Greeks came to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration according to John 12. They wanted to meet Jesus, however He told His disciples, "Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into His glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives." (John 12:23-24 - NLT) Jesus continues: "And I, when lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32) Jesus drew us to Himself through His death and resurrection. His intent is that we are to be a part of His storyline.
At the moment of the death of Jesus, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open. When the centurion and others who were guarding Jesus saw these events they exclaimed, "Surely He was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54) Indeed, He is and proved His identity through His resurrection on the Jewish celebration called "Firstfruits." This was the traditional day of giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and the giving of the firstfruits of the barley harvest in the spring. Jesus became the firstfruits from the dead. Here is how it is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22: "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
Jesus came to the earth to show us how to live. His disciples learned to live like their master. Our identity is likewise in Him. Just as God gave His best for us, we must give our best for others. In this way we honor God, and He reveals to us our own unique destiny. We are part of the storyline of Jesus as we identify with His selflessness and love. We have been called, along with the Body of Christ, to redeem the wrecks of time. Our lives are part of a bigger story and have been united with other Believers in Christ.
As we accept the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins, we become part of the family of God by the power of His resurrection. A hard concept to understand is that God has chosen to do His work on the earth in partnership with us. True, each of us has a unique call, however we have also been woven together like a piece of fabric with other Believers so that we can accomplish His divine plans and purposes. That fabric includes not only our present generation, but those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.
Matt Lockett and Will Ford wrote about the connection of the ages in their book The Dream King. Will writes, "In Christ, my stories are your stories, and your stories are mine. Remember, as Christians we share the same heritage. Our collective history is made from a diverse yet unified remnant...Jesus ever lives to make intercession so that you and I, as His family members, can together shape the future with Him...Through Him, a new remnant is both healing history and making history." (Page 32) Matt agrees with Will: "This fabric of our lives and families creates the backdrop for the nations and the times in which we live...God watches over our destinies, watches over our nation, and invites us to shape the future with Him through prayers." (Page 42) Matt calls us "The Stewards of the Storyline," not only of our biological family, but also of our Christian family.
Today is Resurrection Sunday. With gratitude we should allow this day to inspire us to be healing agents of the generations and planters of seed that will bear good fruit for the blessing of the nations. Our Savior showed us the way. Let us follow Him!
Lake Winnipesaukee sits at the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The spring-fed lake is 72 sq. miles. Winnipesaukee is an Indian name meaning "The Smile of the Great Spirit." (In my opinion, God‘s smile was placed upon this outstandingly beautiful lake. He must have put extra attention into creating it.) It is the largest lake in New Hampshire and the third largest in New England. There are six main bays on the Lake and approximately 264 islands. The large central portion of the Lake is known as "The Broads." It runs from the northwest to the southeast, is relatively free from islands, and is very deep.
High winds are common on Lake Winnipesaukee. The shape and location of the Lake makes it vulnerable to the southeast winds that come inland. It is not unusual for hurricane winds to hit the Lake. The "personality" of Winnipesaukee can change quickly if the winds arise, particularly in the open area of The Broads. A boater may embark on a trip across the Lake with calm waters only to find that an hour later the winds have increased significantly, making the surface of the water choppy with high waves and white caps. The trip home for this boater will be uncomfortable as the boat will pound across the water. This is particularly true if the boat is moving against the wind. My family and I experienced the fury of the recent hurricane at Lake Winnipesaukee last week. Trees were bending over from the strength of the wind, and the surface of the water became rough and chaotic. Boaters who were on the Lake quickly set a course for home.
Watching this storm, I remembered that Jesus stilled a storm for the disciples who were trying to get across the Sea of Galilee. They left the spot where Jesus had been teaching and headed toward the Gerasene region. Scripture says, "Suddenly, as they were crossing the Lake, a ferocious tempest arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was all but swamped. But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on cushion. So they shook Him awake, saying, 'Teacher, don't you even care that we are all about to die!' Fully awake, He rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, 'Hush! Calm down!' All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm.
Then He turned to His disciples and said to them, 'Why are you so afraid? Haven't you learned to trust yet?' But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, 'Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey Him?'" (Mark 4:37-41 - TPT)
Do you understand what happened here? The disciples lost sight of the fact that Jesus was in the boat with them! Yes, they were in a ferocious storm, but the One who commands the wind and water to do His bidding (Psalm 148:7-8) was with them. Yes, He was sleeping, but peace was all around Him. When the disciples woke Him up it only took a word from Jesus to calm the water and waves. "Hush! Calm down!"
We are also in a season of storms of many different kinds. We are in uncharted territory without knowing what to do. However, every Believer has the answers on how to survive the storms. Look to Jesus, the One who is in our boat with us. "...He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes the winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants." (Psalm 104:3-4) Look to Jesus and receive His peace.
Battles are part of maturing in Christ. The battlefield is our minds. While our spirits were totally revived and renewed on the day of our salvation, our souls (mind, will, emotions) must be transformed. Demons target our minds, planting thoughts in them to catch us off-guard. Anytime we agree with the kingdom of darkness we open a gate for demons to enter and give them permission to operate in our lives. It is important for us to continually evaluate our belief system and the behaviors that accompany it to see if we are building a protected place for them from which they can operate. This is called a stronghold. Any belief that we have that does not agree with God's truth can become a stronghold for the enemy. Consider some of the ways that we may come into agreement with the demonic: sin, fear, anxiety, pride, lying, unbelief, self-condemning thoughts. It is with human agreement that the devil is empowered. By participating with the kingdom of darkness in our thought systems, we are building a stronghold or fortified place for the enemy of our souls to hide and attack us.
The good news is that Jesus came to earth to demonstrate the will of God, which is to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8) He instructed us to pray for the Kingdom of heaven to come to earth. (Matthew 6:10) He modeled the essence of Romans 12:2. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will." In his book The Three Battlegrounds, Francis Frangipane tells us that God made us to be overcomers. The principle for success is this: "Victory begins with the name of Jesus on your lips, but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in your heart...God's only answer is to become Christlike . As you begin to appropriate not just the name of Jesus, but His nature as well, the adversary will withdraw."
How do we fight this battle? Francis tells us we must "allow the Spirit of Christ full access into our souls." Our goal is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. (Romans 8:29) We must make our minds strongholds for the Lord instead of the enemy by renewing it. Our bodies are temples for the Lord to dwell in and need to come into agreement with heaven. This is confirmed in Scripture: "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
Possessing humility or lack of it can have a major impact on one's life. Should we be accused of wrong-doing or failing, we must humbly repent and confess our sins and then appropriate what Jesus did for us at the Cross. Confess like this: "Jesus is my righteousness and through His blood I am forgiven and cleansed." In doing this, we break down the stronghold of the enemy. Then we can build a stronghold for the Lord by living like Him and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Keeping a record of what God has done for us and others and reviewing it regularly can bring hope and inspiration. Hearing and reading testimonies of God's goodness will stir us to believe that all things are possible with Christ. Along with this, we should use the tool of declaration. "Declare a thing, and it shall be established for you." (Job 22:28 - NKJV)
"The Word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any double-edge sword." (Hebrews 4:12) It also pulls down enemy strongholds and renews our minds. We cannot allow our minds to stray to the thoughts of the enemy but must meditate on God's Word regularly. Past experiences can make us doubt the goodness of God. We must declare God's goodness and faithfulness in the midst of trials. Praise and worship position us in the presence of God. Bill Johnson, lead pastor at Bethel Church, says, "When we worship in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties we build a gate where the King of Glory can invade our situations. Rise above your circumstances and declare the goodness of God."
It is a life-long task—perfecting our souls. Our souls find rest in God alone. (Psalm 62:1) It would be helpful for us to declare Psalm 146:1-2 over ourselves. "Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." He is worthy of praise and honor!
Every person that Jesus prayed for was healed. He demonstrated the works of His Father by healing, delivering, and raising people from the dead. It was His desire that His disciples and all Believers do the works that He did. He said, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) The power to do these works comes from the Holy Spirit who was first given to the disciples who waited in Jerusalem. Today Believers are filled with the Holy Spirit when they accept Jesus as Savior. However, the power comes to us through the Holy Spirit as our relationship with Him, Jesus and Father God grows. We become like those we spend time with and develop a reservoir of anointing as we spend quality time with the Lord.
Recently, I was encouraged to research reservoirs. They are defined as basins or receptacles where water is collected and stored for us. The water can be used to supply drinking water, to irrigate land, to enhance recreational opportunities and to generate hydroelectric power. The largest reservoir in our country is called Lake Mead. It was formed by damming the Colorado River, covers 248 sq. miles, and can hold 28.9 million acre-feet of water. (One acre-foot equals 325,000 gallons.) You may know the dam holding back the water as Hoover Dam. The reservoir accomplishes all the uses listed above. However, its most important function is supplying water for the hydroelectric station that generates four billion kilowatt hours of power annually. For the water to be used for its intended purpose, it must be collected and maintained at a certain level. This allows it to be moved through cylindrical gates toward the powerhouse. In the case of Lake Mead, the water falls about 500' to the hydroelectric power plant at the base of Hoover Dam. Power is distributed from the plant to people in four states.
It is my opinion that one of the reasons Jesus was able to heal everyone who came to Him was because He had a huge reservoir of anointing that was collected through His daily intimacy with Father God. The first chapter of the book of Mark tells how Jesus went to Simon and Andrew's house to heal Simon's mother-in-law. In the evening, many people from the local village brought the sick and demon possessed to Jesus for healing. On the next day, before moving to nearby villages to preach, Jesus rose early in the morning, while it was still dark, and "went off to a solitary place, where He prayed." (Verse 35)
Jesus was a man of prayer. Even at His baptism, "He was praying and heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove..." (Luke 3:21-22) Later, Luke tells us that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16) Before selecting His 12 disciples, "Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Luke 6:12) Jesus knew that He would need to be filled with power from God to face crucifixion. That is why "He went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.'" (Matthew 26:36)
We must follow Jesus and the way He prioritized intimacy with His Father. Our job is to go out into the world to preach the gospel, heal the sick and set the oppressed free. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to live out the call on our lives. We must build up a reservoir of favor and anointing from the Holy Spirit through our times of intimacy with Him to see the power that Jesus displayed operating in our lives.
"Keep on giving your thanks to God, for He is so good! His constant tender love lasts forever!" (Psalm 118:1 - TPT) The theme expressed here is a common one in "The Passover Hallels." (Psalm 113-118 and Psalm 136) In these Psalms, God's people give Him praise and thanksgiving for the way they were saved from their enemies and given provision for life and victory in their battles. The ultimate battle is the one against the sin that separates us from God. But God thought of everything. He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to become the sacrificial Lamb. His death on the Cross brings freedom to all who embrace what He did to restore intimacy with Father God.
Psalm 118 goes on to say this: "The very stone the masons rejected as flawed has turned out to be the most important capstone of the arch, holding up the very house of God. The Lord Himself is the one who has done this, and it's so amazing, so marvelous to see!" (Verses 22-23 - TPT) "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes." (Verses 22-23 - NIV) Comparing these translations of the Bible, their seems to be a difference in what Jesus is called. Is it Capstone or Cornerstone? Jonathan Cahn provides us with an answer to these differences in his Book of Mysteries.
The Hebrew word for cornerstone (the foundation stone that holds a structure together) is Rosh Pinah. But this Hebrew word has two meanings; the second one being capstone. (the finishing stone or top stone that protects what is below it) Both translations are correct yet incomplete. Jesus became both. He referred to Himself as the Rosh Pinah in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, and Luke 20:17. In these Scriptures we read how Jesus just finished telling the people the parable of the tenants, which describes how a landowner planted a vineyard and then rented it to some farmers. When the owner sent his servants to collect some of the fruit at harvest time, the farmers beat and/or killed the servants. Eventually, the owner sent his beloved son, who was killed. Jesus quotes Psalm 118. "The stone the builders rejected has become the Rosh Pinah." Jesus continues to give an expanded explanation: "Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed."
Today we can see, as we read Psalm 118 at Passover, that in His death, Jesus became the Capstone, the stone that brings completion. He is the Capstone for all of us who come to Him. And, His resurrection is our Cornerstone. He is what begins our life as Christians and what holds us together. Death and resurrection—Capstone and Cornerstone!
In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminds us that we are "no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:20) Peter the disciple calls us living stones, like our Messiah: "As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.' Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the Rosh Pinah,’ and 'A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.' …But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:4-9)
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior, let us give Him thanks and praise. "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever...The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous. 'The Lord has done mighty things!' …I will give thanks, for You answer me; You have become my salvation." (Psalm 118:1, 14-15, 21 - NIV)
He was a godly man of faith who wanted to see his people freed from oppression. He quoted Scripture in his speeches. He encouraged peaceful protests and was resolute in his mission. Martin Luther King Jr. was eventually killed for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. But, his dream did not die. He left us his "I Have a Dream" speech as a picture of the goal and an inspiration for the future.
Peppered throughout the "Dream" speech are words that come from Scripture: "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24) We should remember that the foundations of God's throne are righteousness and justice. (Psalm 89:14) "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope." This portion of the speech was taken from Isaiah 40:4-5.
Could it be that King recognized the mission of Jesus Christ to set captives free and so quoted the prophets that told of the coming of this King who would fight for the weary and oppressed and bring hope to the hopeless? As the apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) Jesus Christ Himself made His mission known when He stepped into the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)
Freedom in every realm of our lives is a God-given right since we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection. However, many of us are not walking in complete freedom. The battle for our freedom is a spiritual one. God gives us direction on how to obtain freedom. Here are the words of Jesus: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free...So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:32,36)
Like last year, this year our celebration of the birth of Christ occurs in the middle of Chanukah. When events on the Jewish calendar converge with events on the Church's calendar, I like to look at the similarities between them. Both these events land in the month of Kislev, the ninth month on the Jewish calendar. Since Kislev is associated with the Hebrew letter SAMEKH, which pictures trust and support, it is time for us to do just that in our relationship with the Lord.
The constellation Sagittarius, the archer, appearing in Kislev, reminds us that this is the month to develop our warfare strategies for the season ahead. We must "fight against empires and cultures,” as Chuck Pierce says in his book, A Time to Advance. And, it is important that we trust God to guide us and give us mercy. Psalm 23:5-6 says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
During the time when the Temple was overtaken by the Syrian-Greek army the flame of the candelabra had been extinguished and the altar defiled. There was little hope for the future; times were dark. Likewise, at the time when Christ was to be born the darkness of oppression covered the people. But God had a plan. With His help, warfare strategies were developed to overcome the enemy.
A group of Jewish patriots called the Maccabees had hope and developed a battle plan to retake the Temple. They bravely fought and defeated the Greek army to free their people from tyranny and re-establish worship in the Temple. As they set about to cleanse it, they realized there was only enough purified oil for the lampstand to burn for one night. Miraculously, it burned for eight. God arranged for the light to continue burning and followed them with goodness and mercy.
God's plan to overcome darkness and bring freedom for the oppressed was to ultimately be done through Christ Jesus. He came to shine His light in the darkness and to defeat Satan and the kingdom of darkness. His battle strategy includes us, His Church. Victory is promised through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony and not loving our lives as much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
As we look back in history, we see that God has always been faithful to His people. He is trustworthy and sent Jesus as the Lord of Hosts, Light of the World, Prince of Peace and Redeemer to help us develop battle strategies and lead us in triumphant procession (2 Corinthians 2:14) and who "made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God..." (2 Corinthians 4:6) It is time for us to develop our strategies for the New Year and to look to the One who leads us in victory and follows us with goodness mercy.
Have you feasted your eyes on all the beautiful Christmas plants in the stores? One particularly interesting one is the Christmas cactus. Its unique form consists of hanging branches made up of flat, green segments. The flowers appear on the tips of the branches and have tiers of petals in a multitude of colors: red, white, pink, purple, yellow or a combination of these colors. Unlike most cactus that grow in dry desert climates, this plant is native to the Brazilian coast where the atmosphere around the plant is humid.
Another interesting feature of the Christmas cactus is that it is an epiphyte or air plant. Like orchids, they grow primarily on branches or trunks of trees. They are called air plants because "they have no firm grip in the earth." The web site "Gardeningknowhow.com" tells us this: "One of the amazing adaptions of epiphytes is their ability to attach to vertical surfaces and capture their water and much of their nutrient needs from sources other than soil." The name epiphyte comes from the Greek word "epi," meaning "upon," and "phyton," meaning "plant."
It is common to find aerial roots growing from the branches of the Christmas cactus. These roots serve several purposes in helping the cactus grow in its native Brazil. They help the plant attach to the tree branches. Tree bark and the crotches of branches collect organic debris that is rich in nutrients for the plants' roots. In addition, the entire plant, including the roots, also gathers the moisture it needs from the air.
Let's take the information we have on the epiphytes to see how it corresponds to our life in the Spirit. Go back to the fact that these plants have "no firm grip in the earth." Jesus told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world...But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36) Like Jesus, our inheritance is in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 25:34) Hebrews, Chapter 11, describes our fathers of the faith. "They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (Verse 13) And, Peter writes, "I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul." (1 Peter 2:11) We must not sink our roots into the soil of the world for we belong to the Kingdom of God. Our tenure here is temporary. Like the epiphytes, we must gather our water and nutrients from our source of life--The Spirit of God. "So then, just as you receive Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7)
Living water and the bread of life come from Jesus. He came to earth to demonstrate how to drink and eat from Him and His Kingdom. A song called "Breathe," written by Marie Barnett, comes to my mind. She wrote it to describe the life-giving presence of our Lord:
"This is the air I breathe; This is the air I breathe--Your holy presence, living in me.
This is my daily bread; This is my daily bread--Your very Word spoken to me.
And I'm desperate for You. And I'm lost without You."
That is it, dear ones. We must spread out our roots and attach them to the Tree of Life. Like the epiphytes, be fed and watered from the true Source of Life.
Although God intended the fifth month of Av to be a time of yearly celebration of His goodness, the sin of unbelief by the Israelites caused a complete change in what would happen. According to the Hebrew calendar, on the 9th of Av the children of Israel chose to believe a negative report instead of the promise of God. The voice of faith spoken by Caleb and Joshua was ignored and the voice of unbelief was embraced. Caleb said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." (Numbers `3:30) The ten spies reported: "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." (Numbers 13:31) This is a vow that led to a curse that is still in place today.
We are now at the beginning of Av. A yearly cycle of cursing occurs because repentance of past sins never took place. Unbelief was repeated when Jesus walked the earth. Though the Jews heard God's words of truth through Him and saw the miracles He performed, they did not receive their Messiah. They crucified the Promise.
Jesus came as a Redeemer with the intent of rebuilding everything that Satan has destroyed. He requires us to repent and make a choice to walk in freedom. We must be extremely careful who we agree with. Any time we agree with Satan a bad root develops and gives him permission to operate in our lives and those of our descendants. When we are overwhelmed with what we see we must listen to the voice of truth. Truth trumps what we see. The promises that God placed in the Bible are for us to stand on. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so, through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
In Deuteronomy 11 God's instructions to the children of Israel were written down. He was letting them know the importance of His words. He said, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Teach them to your children...Write them down on the door frames of your house and on your gates so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers...If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place where you set your foot will be yours...No man will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as He promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go." (Verses 18-28)
We have a choice today to agree with the blessing or the curse. As God said in Deuteronomy, curses come to rest on our lives when we agree with the wrong kingdom; blessings come when we obey the Lord. We are warned in Hebrews 3:12: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." If we discover that we have made an agreement with the kingdom of darkness, we can repent, rebuke it and declare the truth. We must declare that our alliance is with the Lord. He is the one who will restore what has been stolen and help us rebuild what has been destroyed.
An interesting visitor comes to our Maple tree on a regular basis. His colorful feathers stand out in the drab winter landscape. His head and throat are bright red and are surrounded by black and white stripes. His back is a mottled black with markings of white. He gets his name, yellow-bellied sapsucker, from his dull yellowish belly. The sad part about our visitor is that he comes to drill holes in our tree. Over the years he has weakened the tree, and we see branches slowly dying from the impact of his feeding habits. He bores 1/8" holes into the cambium layer or inner bark of the tree, causing the sap to ooze out. With his long, brush-tipped tongue he laps up the sap. It is common for these birds to drill several holes in a perfect row around the trunk. Too much of this will kill the tree. The holes provide entry points for insects or diseases which also contribute to the weakening of the tree.
Once the yellow-bellied sapsucker discovers a good feeding spot, he returns to it again and again. In order to discourage these birds, one must wrap the tree trunk and larger branches with burlap, particularly where the first holes are drilled. This keeps the bird from reaching the sap in the tree. It is critical to stop the path of destruction before it goes too far.
We have an enemy who would like to destroy us. He comes to "drill holes" in our minds. He wants to destroy our clarity of thought. Frequently he comes as a whisperer to whisper an idea or bad thought into our minds. If he finds "fertile ground" he will return with more lies. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for serpent is Nahash, which literally means whisperer. King Solomon, known for his wisdom, made an interesting observation in Proverbs 16:28. "A whisperer separates close friends." (ESV)
The serpent first appeared on the scene when he whispered into Eve's ear. He put thoughts that are counter to God's truth into her head. Once these thoughts prevailed, she sinned by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree and giving her husband some of it. Consequently, Adam and Eve died a spiritual death and became separated from God.
Just as burlap protects the bark of a tree from the yellow-bellied sapsucker, the Word of God protects our minds from our enemy--the one who whispers lies. We must not allow him to continue his litany of lies. Every whisper that turns into a thought must be taken captive so that it is obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Both King David, in Psalms, and King Solomon, in Proverbs, write that "Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." (Psalm 18:30/Proverbs 30:5)
Indeed, not only is God a shield, but He is our Redeemer. God sent His Son Jesus as a "second Adam" to restore and redeem us from the curse of the enemy. He came as the Living Word to bring light and life to us. John 1:12 tells us, "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Victory over the enemy is ours as we shut down the whispered lies by declaring the truth of our God and Savior.
Joan E. Mathias