For Zion’s Sake – January 2019

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Do you have New Year’s resolutions? I’m not big on making resolutions, as most do not last more than a couple weeks. However, I am a goal-setter, as goals seem to motivate me throughout the year to press on in following the Lord’s guidance. For me, goals may change and new ones definitely arise during the year.

I’m motivated this year to run the race to win! (1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1-2) Time is urgent as we await the return of our Lord, and I want to finish well.

One thing of which I am convinced: we are to be a people of prayer. The Bible exhorts us over and over to pray, and prayer takes on many forms and many different focuses. One such focus is prayer for Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

~Psalm 122:6-9

I highly encourage you to participate in ICEJ’s Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative. On the first Wednesday of every month, believers worldwide join together in prayer to fulfill the Lord’s command to pray for Israel. Using Isaiah 62 as a template for prayer, we enter into intercessory prayer for God’s chosen land and God’s chosen people.

Why not join the global movement here: Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative

If you are in the Phoenix area, come pray with our Isaiah 62 prayer group at 6:00pm the first Wednesday of every month (including tonight!) in Room 301 at Calvary PHX (Central campus). You will be blessed!

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.

~Isaiah 62:1

The Power of Jesus’ Presence in Your Life and Mine!

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By divine sovereignty, the power of Jesus’ presence was put on display even before His birth.  (See here and here.)  Not only did the power of Jesus’ presence make Mary a favored one, but the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped in the presence of the Christ child alive in Mary’s womb.  Indeed, God the Father sent His Son to this earth in power!

Joy abounds in the presence of Jesus.  There is fullness and peace, and as in the case of Mary and Elizabeth, excitement.  This is true for you and me!  His presence breaks chains, heals hurts, dispels darkness and gives us rest.  As believers, the true gift of Jesus at Christmastime becomes our everyday reality.

My prayer is that we never lose the sense of wonder, awe and joy that we experience at Christmas.  When the joy of the Lord and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit engulf us, we live differently.  Just as Mary carried that powerful presence within her, so born again believers carry the same glorious gift.  Jesus Himself came to make His home within us (2 Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27), and Holy Spirit power dwells within (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Romans 8:9-11)! 

Not only do we carry the power of Jesus’ presence within us, we are commissioned to share it with the world.  As we head into 2019, will the Light of Christ shine brightly through us?  Will we radiate the power that is within?  May we live our lives to reflect His, and to allow the power of His presence to be evident in all we do!

Enjoy the remnants of this Christmas season, and look with anticipation to the New Year as we live in the power of His presence!

Water from a Rock

Wow!  That gives new meaning to “water from a rock,” doesn’t it! That is recent video from a flash flood in the Israeli desert, near the Dead Sea.  But I believe there is a Biblical principle to be gleaned from that incredible sight.  Let’s start with this passage from Exodus 17:3-6:

But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile,and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they complained.  This passage describes a time they grumbled for lack of water, and the Lord commanded Moses to strike a rock with his staff.  Water came out and the people drank.  1 Corinthians 10:4 tells us the people drank “spiritual drink,” and the Rock was Christ!

Interestingly, while in the wilderness, the people also ate manna, which was also a picture of Christ, the Bread of Life.  In fact, Jesus identifies Himself as both the Bread of Life and the One who takes away our thirst in John 6:35!

Later, despite God’s provision, the children of Israel found themselves complaining once again of lack of water, and God gave Moses different instructions in Numbers 20:8: speak to the rock.  You see, the Rock had already been smitten and, according to God’s instruction, Moses needed only to speak to the rock. 

Now, consider the lesson for us.  Jesus Christ, our Rock, was smitten almost 2,000 years ago.  Crucified, He became our Rock of Salvation.  Today, we simply need to speak to Him, as He need not be crucified again.  God is satisfied with what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Just as the Israelites partook of spiritual drink, so we reap spiritual blessings through Jesus our Rock.  Those spiritual blessings gush from the Rock:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 1:3

Today, as you see water seemingly gush from this rock in Israel, just know that from our Rock, Jesus Christ, flows an abundant fountain of blessing.  Perhaps your tongue is parched and you thirst for a spiritual drink. Do you have doubts?  Are you lonely?  Is sin robbing you of joy? 

Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
~Isaiah 55:1

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
~Revelation 22:17

Jesus our Rock invites us to come and drink freely.  But here is my favorite part:

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
~John 7:37-38

Ahhhh….let’s drink deeply, so that fountain of living water will flow out of us!  In fact, if you know of someone who is thirsty, please share this encouragement with them!

…and the Shofar Blows!

 

This evening at sundown the shofar will blow, signaling the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish civil New Year.  Jewish people around the world will celebrate one of the most joyful days of the year.

Biblically speaking, though, it is the Feast of Trumpets…also a most joyful time!  If you follow this blog, or have heard Biblical teaching regarding the seven major feasts of Israel, you know that each feast points to Jesus, the Messiah…and Jesus fulfills each one.

But consider this: the four spring feasts…Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost…have already been fulfilled.

  • Jesus was the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for our sins.
  • Jesus was striped, bruised and pierced for our transgression, symbolized by unleavened bread.
  • Jesus was the First Fruit, raised from the dead to redeem us from the curse of death.  We will follow Him in resurrection.  (Keep reading to understand!)
  • Jesus ascended to heaven, leaving us the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Yes, Jesus has fulfilled those feasts!  However, the feasts of Israel are God’s calendar, so we need to examine what comes next.

The Feast of Trumpets, the celebration of which begins at sundown, is highly significant.  The Bible tells us:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 15:51-57  (Emphasis mine)

Dear friends, when that trumpet sounds, we (believers) will be snatched out of this world to meet Jesus in the air. (That is called the rapture.)  Death has no reign.  Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we who die before the rapture will be resurrected to eternal life.

God’s calendar is 100% accurate.  Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb, He was pierced and bruised for our transgressions, He was the first to raise from the dead (preparing the way for us), and He left the promised Holy Spirit to guide us.  We are awaiting the next event…the trumpet, signaling the rapture!

If you are reading this and do not know Jesus as your savior, today is the day.  We don’t know when the rapture will occur, but it could literally be any moment.  It is the next thing on God’s calendar, and those who miss it will be left to endure the tribulation…hell on earth, followed by eternal hell in a place beyond what can even be imagined.  Don’t miss your opportunity.

The Bible says:

There is someone reading this RIGHT NOW who is struggling to find meaning in life.  If that is YOU, stop what you are doing and read each of the verses linked above.  Then, pray this simple prayer, inviting Jesus to be your Savior:

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Amen

Those words are not magic, but if you prayed sincerely, asking Jesus to do those very things, you ARE now a child of God!  Welcome to the family….and keep your ears open for that trumpet sound!

PS: The best thing you can do now is tell a Christian friend, or go to a Bible-teaching church and let them know that you prayed that prayer.  We all need help to grow in our new lives and that’s where you will find it!

Be blessed my friend!