What a wonderful gift I received this week! My partner in a weekly Bible study gave me a bouquet of lime-green hydrangeas cut from her garden. Hydrangeas are nostalgic flowers for me as they remind me of my grandmother's garden and a picture of me as a girl holding a bouquet of pink and blue hydrangeas.
I noticed that my friend cut the stems of the flowers at a 45-degree angle. This is one of the "tricks of the trade" that florists use to assure that the flower stem has maximum surface area to absorb water. Once a flower cutting is taken from the main plant, it will eventually die. The objective is to make the cut flower last as long as possible. Jesus told His disciples, "If you do not remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown away and withers...If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:6-7) We, like a cut flower, will die if we disconnect from Jesus.
Who doesn't enjoy having a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers in their home? Let's look at some of the other ways in which we can prolong the life of a cut flower, and how our lives in Christ Jesus can be refreshed and sustained. The right tool must be used to cut the stem of a flower. Regular scissors pinch the water channel of the stalk. A sharp knife or pruning shears should be the tool of choice. Also, cutting flowers under a steady flow of water keeps air pockets, that prevent water absorption, from forming. Stems should be plunged into a vase of clear, tepid water immediately after cutting according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He met at Jacob's well that He is "living water." He said, "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) We must be sure to drench ourselves in living water daily.
To maintain longevity of cut flowers we must strip all leaves from the bottom part of the stem that would be under the water. Rotten plant material destroys the quality of the water. If the water becomes cloudy it means that bacteria is growing and can clog the stems. A splash of bleach in the water reduces the amount of bacteria in the water. It is also important to avoid placing a vase of flowers near fruit or vegetables since they give off ethylene gas which shortens the life of cut flowers. We too must not give the enemy of our souls access to our lives. We must say with the Psalmist, "But I trust in You, Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love." (Psalm 31:14-16)
It is helpful to place a small amount of sugar in the water as it feeds the flowers. It is also wise to change and refresh the water every few days. In addition, it is recommended that about one inch of the stem bottom be removed every three or four days. This assures that the water continues to penetrate the stem. Let us remember what it says in Psalm 104:27. "All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time." God is faithful to give us what we need when we need it. The Psalmist said to the Lord, "Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love, and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness." (Psalm 26:2-3)
We must remember that "The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in HIs unfailing love." (Psalm 147:11) In Psalm 91:16 He says of the one who loves Him, "With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." The Lord is the one who leads us beside quiet waters and refreshes our souls. (Psalm 23:2-3) When I look at a vase of freshly cut flowers, I think of our God who created them and how they are a testimony to His love and care. Psalm 119:175 comes to mind: “Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me."
Most of the Church is unaware of the history of this time-period and how it can affect them. Last week we entered the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar. Today is the 9th of Av, a date that is so significant for the Jewish people that many will spend the day fasting and mourning. This date has proved to be consistently difficult throughout the years. It all began when the 12 spies (one from each tribe of Israel) went in to scout out the promised land. The men went in fully knowing God's promises to them. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.'" (Numbers 13:1) When the group returned it was during the month of Av. Ten of the 12 spies gave a negative report, claiming that the Nephilim that they saw were too strong for the Israelites to overcome. Fear fell on the entire camp. Joshua and Caleb tried to quell their fears by telling the people that the protection of the giants is gone, "but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid." (Number 14:9)
Moses became an advocate for God's chosen people, reminding God of His character. "The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the 3rd and 4th generation" (Numbers 14:18) The Lord forgave them, however there were ramifications for their sin of unbelief. "...As sure as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me 10 times--not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it." (Numbers 14:21-23) God let them know that the curse they declared over themselves would manifest: "...I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In the wilderness your bodies will fall--every one of you 20 years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me...Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home...Your children will be shepherds here for 40 years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For 40 years--one year for each of the 40 days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you." (Numbers 14:28-34) The 10 men who came back from the Promised Land with a bad report were struck down and died of a plague.
Here is what the Church needs to understand: The camp of Israelites committed the sins of unbelief, dishonoring God, disobedience, and unfaithfulness. Their sins set in motion years of consequences for God's people because they spoke curses over themselves that agreed with the kingdom of darkness and gave the demonic permission to operate in their lives. Repentance for these sins has not taken place and so destruction continues to take place to this day. The negative history of the days past tries to repeat itself during this season. As Hosea 4:6 tells us, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." With the string of disasters occurring during this same time frame you would think that the "light bulb" would go on. Some of the major disasters included destruction of the 1st and 2nd temples, destruction of Jerusalem, crusades against the Jews--killing many, expulsion from England, Spain, and Portugal, the beginning of WWI, deportation of the Jews to the Treblinka concentration camp, and expulsion from Gaza.
We are committing the same sins as the Jews in the wilderness committed. The enemy of our souls wants to defile and devour us. "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-9) The Church must be aware of the pattern of destruction that exists and be intentional in aligning Herself with the truth of God's Word. We, as members of the Church, must be on-guard against the attack of the enemy and not allow him to destroy our spiritual temples or our trust in the Lord. We must come into agreement with the promises of God over our lives, stirring our faith to believe in them. God has given us power and authority in His name. We are under the blood of Jesus. Let's be awakened to these truths.
May I also suggest that we make this time one in which we pray for an awakening in our hearts and those of our Jewish brothers and sisters. We should be praying for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:6) Let's also examine ourselves to be sure that we are walking in love and honoring the Body of Christ. Let us break any agreement we have made with the powers of darkness by confessing and renouncing the sin of cursing ourselves. Our repentance will surely open the door for God to pour out His blessings upon us. Let us stir our faith to declare and believe in the promises the Lord has given to us.
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!
There is no question that America's origins are rooted in a passion to recover and live out the Christianity of the New Testament." So writes Eddie Hyatt in his book, America's Revival Heritage. He continues: "The first generation of immigrants to America were normally vibrant in their faith and passionate in their vision for a revival of New Testament Christianity. Their children and grandchildren, however, while retaining many of the outward forms of worship and doctrine, tended to lose the vitality and vision of their parents and grandparents. As former generations passed from the scene, the original passion for Christian reform and renewal passed away with them, and succeeding generations were left "having a form of godliness but denying its power.'" (2 Timothy 3:5)
As we celebrate the 245th anniversary of the birth of our nation, we can see that the concerns raised by Eddie Hyatt about the vitality of our faith continue. The activity of many of our churches confirms Hyatt's assertion that passion for the Lord and His ways is waning. A segment of our society is attacking anything that interferes with their liberal point of view. Their agenda includes erasing the truth of how our nation was founded. They find faith in Jesus and His Word offensive. They seem to know that if they rewrite history, they can control the future.
Here is the truth: America was founded for the glory of God. Public education was instituted to teach our children the fear of the Lord and the ways of the Word of God. Our mandate from the Lord is to grow in our relationship with Him and our understanding of His ways so that we can spread the Gospel around the world and bring light to the darkness. Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence got their words and ideas from the Bible. This document has impacted human rights around the world according to Mr. Hyatt. We should note that 27 of the 56 founding fathers were trained as ministers. And, the motto of the American Revolution—"No King but King Jesus"—had an obvious spiritual emphasis.
John Adams, one of our founding fathers, left no doubt where the ideas for our Declaration of Independence came from. He said, "The general principles on which the founding fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity." We, as the people of God, must be at the forefront of the movement to protect our history and to acknowledge that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was active in intervening on our behalf. He used Bible-believing people to fight for the independence of our nation and established a godly way of life that would spread the Good News of His love and care for us.
I grew up in the 1960s and remember when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in public schools. The Church let it happen, and it continued unchallenged. Those who initiated the fight against Christian practice in schools through the Supreme Court were not satisfied with their judicial win. Hyatt writes, "...These radical secularists now seek to remove any vestige of Christian influence from the public square. An undeniable part of their strategy is to rewrite and reinterpret America's past and to disseminate their revisions through a government-run educational system."
Psalm 33:12 tells us this: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose as His inheritance." We must do what we can to be sure that our history is not rewritten and that our future in America is secured through prayers and living godly lives. Here is how Eddie Hyatt summarizes this: "A government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, can only be sustained by a people who are continually revitalized in their faith and in their commitment to moral principles. This means that a nation that was birthed out of Spiritual awakening can only be sustained by a people who are continually awakened and revitalized in their faith...We will either have revival or we will have revolution; we will either have Spiritual awakening or we will have societal chaos. Both history and Scripture teach us that the future of America rests squarely on the shoulders of the professing Christians of this nation." There is no doubt that we are in a battle for the soul of our nation. We must renew our passion for the Lord and cry out for a Spiritual awakening that will transform America back to its intended purpose!
Joan E. Mathias