Understanding the Times Part 2

Think of the idea of understanding the times and knowing what to do in the context of gardening. Wisdom is required to know the rhythm of crops: when to sow, when to water and when to harvest. This requires discerning the times, studying the weather and preparing. In the church we need to discern the times and know when to sow the gospel, when to water the seeds and when to harvest the crop. There are seasons in general and seasons in individual lives in particular.

Based on what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church the significant fact isn’t who does what part. Rather it is being faithful to do our part.

5  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 (NKJV)

As we in the church grow in better discerning the seasons we will become a more effective and versatile church. Members of the body will be sowing, watering and harvesting as led by the Holy Spirit. As an illustration, when I was asked by more than one person what the Holy Spirit was saying for 2020 I said “the church needs to find her voice.” I had no expectation that we would be in a pandemic that would call for the church to raise her voice to release peace and calm fair. I just knew that what I was hearing from the Spirit was the need to find our voice in this hour.

I believe hearing and releasing His voice is critical in this hour because it is a training time, a preparation for a much greater event. There are many examples in scripture that use agricultural analogies. Scripture tells us that a season is coming when all of this will be happening so rapidly that all aspects – sowing, tending, harvesting, will blend together. Deepening our current understanding of how to exercise wisdom in this season will ready us for this coming season. Here is what Amos prophesied.

13  “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.” Amos 9:13 (NKJV)

Are we getting ready?

Harvest Time by Ray Hughes, a song crying out for all those that need to encounter Jesus

Ray Hughes One Note

Understanding the Times Part 1

Many of us can reference or quote 1 Chronicles 12:32.

32  of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command; 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NKJV)

There are two parts to this verse. Understanding the times and knowing what to do. Understanding the times means looking at the circumstances and discerning what the Spirit is saying and doing in this hour. Knowing what to do is responding with His wisdom. In this current season with a worldwide pandemic declared the strategy of the enemy is easy to see. He seeks to sow fear, division and the like. As the church we are called to battle fear by releasing peace and healing.

Now is the time dig deeper foundations in God, going deeper in His word and pursuing a deeper relationship with Him. It is time to strengthen the relationships around us. If this has not been our pattern, we need to start. We need to use times of relative calm to prepare for times of battle. For example, I was part of a Zoom online conference call yesterday with over 2,000 people across our nation, praying, repenting and having communion together. A major goal was to increase unity in the church across our nation and lift Jesus up.

The Lord has seasons and things are not always what they appear to be. An example of this is a post I saw from an exercise specialist. He posted a comment that he was building muscle and the accompanying photo was of him sitting on a dock with a drink looking out at the ocean. He understood. He had exercised hard the previous day and broke down his muscle tissue. Now at rest he was recovering and building new muscle. He knew the benefits from the workout come after the workout, in the recovery period.

Currently lives have been and are being disrupted on a massive scale. If our goal is to wait this out and get back to normal we need to abandon it! This is a workout for our spiritual muscles that will lead to some recovery and growth time before we need a greater workout. The Father has given us an opportunity to examine our priorities and make needed shifts in our lives. If we choose to take it we will be prepared for the next thing. If not…

An Important Season

We are in a key time, I am deliberately not using the word critical because it implies we are in a crisis and I do not believe we are. This virus has been labelled a pandemic not because of lethality but due to how rapidly it is spreading. We need to behave in a responsible manner to see it stop. In that context there is the expression, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” While not entirely true it is a good pithy statement that captures an important point. Fear has a debilitating effect. Cognitively and physiologically fear and anxiety lead to the release of stress hormones, a heightened state of arousal and an increased heart rate. All things which decrease the ability of our immune system to fight disease.  

This aroused state is exactly the opposite of what Jesus says.

27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)

My wife and I were recently at a gathering and someone shared that we had all been afraid this past week. I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “Not true. I have no fear at all.” In stating that I am not trying to boastful, arrogant or denying reality. The reality is that the lives of many around us are imploding. Yet I have a deep seated confidence that Jesus is in charge of my life. I believe what Isaiah wrote millennia ago about the effectiveness and power of God’s word.

11  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

I also believe what Paul wrote.

8  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9  Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (NKJV)

21  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24  Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, Philippians 1:21-25 (NKJV)

For the church, this is our opportunity to arise and shine, to be seen helping those around us and pointing them to the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Interesting that inherent in this title for Jesus is the idea that He had authority over peace. An example of this can be seen in Jesus sleeping in a terrible storm while the disciples are terrified (Mark 4:35-41). When they wake Him up He releases what He carries and the storm stops. He calls us to carry this same peace and release it to stop the storms of fear sweeping our society and bring about a great calm.

39  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 (NKJV)

Kari Jobe – I Am not Alone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfveawSAHJA

NOTE I will be doing another post this week on Understanding the Times

Praying the Scriptures

I have a copy of The Voice bible at home. It is an enhanced approach to scripture like the Amplified version. My personal trust is in the more literal approach, hence my ongoing use of the New King James (other solid translations are the NASB or ESV). I want to know what the writer said not someone’s opinion. At the same time, as long as we are grounded in the more literal translations bibles like the Voice or Amplified can be useful in drawing out different aspects of a passage and aid in turning scripture into prayer. Some benefits of using scripture to create a prayer language is that we know when we pray scripture we are praying His will. Another aspect is that there are a number of apostolic prayers in the New Testament that help us to focus on His heart as we engage in prayer.

Here is one simple apostolic prayer from three translations followed by an example of how to turn it into prayer.  

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power Ephesians 1:17-19 (NKJV)

17 God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of Your people. Give them minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so they will truly know You. 18 Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance. 19 Let them see the full extent of Your power that is at work in those of us who believe, and may it be done according to Your might and power. Ephesians 1:17-19 The Voice (VOICE)

17  [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, 18  By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), 19  And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Ephesians 1:17-19 (AMP)

As noted, praying the scriptures can be much more dynamic than simply repeating the verse and drawing on various translations can provide a richer language. Here are examples of turning these three verses into prayer either for ourselves or others.

Father, this is part of Your word, a revelation of Your will. Because I know that You desire to give me wisdom and revelation, insight into Your purposes, I call on You. Draw me into a deep encounter with Your heart. Flood my heart and mind with the light of Your presence so that I can see from Your perspective. You have prepared a glorious rich inheritance for me. Help me to see that and to encounter Your power and see it released more fully in my life. Thank You Father, I agree with Your heart and say Amen, So be it!      

Father, this is part of Your word, a revelation of Your will. Because I know that You desire to give XX wisdom and revelation, insight into Your purposes, I call on You. Draw XX into a deep encounter with Your heart. Flood XX’s heart and mind with the light of Your presence so that XX can see from Your perspective. You have prepared a glorious rich inheritance for XX. Help XX to see that and to encounter Your power and see it released more fully in their life. Thank You Father, I agree with Your heart and say Amen, So be it!      

After praying in this way reflect on the reality and implications. Tune your heart to hear to hear His response. After all, He said, I am with you always.

Wisdom Calling

Wisdom is presented in different ways in scripture.  

20  Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21  She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: Proverbs 1:20-21 (NKJV)

Much of the book of Proverbs is about practical wisdom. It is about discerning what to do in a variety of situations from parenting to financial planning to managing and maintaining a household. All well and good. I deeply appreciate the book of Proverbs and have read through it a multitude of times. As much as I appreciate practical wisdom there is another type of wisdom.   

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV)

30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NKJV)

These two verses let us know that we can walk in a spirit of wisdom and that Jesus has been made unto us wisdom. This goes beyond understanding Proverbs, it goes to drawing upon Jesus in us. This wisdom is at times contrary to natural wisdom. Many of you have likely at some point felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to do something that did not make sense at the time but you see His hand after the fact. That is spiritual wisdom and is in essence a revealing of heaven’s perspective on the situation.

I have had this experience a number of times. A significant one many years ago was a turning point in my career. What I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to do made no natural sense, in fact it was contrary to what made sense to me and commitments I had made. In spite of my natural reasoning I followed the leading of the Spirit. It was through this experience, which was very stressful over a period of weeks, that I learned that I could have anxiety in my mind and peace in my heart and that it was spiritual wisdom to follow His peace (Col. 3:15). It all made sense in the end and had I trusted His leading from the beginning I could have save myself a lot of stress and anxiety.

So, let us determine to respond to the call of wisdom, to develop natural, practical Godly wisdom. Even more, let us recognize that it is wisdom to seek His spiritual wisdom that our lives and the lives of those around us may be different and that Jesus may be glorified.