the month. The constellation in the sky during Shevat corresponds well with the meaning of the month's name. It is Aquarius, the water bearer. The first time Shevat is mentioned by name in the Bible is in the book of Zechariah, Chapter 1, Verse 7: "On the 24th day of the eleventh month, the month of Shevat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah..."
Occurring in the middle of this month is what the Jews call Tu B'Shevat or The New Year of Trees. Thus, Shevat is known as a month of renewal, rebirth, revival, and regeneration. The New Year of Trees occurs on the fifteenth day of this month and is considered a minor holiday in Israel. Dried fruits are always on the menu for this celebration. Also, placed on a plate would be the fruit of the seven species mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Jews that celebrate Tu B'Shevat are reminded of their duty to care for the natural world.
Shevat 15 was the original date when tithes from fruit trees were to be given to the priests. Rabbis determined that fruit which blossomed before the 15th of Shevat would be called produce of the previous year. The fruit that blossomed before this date was produce of the rains from the previous year and should be tithed along with the crops of the previous year. The New Year for Trees date is also used for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. According to Leviticus 19:23-25, the fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years. On the fourth year, the fruit must be given to God. By the fifth year, one may eat the fruit of their trees.
It is significant that the Bible talks about the way humankind should be rooted and grounded and that through the cultivation of strong roots of faith, we can produce fruit for the Kingdom of God. Both Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalm 1:3 instruct us to be like trees "planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither..." The purpose of a tree is to provide fruit to bring life to others. We also have been blessed to be able to give our spiritual fruit to others so that they can grow in Christlikeness.
Hope is given to the people of Israel and all of us who are grafted into the family of God through the words of the prophet Jeremiah. "In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; He will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it is called: ‘The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’” (Jeremiah 33:15,16)
How exciting it is that we have been grafted into the olive tree to share in the nourishing sap from the root! (Romans 11:17) We are called to be trees "planted by the water that never fail to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:8) In addition, we are called to be "...oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3) Let's celebrate this month of Shevat by rooting deeply into the soil of the Lord's truth so that we bring forth fruit and display His righteousness.
What an amazing display of God's glory I saw early on Friday morning! Three of His heavenly creations appeared at the same time. The crescent moon was still shining in the southern sky. To the left of it was the morning star, brightly flickering. Below both celestial bodies was the horizon, splashed with the vibrant pink-orange colors of the sunrise. This spectacular array drew me in and brought me into a moment of contemplating the Lord's majesty and power and glory.
A writer's technique called "personification" is used in the Bible, especially by the writers of Psalms and Isaiah. Psalm 148:1-6 gives us a wonderful example of this: "Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above. Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His heavenly hosts. Praise Him sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded, and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away." The Friday morning sky seemed to be giving the Lord praise just as this Psalm describes.
It is interesting to note that the Lord refers to Himself as the Morning Star. "...I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22:16) The morning star announces the beginning of a new day and signals the end of the night. Think about how God introduced the Gentile population to The Morning Star, the Light of the World. He led the Magi by a star to visit the One who would be a light to those in darkness.
Psalm 74:16 declares, "The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon." God separated the day from the night with the sun and moon, and the canvas for the celestial bodies is the sky that He paints uniquely every single day. The prophet Isaiah compares the sun and moon to the Lord, "The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously." (Isaiah 24:23)
I have decided that my favorite verses to contemplate come from Psalm 8. "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:1-4) This is an amazing truth! When we compare God's majesty and power to our humanity, it is astonishing how important we are to Him in His great scheme of the world.
The heavenly delights we see are a reminder of God's great love for us. The moon and sun herald the day and night and tell us that seasons change, while the Morning Star reminds us that the season of darkness will come to light. The Lord will prevail. He will guide and direct us. We must join the heavenly hosts in praise to the God of the universe.
A new year on the Gregorian calendar is beginning, 2024. On the Hebrew calendar the new civil year of 5784 began in September. You will notice that the last number of the year on each calendar are the same. Those who understand Hebrew numerology pay particular attention to this number because it can help them determine what could be in store for us in the year to come.
The Hebrew word for four is Dalet, which is a picture of a door. Thus, prophets have been declaring that this is the year of the open door. They believe that the door is being opened for us to have a deeper relationship with the Lord and a deeper understanding of His Word. Of particular interest to me is Isaiah 22:20-24. "In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David: What he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will be hung on him..."
We should delve deeper into the picture that this scripture paints. First of all, Eliakim means "raised up by God," and he is a picture of Jesus who was raised up by the power of God to rule over His house. Hilkiah means "my portion is Yahweh." It is Jesus who has unlimited control that has been given to Him by His Father. According to the footnote for Isaiah 22 in The Passion Translation, the doors that are being opened (loosed) are doors of "revelation, treasure, favor, and opportunity. When He closes (binds) those doors, no amount of human striving can open them."
The key to the house of David is a Kingdom key. The Church of Philadelphia received a letter that repeated the prophetic words from Isaiah 22. "These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your needs. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut..." (Revelation 3:6-8) Also, we should note that Jesus used similar words to illustrate the authority He was given by God that He will transfer to His disciples. "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
Keys represent spiritual authority and power. They are needed to open doors. Just as Jesus gave His disciples this authority to preach the Gospel and bring others into His Kingdom, He gives these keys to His Church. The key to the house of David would be a heart of worship that overcomes the things of this world. It is worship that unlocks truth.
As Believers in Jesus, the Church has a responsibility to unlock truth by using the keys we have been given. He has tasked us with bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth and has empowered us with Spiritual authority to carry out His mandates. 2024 brings us new opportunities. We must look for the doors that God is opening and closing in our lives, and strategically position ourselves to walk through the openings. He has a unique part for each of us to play in His Kingdom work. He is ready to equip us with the wisdom and knowledge we will need to conduct His plans for this season. In addition, as we walk through the open doors that the Lord is presenting; we will be coming into the fulfillment of our destinies
Joan E. Mathias