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."
"When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the and lies our great woe. If we omit the and we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that which we have all our lives been secretly longing." So writes A. W. Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God.
God wired us to worship Him. It is part of our DNA. This unique characteristic that God placed inside of every person must be satisfied. The desire to worship is so strong that we will do anything to fulfill it. We will build an altar and bow at it, if not to God, to someone or something else.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us this: "...He has set eternity in the hearts of men..." God is an Eternal God. Worship is a condition of the heart. Our hearts are on a quest to be satisfied through worship. The truth is that worship that is not God-centered will never satisfy. However, worship that is God-centered is sacrificial and requires that we yield ourselves to Him. Here is how Romans 12:1 says it: "...In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—This is your spiritual act of worship." Worship is a choice. We get to choose the altar where we will bow.
The psalmist knows how to express the details of worship. "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary. Ascribe (Offer a concrete expression of praise.) to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth." (Psalm 96:4-9)
Here is the good news: The Lord draws closer and closer to us in response to our worship. (James 4:8) Worship is total surrender to God's will. God's desire is for us to be immersed and saturated in His Presence. He wants us lost in worship. Lost means that we are hidden in Christ, ruin for anything else and cannot find our way back to life as it used to be. As we abide in Him and express our love and awe for Him, we will begin to carry the evidence that we have been with God.
I want to leave you with the words of a worship song written by Israel Houghton--"I Live to Worship You."
"Away, Away from the noise, alone with You.
Away, Away to hear Your voice, and meet with You.
Nothing else matters. My one desire is...
Chorus: To worship You, I live. To worship You, I live; I live to worship You.
To worship You, I live. To worship You, I live; I live to worship You.
Oh, Oh, Oh, Ohhhhh. Oh, Oh, Oh, Ohhhhh. Oh, Oh, Oh, Ohhhhh. Oh, Oh, Oh, Ohhhhh.
Away, Away from the noise, alone with You.
Away, Away to hear Your voice; It's been a while,
But hear my heart cry again." Chorus.
These are words that demonstrate a true heart of worship!
“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:49) God created man in His image. He made him with a soul and spirit so that we could function in two realms: natural and spiritual. We see in Genesis 2:7 that God formed man from dust and then breathed into him. Thus, we have dust as the soul life and the breath of God as the spirit life. Adam's sin of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil brought death to his spirit. (Genesis 2:17) With a dead spirit, we are unable to function the way God intended. That is why Jesus, the Word incarnate, came to earth. He came to redeem and restore what Adam lost. When we repented of our sins and asked Jesus to be our personal Savior and Lord, we became a "new creation" and the Spirit of God took up residence in our spirits.
Look at John 3 and read about what Jesus told Nicodemus, a Pharisee searching for truth. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless He is born of water and the Spirit." (Verse 5) Jesus was saying we should develop the nature of Christ through both our natural and spiritual senses. And, according to Romans 8:29, we are "predestined to be conformed to the likeness (image) of His Son..." Not only are we predestined to be like Jesus, but the body of Christ is to be built up "until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13)
How do we reach the fullness of Christ? It seems we are more comfortable in the soul life than in the spirit life. That spirit life must be nurtured for us to grow and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The nurturing occurs as we abide in the presence of the Lord and submit our wills to His will. God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us, so it is important that we practice listening to His voice. Our spiritual capacity grows as we make a commitment to trust the Lord and His working in our lives and are obedient to follow His instructions.
We must make a commitment to put the Lord first and seek Him in our daily lives. Brother Lawrence knew how to do this. He became an expert at connecting with the Holy Spirit amid his daily activities. He called it practicing the presence of the Lord. He wrote, "In all things, we should act toward God with the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly and imploring His assistance in our affairs just as they happen." Brother Lawrence continues: "I am aware of my obligations to love God in all things."
Our challenge is to live with Christ as the center of our lives. Let us pray the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:16-17. "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."
One year is closing and another begins. As we contemplate life, we remember how times of celebration enrich our lives while times of sorrow and hardship challenge us. In all seasons of life, however, we are meant to grow in our understanding of the Lord and in our intimacy with Him. We must make it a priority to grow in our faith and allow God to open our eyes to see the things of His Kingdom. It is time for increasing our pursuit of the Holy Spirit and His anointing to help us grow in the gifts and fruit from God's Kingdom.
On Saturday morning I was sitting on my sofa looking out the glass doors into the clear blue sky. A pilot was having a fun time skywriting. He went back and forth across the sky laying down lines of white smoke. I noticed that when a line was first deposited it was a narrow streak. As time went on the line expanded and filled up more of the sky. It is fascinating to me that the "writing" is composed of a special combination of oils. The anointing oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and He is the one we must count on to help us expand our vision.
My desire for the new year is for an expansion of my spiritual insight so that I may be more like Jesus. He is described by the prophet Isaiah: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from His roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding; the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord--and He will delight in the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:1-3) He was anointed to bring the Kingdom of God to us and to help us grow in faith and sight. When He went to heaven, He sent us the Holy Spirit as our Helper.
It is as we grow in faith that our spiritual eyes will be opened. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we must "live by faith, not by sight." Here is the truth: God has already prepared gifts and experiences for us that are meant to grow fruit in our lives. "As it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him'--but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God...We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." (1 Corinthians 2:9-12)
We are at the beginning of the year 2019. Nine is the number of gestation or pregnancy and of fruitfulness. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 tells us that there are nine gifts of the Spirit while Galatians 5:22 lists the nine fruits of the Spirit. It is God's desire that we grow in faith so that we will have spiritual eyes. In Galilee, Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. He said, “The time has come...The Kingdom of God is near..." (Mark 1:15) It is time for us to open our eyes to the extraordinary aspects of the Kingdom of God. He told His disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last..." (John 15:16)
Grow in faith by stepping out of the earthly realm and into the Kingdom real. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to cause us to accomplish this. It is time for us to take risks which means exercising courage. We are made to live in the atmosphere of the impossible, because our home is in the Kingdom of Heaven. Bestselling author Cindy Trimm wrote an article for "Charisma Magazine" in September. Here is her encouragement to all of us--one we should grasp for the year 2019. "Most people never break free from the status quo because they are unwilling to risk going out on a limb. But the end of the branch is where the sweetest fruit lies." Amen!
Joan E. Mathias