The Olympics originated in Olympia, Greece about 3,000 years ago. They started as a religious festival honoring Zeus in the 8th century BC and continued until the 4th century AD. In 393 AD, Christian Emperor Theodosius The First banned "pagan" festivals, which ended the Olympics for almost 12 centuries. The first modern Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens with 12 participating nations. Fire became part of the ceremony during the 1928 Summer Olympics. Inspired by the ancient Greek drawings and writings of Plutarch, Dr. Carl Diem of Germany introduced the Torch Relay. It was not until 1938 that the flame also became part of the Winter Olympics.
The flame was meant to emphasize the link between the ancient and modern games. In the ancient ceremonies, the flame was kindled using a type of crucible positioned to face the sun so that its rays concentrated on one spot and set fire to dry grass. Today there is a ceremony in Olympia, Greece where a parabolic mirror catches the sun's rays to ignite a flame. Several months before the games a flame is lit, and a torch relay begins where runners move from region to region until the torch reaches its destination of the host country. This Torch Relay is meant to express the handing down of the fire from generation to generation.
In the Body of Christ there is a remnant of Believers in Jesus who understand the importance of keeping the flame of the Lord burning. The first covenant made by God with man came through the Father of our Faith, Abraham, or Abram. In this unilateral covenant, God gave Abram a dream where a smoking pot and flaming torch passed between animals cut in half as a sacrifice. A smoking pot was a small clay container shaped like a beehive, 2' to 3' in diameter, and called a "tannur" in Hebrew. The flaming torch signified the holy presence of the Lord moving among HIs people. "Lapped" is the Hebrew word for the flashing light.
It is thought that the passing of these two objects between the two halves of a sacrifice represent the manifestation of God and confirm the covenant that He was making with Abram and all of Israel. God showed Abram that his descendants would go through suffering before He would give them an inheritance of the Promised Land. Here is how Genesis 15:17-18 describes what took place: "When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates—'"
After the Israelites spent 400 years in slavery to the Egyptians, God prepared a deliverer to lead them out of bondage. The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses "in flames of fire from within a bush." (Exodus 3:2) While traveling through the wilderness, the children of Israel constructed a tabernacle that became the center of their lives. "So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels." (Exodus 40:38) God made it clear to Aaron the priest that burnt sacrifices were to be offered to Him daily. He was told, "The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out...The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." (Leviticus 6:12-13)
Believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been handed the mandate to keep the flame of God burning. Today that flame represents our unabandoned worship of the Lord—a lifestyle of sacrificial love of God and those around us. Just as the flame of the Olympics symbolizes the link between the ancient and modern games, the flame of God has been a consistent symbol of our priestly duty to keep the flame of worship alive. In addition, just as the flaming torch is handed down from one person to another until it reaches its destination, we must keep the flame shining brightly and pass it from one generation to the next. Let us think back on the introduction of the flaming torch to Abraham, remember how fire has been used by God to refine and define His people, and recommit and choose to select a lifestyle of sacrificial worship that pleases God and draws Him closer to us.
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.
What do you do when your world falls apart and there is no way to put it back together again? Is there a way to redeem what has been lost? These questions come up during times of extreme loss, and I recall that healing comes through Father God alone, the only One who can identify with our losses. He demonstrated what love looks like—redemptive love—through His Son, Jesus. Words cannot answer our questions; the answer is Jesus, The Word!
Jesus relates to us in the lowest places of our lives. He sits with us in our pain; He suffers as we suffer. The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of this in chapter 53 of his book. "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces; He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely, He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:3-5) For the love of God, Jesus endured the Cross. Why? Love makes a way for us to have relationship with Him and for us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
The Lord came to earth to demonstrate the love of God and to experience what it was like to live like a man. He told us that our lives would be like His and that we are to live like He lived. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 1:5. "For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." Jesus Himself told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b) Remember that God has not left us without promises. I am greatly touched by the promise He made to Israel (and us as His children) through the prophet Isaiah. "...Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Graham Cooke has an interesting perspective on the difficult seasons of our lives. This prophet of the Lord says, "Every circumstance is an opportunity to experience new levels of favor and faith in relationship with God. Our circumstances are not the problem. Our perception of our circumstances is the problem. Ask, 'What is God's truth in this situation?'" The Lord ordains victory for us in every situation. In Isaiah 42:3-4 and Matthew 12:20-21 we read this: "A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out till He has brought justice through to victory. In His name the nations will put their hope."
As we go through trials and tribulations, sorrows and difficulties, sickness and death, we have an advocate who leads us in mercy and truth. Jesus said, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth..." (John 14:16-17) We must learn to trust in the unfailing love of the Lord to pull us through our difficult seasons. Make peace with the truth that we may never have our questions answered with words but know that The Word will be with us to comfort, strengthen, and love us. It is love that makes a way where there seems to be no way.
Let's look back in history to the time when the Israelites were camped at Mount Sinai. It was the month of Tammuz, the fourth on the Hebrew calendar. Moses went to the top of the mountain to talk with God and was long in returning to their camp. Impatience set in as the children of Israel were eager for immediate gratification. They asked Aaron to help them "make gods" who would go before them. What could have possessed them to sin in this way? They went so far as to give Aaron all their gold earrings received from the Egyptians as plunder so they could be used to form a gold calf.
We are presently in the month of Tammuz and must learn from the mistakes made by the children of Israel. Their desire for immediate satisfaction was so strong that they forgot to look back at the last three months and remember the way God performed miraculous wonders among them. He had freed them from bondage in Egypt, arranged for them to plunder the Egyptians, led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and opened the Red Sea so that they could walk through it unharmed. They watched the Lord fight for them as the Egyptians who pursued them were covered by the waters of the Red Sea. After their crossing, Miriam and Moses led them in a victory song that asked, "Who is like you--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" and declaring, "The Lord reigns for ever and ever!" (Exodus 15:11, 18) As they traveled, they saw the Lord make bitter waters sweet and were fed manna and quail from heaven. They watched water come from a rock when they camped at Rephidim. And they witnessed the defeat of the Amalekites and the building of the victory altar named "The Lord is My Banner" or "Jehovah Nissi." The Psalmist mourns their forgetfulness: "They did not remember His power--the day He redeemed them from the oppressor." (Psalm 78:42)
There is a reason why God's Word repeats over and over again the word "Remember." Deuteronomy 32:7 is one of many such verses: "Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you." Yet, God is a Redeemer and continues to encourage us to remember His power and His compassion. He wants us to use this month of Tammuz to look back on our own lives so that we can remember what He has done. This is important for us as individuals and for us as the nation of America.
As we review and contemplate the events of our lives, we can see how they are linked together. In doing this, we can discern the plan that God has for our lives. It is important to remember the battles we have fought, the blessings we have received, and the prophetic words that have been spoken over our lives. Each of us has a story that is to be included in God's plans and purposes for our lives. We want to avoid the snare of the golden calf by remembering the things that God has done and the promises that He has made. We cannot allow fear, insecurity, or impatience to overtake us for God is a covenant-keeping God, unchanging and faithful. He does things in His way and in HIs perfect timing.
Jonathan Cahn, a voice of wisdom for our times, wrote about remembering in his monthly devotional. In the May issue he wrote: "If an individual loses his memory, then he also loses his identify, and his ways, and his future. Thus, by erasing the past, one can create an altered future...And if you can rewrite the history concerning God, His Word, Messiah, the Gospel--you can create an un-Christian, anti-Christian future...In a time such as this, with massive forces seeking to erase remembrance, the past, and the foundations of God--we must all the more consciously set our task at remembering, all the more grounded in the Word, all the more rooted in our faith, and closer in prayer. This month, make this your aim."
Let us "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2) Let us remember our past and trust in God's goodness, faithfulness, and power. Let us be assured that God is using our life stories as testimonies of His goodness and faithfulness. And while we wait for His perfect timing, let us worship Him. As we worship the Lord, we affirm His perfect plan for us and declare to all of heaven and earth that He alone is worthy of our praise.
We learn from Genesis, Chapter 3, that God had a habit of walking in His garden in the cool of the day. I would imagine that He looked forward to this time of the day more than any other because He could look at the beauty of the garden and "catch up" with Adam and Eve. He must have loved talking with them and learning about their activities of the day. My husband (Jac) and I also delight in walking through our neighborhood during the cool of the day. We talk with one another, speak with our neighbors, and look at the plants that are blooming around us. Our walks are filled with peace.
Last week we had such a treat as we walked down a residential street of townhomes that back up to a wooded area. We, and the man walking in front of us, came upon a young buck standing on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and street. The deer seemed calm and unafraid of us. He was so intent on eating a clump of clover growing in the grass strip that he allowed the man to come within two feet of him. As we approached, he pulled up the clump of clover and began chewing it as he calmly walked across the street toward the homes, looking for more clover.
Isn't it fascinating that God gave the deer peace to be in our presence and intelligence to find a plant that is not only tasty but healthy for him as well? Clover is a short-lived herb with fragrant flowers that appear in the late spring. Farmers may plant a crop to feed their livestock because it is high in protein, phosphorus, and calcium. The clover must have been so delicious that the deer thought it was worth taking a chance staying in our presence. Not until he had his treasure in his mouth, did he move on.
Actually, the deer was extremely vulnerable in staying close to us because his velvet antlers were growing. At six months the Whitetail deer grows "buttons" from what is called the pedicle or the frontal bone that protects his skull. The antlers grow from the buttons in the spring and early summer and are covered with an exceptionally fine and soft membrane called velvet. During the growing season, the antlers are high in water and blood content and are easily injured before they harden. Somehow the bucks are aware of their vulnerability during this season. Bruises and cuts to the velvet can impact the formation of the antlers. It is not until the end of summer that the testosterone levels in male deer rise to initiate the hardening of the antlers.
Psalm 91 comes to my mind: "Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High can rest in His shadow." We can say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Verse 2) In The Passion Translation, verses 9-11 say, "When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How could evil prevail against us or disease infect us? God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm." Verses 15-16 (TPT) continue to assure us of the Lord's presence and protection: "I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!"
Psalm 42 talks about the deer that pants for streams of water and how our souls thirst for God in the same way. Yet our hope rests in God and His love for us. He is our shield, protector, and peace. Just as our friendly deer felt secure in our presence, we should feel the security of the Lord in whose shadow we dwell.
"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9a) We were placed on earth for purposes that God determined before we were born. Our commitment to the pursuit of a relationship with Him and His plans and purposes for us show the depth of our devotion to Him. As we all know, however, we battle against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12) who want to wear us down so that we are not successful in glorifying the Lord.
When we are in the middle of a long and difficult battle it is easy to want to give up. During these times we must remind ourselves that every battle presents us with earthly opportunities to glorify God and collect crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus. Once in heaven, we will never be able to do the things we do on earth that bless the Lord. Could we go so far as to say that our time here on earth is a gift from God? I think this is why the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 these encouraging words: "Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God's perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus." (TPT) The foot note in The Passion Translation Bible says that these three virtues (joy, prayer, and giving thanks) combine to form a wonderful expression of Christ's life within us.
Let's consider some of the opportunities we have on earth to bless God. The first one that comes to my mind is the privilege we have to give Him the sacrifice of praise and worship in the middle of pain, sickness, sorrow, and trials. When we chose to tell of His goodness and praise Him for His never-ending love, heaven is drawn to earth. God cannot resist drawing near to those who rise above difficulties to declare His faithfulness and love. I have seen this displayed by family members and friends. When my dad was dying, he asked me to bring my guitar to the nursing home where he lived so that we could sing "It is Well with my Soul" together. Recently, my heart was touched by a friend who is in the middle of a battle with cancer. HIs prayer request was this: "Please pray that I am strong enough to be able to play on the worship team at our church." Can you feel the Lord's great delight in these sacrifices that place Him first?
How about when we live by faith? When we go to heaven faith will become sight, and we will see what we believed. Earth is the only place where we can demonstrate faith. We have the gift of being able to stand with God even though it may cost us something. Such a sacrifice is a delight to the Lord! Don't you think that the Lord's heart must burst with pride when we turn away from temptation and sin? Or think about when we share the Gospel with an unsaved person and lead them to Jesus? These are gifts to the Lord.
In heaven, we will not be able to help someone in need and, in turn, bless God by doing so. Remember those times when you have won victory in a battle. Battles are over in heaven. Earth is the place where we can overcome. God ordained that we do so. There are quite a few books that have been written by people who have had "near-death" experiences. These people have been able to see their lives on earth from a heavenly perspective and were given the gift of a second chance. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights..." Our time on earth is preparing us for the time when we will go to heaven. We have divine opportunities to demonstrate our love for the Lord while here on earth. Perhaps we should change our perspective during times of difficulties. It is our time to bless the Lord and earn crowns.
First known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated three years after the end of the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971. An organization of veterans established the day as a time for our nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers and flags. Gradually the holiday evolved into a day of remember and honoring military individuals who died in all the wars. Throughout the United States, parades are held, red poppies are worn in remembrance of fallen soldiers (started during WWI), gatherings with picnics are organized, and trips are taken because of the long weekend.
I read that at times Memorial Day has been used as a day to remember fallen heroes who did not die on a traditional battlefield. So, I would like to use this letter to remember and honor a man who I consider a hero of America. The Reverend Robert Hunt, a clergyman of the Church of England, was appointed as chaplain for 105 men and boys who sailed from England to Cape Henry, Virginia. After 144 days at sea, the crew landed on the southern edge of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The landing spot was named Cape Henry in honor of the Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick.
After landing on April 26, 1607, Rev. Hunt gathered the band of men together to give God glory for their successful trip and to pray to Him as they established a settlement in the New World. Bob Long, of Rally Call Ministries, researched Rev. Hunt's prayer which was an offering of covenant to God. He says of the prayer, "It was heartfelt, deliberate, and offered with appropriate spiritual protocol. The embryonic nation was now in true covenant with God. The wooden cross, planted in the sand beside their kneeling prayer, witnessed their dedication of the land to God and the covenant oath with which they did it."
Here is Rev. Hunt's prayer of Covenant with God: "We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelists to the World. May all who see this Cross remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit, join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled."
What a prayer! What a legacy for us to remember! The Church must make known the foundation upon which our nation was established. We must not allow the agenda of those who want to take hold of our nation for their own agenda to expand any further. It is time for the Church to take a stand to agree with God and the covenant that we made with Him. Bob Long reminds us that God is a covenant-keeping God, He remembers how and why America was established. "The foundational prophetic prayer is actually not well known, but its significance cannot be overstated. God has not forgotten this original covenant entered into with Him! Is He heartbroken with America? Yes. Angry? Perhaps. Is it too late for America to be saved? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will there be an awakening in the hearts of the American people and a return to our original Covenant with God? YES!"
While prophesizing at a leadership meeting, Bob declared this statement from the Lord: "I have not turned away from the covenant this nation made with Me, but this nation has turned away from it. The cry of a remnant in this generation has been heard, and I am raising up a new wave of prophets to call this nation back to America's original covenant...I am shaking all things. I am raising up more who will join the remnant. I am raising up more who will increase the volume of My call to your nation to return to Covenant. I am raising up more of those who will reveal My Son to the multitudes, that hearts may turn to Me. A remnant shall be strengthened, and a nation shall be shaken, that it may be awakened!"
The Psalmist reminds us that God "remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations." (Psalm 105:8) This should give us comfort. Yet, we must also remember our roots and the covenant our nation made with God in 1607. It is time for us to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our nation. Revival is beginning and will grow. God wants American to return to our roots and to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. From the beginning, our nation was to be a place for people to worship the one true God, to teach our children and generations to come of the worthiness of the Lord, and to spread the gospel through the world. Let us embrace this worthy call!
Mother's Day is upon us. In honor of it, I want to highlight a woman who decided to mother a nation. She gave up a privileged life to serve the Lord in a country that is considered the poorest one in the world. Together with her husband, Rolland Baker, Heidi embarked on a mission that looked impossible in its scope. However, the Baker's moved forward and began to change the face of a nation in a ramshackle orphanage in Africa. Heidi became known by her children as Mama Heidi. Today, all who know her around the world also affectionately refer to her as Mama Heidi.
The Baker’s web site, Irisglobal.org., describes their call: “The primary mission of Iris Global is to seek the face of God with all our hearts, that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We proclaim Jesus. He is our salvation, our prize, our reward, our inheritance, our destination, our motivation, our joy, wisdom, and sanctification—and absolutely everything else we need, now and forever."
As a young woman, Mama Heidi heard an audible call from God to go to the mission field with areas in India, England, and Africa being highlighted. Their belief that revival would occur amongst the poorest people on earth brought the Bakers to Mozambique where the government offered them an unsupported orphanage that had been completely neglected. They report that "80 miserable, demon-afflicted orphans in rags" lived there. Heidi and Rolland agreed to take over the orphanage as long as they were permitted to bring the Gospel to the children. The power of God was manifested, and "within months the children were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, weeping while still in rags with gratitude for their salvation.” These young ones were taught how to pray. As they cried out to God night and day, their food was miraculously provided by Jesus. The orphanage grew to 320 children and put Mozambique on the radar screen of many churches who began to support the ministry.
Challenge after challenge faced the Bakers: They were evicted from their original building and had to construct a new orphanage, hit by cyclones and floods that resulted in great famines, and overrun with scared, hungry people rushing from terrorists. The Bakers have written several books about their situation and their experiences with Jesus. Their titles tell the whole story about the miraculous provisions from heaven: There is Always Enough, Expecting Miracles, Compelled by Love, Birthing the Miraculous, and Living from the Presence.
A Scripture that has inspired the Bakers from the beginning of their ministry comes from Romans 5:3-5. "...We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." The situations that looked hopeless gave them hope as they lived in the power of God. The Bakers story traveled throughout the world, and all who heard it had their hearts touched. Support began to pour into their ministry, and they were able to build dorms for children, schools for the bush pastors, and purchase a bush airplane to spread the Gospel and provide needed supplies for out-lying communities. What started as a small orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique has expanded to churches and schools throughout Africa and around the world. Mission training for those who want to join the ranks of missionaries is available to those who want to make an impact around the world for Jesus.
I have had the privilege of hearing Mama Heidi speak on several occasions. When we look at the Baker's expansive ministry today, it is easy to forget how it all started. Mama Heidi shares her ministry philosophy with everyone she speaks to: "Stop for the One" or "Love the One in Front of You." One by one she and Rolland built a ministry that spans the world. One by one the Bakers changed the world for Jesus. Mama Heidi's love for Jesus and mother heart for the lost and hurting is one we all need to adopt. On this Mother's Day I want to honor Mama Heidi for her love and courage to mother a nation and the world. When we look at what is happening in Africa right now, it seems the challenges that are faced by the Bakers continue to grow. The people of Mozambique are encountering terrorist groups who are destroying their lives. Thousands are pouring into Cabo Delgado where Iris ministries has set up a place to help care for their needs. The stories of their loses are heartbreaking. You can look on their web site to read more about this ministry that has truly captured the heart of God. Perhaps our prayers and gifts can make a difference for one and help this mother, Mama Heidi, to continue spreading the love of the Lord.
“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies." (Isaiah 42:13) Are you hearing the battle cry? We are here to be part of God's army. We must fight for the souls of our families, our friends, and our nation. The kingdom of darkness is attempting to take over. If we do not take a stand, who will? While we stand, we should be encouraged by remembering that there are no victories without battles. Let's look at what the Bible has to say about battles and victories.
God trains us for battle: Judges 3:1-3 explains that God left some of Israel's enemies in the promised land so that the next generation could learn how to fight. "He did this to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience." King David wrote about this in 2 Samuel 22:35 and Psalm 18:34. "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze."
Prepare for the battle: When the Lord was ready to give Israel victory over the Babylonians, He spoke through Jeremiah: "Before your eyes I will repay Babylon...for all the wrong they have done in Zion...Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her..." (Jeremiah 51:26-27) The Lord helped in the battle preparation. Here is how it is explained in Isaiah 42:13. "He will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies."
Show up for the battle: Imagine being ready for the battle but refusing to participate! "The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them." (Psalm 78:9-11) King David made the biggest mistake of his life one spring when he did not go to war in the time when all kings were expected to do so. 2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David's lust for another man's wife that led to adultery and the murder of her husband because he did not show up for the spring battle.
Recognize and use the weapons we have for battle: The Lord has already placed within us the weapons we need to win our battles. They are simple yet powerful! Look at 1 Chronicles 5:20. "They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him." The tribes that fought with David were known for their contributions. "From Zebulon, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon to help David with undivided loyalty." (1 Chronicles 12:33) Zechariah 10:4 teaches that Judah or Praise will win the battle: "From Judah will come the cornerstone, from Him the tent peg, from Him the battle bow, from Him every ruler, together they will be like warriors in battle."
Remember the reason for the battle: Three verses in 2 Samuel 23:11-12 demonstrate how one courageous man stood his ground for Israel and the generation to come. "Next in rank was Shammah ...One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field of lentils. The Israelite army fled but Shammah held his ground (stood) in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So, the Lord brought about a great victory." (NLT) Prophetic contributor to the Elijah List, Joe Joe Dawson, wrote that Shammah saw more than a field of lentils; he saw a harvest for future generations. Amen! Ephesians 6:13 admonishes, "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Plunder is ours as we win our battles. The children of Israel dedicated some of their plunder for the repair of the temple. (1 Chronicles 26:27) How thrilling it is to give the spoils of victory to the Lord!
Remember that the victory belongs to the Lord: We should be encouraged by this truth. "Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." (Deuteronomy 20:2-4) In Psalm 6:11-12 David cried out to the Lord: "Give us aid against our enemies for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." The challenge is before us. In Isaiah 59:15-16 God reveals His disappointment that no one would intervene for Israel: "...The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore, His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him." The battle plan to win the war for the souls of our families, friends, and nation, and to beat back the darkness, is before us. It is time for us to take a stand. I ask again: If we do not do it, who will?
Joan E. Mathias