Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This is a key time to praise!

Psalm 22:3 (NKJV): But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.

The word 'praises' here in Hebrew is 'tehillah', which means 'laudation (or giving high praise) to God', from the word 'haw-lal' meaning ‘to clear the way, to shine (in the midst of darkness), to boast, to make a show, to celebrate (with a loud voice)’. 

There are other Hebrew words for ‘praise’, but we shall concentrate on this word ‘haw-lal’ today. This word 'haw-lal' is also where the word Hallelujah (meaning 'Praise the Lord') comes from.

Some might say, "Looking at my situation now, I have no reason to praise God." But the truth is you have all the more reason to praise God! From the Scriptures, you can see the likes of David and Jehoshaphat praising the Lord even when they were in 'difficult' and 'troubled' times! 

In good times, you praise, and of course in breakthrough times, you praise! But how about in troubled times? You praise also! In fact, keep praising till you see your breakthrough comes! Now that's exactly what David did! In Psalm 34:1-4, he wrote, 'I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise ('tehillah') shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears'.

"You mean I should praise God for the problem I am facing now?" No, I'm not saying you are to praise God for the problem. But I'm saying you praise God in spite of the problem you are facing now.

Let's go back to Psalm 22 where we started. I want you to see something here. I want you to see how 'praises' makes all the difference!

In Psalm 22:1-5, David wrote, 
'My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.'

Before David mentioned 'praises' here, he wrote 'cry in the daytime, but You do not hear'. But after he had mentioned 'praises', he wrote 'They cried to You, and were delivered'! One was 'unanswered', and the other was 'answered'! And look now what separates between these two? Praises!

Last Sunday, I heard and released these words to the congregation:
"This is a key time to praise! Praise, My people, praise! Do not give up praising! Keep praising in spite of your problems! Keep praising even in the midst of your troubles! Keep praising, and you will begin to see your breakthroughs!"

As you praise ('tehillah'), know that the Lord is enthroned! To put it simply, He is now made king! And as the king (for He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords), He now takes over, takes the lead, and takes full responsibility over that particular situation (or circumstance) of yours! And that's exactly what happened when Jehoshaphat (and the people of Judah) began to praise2 Chronicles 20:22-23 says, 'Now when they began to sing and to praise ('tehillah'), the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another'.

Why are 'praises' so important in a time of trouble or uncertainty? 
You can find the answer by studying the Hebrew letters for this same word ‘haw-lal’, i.e. 
"Hey-Lamed-Lamed".

'Hey' (the fifth letter in Hebrew alephbet chart) symbolizes 'man with raised arms', which speaks of 'Jesus, and all that He has done for you on the cross', whereas
'Lamed' (the twelfth letter in Hebrew alephbet chart) symbolizes 'the shepherd's rod and staff', which speaks of 'the Shepherd’s authority'.
The interpretation: When you 'praise', Jesus (your Shepherd) takes over your situation with His rod and staff!

Interestingly, Psalm 22 (about ‘the praises of the Lord’ in the midst of trouble and suffering) leads to Psalm 23 (about the Shepherd taking over)!

Your 'praises' activates the Shepherd to take over!
In Psalm 23:1-4, David wrote,
'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack). He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me'.

See 'He makes', 'He leads', 'He restores', and then 'He leads' here? All these are verbs, indicating 'actions' of the Shepherd!
By the way, here's the difference between a 'rod' and a 'staff':
A 'rod' is used by the shepherd to drive away the enemy. For example, the shepherd chases a wolf away with a good, hard whack. On the other hand, a 'staff' is used by the shepherd to guide the sheep in the right paths, to direct (or lead) the sheep from straying away, or to rescue the sheep when they fall into cracks (or crevices).

So, people of God, PRAISEPraise the Lord over and above that particular situation of yours now, be it a health problem or a financial challenge, or any other situation you may be facing right now. And you'll be sure that your Shepherd will come and take over with His rod and His staff - the 'rod' to chase away the works of the enemy, and the 'staff' to guide, direct (or lead) and rescue you!

When you praise, your 'dead-end' shall be turned into a 'new road'! 
Just the other day, I saw a vision while praying for somebody. I saw the person in a car that had reached a 'dead-end', and the place was surrounded by thick, dark jungle, with no further road in sight. Then I heard the Lord say, "Switch on the head lights!" The lights of the car then beamed through the 'dead-end', miraculously clearing the 'dead-end' and opening up a 'new road'. A road not made by man, but by the works of the Lord! Now, that’s the power of ‘praise’Remember ‘haw-lal’ means 'to clear the way, to shine (in the midst of darkness)'?

So, go ahead, 'switch on your head lights!' Praise Him, and keep praising Him continually! And you too shall see your 'dead-end' be turned into a 'new road'. Hallelujah!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How do you 'judge' your current situation and circumstance?

Judges 2:18 (NKJV): And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge...

The word 'judge' here in Hebrew is 'shaphat', which means 'to govern, to rule, to sentence (for or against) like a judge'. See the word 'sentence' here? In the context of our bible-study today, 'to judge' here is 'to pronounce a sentence (or verdict) over your current situation and circumstance by your words'.

Indeed, in Christ, you too are the 'shaphat' of today! Proverbs 18:21 says, 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit'. In other words, if you love to speak 'life' (into your current situation and circumstance), you will have the 'fruit' of life! But the opposite is also true! If you love to speak 'death' (into your current situation and circumstance), you will have the 'fruit' of death!

By the way, the word 'life' here is 'khah-ee' in Hebrew, from the root word 'khaw-yaw' which can mean 'to live, to revive, to make alive, to restore to life, to spring up, to recover, to become strong, to become fresh, to become whole'. Wow! That's what your words can bring forth when you speak life into whatever you may be facing at the moment!

Let's go back to the book of Judges now. Here, you can see how the Lord raised up judges to pronounce a sentence (or verdict) over every situation and circumstance the children of Israel were facing those days. We shall look at the first two in the list.

Othniel:

Judges 3:7-10 (NKJV) says, 'So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years. When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim'.

This name 'Othniel' is 'Othniy El' in Hebrew, meaning 'the force of God, or the power of God'. The 'Old Testament' is the 'shadow', and the 'New Testament' is the 'substance'. So, let's now go to the New Testament for our cross-reference. Here, the apostle Paul wrote, 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation...' (Romans 1:16). See the expression 'the power of God' here? And the word 'salvation' here is 'soteria' in Greek, which can also mean 'deliverance, or rescue'. 

So, what is this 'force' or 'power' that brings 'deliverance'? The gospel (or good news) of Christ, which is the Word of God!

Interestingly, the name 'Cushan-Rishathaim' means 'the curse of double-wickedness', from two words, namely 'Cush', a descendant of Ham who was cursed (see Genesis 9:22-25, Genesis 10:6), and 'Rishathaim', meaning 'double wickedness', which speaks of the enemy's direct reaction to the double portion that God has meant for you this year!

Ehud:

Judges 3:12-23 (NKJV) says, 'And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord… So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh. So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.) And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. But he himself turned back... So Ehud came to him (Eglon) and said, "I have a message from God for you". So he (Eglon) arose from his seat. Then Ehud reached with his left, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly'. 

This name 'Ehud' (Echuwd) is from the word 'achad' in Hebrew, meaning 'to collect (one’s thought) together, to go one way'. Now, that was exactly what Ehud did against Eglon! With a dagger only the length of a cubit (Note: A cubit is a linear unit of measure from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger), he 'collected (his thought) together and went one way' with his double-edged dagger, and right into the 'thick, heavy' belly of Eglon! The 'Old Testament' is the 'shadow', and the 'New Testament' is the substance. So, let's go again to the New Testament for our cross-reference. The key word here is 'double-edged', and the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, 'For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...' (Hebrews 4:12). 

Again, it's the Word of God that brings deliverance! And it's the Word of God that judges the work of the enemy!

By the way, the name 'Eglon' in Hebrew means 'a heavy, big, round bull', which speaks of 'the heaviness of the problem you may be facing currently'. So, even if you have been surrounded by a seemingly 'heavy, big, round bull' kind of problem, fear not, because the Lord has already given you a 'weapon' in the form of the Word of God! 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, 'For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the flesh) but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds'. Amen! 

People of God, this is a high time to speak and declare the Word of God over every situation and circumstance in your life (and even in your nation)! Never underestimate how important you and your words can be!

I heard these words from the Lord recently: 
“Many of My people shall break new ground! Many of My people shall walk in a fresh new anointing! This is a season for new things! This is a time to declare it open! This is a time to speak the language of the Word, not the language of the world!” 

Note: ‘Language’ is defined in Oxford Dictionary as 'system of sounds, words, patterns, etc used by humans to communicate thoughts and feelings, or manner of expressing oneself'.

And how do you 'declare it open'? You use your mouth! Use your mouth therefore to speak what God speaks, not what the world speaks! The Word works! And mind you, the Word of God is BIG! Really BIG! Bigger than many in this world may have thought! Because by it, the heavens and the earth were created! (see Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3) And even when 'heaven and earth will pass away', the Word of God will still remain, and will by no means pass away! (Luke 21:33) That's how BIG the Word of God is!

So, speak and declare the Word of God into the spiritual realm around you! Speak and declare the Word of God over your current situation and circumstance, no matter how bad or 'heavy' it may look like at the moment! And that's exactly how you are going to pronounce a sentence (verdict) over those current situation and circumstance of yours - by the words that you speak! And that's how new ground (even new grounds) shall be opened for you (and your nation) as well! In Jesus' name. Amen!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A heart that is right before the Lord

Psalm 51:10 (KJV): Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

The word 'heart' here in Hebrew is 'leb', which simply means 'the centre of everything'. The Bible says each of us is "a spirit being that lives in a body and has a soul" (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). In other words, you are made up of "spirit, soul, body", but 'the centre of everything is the spirit (or the heart)', and out of it springs forth every issue of life (Proverbs 4:23). 

As a matter of fact, everything that happens (in and around you) more often than not begins from the heart. When the heart is right, everything will be alright. On the other hand, when the heart is not right, everything (in and around you) will start to deteriorate. And that's exactly why it is so important to keep a heart that is right before the Lord!

People of God, this is a month to make your heart right before the Lord, and allow Him to turn your heart the way He turns a river. Proverbs 21:1-2 says, 'The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts'. 

I heard and released these words from the Lord last Sunday:
"This is a time to make right your heart, for I am looking into the heart and every intention of the heart. Allow Me to clear every issue of your heart and create in you a clean heart. What it takes is a heart that is willing. For I am preparing you for My manifestations."

You see, the Lord has in mind to manifest Himself in very real and practical ways. I believe this second half of the year 2015 is as such - a time when God's people shall see the manifestations of God's Spirit and power in very real and practical ways! There is a time for His visitations (and He will still be), but there is also a time for His manifestations

Let's go all the way to Genesis 14:18-23 now. Here, you see how Abram's heart was aligned to God, and not to man's hands. The Scripture reads, 'Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him (Abram) and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he (Abram) gave him a tithe of all'.

The name 'Melchizedek' comes from two Hebrew words, namely 'malkiy' (which means 'king') and 'tsedeq' (which means 'right, righteous, clear, clean'). So, 'Melchizedek' means 'the King who is right, righteous, clear and clean', a 'picture' of Jesus Christ our Lord, whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for us on the cross! 'Bread' here in Genesis 14:18 speaks of 'His body', whereas 'wine' here speaks of 'His blood'. 

And watch now Abram's response: 'And he (Abram) gave a tithe of all'. 

Some of you may be asking, "But what does 'giving of tithe' have to do with a right heart?" 

It has everything to do with the heart! Because 'giving of tithe' is a form of worship and alignment to God! Jesus Himself said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). In other words, to give tithe to the Lord is to proclaim that He is your Treasure, your unending Source, and your unlimited Supply! And every time you give a tithe to the Lord, you are reminding yourself that He is alive, and that He is the Possessor of heaven and earth, the 'Blessor' of your life! And it is He whom you are aligning to! 

Have you noticed what comes right after Abram's heart was aligned to God? In Genesis 15:1, the word of the Lord came to him in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." The word 'shield' here speaks of 'the Lord being your protector and defense', whereas the word 'reward' here symbolizes 'the Lord who is your (exceedingly great) supply and salary'. 

You see, when your heart is right (before the Lord), you need not fear! In fact, there's absolutely no reason to fear, no matter what happens around you in this world! Simply because you have  'aligned' yourself to the Lord God who is very much alive today, the Possessor of heaven and earth, and not to any dead 'god' (as what is dead cannot give anything good to you or bless you). Genesis 15:6 later says, 'And he (Abram) believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness'.

Back to Psalm 51:10 where we first started in this article. David penned this whole Psalm 51 with a heart of returning and repentance, after the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke and correct him (read the background in 2 Samuel chapters 11 & 12). Indeed, whom the Lord loves, He will also rebuke and chasten (Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19). 'To chasten' here in Greek is the word 'paideuo', which means 'to train up (or discipline) a child by educating them'. Therefore, never despise such 'chastening' of your Father in heaven, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him (Hebrews 12:5), because when He does this, it is because He loves you, and He has greater things in mind for you.

What is 'a heart that is right before the Lord'?
- A heart that is humble (willing to admit mistakes) before the Lord;
- A heart that fears (trembles before) the Lord;
- A heart that is yielded (surrendered) to the Lord;
- A heart that takes rebuke (and correction) from the Lord;
- A heart that is willing to be trained (and taught) by the Lord.

Beloved of God, know the heart of God for you, that He loves you. Whatever mistake (or mistakes) you have made in your life, surrender all these to the Lord and learn to forgive yourself. His grace is sufficient for you to start anew, and He will help you. He is also here to restore you the way He did for David, if your heart is turned to Him today. Amen.