Season of Praise and Deliverance
It is so important to God that we understand the times and seasons that we are in that there was an entire tribe in Israel (Issachar) who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. (1 Chronicles 12:32) I believe that it's God's desire that the Body of Christ have a greater understanding of His times and seasons. There are certain blessings from God that seem to be more readily available in specific seasons, and we need to be aware of them. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
We are about to enter a two-month time frame on the Hebrew calendar where praise is to overcome heaviness. We can see a link between the last month of the year, Adar, and the first month of the year, Nissan. Deliverance is at hand! Just as God delivered His people from the curse of Haman on Adar 13 and 14 and delivered them from the bondage of Egypt on Nisan 14, His grace to bring about our deliverance from the bondage of our day is readily available.
Monday begins the month of Adar, which means strength. It is a time to celebrate the goodness of God with joy that overcomes worry, depression, and despair. It is a time when we should be identifying the gifts that God has placed within us so that we can walk into our destinies as overcomers. It is a time to reverse the curses spoken over us with decrees of truth written by the hand of God. He wants to bring forth the identities by which we are known in the spirit realm and is looking for agreement on earth to activate His power/strength in us.
When we align ourselves with God we open the way for Him to deliver us from the bondage of our circumstances so that He can set us on a path that will lead us to our Promised Land. We have authority in the name of Jesus Christ to reverse wrong decrees and break the curses spoken over us. But, we must take the authority and be bold in our actions to take hold of the freedom that is at hand.
Queen Esther demonstrates how faith can overcome fear through her actions to save her people from destruction. The book of Esther is interesting in that it never mentions God by name. Yet it is obvious that God is working behind the scenes through key people who make Him and His people a priority in their lives. Esther and her Uncle Mordecai settled in Persia during the Exile of the Jews. Because of her great beauty, Esther was one of the women selected to be a member of King Xerxes' royal harem. Her beauty and charm won the heart of the king, and he declared her queen.
Esther's Uncle Mordecai was a God-fearing man who refused to bow down to anyone other than the One-True God. Haman, head of all of the nobles in Xerxes' kingdom, was the most powerful official in the empire and was offended by Mordecai's dedication to God. He wrote a decree, sealed by King Xerxes that ordered all Jews to be killed on Adar 13. Mordecai sent a message to Esther asking her to go to the king and beg for mercy. Appearing before the king without a summons could mean death for Esther. However, Mordecai's message compelled her to act. The message was, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)
A three-day fast for all of the Jews of Susa was called. On the third day of the fast Esther went before the king. She was welcomed as Xerxes extended his gold scepter to her. At a banquet table, Esther revealed Haman’s wicked plot and her identity as a Jew. The king ordered Haman to be killed and gave Mordecai and Esther authority to write "another decree in the king's name in behalf of the Jews..." (Esther 8:8) On the very day that the Jews were to be killed they were permitted to strike down their enemies. Adar 13, 14 and 15 were declared days of celebration and remembrance. This is the month "when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration..." (Esther 9:22)
I encourage you to courageously put on "the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isaiah 61:3) and seek God for the word He has spoken over you. Then declare that word for all of creation to hear and watch as the Lord delivers you from bondage and propels you into your God-ordained destiny.
Ascending the Stairs
There is a solution to every challenge that faces us. Over the years I have observed that there is usually a spiritual analogy to a physical challenge. Such is the case with the challenge that I faced last week. Here was my dilemma: How am I going to climb my stairs after foot surgery when I may not put any weight on the foot? The answer to my dilemma was the installation of a stair lift. It allows me to sit in a chair that rides on a rail to the top of the stairs.
As I was riding up the stairs after Friday's surgery I recalled a book written by Wade Taylor called The Secret of the Stairs. He writes about the ways in which a Believer is able to draw closer to the Lord through ascending the "spiritual stairs." We read in the book of Song of Solomon how God calls us to "rise up and come away with Him." Before my surgery the Lord reminded me that He made me with the feet of a deer. "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights." (Habakkuk 3:19) Like all of us, I was made to ascend the stairway to heaven and to live with the Lord.
Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that God made us fearfully and wonderfully and that all of the days ordained for us have been written in God's book. Every one of us has a God-ordained destiny and has been given gifts in order for us to reach our destination. The Lord longs for intimate fellowship with us and wants us to have a similar longing for Him. The spiritual gifts He has placed within us are meant to help us ascend the stairs that bring us face to face with our Lord. He is our Bridegroom and we are His Bride.
During our lifetime we will have many opportunities to climb the stairs that take us closer to the Lord. Salvation is our first step in the journey of faith and sanctification. Then a unique set of life circumstances will be placed before us that are meant to take us up into the heavenly realm. We must ask the Lord to draw us up into a more intimate place with Him and cooperate with His prescribed way to climb the stairs. Our focus must be solely on Him, for He is the one who will lead us up step by step and help to prepare us to be His pure and spotless bride.
Our life on earth is meant to fit us for heaven. Here is what Wade Taylor says about our journey: "The height to which we have attained will be determined by the cumulative result of our choices, decisions and attitudes toward the things of God here in this life...It is here in this life, as we continue our ascent up the stairs, and are faithful in our times of testing, that our being 'called' by the Lord will be changed into being 'chosen' by Him to become His Bride."
As we fellowship with the Lord, there will be an awakening of our desire for Him and a revelation of the deeper things of the Spirit. Wade Taylor explains that "There are two levels of experience--or identification with the Lord...Through our devotion and submission to the Son, we experientially relate to Him as a Bride...Through our overcoming obedience and cooperation with the Son, we are raised up into a place of identification with Him as a son (or daughter)...Progressive, step upon step dealings are arranged by the Lord to produce within us that level of spiritual maturity and integrity which will enable us to become both compatible with, and productive in, our being seated with Him in His Throne--as a Bride, and as a son (or daughter)."
The Lord makes known the way to ascend the stairs that lead into His chambers where we can have intimate communion with Him. This requires us to have a single eye for Him. Wade Taylor concludes His book with this admonition: "Let us respond to His knocking upon the door of our heart, and begin the upward ascent on the stairs, one step at a time, until we stand before Him in our Bridal garments, awaiting our marriage to Him. That will be a glorious day!"
Redemption at Midnight
Have you ever noticed how God frequently waits until 11:59 to show up? In my experience this seems to be true, yet He is always on time. He stretches my faith as far as it will go. Just when things are as dark as they could be He comes as the "bright Morning Star" to signal the dawn of a new day.
Since the beginning of February, I have been following Chuck Pierce's daily devotional. It is called "21 Breaking of the Day Watch Prayer Focus." He describes the "Breaking of the Day" as the time period from midnight until three in the morning. Midnight is described as the "womb of the dawn" or "turning of the morning." "It is the time when the hours stop moving into darkness and begin moving toward light." It is the time for hope to arise.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Ruth. The story of Ruth and Naomi demonstrates God's way of starting to redeem and restore at the midnight hour. It takes place during a very dark period of time. Naomi, her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons had to leave their homeland in Bethlehem in Judah due to a severe famine. They went to live in Moab, east of the Dead Sea. Historically, the people of Moab had not treated the Israelites kindly, so we can infer that conditions must have been extremely bleak for them to make this move. The situation became bleaker for Naomi as Elimelech died. In addition, her sons married Moabite women--Ruth being one of them. Then, about 10 years later both of the sons died, leaving Naomi alone.
After hearing that God was providing food for her people, Naomi decided to return home. In a sacrificial act, Ruth accompanied Naomi back to Bethlehem so that she could help to care for her. She told her mother-in-law, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay; Your people will be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) Her faithfulness to Naomi set her up for God's favor to be poured upon her. (We should never lose sight of the fact that in this story Ruth represents the Church who is faithful to Israel.)
Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem during the barley harvest, which gave Ruth the opportunity to gather grain that was left behind by the harvesters. She learned that she was gleaning in a field owned by Boaz who was a relative of Elimelech. Hope arose when Naomi discovered where Ruth gleaned. She instructed Ruth to go to the threshing floor in the evening and to lie at his feet. "Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet." (Ruth 3:8-NLT)
"Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer," Ruth said to Boaz. (Ruth 3:9) Boaz replied, "I will do for you all you ask." (Ruth 3:11) Here the Lord demonstrated how He does, "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3:20) In their midnight hour--the darkest hour--the Morning Star appeared bringing great hope for the future. Not only did Boaz marry Ruth, but she had a son, the grandfather of King David and part of the family line of our Messiah.
The Lord addresses His Church in the passage found in Revelation 22:16. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." Even when we are in our darkest hour we have hope for a new day. Our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus, is awake at midnight. The "Light of the World" comes to dispel the darkness. When darkness rolls in to try to steal our inheritance and destiny He is standing by, rising in the darkness and setting into place His glorious plan of redemption and restoration. He is faithful; let hope arise!
The National Prayer Breakfast
The National Prayer Breakfast is the brainchild of Abraham Vereide, a Methodist minister who immigrated to the United States from Norway. He, along with his friend Senator Frank Carlson and Billy Graham, saw the Breakfast as an opportunity to nurture Christian leaders in our country. After presenting the idea to then President Dwight Eisenhower, they got the green light. Eisenhower recognized that this would be a positive influence on our country.
Invitations were sent to leaders in the United States and in other countries. In part, the invitations said, "This is a time to seek the Lord's guidance and strength...and to renew the dedication of our Nation and ourselves to God's purposes." The first Prayer Breakfast was held in 1953 and has been held on the first Thursday in February ever since.
The 65th National Prayer Breakfast took place last week and can be viewed on You Tube. I found it so encouraging and inspirational! About 3,500 people gathered to be led in singing and prayer and to listen to several speakers. The keynote speaker was the Chaplain from the United States Senate, Dr. Barry Black. His address was stellar! As I listened to it I felt hope for the revival of our country rising within me and a sense of excitement over God's plans for our future.
Joel Rosenberg, Founder of the Joshua Fund, communications strategist, best-selling author and international speaker, was one of the attendees at the Breakfast. Here is what he said about Dr. Black's address: "It is one of the most powerful, most compelling, most winsome and moving presentations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have ever heard delivered. We all urgently need to hear and respond to the message the Chaplain preached so passionately to us."
Dr. Black encouraged his listeners to pray, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus in three different ways.
The Chaplain made it clear that this nation will not prosper unless our faith is built upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. His impassioned presentation of Edward Mote's hymn, The Solid Rock, stirred everyone who heard it. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand--all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand." I praise the Lord for the bold proclamation made by this man of God. He left no doubt in anyone's mind of the course this nation must take in order to prosper. It is vital that we pray in agreement with him.
Joan E. Mathias