In his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer tells us that belief in Christ is really “the gaze of the heart at God." This practice of inwardly gazing upon God is so important in bringing Christians into a deeper relationship with Him and will, in turn, be the key to bringing a spirit of unity to the Church.
Tozer says, "Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all turned to the same fork are automatically turned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship...The whole Church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life."
When we are in harmony with God, and with one another, we attract the attention of heaven. We become like a giant magnet pulling heaven to earth. Our corporate prayers and worship, lifted in unity, draw the very presence of the Holy Spirit into our midst, along with angels who want to join us. We can read about this happening in Acts 2:1-4. "Now when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly their came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit..." (NKJV)
The apostle Paul recognized the joy that a spirit of unity in Christ brought to the Lord, and so he encouraged the people of the church in Philippi in this way: "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." (Philippians 2:1-3 - NKJV)
Our time here on earth is meant to sanctify us so that we are like Christ Jesus. We must learn to follow His example in order to become like Him. Therefore, the inward gaze of our hearts upon the Lord is key to our transformation. As we see who Christ is we become more like Him. We all play a part in bringing the Body of Christ into a spirit of unity--One Accord!
Jesus came to show us the face of God. He cared deeply for those who believed in Him and prayed for them and us before His death. "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name--the name You gave to me--so that they may be one as we are one...Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth...For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified...I pray also for those who will believe in me through the message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you...I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11, 17-22)
Let us make our prayer like the Psalm that David wrote: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." (Psalm 27:4) Our gaze upon our Savior fine tunes us so that we are in harmony with Him and will be in harmony with others in the Body of Christ who are also gazing at His beauty. This is when heaven comes to earth! Let it be, O God!
Every 7th year on the Hebrew calendar is called the Shemitah. It is to be a Sabbath year, a year of rest, for the land and consequently for God's people. It is a time when God desires to release abundant blessings and provision. The year of Jubilee follows the 7th of seven years and gives us a double portion of the blessing.
We are now in the midst of the 70th Jubilee, the year 5776. The number six is represented by the Hebrew letter VAV which is a picture of a hook or tent peg. This should be a reminder for us to "stake our claim" for God's promises. You see, God has a multitude of blessings that He would like to pour out on us, but we play a part in their release. I believe that this is one of the reasons that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) By declaring this we come into agreement with the Lord and pave the way for the blessings to flow. I must emphasize the importance of declaration in agreement with the plans of heaven. This will bring down the blessings that the Lord has stored up for us.
In addition to calling for heaven to come to earth, we must be aware of our destinies and God's promises for us that are associated with them. Each one of us has been designed with unique characteristics that are meant to enable us in taking possession of our inheritances. The Lord says, "Occupy your inheritance so that you have increase and expansion." Occupy means to take possession of, fill, control, and reside. Another definition is permeate. I like this one! We are the ones who bring the characteristics of heaven to earth as we fill and saturate our inheritances. We are to recreate the climate of heaven on earth in the territories God has given us.
Our call is to establish ourselves in our God-given territories. God made this clear to Adam and Eve: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it..." (Genesis 1:28) God gave them complete authority and dominion over their inheritance. Unfortunately they gave it away by coming into agreement with the darkness. Adam and Eve would not be able to advance God's kingdom because they gave away the key to their victory. A new Adam was sent to earth: The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Redeemer. King Jesus would win back the key and restore it to God's people.
God gave Israel an inheritance that they were meant to occupy. He wanted them to expand their borders. Isaiah prophesied about a leader who would father God’s people and about the expansion of Israel: "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." (Isaiah 22:22-23) "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities." (Isaiah 54:2-3)
It is time for us to place a stake in the ground that we are called to occupy. Recognize that the kingdom of darkness will not be happy as we fill and increase our territories. Demons will attempt to derail us. We must keep our attention on the goal. Paul says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Remember that we are in an unprecedented season of blessing. Remember the picture of the tent peg, and remember to look to and worship our Savior who will lead us to victory. "'From Judah will come the cornerstone, from Him the tent peg, from Him the battle bow, from Him every ruler...I will strengthen them in the LORD and in His name they will walk,' declares the LORD." (Zechariah 10:4, 12)
Twice a year the Jewish people celebrate God's deliverance of His people--during Purim and Passover. Purim is celebrated one month before Passover and occurs on the 14th day of the last month of the year. Approximately every three years there is a Jewish leap year where four more weeks are added to the calendar at the end of the year. The last month on the Jewish calendar is Adar; during a leap year there is Adar I and Adar II. Purim is celebrated in Adar II so that there is only 30 days between Purim and Passover.
The leap year is added to the Jewish calendar to be sure that their lunar months stay in sync with the solar calendar. I find it interesting that this year is a leap year on both our Roman calendar and the Hebrew calendar. It seems so right to me that the year of Jubilee would have within it these two leap years. You see, the month of Adar is known as one of great joy and celebration. This is a time when God showed His people His miracles and power to set them free from captivity and to bless them. The literal interpretation of the Jewish leap year or Shanah me'uberet is "pregnant year"--pregnant with joy. The name Adar is related to the Hebrew word "adir" which means strength and power. Remember that Jubilee is a year of freedom, redemption and restoration. The Lord loves to give us a double portion!
Psalm 28:7 seems like such a perfect verse for the months of Adar: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." The Lord wants us to finish out this year well and leap into our New Year ready to receive His next cycle of blessing for our lives. We cannot allow the enemy of our souls to interfere with God's plans. He would like to plant fear in us so that we will not move into the fullness of everything that God has for us. We must develop our strategy to battle this anti-Christ spirit. May I suggest that the weapon of our warfare should be worship of the Lord for His intention is to bless us and move us into the fullness of His plan for our lives? If we stay aligned with God we will move from blessing to blessing.
The constellation Pisces (fish) is associated with the month of Adar and is a sign of blessing and fruitfulness to the Jewish people. Is it not interesting that Jesus told Peter to throw his fishing line into the water to pull up a fish and that he found a four-drachma coin to pay the temple tax for both of them? (Matthew 17:27) This final month is also connected to the tribe Naphtali, one of the rear guard tribes. The characteristics of Naphtali as prophetically spoken over him fit well with this month. Jacob said to his son, "Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words." (Genesis 49:21-NKJV) When Moses gave his final blessing to Naphtali he told him that he was "abounding with the favor of the Lord and is full of His blessing." (Deuteronomy 33:23)
The Scripture in Habakkuk 3:19 is linked to Naphtali. "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." Even in the midst of difficulties, the Lord will be our strength and give us the ability to leap on the high places. In this year and this season I believe that God wants us to leap into the fullness of everything He has for us. We must speak God's plans and purposes over our lives and rejoice in the blessings He has for us.
I am looking forward to March 2 when Randy Clark and his team will come to The Crossing to share a new teaching with us called "Cultivate Revival." The nations of the world are in turmoil, the news is full of disturbing stories of violence, famine and death. The governments of humankind cannot solve the problems of our generation. There is only one thing that can transform the nations--REVIVAL--an awakening to the presence of the Lord God and His holiness and glory.
How do we cultivate the ground of our hearts and establish a heavenly mindset for the seed of revival? How do we nurture the abiding presence of the Lord? What is our responsibility in all of this? Let us look at the meaning of cultivate, most frequently used in an agricultural context. Some definitions:
(1) to nurture, (2) to prepare the soil for planting and growth, (3) to foster or promote growth by breaking up and tending the soil, (4) to improve the composition and fertility of the soil.
At the beginning of each gardening season the gardener must evaluate the soil and plan a course of action to amend it and make it ideal for growth. The initial course of action includes breaking up the hard soil and removing the rocks and sticks. This can be accomplished with a hoe, spade, digging fork or rototiller. It is important to go deep to loosen and turn over the soil. Next the gardener adds organic matter and/or sand or gypsum and fertilizer so that plant roots grow strong. The acidity of the soil must be checked in case it is necessary to add lime for a proper pH. Fertile soil is the foundation of any successful gardening project. Enriching the soil and ensuring good drainage are the basis for establishing a good growing environment. Finally, the soil is raked out so that the surface is level. Now it is time to plant seeds or seedlings.
Tending the garden after planting is just as important as soil preparation. A garden will need to be watered if there is not enough natural rain. Weeds will poke up their heads and need to be removed regularly so that they do not steal the moisture and nutrients for the plants. A covering of mulch helps preserve the moisture and keep the weeds from growing. It is also important to continue feedings plants as they are growing so that their flowers and fruit are healthy and full.
How does this relate to cultivating revival? Each of us is responsible for cultivating our own heart and mind. One faithful person who has prepared a place for the Spirit of God to root could foster the next Great Awakening! Mary, the mother of Jesus, ushered in the presence of the Lord because her heart was pure and humble and she believed what the angel of the Lord told her. She declared, "For nothing is impossible with God. I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:37-38) The seed of our Savior found fertile ground within her.
We must evaluate the soil of our hearts and minds and develop a plan to make an ideal place for the Holy Spirit to reside. Any hard spots of unforgiveness, anger, judgment, jealousy or offense must be removed. Allowing the Lord to go deep to help us identify and remove any dark areas in our lives will result in producing an environment that is conducive to good growth. Ways to enhance the ground of our hearts and minds include spending time waiting on the Lord and communicating with Him, consuming the Word of God and declaring His truth, and worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth. The idols of our lives, those things that consume our time and get placed before God, must be removed like the weeds in a garden. Worshiping God is like receiving the spring rain, and "eating" the Word of God provides us with necessary nutrients of truth. The blood of the Lord is our covering. In addition, we should welcome Holy Spirit to cloth us. This is what happened to Gideon as he led the Israelites in victory against the Midianites. "But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of Him." (Judges 6:34-AMP)
Are you ready to cultivate revival? Prepare the garden of your heart and mind. Actively seek to cultivate His abiding presence. The Lord is looking for a fertile place to root, where righteousness and praise will spring up before all nations (Isaiah 61:11) and revival is cultivated to the glory of the Lord.
Joan E. Mathias