by Teri R. Williams
podcast available (5.9.10)
God’s Prophetic Language of Love
One of the first prophetic words the Lord gave us as a body was from the story of Gideon. He said we were called to be a “300 Company”. We’ve not tried to fulfill that word or even define the interpretation. Knowing it’s best to “ponder these things,” we continue to follow the Holy Spirit as best we can. Last Sunday when Clint shared on Gideon’s army, there were several who shared that over the past couple of weeks the Lord has used the story of Gideon’s army to prophetically confirm things to them over the past couple of weeks. The truth is that the Lord is constantly speaking to us in prophetic ways but unless we have eyes to see it and choose to remember, we will miss this supernatural gift of encouragement.
As I listened to Clint’s word, I thought about the way platoons or subdivisions of soldiers are sent out to different places in the battle. There are times when it may seem as if a few are fighting for the many. But the truth is, we all fight. We just don’t all fight for everything at the same time or we wouldn’t be able to endure it. If we could see the big picture, we would see that the battle is shared equally among the body.
Each local body is like a platoon called together “for such a time as this.” When Mordecai said this to Esther, it was during a time of loss, fear, and panic. In the middle of this crazy time, relationships of trust were built with unlikely people in unlikely places. Esther’s place of influence was in the harem of a foreign King. Her family had been taken to Persia as captives and this foreign power had her possibly caused the deaths of her parents. But Esther chose to see her situation through the “higher perspective” of her cousin, Mordecai. One of the most important aspects of relationships with one another is seeing from the higher perspective from the ones beside us. Just as geese fly slightly higher than the goose in front of it, a higher perspective will allow us to see for one another and to break some of the resistance for those who follow.
Drinking with our Spirit Eyes Open
God told Gideon to choose warriors by the way they drank water from a spring. Those who drank while watching were chosen to fight. In a similar way, corporate worship is about more than satisfying our thirst. Only a relationship of love will drink and watch the Captain of the Hosts of Armies every move. Worship is movement with the Lord, which becomes a strategic weapon in His hand. The more we focus on seeing the Lord in worship and moving with Him, the more He is able to send our worship out like arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior.
When things turn sideways, it’s easy to forget all the affirmation and encouragement the Lord has sent. Honestly, it can feel as if God is off somewhere sleeping. But the truth is that He’s never even late. Life is not just a random set of events. Prophetic signs and wonders are everywhere around us.
For example: Sometimes its easy to think corporate worship is just bouncing off the walls without any purpose other than making some people feel a little better and boring others to death. But today I kept seeing a flute moving up a mountain as we were singing. The sound out of the flute was making a path up the mountain as colors were streaming from its holes. When I turned around, I saw Stephanie’s painting, which was exactly what I had seen. She had set up her easel behind me so I never saw what she was painting until worship was over. As we come into the spirit realm in worship, we see the reality of the kingdom of Heaven and our perspective changes.
“What is Your Name?”
Each child born is a special gift and prophetic proclamation in the earth from the Lord. Ava, my 2nd grandchild, means “bird.” After we found out she had Autism and we began to learn how to help her, the girls (Anna, Erin, and Ruth) began to see feathers. They felt as if there was something prophetic the Lord was saying about Ava and about our struggle with Autism. No one was really thinking about Ava’s name being connected to this thing with feathers. It’s important to ask the Lord for eyes to see the prophetic through our names even though our name may not be what we would have chosen for ourselves. The Lord can still use things like this to speak to us.
Later, Erin saw in the Spirit a picture of an elephant with wings. She painted it for Ava with the words that said, “Believe the Impossible.” Later, Erin and Ruth both got tattoos of a feather as a prophetic statement for Ava.
The Lord brought back to my mind a dream I had many years ago in which an angel from the Lord asked me my name. As I went to answer him, involuntarily, I heard myself answer, “Soldier.” Then he asked me what my purpose was. I opened my mouth to recite Ephesians 2:10 and instead—again, involuntarily—I heard myself say, “I and the children the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in the earth.” I didn’t know it was a scripture.
Some time later, I came across this verse: Isaiah 8:18 here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. This is what I’d missed – this wasn’t just about the Lord giving me children as arrows. This was about me too! “I and the children the Lord have given me. WE are signs and symbols… This isn’t just about some generation to come. This is about us too. We are a part of this present generation. Each of us is an arrow.
“When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter asked him "Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?" Mr. Casals answered, "Because I think I'm making progress." (http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/efficacynotgiveup.html) We lose the ability to believe in the impossible when we stop practicing, learning, growing, moving.
It is possible at any age to discover a lifelong desire you never knew you had. ~Robert Brault
Feathers for Arrows
This past week, I received a book from an Uncle. More than ten years ago, he told me about this old book he had that he wanted to give me and finally remembered to send it. When I opened the package, the name of the book was “Feathers for Arrows or Illustrations for Preachers and Teachers” by Charles Spurgeon. I knew the Lord was speaking to me about feathers and arrows and that He had something in particular he wanted to say to me about Spurgeon.
On the inside cover my uncle had written, “To our Flower Girl, Teri. Love, Uncle Don.” (That was Forty-three years ago). Last night, I came in and found a gift Erin had made for me for Mother’s Day. Not having any idea about my book or that the Lord had been speaking to me about feathers and arrows, she had drawn a picture of four arrows and written each of my children’s names under each one. At the bottom, she had written Psalms 127:4. “As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.”
This particular book by
Spurgeon is a journal of simple things he observed in everyday life. I felt like during this time when I am about to finish teaching and focus on writing, the Lord was confirming to me that what I’m to write will be what I see. And it will be enough.
“If not fixed upon paper, ideas are apt to vanish with the occasion which suggested them.” Charles Spurgeon
“Arguably, no other author, Christian or otherwise, has more material in print than C.H. Spurgeon.”(Wikipedia) Perhaps there’s something in believing for more than I think possible that the Lord wants to speak to me about writing for publication.
In the Disney movie, “Dumbo,” the elephant clung to his “magic” feather and did what no elephant had done before. Of course, the feather was just a symbol of his belief in the impossible. I held that book from my Uncle and looked at the picture of the four arrows. “Feathers for Arrows…” And this is what I began to see: We are like the piece of wood and the feather is the Holy Spirit. He determines how the arrow will fly. The point that pieces the target of the arrow is usually some type of rock. That’s what Jesus is---the point, the rock that actually brings down the enemy.
Some of us have had our feathers ruffled and our arrows are flying off course. We’ve been hurt and wounded and the feather has become separated. (There’s a great illustration with an eagle feather by a Native American Indian, Adrian LaChance, at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Wgcrhpo1TWk). Every place of disappointment and disillusionment area can break our trust in the Lord’s heart for us. But when the Holy Spirit runs his fingers through our feathers, each strand of the feather is restored so that the direction the Lord is sending our arrows can again hit the mark.
Rite of Passage: Separation
I also heard that this is a time when many are on a “rite of passage,” a time of transition. For several months, Eric and I have been teaching on the Kingdom of God. We’ve been teaching on walking in the Kingdom by the Spirit and the process of renewing the mind. A “rite of passage” usually consists of three things: separation, transition, and incorporation.
The separation is so that we will learn to think in a different way. These new patterns of thought are like the feathers on the piece of wood which enables the arrow to fly from the bow and hit its mark.
A good example of this is when two people become engaged. They begin to go through a time of “separation” from the single way of thinking. It’s not enough to hang out together. Ways of thinking have to change. There’s new responsibility for this deeper relationship of love; leaving is not about loss but gain. Leaving “father and mother” is about leaving the place where you depended on someone else for your physical and spiritual well being. This transition is about growing up—taking responsibility for not only ourselves but for the one we love.
This “rite of passage” (transition) is exactly what the Israelites experienced in the desert after they left Egypt. Israel’s time of transition was the opportunity to learn to build a tabernacle – a meeting place with God -- in a desert place. They were separated from the things they had depended on in the past. Even though they were in a place of slavery, it was the “known.” Out in the desert, they were completely dependent on the Lord for survival. They learned to tabernacle with God in their separation and to transition their thinking from dependence on Egypt to dependence on the Lord. The physical tabernacle was only a prophetic symbol of the spiritual tabernacle God desired to build inside their hearts.
In “The Compassionate Mind” by Paul Gilbert PH. D., talks about a patient of his who at the end of his therapy came to the conclusion that, “If one finds oneself in hell, one can keep on having a tantrum about it, which makes hell even more hellish, or one can start looking for a bucket of water (pg. 64).” That bucket of water can come from out of us through the Holy Spirit but we have to learn to draw it out.
Jesus blood sacrifice instantly sets us free but it is on the rite of passage that we learn to live free. It takes daily choices and discipline to change learned patterns of thinking, which have created patterns of behavior. Moses told Israel that God wanted them to bring a perfect Lamb into their homes and for five days to inspect it for any blemishes. On the 5th day, they were to sacrifice the Lamb and apply the blood to their doorposts. It wouldn’t do any good to know there had to be a Passover lamb. Wouldn’t do any good to eat Passover lamb; blood had to be APPLIED. This became known as “Passover” because the death Angel “passed over” every home where this had been done (Exodus 12).
A New Everything
From that point on, the Lord told them that everything had changed—even the time of the New Year. The Hebrew calendar started over on that day.
Ex. 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Sociology teaches that it usually takes about three generations of struggle to successfully experience upward mobility from one class to another. Of course, there are many examples of exceptions to the norm but breaking mental patterns and creating new ways of thinking (and responding) doesn’t happen by chance. In some weird way, we prefer the comfort of the “known” to the promise of freedom in the unknown. The illusion of safety keeps many trapped in self-destructive patterns.
Israel had lived under Egypt’s control for hundreds of years by this time. Now they had to journey to a place they had never seen before. Even though their lives had had a new beginning, they still had to change their way of thinking in order to become who they were called to be. In order to change thought patterns, we have to see each new day as if it’s the beginning of a new calendar---a New Year’s Day where everything is new. Changing the thinking of slavery is always a process---a discipline in endurance.
The Many Signs, Symbols, and Prophecies
The most incredible thing about that first Passover was not only Israel’s deliverance from Egypt but also that it was a prophetic picture of the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection. Five days before Jesus was crucified, he turned his face to Jerusalem and told his disciples he had to get there at that time. As the people were taking the lambs into their homes, Jesus was standing before religious courts and enduring the grueling inspection of their scrutiny. After five days, false witnesses actually had to be hired to speak against him in order for him to be sentenced to death. And as the Passover Lambs were being slaughtered, Jesus was being crucified.
John 1:29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
After Israel left Egypt, they traveled for 3 days and camped by the Red Sea. Not only did God part the sea, he destroyed their enemies when they tried to come after them. This marked the beginning of “first fruits.” Three days after Jesus was crucified the Priest is waving the sheaf of the 1st fruits in the temple as Jesus is entering heaven as the “first fruits” of a new creation.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The online Jewish Encyclopedia, “Judaism 101,” writes that:
Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).
There were 49 days between leaving Egypt and receiving the 10 commandments on Sinai. Forty-nine days after Passover, Israel celebrates Shavuot. The days that follow our “overnight” deliverance will be about transition; coming into a spiritual place where we humble ourselves and acknowledge complete dependence on God. Israel learned that they needed every word (Mt. Sinai – beginning of Torah) that proceeds from the mouth of God. Mt. Sinai was the beginning of the giving of the Torah. The “proceeding” Word in this desert place would become a new kind of grain.
According to some Jewish teaching, Shavuot represented the coming of two types of grain: barley---an animal food. Animals don’t develop or grow their food. God gives their food regardless. This is the kind of offering Israel applied on their doorposts. But at Mt. Sinai, Israel receives a new kind of nourishment---the proceeding Word of God---the kind of bread that we get as we go on the mountain and listen.
During Shavuot, the Rabbi reads The Book of Ruth in the synagogues. Ruth’s story is about the ultimate transition story. She moves through the death all the men in her husband’s family with whom she is associated and actually chooses to leave her homeland and the beliefs of her own family to take on being the sole provider for her aging depressed mother-in-law. Ruth meets Boaz as she is gathering grain; subsequently, she will become King David’s grandmother.
The third part of the rite of passage is “incorporation.” This is where we function in our thinking and action in the real world of the Kingdom of God. For this to happen, we will have to practice Shavuot---starting each day new. We will have to allow God to smooth out the broken places in our feathers so that we can function as the Lord’s arrows hitting the mark of His purposes each day--His purpose being to take delight in us. As we love Him and He loves us, we won’t miss the mission or any strategic move in intercession or worship we are to make. Shavuot is about abiding in His Kingdom, becoming incorporated into Him like the vine and the branches. This is an intimate spiritual place of relationship with God.
God’s Not Even Late
The reason we sometimes fall victim to doubt is because we don’t recognize the prophetic words of encouragement the Lord is daily speaking. The prophetic is not a formula. Knowing His voice is not just getting our doctrines right; it’s about the transition from living in the natural realm of slavery into the spiritual realm of freedom---and sometimes that means seeing the Kingdom –His Holy of Holies—while walking through a scorching desert.
The Kingdom is more than a concept. It’s an intimate relationship. And there is no other way into this Kingdom except through the blood of Jesus. This is more than a concept. It’s a relationship that has to be experienced. Although we can’t do anything to deserve the freedom that comes through the blood of Jesus, to live in this freedom, we have to eat and drink who He is. His goodness has to be tasted.
The “Rites of Passage” we will go through are times of renewing our minds so that we can learn how to abide in the desert with Jesus – to tabernacle with Him; these are places where we learn that when its all said and done, He’s everything.
“A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. "Master, I wish to become your disciple," said the man. "Why?" replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. "Because I want to find God."
The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. "Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water."
"Air!" answered the man.
"Very well," said the master. "Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air." (http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/wantgod.html)