"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 6:18-19) Noah received instructions from the Lord on how to build the ark, a place of refuge from the storm, a place of peace and rest, and an instrument of deliverance. There was only one door placed in the side of the ark—one way to enter. Noah entered the door with his family and all the animals. "Then the Lord shut him in." (Genesis 7:16) The Lord kept all of them safe in the ark.
Last week I was privileged to visit "The Ark Encounter" in Williamstown, Kentucky. Kenneth Ham, Australian-born Christian who is responsible for the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, and defender of the Biblical account of creation, felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to construct a full-size model of Noah's ark. One is overwhelmed by the size of this model and all that must have gone into constructing it and filling it with provision and animal models. In the side of this ark, above what would have been the water line, there is only one doorway into the interior. On the inside of the door you can see the shadow of a cross. It is a reminder that God still provides a door for us to be saved—but only one!
Through the example of the ark, God was showing humankind that He would provide an open door, or a way, for us to be saved. Jesus promised His disciples that He would prepare a place for them in heaven. Thomas asked Him, "'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:5-6) The way to the Father, where there is eternal life, is through the Son. He is the only door into eternity. How do we enter? It is through faith—faith that Jesus is who He says He is--and actions that show our agreement with what He says. Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
There is only one way to be saved, the way to eternal life. Jesus is our ark from the storms of life, our place of peace and rest. He provides these things for us while we are here on earth and for eternity. Do not be fooled. Jesus taught that the way to eternal life is narrow. "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13:24) "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Jesus says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) Here it is—an open invitation to join Him—the only way! We are blessed to have a God who loves us so much that He provides the way. Let us praise Him for being the door to eternal life.
Increasing Seasons of Bloom
Spring flowering trees that are blossoming in October? What is going on? As I look out my bedroom window I see clusters of rosy-colored crabapple blossoms. The tree has been confused by our uncharacteristically warm weather. Spring blooming trees set their flower buds for the following spring in the summer. The extra warmth of our autumn brought those buds into bloom. Now I am seeing both flowers and fruit on the same tree.
Like the crabapple tree, Christians are to blossom and bear fruit. God made it clear to the Israelites that He wants priests who blossom and bear fruit to minister to Him. He instructed Moses to place a staff from the leaders of each tribe in the Tent of Testimony. "The next day Moses entered the Tent of Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds." (Numbers 17:8) This was a confirmation that those in the tribe of Levi were to perform duties in the Tent of Testimony and minister before the Lord.
Jesus dealt with the issue of spiritual unfruitfulness while He was walking with the disciples from Bethany to Jerusalem through the cursing of an unproductive fig tree (representing Israel). "The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to find out if it had any fruit. When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then He said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And His disciples heard Him say it." (Mark 11:12-13)
God's desire for us to blossom and bear fruit for His Kingdom is talked about in Isaiah 27:6. "In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit." How can we increase our season of bloom and fruit bearing? The crabapple tree blossomed out of season because of the warm environment around it. We must be atmosphere changers!
God rewards those who seek Him with all their hearts. (Jeremiah 29:13) Let us ask the Lord to draw us unto Himself. "Take me away with you--let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers." (Song of Solomon 1:4) Let us strengthen our faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6-NAS) Let us be diligent in our pursuit of the Lord and watch the flame of love bring us into blossom and increasing fruitfulness.
Names of Destiny
According to Chuck Pierce's book, A Time to Advance, the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar (Cheshvan) is a time to "war with words." It is also a time of new beginnings. Words have the power to transform a person’s life for good or bad. Word power was demonstrated by God when He spoke the world into existence. With the phrase, "Let there be," He created light, the sky, the sun, moon and stars. (Genesis 1) After creating Adam, God gave him the responsibility of naming every creature. (Genesis 2:19) It was God who named Adam, which means "earthy," "red earth" and "of the ground." God was clarifying Adam's purpose of having dominion over the earth with his task. (Genesis 1:26) It appears as though Adam's wife had no name before "the fall" other than woman, "For she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23) After God told the first couple the consequences of their sin, Adam named his wife Eve, which means "life-giving" and "mother of all the living." (Genesis 3:20) I wonder...if Adam had given Eve her name before she was tempted, would she have been able to resist the temptation knowing the call on her life was as a "life-giver"?
In the Hebrew culture a person's name is extremely important. Father God always sees us as we are meant to be, not as we are. There are many examples in the Bible where God names a person according to their future. Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham, is a good one. God changed his name before he had one descendant, yet his new name means "father of a multitude" or "father of many nations." Read what the writer of Hebrews says about Abraham: "...He is the father of us all. As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations.' His is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." (Romans 4:16-17) Those around Abraham saw him as an old man who had no offspring. In God's eyes he was the man from whom many nations would be birthed. His name was a prophetic declaration of whom he would be.
Gideon (from the tribe of Manasseh, linked with the month of Cheshvan) doubted his ability as a warrior and identified with fear and the smallness of his tribe. A prophetic word from the visiting angel of the Lord straightened him out. "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12) After receiving this truth, Gideon went on to defeat the Midianite aggressors with only 300 men.
As we can see, God uses names to declare His truth and our prophetic destiny. Like his grandfather, Abraham, Jacob is brought into his future with a name change. Initially, Jacob deceived his father, Isaac, to receive his brother's blessing as the firstborn. Through this act, he lived according to the meaning of his name, "supplanter." However, Jacob's encounter with God, where he wrestled with Him, changed everything. God spoke prophetically: "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." (Genesis 32:28)
What are we believing about ourselves? There are verse in the Bible that give us words of identity. For example, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9) In addition, God has a unique name for each one of us. Jonathan Cahn's book, The Book of Mysteries, says, "God sees us not as we are, but as He called us to be. He gives you an identity not based on your past...but on your future, what you are to become. The secret is to receive that identity and believe it before you see it. Live it as if it is." War against any negative words spoken about you and receive and believe the words said about you in the Bible and by the Spirit of God. We may not know the specific name that God calls us; however, the clues to our names come through what we dream about and what makes our hearts sing. Pursue the truth about yourself and live accordingly! This is the month when we should embrace our new beginnings.
Walking in the Light
My grandson Ben could not wait to show me his special sneakers that were purchased with the money he saved. What attracted him to the shoes are their thick soles that light up with all the colors of the rainbow when you pressed a battery-operated button inside each shoe. As he demonstrated the light that shines when he walks I thought about the Scripture from Psalm 119:105. "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." It is the Word of God that gives light for every step we take!
In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon says, "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." (Proverbs 4:18-19) The Word of God keeps us from stumbling. Solomon goes on to tell us about the importance of God's words of wisdom. "Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body." (Proverbs 4:21-22) As we walk according to the words of truth in the Bible, our path will be secure.
The prophet Isaiah writes about how God sent His servant to rescue all people and bring them into the family of God. "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness. I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42:6-7) There is a purpose for God's people, to be a part of His plan for the salvation of all nations. He has placed His light within us so that we can carry it into the world. That light should shine brightly wherever we go. Isaiah 42:16 continues with the promise of the Lord. "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do."
There is a blessing for those who walk in the light of the Lord as declared in Psalm 89:15. "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord." The light of the Lord penetrates us as we set aside time to be in His presence and worship Him. We then reflect His light to others. After Moses was with the Lord he reflected God's light so brightly that he had to place a veil over his face when he spoke to the Israelites. (Exodus 34:33-34)
The Lord issues an invitation to us as He did to the children of Israel: "Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:5) When Jesus walked on the earth He was clear about who He is. "...I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) "Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." (John 12:36) Today, the Light of God lives within every Believer through the Spirit of the Living God. He provides revelation and light along with the Word of God.
Pursue the Light, dear ones, through communion with the Spirit of God and time in the Word of God. May our walk shine the Light of Christ as described in Isaiah 52:7. "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"
Joan E. Mathias