Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Let the high praises of God be in your mouth!

Psalm 149:5-6 (NKJV): Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.

The words 'high praises' here is 'tehillah' in Hebrew, which literally means 'laudation', from the word 'haw-lal', which means 'to shine, to boast, to celebrate, to make clear the way'. I like the expression 'to make clear the way' here.

Look now what happens when you let the 'high praises' of the Lord be in your mouth. Psalm 149:7-9 has these amazing answers, '... to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgement - this honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!'

See 'this honor have all His saints' here? As a believer, you too are called His saints, brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ, and members together in the household of God! (Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:19)

Indeed, whatever (difficult) situation or circumstance you may be facing at the moment, your 'high praises' of the Lord makes clear the way for you! Hallelujah!

In cross-reference, let's look now at 2 Chronicles 20:22, and in the days of Jehoshaphat. This verse says, 'Now when they (Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah) began to sing and to praise (same word 'tehillah'), the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated'.

What happened next was again, amazing! 2 Chronicles 20:23 says, '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'.

In other words, the Lord 'executed vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples (who came against God's people)'. And the enemies got so confused they 'self-destruct' among themselves!

That, my friend, is the power of praise!

2 Chronicles 20:24-25 then says, 'So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their (enemies') dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much'.

Even though in the New Covenant, we are not fighting flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), know that you too are the 'Jehoshaphats' of today! By the way, the name 'Jehoshaphat' comes from two words in Hebrew, 'Yehow' which is 'Yehovah, the self-existent and eternal God', and 'Shaphat' which means 'to execute judgement, to govern, to rule'. As you keep on praising Him, He is the One who will execute judgement on every work of darkness that comes against you!

And of course you belong to the tribe of the Lion of Judah! Jesus is the Lion of Judah (see Revelation 5:5). The word 'Judah' here is 'Yehuwdah' in Hebrew, from the root word 'yadah', which means 'to praise, or to shoot out (in celebration)'. Indeed, you belong to a people who shall continuously praise Him till the very end, and till eternity!

Recently, I released these words to a congregation I was preaching to:
"A time to praise! A time to praise! This is not a time to give up praising Him! This is a time to rise above and over every situation or circumstance of yours, and keep on praising Him!"

Victory is waiting for those who keep on praising the Lord! Amen!

Let's look at another example of how 'high praises' makes clear the way for God's people, and this time, it's Paul and Silas. Acts 16:22-24 says, 'Then the multitude rose up together against them (Paul and Silas); and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks'.

And look now at Paul and Silas' response. Acts 16:25 says, 'But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them'. These words 'singing hymns to God' are translated in King James Version as 'sang praises unto God'. The word 'praise' here is 'arete' in Greek, which means 'to speak of (His) excellence, (His) greatness, (His) virtue, (His) power'.

When the multitude rose up against them, they did not allow themselves to succumb under the difficult situation or circumstance they were facing. Instead, they rose above and over! They looked away from their own problems, and began speaking of God's excellence and greatness - from being occupied with 'selves' to being occupied with God's excellence and greatness!

When God 'becomes BIG' (i.e. when God is magnified in your life), your problem will 'become small'!

You know what? Acts 16:26 then says, 'Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed'. And the rest is history. For the record, not only their 'arete' led to the prison doors being opened, history has shown that also marked the beginning of the gospel doors being opened to the whole wide continent of Europe! (see Acts 17:1, Acts 17:10, Acts 17:16, Acts 18:1)

Isaiah 61:1-3 says, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.'

Interestingly, the word 'garment' here comes from the Hebrew word 'ateh', meaning 'to array oneself, to decorate oneself'.

Therefore, people of God, no matter what situation or circumstance you may be facing at the moment, like Jehoshaphat (and the people of Judah), and like Paul (and Silas), may you also continue to put on the garment of praise, 'arraying yourself' with the praises of the Lord, and keep on speaking of His excellence and greatness - till you see your breakthrough, and till you see the 'doors' are being opened for you too. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The final victory is already assured!

Psalm 31:19 (NKJV): Oh, how great is Your goodness which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!

The word 'goodness' here in Hebrew is 'tuwb', which means 'beauty, gladness, welfare (toward us)', from the word 'towb', that is 'to make well, to make good'. In other words, the psalmist David was declaring the greatness of God's welfare toward His beloved! And yes, He does make good His promises for you too! 

The word 'fear' here is 'yawraw' in Hebrew, which simply means 'revere'. 'To revere Him' is to humble ourselves under His mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6) and to continue learning from Him (John 15:1-7). The truth is what we all know on earth (even collectively) is just a mere 'bucket' of water in the midst of His vast ocean. That's how great He is, even in His infinite wisdom. And the Bible says 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Proverbs 9:10).

Psalm 31:20 then says, 'You (the Lord) shall hide them (the goodness of the Lord) in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man ('pride of man' in KJV). You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion (shelter) from the strife of tongues'.

The word 'plots' here is translated in Hebrew as 'snares, traps, trickeries, plans, or conspiracies', from the word 'rawkas' which means 'to tie up', which is the opposite of 'to be set free'. Indeed, the plots of man 'ties us up', so that we will not be set free 'to be what God wants us to be', or 'to do what God wants us to do'. 

The word 'strife' here is translated in Hebrew as 'contest, adversary, chiding, or contention', from the word 'ruwb' which means 'to strive against, to hold a controversy, or to lay wait'. The Bible says 'the adversary walks about like a roaring lion, (laying wait) seeking whom he may devour' (1 Peter 5:8). 

But God! Psalm 31:20 says the Lord shall keep and preserve all His goodness for you (including His plans, His dreams, and His visions He has put in your heart) from such works of the enemy!

Let's look now at the life and ministry of Nehemiah as a good example of the above verses. The name 'Nehemiah' literally means 'the comfort or consolation of the Lord'. In fact, what God did through Nehemiah was actually prophetic of our 'church age' in the dispensation of God's times.

In Nehemiah's days, the Lord put in his heart to build the wall of Jerusalem. 'Wall' here speaks of 'salvation' (see Isaiah 60:18), whereas 'Jerusalem' speaks of 'God's city, or God's people'. And with the comfort of the Lord, and with much perseverance on Nehemiah's part, the 'job' was eventually completed. 

The Old Testament is the 'shadow', and the New Testament is the 'substance'. Today, in the New Testament (the 'church age'), our main call on earth (whatever your vocation or ministry may be) is likewise to build the 'wall' too, that is to 'proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day, declare His glory among the nations, and His wonders among the people' (see Psalm 96:2-3).

Notice that before the successful completion of the wall, Nehemiah had to go through several rounds of 'persecutions'. Here's the chronology of what happened:
1. Ridicule & despise (see Nehemiah 2:19)
2. Mockery & reproach (see Nehemiah 4:1-3)
3. Conspiracy & confusion (see Nehemiah 4:7-8)
4. Threats & fear tactics (see Nehemiah 6:6-9)

Likewise in the 'church age', since the days of the early apostles in the Book of Acts till now, the 'church' (as a whole) has also gone through the above rounds of 'persecutions'. I believe we are currently in the last 'epoch' of 'persecutions' (i.e. 'threats & fear tactics' of the enemy) before the full completion, and culminating in the celebration of Feast of Tabernacles (see Nehemiah 8:14-17, Zechariah 14:16), the end-time assembling and in-gathering of the 'called ones' (i.e. the believers).

Indeed, we are a generation living in the end-time! Take heart, God's people, and ‘keep running the race’ and let's not give up (or grow weary) while doing good (Galatians 6:9). As you build what God is building, and do what God is doing, He will be with you till the end (Matthew 28:18-20). Whatever spiritual gift (or gifts) He has given you (Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 12:4-10), use it (or use them) for the glory of the Lord! And the comfort of Yahweh is with you, just as in the days of Nehemiah! You will see 'the good work that God has begun in you, He will also bring it to full completion' (Philippians 1:6). Amen!

As you can see above, the book of Nehemiah actually speaks of the leading up (building up) towards Jesus' coming again! If chapters 1 to 6 speaks of 'the church age', then chapters 7 and 8 speaks of 'His coming again'!

Watch now what happened upon the completion of the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's days. Nehemiah 6:15-16 says, 'So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God'. 

Nehemiah 8:1-2 then says, 'Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month'.

See the words 'one man' here? This speaks of the one Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:15-16). If 'Nehemiah' speaks of 'you and I (i.e. the believers)', 'Ezra' (from the word 'Ezer' meaning 'aid, help') the priest speaks of 'our great High Priest, Jesus, who has fulfilled the Law perfectly (Matthew 5:17)'. Notice Ezra took over there on, and in turn declared to the people 'not to weep nor mourn, but to rejoice' (Nehemiah 8:9-12).

I don't know about you, but it's very comforting to know and be assured of what comes in the end, in spite of the present persecutions suffered by some of our brethren in Christ in some parts of the world, and even in the midst of 'threats and fear tactics' being plotted by the 'adversary'.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, the apostle Paul wrote, 'For the Lord (Jesus Christ) Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words'. 

The word ‘comfort’ here is ‘parakaleo’ in Greek, which means ‘to call near’. By the way, this word ‘parakaleo’ comes from two words - ‘para’ (meaning ‘near’) and ‘kaleo’ (meaning ‘calling, or call a name’). Indeed, you have a God who always calls you near to Him, and a God who knows you by name. Interestingly, this word ‘kaleo’ is the root word where the word ‘ekklesia’ (the Greek word for ‘church’, meaning ‘a calling out, or a gathering of the called ones’) comes from.

I heard these words from the Lord the other day as I was praying:
“No matter what happens, and even in the midst of chaos on earth, look to Me, lean on Me, and learn from Me. This is a time to comfort one another, not to condemn one another, put down one another, or put fear in one another.”

To ‘comfort one another’ is therefore to ‘call near to one another’, i.e. accepting one another, considering one another, encouraging one another, and exhorting one another, so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).

People of God, wherever you are, together as one man, we’ll get the ‘job’ done, and see the ‘wall’ completed! The final victory is already assured. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Revelation is like rainfall

Proverbs 29:18a (KJV): Where there is no vision, the people perish.

The word 'vision' here is 'chazown' (pronounced 'khaw-zone') in Hebrew, which can mean 'revelation' or 'prophetic vision'. This word comes from the root word 'chazah' (pronounced 'khaw-zaw'), meaning 'to gaze at, to see, to have a vision of, to prophesy'. 

Why is revelation so important? 

As a matter of fact, revelation is like rainfall. Without revelation, God's people perish. Without rainfall, the land perish (i.e. becomes parched), and therefore new crops cannot grow. 

The same it is with prophetic vision (or prophetic words). Either one receives it or resists it. If one receives, he'll see the vision (or words) coming to pass, as he takes heed of it and acts on it. If one resists, the rain cannot fall (not doesn't want to fall), and thus will not grow new crops.

In Israel, every new year (in Hebrew calendar) marks the beginning of rainfall in the land. That's when the farmers would start plowing, and then planting seeds. Hard ground gets wet by the rain beginning this time, and therefore plowing also begins (i.e. preparing the ground for new seeds to be planted). Generally, rainfall in Israel begins around this time (September/October), and increases by winter time (November/December). Even though some say there are four seasons in Israel (i.e. spring, summer, autumn, and winter), there are (in actual fact) two main seasons each year - summer (i.e. dry season) and winter (i.e. wet season).

"But I'm not a Hebrew, and I don't need to know all these!"
As God's people, you are blessed every time you learn to flow in God's divine timing and season.

We have just crossed into the Hebrew new year 5775, and many people asked me what this year 5775 brings (and of course, what the year 2015 in the secular calendar is going to be like). Have you noticed that God's calendar (say, 5775) usually begins about three months ahead of the secular calendar (say, 2015)? Spiritual first, and then physical (natural). Things happen in the spiritual realm first before it happens in the physical (natural) realm. For example, before God spoke "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), this 'light' has already been conceived in God's mind first, before He spoke it into being. That's how 'light' came about in the physical (natural) realm!

These are the prophetic words for the Hebrew year 5775 (which includes a major part of year 2015 in the secular calendar) I received from the Lord during Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) 5775 recently:

"This is a year the fountain of revelation is being opened for those who receive. Like the rain that falls on you, so will My revelation fall on you. New rain brings new things and fresh new revelation. For those who receive, you'll never run out or run short of revelation this coming year. Many in the world will come to the point when they do not know what to do or how to go about any more, but you will know, because this fountain of revelation is being opened for you."

People of God, this is also a time to declare that your drought season is over, and that God's presence, God's grace and God's revelation has begun falling on you like the rainfall - whether in finding job, finding new home, seeing divine health, or seeing any breakthrough in your life.

On Sunday, I released these words to the congregation of Triumph in Christ (TiC) as well:
"Prepare your ground. This is a time to till it and plow it. Get yourselves ready for His rainfall. He will give you seeds to plant this year. And you'll never run out of seeds. This is also a time to prepare to start planting! Seeds of love! Seeds of forgiveness! Any kind of seeds that He ever gives you!"

As I declared 'drought is over' a few days ago, immediately good reports came flooding in my email and phone from then on, and even by today, good reports are still coming in! Someone got a job after so long, someone's husband got a job contract after many months of waiting, someone got a breakthrough in his search for a new property, someone's brother was miraculously healed of stomach paralysis (and even his doctor acknowledged this as God's miracle!), someone's baby somehow got miraculously healed from a life-threatening disease... one by one just came in! I believe the list will grow from now on as I declare it to you! Just the other day, a lady whom I know called up, asking me to pray for her good friend's ten-year-old daughter who was kidnapped. As I prayed, I heard these words from the Lord and by faith, declared: 'This little girl is still alive and well, and the police already have clue where the kidnappers are, though they wouldn't tell'. You know what? Praise God! Just about three hours later, this same lady was so excited when she told me that the girl has been found alive and well, and the kidnappers have been caught by the police! Glory be to God! God is alive, and God is great!

As you walk into this new year, remember also the one key to getting out of your drought and receiving this fountain of rainfall (revelation) is forgiveness. Walk in forgiveness throughout this coming year. The fountain opens and rain falls on you as you decide to receive forgiveness and to forgive.

The power of forgiveness and the power of healing (and breakthrough) are connected. Forgiveness leads to your healing (and breakthrough). David wrote this very aptly in Psalm 103:1-3: 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases’. You see, forgiveness comes first, and then healing.

In fact, one of your important calling on this earth (like Jesus) is to forgive. Jesus did it in Luke 23:34. When He was crucified at Calvary, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” In Mark 11:25, Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…” If there’s going to be healing in any area of your life, the one thing to do is to forgive.

Matthew 9:1-8 shows that Jesus has the power to forgive. In Him, and as His beloved, you too have the power (i.e. ability) to forgive, because as He is, so are you in this world! (1 John 4:17) In other words, you have the power to declare what Jesus declares, in His name, of course. Matthew 9:8 confirms it by saying, ‘Now when the multitude saw it (forgiveness and healing of a paralytic), they marvelled and glorified God who had given such power (to forgive and to heal) to men’. Notice the word ‘men’ here? It’s plural! It means you and me too! Therefore, choose to forgive, and you’ll see heaven opens and the fountain of rain falling on you! It’s not like “If I feel like forgiving, I’ll forgive. But if I don’t feel like forgiving, I won’t forgive.” The truth is forgiveness is not an option, but is the key that opens heaven.

Psalm 32 written by David is a psalm of forgiveness. Verses 1-2 say, 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit'. In the same psalm, and in verses 4-5, David wrote, 'My vitality was turned into the drought of summer (because of sin). I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden'. Again, watch how forgiveness opens the fountain of rainfall (revelation) to fall! In verse 8, God responded to David, "I will (therefore) instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." By the way, the word 'eye' here is 'ayin' in Hebrew, and 'eye' speaks of 'vision' (or 'revelation'). In other words, God told David He would guide him with His vision (revelation)!

People of God, in the spiritual realm, God is most attracted to genuine and sincere acts of love and forgiveness from one’s heart, and He will surely bless you and help you. Love and forgiveness are connected. You can’t have one without another. You can’t love without forgiving, and you can’t forgive without love.

As His dearly beloved, know that God’s Spirit dwells in you (Romans 8:9). That makes all the difference, and that’s what make you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). He will surely teach you and help you this coming year. Amen. Let us therefore humble ourselves under His mighty hand, and continue learning from Him. Have a blessed new year 5775!