Water seeks the lowest level and the path of least resistance. Those who drill wells know this as they evaluate an area to drill a hole for the extraction of water. Those who drill artesian wells (one where water flows up like a fountain from internal pressure) place a bit on a long shaft. They select their bit according to the type of ground formation to be drilled into. The driller will be looking for the underground aquifer that will supply the greatest amount of water. The well must be cased from the surface down to the place where the hole becomes smaller to protect the water from contamination. A cap is placed on top of the well to prevent insects and small animals from accessing the well. Water is brought up from the aquifer to ground level by a pump.
In Biblical days wells had to be dug by hand. Genesis 26 tells us about the land of Gerar where Abraham dug wells. Afterward, his son Isaac sowed into the land that was his father's. God blessed Isaac so abundantly that the Philistines were jealous of him and stopped up the wells dug by Abraham. Isaac had his herdsmen dig new wells in the valley so there was sufficient water for everyone.
Well water gushing from the ground below has been used to represent the Holy Spirit bubbling up and drenching us with God's blessing of revival. Currently, many are praying that God will uncap the wells of revival in our country and around the world. Since the Church is to be the Bride of Christ, what better place to reopen the wells where revival once flowed? The forward of a book called Revival Fire by Wesley Duewel reminds us that God has not forgotten His covenant with the Church. "When the tide of evil threatens to overwhelm the church, 'The Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against the enemy.' (Isaiah 59:19-KJV) and spiritual recovery and revival ensue." I believe prayers for revival are being collected in the bowls of heaven. (Revelation 5:8) We must continue to pray for the uncapping of the wells of revival for the saving of our churches and nation.
1994 was a special year for my church, The Crossing in Washington Crossing, PA. A well of revival was opened as we had an encounter with Holy Spirit. For several years, the sweet presence of the Lord came upon us and stayed with us. In a physical confirmation of the presence of His Spirit, a dove came and nested on a ledge at the back of the church. It stayed for months! That time was such a blessing for us!
In an interesting post on "Give Him 15" by Dutch Sheets, he tells how his friend Gina Gholston had a dream that a well-drilling rig was parked at the Red River Meeting House where revival took place in 1800. As it began to drill, it hit a gusher and water moved upward in massive quantities. This dream was interpreted to mean that God has plans to initiate another move of His Spirit that will be even more magnificent than the first one. This dream has a special significance for my church, The Crossing. I worked for the builder who drilled the well for our property. To get an adequate flow of water, the bit had to go below 800 feet. Even though that well would have passed inspection, our builder felt that the water would not be sufficient for the number of people who would come to be part of our congregation. So, he drilled a second well! Again, the driller had to go very deep, but, Praise God, the bit hit an aquifer that runs under the property, and the water gushed forth like "Old Faithful." It is my opinion that The Crossing is in store for another revival, more powerful than the first one, and that the wells on our property represent the size of the outpourings.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weary in praying. Our prayers are opening a way for the Spirit of God to re-open the wells of revival. We must bow low and remove from our lives anything that might interfere with the Lord's plans. The enemy of our souls would like to stop up our wells, just like the Philistines did for Isaac. We, as warriors of prayer, can defeat the enemy. I believe that the Lord is not only opening old wells, but also drilling new ones. Together these wells of revival will blanket our nation and the world. We used to sing a song called "Take us to the River," by Robin Mark. It portrays my heart for this season. The chorus declares, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon us. This is the year of the Lord." As our prayers open the wells of revival, they will converge to make a river of revival that touches the world. Hallelujah!
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.
"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.
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?
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of trying to keep Israel off the path of evil and on the path of good. God met him at the Potter's house to demonstrate that Israel is in His hands like clay in the potter's hands. God said, "If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it." (Jeremiah 18:7-10) Because of their idols, God's people had forgotten Him, and God was grieved. Jeremiah was frustrated with the people of Israel, not only for their unfaithfulness to the Lord, but also for the way they accused him falsely: "Should good be repaid with evil? Yet, they have dug a pit for me..." (Jeremiah 18:20)
As in the days of the Bible, so are the days of our times. We have fallen into a pit of destruction and are believing lies spoken by the enemy of our souls. Like Jeremiah, the prophet Isaiah also had to speak to God's people about their disrespect for the Lord. In chapter 5 of Isaiah's book, we find the "woes and judgments" against Israel. Look at Verse 20: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn writes about Isaiah 5:20 in his April mailing called "Sapphires." He says, "A culture, a civilization, or a nation that deems evil to be good, will deem good to be evil. And so, America's fall from God began with the toleration of evil, calling evil good. But that was only the first stage. In the second stage, the viewing of good as evil becomes more prominent. We are now there! We are now witnessing an increasing progression towards censorship, silencing, and attempted abolition of anything and anyone that stands in the way of the new morality--namely traditional values, biblical values, Christians, ministries, the word of God." He goes on to tell us how he experienced this silencing himself. Jonathan was led to record a message to Joe Biden at the time of his inauguration. In two days, it had a million views, and then it disappeared. Google "deemed the message too dangerous" because of its spiritual and moral content. Through his writing, Jonathan taught me a new term called "Shadow Banning." This means a message will be banned in a way that one is completely unaware that it is being done. He explains that "forces are manipulating systems in what amounts to covert persecution."
Just as God watched over the nation of Israel and brought them prophets to speak the truth, He watches over us. "From His dwelling place He watches all who live on the earth." (Psalm 33:14) "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction." (Psalm 1:6) There is a day of reckoning coming as it says in Romans 1: 18-20. I like The Passion Translation: "For God in heaven unveils His holy anger breaking forth against every form of sin, both toward ungodliness that lives in hearts and evil actions. For the wickedness of humanity deliberately smothers the truth and keeps people from acknowledging the truth about God. In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God's nature have been made visible, such as His eternal power and transcendence. He has made His wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse."
How can we partner with God to win the battle of good over evil? It is time for us to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. We must be rooted and grounded in His love, built up in Him, and strengthened in our faith. (Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 2:7) We must soak in His presence so that we are filled with His Spirit. We must not allow fear of evil to have a place in our lives. Jesus warned us about the evil that would beset us. The Psalmist wrote, "...I will fear no evil, for You are with me...(Psalm 23:4) We must remember that God placed us on earth for such a time as this. We are part of His mighty army. We must be aligning our lives with His plans and purposes, interceding for our nation, pleading for God's mercy, calling forth revival, and declaring the truth. We must keep our eyes on the goal, "being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:11-12) We have our marching orders; let us put on our battle gear!
How did a colony of mealy bugs end up infesting my orchid plants? This is the question of the week that I had to answer. When I bring a new houseplant into my collection, I check it for bugs. Apparently, when I brought in a new orchid plant for my window shelf, I did not look carefully enough. Attached to the base of the underside of one of the flowers was a white, cottony speck. Since its color matched the flower, it slipped in without my seeing it. Female mealy bugs lay up to 500 eggs in a sac that is attached to the plant. In the case of my orchid, she went to work by embedding her sac of eggs at the juncture of the leaves. One leaf overlays the other in a whorl, and it is easy to tuck a miniscule sac that looks like dust into the leaf juncture so that it is undetected.
All I had to do was allow one bug in with my collection of orchids. They slowly began to travel from plant to plant. I noticed that several of the orchid leaves were looking deformed and that their tissues were beginning to break down. The infestation was so bad that I could not save my plants, and I had to do a complete cleansing of the trays they sat on. It was interesting for me to see that the violets that sit with them were not touched. Violet foliage is very "hairy" and unappealing to the bugs. One of my violets I have had since the early seventies. I am so please that it continues to "stand its ground" and grow.
There is an analogy in this scenario for all of us. We must not let our guards down. "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-9) I believe that the enemy has targeted the United States for destruction as this nation was founded on godly principles and is meant to be a land where people worship the Lord, grow in His ways, and share their faith with the world. The devil is shrewd. He did not come in full force with guns blazing but slowly infiltrated our lives so that he could eventually take over. Souls of individuals are being invaded, one by one. But we must not be naive about what is at stake. There is a global agenda to remove all traces of Christianity.
I grew up in a time that seems so innocent compared with today. One example is that stores were closed on Sundays (Blue Laws) and families spent time with one another. Sunday was a day dedicated to God. How quickly all that has changed. There has been a war on the very fabric of our nation. Slowly, things have changed until we look around and say, "How did we get here?" The "bug" has laid her eggs and attacked our culture so that it is unrecognizable. The family is broken, abortion is sanctioned, our God-given identities are questioned, lifestyles that permit sexual promiscuity and perversion are celebrated, moral values have been redefined, education of our children has taken a wrong turn as liberal teachers attempt to control their minds, liberalism has permeated the church, and the very foundation upon which our nation was built is being destroyed. We have allowed the enemy's agenda to take over by compromising and being complacent as we watch the fabric of our nation being shredded.
So, what is the bottom line? We cannot allow complacency or compromise. God has fit us for battle. He chose to bring heaven to earth through a people dedicated to Him. Each of us needs to be a light in the darkness. We must take a stand and fight for what is right in God's eyes. We must declare, "Not on my watch!" God calls us to intercessory prayer as we take the authority He has given to us in the name of Jesus. It is time for us to put on our battle gear and follow the ways of Jesus to destroy the works of the devil. We must be like violets standing against the mealy bugs. We must see ourselves as warriors and release the Word of God over our lives, our homes, our country, and the world. Here is the apostle Paul's advice: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-5) We must be vigilant, prepared to go to battle with the truth of God's word, the love of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The victory is ours if we follow through!
Greeks came to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration according to John 12. They wanted to meet Jesus, however He told His disciples, "Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into His glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives." (John 12:23-24 - NLT) Jesus continues: "And I, when lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32) Jesus drew us to Himself through His death and resurrection. His intent is that we are to be a part of His storyline.
At the moment of the death of Jesus, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open. When the centurion and others who were guarding Jesus saw these events they exclaimed, "Surely He was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54) Indeed, He is and proved His identity through His resurrection on the Jewish celebration called "Firstfruits." This was the traditional day of giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and the giving of the firstfruits of the barley harvest in the spring. Jesus became the firstfruits from the dead. Here is how it is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22: "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
Jesus came to the earth to show us how to live. His disciples learned to live like their master. Our identity is likewise in Him. Just as God gave His best for us, we must give our best for others. In this way we honor God, and He reveals to us our own unique destiny. We are part of the storyline of Jesus as we identify with His selflessness and love. We have been called, along with the Body of Christ, to redeem the wrecks of time. Our lives are part of a bigger story and have been united with other Believers in Christ.
As we accept the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins, we become part of the family of God by the power of His resurrection. A hard concept to understand is that God has chosen to do His work on the earth in partnership with us. True, each of us has a unique call, however we have also been woven together like a piece of fabric with other Believers so that we can accomplish His divine plans and purposes. That fabric includes not only our present generation, but those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.
Matt Lockett and Will Ford wrote about the connection of the ages in their book The Dream King. Will writes, "In Christ, my stories are your stories, and your stories are mine. Remember, as Christians we share the same heritage. Our collective history is made from a diverse yet unified remnant...Jesus ever lives to make intercession so that you and I, as His family members, can together shape the future with Him...Through Him, a new remnant is both healing history and making history." (Page 32) Matt agrees with Will: "This fabric of our lives and families creates the backdrop for the nations and the times in which we live...God watches over our destinies, watches over our nation, and invites us to shape the future with Him through prayers." (Page 42) Matt calls us "The Stewards of the Storyline," not only of our biological family, but also of our Christian family.
Today is Resurrection Sunday. With gratitude we should allow this day to inspire us to be healing agents of the generations and planters of seed that will bear good fruit for the blessing of the nations. Our Savior showed us the way. Let us follow Him!
On my dressing table is a picture of two colorful parrots sitting side-by-side. There is an appropriate quote in the background of these two love birds. "Love has nothing to do with what you're expecting to get—only with what you are expecting to give—which is everything!" The quote comes from actress Katherine Hepburn. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us some words for the definition of love: "Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one's achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving...There are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run." (Verses 4-8, 13-14 - TPT)
Today, Valentine's Day celebrates romance and love. However, that is not how it originated. According to Wikipedia, Western Christianity made February 14 a minor yearly feast to honor a Christian martyr named Valentine. He was executed by the Roman emperor on this date during a time when persecution of Christians was common. The story is that he never lost his love during of the trials he endured. Eventually, he gave it all.
As Christians, it is important for us to understand the characteristics of God's love for us so that we can follow His lead. God's love is unconditional and is described by the Greek word "agape." Our focus must be intentionally centered on Jesus Christ because His love for us is the highest form of love and its demonstration will show us how we are to love others. The love of Jesus is faithful and sacrificial. Just as the Lord was willing to give up all His rights before Father God and man, we must be willing to do the same. To know what true love looks like, we must be willing to make the trip on the road to Calvary to see the Lord's sacrifice. Saint Valentine determined to take this walk and ultimately gave up his life for his love of Jesus.
The love that the Lord has for us is so amazing that He became our Substitute, our Scapegoat, on The Cross. He carried our sins in His own body on The Cross so that we might be forgiven. "He took up our pain and bore our suffering...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 53:4-5) Romans 8:34 tells us just how far Jesus went for us and how He continues to help us: "...He gave His life for us, and even more than that, He has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at His right hand. So how could He possibly condemn us since He is continually praying for our triumph." (TPT) God's complete love for us should give us the desire to completely surrender to Him and His will.
In Isaiah 54:10 the Lord makes a promise to His people. "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will never be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” What are we expecting when we hear the word love? The love of God is calling to us. He gave it all! Can we do likewise? I think so because of what The Word of God tells us: "...The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5 - NKJ)
One small, withered leaf hangs on to a thin, curved branch on the Maple tree outside my door. It will not release and battles as the wind is relentless in shaking it violently. It should have released in the fall to accomplish its intended purpose—to fall and lie at the base of the tree where it would have joined the other leaves and soil to provide compost for the roots. When a leaf decomposes it goes into the ground and provides nutrients that can be taken in by the tree roots. It is meant to give strength and health to the tree so that it can produce new, green leaves when spring arrives—a new season.
Why doesn't the leaf release? Why doesn't it recognize that the season has changed, and that God has a new purpose for it? As for the leaf, God has set times and seasons for us. Every season comes to us with blessings and opportunities to grow in our faith and trust in God. The enemy does not want us to live in the right season or to obtain the Lord's blessings for our lives. We must wait upon the Lord and learn to think the way He thinks. We must let His truth transform us so that we fully release from one season and launch into the new one. Romans 12:2 is an appropriate Scripture to look at concerning our way of thinking. The Passion Translation of this verse ministers to me: "Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God's will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes."
In the book, A Time to Advance, Robert Heidler writes, "Blessing comes to those who align themselves with God's purposes and timing. God's cycles produce change and bring us to the higher level of blessing." We cannot step into blessing without following God's timing. He designed our lives to have seasons. There are set times for us to actively participate in God-given activities; there are times for us to rest, and there are times for us to prepare for a new season. Doing this requires that we trust in our Creator and Sustainer to give us what we need for each season. The leaf will not fulfill its divine purpose until it releases from the branch.
In Isaiah 43:18-19 God says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." How can we let go? Only by trusting in the Lord and His great love for us. We can expect God's best for us because He already gave His best to us: the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus, so that we can have eternal life with Him. We can trust in the Lord's best for ourselves, the Body of Christ, and our nation. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28)
Daniel 7 speaks of the end times and the evil king who will subdue other rulers. This demonically- possessed king "will speak against the Most High and oppress His holy people and try to change the set times and laws." (Verse 25) The enemy will lose his battle to change the set times because God already ordained the hour of his destruction. Galatians 4 also speaks of another set time for us to become children of God and heirs according to His promise. "But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship." (Galatians 4:4-5)
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) God changes seasons and sets times for all of us. We must trust Him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways we should acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) This requires us to be willing to release from the past season and to inquire of God about His plans for the new season. As it says in Romans 12:2, we will be empowered to discern God's will when we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to reform our way of thinking. Let's release from the old season and walk into the new with the Lord's guidance.
Joan E. Mathias