142. Miracle tree of God in action

[New Year 2019]

The rhythm of nature and the certainty of the seasons are always a source of inspiration for me.  There is so much of what we experience on a daily basis that encourages us to believe the Word of God with deep assurance.  I have quoted Genesis 8:22 often.  I am sure all of you know it by heart by now.  The language echoes the rhythm of the words and the meaning.

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

Every person caught in the tight grip of winter knows that spring is coming. Relief is coming.  Many psychologists and counselors use the symbolism of the seasons to explain life.

Our life is not constant and mostly it is difficult to “see” the spring in the middle of winter.  However, it is ALWAYS there. It requires a closer look to see the promise of the bloom on every tree, waiting for the silent announcement of the turn of time.  In the beginning of spring the trees get a gleam of green – a light green, a new green.  Later it becomes clearer and deeper in colour.

Usually the turn of the calendar year finds the northern hemisphere in the fiercest grip of winter.  The south enjoys its warmest days.  The first day of the New Year is either very cold or very hot and it is hard to envisage the turn of the season.  That is exactly the utilization of imagination that we need to believe the promises of God for the future.  The things hoped for becomes firm and confident faith.  (Hebrews 11:1)

The visual and atmospheric experience of the season while the opposite is reality, is the challenge.  It is what God expects of us.

The golden thread of symbolic learn experiences in the Word of God, is true treasure.  We know there were three elements in the Ark of the Covenant that stood in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, representing the presence of the Most High God.  There was the golden bowl with manna that did not go bad, as nothing ever decays in the presence of God.  There were the stone tablets on which the law was written and lastly the staff of Aaron that bloomed, blossomed and bore fruit in one day.

This staff is the symbol of the supernatural, literally above and beyond the natural and expected process.

We have just mentioned the seasons. Usually the blooms are ready in winter already.  In early spring they swell out and grow into leaves and flowers.  Mostly on fruit trees, like the almond of which this staff was cut, the flowers become fruit – a most magnificent progression.  After some more time has passed, the fruit is ready for harvesting.

Aaron’s staff was a dry stick.  A staff was a common accessory for a man at the time. David writes about it in Psalm 23, visualizing God as a good shepherd using a staff as protection for the sheep.  Jesus depicted himself as a good shepherd, saying it in one of the seven I AM-sayings in John’s Gospel.

This dead piece of wood becomes the symbol of the supernatural when the normal process of nature is accelerated as a sign of God’s intervention and communication.

Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.  (Numbers 17:8)

Many centuries later we read of the almond shoot in the first chapter of Jeremiah.  This particular passage was a lifeline in a dark time in my own life.  It was God’s encouragement to me that He will make his promise true.  Read with me in the Amplified translation.

Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see?

And I said, I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter].

Then said the Lord to me, you have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.

The Hebrew word for almond shoot is similar to the word for “alert and active”.

The almond blossoms very early, in late winter, before the first signs of spring.  God’s timing always resembles his grace and mercy, just like He shortened the exile in the time of Daniel.  The blossom of the almond is a symbol of God’s action upon his word and our circumstances.

How are you these first days of 2019? It is quite daunting to look at a year ahead and again realize how little control we have over our future. Our answer to the future is HOPE. Our hope in God fills our hearts and minds and our faith in God guarantees God’s action to our advantage and benefit, especially when things look dark and uncertain.

How do you know that God will act on your behalf?  It is his promise since the earliest days on earth.  Listen closely to the words of my dear friend, the ancient prophet Isaiah:

The Lord has made bare His holy arm. In the eyes of all the nations and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.(Isaiah 52:10)

To bare your arm implies that you have rolled up your sleeves and are ready for work.  Isn’t this just such a magnificent picture of God in action? Let 2019 be the year of God’s grace in your life and expect a special revelation of his goodness.

Sing with the Psalmist the promise for 2019.

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!   (
Psalm 98:1-3, The Message)

Just pause and think of God’s love and his salvation and then jump up and dance.  You have good reason to twirl and swirl in the beauty of his grace and love.

May God bless you with a firm conviction of his love for you in 2019!

Advertisements

103. Time for a party – of course!

 

The whole world throws a party! It is New Year. If one would like to sit glued to the television you can observe the celebration by fireworks in the various time zones, countdown upon countdown. Lots of bottle popping, elegant parties, drunken parties, dance parties, dress up parties and a public holiday to pick up the pieces and start the year which was so welcomed a few hours previously. Many a heavy sigh is heard in the unseen as the burden of life descends and weighs on the minds and hearts of people.

Has anything changed? Is anything new?

New could mean two things. It could mean: neos – more of the same depicting quantity as in a new pencil but many others already exist or: –

kainos – unique, has never been, depicting quality as in one of a kind.

Is this year going to be the same as always? Are you looking forward to something that has never been; never seen in this world before?

John 5 states that Jesus attended the feast.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem…

There were three Jewish feasts that were an obligation to Jews living within a fifteen mile radius of Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacles – two in Spring and one in the Fall. Passover was mid-April and Pentecost seven weeks later. Jesus delighted in the Feasts. Every feast is fulfilled in Him.

The Hebrew word for “feasts” (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. “God’s parties” remind us of His lovingkindness, His provision, His unmerited grace throughout the calendar year. God’s year is marked by seven parties.

The seven feasts of the Jewish calendar all found fulfillment in Jesus. The Feast of the Unleavened bread depicts Jesus’ sinless life, the Passover depicts the Lamb that was slain and the Firstfruits depict the resurrection. Just as the first sheaf of the harvest is waved before the High Priest so Jesus was glorified in heaven after the resurrection as the first fruit of the Church. Pentecost celebrates the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.

The Feast of the Trumpets depicts the announcement through the prophets and the Church of His atonement and second coming), the Atonement (Yom Kippur) depicts the character of the Church as a repenting and forgiven people and the Feast of the Tabernacles depicts the reign of joy and peace through the Church and the wedding feast of the Second Coming).

Feasts are anointed parties, consciously celebrating blessing. We should build them into our year and if we have children or family with us, we should include them when we dish up something special. Just a meal together is marked by the testimony of God’s grace. Blessed is he, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary. Make the ordinary holy. Holy means to set it apart for a specific purpose. It is not something falsely elevated to be boring or unreachable. Just go ahead and declare an ordinary meal a celebration of blessing. Say it with joy and praise God in the process.

Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Jesus enters Jerusalem through the sheep gate. It is the gate through which the lambs entered, destined to be slaughtered at the Temple at Passover. He fulfills the symbol of the slain Lamb.

Bethesda could mean House of Mercy or Bethzatha, which means House of the Olive. The pool was deep enough to swim in. Beneath the pool was a sub stream that bubbled now and then. According to the superstition it was believed that an angel stirs the water and the first person to jump in would be healed.

Sound like superstition, but such beliefs were rife in those days. Ancient people were impressed with holy waters. Water was precious and the people held a certain reverence for water.

Jesus was the friend of the friendless. The man had nobody to help. He did not lecture him on his belief in the useless superstition. Jesus just went ahead and healed him.

Events unfolded and words were spoken:

  • Jesus asked if he wanted to be cured. 38 years – maybe his hope died and left him passive and despairing. When healed he had to take up living. Some people are so comfortable in their affliction that they do not want to live normally with all the responsibility of caring for oneself. He responds with a big YES.

 

  • Jesus told him to get up. The power of God never overrules the power of men. Miracles happen when we cooperate with God.

 

  • He had to attempt the impossible. Getting up was probably not the words he was waiting to hear. He lived in defeat for 38 years – for some people a lifetime. What would you like to hear?

 

  • On the word of Christ our own effort becomes the miracle.

 

  • Superstitions are agreements with evil. It is words of defeat spoken over yourself by yourself in words or thoughts.

Let us note very carefully what takes place. This man of defeat and disease agrees with the words Jesus speaks to him and walks away in victory. A moment before he was still in the grip of wrong thinking and negative dependence on evil agreements in false promises of outcome. His meeting with Jesus changes everything. He agrees in thought and responds to the question of Jesus as an expression of his desire for a miracle. In raw faith he attempts the impossible.

Do you believe Jesus when He says He will do something new this year?

Will you attempt the impossible?

 

 “Do not remember the former things,

Nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness

And rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

 

[This story could also be interpreted as an allegory:

The man = people of Israel, the five porches = the law. People are sick under the law. They find shelter but no healing. For 38 years they were wandering in the desert, waiting for the promised land, waiting for the Messiah. The stirring of waters = baptism – rising up healed and redeemed.]

 

John writes it as the truth of actual events. Every story has so much more…

 

 

32. Find yourself a border to cross.

Life demands a series of decisions. That is a fact. God gave us choice, the first and foremost gift to mankind. You cannot change it. You have to choose. You have to accept or reject. To stay neutral to most of life’s core issues is a peculiar position and most often than not boils down to rejection.

Decisions are powerful. We have discussed it in the past. Job 22:28: [Amplified]

“You will also decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] will shine upon your ways.

To decide is to be special. You are unique to the measure of your decisions. Every day is a consequence of your decisions. You develop talents and gifts, open and close doors for yourself as well as others, build relationships, decide to lie or to live truthfully, be gracious, be angry, be encouraging  – I can go on for a long, long time to name the decisions of just one day.

God mad us special. We are a trinity like Him: spirit, soul and body. The ideal pecking order for our lives should be as follows:

God’s Spirit

My spirit

My soul – will, mind and emotions

My body

The body will follow the soul. When you decide with your mind your body will follow through. You decide to eat, to go to a concert, to shop….etc. Your decisions should bring about the best results for your body and spirit. You protect yourself, watch your diet, take medicine and so forth.

The devil will do anything to thwart this order and apply it upside down. Secular philosophy screams for the satisfaction of the body as first priority. The body dictates to the mind for fulfillment. This disorder is perpetuated by special-syndrome. I am so special, I feel with my body and emotions and therefore I am the most important. It is so ironic that when you and your body are elevated to this level of demand, you are often deeply unhappy. Selfishness can never satisfy.

In this confusion the pos modern society shuns the writings of old. How can an ancient book direct my ways to my benefit? How can a god I cannot see or feel know what is best for me?

Come to think of it, the ancient Romans also followed this hedonistic, instant bodily satisfaction in their society. The complete breakdown of moral values is often cited as one of the chief reasons for the fall of the great Roman Empire. Today violence and erotic passion are at the core of entertainment. The Circus Maximus is on the screen in the lounge.

In real terms, short-term pleasure has long-term implications. The results of body dictation are mostly brokenness and hurt.

The New Year demands its usual decisions – sometimes in rapid succession. A decision can be a reaction of a response. Reaction is necessary when the situation demands lightning action, but mostly relationships demand response, rather than reaction. We need to exercise ourselves in godliness to be able to live graciously, gracefully and gratefully. Will I discipline or cover up a child’s mistake? Will I love unconditionally over blatant sin, seek Word guidance in complicated issues or react in legalism and judgment?

1 Timothy 4:7,8:

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Walk with me the ancient paths to view the lives of three characters that made extraordinary decisions. All of them grossly broke the law. They crossed a border that affected the outcome most spectacularly.

Moses erected the dessert tabernacle according to the strict prescription of God. It was a holy place – set apart for worship to a holy God, special and incomparable in every way to anything else on earth. Every member of the people of Israel knew temple procedures. It was taught and impressed upon their hearts as “mistakes” had punishment of death. Only the priests, specially anointed, could enter the Holy part of the Tabernacle where the Lamp stand, the Table of Show breads and the Bowl of Incense were. Only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. On that day he wore a robe with bells on the hem so that those outside could hear if he is struck down and died because of unworthy entry. Wow! Strictly regulated. They used a hook to get him out. Nobody could enter, whatever the circumstances. God is Holy, they knew it.

In 2 Chronicles 26 we read about a king of Judah called Uzziah. He was one of the few good kings of Judah. (There were 19 kings in Israel – all bad and 20 kings in Judah – only eight were good.)

A full record of all his good deeds is followed by this disturbing verse.

2 Chronicles 26:16:

But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.

The priests rushed to keep him from doing it and he was furious. He went in and they witnessed how leprosy broke out in his body. He died a leper! God is Holy and not to be mocked in pride.

But now – David. David lived long before Uzziah. The high priest in the days of Samuel before David was the king, Eli, had two godless and corrupt sons. In a fight against the Philistines they fetched the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm. Big mistake. The Philistines won the fight and took the Ark. Read some Bible comedy in 1 Samuel 5 to see what happened to the Ark amongst the Philistines.

The Ark is stored in the house of an ordinary man in Israel, specially anointed to look after it for the next twenty years, through the reign of Saul and into the reign of David. [1 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 6.] With an astonishing process, where people died of unworthiness, David brings the Ark back to Jerusalem – a life dream for him. The procession is meticulously described in 1 Chronicles 15, 16 and 17 with the magnificent song of David. It reads like a thriller.

David is overjoyed. He sets up the musicians and dance into the city ahead of the Ark. He was a musician himself – just think how he planned this event with worship and song – specially written and composed. 1 Chronicles 15:16, 28:

Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joyThus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps.

He is dressed in fine linen and wears the priestly linen vest (ephod).

A feast, most spectacular and joyful, meat, raisin cakes and bread for all the people, song and dance, with prayer and prose to touch your heart in glory.

He sets the Ark in a tent (remember there is no temple – Solomon, David’s son built the temple) with constant – 24/7 – worship and music and writes in Psalm 84:11:

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God…

And in Psalm 27:4:

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.

This is the heart of David. He “visits” God and desires the Presence of his Father more than anything. He is allowed into that Holy of Holies because his heart is pure. He is not proud like Uzziah. Peter preaches in Acts 15:16 and states that the coming of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the restoration of the Tabernacle of David – sweet communion in the Presence of our Lord. How magnificent is the golden thread of God’s heart in His Word. We can enter into the Holy of Holies with a humble and contrite heart.

All doctrine of man must yield to true worship.

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament and the woman with an issue of blood who touched the hem of His garment. [Matthew 9]

According to the regulations set in the Law of Moses she was not allowed to leave her house, let alone touch anybody.

Leviticus 15:25:

‘If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean.

All three synoptic Gospels tell the story. Luke, who was a medical doctor himself, adds how she sought the help of many physicians and spent a lot of money on it, without avail. Twelve years she lives with this curse of uncleanness over her. She is desperate and decides to do something out of the ordinary. She must have come to the conclusion that if she could not touch Jesus and had to be caught in public, that would be the day of her death.

She reaches out in reckless rejection of the law and her theology and touches Jesus with her life on the line. A miraculous encounter follows with spectacular results plus public recognition of her healing. She is crowned in glory and could live a life previously only imagined.

She acted out of the ordinary. She crossed the border.

What are you going to do with 2016?

They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. Are you willing to step out and do the things God wants with the same heart as David and serve God according to the true Gospel of the New Covenant?

Read how the community in Berea conscientiously researched the preaching of Paul [Acts 17] and how Apollos was shown the way of God more accurately [Acts 18].

There is always a way more accurately, a teaching from the heart of God, a new revelation. Call to God, He will show you great and wonderful things you did not know.

Make the choice. Matthew 15:9:

And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

Read Matthew 23 and recognize the Pharisee in yourself. Do not look down on their sincere efforts to serve God according to their own regulations and were deceived by their own pride. Harsh words from the mouth of Jesus judge them.

Sacrifice your tradition and prejudice on the altar of your mind for the Holy Spirit to burn clean. Do not be part of the reproach of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37:

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

The Word of God is the only authority. Elevate it as your ultimate guide. Obey and live a life more abundantly. Grow strong in the Lord.

Isaiah 48:6:

“You have heard; see all this.

And will you not declare it?

I have made you hear new things from this time,

Even hidden things, and you did not know them.

13. Look – I have something new!

There is a thrill to it – something brand new. All over the world the people celebrate a new calendar year, simply a day like all others that starts with the usual daybreak and sunrise and ends with sunset and darkness. Still, it is different and marked by the date with which we count it. New resolutions are made. Thoughts and actions are lined up to change for the better and the hope of success is the motivation for an effort towards greater goals and higher achievement.

For the child of God every day is a new year. It is a new beginning with the ultimate clean slate. Isaiah 1:18 – to be quoted again and again until it becomes our default setting:

Come now, let us settle the matter,

    says the Lord.

Though your sins are like scarlet,

    they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

    they shall be like wool.

In these days of new beginnings, sweep the old under the Blood so that no baggage of failure and disappointment clouds your new beginning. God is ready for you, with a good year ahead. He is a

good God who cannot act out of anything but the love that He is. He defines Himself as abounding in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6:

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth…

He is the source of all good things. Exodus 33:19:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you…”

He loves you and wants to bless you exceedingly with His goodness, even in your wilderness and desert. Isaiah 43:19:

Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Sit still for a moment and think how you think. Thoughts are the key to new beginnings in every aspect of life. We all know how fruitless our new year’s resolutions can turn out to be. We need God and by the working of the Holy Spirit, renewed thinking. Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Make a list of all the characteristics of God that will carry you through 2015. His goodness, unconditional love, faithfulness, grace, unmerited favour and the promise of His presence will be the foundation on which everything else in your life stands and grows.

If you have God, nothing else matters, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter what you have.

We are caught up in our calendar – counting and marking our days with numbers. God set Israel in a rhythm of celebrations for worship throughout the year. These first days of a new year are the perfect time to mark you calendar with special occasions of personal celebration.

Feasts are anointed parties, consciously celebrating blessing. Build them into your year and if you have children or family with you, include them when you dish up something special, marked by the testimony of God’s grace. Blessed is he, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary. Make the ordinary holy. Holy means to set it apart for a specific purpose. It is not something falsely elevated to be boring or unreachable. Just go ahead and declare an ordinary meal a celebration of blessing. Say it with joy and praise God in the process. Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Celebrate blessing!

The Amplified Bible defines blessing as:

happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions…

with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace.

Now that is a mouth full of honey – eat it and be filled, just like Ezekiel in the presence of God so long ago. Ezekiel 3: 1-3:

He said to me, Son of man, eat what you find in this book; eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat the scroll.

And He said to me, Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.

When we feast on the Word our eyes will be opened to see God’s goodness and direction in our lives. That is what makes life worth living. We are not the mindless victims of circumstances. We are princes and princesses of the Almighty and have access to supernatural intervention.

Please pray with me a New Year’s prayer:

My Father, thank you for Jesus your Son, who was born to die for my sins and to give me access to the throne room of the Most High.

I celebrate Your greatness and submit all fear and uncertainty to Your unconditional love for Your unmerited favour and me over all aspects of my life.

Open my eyes to see into the unseen of Your goodness and grace over my life.

Open my ears to hear Your voice, through You Word and in everything I do.

Lead me into Your presence to taste Your goodness and communicate through ceaseless prayer throughout the day.

Set a song of praise on my lips as I wake each morning, to thank You for blessing and submit my routine to Your direction.

I thank You that the content of this year will be determined by the promises in Your Word.

Praise the Father, praise the Son, Jesus and praise the Holy Spirit our comforter.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).

[Romans 11:33,36]

Be greatly blessed in 2015.