For 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus spent time teaching His disciples truths from the Kingdom of God. Before He ascended into heaven, "Jesus instructed them, "Don't leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5) Two words stand out to me in this passage: wait and baptized. Acts 1:4-5 is saying, "If you wait (remain or tarry), then you will be baptized (immersed or drenched) in the Holy Spirit." The instructions require an action on the part of the hearer. The disciples were required to wait for 10 days after Jesus left them, and before the promise hit. Today we call the time when the Holy Spirit poured out in power Pentecost because it was 50 days from the day of the resurrection of Jesus. Those who waited had no idea how long they would be in the same place. God blessed those who persevered.
Waiting is an action word as explained in Proverbs 8:34-35. "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord." The disciples were waiting in an upper room in Jerusalem for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. They had to listen to and obey what Jesus told them. They were also watching for the appearing of His Spirit. This is what waiting looks like.
Jesus wants His disciples to make themselves available to Him. While we wait the Lord awakens our senses and prepares us for what is to come. The more we wait, the more we cultivate a deeper understanding of Him, the Source of Life. This enable the Lord to enlarge our spiritual capacity. He wants to take us from the natural realm to the supernatural realm. Psalm 27:14 gives us great encouragement. "...Don't give up; don't be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting--for He will never disappoint you!" (TPT)
Because they waited and obeyed what Jesus told them, the reward for the disciples was their baptism in the Holy Spirit. If you have ever been to a baptism service, you will recall that the person being baptized is completely immersed into the water. Every part of their body is saturated with water. The symbolism of the ceremony is rich. Going under the water is symbolic of dying to the old life and coming up in newness of life in the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost everyone who had waited in the upper room was transformed. In Acts 2:4 it says, "They were filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned." (TPT) The wind of the Spirit overtook those who waited so that they became more like Jesus—God's intended outcome for this encounter. The writer of Acts describes the new community of Believers: "...Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion, and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the Believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity, they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them." (Acts 2:42-45 - TPT)
The prophetic community of our day has been declaring that this year we will have a Pentecost like none we have experienced before. We have anticipated that God is doing something new. We are being called to arise and awaken. It is time to move from fear to faith. Since today is Pentecost Sunday, the day celebrated by the Church, let's open our hearts to the new thing God wants to do in us. We are beginning to move out from our places of quarantine into the world around us. We must be aware of the opportunities God is giving us to share His Kingdom with others. It will take boldness and courage to move out into new territories. Perhaps we will see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power.
A partnership was forged with God and man/woman at God's behest. It seems that when the Lord wants something to happen, He looks for agreement with His plan from someone on earth. Consequently, prayer was birthed. Knowing that the people of the world would sin and that His holiness demands that sin be punished, He set up a channel through which His mercy could be poured out in place of judgment. What pushes the flow of God's mercy is intercession that agrees with and prevails upon His heart of love.
It is my contention that the Lord desires to bring transformation and revival to the United States of America. The revivals that have already manifest throughout the world were birthed by prayer movements. In recognition of the power of prayer for our nation, President Harry Truman signed legislation on April 17, 1952, establishing the National Day of Prayer into the law of the United States. Each year, on the first Thursday of May, we are encouraged "to turn to God in prayer and meditation." Our country is in desperate need of prayer right now. Our National Day of Prayer occurred this past Thursday and gave us the opportunity to join with others to stop and listen to the heart of God for our nation so that we could pray in agreement with Him.
As I consider what part I can play in joining the prayer movement and in crying out for God to revive our nation, I remember some of the powerful prayer warriors that I know and respect. My most admired and loved warrior is my mother. We have a saying in our family when someone needs powerful prayer: "Call Grandmom!" My mother has been a faithful intercessor for as long as I can remember. She has seen many of her prayers answered by the Living God. I believe this is because she hears His heartbeat and prays in harmony with it. At the age of 97, she still prays without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17)
Several of my friends tell me that their mothers are or were also prayer warriors. Francis Frangipane shares an interesting insight about the Charismatic movement. The Lord told him that this was birthed from the "cries of a million praying mothers--women who refused to surrender their children to drugs and the devil." Mothers have been at the forefront of the battle for their children and for our nation. Their persistent prayers have birthed blessings for all of us.
In the Bible we see a powerful example of how life was birthed through the prayers of Esther. She led her people in three days of prayer and fasting so that she could go before the king to plead for mercy. In so doing, an edict calling for the annihilation of the Jews was changed and life prevailed. Eve was made by God as a helpmate for Adam. Her name means "mother of all the living." (Genesis 3:20) Women were made to bring forth life--life in many forms. A woman with the heart of a mother, who dedicates herself to prayer, can release God's life into the world. New beginnings for families, the church, and our nation can be brought about through intercessors with a oneness with Christ.
Women have a special place in God's heart. He delights in partnering with them as they intercede in agreement with the mercy and love He carries in His heart. Their persistence in prayer prevails upon God's love and births His plans to release blessings and revival on the earth. If you are a prayer warrior sitting at the feet of Jesus, I bless you. I also encourage everyone to join in the intercession to birth new life and revival.
Look outside and observe the beautiful display that nature is showing us! It emerges from its winter rest with strength and vitality to produce flowers, leaves and fruit. This is a season that can produce hope for the future if we allow God to speak to us through creation. It is His desire for us to walk in blessings because of His love for us. He also wants us to demonstrate His Kingdom to others. To accomplish the pouring out of these benefits, the Lord set up cycles of blessings and rest that are meant to lead us to our destinies. True rest, brought about through trusting in the Lord, will propel us into our futures like an arrow released from a bow. It is interesting that the prophet Isaiah compares the children of Israel to an arrow. "...He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.’ He said to me, ‘You are my servant Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.'" (Isaiah 49:2-3)
God's Word explains His cycles of blessing. The weekly cycle is patterned after the seven days of creation. The seventh day of the week is for rest where we celebrate Him, meditate on His blessings, and become strengthened physically and spiritually. (Genesis 2:2-3) The monthly cycle, Rosh Chodesh or the New Moon Festival, is a "firstfruits celebration." It falls on the first day of each month on the Hebrew calendar and is a time of joyful celebration when God's people gather together to gain revelation for the month ahead. It is also a time to present the Lord with a firstfruits gift to honor Him by giving Him the first and best of all He has given to us. (Numbers 28:11-15) As we participate in this festival, we honor God with the first of our time and receive a day of rest somewhat like the Sabbath. The third cycle of blessing is yearly and includes three key appointed times to set aside our routines and meet Him. (Exodus 23:14-17) The three feasts are Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Sukkot). God chose them as a time to reveal Himself to us and to demonstrate His greatest works. These feasts align our lives with God's timing. Passover is a time to remember God's redemption, Pentecost His physical provision and power through the outpouring of His Spirit, and Tabernacles to receive joy by dwelling in God's presence and celebrating His glory.
Since rest is an integral part of all God's blessings, let's look at what it includes and why it is critical for a healthy life. Moses said to the Lord, "'If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you...' The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" That promise of rest was key to receiving God's blessings and is meant for all of God's children. Under the leadership of Joshua, the promise to Moses was fulfilled. "The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their ancestors..." (Joshua 21:44) The writer of Psalm 91 explains how important it is to dwell in the presence of the Lord. "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
The core of rest is trust in the Lord! The writer of Hebrews explains this in Chapter 4. Those with unbelieving hearts have not entered faith's rest. "For those of us who believe, faith activates the promise, and we experience the realm of confident rest!" (Hebrews 4:3 - TPT) The whole world is in a season of rest now. As all of us are quarantined to protect us from the virus, we are in a season of waiting, and we have more time to reflect on our lives. We are being prepared for the season of breakout. If the truth be admitted, our lives before the virus were too busy, and seasons of rest were ignored. This gift of time has allowed us to refocus on what is important. Rest and relaxation lead to refreshing, rejuvenation and renewal.
Have you ever wondered why an archer unstrings his bow? Before the archer shoots, he tightens the strings, creating tension. When the shot is released some of this tension is released but not all of it. The tension on the limbs of the bow weakens them over time and produces what is called fatigue. Unstringing the bow releases the tension, prolongs the bows longevity, and gives it power to propel an arrow to hit its target.
We must use this season of rest to unstring our bows. We are in a time of preparation for the next season. Rest comes by trusting the Lord to accomplish all that He intends for us. As we wait on Him and allow Him to transform us, we become more like Him and will break forth in beauty and power. Read the word of the Psalmist and let it inspire you: "I cried out to the Lord. 'God, come and save me!'...He answered me and came to my rescue! Now I can say to myself and to all, 'Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards those who simply trust in Him.'" (Psalm 116:4, 6-7 - TPT)
In the final chapter of Isaiah, the Lord asks a key question: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" (Isaiah 66:1-2) The glory of the Lord comes wherever He rests and brings with it revival.
When we look back to 1 Chronicles 21 and 22, we see that King David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite so that he could build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice burnt and fellowship offerings on it to stop the plague that was killing the people of Israel. As he sacrificed, "The Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering." (1 Chronicles 21:26) After this, David said, "The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel." (2 Chronicles 22:1) David made extensive preparations for the construction of the temple because his son, Solomon, called a man of peace and rest, was the kind of person God wanted to build His house.
All the officials of Israel were summoned to assemble at Jerusalem where David announced his plans. Solomon was commissioned to build the house of the Lord and to lead God's people in His ways. First Chronicles 28:12 tells us that David "gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind." The temple was built on Mt. Moriah, where the Lord appeared to David. There was great rejoicing and a spirit of unity with the people of God as they gave and gathered all the supplies needed for building the temple. On the day when it was dedicated "fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." (2 Chronicles 7:1-2)
The temple made with hands was eventually destroyed. But God had a plan for a new type of temple. Paul explains it: "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24) He told the Corinthians, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) In Chapter 6, Verses 19-20, he gives more details: "...You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." The Spirit of the Living God took up residence in the spirits of His people. Wherever the Spirit dwells there is glory and potential for revival. For this to happen our souls must bow to our spirits so that the Holy Spirit has priority and we follow His leading.
Around the world there are churches contending for revival and wondering what it will take for God to dwell in their presence. Sid Roth, in his book The Incomplete Church, asks some interesting questions: "What would the church be like today if we started from scratch and just followed the Scriptures? What would happen if we removed all tradition from Judaism and Christianity, and Jews and Christians came together as one? Let me introduce you to the Glorious Congregation--the emergence of the One New Man--Yeshua!"
God is looking for a house where He can come and dwell. He is looking for a people who will dwell in unity. (Psalm 133) "For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of two, thus making peace...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-15, 21-22) Sid Roth says, "His objective is to 'gather together in one all things in Messiah.' (Ephesians 1:10) When the wall between Jew and Gentile is removed, the spiritual temple, God's dwelling place, will be restored, and this One New Man will release resurrection power to the Church that Paul calls 'life from the dead.'" (Romans 11:15) As we worship together in unity, God's glory will return. How I hunger for such a day! Will you join me in prayer for God to knit us together as One New Man so that His glory can be released in our midst?
In his books and devotionals, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn enlightens us about the times and seasons and patterns of life in ancient Israel. He studies these patterns because they are a harbinger for the United States. We, like Israel, were established as a godly nation, and God judges both of us in a certain way.
The Lord's desire is for us to have relationship with Him and to live lives that reflect His nature. He chose one man to form a nation to represent Him. "For I have chosen him (Abraham), so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just…” (Genesis 18:19) As the children of Israel were being led to the Promised Land, God told them, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples of the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath, He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)
Reading through Scripture, we learn that the children of Israel frequently broke covenant with God and strayed from His commands. He always warned them of the consequences of their disobedience. Then He gave them a time period of grace in which He held back the full force of His judgment and wrath. If the nation did not return to a godly way of living during the grace period, God's judgment fell. Rabbi Jonathan's January 2020 devotional tells the story of Israel's northern kingdom and how God warned them to return to Him and follow His ways. The nation did not take the warning seriously and used up their grace period without changing. God lifted His hand of protection from over them and allowed the Assyrians to destroy them.
After looking at different times in the Bible when God extended grace to the children of Israel, Jonathan has discerned that God's period of grace for America may be ending in the year 2020. Our spiritual and moral decline is noticeable and flies in the face of the nation's Judeo-Christian foundation. Jonathan points out that the year 2020 is the 400th year since the Mayflower journeyed to the shores of America and the pilgrims made a covenant with God. 400 is a number of significance in the Bible where situations for Israel changed.
Jonathan also points out the significance of the number 19 in the Bible. In the year 605 B.C. the Babylonian army invaded the kingdom of Judah to make their first strike—a limited one—against them. Nineteen years later (586 B.C.) when nothing changed, the Babylonians returned in full force and destroyed Judah. (Jeremiah 52:12) On September 11, 2020, it will be 19 years since the terrorist attack on the twin towers.
Could this be the year when our nation will see calamity and destruction? Or, could this be a year when revival will hit? As we begin the year 2020, I believe it is our obligation to pray for a national turning to our Godly roots. Let us pray that God will revive each of us and that we will be part of a company of Christians leading the people of America back to our Judeo-Christian foundation.
How does one live an abundant, joy-filled life? Do we understand that each of us was created uniquely to impact the world around us? Have we discovered what brings us satisfaction and freedom? Life is a journey that is meant to help us discover the treasure God has placed within us to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others. As I contemplated these questions I was reminded of a story or allegory written by Richard Bach called "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." Jonathan, the gull, found himself caught in a dilemma. His flock spent their days searching and fighting for food, a lifestyle he found completely unsatisfying. However, he discovered, more than anything else, he loved to fly. His passion for flying grew as he perfected his techniques and became an expert at it. Jonathan was so thrilled with flying that he told his friends he discovered "there's a reason to life." This alienated him from his friends, so they cast him out of the flock.
Since Jonathan could not continue in the meaningless gull lifestyle of conformity and limitations, he returned to his new-found love of flying, practicing until he reached the pinnacle of his abilities. Just as he thought he could go no higher, he met two gulls who took him to a "higher plane of existence." Here a society of gulls spent time perfecting their flying skills. He was told, "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way." Jonathan fine-tuned his own flight skills, learning much from his primary teacher. As his expertise increased, so did his desire to return to earth and share what he had learned with other gulls. His teacher explained that there is a key to success: "Keep working on love." Jonathan could not be free without the ability to forgive and shed any hurt feelings. Before he could help others, he had to be released from the bondage of unforgiveness. A new Jonathan Livingstone Seagull returned to earth and found other gulls who desired to know the freedom he was experiencing. He became a coach and mentor as he taught the fine skills of flying and helped others have a sense of their own freedom.
How does this story speak to the family of faith in God? Jonathan understood that there was something different inside of him that he needed to pursue. It became his passion. We too have unique qualities in our lives that are meant to help us live the abundant life, full of joy and freedom. Jesus spoke to his followers about this lifestyle. I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!" (John 10:10 -TPT) Only as we live out our purpose will we be able to soar. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31 - KJ)
As Jonathan lived the way he was intended to live, he punctured the ceiling that held him down and lived in a place with like-minded gulls. The apostle Paul reminds us of our true home. "So, you are not foreigners or guests, but rather you are children of the city of the holy ones, with all the rights as family members of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19 - TPT) We live as aliens in this world; our home is in heaven. It is up to us to live accordingly.
Joshua Silverberg, musician and producer, once said, "God has created us uniquely to touch His heart.
We have a unique worship to give Him." I would like to suggest that one of the ways we touch Him is when we use what He has placed within us to help others grow in their freedom and identity. This was the outcome of Jonathan's journey to live the way he was created to live, soaring in the heavenlies. May I encourage you to ask yourself, "What makes my heart sing?" In discovering this, you will find the pathway to follow that will bring you joy and freedom.
Cheshvan is the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar, eight being the number of new beginnings and revelation. It is associated with the Hebrew letter NUN, symbolizing Messiah. Since there are no holidays during this month, the Jews say it is reserved for the time of Messiah. Messiah, Yeshua hamashiach, came to bring heaven to earth and demonstrate a new way to live that is counter to the ways of the world. Love begins with God. He was so grieved by the way that sin separates us from Him that He sent is Son to breach the gap. "For this is how much God loved the world—He gave His one and only Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes Him will never perish but experience everlasting life." (John 3:16 - TPT)
Our Messiah, Jesus, demonstrated the way of love during the three years of His ministry whether it was by touching a leper to heal him, raising someone from the dead, feeding the hungry or teaching about the way of His Father. He always pointed others to the love of Father God. Here is what Jesus said: "You heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:43-47) "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27-28)
The October issue of "Charisma" Magazine features a story about some people who take the message of the love of God seriously. They travel to some of the most dangerous areas of the world to reach out to those who have followed radical Islam. Sean Feucht, a Bethel worship artist and founder of "Light a Candle" Ministry, uses his music to break into dark territory and shift the spiritual atmosphere. He has taken his songs into the war-torn regions of Iraq where refugees huddle in fear and terror. He brings songs of hope and redemption. In love, he prays for them so that they see the manifestations of the love of Jesus.
A gentleman who had his own life transformed by the love of Jesus went from being "a hardened Marine into a devoted missionary." Victor Marx says that the love of Jesus transformed his heart and "his hatred for the Arab people turned into passionate love." He goes undercover into the heart of ISIS territory and meets high-ranking Muslim leaders and their families. He goes into camps in Syria that house the wives and children of ISIS members. He quotes a staggering figure of 64,000 wives and children in one camp.
Marx believes in the strategy of Jesus to win many people to the Lord: "Love your enemies." Here is how Marx sees it: "Politically, we're limited. Militarily, we can't kill an ideology...But what will work is love." As Christians operate from a place of love, hearts are changed. Victor Marx shows himself as a safe and loving individual so that when Muslims he has befriended begin to ask him questions, he will have credibility with them.
Believers must be set apart as those who demonstrate unconditional love. "Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8) We must carry the love of Christ wherever we go and commit to praying for those who boldly go into enemy territory to bring God's transforming love to the world. For those who ask, "How can I love my enemies and those who persecute me?"—Paul has some advice. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Tragedy has struck our nation again! Anger, chaos and disunity have followed. We ask, "Can the darkness get any darker?" We must answer "Yes." It is part of what is expected during end times. Jesus warned His disciples about the end of the age. "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars...Nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places...You will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved, and this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:6-14)
The love of many has grown cold and deception is rampant. There is a demonic spirit working in our midst that has the power to intimate and control. Violence and lack of compassion for others is at the forefront. It seems the darkness is getting darker. Can we have any encouragement amid this situation? Again, we can answer "Yes!" Everyone who has confessed Jesus as Savior has the light of Christ within. "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Let us remember, as the dark gets darker our lights shine brighter. When I recently went to see fireworks over the Delaware River at Lambertville, NJ, the people shooting them into the sky waited until 9:45 pm to begin setting them off. The light of the fireworks is most effective in the darkest sky. Likewise, stars in the sky at a location where there is no light pollution seem extremely bright. It is the night season that reveals the stars.
Proverbs 13:9 says, "The light of the righteous shines brightly..." This is our greatest hour of opportunity, dear ones. God placed His light within us so that we can dispel the darkness and shine His love to many. Daniel encourages us with his words: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)
My dear friends Heather Keller and Kathy Ulrich, worship leaders at the Washington Crossing United Methodist Church, wrote a beautiful song that seems perfect for this time in our lives. Here is the chorus to "Shine In:"
"Shine in, Oh Lord, to the darkest place. Shine in, Oh Lord, on us. Shine in, Oh Lord, make us bright and new, with Your redeeming grace, with Your redeeming grace."
The Gospels report that Jesus frequently taught in parables. (Mark 4:2) The parables He told were stories that make a point by using illustrations from everyday life to explain the Kingdom of God or a godly principle. Since the crowds that surrounded Jesus were diverse and included Pharisees that wanted to criticize or kill Him, sinners who needed help, and disciples who were growing in their understanding of God's Kingdom, this method of communication allowed Him to address all who listened. Parables were meant to draw in His audience through thought-provoking stories that let one draw their own conclusion about the Kingdom of God and its King.
The disciples did not always understand the underlying message of the parables of Jesus. For example, after sharing the parable of the sower with a large crowd, "His disciples asked Him what this parable meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables so that though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'" (Luke 8:9-10) Jesus used the parables to reveal and conceal truth. Those who were seriously seeking truth could "dig deeper" and find spiritual insight.
In private Jesus gave His disciples more detailed explanations of His parables. I love how this is reported in Mark 4:34. "...But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything." Did you catch that? Jesus waited until He was alone with them to share the mysteries of the Kingdom. This "jumped off the page at me" as I was reading it last week. It is such an encouragement to us because we are the Lord's disciples. This portion of Scripture should give us the incentive to pursue more alone time with the Lord, directing our focus onto Him. As we do this, we will see more things from God's point of view, and as He sees that we can be trusted with revelation, He will give us more.
Jesus felt safe in giving deeper insight to His disciples. As Believers, we can receive the truth of Proverbs 8:17. "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me." (NAS) The prophet Isaiah gave the words of God to His children in Isaiah 45:3. "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
Look what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:3. "But the man who loves God is known by God." In Colossians 1:25 & 27 he says that Jesus was commissioned by God "to present the Word in its fullness" and that God "chose to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Jesus recognized that the children of God would need ongoing revelation after He returned to heaven to be with His Father. That is why we have the Holy Spirit. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26) The Spirit works in us to help us obtain the full inheritance that God made possible.
John 3:34 says, "For the one whom God has sent (Jesus) speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit." Jesus is our model for receiving the fullness of God and understanding of His Word. (Ephesians 4:13) We have the keys to receiving this. Schedule alone time with the Lord. Pursue Him for the greater revelation and wait for the manifestation of His promises.
In his book, An Appeal to Heaven, Dutch Sheets writes about synergy and calls it "multiplication of power through combined effort." Synergy operates in both the physical and spiritual realms. By following God's decrees and obeying His commands, the Israelites could experience this multiplication. Here is what the Lord told them: “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you." (Leviticus 26:8) God desires for the generations to connect with one another (Psalm 78:4-6 and 145:4) and promises to bless unity (Psalm 133). Dutch encourages us to put ourselves "into the story line God is writing" because this "allows us to tap into the strength and life of what He did years ago." It is critical for us to connect with our past to find our future.
As we can read in Scripture, God partnered with the children of Israel to help them establish a godly nation that honored Him. He told Moses, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you." (Exodus 34:10) I believe that God partnered with our founding fathers as He did with Israel. The intent of the pilgrims was to establish a country "for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith." (Mayflower Compact, 1620) It was His delight to bless those who first came to American with a godly vision.
On July 4 we will celebrate Independence Day--a day that came about because of the courage of our forefathers to take on the British to battle for freedom. General George Washington, commander of the troops during the American Revolution, spoke about our dependence on the Lord for success in the fight for independence.
The battle for our nation still rages, but it now comes from within. As Dutch says, "The dream of our forefathers "to partner with God to release the light of His Word to all nations" has been perverted by our cravings for "money, possessions and pleasure...We are no longer feeding on the dream; the dream is feeding on us...Giants in our land--abortion, violence, racism, numerous addictions and sexual perversions--all are strongholds ruling and destroying America...Many of our leaders now deny America's true history and oppose her Creator."
You may ask, "Is there hope for our nation?" I believe that there is if the Christians of this nation would band together in unity, agreeing in prayer and connecting and building on the foundation of previous generations. In his book, Dutch asks us to join in an appeal to heaven and to take our place in the synergy of the ages. He encourages us with these words: "If we return to a faith that God and His redeeming power are bigger than our weaknesses and failures, we will defeat the over-fed giants of our day. If we can believe that through the blood of Jesus, God's mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13), and that He who began a good work in us can finish it (Philippians 1:6), we'll prevail...If we return to covenant with the God of our fathers, embracing the destiny He planned for us, Olam (Everlasting God) will deliver us from the spiritual giants robbing us of our calling and inheritance."
Dutch admonishes us: "Never discount the power of God's redeeming love." The transformation of our nation will come as we obey God's Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear them from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Joan E. Mathias