During the recent 40 Days campaign (CLICK HERE for more info on 40 Days for Life), I met a pastor who travels about an hour to stand with his wife in front of the Bristol abortion clinic every Monday morning as a positive pro-life witness. I felt led to join him on Monday mornings. So, since the Spring 40 Days for Life Campaign, I have stood on Monday mornings down in front of the abortion clinic in Bristol and continued to pray and also to be a pro-life witness for a few hours.
I have had the opportunity to pray but also to have some short conversations with those going in and out of the clinic. I think the most impacting conversation so far has been a simple, short conversation but it has spoken volumes to me. The conversation went something like this…
Me: Can I speak to you a second, ma’am?
Woman: No, no, I am only here for an exam.
Me: Do you know they do abortions here?
Woman: Yes, I am aware of that. That is why I go here.
It is one thing to reach out to a woman who may be considering an abortion and offer a better way, communicate that there is a real baby in her womb, and that there are other, better options than the decision to have an abortion. It is a whole other thing to know that women are frequenting this clinic to support the killing of the unborn. Undoubtedly, they would say they are for the woman’s choice and she alone can make the decision about her body. It’s a whole mindset, philosophy, and ideology.
Fundamental to this mindset is that God is not the center but the woman is, her rights, her choices, her decision. The fact of the matter is that more and more pro-choice individuals are believing that a fetus IS life in the womb. The main argument for abortion has changed from “it isn’t even a life.” It is now more accurately stated that it is more important that a woman has the choice to kill that life rather than the value for life itself. It’s disheartening to see that the life that God values and created is not valued. If He were at the center of the mindset, there would be serious consideration of what HE thinks about aborting a baby. (Psalm 139, Psalm 106:38).
So, my short conversation illustrated for me the problem of a faulty mindset that is a factor in someone having an abortion, but also it is that mindset that fuels and supports the whole abortion industry.
Oh, that God would be our center again and not what we feel is right in our own eyes.
*We want to make a special note that we realize there are very difficult situations surrounding a woman considering abortion. We always want to express compassion for women in these circumstances and emphasize that abortion harms women (and men and families) as well. We also always want to point to Jesus and the forgiveness and healing that He extends to those who turn to Him who have chosen abortion.
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
Continuing with my blog series about the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Ephesians study we are involved in, I am continuously thankful for the meat of the Word. Truly any time we give to chew on the Word of God is never wasted time.
In the last verse, I was looking at verse 2 which could be seen as merely introductory material however it is full of truth about the grace and peace available to us from God through Christ and why we need these critical things. God has given us favor that we could never deserve and the end result of this in our lives is PEACE: with God, with others, with ourselves. What a blessing we have through the grace and peace of God.
Now, the next verse flows directly from the previous one. Because of the grace and peace of God, we bless God! Praise and thanksgiving should flow from our lives despite our circumstances. What a gift that God has made peace with Himself, peace with people around us, peace within our own selves possible! What favor! What kindness! What GRACE...
Then we consider the fullness of this verse: God our Father has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing... I want to jump to another passage found in Luke 15 beginning in verse 11 that I think highlights this verse in a unique way.
One of the most sobering passages in the Scripture is the parable of the prodigal son. The prodigal son isn't the character in this story who troubles me or leaves me feeling sobered. No, the prodigal son is the part of the story that leaves me in open-mouthed awe at the grace and kindness of the Father God. And, his flight from his father isn't really surprising. After all, it is in the heart of men to go their own way. No, the older brother is the one who leaves me quaking a bit. This one who "remained faithful" and seemingly never strayed from his father. He says he served faithfully and never disobeyed the father's commands. Yet, somehow, he has completely missed his father's heart.
And, then the father in the story says the most astounding thing to this son who is feeling left out from the celebration of his "wicked" brother's return: "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." Oh. my. This son had access to everything belonging to the father and yet he missed it. Completely.
And, what about me? This is where I shudder a bit because I never want to be like the older brother. So, when I read Ephesians 1:3, I am astounded at the generosity of the Father and I tremble, wondering if I'm living like this is true that He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places?
Do I really live like I have access to the FULLNESS of the BLESSING of GOD the Father?
What about you? What blessing do you feel like you're lacking? Where do you feel weak? Have you gone to the Source of every available spiritual blessing and asked Him for it?
Before I go any further, it is critical that we start at the beginning with these blessings. Sometimes we get things out of order. Ok, mostly we get things out of order and we focus on ourselves and we say, "Goody! Presents! Blessings! What's in this thing for me?" We might never admit to or even realize completely that we have such skewed thinking because we disguise it pretty well even from ourselves, but truly we demand our rights, our happiness, "blessings" according to our definitions. And, we miss the point. God has blessed us with every SPIRITUAL blessing in heavenly places.
In order to truly appreciate the blessings He has given us we have to have a renewed nature. We have to have a new outlook. A heavenly outlook. When we are born again into Jesus' kingdom, we don't just have a natural outlook on the life around us or on eternity. We still are natural creatures and we have natural needs, but we also are suddenly alive spiritually and we are aware of a new heavenly perspective. Suddenly, the most important thing may not be that everything goes right for me and I have "success" as the world measures it, but that I know His presence with me and that I know He approves of me. Suddenly, my prayers change from "I want the bestest, coolest car" to "I need a way to get around so that I can serve You, Lord." I'm not saying the Lord doesn't bless us with nice things, but that's not even really the point of this verse in my thinking.
He's talking about something so much higher than physical needs being met. We often settle for "stuff blessings," when God wants us stuffed with Spiritual blessings that we are completely missing.
One more important thing before we leave this verse (which I am pitifully summing up in a few pages while the good Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones spent THREE sermons on this particular verse), is that we must look at who is giving these blessings and how we get them.
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has so many names throughout the scripture. And, in the Old Testament he is primarily referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But, now we see something different: God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the previous verse, he is referred to as "our Father" and this so true, and such an amazing revelation. But, here in this verse we see He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that this is because it demonstrates what kind of Father He is. "Our Father" might make us think of our earthly examples of fathers, which can be great, but might not be even close to great and may even be non-existent. So, here He is saying that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus. Jesus said Himself that He revealed the Father to us. His nature shows us the nature of our Heavenly Father. As we look at Jesus and we know HIS Father, we realize that this, too, is our Father.
And, finally, how do we get these never-ending spiritual blessings? In Christ. It is all through Him and because of Him. Christ is the source.
God our amazing, caring Heavenly Father, who like the father in the aforementioned parable, says to us, "Son, daughter, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours."
Live like this is truth.
We were so blessed at our April Lampstand to have Bill Jolley come to lead us in worship. He brought along two other musicians, Jamin Rathbun and Jason Pierce. They led us in an awesome time of worship in which the Lord was highlighting Isaiah 9 and 10, “The anointing that breaks the yoke.” I felt like the Lord was speaking this during worship and there was a sense of the Lord bringing breakthrough as we sang and even clapped and lifted our eyes to Him. We read from Psalm 107 (He breaks in two the bars of iron and burst our bonds apart…) and Psalm 45 (He is anointed with gladness above His companions…). Lyndsey Jolley also shared an impression that He is our resurrection life and we sing our way back to the resurrection!
Matthew shared from the word about Shepherds after God’s heart. We finished our series on Revelation and the “Beauty Realm” in March and felt like the Lord was leading us to begin looking at Jesus as our Shepherd. We will be using a book by Phillip Keller called, “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm.” But, as we began this new direction, Matthew gave an overview of the idea of “end-time Shepherds” and how God will raise up people who will lead and care for His people in a way that is in agreement with His heart as The Good Shepherd. You can check out this link to a blog he wrote on this subject here to find out more about this topic. (God's Shepherds)
We feel that focusing on this aspect of who Jesus is fits into our Lampstand message of getting fuel. If we are called to be those who shepherd after His heart then we must be people who are fueling ourselves with who He is so that we have something to share with those He gives us to care for.
Bethany Oakes led us in a beautiful time of worship in which we were lifting our voices as the Bride crying out “Come, Lord Jesus!” It’s hard to write a “description” of a time of worship. More than we can write out what was said or done, worship is a thing that we engage in and that we experience. So, we try to capture some highlight of these times together just to remember what the Lord was doing, but more than anything, we invite you to come and just enter into worship with us!
Matthew and Julie both shared at this Lampstand. Matthew sharing a brief encouragement from a book called “When People are Big and God is Small.” He described how before we are followers of Jesus, we are looking for all kinds of things to satisfy us. Then, we become followers of Christ and we then look for Jesus to satisfy that same place within us. However, this is incomplete because we are still the center. The shift is that we want to see Jesus be the center and then we certainly do find fulfillment, but the point is that we are looking to love and please Him, and as our focus is on Him and not ourselves, we find ultimate satisfaction! Ultimately, we are not the point. He is the point. Our lives, our stories are all part of a BIGGER picture.
Julie shared from Revelation 5, finishing out our series on Revelation 4 and 5. We looked at the end of Revelation 5, “He is worthy!” A critical aspect of this chapter is the invitation into something bigger than ourselves. We see the Son taking the scroll from the Father on the throne and the importance of it that caused John to weep that no one could open it, and I always pause and think, “What is this scroll all about? This is something so much bigger than just my life!” This passage of Scripture draws our eyes up from our own circumstances and causes us to see the Lamb who was slain and to sing with those around the throne, “He is Worthy!!”
We finished out our time by listening to a song by Andrew Peterson called “Is He Worthy” (which you can find HERE). This beautiful liturgical song is a call and response that again lifts our eyes to the One who is worthy of all of our worship and all of our praise, and all of our lives.
15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart,
who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The context of this passage in the book of Jeremiah is a prophecy to the nation of Israel in the midst of the Lord’s beckoning message to Israel to return to Him. It was a message of encouragement to Israel that God was going to raise up shepherds who reflect His heart in contrast to some of the unfaithful shepherds that they had experienced.
It is a great encouragement to me that God will not only literally do this with Israel but He is raising up more and more shepherds who fit this description in Jeremiah 3:15 in the church worldwide.
This description is very similar to the description we have of King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), who was called to be Israel’s “Shepherd King” (2 Samuel 5:2). God prepared David to be a shepherd to His people by being a literal shepherd where he learned to shepherd them “according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”
The “according to My heart” described in Jeremiah 3:15 describes shepherds who are after the Lord’s heart, diligently seeking Him. They are those whose hearts are corresponding with the Lord’s heart, conforming to His heart, and in agreement with His heart; not only His emotions, passions, and desires but His thoughts and His ways.
These shepherds will feed others, caring for them by leading them to the knowledge of God. This is more than just an informational knowing of Bible facts but a “knowing God,” intimate with Him, familiar with His personality, attributes, etc (Jeremiah 9:23). This kind of knowledge is what brings stability to us (Isaiah 33:6). It is not a window shopping type of knowledge but a partaking of every aspect of who He is. The understanding of Jeremiah 3:15 describes insight into, consideration of, and comprehension of the Lord, who He is, what He is like, and why He does the things He does.
In contrast to the descriptions of other shepherds in Jeremiah, these ones the Lord is raising up will be those who don’t “destroy and scatter the sheep,” those who attend to the needs of the sheep, who have stood in the counsel of the Lord causing God’s people to hear His words (Jeremiah 23). We also get other descriptions of unfaithful, irresponsible, and absent shepherds out of passages like Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 10, and other places in Scripture.
We also have prophesies about God himself being a shepherd in Ezekiel 24 & 37, Zechariah 13, and Jeremiah 31. We know the ultimate example of a shepherd of God’s people is Jesus. He had compassion on people because they “were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9: 36). He is the Good Shepherd described in John 10, modeling wonderfully what His shepherds will look like.
So, God is raising up shepherds. They will be after His heart and according to His heart. They will fill others on knowledge and understanding, yet they will not be just in the “pastor of a church” role. They are those who will carry His heart into the workplace and lead like Jesus leads. They are fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older brothers, older sisters who will influence others in their family according to the heart of God. They are mentors and teacher who will tend to others with right understanding of who God is and what He does. Two questions each of us can consider are: where are we serving as shepherds and what kind of shepherds are we?
The most important lesson for shepherds is knowing THE SHEPHERD. How else can we truly impart His heart and truth to others? Shepherds must themselves feed on knowledge and understanding from the Good Shepherd before they can effectively lead others.
Lord, you are raising up shepherds like King David who are after your heart. You are preparing them to tend your people. Prepare us in whatever role of shepherding you would call us to. Feed us. Tend to us. Help us to grow in knowledge and understanding of You. And then use us to feed and care for others, effectively leading others in Your paths. Amen.
I began what I had hoped to a series of responses to a Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) Ephesians study we had begun through our TRIHOP friends. (You can find the original 2 in the series here, about how we look at Scripture and here, about who we are in Christ.)
I fell off from it for quite some time, but as I have been continuing with the study and have been so encouraged by chewing so thoroughly the MEAT of Ephesians 1, I want to pick back up again. I am learning that it’s not always about never lapsing with something, but that it’s so critical to pick back up and keep going. “Failures” happen, but the key is to not let our failures, real or imagined, stop us from pressing onward.
So, back to Ephesians.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul begins every one of his letters with these words or a blessing very similar to this one you can read here in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 2. Every letter. I looked.
These are like Paul’s characteristic opening remarks. Like Johnny Cash starting his concerts in his booming bass voice, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Paul always starts with, “Hey this is who I am (Paul, an apostle, etc), and this is who you are (Saints, faithful in Christ), and GRACE and PEACE to you guys.”
Unlike Johnny’s characteristic opener that caused people to erupt in cheers, we face the constant temptation to just quickly pass over these words as customary greetings that are just polite things to say.
But, just stop. Check this out from the Doctor (MLJ) himself: ““The Apostle does not use words such as this lightly and loosely and thoughtlessly; it is not a mere formula which he uses automatically at the beginning of a letter; the words are charged with profound meaning.”
In every chapter, Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes some kind of statement like this reminding me not to take any word of this Bible we hold lightly but to gaze long and lovingly at each phrase and press the oil out of it that it would enliven my heart.
I mean, why would Paul repeat these words in every letter if they weren’t full of meaning to him? And, thinking beyond Paul, if truly the Holy Spirit inspired all of the Scripture, then that means the Holy Spirit wants to breathe on these words as much as any others in the Bible. He didn’t fail to inspire Paul’s greetings, giving Paul free rein to make whatever opening or closing remarks he wanted.
No, these words are meant to be meaningful and a powerful blessing. These aren’t words that Paul coined as simply his catchy greeting for his letter-writing ministry. These words express a heart-felt prayer and a burning desire in Paul. He loved the people he was writing to and he wanted them to know, to experience the grace and peace that come only from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, let’s zoom in on these words and chew on them a little more carefully.
Grace. We throw this word around a lot, but what does it really mean? Grace is nothing less than miraculous favor from God. Favor that we do not deserve and could never earn. “Grace is the origin and the source and the fount of everything in the Chrisitan life,” writes Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It is God’s love stooping down to us; His kindness that we could never, ever procure on our own.
And, Peace? Peace is often primarily defined by an absence of something. The absence of fighting, war, strife. Or, it’s known as rest or quiet. But, truly the Biblical idea of peace is UNION. Union after separation.
If grace is the beginning of our faith then peace is the end of our faith. PEACE…this is the purpose of our Christian life. This is what a Christian life should produce!
Okay. Good. I like things defined, so we’ve defined things. But, why do we need these things so badly that Paul would pray it for and speak it over every person in every letter he wrote?
We don’t really understand grace and peace until we understand the Fall. Not the season that is usually marked by falling leaves. The Fall of man as recorded in Genesis chapter 3. Because of Adam and Eve’s choice, we are all infected with sin. Which means, we are at war with God. This also leads to people being at war with one another, and even at war within ourselves.
Because of the huge disobedience of people to God, because we reject Him and do not listen to Him, we deserve the punishment the righteous God would dish out. YET, in spite of all of this, God is FULL of GRACE and He STILL looks on us with favor through the work of Jesus Christ.
Because of His amazing grace, God has made peace. Not just the absence of fighting with Him, not just the absence of war with our fellow humans, not just absence of turmoil within ourselves. PEACE. The opportunity for RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus; unity with other people like we can’t produce through men’s peace treaties; peace within ourselves.
And, we’ve really already seen this, but it’s worth it to ask the question: How do we have access to this amazing gift of grace and peace?
Through the source of everything in life: God. Which God? What kind of God? OUR Father. To all Believers, God is not just the Father of Jesus, but He is OUR Father. For those who have known the goodness of a loving earthly Father, He is Heavenly Father. For those who never knew an earthly father’s name, much less his love, He is Father. For those who wished they hadn’t known their father’s name because there never was any love from him, He is Father. He is our Father. Father who gives grace and peace.
And, this grace and peace flow to us from the Lord Jesus Christ as well. Jesus is so central in every step of redemption. In every blessing God pours out. It is all because of Jesus. Because of the work He accomplished on the cross, dying and shedding His blood so that our sins could be covered and we could become righteous in God’s eyes. The only way we could come back into relationship with God, the Righteous One.
Look at how Paul refers to Him: the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord: Jesus is the Master, the Boss, the Leader.
Jesus: His very name means salvation! Salvation has a name, it is Jesus!
Christ: This means “the anointed one.” The rightful king, the descendent of David who reigns on David’s throne forever.
The Lord Jesus Christ. Through this one we have access to GRACE and PEACE.
Thank you, God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ for this amazing gift.
Now, will we live like we truly have been blessed with an amazing favor and an indescribable peace?
Ginny Wall led worship. We were a smaller group than usual because of all the sickness going around at this time. We took some time to pray for healing and protection for the ones who are sick and prevention for those who are not sick! We are so thankful for Ginny’s ministry to the Lord. She chooses songs so prayerfully and they are always powerful to lead us in worship.
We have been really digging into Revelation 4 and 5 to find fuel for our hearts. On this night, Matthew shared about Revelation 5. He began with words about why we are looking at Revelation 5 and how it fuels our hearts to understand this picture we have of what is happening around the throne. He opened up the first half of this chapter talking about the details that God has chosen to reveal in these Scriptures. These things really do make our hearts alive and bring steadiness to us in times of trials as we face difficulty in our lives personally as well as facing the Great Day that will come when Jesus returns to end this current age we are living in.
We prayed for needs we knew existed, particularly for health concerns.
What a great time gathering! In the midst of a busy month full of holiday activities, we carved out some time to pray, worship, learn about the celebration of Hanukkah, and “gather some oil” for our own hearts.
Linda Edwards began our time together with several Christmas hymns. “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” and “Angels from the Realms of Glory” were two not so familiar songs that struck our hearts this year with their powerful lyrics.
After these songs, Matthew shared a great message helping us all understand the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. We were in the midst of the Hanukkah celebration at the time of the meeting so it seemed an appropriate time to enjoy jelly donuts along with our coffee and learn about this Jewish festival that often gets confused as “Jewish Christmas,” which it is not. We watched a helpful and humorous YouTube video (Hanukkah || Mayim Bialik), that explains this event on the Jewish calendar.
Matthew then read from an article "Christ in the Feast of Hanukkah by David Brickner of Jews for Jesus) explaining not only the historical facts about the Maccabean revolt against the Greek rule of that day to purge the temple from Greek desecration, but also the connections Jesus had with Hanukkah. Matthew also wrote some Hanukkah reflections in a December Blog, Hanukkah Reflections 2017
We watched a few fun videos about Hanukkah by the Maccabeats (Candlelight & Miracle & Latke Recipe). The point of this was to see that Jewish people are faithfully remembering this historical event, but they are missing the LIGHT who has come.
Matthew’s main point in sharing all of this about Hanukkah was so that we would gain a heart of love for God’s people Israel. We also gain understanding of the struggles they have faced as well as their culture and customs. We realize the beauty of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He shared a great word of wisdom that although we don’t necessarily agree with everything that the political nation of Israel does, we want to always be in agreement with God’s plans for Israel, the Land and the People.
In the story of Hanukkah there was a miracle of oil that Jewish history tells. After the Jews drove out the Greeks who were polluting their place of worship, the Jews cleansed the temple. They only had enough oil for 1 day, but the oil miraculously lasted 8 days, long enough to allow them to prepare more oil. This has an application for us as we have talked about pressing out oil. We do our part of seeking the Lord and studying the Word, but ultimately, we look to Him for a miraculous supply of oil in our own lives.
Ginny Wall and Ian Wilson both led us in worship focusing on having oil in our lamps and on Jesus as our light.
We prayed for impartation of God’s heart for Israel as well as having oil.
Hanukkah ended December 20th. This year, I have been more interested in this Jewish holiday than I ever have been before. I am not Jewish but a little research about it has led me on a treasure hunt, finding greater revelation and fascination with Jesus. In this season, where so many Christians are focused on the birth of Jesus, why is it important to look at Hanukkah?
Hanukkah means “dedication” and it commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple after the Maccabean revolt. This deliverance of the Jewish people from the tyranny of the Greeks came over a century before Christ was born. The Jews were greatly outnumbered and God brought miraculous deliverance through a family known as the Maccabees.
I have to admit the first thing that fascinates me about the subject of Hanukkah is the celebration of the multiplication of oil. After the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC, there is a story that appears in the Jewish Talmud that the Jews cleansed the defiled temple and lit the temple lampstand with only one jar of oil that should have lasted only one day. That oil lasted 8 days until more oil could be readied for burning.
At the Lampstand meetings that we host at our house once a month we have talked about pressing out oil for ourselves so that we will have a reservoir filled with oil to burn brightly. What is the “oil” we need in our lives? The oil of a history with God. The oil pressed out by meditation and study of God’s word. The oil of growing devotion and love toward Jesus. Just as in that Jewish legend, we cannot get this “oil” in our own strength. We also need supernatural multiplication of that kind of oil. We offer our small part and He adds the other 99%.
As I began to study Hanukkah even more I began to see that there was a greater miracle that the Jews experienced than the multiplication of lampstand oil. Jesus Himself and what He had come to do as Messiah and Deliverer was the greater miracle.
The only time this holiday is ever mentioned in Scripture is in John 10. This is a fascinating passage in which Jesus is responding to the question asking whether He was the Messiah or not. I came across an article by David Brickner from a Jews for Jesus newsletter in 1998 that gives a simple and clear look at this passage revealing Christ in the Feast of Hanukkah. Below is one excerpt from the article. (The “Antiochus” mentioned was the Greek/Selucid ruler who declared himself “the manifest god.”)
“The rededication of the Temple was a reminder of God’s power to keep His promises and preserve His people Israel. But One greater than the Temple stood on Solomon’s porch that day. And He made an astounding claim. “I and My Father are one” (v.30). Remember, this is Hanukkah. Fresh in my people’s minds was the fact that they had rightly rejected the false claims of Antiochus. Now here is Jesus, standing in the Temple asserting His own claim to deity. The reaction of my people was predictable. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (v.31). And if He hadn’t been who He claimed to be, they would have been absolutely right to do so.”
To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.
The truth is Jesus is the Messiah, and He is everything He claimed to be, yet was missed as the “greater miracle” to the Jewish people. He was the one who could deliver them from more than the threat of Roman tyranny; He had come to deliver them from the guilt and punishment of their sin and to bring them back into right relationship with Father God.
We have a great opportunity to pray for Israel and join with the apostle Paul’s desire that all of Israel would be saved. Let us pray for the Jewish people in this Hanukkah season that they would see the Light of the World, Jesus as their Messiah who is the one who still has the power to keep his promises and preserve His people Israel.
I am so thankful for these time to get together for the purpose of beholding and worshipping the Lord and pressing out oil to fill the reservoir that our flame draws from.
It is so valued and valuable to spend time in praise and worship, thanksgiving and adoration of the Living God. Not only does He greatly value it, we join with the worship that is happening around His throne day and night. It is not a superfluous activity to fill time or simply a means to make ourselves feel better. Worship is something He is worthy of and time spent doing it honors Him. Yes, it does change our hearts and encourage us as we do it, but ultimately worship is about Him. Oh, that our worship would get bigger!
This Lampstand, Ian Wilson led us in worship, it was a time of engaging with the Lord and He manifested His presence.
I (Matthew) shared briefly from Zechariah 4, continuing to remind us that it is the supernatural supply of oil that we need. We do our part to press out that oil and God supplies it supernaturally. What an encouragement Zechariah 4 is! Zechariah was a prophetic encouragement to those God chose to lead the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in that day when the Jewish exiles had returned to the land. God was going to help! He promised He would be the supply. He does that for us in the assignments He gives us. We depend on His supply and we are “wow”ed when He comes through.
Julie shared more from Revelation 4, specifically about the ministry of the living creatures around the throne. They sing, the great song of heaven, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, “
The beauty of the heavenly throne room is truly our reality and it is so valuable to stand before this powerful picture and ask questions. Why these details? Why living creatures? Why 4? Why wings and eyes? Why these 4 faces?
One possible connection is that the Spirit is linking the 4 faces of the living creatures with the 4 aspects of Jesus revealed in the 4 Gospels. Each Gospel have things in common yet each has a unique purpose and message and they correspond to the faces of the Living Creatures around the throne.
These creatures never cease beholding the Lord and declaring what they are seeing. We have a similar calling as worshippers to BEHOLD Him and to DECLARE!
This kind of beholding and declaring produces a response; it brings forth the response of the elders falling down before the thrown and casting down their crowns and singing a new song!
The elders sing of the worth of Jesus. We can’t even imagine what it cost Him to be slain UNTIL we know the Beauty He lived in BEFORE He was slain!! We look at what He descended from and where He is exalted to and everything shifts for us!
We prayed for impartation for each individual! I love these times where everyone participates in encouraging one another through prayer. It was an especially sweet time for us (Matthew and I) as parents to see Issachar stepping out to pray for individuals and share encouragement.
Stay tuned for the December Lampstand as we are going to be doing something different and talking about Hanukkah and the miracle of oil!
Matthew or Julie Wine