Part 7, Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny: Resting on the Altar

Now, after six parts of the introduction, I want to hang out with Jacob. In his life, we find many God-lessons we can learn to see the beginning of God’s fulfilled promises in our life. Recognizing the potential hazards is critical, as are a listening ear, a heart to obey, and a walk of integrity. Even though we don’t initially see these in Jacob’s person, God effects a tremendous change in his life to birth a nation. There is one thing that Jacob did know that we have not yet addressed, and if this seems familiar to you, see my post from last July The Almond Blossom (comingdawnministries.org).

After Isaac blesses Jacob in Genesis 28:10-15, Jacob leaves Beer-sheba, traveling toward Haran and his relatives to search out a wife – a partner in the promise. Verse eleven states, “He reached a certain place…He took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.” Any guess where that “certain place” was? It is the site where Abraham first built an altar to God (Gen. 12:8). In his travels, Jacob passes by the very place Abraham constructed in humility to worship the Lord, and it is upon one of these rocks that Jacob places his head. During the evening, God stands next to Jacob and reiterates the promise to him.

Jacob rested his head on a stone from an altar built by a predecessor, his grandfather, Abraham. When you’re on this adventure of a lifetime, and it appears as though you are moving away from the promised land rather than retaining it, and you don’t understand what God is doing, remember, you aren’t the first person who has traversed this road. Many, like you, have been thrust into a position of utter dependence on God and have learned the secret of the altar. When you aren’t in a place to build an altar of your own, rest on the stones that built another’s. When God meets with you, it will quickly become your own.

What do I mean by that? Many times during our ministry, Walter and I have felt alone and destitute. We didn’t understand what God was doing, even though we knew we were walking in obedience to Him. It was during those times when we were able to look at my parents and other ministers who have spoken truth into our lives and rested on the fact that the same God who had met them in the desert would meet us there, as well. When you’re weary, and you need to rest, remember, the promise is to you and your children. The promises that God made to Abraham are the same He made to Jacob, are the same that you and I have been grafted into. 2 Corinthians 1:20 states, “For all the promises of God in Him [Jesus Christ] “Yes,” and in Him “Amen,” to the glory of God through us.” The promise is to you. When you can’t see what God is doing, look back at what He has already done and rest in that.

God promises Jacob that He will bring Jacob back to the land and “will not leave until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen. 28:15). If God seems to be moving you out of the place of promise, there is a reason. In Jacob’s case, God needed to develop the prophetic in him. Jacob wasn’t in a position to be entrusted with the load that carrying such a promise required. His time had not yet come. So this, too, is noteworthy: the promise is always larger than yourself. Only God can fulfill it because it transcends the generations. At the same time that Jacob is on his journey, Isaac is carrying the burden of the call – dealing with disgruntled daughters-in-law and an angry son who is giving birth to more angry sons. There is always a predecessor. Someone else is protecting the same promise at the moment you’re being positioned to receive it. That is why we cannot despise our elders and those who go before us. There is wisdom in their journey. Wisdom upon which we can rest our head when needed.

God desires that the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac will become the God of Jacob and the God of you and me. He promises in verse fifteen, “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” No matter where the journey takes us, God vows to be with us. He will not abandon us. He gets no glory when we do not make our destination. God has a vested interest in you accomplishing all He has called you to – generations to be precise – from Abraham to you. Don’t allow yourself to grow discouraged. As Paul told the Galatians, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (6:9).

Better to rest your head on a hard place in order to see God’s promise achieved than a feather pillow and find your life has amounted to nothing. When you’re tired, place your head on the altar and meet with God. You’ll find that His promises are sure, and He has not changed. Rest on the Rock that higher!

Let’s Pray:

Father, I am weary. I don’t understand why I’m headed in the direction I am. It seems contrary to the promises You have given. Despite that, I reaffirm my trust in You. You’ve been faithful to past generations, and You will continue to be faithful to me. Help me rest in the fact that You are perfecting me for the promise. Thank you that everything You are doing is not only for my benefit but also for future generations. Help me learn my lessons well so that I can step into all that You have for me, as You make me a strong vessel, capable of carrying the promise. Teach me to rest on the altar. Amen.

Part 6, Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny: Pitfalls to the Promise

Jacob, as the supplanter, has at this point defrauded Esau of both his birthright and blessing. The first Esau hastily sold to Jacob for the price of soup; the second was taken from him by the cunning of a mother who loved Jacob more (Gen. 25:33, 27:14). There were so many presumptuous actions on the part of everyone in this family. One wonders how they could have been related to Abraham at all. Esau despised, Rebekah deceived, Isaac second-guessed, and Jacob supplanted. All of these can prevent us from stepping into what God has for us.

Esau knew what he was entitled to as the firstborn. However, for him, that amounted to nothing when it came to his own fleshly passions. He was unable to bring discipline to his body but let go of it all to taste the temporal. The enemy knows your weaknesses. He’s been watching, and the undisciplined life will never step into the fullness of God because it caves when temptation presents itself. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.” If we cannot control our appetites in the natural, we will not excel in the supernatural.

Rebekah was a mother who set her affections on one child over the other. It says that Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home (Gen. 25:28). Isaac loved Esau because he could capture the wild game he loved at the dinner table. Neither are the best reasons to favor a child. The problem was that Rebekah had earlier received the Word of the Lord that the older would serve the younger (Gen. 25:23). Perhaps this factored into her love for Jacob, always watching and waiting for God’s promise to be made manifest. However, after decades of waiting, Rebekah didn’t see anything happening, and when Isaac decides to give the patriarchal blessing, she decides that the fulfillment of God’s word depends on her. If it’s going to happen, she must force the issue. Sometimes when it seems God is doing nothing, we (and, yes, others as well) seek to twist the arm of God, never realizing that we are setting things back further by not waiting on His timing. David provides advice worthy of our attention in Psalms 37:34, “Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land.” Nothing good ever comes of circumventing the timing of God in your life.

Isaac decides he wants to bless his eldest son in the presence of the Lord (Gen. 27:7). However, when Jacob draws near with his deceptive hairy arms, Isaac states, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Gen. 27:22). When Isaac questions, Jacob affirms the lie rather than coming clean, and Isaac gives him the blessing he meant for Esau. This is one reason why having a discerning ear is so critical. You must be able to judge based on the voice you hear. Are you hearing God, the enemy, the flesh? If you move rashly, you risk blessing what shouldn’t be blessed or acting on what isn’t initiated by God. The Apostle John admonishes us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God” (I Jn. 4:1). Test everything. It may require more patience, but it is in your best interests.

Jacob, he did it. He could have provided stew for free. He could have refused his mother. He could have confessed to his father. But he didn’t. He went along with it all. Jewish tradition says that Jacob studied at the feet of Shem. Perhaps he had grown up feeling entitled because of the word the Lord had spoken to his mother. Maybe he was weak or didn’t want to disappoint his mother. In any case, Jacob did it. There is always a choice. In choosing to go along with his mother, he solidified his identity in his brother’s eyes. From this point on, the leadership and wealth, the blessing that the Lord would grant him, would be seen in Esau’s eyes as stolen. God is not willing that we walk into His plans and purposes at the expense of others. When we don’t see the way, we must ask until He provides the way, knowing He doesn’t want anything to delegitimize our destiny.

God had already chosen Jacob before he took his first breath. At first glance, all we can see is a messed-up family. But God. God has a perfect plan, and frankly, sometimes people get in the way. Sometimes you and I get in the way of His plans. Maybe we’re overzealous to get to the completed work, never realizing the journey is just as important. Perhaps we try to see the promise fulfilled on our terms. Abraham did, Jacob did, and we certainly do. However, that’s the beautiful thing about God. He makes even our screw-ups work toward our good when we love Him (Rom. 8:28).

Ephesians 1:3-8 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace which He made abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”

You are chosen; make no mistake. However, you are chosen first and foremost to be “holy and without blame before Him.” That means integrity is vital. There are no shortcuts in the call of God. Every step of the way, there are lessons to be learned, obstacles to overcome, people to forgive, character to be formed, spiritual senses developed, and God’s way to be followed. You are already chosen, beloved, adopted, granted forgiveness. You must only prove a willing participant in God’s purposes for your life, surrendered wholly to Him, a person of integrity who will take the long and hard road to reap the benefits of God’s blueprint uniquely designed for your destiny and choose to avoid the pitfalls to the promise.

Let’s Pray:

Father, thank You that You choose me. I am Your child because of the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. More than anything, I don’t want to jeopardize all that You have purposed for me. I know You have waited for centuries so that I would be present at such a time as this. I am only now learning to wait upon Your guidance. Lord, I am EXCITED about what You have for me, but I don’t want my excitement to interfere with Your plans. Holy Spirit, help me to wait. Do whatever it takes to develop in me Your fruit. Please make me a person of integrity. Make me a person of excellence, always desirous to do things Your way. Lord, help me always do the right thing – Your thing, regardless of what other well-intentioned people are telling me. You are Lord over all of my life, and more than the promise, I want the Promise-Giver to reign supreme. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

What’s in a Name?, Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 5

Jack the Ripper. Ivan the Terrible. Doctor Death. Jacob?

What’s in a name? A lot. When God created man and placed him in the garden, Adam was assigned to naming the animals. “So the Lord God formed out of the ground each wild animal and each bird of the sky and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19). What we learn in this verse is essential to stepping into your prophetic destiny and laying the foundation for your children to step into theirs.

Through His divine power and activity, God fashioned the animals, and as Creator, He could have named everything Himself. Just look at all the products we have today named after their inventors! If we know anything about the Lord, we understand that He is a God of intention, and everything He does is with purpose. Yet we see God intentionally giving Adam the ability to partner with the Living Lord in His creation by naming what God so lovingly and beautifully created. Adam was to put into words the heart of God for every living thing. God formed, Adam named, and this cycle has continued throughout the ages. Whenever a new plant is discovered, people provide it with a Latin name that defines its characteristics, and then there is the name we laypeople call it. For instance, we call it a snapdragon because its flowers resemble a dragon’s face when it opens and closes its mouth. Its Latin name is “antirrhinum,” which describes “an herbaceous plant of the genus Antirrhinum (order Lamiales, family Plantaginaceae; formerly in the family Scrophulariaceae), of which there are about 20 species native to western North America and the western Mediterranean region. The flowers are tubular, bilaterally symmetrical, and usually large with a closed, liplike mouth that excludes most insects but can be forced open by strong bees, the main pollinators.” [1] Biologists are very detailed in the naming of living things. It will define them and everything produced ad infinitum unless a new characteristic emerges, previously unknown that would cause a biologist to reclassify it.

The same is true in the spiritual world. People do not always reinforce God’s intended plan and purpose. We’ve all heard stories of children who grew up to be reprobates, only to find that all of their lives they’ve been told they were “good for nothing,” “children should be seen and not heard,” “why can’t you be like ____?” We speak without thinking when it comes to naming something, and despite our fallacies, God has not taken away our responsibility to name things. Such was the case with Jacob.

In Genesis 25:24-26, Rebekah gives birth to Isaac’s twin sons and, though God had already spoken to her that two nations were in her womb, the boys are named for their appearance at birth. Esau, for his reddish complexion with hair, and Jacob, who came out holding onto Esau’s heel. Jacob means “supplanter or layer of snares.” [2] We are familiar with the effects on people who have been defined by the color of their skin. It has been happening for centuries, and it needs to change. But can you imagine the demoralizing effect of being called a liar and cheat your entire life? We know from that Jacob will live out what his parents’ called him and who knows how far it set him back. Our names are associated with our reputation.

The good news is, though, that God will intercept us where we are. God would not abandon Jacob to the characteristics of what he was known by as a young man. In fact, God would change his name altogether. We will explore what it took for Jacob to get to the point where he stepped out into his prophetic destiny in coming posts. However, let me encourage you today that to align with yourself with God’s purpose, you need to give considerable thought to God’s intention in creating you and how you and others speak over you.

The Lord speaks to the nation of Israel (Jacob’s prophetic name and destiny) in Is. 43:1, “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” Interestingly, in English, we would see the words created and formed as having similar meanings. However, in Hebrew, they are different. Created is bᾱrᾱ’, which means your shape.[3] Formed is yᾱṣar, with the connotation of divine activity, and is the same word used in Genesis 2:19, as individuals at conception, pre-ordination.[4]

No matter what man may call you or say, God has never abandoned His intentions toward you! Your prophetic destiny is intact. Before we proceed any further, I would like you to agree with what God has to say about you. Just like Jacob, God has a name He calls you by defining His plans and purposes, and it is all good!

Let’s Pray:

Father, I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself. In a way, that is good because it causes me to rely entirely on you. However, I have been called many things in my lifetime, not always reasonable or fair and certainly not aligned with your plans and purposes for me. Lord, reveal to me all which You have called me. Work into me all the characteristics that You pre-ordained from the foundations of the world for me. Give me supernatural insight into how you see me and rebuke every fear that would take hold, saying that I am unworthy to walk into all You have for me. Thank You for redeeming my past and blessing my future. Thank You that I and every descendent of Mine are Yours! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for walking with me into everything the Father has destined for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

[1] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Snapdragon, plant, genus Antirrhinum,” Brittanica.com, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Jan. 11, 2018, last accessed 3/26/2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/snapdragon.

[2] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007. H3290.

[3] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007. H1254.

[4] Ibid., H3335.

Dig Another Well: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 4

Yesterday, I mentioned how there is a multi-generational prophetic destiny on families, in addition to individual giftings, talents, and promises. Jump forward several years. Abraham is dead, Isaac is grown and married with twin boys (we’ll spend a lot of time with Jacob in the coming weeks). However, In Genesis, chapter 26, we discover there’s another famine in the land.

When God calls you, there will be periods of spiritual famine, and you will want to move locations. It is during these times when discerning the voice of God is so crucial. The temptation is to find the land of plenty where you feel you are thriving. In verses two through four, God distinctly tells Isaac that he is not to go down to Egypt but to live in the land of a foreigner, Abimelech’s Gerar. This is a season when you feel like you are falling behind and the promise is lost.

Again, Abraham never received the inheritance he was promised while living on earth. He laid the foundation of covenant relationship so that future generations, including you and me, could enter into it and build on it. The martyr Stephen pointed this out to the people in Acts 7: 5. In a world of immediate gratification, we must understand that God is an eternal God who builds and creates that which will last for eternity. Yes, He provides the temporal things beautifully, but His goal spans generations.

Isaac, though, has learned well from Abraham to obey. I’m sure being bound on an altar had a profound impact on his life. Isaac has developed a healthy fear of the God he serves. However, in the land of Abimelech, God reinforces His covenant with Isaac and assures him that the promise was not to his father alone but also to him. That is a beautiful thing we, as parents, can cling to: if we have dedicated our children to God, He has not forgotten them. Yes, they must own their choices, but He will pursue them with His promises.

When Isaac obeys, he is blessed beyond measure. When Isaac planted in a place of famine, which was also the place of promise, though not yet, “he reaped a hundred times what was sown” (Gen. 26:12). When you are stepping into your prophetic destiny, never despise the power of the seed. What may seem like infertile ground will eventually bear fruit if you are in the place God has called you. The seed is powerfully resilient. It can lay dormant for years on end yet take root and grow at the scent of water (Job 14:9). It does not tell us how many years Isaac planted seeds, but it does tell us that there was an incredible harvest in that particular year. Don’t ever throw in the towel!

Don’t get too comfortable, though, because God’s blessing does not always bring goodwill from those around you. As God began to bless Isaac, those around him began to grumble. Remember, Isaac is in a foreign land. This family only owns a burial plot Abraham purchased for his family, and cemeteries are for the dead. However, Isaac is seeking to reestablish the wells that his father Abraham had built. We, as Americans, find ourselves in this place now. We are looking to rebuild what our forefathers established, and we’re discovering it more than a little difficult. When wells aren’t maintained, rest assured there will always be a Philistine with a stopper in hand (Gen. 26:18). That is one reason why it is said, “There is no success without a successor.” You need someone who will maintain and expand, someone who carries the vision and the covenant promise of God even in times of famine.

In any case, every time Isaac digs a well, someone is there to dispute its validity. Remember, that’s a key tactic of the enemy: delegitimizing what you are accomplishing for the Lord. The enemy still uses the same strategies as he did with Isaac – quarreling and hostility. It was so bad that Isaac named those wells after the dispute! But Isaac had a covenant with God and persevered, digging yet another well. Isaac could have given up. He could have told himself that he hadn’t heard God’s voice to remain in Gerar. He could have packed his bags and left for Egypt, but he didn’t.

When he was probably mentally preparing for another quarrel, God shuts the mouths of the Philistines. Isaac names the place “Open Spaces,” because “the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land” (Gen. 26:22). Rest in the fact that if you are in obedience to God in the place He has called you to be, God will make room for you. You may have to dig multiple times, but God has a place for you. The key is patience, and we are not talking days, months, or even a year; we may be looking at years – or generations.

At this place, God once again appears to Isaac and tells him not to fear that Abraham’s offspring will multiply. Upon hearing this, Isaac does what he learned from Abraham. He built another altar. He chose to worship God and pitched his tent in the place God showed up. Frankly, I can’t think of a better place to be, and that is why the altar is foundational to living a life of destiny and purpose. Altars realign us to God’s plans and objectives. They keep us humble and remind us that God has not forsaken us.

What happens next is astounding. Abimelech and the Philistines come and recognize that God is with Isaac and want to make amends. Again, Isaac could have despised it. Indeed, his initial reaction is, “Why are you here? You sent me away!” But, covenant with God requires that we respond in the manner God would – with forgiveness. Isaac has a banquet and sends them on their way in peace. Others will inevitably hurt you as you pursue the call and destiny God has on your life. How you respond to that pain, particularly when they return, acknowledging they were wrong, is of paramount importance. You cannot afford to hold grudges. Why? Because you may need their cooperation to dig another well, and that’s what Isaac did.

Remember, God desires unity and covenant not only with Himself but with others. God commands blessing in the place of unity (Ps. 133). Isaac built a new well in the place of agreement, and a city sprung up, named Beer-sheba. When you walk in forgiveness and remain in covenant, it releases life around and results in exponential growth (Gen. 26:24-33).

Let’s Pray:

Father, I feel like I am in a land of famine. I feel like the call You have placed and the promise You gave have been nullified by life’s circumstances. I have seen nothing from the seeds I have planted around me, and all feels barren. However, I refuse to allow my feelings to have the final say. God, You said You would bless me in this place. I am here because of You. I reaffirm today that I will continue to dig wells, even though I am in a foreign place and see no room for me. I will continue to dig springs of refreshment for myself and others, knowing that You are God of the Harvest. I will sow, I will water, and I will forgive. Give me a hearing ear and a heart to obey so that I may see life and exponential growth released in every place You put me. Amen.

3/24/2021 Part 3: Watching for Pitfalls

Vows that create covenant are made at the altar but proved over a lifetime. When God promised Abram that he would become a great nation, things didn’t immediately fall into place. More than one challenge could have derailed the promise had Abram not obeyed and God not intervened to preserve it. When God covenants with you, He sets the terms; you walk in obedience. While some may call it “legalism,” it is not. Instead, it is freedom because the one who sets the terms is obligated to ensure they are carried out and remove any hindrances that present themselves. If Abram went through uphill battles, you will, too, and like Abram, you can’t help but overcome in covenant with God. So, what are some of these challenges to stepping into your prophetic destiny?

  • Birds of Prey (Gen. 15:11). The term for prey there means aggressive and ravenous birds bent on consuming what God has given us. The enemy will gladly send the hordes of hell to steal the sacrifice of the covenant, but, like Abram, we must chase them away. Listening to the voice of the naysayer will not profit anything. As Abram was waiting for the confirmation and culmination of the promise, he was determined nothing was going to steal his covenant with God or the promise of God. Birds of prey can come through the words and actions of others.

For example, when Walter and I discovered I was pregnant after firmly being told by the doctors that I would never carry a baby to term, we went to Deuteronomy 28:4, which says, “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body.” We claimed that and advanced past the five-month mark, by which time we should have miscarried. An older woman came up to me and said, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” That was a bird of prey, meant to get Walter and me into unbelief. However, we clung to the Word of God, proved it true for ourselves, and now twenty years of marriage later, we have four handsome, bright teenage boys, all gifts from God. You cannot concede to fear, doubt, and unbelief. You must drive them away and stand upon the promises of God alone.

  • Sometimes we are the problem (Gen. 16). Sarai decided on her own that she would never carry a child because she hadn’t up to that point. She offered up Hagar to Abram, and he didn’t argue. This decision to try to produce in the flesh what could only be born of the Spirit has bred turmoil and contention within the Middle East for centuries. However, thanks to the blood of Jesus, families can be reunited once more. If God said He would do it, He will. God always keeps His promises; it’s who He is.
  • If the birds of prey don’t steal it and you don’t sabotage it, rest assured the enemy will seek through various means to delegitimize it (Gen. 20). The same year God reinforced His promise to Abraham (by now God had changed his name) that he would father Isaac, Abimelech, king of Gerar, brought Sarah into his harem. But God intervened and shut the wombs of all the women in Abimelech’s court. Sarah was returned to her husband, and God preserved the legitimacy of the seed. Had Abimelech had his way with Sarah, and she later bore a child to Abraham, Isaac’s inheritance could have been called into question. And even though Abraham had foolishly lied, God still had his back because that’s who He is – a promise maker and keeper. I will add this note of caution, though: wisdom builds a house, so be watchful and discerning because seemingly insignificant decisions can put your entire reputation on shaky ground. Don’t allow the enemy the opportunity.
  • Add to that one last thing – the manifestation of the promise itself (Gen. 22). When Isaac had been born and grew, God asked Abraham something seemingly impossible – to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham had learned by this point that even if he had to give Isaac back to God, God would still raise another from himself so that God’s promise would be fulfilled. Abraham could have made Isaac greater than the covenant, but Abraham understood that Isaac was a blessing of the covenant, not the covenant itself. Be careful that when God starts to bring forth the promise, you do not put it before God. Abraham passed the test, Isaac was spared, and the promised lineage remained intact.

Let me note that this is especially hard for parents when it comes to their children. But it is when we let go of our children rather than abandoning the principles of God that God gifts them back to us. Many today have compromised the Word of God for the sake of their children and inadvertently lost them because they were not an example of holiness and righteousness before God. I don’t know what would have happened to Isaac had Abraham refused God, but parents, I say this with much love: let your children go. God loves them more than you do, which brings me to my last point.

God doesn’t just want a covenant with you. He wants your entire house and all the generations that follow. It’s not just about your prophetic destiny but that of your entire household. Every Christian parent’s goal should be to spiritually position their child so that when the parent dies, the child begins where the parent left off, and a legacy of godliness is created by which God can bless the world. When He keeps His promise to you, He is investing in future generations – your children and grandchildren. If you do not deal with the birds of prey, the flesh, the attempts to delegitimize and refuse God your children, YOU are the one preventing God’s prophetic destiny for your house back. He is a multi-generational God who keeps His covenant. If you step out in faith, you and your family will reap the benefits of His faithfulness for generations to come.

Let’s Pray:

“Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle” (Ps. 144:1). Thank you, Holy Spirit, for teaching me how to deal with the obstacles that prevent me from stepping into all that the Father has for me. Lord, forgive me for the times I have tried to make things happen in the flesh. I know that I can trust You and Your perfect timing. Lord, keep me from sabotaging what You so greatly desire to give me. Help me to preserve the integrity of Your promise. Lord, I present to You my children. Thank You that Jesus’ blood, the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit is not only for me but for my children, “and all who are far off.” Let my life be a legacy of God-given purpose, operating in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about Your desires in my family and the earth. Be glorified in me. Amen.

3/23/2021 Part 2: Choose Your Altar

Before we address altars, let’s go back to what should be plain to us as Christians. Developing a hearing ear is essential to stepping into your prophetic destiny. As I just completed a five-part series on what Jesus said we needed to hear and perceive, I refer you back to those basics. Before Abram could ever have left Ur, he first had to have an ear to listen to God. Before you think yourself disqualified, any Child of God is equipped with the capacity to hear God, even amid trials. God promises in Jeremiah 29: 12-13, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Being with God is not some mystical meeting; it is an intimate relationship. A hearing ear is developed in the place of communion – namely at the altar.

Upon hearing God’s voice, Abram obeyed (Gen. 12:4). God initiated a promise, and Abram came into agreement with it by His obedience. If you want to walk into what God has spoken to your heart, it begins by a step of obedience. Disobedience is choosing to disassociate yourself from the word God has spoken into your life. You cannot say you agree with God and actively work against His plans and desires. That will get you nowhere fast. After all, God promises a “land He will show you,” not one you pick out or build for yourself (Gen. 12:1).

Interestingly, Abram passes through the land of promise, but it’s occupied by someone else. However, God shows it to him and reinforces His Word that He will give it to Abram’s offspring. Even having the vision and place of promise, Abram didn’t go in with guns blazing, so to speak, looking to take out the Canaanites; instead, Abram did something from which we can learn. He builds an altar.

In historical times the altar was a place of encounter with a deity, a place of adoration, humility, and sacrifice. An altar is a place of worshipful submission. Abram humbles himself, acknowledging God’s promise AND His timing. He recognizes that God is above Him, and we see this consistently throughout Abram’s life that he continually erects altars to God. Sometimes they are memorial altars, remembering times and places that God met with him, and sometimes they are sacrificial altars. They are the place where sin is dealt with and overcome in our lives.

These altars were of unhewn stone, meaning no human-made instrument had assisted in constructing it. They were a place where even the most extraordinary talent was useless. It’s a place where people stand alone before God, stripped bare of all that they define themselves by, and humbly bow before their Maker.

In contrast, sexual perversion and child sacrifice characterized the worship of Baal, at whose altar Jezebel and her daughter, Athaliah, worshipped. Their altars were elaborate, and people were awestruck at their magnificence. It is no wonder then, after worshipping for a lifetime at the altar of Baal, Athaliah has no problem murdering her children and grandchildren to retain power. Recognizing this is a key to evaluating your own life and determining at whose altar you are worshipping.

Altars of the enemy are always easy and self-indulgent. They cater to your most sinful desires and lust. This is a setup, though, for its fruit is one of bondage and fear. Jezebel and Athaliah were two of the most feared rulers in Israel and Judah, and it took no small amount of effort to see them overthrown. Jezebel was overthrown when, despite trying to paint her eyes and address Jehu, he ignored her altogether and asked, “Who is on my side?” Her eunuchs threw her over her balcony (2 Kings 9:30-37). Athaliah was overthrown when the people of God took the initiative and anointed Joash as king. They refused to recognize Athaliah’s leadership any longer. She heard the noise, came out, was arrested, and put to death (2 Kings 11:12-16). People of God, we cannot be afraid to make a ruckus! Sometimes it’s the only way to get the demonic to surface so that it can be destroyed.

On the altar of God, however, YOU are the sacrifice. There is no place for selfish ambition or having your way. There is no room for placing anything above God, whether family, career, hobbies, or passions. God is always first, and you are crucified with Christ, allowing Him and only Him to live in and through you (Gal. 2:20). It is something that, like Abraham, must be a consistent lifetime characteristic of the one walking in pursuit of their prophetic destiny. Unlike the altars of the enemy, the altar of God brings peace and freedom.

If you’ll recall, in Scripture, one of the first orders God gave to the Hebrew people and their kings was to annihilate the altars of the enemy they were going in to conquer. If we are to be the overcomers God desires us to be, we, too, must confront and destroy the altars of anything that would seek to sway us from His presence. This is not easy. There came a time when Abraham had to separate from Lot, Ishmael, and his children by Keturah. Abram focused on the promise. Jesus told us to, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14, NKJV).

So, my friend, choose your altar! One has the allure of wealth, riches, prestige, and power but will enslave you with fear, wrapping you in chains of iron. The other is humble and unassuming but will set you free, granting you access to the only King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, and embolden you to live a life of victory (I Tim. 1:17). Until you’ve made a definitive decision at whose altar you will worship, you cannot move forward. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Let’s Pray:

Lord Jesus, you created me with beautiful things in mind, yet I realize that I haven’t always worshipped You the way I should have. Time and again, I have removed myself from the cross and taken up my way. Help me crucify my flesh that I may be raised with You. I want Your will more than anything else. I surrender those areas in my life that I have withheld from You and Your Spirit. Forgive me, Lord. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:7-17). Lord, I choose You above all that the world, the flesh, the enemy has to offer. I humbly ask that you guide me into the destiny You have for my life, and I will worship You as I wait for Your perfect timing in all things. In Your glorious, precious Name, Jesus. AMEN!

3/18/2021 He Who Has Ears Pt. 5

Sardis:

When people heard this church’s name, they thought of everything right and good in the world. This was a church of influence, yet Christ points out that they are dead despite their reputation of life. That word dead means destitute of power, inoperative regarding doing what is right, and spiritually dead because of sin and trespasses. WOW! If I were to characterize this church based on those definitions, I would say that it didn’t operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, avoided what Scripture teaches if it rocked the boat, always politically correct, and, while active in its community, it remained focused on its own identity rather than Christ’s.

What an indictment! Jesus states that their works are not perfect or complete. In everything this church is known for, something is lacking and incomplete before God. This is serious because Jesus tells them that they need to remember the things they’ve heard and received, keep them, and repent. It sounds as though they are great at filling needs but not so good at acting on all that God has taught them. They are oblivious to the times and seasons because Christ tells them to remain alert; His return is at hand. However, their social agenda is more important than their spiritual agenda. Imagine! Jesus is telling a congregation that even though they’re known for their works, they’re defiled.

The good news is that some haven’t defiled their spiritual robes. The point is that with almost every church, Christ references their works, and while He does desire works, He is more concerned that we are walking in robes of righteousness and holiness. For it is these whose names He will never strike from the Book of Life, the implication being that there are some whose names He will remove. We must live in such a manner that we walk worthy of His call on our lives.

Philadelphia:

Here is a church to which we should pay the utmost attention. Why? Jesus doesn’t have to reprove them. He mentions that He knows their works, but also their commitment to His Word and Name, despite having “little strength.” Interestingly, in Greek, it means having little power or resources that comes from numbers. This is the unknown and hidden church without much in terms of people or money. Their steadfastness to the Lord, however, compensated for their lack of numbers and resources. And when there was no one to applaud their efforts, and their works went unnoticed by the community, Jesus was watching.

It is for this church that Jesus opens up doors that no one will be able to shut. This is a church clothed in humility, and it is this church to which Jesus declares He will have the entire synagogue of Satan bow. When this church intercedes and wars in the spiritual, things happen because they are in right relationship with God, walking in holiness and purity before Him. Jesus further states that they will be known as the church that Jesus loves, and because of this great love, Christ assures them that He will save them out of the tribulation. How beautiful and awesome! He further promises that if they hold on to what they have already, Christ will make this church a pillar in the house of God, never to be removed.

Sometimes we become so obsessed with bigger and better, particularly in the western church. A larger egg hunt with the best prizes or the greater number of attendees (notice, I didn’t say disciples). We can learn from this that God doesn’t look for the grandiose, but rather the pure-hearted and humble. Personally, when I die, I don’t want to be lauded for my reputation and works. No, I want to be remembered as the woman Jesus loved and belong to a fellowship of believers upon whom the Lord has set His love. To never leave God’s house – I can’t imagine anything better.

Laodicea:

This church lacks nothing financially, and it is a source of pride for this congregation. In their minds and probably to the outside world, they are as far removed from being destitute as possible. Every program is financed with room for expansion, and many flock to their doors. Unfortunately, according to Christ, they are blind to their actual spiritual condition. They wear no robes of righteousness; they are pitiful and poor, having nothing to offer spiritually. Christ has absolutely nothing good to say about this congregation. He doesn’t even mention their works, so it was not worth His mentioning if they were doing anything.

Yet, in all of this, Christ’s love is apparent. He wouldn’t bother correcting them if He didn’t love them, and so He encourages them to buy refined gold from Him – seeking His treasure, not their own. He wants them to purchase robes of righteousness to prevent their exposure and eye salve so that their eyes will be open. This is the only church that Jesus tells to buy something. The implication is that He wants them to direct their vast resources to their relationship with Him and what He values over their desires, and it is to this church that He speaks:

“Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.”

While many reference this verse to convert the unbelieving, Jesus addresses this promise to a church drowning in their riches. Then again, perhaps this church is unconverted. Regardless, Jesus invites intimacy. Will this church enter the kingdom of heaven? It reminds me of the rich young ruler who left Jesus when told to sell all he had and follow Christ. He went away sad because he was very wealthy (Mark 10:17-27). Jesus offers hope.

And that’s the point. That despite the sin and degradation found within His bride, Jesus offers the way of redemption. And that is the most crucial thing the Spirit is addressing to all of these churches. There is nothing Christ can’t redeem!

So what is it that you’re facing today? Do you find yourself in any of these churches? Not to undermine the importance of what is happening in our nation and the world, but I believe the Lord is concerned with His church and would have us take a closer look and identify those places where we are lacking so that we will stand complete, a bride holy and without blemish for Him, shining like stars in a perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). A bride upon which He can lavish His most precious of gifts, whose works reflect Christ’s heart and whose message is His gospel of redemption to a fallen world.

3/17/2021 He Who Has Ears to Hear! Pt. 4

Thyatira:

What a church! In Rev. 2:19, Christ points out their works, love, faithfulness, service, endurance – oh, and did I mention works? Jesus mentioned works twice, pointing out that they had only grown in scope, being more significant than what this church began doing. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a church growing in influence as it meets the needs of its body and community with love and patience? However, there was one major issue that Jesus had to address. Jezebel.

That name alone can conjure an image in just about anyone’s mind. This Old Testament queen manipulated everyone around her, anointed herself a prophetess [she knew of Baal, but if others thought differently, she allowed it], and encouraged idolatry and sexual immorality (1 Kings 21-25). She thought nothing of chasing the true prophets of God underground and even threatened their lives, and Jesus says this church tolerates her!

This spirit of old has wreaked havoc on the lives of many churches and ministers of the Lord. The problem is, Jesus states, is in that word sufferest sometimes translated tolerate. That particular word in Greek is not done justice in my estimation, for what Jesus is saying is that this church allows Jezebel to do what she wants and does nothing to restrain her. WHAT?! That’s the point. Jezebel is content to let you have your good works and even allow you to tout that “Love is the answer,” as long as she reigns supreme. Anything that challenges her authority (and Jesus and His prophets do) finds themselves in her crosshairs, and she’ll do whatever it takes to incapacitate your call.

But, you may say, Jehu eventually overcame Jezebel. The dogs licked her blood! The problem is that Jezebel reproduces herself into an even greater evil. Jesus says that unless the church repents of her practices (again, idolatry and sexual immorality), He will throw it into great tribulation, as He throws her into a sickbed, and kill her children with the plague! Not singular, but plural. In Scripture, just one daughter is mentioned, Athaliah, and she was worse than her mother, killing off her grandchildren to procure Judah’s throne for herself (2 Chron. 22:10). If just one child is full of such wicked intent, imagine what a multitude of Jezebel’s offspring would do! And this spirit of Athaliah will lie dormant until a prime opportunity arises in which to attempt a radical coup of leadership over the people of God.

Church, we cannot allow our minds to be swayed regarding righteous and holy living. Leaders, we cannot be persuaded to abandon the pure and glorious message of the Gospel of Christ in exchange for carnal pleasures. Christ calls them in verse 24, the “deep things of Satan.” Oh, there is no doubt Jezebel will pursue you. Satan wants you taken out. However, we must arise in the power of the Holy Spirit and slay her so that her seed is not planted within us. The only way to remain outside of her grasp is to throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ.

In verse 23b of Revelation, chapter 2, Jesus is emphatic that when He deals with Jezebel and Athaliah, His churches will know that “I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” We should then question ourselves continually, “What spirit is guiding my works?” For some in Thyatira, that spirit was not holy, but Jezebel hidden in plain sight. Christ doesn’t condemn those who are not affiliated with Jezebel, but you are obligated to deal with her if you recognize this spirit. Jesus will stand for nothing less. He considers this spirit enough of a burden and encourages those who refuse to play her game to hold on to what they have (verse 25). What of Jesus do you have? Dear one, He has made all of Himself available to you. Hold fast.

Yesterday I mentioned that we need, like David, to cry out Psalm 51:10-11, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” The Hebrew word for right means to be firm, established, stable, and prepared. Church, if there was ever a day when we needed to be firmly established in Christ, it is now. If there was ever a time we needed the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself through our lives to a lost world, it is now. If there was ever a season we needed to live entirely and unapologetically in the presence of God, it is now.

To those who will keep HIS works until the end, He will grant authority and the morning star. Let’s make sure we are employed with the Father’s business and not anyone or anything else’s. Let’s determine to be a people who watch diligently and remain firmly rooted in Christ, that no demon of hell can sway us from the cause of our Lord Jesus.

3/16/2021 He Who Has Ears to Hear! Part 3

Smyrna:

This church was impoverished and suffered greatly, but Christ said they were rich! Interestingly, He identifies Himself to this body as “The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life” (Rev. 2:8). By identifying Himself in this manner, Christ reminds this church who lives in suffering that not only is He their beginning, He is their end, and He has the final say. Period. This is of paramount importance when considering what Christ told them next.

Christ warns His church that the enemy is deceiving people by pretending to be of Israel but that they were of Satan. He then speaks of coming persecution. It seems that He is indicating that trouble will arise from those that claim one thing but act another. Indeed, persecution is the defining characteristic of a hypocrite. They know they aren’t right with God, and so, to ease their conscience, they cause those who know their God to suffer unnecessarily. However, Christ tells us we aren’t to fear. After all, He will be the final judge of everything that concerns us. That although times of testing are coming, if we will remain faithful until death, there will be a crown of life.

Notice, He doesn’t say faithful until it gets too hard, until you’re fearful for your reputation, or until it is no longer politically expedient to trust in Jesus. No, He says to be faithful until death. That is the hallmark of a Christian – to stand victorious and devoted to the very end. If you’re faithful to physical death, you’ll never experience it spiritually.

I doubt we in the western Church know very much what it means to be imprisoned, tortured, and die for His Name. To what extent will you go to for His Name? Is Jesus worth it all? These are questions worthy of contemplation. Who knows but that our time is coming, and Church, we must be prepared.

Pergamum:

This church was established in the heart of evil. Christ called it Satan’s throne, and they refused to deny Him. Their secret to a sustained relationship with Christ amid corruption was that they held onto Jesus. They refused to let go. Have we let go when confronted with evil? Have we compromised with the enemy for any reason – family, friends, work? Remember, Paul tells us that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more, so if you are flailing in the dark, take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I clinging to Him?”

However, Jesus took issue with this church who clung to Him. Sometimes amid persecution, we are so busy surviving that we fail to thrive and allow sin to remain in and with us. It’s similar to comfort food, only they are our comfort sins, and in this church’s case, Christ took issue with those who participated in idolatry and sexual immorality. In a world where we think we can get away with anything, Jesus makes it clear that He will not tolerate such things. Remember, He is returning for a glorious, holy Church (yes, with a capital “C”). To accept or turn a blind eye is sinful, and Jesus says if repentance isn’t made, He will fight against those with the sword of His mouth. I, for one, wouldn’t want to be around for that tongue lashing!

Sin is nothing to toy with, and love does not give in on this issue! We do ourselves a great disservice, as well as the ones we love when we close our eyes to what God has to say about sin. That doesn’t mean we don’t love and pray for those entrapped by it, but by refusing to call a spade a spade, we have inadvertently handed them the very tool by which our loved ones dig their own graves. May we never fail to fully love by speaking the truth of the redemptive power of the cross to all we come across!

Sometimes, we try to keep sin a secret. As we’ve discovered in the past couple of years, sin will be exposed. If the Church will repent, Christ promises a new name that only that person knows. I plead with you, as I do with myself, to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light upon your life to see, as David prayed, “if there be any wicked way in me.” There is no sin on earth powerful enough to define you. Only God gets that privilege, and for those who allow Jesus to cover their sin with His blood and turn from it, Christ promises to name us Himself. We must choose to be overcomers.

Summation of what the Spirit is saying:

Persecution is coming. Remain faithful unto death. Cling to Christ AND refuse to tolerate sin in the Church. He’s not going to do so. He is at war with it. Don’t find yourself on the losing side. Choose holiness.

3/15/2021 He Who Has Ears to Hear! Part 2

If Jesus finds it necessary to admonish us to hear and understand what He is saying to us, as the people of God, then it must stand to reason that we are lacking when it comes to developing our spiritual sense of hearing. It is one thing to be able to see what is going on in the spirit. Indeed, the enemy has not only revealed his plans but thrown in our faces the methods with which he is attempting to accomplish them. However, it is another thing to hear what God is saying about those plans and what our response to them should be.

That being said, when the resurrected Christ appears to John in Revelation, He did not immediately address the evil in the world. No, He chooses to address His Church, and with each of seven proclamations He makes, He reveals more of His character and nature, provides course corrections, and declares, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). Jesus addresses the one who is foremost on His heart and mind: His church, and it is this message that the enemy is trying to prevent us from hearing.

So, what is this message? There are seven, all provided in Revelation, and all are relative for today. These messages that the Spirit has been breathing out on humankind since John’s revelation are still reverberating today to bring us to maturity in Christ, cleansing and sanctifying us so necessary that Christ might present us “to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

Let’s examine the first of Christ’s messages to us.

In Revelation 2:1-7, Christ appears to the church and lists all the ways in which they have done well. Their works are the first thing mentioned, which should be telling. This church has served others, put up with persecution, endured, and remained faithful. They tested every new philosophy and teaching that came out of the mouths of those who claimed to be carriers of a five-fold ministry gift, and when examined against the gospel and sound doctrine, they rejected it. This church worked tirelessly and refused to grow weary in their constant activity. However, (and this is big) Jesus and the gospel of Christ had become a mere spoke on the wheel that kept the church moving. He was no longer the hub around which all activity-centered; instead, it was their programs and ideas that kept everything going, and somewhere in all of that activity, they fell in love with themselves and what they represented.

Lest you think this is some small matter, the Greek word for left Revelation 2:4 is aphiemi, meaning to be bid to go away, sent away, divorce, abandon, and desert wrongfully. In other words, this was not an accidental loss of love or even the idea that Jesus perceived He was being neglected. It was intentional. They had divorced Christ and kept His name! This is why Jesus admonished them to remember how far they had fallen and to repent. He wanted them to remember what it had been like in the beginning when they first recognized that the Gospel of Christ was the power of God unto salvation and understood that we love only because He first loved us. He wanted them to return to that which centered in and through Him when it was not simply about good works but about being Christ’s hands and feet. If they would not return to Him, if they continued to be a church who had divorced its head, He would snuff out the light they were carrying Himself.

What a tragedy! A church that no longer acknowledges Jesus as Lord is no church. It is nothing more than a social institution that borrows somebody else’s name to give themselves more influence, and God is nobody’s fool. The message is all or nothing, and that means complete surrender, self-death. I guess Jesus does give them kudos for hating evil and perversion, but then what sane person doesn’t? But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Church, we cannot afford to be an institution with good intentions. We need to be impregnated with God’s purposes and empowered to carry them out! This only happens in the context of an intimate relationship with the Lord. It’s time to renew our covenant with Christ. While I would say this is our reasonable service, Jesus says that those who repent and make Him their priority and center of their action, the Father will give them the right to eat from the tree of life! What an extraordinary privilege, and yet, how incredibly sad.

For years men have sought the key to immortality. It still permeates our cultural fabric from beauty products to diet and exercise regimes; everything seems geared towards expanding our own lives for as long as possible. Yet, this truth remains: Jesus is Life, and His Spirit has been speaking this for centuries. If we threw ourselves into Him with the same level of motivation and desire that we do the latest diet fads, we would have only skimmed the surface of the depths of the relationship into which Christ desires to take us.

A Summation:  Return to Me! Make Me your center! Remember that I AM LORD! Eternal life is in Me. I am beckoning and wooing you back, but not forever. Hear what the Spirit is saying!