Tag Archives: teaching

The Last Enemy Falls

Calendar
I don’t remember being concerned about my execution date. I just knew it was coming. The leaders had decided that it was best that I die. I knew I had not committed some noteworthy crime, but I also knew that this fact didn’t matter. They had planned the execution, and they intended to go through with it. Apart from the fact that they planned on killing me, everything else seemed normal. I wasn’t even confined, but I did have an appointment that I had to keep.

The day of the execution came. I kept my appointment and walked to the appointed place. The leader was there, and so were his executioners. However, things took a difficult turn for them when I looked at them and said, “This isn’t going to happen.” As I spoke these words, everyone in the room became painfully aware that I was far better armed, and far better trained than anyone else in the room. Everyone knew that they could not force me to submit to their plans. They could not even hinder me. I turned and walked away from them, knowing they had no authority over me.

That is the dream that I had last week Friday. It is about our authority over death.

Death has reigned on this earth since Adam and Eve fell into sin. Every person born in previous generations, with very few exceptions, has died. Those of us who are still alive are walking around under a death sentence. There is a date marked on a calendar that we cannot see. We walk around living our lives as if everything is normal, just like in my dream, even as the day of execution draws near. This is an appointment that few have been able to avoid.

However, that will change. In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul states that Jesus must reign at the right hand of the Father until all of his enemies are put under his feet. Then Paul teaches us about Jesus’ last enemy: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26 NIV).

Before Jesus returns, death will be dethroned. Jesus must sit at the right hand of the Father until he puts all his enemies under his feet. As the head of the Church, Jesus is guiding and directing us to batter down the gates of hell. The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. The Church, at Jesus direction and using his authority and gifts, will put all Jesus’ enemies under his feet. Jesus will not return until every last one of his enemies is vanquished. At a certain point, death will be the only remaining enemy; then death, too, will fall.

My dream was about death’s fall. One day in the future, hopefully the not-so-distant future, a generation of Christians will wake up to find that they have more spiritual authority and more spiritual power than death. They will realize that Jesus has given them so many spiritual weapons, and has trained them so well, that they no longer have to submit to death. They will gladly and victoriously say to death, “This isn’t going to happen anymore!”

When will this happen? Before Jesus comes again. He will remain seated at the Father’s right hand reigning until the last enemy is defeated. I believe he gave me the dream to let me know that he has been training his Church so well, that even though they might not realize it, they are gaining the authority and equipment necessary to defeat death. One day they will be confronted with death, and realize that they do not have to put up with it anymore. On that day, death will fall, and the stage will be set for Jesus’ return.

The Lord gave me a dream to let me know this is on his agenda. I saw death fall. The day is scheduled on the Lord’s cosmic calendar. I am praying that day come quickly.
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Image credit: ladyann / 123RF Stock Photo

Don’t Be a Cowardly Spy

Once upon a time, God rescued his people in an amazing way. A bad king had made the people slaves. The people were very sad. God told the bad king to let the people go. When the bad king would not let the people go, God used supernatural power to force the bad king to let the people go. But the bad king was stubborn. God sent ten supernatural storms to shake the bad king’s land. Finally, the bad king let the people go.

But the bad king changed his mind. He was sad that he let the people go. So he chased them with his big army. When the people saw the big army, they were afraid. Once again God did supernatural things. He divided an entire sea so that the people could get away from the bad king by walking on the bottom of the sea (they could even pick up fish along the way for their evening fish fry). When the bad king tried to follow the people, he and his big army were covered by the water when God stopped doing the supernatural thing. The people rejoiced over what God had done for them.

Then God led the people and did more supernatural things. He even lived among them in a giant flame at night, and a giant smoke cloud during the day. God even let the people hear his voice. Finally, God led his people through a dry and dusty country to their new land.

When the people arrived at their new land, they saw that some bad giants already lived there. So the people sent twelve spies into their new land to see how many bad giants lived there. When the twelve spies returned, they were very excited because the new land was so nice. It was filled with green grass and wonderful fruit trees. The spies told the people about all the milk in the land, and how they were able to mix it with honey for a tasty drink like they had never tasted before. All the people got excited about their new land.

But then, ten of the spies forgot about the supernatural things of God. They forgot that God lived in the giant flame at night, and the giant smoke cloud during the day. They forgot about how God led them through the dry and dusty country. They forgot about walking on the bottom of the sea (and frying the fish at night). They forgot about the ten supernatural storms God sent to deliver the people. They thought about the giants. They became afraid.

The ten cowardly spies decided to tell the people how afraid they were. They told stories about the giants. They told the people how the giants would not leave the people’s new land. They told the people that the giants would not let the people live there. They told them how mean the giants would be. The ten cowardly spies forgot that God would help them.

Two of the spies were not afraid. They remembered the supernatural things of God. They remembered that God lived in the giant flame at night, and the giant smoke cloud during the day. They remembered about how God led them through the dry and dusty country. They remembered about walking on the bottom of the sea (and frying fish at night). They remembered about the ten supernatural storms God sent to deliver the people. They thought about God. They were not afraid.

The two brave spies were happy because they knew God would do supernatural things for them. They told stories about God. They told the people how God would not let the giants live in their new land. They told the people that God would not let the giants be mean. They told the people how big God is. The two brave spies remembered that God would help them.

But the people did not listen to the two brave spies. The people listened to the ten cowardly spies. The people forgot about the supernatural things of God. The people forgot that God lived in the giant flame at night, and the giant smoke cloud during the day. The people forgot about how God led them through the dry and dusty country. The people forgot about walking on the bottom of the sea (and frying the fish at night). The people forgot about the ten supernatural storms God sent to deliver them. The people thought about the giants. The people became afraid.

Then the people told God they didn’t want to live in their new land. God was very sad that the people did not trust him. He was sad that they listened to the ten cowardly spies. He was sad that they were afraid. But he told the people that they did not have to live in their new land. He told them they could live in the dry and dusty country for a long time. He told them that their children would be brave enough to live in the new land. The brave children would trust God and not be afraid.

God was happy with the two brave spies. God told them that they would live a long time. He told them that they would get to lead the brave children out of the dry and dusty country into their new land.

God was not happy with the ten cowardly spies. They had made the people afraid. God killed the ten cowardly spies who had discouraged his people. He did not want the ten cowardly spies to discourage his people any longer.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting
our hearts on evil things as they did. (1 Corinthians 10:6 NIV)

There may be giants in land (even in Washington D.C.), but God still leads his people.
Discourage the people at your peril.

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SuperStorm Sandy Update

October 31, 2012

I want to begin this post by conveying my deepest sympathies to all those in the Northeast who have been negatively impacted by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. I grieve with you over the loss of life, and over the many people who have lost homes and property to this storm.

This was a sobering storm. Obviously, any storm that kills upward of fifty people is sobering. The sheer size that Sandy attained is amazing. It impacted tens of millions of people all across the eastern United States. The Northeast will be in recovery mode for a long time. I believe the news anchors and weather reporters have run out of superlatives in their attempts to let us know that Sandy was a record-breaking event. What can you really say about a storm that did what Sandy did to such a large portion of the United States?

I’m really not going to say much, except that the Lord had shown us that there would be cleansing storms this year. I believe the fact that Sandy hit Atlantic City virtually right on the nose is a likely indicator that this was a cleansing storm. Atlantic City is THE gambling Mecca of the Northeast.

Let me refresh your memory about what I wrote about cleansing storms earlier this season (see South Florida’s 2012 Hurricane Season):

As I wrote in my last post (see Tropical Storm Beryl), the Lord also showed us that we are in for a cleansing year. In fact, he gave some indication that we may see as many as three cleansing events, though I do not know if these events are all for South Florida. Cleansing storms are those that contain a call for repentance, and some level of  judgment on those areas that they hit. Don’t think of them as direct judgments from God (though they can be). Think of them rather as discipline as the Lord attempts to get our attention about inappropriate things in which we are involved. Inappropriate things are things that hurt people. The gambling industry, those areas that promote debauched lifestyles, and those who attempt to lure Spring Breakers with licentious promises, are all included in things that hurt people. If you live in a region that promotes things that hurt people, begin to cry out for mercy already.

I’m certainly not celebrating what Sandy did, just as I didn’t celebrate what Wilma did to my area back in 2005. I knew what Wilma was, and its purpose, but I sure didn’t like it. Of course, I’m not so certain the Lord was concerned about how I would feel about it. He is far more concerned with righteousness, and calling people back from the precipice of poor decisions that have the potential to unleash generations of pain and destruction on the people of an area. Cleansing storms, then, are his mercy in action. They have a tendency to remind us that we really don’t have the last say on things, and that we truly need him.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost loved ones in this storm. It was truly a killer storm even before it visited the United States. And while loss of property is not near as bad as losing a loved one, it still hurts. Our God is a God of comfort. I pray that the people who live in areas impacted by Sandy will find his comfort, and will turn toward him in all their ways.

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Deeper Waters Are Calling

Several years ago the Lord gave me a dream about standing in waist-deep water. A friend of mine, who was with me in the dream, was excited about where I was standing. When I later spoke to a  mentor about the dream, he got as excited as my friend who had appeared in the dream. I already knew that the dream was about the river of God (Ezekiel 47), but my mentor added something I hadn’t considered. Water up to the waist represents commitment.

Up until that time I had never considered the very practical aspects of the river of God. I understood that God is very practical about how things apply in our lives; I just had never considered how this applied to the river of God. I should have.

It has been many years since I began to understand that since the belt of truth covered our loins (see Ephesians 6:14), Paul was teaching that spiritual warfare included having our sexuality governed by God’s truth. On the one hand, illicit sexual expression violates our ability to stand before the enemy. On the other hand, godly sexual expression between a husband and wife is spiritual warfare. It not only helps us stand our ground, it takes ground from the enemy. As such, it is a part of our armor that must be defended from every attack launched by the enemy of our souls. This is very practical and important truth.

Since I understand this about the belt of truth, it should not have been a surprise that there is a similar message about the waist-deep water in Ezekiel 47. This very practical section of scripture outlines our walk toward God and his spiritual power in our lives. The first verses outline the work and flow of God’s Holy Spirit.

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.

Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits,[a] and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” (Ezekiel 47:1-6a ESV)

When the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts, we begin to experience his life, a life that proceeds from the throne of grace. We begin our Christian walk in the ankle-deep water of his presence. This is the level of beginning sanctification. As we walk about in the ankle-deep water, our feet are continually cleansed by the Spirit’s presence. This is a beautiful picture of his work in our lives.

When Jesus was washing the disciple’s feet at the Last Supper, Peter did not want him to do so (see John 13:1-11). Jesus insisted by telling Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8b). At once Peter understood that Jesus was doing far more than washing his disciple’s feet; Peter grasped that Jesus was illustrating a truth about spiritual cleansing. So he responded by asking Jesus to wash his hands and his head also. Jesus patiently explained to Peter that since he belonged to Jesus, he did not need a bath because he was already spiritually cleansed. However, when one walks in the world, one gets dirty feet. By his actions, Jesus was highlighting the need that Christians have for spiritual cleansing on a daily basis. Jesus urged the disciples to do for each other what he had done. As he helped them by cleansing their physical feet, we need to help each other by cleansing the “dirt” of this world off each other’s souls.

Jesus’ actions and teaching help us understand the Ezekiel River. Once we have come to Christ, we have been bathed so that we are no longer of the world. However, since we are in the world, our feet can get dirty as we go about our daily walk. When we walk in the River of God, our feet are cleansed by God’s Spirit on a continual basis. This ankle-deep water is the water of repentance and restoration.

Obviously, we never take our feet out of this water, but we don’t stay at the ankle-deep level either. As we grow in the Lord, the Holy Spirit begins to draw us into higher levels of understanding and consecration.When we are walking in ankle-deep water, we are still in control. The currents of the Holy Spirit may swirl around our feet, but we can remain standing where we wish.That changes as we begin to wade further into the river. As we go deeper, it is harder to resist the currents of the Holy Spirit.

We must choose to continue moving deeper into the things of the Holy Spirit, but we must also understand the message of the thousand cubits. Each stage of the journey is a thousand cubits long. Ten is a number of completion. Ten cubed is one thousand (emphasizing completeness in God’s season). We cannot truly choose to move deeper in the Ezekiel River until the water has completed its work in us at its current depth. Until the ankle-deep water has achieved its purposes, any choice to move deeper will be shallow and unsustainable. We will simply not have the resolve to move deeper until the Spirit has completed his work in us at our current level. We can speed this work up by cooperating with the Spirit’s goals in our life, or we can slow the process down by resisting his molding and shaping. But we will not move on until we have traveled the thousand cubits in our souls.

During each stage of this journey, we surrender more of our self-will to God. We can easily resist the Spirit’s pull in ankle-deep water. We can even, to an extent, resist the currents of the Holy Spirit when we are standing in knee deep water—as long as those currents are not too strong.* We can certainly feel his nudges at a much higher level, but we can usually resist them if we choose. However, once we get waist deep—the level of commitment—we are at the mercy of the current. The Holy Spirit can push and pull us where he wants us to go. When we get to the next stage of the river beyond that, the water that is so deep that we can only swim, the Spirit’s current will take us wherever he wants us to go.

I believe that we must understand this dynamic of the Ezekiel River, or we will be content to stay in the shallows throughout our entire life. We must go deeper if we want to be used by the Holy Spirit. We must move beyond the ankle-deep water to the deeper waters beyond. How do we go deeper? We choose to go deeper by an act of our will.

When we understand the practical aspects of the Ezekiel River, we can understand how to proceed into deeper waters. We can strive to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in his current work, and we can can consciously aim for deeper waters in our lives. While we can stay in ankle-deep water as long as we desire, those who want to be used by the Lord must press another thousand cubits to the knee-deep water. The knee-deep water is the water of reverence and intercession. In the Old Testament, a bent knee is a sign of worship and adoration. More than that, we learn from Solomon’s example that when a knee is bent in reverence it gives voice to supplication (see 1 Kings 8:54). The knees symbolize humility before the Lord, a humility that recognizes our dependence upon him, and results in supplication to him. We can choose to bow to the Lord’s dominion over heaven and earth in this fashion, and by doing so, enter into the Ezekiel River up to our knees. Knee-deep water is for those who have begun to understand their authority on the earth, and are committed to establishing God’s Kingdom with it.

But deeper waters keep calling. As I have already mentioned, waist-deep water symbolizes commitment. The parts of our body below the waist represent our base nature. This part of our nature must be cleansed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is not about denying our sexual identity. Christians are not called to abstinence, rather they are called to celebrate their sexual identities in the bonds of marriage, recognizing that the Lord is at work even in our marital intimacies.** At this level, because we have begun to understand true commitment, we can feel the shifts of the Holy Spirit’s current far more easily. Even if we wanted to resist, we are so committed that we are no longer able to effectively resist his nudges. We have walked through the waters of repentance and renewal. We have knelt in the waters of worship and intercession. And now we have moved on to commitment. All that’s left is to wade in another thousand yards so that our will becomes one with the Holy Spirit’s current, and his will is done in us as it is in heaven.

Now I understand why my prophetic friends (in the dream and in real life) were so excited by the waist-deep water. We haven’t seen much of the church operating at this level. But we will. When that happens, we will see the Bride begin to step into her true role. When that happens, everything will change. That becomes clear as Ezekiel’s vision continues:

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea;[b] when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh.[c] And wherever the river goes,[d] every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea[e] may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.[f] 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:6b-12)

When the Bride steps into the deep waters, bitter waters become fresh, life is released, fishermen (evangelists) will practice their trade freely, and healing will be released to the nations.

The deep waters are calling. Step into them.

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* Ocean rip currents are often so strong that even those wading in knee-deep water can be swept off their feet and overwhelmed by the strength of this current.

**Of course singles are not excluded from the waist-deep level. While they will not give expression to their sexual energies, their willingness to govern themselves freely according to God’s plans for sexual expression is their spiritual warfare.
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My Sun-Sentinel Editorial

I wrote a short article for the Forum section of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel about a month ago. They published it today. You can see it, and the flying fur in the comments section, at the Sun-Sentinel.

Why the flying fur? Whenever I publish an article like this, some who are angry about religion of any type cannot hold back. They have to comment on the article. Then others, who like the article, join the fray and it can get really intense. I suspect that the discussion in the comments section generates more heat than light, but that is usually the case in the comments section.

The article isn’t explicitly Christian, but to anyone who knows the two greatest commandments, it obviously flows from my Christian worldview.